Psychological relation between culture, nature and urbanization


The Force is Strong With This One
Several months ago I pondered upon an idea which was kind of own synthesis inspired by several sources and quotes, see below which could currently remember. However, I wonder if exist a source where the idea is originally mentioned and discussed. I need help about finding such source(s), and quote(s), because of a friend who asked me about them, and also would be grateful for your opinion in relation to it. I will make a thread here because it is related to psychology. The idea is: „Nature inspires alive culture – culture inspires dead culture“.

In other words, a „healthy“ human culture with all its forms from social behavior to art, are created with direct relation and inspiration by nature in which humans (sub)consciously seek to find their place in ecology of their territory, up to whole planet Earth or cosmos, a reflection of their meaning of existence and proper way of being. It is „alive“ because the factor of inspiration, nature, is something vivid, omnipresent and everlasting. It is „healthy“ because humans are aware of their natural animality, have a cult of their own body (e.g. human figure in aesthetics and sculpture), as well awareness of relations (kind of duality) within themselves i.e. that their whole being is a relation between various elements or centers, for example from bodily sexuality/instinct to heartful emotions/feelings, and brainy thoughts/reasoning. This causes in the art to follow something like a golden ratio, among other things, resulting in something which can be measured, or if it is less mathematical at least valued - „beauty“. It has, in Peterson terms, sense of logos or consciousness (conscious introspection) in an intermediate relationship between cultural order and natural chaos.

I see the idea in relation to the urbanization which is basically separation from nature. The infrastructure and social organization in such environment are built, maybe impetuously, as a fertile ground for the creation and from certain point survival of subconscious thoughts which with all the related frustrations lead to the realization of various sexual, emotional and intellectual perversions. This second idea is that „urban culture is basically projected subconscious playground“. It is an enclosed „safe space“ for the subconscious realization, an escape from a confrontation of properly living along chaotic nature.

Being „detached“ and „disenchanted“ from previous inspiration – broad nature and narrow human nature – perhaps with a vision of free expression („freedom“) of the human mind without any body and other boundaries (social determinism i.e. tabula rasa versus biological determinism), as well followed with the nihilistic „death of God“ (meaning and relationship), the antrhopologically centered culture inspired from previous cultural expression (often destroyed and twisted as remains of the carcass) and new expression (often without any exact form), it becomes „dead“, „sick“, and „ugly“. Why, if humans are from a part of nature? I would argue because the thoughts i.e. culture are a finished and dead product, a dead end, in reality, nonexistent and more like a potential, an object with a very limited meaning, shape, and movement of interaction, nevertheless its sense of survivability when become associated with the human identity („ideas have people“). As such, a constant copying of the old-new cultural products/behavior will occur so as there would be no lack of urban cultural inspiration, ironically limiting the desired progressive freedom; with fear of death, and as such of certain identity behavior, will be psychological pressure of promoting and recruiting people in certain „subcultural communities“ (e.g. from punk to queer/LGBT); there's no actual sense for real feelings (e.g. to „feel“ this and this X gender is fake feeling made of thoughts/fantasy desires) and body, which is part of human „essence“ (?; see Gurdjieff's quote below), is treated like it's dead and not connected with mind (e.g. plastic operations, sex change operations, hormone therapies), and so on, limiting their individuation for true human, cultural, and artistic behavior and expression.

Would end it with quotes about art by Gurdjieff from an essay „Gurdjieff's Theory of Art“ (1998/1999) by Dr. Anna Challenger:

„I do not call art all that you call art, which is simply mechanical reproduction, imitation of nature or of other people, or simply fantasy or an attempt to be original. Real art is something quite different.... In your art everything is subjective—the artist’s perception of this or that sensation, the forms in which he tries to express his sensation and the perception of these forms by other people.... In real art there is nothing accidental.... The artist knows and understands what he wants to convey, and his work cannot produce one impression on one man and one impression on another, presuming, or course, people on one level.“

„When we fail to make conscious efforts to evolve, we are mechanically carried downward in a process of devolution or degeneration—the only movement which takes place without deliberate interference. Making conscious efforts means forcing ourselves to act against the forces of inertia which result mechanically from the opposing forces of nature. When we succumb to inertia, the laws of nature carry us downward in consciousness and understanding. Only through conscious efforts can we resist this process of degeneration: “If you make conscious efforts, Nature must pay…It is a law,” says Gurdjieff, describing the relationship of humans and nature. All intentional efforts to force movement in an upward direction and against the laws of nature, result in the evolution of human consciousness.“

„The concept of conscious evolution leads us to Gurdjieff’s second key premise about art—that it must be functional. The function of art and of the artist is to intervene and to assist in the process of conscious evolution. To aid us in our upward movement towards higher understanding and to help us struggle against the opposing forces of nature is the sacred purpose and obligation of art.“

In short: „“Subjective art”, for example, in Gurdjieff’s terminology, refers to most of what is commonly interpreted as art. Most twentieth-century art in its various forms, according to his standards, would fall into this category. But subjective art is not authentic art for him; it is the result of mechanical, unconscious human activity, and most of humanity is unconscious according to Gurdjieff. For the same reason, he refers to subjective art as “soulless” in that it results from little or no consciousness on the part of the would-be artist. In his introduction to Meetings with Remarkable Men, he asserts that contemporary civilization is unique in history in its massive production of soulless, pseudo art. On the other hand, “objective art” is authentic art in that it results from deliberate, pre-meditated efforts on the part of a conscious artist. In the act of creation, the true artist avoids or eliminates any input which is subjective or arbitrary, and the impression of such art on those who experience it is always definite. To the degree that objective art is the result of consciousness, it inherently possesses “soul.” As one example of soulful art, Gurdjieff cites the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci; as another he refers to the Taj Mahal.“

I currently have a difficulty to coherently compare and put in context Gurdjieff's consideration with above thesis, perhaps can be ignored or not as is focused on art rather culture in a broad sense, but would like your opinion about it. In the post below see the quotes which inspired the idea.


The Force is Strong With This One
W. Reich:

„The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive. As diverse as the cries for freedom may be, basically they all express one and the same thing: The intolerability of the rigidity of the organism and of the machine-like institutions which create a sharp conflict with the natural feelings for life. Not until there is a social order in which all cries for freedom subside will man have overcome his biological and social crippling, will he have attained genuine freedom. Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.“ (The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933). Section 3: Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague)

A. Lowen:

„The primary nature of every human being is to be open to life and love. Being guarded, armoured, distrustful and enclosed is second nature in our culture. It is the means we adopt to protect ourselves against being hurt, but when such attitudes become characterological or structured in the personality, they constitute a more severe hurt and create a greater crippling than the one originally suffered.“ (Bioenergetics: The Revolutionary Therapy That Uses the Language of the Body to Heal the Problems of the Mind, 1975)

Lowen: „The problem that we have is that a culture is not a body culture, is a headend oriented culture, more and more, emphasizing thinking and power, and not feelings, a feeling is the last thing that enters the picture of modern life. So you are... I am afraid we are fighting a losing battle on this in some way“, Frank Hladky: „Well certainly socially looks like our problems get bigger and bigger all the time“, Lowen: „Yeah, when you lose contact with your body, you enter a little bit of insane world, that's where insanity is. You become unreal, you don't feel yourself in a human way, and that's, you see a lot of that going around here, and I am afraid that's going to get worse“. (YouTube video "The Insanity of Culture", from "The Energetics of Bioenergetics" DVD, 1998)

C. G. Jung:

„The erotic instinct is something questionable, and will always be so whatever a future set of laws may have to say on the matter. It belongs, on the one hand, to the original animal nature of man, which will exist as long as man has an animal body. On the other hand, it is connected with the highest forms of the spirit. But it blooms only when the spirit and instinct are in true harmony. If one or the other aspect is missing, then an injury occurs, or at least there is a one-sided lack of balance which easily slips into the pathological. Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being, too much culture makes a sick animal.“ (The Psychology of the Unconscious, 1943)

M. Fukuoka:

„Something born from human pride and quest for pleasure cannot be considered true culture. True culture is born with nature, and is simple, humble, and pure. Lacking true culture, humanity will perish.“ (The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, 1975-78)

R. Scruton:

„A high culture is the self-consciousness of a society. It contains the works of art, literature, scholarship and philosophy that establish a shared frame of reference among educated people. High culture is a precarious achievement, and endures only if it is underpinned by a sense of tradition, and by a broad endorsement of the surrounding social norms. When those things evaporate, as inevitably happens, high culture is superseded by a culture of fakes... Faking depends on a measure of complicity between the perpetrator and the victim, who together conspire to believe what they don't believe and to feel what they are incapable of feeling. There are fake beliefs, fake opinions, fake kinds of expertise. There is also fake emotion, which comes about when people debase the forms and the language in which true feeling can take root, so that they are no longer fully aware of the difference between the true and the false... We are interested in high culture because we are interested in the life of the mind, and we entrust the life of the mind to institutions because it is a social benefit... The most important way of clearing intellectual space for fake scholarship [and philosophy] and culture is to marginalise the concept of truth [which he relates to subjecive postmodernism].“ (The Guardian, R. Scruton: „High culture is being corrupted by a culture of fakes“, 2012)

„...the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art... At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress moral certainties, and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes... The words and the music speak of love and compassion, but their message is drowned out by the scenes of desecration, murder, and narcissistic sex... scenes of destruction... cannibalism, dismemberment, meaningless pain... life is not celebrated by art but targeted by it...

Many of the uglinesses cultivated in our world today refer back to the two experiences that I have singled out. The body in the throes of death; the body in the throes of sex—these things easily fascinate us. They fascinate us by desecrating the human form, by showing the human body as a mere object among objects, the human spirit as eclipsed and ineffectual, and the human being as overcome by external forces, rather than as a free subject bound by the moral law. And it is on these things that the art of our time seems to concentrate, offering us not only sexual pornography but a pornography of violence that reduces the human being to a lump of suffering flesh made pitiful, helpless, and disgusting.

All of us have a desire to flee from the demands of responsible existence, in which we treat one another as worthy of reverence and respect. All of us are tempted by the idea of flesh and by the desire to remake the human being as pure flesh—an automaton, obedient to mechanical desires. To yield to this temptation, however, we must first remove the chief obstacle to it: the consecrated nature of the human form. We must sully the experiences—such as death and sex—that otherwise call us away from temptations, toward the higher life of sacrifice. This willful desecration is also a denial of love—an attempt to remake the world as though love were no longer a part of it. And that, surely, is the most important characteristic of the postmodern culture: it is a loveless culture, determined to portray the human world as unlovable.

One response is to look for beauty in its other and more everyday forms—the beauty of settled streets and cheerful faces, of natural objects and genial landscapes. It is possible to throw dirt on these things, too, and it is the mark of a second-rate artist to take such a path to our attention—the via negativa of desecration... [while] the via positiva of beauty ... there is no reason yet to think that we must abandon it.“ (City Journal, R. Scruton: „Beauty and Desecration“, 2009)

G. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky:

„"For a man of Western culture," I said, "it is of course difficult to believe and to accept the idea that an ignorant fakir, a naive monk, or a yogi who has retired from life may be on the way to evolution while an educated European, armed with 'exact knowledge' and all the latest methods of investigation, has no chance whatever and is moving in a circle from which there is no escape." "Yes, that is because people believe in progress and culture," said G. "There is no progress whatever. Everything is just the same as it was thousands, and tens of thousands, of years ago. The outward form changes. The essence does not change. Man remains just the same. 'Civilized' and 'cultured' people live with exactly the same interests as the most ignorant savages. Modem civilization is based on violence and slavery and fine words. But all these fine words about 'progress' and 'civilization' are merely words." (P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pg. 58?)

„And especially in Western culture, it is considered that a man may possess great knowledge, for example he may be an able scientist, make discoveries, advance science, and at the same time he may be, and has the right to be, a petty, egoistic, caviling, mean, envious, vain, naive, and absent-minded man. It seems to be considered here that a professor must always forget his umbrella everywhere.… And they do not understand that a man's knowledge depends on the level of his being. If knowledge gets far ahead of being, it becomes theoretical and abstract and inapplicable to life, or actually harmful, because instead of serving life and helping people the better to struggle with the difficulties they meet, it begins to complicate man's life, brings new difficulties into it, new troubles and calamities which were not there before. The reason for this is that knowledge which is not in accordance with being can never be large enough for, or sufficiently suited to, man's real needs. It will always be a knowledge of one thing together with ignorance of another thing; a knowledge of the detail, without a knowledge of the whole; a knowledge of the form without a knowledge of the essence.… A change in the nature of knowledge is possible only with a change in the nature of being.“ (P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pg. 65–66?)

„"Essence is the truth in man; personality is the false. But in proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself more and more rarely and more and more feebly and it very often happens that essence stops in its growth at a very early age and grows no further... Essence has more chances of development in men who live nearer to nature in difficult conditions of constant struggle and danger. "But as a rule the personality of such people is very little developed. They have more of what is their own, but very little of what is 'not their own,' that is to say, they lack education and instruction, they lack culture. Culture creates personality and is at the same time the product and the result of personality. We do not realize that the whole of our life, all we call civilization, all we call science, philosophy, art, and politics, is created by people's personality, that is, by what is 'not their own' in them... in the case of less cultured people essence is often more highly developed than it is in cultured man. It would seem that they ought to be nearer the possibility of growth, but in reality it is not so because their personality proves to be insufficiently developed. For inner growth, for work on oneself, a certain development of personality as well as a certain strength of essence are necessary. Personality consists of 'rolls,' and of 'buffers' resulting from a certain work of the centers. An insufficiently developed personality means a lack of 'rolls,' that is, a lack of knowledge, a lack of information, a lack of the material upon which work on oneself must be based. Without some store of knowledge, without a certain amount of material 'not his own,' a man cannot begin to work on himself, he cannot begin to study himself, he cannot begin to struggle with his mechanical habits, simply because there will be no reason or motive for undertaking such work... Thus evolution is equally difficult for a cultured or an uncultured man. A cultured man lives far from nature, far from natural conditions of existence, in artificial conditions of life, developing his personality at the expense of his essence. A less cultured man, living in more normal and more natural conditions, develops his essence at the expense of his personality. A successful beginning of work on oneself requires the happy occurrence of an equal development of personality and essence.“ (P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pg. 169-171?)

„"In the ordinary conditions of cultured life the position of a man, even of an intelligent man, who is seeking for knowledge is hopeless, because, in the circumstances surrounding him, there is nothing resembling either fakir or yogi schools, while the religions of the West have degenerated to such an extent that for a long time there has been nothing alive in them. Various occult and mystical societies and naive experiments in the nature of spiritualism, and so on, can give no results whatever.“ P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pg. 55?)

Contemporary culture requires automatons. And people are undoubtedly losing their acquired habits of independence and turning into automatons, into parts of machines. It is impossible to say where is the end of all this and where the way out or whether there is an end and a way out. One thing alone is certain, that man's slavery grows and increases. Man is becoming a willing slave. He no longer needs chains. He begins to grow fond of his slavery, to be proud of it. And this is the most terrible thing that can happen to a man.“ (P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pg. 316?)
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