The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Century of the Self

Understanding Mindless To Begin To Comprehend Mindfulness

The Century of the Self is a 4 part series for the BBC by Adam Curtis.
Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.
Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

Edward Bernays can be credited for getting women to smoke. He was the person behind product placement in movies and linking celebrities and fashion. Just look at US magazine and you’ll see his handiwork. For me, an interesting look at what mindfulness is up against.

The issue of vested interest is always something to consider. Mindfulness itself as ‘research’ continues to show itself as a cure for…you name it. I am reminded by my mentor, Lee Thayer, that the purpose of a book publisher is to publish books and sell them. That Edward Bernays realized that propaganda has too many negative connotations so the The Council on Propaganda would not fly in peace time; so he created in the early 1920’s: The Council on Public Relations. is an effort to become the Alexandria of the Digital Age. When you go there you’ll at first be overwhelmed at what is available. If you follow the documentaries of Adam Curtis, you will find yourself reflecting on the difficulties of being mindful when up against our culture.

If you want to know the future, create it. So you may want to watch The Power of One by Bombshel to realize that we do not learn from our experiences. We learn from our interpretation of our experiences. Victor Frankel reminded us in Man’s Search for Meaning that you can imprison our bodies in the worst of conditions but you cannot imprison our spirits.