PHILIPPE
LOBIA

 

 

 

Begging to differ with twentieth century psychological principles, what we desire goes beyond want and therefore beyond life and sexuality.
This is what keeps it alive and what is called transcendency.

 

 

 


 

FOREWORD

The illustrations presented symbolise the wish for aesthetic renewal. For the sake of precision in this short essay, the word aesthetics will be preferred to the word art. Aesthetics can be defined as postulating on what beauty is and thus what human values are.

The present piece is therefore theoretical and will deal with psychology. What is the relationship between art and psychology, you might ask yourself ? The answer as you would expect, is that the latter determines the thinking of the times. Current orthodoxy being driven by things scientific, this has become the basis for the aesthetic qualities of the day.

This essay will endeavour to demonstrate that it is possible to change the assumptions on which our psychology is based and replace them with a fresh approach that can change a lot of things.

The first part of this short piece will develop a theory that is essential to understanding the artistic productions of the day and those of the future.

 REFORMULATING THE THEORETICAL BASIS OF THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE TIMES

Before tackling this task, we give an overview of the beneficial contributions of twentieth century psychological principles.
First of all, they succeeded in identifying the organizing mechanism of life, namely procreation. It should perhaps be remembered that this term is not restricted to mating, which is an organic function that primarily symbolises life's mechanism, since it is the trigger.
The psychological insights of the last century have taught us that we only exist through this combination of physical and psychic phenomena. No behaviour patterns or feelings are excluded from it.
The discoveries of the twentieth century had the merit of explaining the fundamental consequences of our environment on the development of our identity. They were also honest enough to question theoretical discourse. This should not be dogmatic, but rather open to perpetual study to avoid, wherever possible, any unconscious influences that would make it one-sided and thus unacceptable.
However, they underestimated the importance of the social code handed down across the generations and to which children conform from birth. The purpose of this code is transmitted through language, intonation (authoritarian or pedagogical) and by the expressions of the previous generation. This organisation guides the

child so that he  attains or strives for a better quality of life. The purpose is simple – it  extends beyond the tension and wanting inherent in life and sexuality.

The psychological principles of the twentieth century emphasized that the root mechanism of all our behaviours and thoughts was the perpetuation of life. However, they did not make it clear that the laws of biology develop in human relationships in the form of rules of conduct for the development of life, for well-being.

The object of these laws transcends what life means, being extraneous to factors such as tension, pain and deprivation. For instance, each new generation is urged to wrap up to keep out the cold, to eat properly to avoid being hungry, but not too much so as to avoid being sick, etc. Whatever we do, we act and have learned to act to avoid the utterly normal feelings of tension, excitement and pain. The state of wanting is part of life and of the mechanism that organizes life. Senses at peace cannot exist, we seek to attain that state, which is quite another matter. This inadequacy is physical, psychological and emotional in nature. It can never be satisfied. Any satisfaction is ephemeral, as once one craving is satisfied, another will replace it.

Life is such that a human child is neither sufficiently strong nor fully developed enough to survive by his own means, he needs support. His fundamental satisfaction is supplied by his entourage, through its contributions in nourishment, the care it lavishes on him and the support it provides. The child will identify with the people around him and with their roles, he will espouse the laws of well-being they deliver since they help by cushioning his own inadequacies. He also knows that he will gain in stature if he can demonstrate his ability to overcome his failings. This mental structure will be acquired regardless of the social background and whatever the family environment, from the most rigid to the most permissive.

What drives us implies that inter-generational relationships cannot initially be unnatural, as twentieth-century psychology postulated. The life of a child in relation to that of his opposite-sex parent cannot be viewed, even in passing, as incestuous. The relationship of the new generation to its parents is one of identification and participation in the goals of the biological laws they represent, which encourage a state of well-being beyond sexual wanting, leading them to develop outside the family circle.

These theoretical changes imply that the notion of subconscious as it has been used is inaccurate because there is no unnatural orientation to be repressed. The term subconscious means quite simply that we are ignorant of some of the consequences that our environment has had on our life.

We can no longer associate repression to an incestuous desire that the new

generation may have repressed, for fear of sanction by the jealous same-sex parent.  Human beings repress stresses and pain because they are ungratifying realities. 
This part of the essay opened with the simple question of overturning theory, and we shall now discover how this puts new slants on the matter. 

WHERE WE DISTINGUISH BETWEEN TEMPTATION AND DESIRE

The psychological principles of the twentieth century screen out the word temptation, or rather assimilate temptation with desire. So we need to redefine the two terms to avoid the confusion.
Put simply, temptation and desire are thoughts, and temptation is a thought that is not followed through. It is a thought that partly assuages our aspiration to a better quality of life. It is not acted out because the person is more or less conscious that it would be against his interest and therefore not really what he wants. The person knows, rightly or wrongly, that taking temptation through to action could seriously backfire on him.
The term temptation is bound up with the notion of wrong. Naturally this needs to be played down, and we need to understand that what is wrong for a person at a given point in time may turn out to be right for the same person a little later on and then amount to his desire. The given wisdom on the best attitudes to adopt is continually evolving, not just theoretically, but also in individual terms. If the idea that comes to mind is followed by action, if the person acts to transform that thought into fact, it can then be said that unlike temptation, he desires, he wants what he has in mind (the verb "to want" can be distinguished from the verb "to desire" by saying that want expresses particular resolve).

The assimilation of temptation and desire leads to inevitable over-statement that will make the person feel guilty under the weight of unharboured intentions.

So when the example is taken of the conflict that may exist between a child and his father, contemporary thinking still describes the child's potentially murderous thoughts as indicating a desire to murder, but you can only claim that somebody desires the death of another person if he takes action to this effect. Alternatively it can be said that he was tempted to kill him or wished him dead in a fit of anger. The content of the fantasy does not equate to the person's desire.
A thirsty man lost in the desert will only desire to drink if he takes action to do so. Accordingly, he will walk in the direction he thinks will lead to a water hole. If he does not find it and drops from heat exhaustion, he may have mirages of luxurious oases. The contents of these delusions cannot be qualified as equivalent to the desire of the person who, in our example, has abandoned the search for water.

The purpose of these visions is somehow to attenuate the pain related to dehydration. As paradoxical as it may seem, these visions cannot be called temptations since the laws of the desert have temporarily become those of the person. 

He is subjected to an environment where the laws are laid down by the lack of water. There are grounds for saying that what he desires is to stop feeling the pain of thirst as opposed to he desires to drink. 

To sum up, it can be stated that a tempting idea partially makes up for the want even if the person is horrified or aroused by the contents of his thoughts and tries to counter them. The desired idea is acted out to relieve the person.

THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES OF THE LAST CENTURY

If an alternative to the aesthetics of our times is to be posited, we need to understand what they are based on. We will reach an understanding of them by changing the theoretical assumptions of psychology. It will help us grasp the source of the pictorial creation trend, that, for example, often presents themes that touch on decay and decline.

Giving a sexual significance to one's desires has hamstrung artists, as it is hard for them to present anything other than the state of tension and wanting in life. By promoting decay and chaos, they symbolize, willy-nilly, the self-destructive consequences of this culture that eschews the notion of transcendency.

Henceforth, what is labelled neurosis can no longer be put down to poor (too weak or too strong) repression of an unnatural wish that traps the person in a state of misery. This arresting in an under-fulfilled state is due to cultural deficiency... flawed understanding of human nature that undermines the road to maturity.

One consequence of misconstruing the nature of what is desired, is that the family or community lawmaker has been partially discredited by contemporary culture. The status of the lawmaker has changed from being initially idolized for partly containing the wanting to being perceived as partial and repressive. The inevitable curbs implicated by promulgated laws are less popular.  He is no longer the true steward of prospects of pleasure and the future. The repressive aspect is all that remains, which can generate a climate where revolt is the norm.

WHERE THE AESTHETIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE  ABOVE ADJUSTMENTS WILL BE DEVELOPED

We have identified our reasons for acting as being extraneous to sexual craving and beyond life and its tension. We will now endeavour to explain that science in general and religious wisdom in particular work in favour of this transcendency goal.
 

Why mention religion? Because an explanation that purports to deal with aesthetics can hardly ignore that what is said to be beautiful symbolizes good, i.e. well-being. Etymologically, religion means that which binds human beings together, over and above the interests of a given individual or group. It is a theoretical attempt to bring to light psychic organization and behaviour that make for social cohesion with the common goal of well-being. The etymology of the word religion may well deserve to have this concept rehabilitated and modernized, to deliver better understanding of the underlying religious narrative and a unifying understanding of the religions, namely what binds us to them.

By reformulating what we desire, we can identify God as the ideal being towards whom our values lean. He motivates what we do and justifies what we are, which is why He is interpreted as being the origin of the universe. Therefore analysis and science contribute to this quest for well-being and thus prove to be human characteristics. This statement may appear to be senseless, yet it is necessary to make up for one interpretation of religions (anthropomorphism) that still speaks of God's  wisdom as opposed to Man's wisdom that exists for God and through His existence.
It might be constructive to understand that the wisdom of the scriptures is human in origin. They are  the result of the existence of the supernatural being, God towards whom we strive, because He is above inadequacy, but they remain the work of Man.  The function of science is in part to attenuate our weaknesses. It makes us stronger, it reinforces our adaptability. That is why it cannot be a characteristic of God who is perfection. He cannot be subjected to physical or psychological stresses, to pain or death. That would be contrary to what He represents.  He cannot have to deal with reflection, words or acts. He is beyond science and thought.  He provokes them in Man but he cannot be subjected to the rules that arise from wanting. Consequently, He does not speak, does not think, does not act.
While in the field of material sciences it is commonly held that knowledge is perpetually evolving, the same does not go for the religious sciences where hard line conservatism is often de rigueur.  Yet it is plain to see that Man's relationship with the Divine is changing. There is proof of this, for instance in the fact that polytheism has given way to monotheism. Religious science, like the other sciences, is called on to develop. It cannot be hard and fast, which evidently does not mean that its previous developments were flawed. They were simply less elaborate. There is no ultimate knowledge whose bounds cannot be surpassed.
Failure to reconsider the foundation of spirituality will encourage obscurantist exploitation of the notion of the supernatural and with it, superstition. Indeed, the mechanism of suggestion is due to the presence within us of a psychological organization whose aim is supernatural, as it is untouched by pain and tension. Anybody who claims to possess paranormal power can, if he speaks to an impressionable person, have such a strong grip on that person that he can get him to do his bidding. This is the principle of hypnosis and of the placebo.

Reformulating the nature of what we desire opens up a wider vision of the creation of values in human history. We should mention in passing the transition from

polytheism to monotheism and note that a single God signifies the end of the closeted thinking of polytheism. The upshot is that the organization of values is necessarily more intelligent since it takes interest in human behaviour patterns that become interdependent and bound to one unifying and social rationale.

This wish is narrated in the Bible which draws up the monotheistic Law. Its setting is established with introductions such as: God says or God does. However, the Law can be misused if it is not questioned and its appropriation is not legislated by Man. The creation of monotheism would seem to lack sufficient development on how the Law should be used. This use, because it is human can only be imperfect and  partial. A man named Jesus (a Jew, like his disciples who transcribed the Gospel) was to make he who appropriates it more responsible. He humanises the use to which it is put and develops altruistic repercussions from it.

His renunciation of life is inevitable if he is not to repudiate the spirit of the Law, to demonstrate that he serves the general interest more than his own. The cross subsequently becomes a symbol for it. The word of Jesus is retranscribed with a  formulation such as: "I say to you", to serve God and by His will. 

Later on, Islam was to represent the geographical development of monotheism with exhortations in the Koran such as: Tell them.

We can now see that God is necessarily beyond want. By the same token he is beyond the reflection and action that might assuage it.  Therefore he does not send a Messiah and wisdom on the Divine can no longer be Messianic. This wisdom is human wisdom, for the ideal Being and through His existence but there is no room for God’s wisdom.

Religious science could now be illustrated using an expression such as: it is said for God.

DEVELOPMENT  OF  MONOTHEISM

Birth of Divine Law
(Bible)
:   God said
Legislation on its use 
(the Gospels)
: "I say to you"
for God
Understanding of Divine Law as
a human production
: we say for God 
(reformulation of the
nature of desire)


                                                         
  

                                                      
                                                                              
 

                                     
 

This essay could be completed (2006 supplement) by suggesting that as God is not human, He does not speak, nor can He be drawn, painted or represented. That is not forbidden since what is impossible cannot be forbidden and it is impossible to represent an inorganic being, not born of Man, not subject to the mechanics of life and its constraints.

It is not forbidden to draw Him, it is technically impossible, unlike the prophets who, since they are human and therefore organic and imperfect, can consequently be drawn and caricatured.  To pretend otherwise is to place Man in the same category as God which would be idolatry and which is, of course, denounced in all the scriptures.

PICTORIAL ILLUSTRATION OF THE PREVIOUS   DEVELOPMENTS

It is now time to make the link between the theoretical reformulation and the images presented. These pictures have been designed to permit large numbers of variants. There is a variety of black borders around the picture and with the six different background colours and the real or trompe-l'oeil notch making for many permutations from one subject.
Each illustration is marked with a notch or alternatively a painted notch. The notch does not detract from the image. It symbolizes the inaccessibility of total satisfaction of our reason for acting which can only be attained to a limited degree.  Total satisfaction does not befall to human beings who always consist of tensions. It cannot be represented, materialized, and the excision in the picture symbolizes this non-representativeness. It is the place of God, the transcending meaning, the ideal being. It is a place necessarily removed from life towards which we strive.


version "a".

 

version "b".
 

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