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Secondary Oral Culture Roils Our Psyches Deep Down

By       Message Thomas Farrell       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) June 13, 2016: "Conservatives of the world, unite!" No doubt there is no shortage of conservatives in the world today -- ranging from Pope Francis in the Roman Catholic Church, who does not favor the use of physical violence, to radical jihadists in Islam, who do use physical violence, at times against their fellow Muslims. However, all the conservatives in the world today are not likely to unite together with one another. Whew! That's good news.

Why not? "Birds of a feather flock together." But all conservatives in the world today are not the same kind of birds, even though they may all be birds, figuratively speaking. As a result, we see different flocks of birds flocking together in the world today. For example, we see certain birds of American heritage flocking together in support of the wealthy developer Donald Trump of New York, and, as mentioned, we see certain other birds of Islamic heritage flocking together in support of the Islamic State in the Middle East.

Crude as this may sound, shooting and killing or wounding unarmed people trapped inside a building in Orlando, Florida, in the name of the Islamic State reminds me of the proverbial expression about shooting fish in a barrel. That's the Warrior archetype gone berserk and running amok. But why does the Warrior archetype in certain people go berserk and run amok?

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Welcome to the twenty-first century, eh? I want to propose a framework of thought for trying to understand why certain conservatives today may feel threatened.

The American Jesuit cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong (1912-2003) characterizes our communications media that accentuate sound as constituting our contemporary secondary oral culture (oral culture 2.0), which he differentiates from primary oral culture (oral culture 1.0).

Oral culture 2.0 is here to stay. It's not going to go away.

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Now, in the award-winning book Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom (Norton, 2014), Darcia Narvaez in psychology at the University of Notre Dame calls our attention to our small-group hunter-gatherer ancestors who lived in oral culture 1.0.

Granted, the term "small-group" is somewhat elastic. But perhaps we can liken small-group hunter-gatherers to an extended family group in terms of size.

Perhaps at a much later time, our still distant human ancestors in oral culture 1.0 moved from being small-group hunter-gatherers to forming larger groups and alliances. In addition, some of our human ancestors in oral culture 1.0 moved to being farmers, thereby forming an agrarian economy. To this day, agrarian economies still exist in the world. Along with them, residual forms of oral culture 1.0 still exist in the world today -- even in parts of the world where modern capitalist economies have made inroads, and even in parts of the world today where oral culture 2.0 has made inroads.

In any event, in the book The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype, 2nd ed., translated from the German by Ralph Manheim (Pantheon Books, 1963), the German-born and educated Israeli psychoanalyst and Jungian theorist Erich Neumann (1905-1960) discusses manifestations of the feminine archetype in oral culture 1.0.

Now, in the book Return of the Goddess (Crossroad, the naturalized American physician and Jungian theorist Edward C. Whitmont, M.D. (1912-1998), discusses manifestations of the feminine archetype in our contemporary oral culture 2.0.

At the present time, this is where we stand. The communications media that accentuate sound in our contemporary oral culture 2.0 are resonating deep in the human psyche -- in the deep part of the human psyche that C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist, refers to as the collective unconscious.

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Now, the return of the goddess, or feminine archetype in the human psyche, may sound like a bottom-up movement involving the collective unconscious. Bottom-up imagery is not inaccurate to use to characterize this movement deep within the human psyche. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that this movement can be deeply disturbing for many people to experience in their psyches. It can be deeply disturbing not only for conservatives to experience, but also for progressives and liberals to experience.

Next, I want to explain one way to understand why this movement deep in the psyche can be disturbing to experience. What can it be disturbing?

In book Compassion and Healing in Medicine and Society: On the Nature and Use of Attachment Solutions to Separation Challenges (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), widely read psychiatrist Gregory L. Fricchione, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School advances the hypothetical conceptual framework that all significant psychological processes involve separation challenges and attachment solutions.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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