Monday, October 13, 2008

Invitation to a discussion:

Is striving towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance largely a practical matter, or is it mostly a symbolic act of self-actualization? I mean symbolic in the Jungian "big" sense, such as I did in the past with the usage of the terms sailing and seasteading. . .

It's clearly both, but I'm more and more leaning towards the latter. If so, it is important that we keep that foremost in our minds.

What do you all think?

8 comments:

subgenius said...

Jay,

Could you explain what you mean by the "symbolic... in the Jungian 'big' sense" - I have studied psychology, but from a neural rather than psychoanalytical perspective, and am having trouble finding a reference thru google...

My gut feeling (not understanding the full question...) is that self-reliance is both a practical matter (given the current "interesting" gyrations of the global endeavor) and a valid way to self-actualization.

I don't, however, see why it is symbolic...one reason being that to be symbolic presumably requires an audience, and most self-sufficiency I have encountered tends to attempting to remain hidden from public sight - if only to avoid issues of conflict.

jaywfitz said...

By symbol I mean in the archetypal context such as suggested in "Man and His Symbols"--meaning symbols as a deeply codified and culturally held value--even if subconsciously so. I think there is a fair chance that this is indeed the case. In many cultures there exist cultural stories of wise men and women that live lives of great simplicity, but in every most cases they're represented as guardians of some secret wisdom.

I do believe that in most cases, the vast majority of cases, those who seek self-actualization and purpose in living would do very well to ride on the coat-tails of a cultural archetype. Obviously sailing, and why people take it so seriously, and go to such lengths to fake it. There are others, obviously, as well. I am wondering if we're drawing near one here, and if it can be better defined, and whether it informs the conversation.

It's going to be hard work, this simplicity, regardless, and it will be easier if you believe in what you're doing.

damontucker said...

I'm pretty set on the thought that I won't ever be self-sufficient and I'm glad that I have others to lean on during hard times.

And to be honest, I'm not so sure I would ever want to be 100% self-sufficient because I don't know how long my body would be able to hold out before I did physically need others in my life for simpler things.

Thomas Armstrong said...

I think people are missing the point. It's unquestionably both, concurrently. Practical on the local, individual level, as a means of organising one's vision, world view and goals. Symbolic, in the the big sense because it invokes a Jungian archetype and allows one to access the subconscious repository if mythic imagery which supplies the energy to move toward self actualization. I think Jay is leaning toward the archetypal because it's psychic energy is greater than the practical, and will inform and allow the manifestation of the practical, but perhaps in ways currently unimagined. Does this make sense to anyone.

jaywfitz said...

Absolutely it does, Thomas, and that's a very fine way of putting it.

shawner said...

I also insist that it has to be both- especially in the current economic climate, where is easier than ever to see where even the most simple aspects of self-reliance can save you a little money and headache. The symbolic part of it is, I believe, always there in each of us, just actively suppressed in most. Time to wake up.

jbs said...

I think a lot of this revolves, ultimately, around the concept of "value", or Pirsig's "quality", if you will. If the goal is to be "satisfied" or "happy", the question becomes is that internal or external (or, as Pirsig might say, neither, or rather the intersection of the two). I think we create our own context for value, even if we think it is external... and so to be meaningful, we must create meaning. It is far easier to create meaning by adopting, modifying, and following an archetype than it is to create meaning from raw material-- particularly something as abstract as "simplicity". That is-- "simple is good" is a far tougher roadmap that "simple is good because ______" (i feel better, it is more ethical, it is sustainable, i feel physically better, other great people of the past attempted to be simple.... fill in your blank). BUT-- my big concern is that if we equate personal simplicity with personal ethical return SOLELY... we walk a dangerous road that devalues human community--- check out the failures of virtually ALL simplicity movements of the past and they seem to have their roots in the potential for mind-numbing alone-ness resulting from personally-based ethical traps. Small communities of like-minded, simplisity-driven individuals, THAT MUTUALLY SUPPORT A LEVEL OF PERSONAL SPECIALIZATION seem far more rewarding over the long-haul. The problem, of course, is how to achieve these communities...

Ari said...

damontucker's comment:

"I'm pretty set on the thought that I won't ever be self-sufficient and I'm glad that I have others to lean on during hard times."

got me thinking.

I think the choice of "hermit vs. communitarian" is a false dichotomy.

We are a social species, and we will always be interdependent.

The real challenge raised by the ideal of "self-reliance" is not whether or not we want to be alone. It is whether, in our relations with others, we want on balance to live as someone who depends on others, or as someone on whom others depend.

- Ari