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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Culture as the Subconscious of Society

"A complex is an agglomeration of associations...

"Ladies and Gentleman, that leads me to something very important - the fact that a complex with its given tension or energy has the tendency to form a little personality of itself. It has a sort of body, a certain amount of its own physiology. It can upset the stomach. It upsets the breathing, it distrurbs the heart - in short, it behaves like a partial personality. For instance, when you want to say or do something and unfortunately a complex interferes with this intention, then you say or do something different from what you intended. You are simply interrupted, and your best intention gets upset by the complex, exactly as if you had been interfered with by a human being or by circumstances from outside. Under those conditions we really are forced to speak of the tendencies of complexes to act as if they were characterized by a certain amount of will-power." 
C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology: Its Theory & Practice, pp. 79-80

"Every thought and act owes its complexion to the acts of your dead and living brothers."
William James, The Letters of William James, p. 131

"Linking is particularly important in cultural history, because culture is a web of many strands; none is spun by itself, nor is any cut off like wars and regimes. Events that are commonly said to mark novelty in thought or change of direction in culture are but empathic signposts, not boundary walls."
Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, ix

"As a torrent river surges forth, sweeping with it all that lies in its path, penetrating into deep recesses and washing away all buried things, so does the torrent of public opinion sweep along the individual mind. You may not know it, you may even deny it, but you have been brainwashed by common belief. Carried along, perhaps more, perhaps less, you now think along these twisted paths.

"So stay away from the middle of the river, don't be concerned with what people say. But this alone will not protect you, because you cannot completely seclude yourself. Who can vouch that your wife or children will not be swept along with the flow? They will then be the open floodgates to bring floodwaters inside your doors. And who can abstain from breathing the air that carries the germ of public opinion? Thoughts and opinions are beyond time and space and flow from mind to mind in quantum leaps.

"Nor can you remain static in this torrent river just by standing in your place - you must actively swim against the flow. You may not be successful in swimming upstream, but at least you will not be swept down by the flow. So it is with the spiritual life and the purity of spirit that you have attained. You cannot retain them against the flow unless you continue to struggle for spiritual growth. You must swim upstream without respite - upward, onward against the flow. There may be a limit to how far you can go, but at least you will not be drawn down with the flow."
Piaseztna Rebbe, To Heal The Soul: The Spiritual Diary of a Chasidic Rebbe (Tzav v'Ziruz; trans. Yehoshua Starrett), pp. 19-20.

Question: In which ways has the Orthodox community, in all its forms, been influenced by Western culture - philosophically, psychologically, and practically?

2 comments:

Shmuel said...

Isn't it implied in Hilchos deos perek vav halacha aleph that a person can live in a society without being influenced by their culture, as long as he does not interact with the society?

David W said...

You might like this quote from Whitehead,
"Culture is activity of thought, and receptiveness to beauty and humane feeling. Scraps of information have nothing to do with it."