Echo of the Mockingbird ©
Why Postwar Historiography Is Anti-Historiographic
Over the past ten years, various versions of this article -- the initial ideas for which were heatedly debated in Saigon at Strategic Research and Analysis, MACV-J2, during 1968 -- have been widely circulated under several titles and rewrites, submitted to numerous magazines and journals, tendered to academic specialists in many fields, and have not received a single comment in reply. The latest lack of interest came from the Goethe Instituteís (which attitude would have elicited a belly laugh from Goethe) Weimar essay contest in its search for uplifting articles propagandizing the new Europe, so as to liberate the future from the past. A preface is included here because I have been advised that the following note is understandable, whereas the body of the paper is incomprehensible.
Thanks, Ilse, for your observations on the newspaper article concerning French fears of a resurgent Germany, particularly the comments on how closely politics is followed by people in Germany. Actually, what I thought was significant about the article is that there is simmering divergence between France and Germany, which indicates that the EU and monetary union may not be as stable as is currently believed outside Margaret Thatcher's inner circle. The transition to actually using specie (the paper money) may well be more difficult, more emotional, than the shift to an electronic euro was. The analogy with federation in America is completely spurious. The American colonies had never been national states, let alone distinct cultures with more than 1000 years of historical integrity; there was also in America the pressure release valve of the frontier, to which those disagreeing could easily move (and even in the American case a civil war was finally required to overcome a fundamental cultural divide). I have, actually, never seriously entertained the notion of a Fourth Reich, any more than a resurgent militarism in Japan. I think both of these are highly unlikely improbabilities. Those who believe either to be likely have very conventional American, French, or British views of the origins of the world wars. I think other things are likely, not dictatorship in Germany and/or Japan. But if Europe destabilizes (not because of German actions, but due to other factors, which is not only possible, but in some respects, likely) then Germany will act in her interests, and if under considerable external stress, those actions will probably quite strongly accord with German cultural predispositions. Authoritarianism, it seems to me, is only a surface aspect of German cultural predisposition, and one largely post-Napoleon. In circumstances of a destabilized Europe, I do not believe Germany will find her interests to be those of France and Britain -- not because she will choose dictatorship over democracy, but because of matters much more fundamental.
By observing many people's reactions to the discourse on this subject in THE MOON OF HOA BINH, I believe I have been completely unsuccessful at getting across my ideas about the origins of World War Two. Maybe I am saying something so different, people simply can't register it. Let me use an analogy. Once, standing on the rooftop terrace of a guesthouse in Chiang Mai, I saw a mother and daughter come home from the store carrying groceries. They approached the walled compound of their house and began opening the front gate. From my height and perspective, I could look down and see everything in the compound. Their four dogs, sleeping in the shade, immediately jumped up at the sound of the gate being opened and ran to greet the woman and her daughter. The dogs came from different directions in the compound and collided about two steps from the gate. One dog bit another for being run into and was bitten in return. A huge four-dog and two-person snarling, biting, screaming melee ensued, which ended only when the husband came running out of the house and beat the dogs over the head with a broom handle. Both the mother and daughter were severely bitten, as was the metal gate, the clothesline pole, and anything else that came into contact with the dogs. Now, as regards the real underlying factors causing World War Two, I truly believe that the architects of the Third Reich were on the SAME SIDE as Churchill, De Gaulle, Roosevelt, and Stalin. The new view of reality that began to emerge with force in the 1870s and gathered momentum through the end of the 1920s was understood and embraced only by a small number of creative, free-thinking people of many nationalities, who tended to be scientists, intellectuals, bohemians, artists, musicians, and the like, and who also tended to congregate in number at a few locations which changed over time -- Paris, Vienna, Berlin being the big-three. Weimar Germany was most congenial because Germanic cultural traditions and predispositions most resonated with the basic principles of the emerging new world view. The implications of the new view most strongly took hold in Weimar Berlin, fundamentally threatening middle class psychology and values, sexual conventions, sense of social order, and entrenched financial interests, all of which were rooted in the old view of reality. This had happened to a certain extent all over Europe and to a lesser degree in Eastern Seaboard America, but it happened (as far as I have been able to discover) far more elaborately in Weimar Germany than anywhere else. One big aspect of the rise of Nazism was that it was a deep-rooted revulsion for what the new ways of thinking (the new world view) eventually, if not suppressed, would do to the conventional patterns of social, economic, and political life in Germany. This revulsion was shared by those in power in France, Britain, America, USSR. None of those in power liked Impressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Anarchism, Cubism, Atonality, Expressionism, Relativity, Feminism, Sexual Libertarianism, and so on. The difference being that only Germanyís stability was under serious immediate threat. This was because of several factors: (1) Germanic intellectual and emotional traditions, more than those of any other European group, resonated with the principles of the newly emerging world view (indeed, were in large measure confirmed by these principles); (2) the aftermath of World War One had left the prior political order of Germany shattered; (3) war reparations prevented onset of pre-depression era prosperity on a comparable level to elsewhere; (4) Marxism, which was antagonistic to most of the above-mentioned 'isms' and a potent part of the back-reaction against them, was not only strongly rooted in Germany but actively making preparations to overthrow the Republic, and establish a form of order no less unwelcome to the vast bulk of Germans than that which they associated with the perverse world of Berlin. Nazism rode into power on the back of middle class revulsion for the new view of reality, a revulsion shared all over Europe and North America by the bulk of the population. But, (and here is my real twist on this story) the German psyche had already turned the corner on embracing the new world view BEFORE the Brownshirts appeared on the scene. In the collective unconscious, before all but the very few were aware of it, many connections had been made, a new constellation had formed, the rudiments had been laid down for an integrative intellectual, psychological, social, economic, political, and institutional embodiment of the new world view. Left undisturbed, an avalanche of creative innovation would have ensued. But the Brownshirts appeared and suppressed it. And (here is my second real twist on the story) in the suppression of all that was constellated for creative innovation, that which was constellated became regressed and infected those who were its suppressors. The suppressors became what they had set out to suppress -- not in its mature creative form, of course, but in an infantile, violent, regressed, caricature thereof.
My third major argument (differing from the usual view) is that the revulsion for the implications of the new world view is far greater today all over Europe and America, indeed, the whole world, than it was in the 1920s -- particularly so in French, British and American intellectual life. Today, the popular revulsion has taken far more elaborated form: not only Christian fundamentalism, Hindu, Islamic, and Buddhist fundamentalism, but deconstructionism, chaos theory, nonlinear Newtonian dynamics, myriad post-movement art inconsequences, art music people can understand, virtual reality, a one-currency, one-media, one-company, one-boss, New World Order, 'We are the World!' cultural monism with the surveillance technologies and smart weapons systems to force compliance with the popular revulsion anywhere and at all times. And the chronic identity crisis involved in discovering that one is of a world the natural laws of which one has revulsion for has bred global epidemics of autoimmune and immune competency disorders. The human species stands on a precipice: it has long since chosen autoimmunity over understanding, and genetic engineering to repair the immune consequences of its failed understanding. The likelihood of a sudden change in this program is extremely small. Emotional armoring and contentions of incomprehensibility will continue to prevail. Like the four dogs in the courtyard, all the parties of the coming conflict will be on the same side until the instant the melee begins. Increased consciousness, which is certainly very unlikely, is the only possible solution.
the substantialism of why what happened happened
Contemporary university history-department historiography, and practices that inform writing of most popular histories, are tacitly based upon the premise that once the historian has relived in his own mind the events he studies through documentation, and has written down a descriptive account of that act of reliving, then he has nothing further to do. What happened and why what happened happened are pretty much considered to be the same. The complex metaphysical historical-law-type of historiographies embraced during past ages are rejected by the modern sentiment as substantialism, as an example of misplaced concreteness. Even the psychological history of a Thucydides, for example, is rejected on this basis. History as having interior and exterior aspects, rules, necessities, laws is regarded as fully discredited, as Germanic, as Platonic, as Hellenic. The late philosopher-historiographer, R. G. Collingwood, and the late philosopher-scientist, Karl Popper, made it their business to insure that this became so. The settling in of this anti-historiographic historiography, however, is actually a postwar phenomenon.
Collingwood, in THE IDEA OF HISTORY, wrote some thirty lectures on the philosophy of history, and addressed no one of them specifically to the issue of time. That we know what we need to know about the constitution of time in order to understand what history is, is just assumed -- or that, somehow, history has no significant relation to the properties of time sufficient to justify our preoccupation. Popper, in his commitment to a particular notion of an open society, regarded any idea of historical law as being inherently totalitarian in predisposition, and, therefore, illegitimate. There can be no developmental historical laws because knowledge acquisition is unpredictable -- no laws except the law of linear historical development, that is: progress. The notion of time, and hence of history, which Popper embraced was subordinate to the requirements of his political philosophy. And, clearly, Popperís political philosophy was largely determined by reaction to events that took place during the Thirties and Forties.
two inexplicabilities juxtaposed: Hitler and Planck's quantum
The period between 1930 and 1945 was a time when collective behaviors arrested human attention: the Big Band Era, even. The inexplicability of Hitler, so often agonized over, is because our assumptions about the causes of collective political and social behaviors are wrong. Contemporary scientific knowledge of collective behavior in physical systems -- which is essentially that of quantum mechanics -- has not been assimilated by the social sciences, and this fact is of great importance to our failure to understand the historical record of events associated with World War Two: the why of them, not only the what. Individuals donít cause mass psychoses, and the human species is not at all likely to survive the next several decades if it continues to cultivate the myth that they do.
Quantum mechanics has been on the scene since well before the Second World War, and the body of data and principle associated with the area of study called the physics of collective and cooperative phenomena has grown and grown over the half century since the war ended. Why, then, has this reservoir of knowledge not been analogically incorporated into our understanding of the war? Is this failure to utilize the full spectrum of our knowledge base a matter of deep significance, a revealing juxtaposition? Could this lack of generalization of post-Newtonian physical theory into social science paradigms -- not to mention neurology and neuropsychiatry -- have been involved in causing the war in the first place? Moreover, is the charge of reductionism so oft leveled these days by post-structuralists and deconstructionists, when any sort of physical theory is analogically applied to analysis of social behaviors, nothing really new? Isnít it part of a two-century-long pattern of dissembling certain themes, and wasnít this dissembling, too, involved in causing the war?
the central theme of World War Two: identity as a metaphysical category
What was thecentral theme so violently explored during World War Two? The answer, quite clearly, is the conflict between two very different notions of identity as a metaphysical category: that associated with the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm and that of quantum-relativity theory. This is not to say that two different identities opposed each other, but that the theme relates to different perspectives on the very idea of identity as a philosophical category. The thesis advanced here is that during the early part of the 19th century, in higher mathematics, a new notion of identity emerged to challenge the prevailing one. Over the decades, this concept clarified more and more, and as it did became increasingly controversial until, between the 1870s and the turn of the century, it became a matter of virtual hysteria in the society of pure mathematicians. By then it had found its way analogically into the fine and performing arts, into medicine, into sociology and anthropology, into theology, into the emerging science of psychology. Everything possible was done to resist and dissimulate the new idea. Then, early in the 20th century, the new concept of identity appeared in theoretical physics, where it was again denied, distorted, dissembled, and suppressed. World War Two explored the conflict between opposing conceptions of identity, but resolved nothing, and only drove the issues at stake deeper into the social marrow, there to fester.
why what happened happened: the rise of multivalued identity
Two fundamental scientific premises began to be challenged in higher mathematics by the 1820s: first, the notion that understanding requires all problems be reduced to a finite number of variables; and second, that this reduction of the physical world to the physical world-picture be accomplished by following accepted procedures for separating what is important from what is not. Knowing how to strip data of noise is to know how to make an experiment prove only what is acceptable to the reigning cosmology. The accepted procedures therefore play an enormous role in perpetuating a cosmology. Mathematical fundamentals in large measure set the terms of the accepted procedures, and, if altered, have profound consequences.
In 1826, the mathematician Niels Henrik Abel introduced a notion in his famous theorem on transcendental functions which has reverberated throughout subsequent history: the multiformity opposed to the uniformity Gauss dealt with in functions of a complex variable. This multiformity arises from the fact that solutions to general equations of the 5th degree and higher cannot be solved in a finite number of steps; their solutions are nonalgebraic. Discussions of this can become extremely complex, but the basic idea is quite straightforward. Multiformity is the result of multivaluedness: the circumstance where the identity of an element is associated with more than one value. The simplest case is a two-valued function where the value of a variable can be both positive and negative: plus and minus 2, for instance. In the general case, the number of values involved is infinite, n-valued. Abelís ideas were developed by Jacobi, Weierstrass, Riemann, and others, eventually finding their way into physics, most notably in the multivalued functions associated with SchrŲdingerís wave equation.
The notion that identity can have more than one value was not welcome. It was resisted. Ways were sought to get around it. Implications of the idea were not followed out cleanly. As an example of what transpired, there is the Riemann surface. Multivalued functions have many branches into which their value arrays fall. The branches cut across one another at critical values called branch points. By analogy, one could say that the strength characterized by a function lies not in the mass it represents -- as the geodesic dome so well illustrates in structural engineering -- but in the number of its branch points, which is a measure of its multiformity. And the degree of multiformity is a statement about the type of identity state involved. During the 1850s, Riemann found a way to represent all this with a multi-sheeted hypersurface where the sheets are connected to one another at the branch points of the function. He was thus able to follow the march of the function continuously through all of its values by moving from sheet to sheet over the hypersurface. The branches having been made relatively invisible, over the following decades, multivalued functions came to be treated as if they were somehow equivalent to single-valued functions. After the Riemann surface, it was much easier to forget that there is a fundamental difference between the notions of identity associated with multiformity and uniformity. Single-valued identity implies that an element or entity is singular, selfsame, self-identical, the-same-as-itself -- and that there is absolute distinction, an identity opaqueness, between separate entities. Multivaluedness, on the other hand, implies multiple selves, interior dissociation, collective properties, hidden aspects, group behaviors -- and that distinctions between entities cannot be absolute, that there is identity transparency.
the holographic identity of infinite sets
A further development to arise out of this general area of mathematical thought, a development with profound consequences for the basic idea of what identity is, was Georg Cantorís creation of the theory of transfinite numbers. Equations that cannot be solved in a finite number of steps immediately give rise to the thought of infinity. Transcendental functions and equations of the 5th degree and higher, which Abelís theorem addresses, demand a consideration of the notion of infinity. Cantor, more than anyone else, devoted himself to this task, and in the process created the basic ideas of set theory. A general sense of discomfort at how things were going in higher mathematics became a sense of alarm in the 1870s and '80s with publication of Cantorís discoveries.
Most upsetting was his definition of a countable transfinite set: any set whose elements can be put into one-to-one correspondence with the elements of one of its proper subsets. This definition prescribed a certain kind of identicalness between the whole and the part -- which are supposed to be distinct, the one being larger than the other because the one contains the other! Eighty years later, the hologram would be found to provide a physical model of this transparent whole-part identity relation. If you break a holographic plate and then project the image stored upon it using only a small piece, you get the whole image, if a bit fuzzy like the new logic the Japanese have recently applied to refrigerators. The part contains all the information of the whole, in a fashion analogous to the definition given by Cantor! Selfsameness, self-identicalness, being the same-as-itself was apparently violated by the mathematical objects receiving Cantorís consideration: transfinite sets.
Axiom of Choice and spiritual channeling
Properties of structural generation of such sets gave rise to what was eventually called Cantor dust: an infinite set of points. This idea appeared about the same time as Impressionism in painting and music: pointillism and chromaticism, both expressions of a breakdown of clear distinctness in identity relations. And Cantor made his definition of a countable transfinite set very concrete with the famous diagonal proof. Many mathematicians, however, called: Foul! The identicalness between part and whole was regarded by some as a logical fallacy. Russell and Whitehead wrote their PRINCIPIA MATHEMATICA largely to address this reservation concerning what Cantor had done. Others disparaged the method used to prove the existence of the set, because it involved all at once choosing a transfinite number of elements, which they maintained could not, in principle, be practically accomplished. Controversy around this issue centered upon the Axiom of Choice and the idea of an existence proof. By the turn of the century, it would be fair to say, alarm in higher mathematics had turned to virtual hysteria. And this, at the very time in music that the gravitational pull of tonality was evaporating into the fog on fog -- to use Herman Weylís pejorative characterization of Cantorís mathematics -- of atonality, and in physics when Einstein was formulating the ideas which would lead to developments slaying the notion of force as a fundamental in physics.
The basic issue at stake in all these cases was how identity as a property of existence was to be conceived. Alarm turned to hysteria in mathematics, not only because the simple selfsameness of the mathematical object was under assault, but also because there was a growing awareness that the simple-identity of the mathematician, himself, was, by direct implication, being called into question. If choosing an infinite number of elements was to be allowed as practical of accomplishment, clearly this was not something a selfsame mathematician could actually do in a finite period of time; it would require some other kind of mathematician, one perhaps with non-simple identity, with multiple selves, with collective properties. My God! Such choosing might even be a collective occasion of experience. The spiritual aspect of the mathematician, itself -- his unconscious mind -- might in some way involve transfinite sets! Which was precisely what Cantor had explicitly been saying all along in his theological commentaries. Spirit entities, inner voices, channeling messages from higher realities: all of this was possibly implied.
Indeed, in 1870, at the very beginning of the era of the transfinite set, the Burghölzli Psychiatric Clinic was set up in Zurich. Kraeplelinís book on dementia praecox, defining psychological dissociation for the first time as a mental disease, was published in 1896, just as the controversy over the Axiom of Choice was coming to a head. Bleuler substituted the term schizophrenia for dementia praecox in 1907, and not too long thereafter Lévy-Bruhl introduced the notion of participation mystique -- animistic subject-object identity transparency -- as being characteristic of primitive, tribal, pagan forms of identity. During the same period, C. G. Jung formulated the idea of a collective unconscious. Were such thematically-related occurrences unconnected to what was at the time transpiring with such agony in higher mathematics?
doubting axioms incompletely
Another line of mathematical development, also beginning in the 1820s, one not specifically related to Abelian functions, contributed to the growing sense of dread. Lobachewsky, by challenging an axiom -- to use Einsteinís phrase -- that of the parallel postulate, created a new type of geometry, a non-Euclidean geometry. But that is the least that can be said of his accomplishment! At approximately the same time Abel worked his magic, or, depending on your perspective, his mischief, Lobachewsky discovered a loose thread in the fabric of mathematics as a systematic logical whole, and gave that thread a yank. Over the next hundred years mathematics just about completely unraveled.
At first, however, the method of doubting axioms seemed capable of generating endless new universes of mathematics. It was successfully applied in virtually every branch of the field and even gave rise to a new branch called axiomatics or foundations. It worked like this: first, the logical structure of a given area of mathematics, say, arithmetic, was rigorously delineated. The axioms were identified, demonstrated, and so on. Then, one after another, each of these axioms was challenged and the resulting system, absent the challenged axiom, characterized. This characterization generally constituted a new mathematical instrument, a new arithmetic or algebra, for instance, or a field, an associative ring, and so on. Euphoria developed in certain circles. Mathematics was going to be demonstrated perfect, complete, absolutely reliable. Soon after the turn of the century, this euphoria drove full across the dread generated by Abel and Cantor -- and soon thereafter foundered in its own right. All sorts of problems developed as attempts were made to rigorously ascertain the logical structure of larger and larger regions of mathematics. One line of problems culminated in 1931 with Gödelís theorem proving, essentially, that mathematics could never be demonstrated logically consistent or complete.
However, something more profound had happened in 1921, and, basically, was ignored -- something that corroborated the new notion of identity invoked by Abel and Cantor, something that, if properly attended to, would have revised fundamentally our understanding of the implications of Gödelís theorem and transformed quantum physics. Strangely, very strangely, throughout the whole period of the axiomatic development of mathematics, the principle of challenging an axiom had never been applied to the field of logic itself, the very home ground of axiomatics. But in 1921 something almost like that occurred. Jan Lukasiewicz produced the first non-binary logic -- a logic where a proposition could have one of three values, not just the usual two: true or false, on or off, yin or yang. Emil Post, that same year, described the general case: m-valued truth systems. But there was subterfuge involved, double subterfuge, actually. Postís paper contained a disclaimer: in spite of this general theory of elementary propositions being completely rigorous, still, he said, the most fundamental order of value was the 2-valued system, because it conformed most fully to the notion of completely true or completely false. The prevailing notion of identity was not to be violated, nor was the idea to be questioned that truth-value is the foundation of logic.
Traditionally, Aristotelian-Baconian logic codifies the selfsame notion of identity as the only possible notion of identity. This is accomplished by the Law of Excluded Contradiction (no A is not-A) and the Law of Excluded Middle (the case is either A or not-A): mandating the requirements of simple-identity and identity opaqueness, respectively. Multivaluedness means simultaneously embracing more than one value, so Postís logics were not really m-valued in the full sense, given that the propositions could embrace only one value at a time out of the m-values possible. Propositions that could have more than one answer simultaneously could not, obviously, be an expression of truth-value. They would be statements about non-selfsame identity states. Post, apparently, did not want to contemplate the implications of this, did not want to entertain a notion of logic rooted in identity states with many simultaneous orders of value -- or, given the prevailing climate in mathematics, felt that it would have been unproductive to do so. Had he pursued this, however, he likely would have prepared the way for seeing that incompleteness and the inability to demonstrate consistency of 2-valued-logic-constructed systems opens inevitably on the new world: m-valued-logic-constructed-systems. And, furthermore, had he done this, it is very likely that, five years later, Schrödingerís wave equation would not have been interpreted in terms of probabilities, as Max Born was to suggest.
Schrödinger's cat, Cubism, and Proust's Remembrance
The variables Schrödinger described in his famous quantum equation were multivalued. To greatly simplify for clarity: for any given value of the time-related variable, there was not only one corresponding value of the spatial variable establishing a single position in space, but multiple values. The equation appeared to say that a given object could be in many different places simultaneously, even in an infinite number of places. This was extremely disturbing, because -- to paraphrase the physicist Hugh Everett writing in the late-Fifties -- in our experience, objects always have definite positions. Of course, Braque and Picasso appeared not to have been aware of this when they painted the superposed images of Analytical Cubism. And Everett, at Princeton University, apparently did not know that in the late-Forties optical physicist, Rudolf K. Luneburg, had demonstrated in his optics laboratory at Columbia University that objects are not localizable in binocular visual space, absent certain learned psychological factors. Object localizability, it appeared, was a learned behavior -- just as Piaget was then discovering about object constancy in his studies of cognitive development in children. Proust clearly contemplated this issue in his own way, for he speculates, in REMEMRANCE OF THINGS PAST, that Perhaps the immobility of things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves, and not something else. This statement was a mark of utter genius, reflecting the degree to which Proust had perceptually entered the new world -- for it is much easier to conceive than to perceive.
A means of understanding this multiplicity in identity would have been provided by an m-valued logic of identity states. But this was not to be. Max Born suggested that the multiple values of the spatial variable in Schrödingerís equation do not designate real states, but represent only the probabilities that the object is in the places indicated by the given values. Schrödinger never embraced this interpretation, which he regarded merely as an easy way out. Nonetheless, it became an orthodoxy in the field, an element of the reigning cosmology that accepted procedures for separating noise from data would sustain. Schrödinger wrote his breakaway equation while practicing Tantric yoga with two of his female graduate students in an isolated mountain cabin in the Austrian Alps: the identity transparency described by the equation being a characteristic property of sexually-induced Tantric modes of consciousness. Vadriyana and Tzog-chen -- two Tantric disciplines -- provide elaborate and detailed characterizations of these modes of non-simple identity. That the interpretation of pedantic Born so easily prevailed over creative Schrödinger is a metaphor for the whole of the 20th century. Bornís interpretation, and its quick acceptance, can be viewed as the straw that broke the camelís back in regards to deep levels of causation of World War Two. This was 1926, the year when the critical state was reached in transition to general war. Complex social events like world wars have, not only multiple causes, but multiple levels of causation.
chaos theory and collective regression
The contemporary field of mathematics and physics called chaos theory is a way of looking at multivalued processes as if they were single-valued. More mathematically stated: the orbit of a Sierpinski point with irrational coordinates is determined by the values of those coordinates, although the orbit may look utterly chaotic. Here we have deterministic chaos. Indeed, for points arbitrarily close to a Sierpinski point, image mappings diverge exponentially. This divergence is regarded as error and provides the definition of chaos: small errors grow exponentially and overwhelm any regularities. But the notion of regularity, of order, involved here is established in awareness from long-habituated application of a calculus of propositions derived only from a single-valued logic. Chaos theory views multivalued processes only from a single-valued perspective. What looks utterly chaotic to a binary mind would appear perfectly regular to a mind accustomed to the appropriate m-valued logic of identity states. Chaos theory has greatly complexified the dissimulation, which, by now, has become habitual, allowing us to treat multivalued functions as if they were single-valued. Thus do we suppress collective states of identity which scare us to death. This suppression prevents socially integrative collective behaviors, and, through regression, insures that violent expressions only will prevail, ultimately, mass forms of warfare.
critical states, correlation lengths, and generative empathy
The physics of collective and cooperative behaviors in physical systems tells us that some very unusual things happen when a critical state is reached, a critical state like the Curie temperature. Normally, the farther removed in space the elements of a corpus are, the less are their behaviors correlated with one another. At the critical state, however, the correlation length goes to infinity: no matter how far removed in space the elements of the corpus are, their behaviors remain highly correlated with one another. Coherency -- like marching soldiers being in step -- is a state where behaviors are highly correlated. A physical process involving this property is superconductivity. The transition from the normal state to the coherent state is a transition in identity relations; it is not a mere matter of information transfer. The very property of infinitude in correlation length rules out the possibility of information exchange being the basic mechanism involved. Absolute logical distinction between A and not-A breaks down as the correlation length goes to infinity; single-valuedness transits to multivaluedness; identity opaqueness becomes identity transparency.
The historic traditions of Germanic peoples, more than those of other European national groups, resonated with the new concept of identity: the Erdgeist soil-spirit, the primacy of Einfühlung or generative empathy, the myth-enriched evocations of animistic subject-object identity transparency. During the Weimar period major efforts were afoot to prepare an intellectual, emotional, sexual, social, economic foundation sufficient to harmoniously integrate the new notion of identity. Various German principalities experimented with an approximation to a multivalued exchange unit in banking. There was Husserlís reductive phenomenology; the German enthusiasts for Titchenerís introspectionism; Wertheimer, Koffka, and Kohlerís gestalt approach to perceptual psychology; Anita Berberís public nudism and fornication; the emergence of autogenic training out of the psychophysiologic brain research of Oscar Vogt and his wife Cecile. This last was perhaps most significant because its medical model of disease onset in the individual person prefigured what was to transpire in the German people as a whole: an exemplary case of part-whole identity transparency. Since the German people most constellated the phase transition to a new identity construct, necessitated by the scientific-discovery-driven shift to a post-Newtonian paradigm, when the whole civilization panicked, back-reacted, suppressed it, the German people became the epileptic focus of the resulting civilization-wide systemic seizure. The critical state was reached in 1925 when Schrödinger produced his quantum wave equation: the correlation length for collective inner coherency, what Kandinsky called inner necessity, expanded explosively. But self-organized criticality was never reached: the process was short-circuited by fear, by dread, by longing for the past. Global war was the result.
Oscar Vogt and autogenic discharges
Oscar Vogt could properly be called the father of neuropsychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. Before 1900, he studied hypnosis under August Forel at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Clinic in Zurich; later, with Charcot in Paris. From the turn of the century until the end of the Twenties his Neurobiologisches Institut at Magdeburger Strasse 16 in Berlin conducted anatomical and psychophysiologic studies on the brain, and counted amongst its psychoanalytic clientele many of the leading personalities of the day in the German capital. Later, he was the Director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research at Berlin-Buch. When the Nazis kicked him out in 1937, a privately funded institute in Neustadt/Schwarzwald became his locus of research. Studies conducted under his guidance made fundamental contribution to our understanding in virtually every area of neurology. Around 1920, Johannes Schultz developed autogenic training in relation to many of Vogtís findings in hypnosis, sleep studies, neurophysiology. As the multitude of clinical case histories mounted and were analyzed, as the complaints, symptoms, therapeutic developments were cross-correlated, a fascinating principle emerged into clear light: thematic evasion is pathogenic, both psychologically and physiologically.
If certain prerequisites are met -- usually under hypnosis, in meditation, or in autogenic training -- the brain shifts into an alternate mode of functioning called trophotropic, meaning movement toward or away from nourishment: as in vomiting and defecation, for instance. During shift to this brain state, anatomical structures associated with the brainstem reticular network begin to constellate records of stress for electrochemical discharge during clinical periods of therapeutic abreaction. The brain prepares to vomit, to electrochemically unload, pathogenic factors. These records are thematically organized. The brain orchestrates the release-for-discharge of the material according to themes. If the patient does not like the themes, is afraid of them, distorts, resists, suppresses them, then this is inevitably associated with a bad prognosis: the onset of fulmination periods is clearly seen as stemming from this clinically observed brain-antagonizing behavior. A seizure is a spreading of discharge across a large neighborhood of brain cells. Movement to some critical state of psychophysiologic self-antagonism precedes onset of the collective behavior of neurons which is the defining characteristic of a seizure. Presently, this transition to some critical state is a controversial area of biological science, because evidence continues to mount that the principles of quantum mechanics are involved in brain cell function, indeed, the functioning of all cells.
thematic evasion and world war
For the sake of continued thematic evasion, are we to persist in cultivating the notion that identity as a fundamental property of existence is somehow different from one field to the next: mathematics, physics, biology, immunology, neurology, psychology, history, and so on? In face of m-valued logics and holographic part-whole identity transparency, are we to continue to hide behind the idea of category error and maintain that principles descriptive of the individual organismís behavior cannot be validly applied to that of the group? Are we any longer going to insist that collective human social behaviors have nothing significant in common with collective behaviors on other scale levels: neurons and elementary particles, for instance? Should historians persist in viewing the onset of Nazism in primarily politico-socio-economic terms, in large part denying that it had a multitude of other deeper dimensions? Is the inexplicability of Hitler always to be regarded as purely a German problem?
Or should we be asking: Was Hitler responsible? Indeed, did Hitler even exist as an absolutely-in-so-far-as-distinct psychological entity after, say, 1930? The non-simple identity characteristic of collective and cooperative behaviors in quantum systems makes these questions obligatory. They have been suppressed because the implications would be fundamentally threatening to Roman law, British common law, and, indeed, all constructs of governance predicated upon the assumption of identity opaqueness. There would, furthermore, be the necessity of generalizing quantum and relativity theory into the social sciences. But this is precisely why World War Two transpired! The choice against this option was made three-quarters of a century ago. In order to build a case for the validity of that choice, historiography had to become anti-historiographic, because any sort of psychological orientation in historical analysis would reveal the deeper dimensions of causality involved in precipitating 20th century events. We have become like a self-antagonized mockingbird contemplating the inversion which is its own voice returning as echo. Moreover, any suggestion that historical processes, in principle, are similar to natural processes, in principle, would necessarily confront the historian with the fact that the details of personal conflict between mathematicians and physicists concerning these principles analogically prefigured the subsequent massed warfare. University textbooks of mathematics and physics rigorously exclude accounts of such conflict.
precedence versus substantialism
It is unfortunate for anti-historiographic historiography, however, that over the last seventy-five years quantum and relativity theory have been ever more experimentally verified. It is even more unfortunate for the well-being of the human species, because, as the world view construct diverges further and further from the Cartesian-Newtonian assumptive base upon which institutions of human governance have been constructed, the risk of occasions of massed warfare even greater than those of the first two world wars increases enormously. If we are to liberate the future from the past, and the past from the future, we must strip the anti- out of postwar historiography by once again taking up the questions raised by the ancients. Plato, in TIMAEUS, stated that time is the moving image of eternity, thereby suggesting a necessary involutory relation between logical precedence and temporal precedence. History, in this view, becomes the forms of the form or the substances of the substance, thus drawing into question the epistemological status of the very idea of simple precedence -- logical, ontological, temporal. Actual precedence may not reduce to a simple one-termed relation between antecedent and consequent; it may be, at its most fundamental, a multi-termed, complex relation. The basic problem for the philosopher of history is consciousness and time. On the inside of the historical act, we must ask, is consciousness taken out of time or is time taken out of consciousness? Or, indeed, is this distinction one of substance?
NOTES MADE YEARS AFTER THIS PAPER WAS POSTED:
Of course, one cannot discuss Daniel Goldhagen's thesis about complicity of ordinary Germans with the holocaust of the Jews (Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, N.Y.: Knopf, 1996) without mention of Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich's The Inability to Mourn: Principles of Collective Behavior (Beverley Placzek, translator, N.Y.: Grove, 1975). But the act of complicity is not the same thing as the act of silence about the act of complicity. There is no contesting Goldhagen's thesis on complicity, and the thought that such complicity could have been absent would not even occur to anyone knowledgeable about collective psychological processes, but, as I argued to Goldhagen in a letter soon after his book appeared, to come down heavy upon the individual German as, however indirectly or directly, morally responsible (principles of collective behavior be damned!) is to continue to promulgate, indeed to reinvigorate, the falsification chiefly responsible for the holocaust and the complicity being decried and castigated: suppression of collective states of consciousness built into the quantum structure of the brain, as discussed in Echo of the Mockingbird, is responsible for regression of those states into infantile unruly violence, organized or not. Goldhagen's simplistic notion of moral responsibility, being based upon a falsification of nature as well as social processes, pathological or not, strongly carries the suppression forward, thus helping to insure that similar events will again transpire -- in some other setting, driven by other immediate forcing functions. Given that Goldhagen sits at Yale, with all the resources available on that campus, there is absolutely no excuse for his being unfamiliar with the issues discussed in Echo, no excuse whatsoever for becoming a contributing factor to holocausts yet to come.
The following long quotation from Orlando Figes' review Reconstructing Hell of Anne Applebaum's book Gulag: A History (in New York Review of Books, June 12, 2003) appears germane to the present subject (pp. 48-9):
One of the prisoners at Solovetsky [Camp of Special Significance (SLON) established by the GPU on a White Sea island in 1923] was Naftaly Frenkel, a Jewish businessman from Palestine, it seems, who became involved in smuggling to Soviet Russia sometime after 1917 and was arrested by the authorities in 1923. Shocked by the camp's inefficiency, Frenkel wrote a letter setting out his ideas on how to run the camp, and put it in the prisoners' complaints box. Somehow the letter got to Genrikh Yagoda, the fast-rising star (and future leader) of the NKVD. Frenkel was whisked off to Moscow, where he explained his plans for the use of prison labor to Stalin. Frenkel was released in 1927 and placed in charge of turning SLON into a profit-making enterprise. The prison's population expanded rapidly, from 10,000 in 1927 to 71,000 in 1931, as SLON won contracts to fell timber and build roads, and took over factories in Karelia, on the Finnish border. Prisoners were organized according to their physical abilities, and given rations according to how much work they did. The strong survived and the weak died.
This in effect was the Gulag's origin as an economic system of slave labor. SLON became the kernel for the organization that built the White Sea Canal, at which point it was dissolved. Frenkel's simple principles were then applied in all the most notorious labor camps (at Kolyma, Magadan, and Karaganda) in the 1930s and 1940s.
I wonder what Auschwitz's Primo Levi would think of his forbear trustie Naftaly Frenkel. Is this a case of individual moral responsibility or one of introjective transference playing itself out collectively on a synchronistic historical scale? I know that people, for the very most part, do not understand identification, projection, introjection, projective identification, transference even as they apply to the individual, let alone in collective manifestations, but isn't that fact simply a concomitant, if not a cause/effect-type "cause", of the very pathology being discussed here? People, truly, have no idea whatsoever as to what actually caused the world wars, and therefore have no idea of the magnitude of what is soon to come crashing down upon them.
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