Tuesday, August 15, 2017


You won’t know me until you know the structure of my hallucinations.  Not the content, but the “structure” or “antistructure” — the latter because sometimes it’s the resistance to accepting certain convictions that defines me.


Origin and Etymology of “hallucinate” from Google sources

The Latin ending probably was influenced by vaticinari "to prophecy," also "to rave." Sense of "to have illusions" is from 1650s. Occasionally used in transitive senses, "to cause hallucination.”

Perception of objects with no reality usually arising from disorder of the nervous system or in response to drugs (such as LSD).

Latin hallucinatus, past participle of hallucinari, allucinari to prate, dream, modification of Greek alyein to be distressed, to wander


A big part of my structure is the conviction that everything is like an iceberg: most of it hidden, but that runs into my other conviction that if I could just understand it, then I could make things turn out a lot better, have the information needed to solve mysteries that are hurting people.  But I run into my family culture which shares the bourgeois conviction that propriety means secrecy.  

There’s enough alcoholism, poverty, and failure back through the generations to make anxiety reinforce secrecy.  But at least in me, it means I’m always looking for that moment when my aunt lifts out of a cardboard box of family studio portraits a semi-familiar face that turns out to be a paranoid schizophrenic uncle I never knew about, but who explains why my cousins were so afraid of someone mysterious who might come to the door.  And why my other uncles were so mockingly alert to difference. so invested in eliminating it.

I’m scary/wary Mary, but I’m also counter-phobic.  If something scares me enough or seems a threat to others, I’m “on it” as the police procedurals say.  This has happened enough in my life that I’m addicted to adrenaline and now that molecule hits me hard, but I don’t have the grasp to handle it anymore.  Aging is an interference.  I’m stiff and slow, even in terms of thinking.  Yet I still have the strong command, instilled in me as a child, to save everyone.  My attempts to help often end badly, which makes me end up opposing myself.

A third tension is between how much I project “wholesomeness” most of the time, which reads to some men as obedience, and can be undermined by my interest in wickedness.  I’ve never really been wicked, but close enough to see it vividly.  My “wholesomeness” is sometimes seen by others as childishness and weakness.  To be dangerous and outside the rules is protective, marks a person’s power because often it is unseen.  Not deliberately unseen, but just outside perception.

Partly I’m being jokey about all this, but on the other hand I’m dead serious.

Hallucination is a term chosen to emphasis the provisionalness of what we think the world is about.  You could say “weltenschauunge” which is much more impressive but means “world view” which is about the same thing.  What a competent psychoanalyst tries to do is to get a sense of the structure of your hallucinations, possibly by exploring the childhood when you were forming it.  Then to shift the evidence to an interpretation that allows change.

Gerrans’ book, “The Measure of Madness”, came today in the mail and I’m beginning to read it.  The vocabulary is technical: “doxastic” makes me grateful for Wikipedia in spite of its sins.  I had guessed that this word had something to do with the computer.  Doxing: search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.”  Actually, the whole advertising world, plus the political world, is now deeply engaged with finding and using doxing.

But doxastic is not connected to that by usage and much precedes computers anyway, going back to the roots of logic.
Doxastic logic is a type of logic concerned with reasoning about beliefs. The term doxastic derives from the ancient Greek δόξα, doxa, which means "belief". Typically, a doxastic logic uses it to mean "It is believed that is the case", and the set denotes a set of beliefs.”

Gerrans is seeking a physiological description of obvious psychological problems like hallucinations that don’t fit reality.  Most of them DO, at least well enough to go unchallenged.  His premise is that the brain has a whole system of processing, little gates and actions, which include a two-step process:  generating a host of explanations for whatever evidence you’ve got, and then choosing among them for the best one (salience) that will be “real,” confirmed by success in the reality that most people agree is real.  (So far I see no way to escape this circularity, which is hard on nonconformists and heretics.)

Among my minister friends, one had an all-purpose traveling sermon called “Why is my kite down the sewer?”  One of the purposes of clergy is to provide a guide to salience:  which ideas are positive and moral.  (Are those two different things?  Maybe this is one way of looking at the liberal/conservative spectrum.  For the conservative, the moral answer is singular.)

The answer to the liberal sermonic question is multiple.  Maybe it was bad luck.  Maybe it was poor education.  Maybe it was culture shift.  Maybe it was bad genes or poverty.  Maybe it was due to some malevolent person or force personified that has followed you around and destroyed you at every turn.  The criteria for the salience (usefulness) of these convictions is life itself.

Gerrans posits that the brain as a physiological neurological organ — in terms of how it handles information — both proposes explanations and chooses among them, but these operations happen in different parts of the brain and if the “salience” function is damaged, hallucinatory explanations of the world may seem very real, regardless of results.  If a self-serving and reassuring hallucination is confirmed by a group, then the power of the idea is much exaggerated.  If the power is great enough, it can energize emotional potency justifying extreme action.  We just saw this in Charlottesville.  We see it more and more.  We elected it.

The UU clergy showed up in their yellow t-shirts and prayer scarves, talking about love, but they are just pushed out of the way by young men inflamed by their kites being down the sewer.  All that prattle about love means nothing to them.  They want power and the UU’s have none to offer.  Neither, evidently does any political body which has been denoted by our US Constitution as the formal source of power obligated to identify what is salient and to enforce that priority.  Not even the police were willing to use their power until it was too late to keep hallucination from becoming lethal nightmare.

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