Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Century of Self

Last night, after getting incredibly irritated while watching the first Gasland (I'm looking forward, in a way, to the second; at the same time, I dread watching it come Monday), I decided to show VVF The Century of the Self. It is one of the excellent documentary series put out by the BBC's Adam Curtis, and has all the hallmarks of his other films (like The Power of Nightmares and The Trap).

The series follows the story of Edward Bernays, the cousin of Sigmund Freud. It also touches on the lives of Wilhelm Reich, and Anna Freud (Sigmund's daughter). Of particular note is how Freud's theories fed the rise of a certain type of Technocratic thinking, which felt it had the right to reshape how 'common people' think... Creating advertising as we know it, along with plunging America into a world of propaganda on the political levels.

By the second episode we are also introduced to the 'monsters' that Psychiatry bred during the cold war, like Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron... Cameron was the innovator of 'psychic driving,' a part of the MK-ULTRA project that the CIA engaged in during the Cold War. He hoped that with LSD-25 and massive use of electroshock therapy, he could destroy the personality of the patient and replace it with a 'new' one that conformed to social expectations or could be guided by those in the know (e.g. the emerging Technocratic elite). His project failed utterly, wiping out all the past memories of many patients and being utterly incapable of creating any form of new identity.

The series is worth watching, so I present it to you:

This video is around 4 hours in length, with all four parts of the documentary series involved. I recommend watching all of it, but you may want to pause it and come back later if you don't have four hours to spend.



The Scribbler said...

I watched all four hours at a sitting. I started watching and morbid fascination wouldn't let me go. You owe me a good night's sleep. ;-)

To call it thought provoking is an understatement. It provoked such a storm of thoughts I'm actually considering writing a blog posting with all of my reactions and reflections.

Initially, though, I'll say this. Although the methods of the manufacturers of consent are wickedly effective, it's fascinating that the CIA's failed when it attempted to "create" a personality from people who'd been broken down to tabula rasa. What they did not take into account is what is alluded to in The Book of the Law with the passage, "Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise." (No, I have not gone all Thelemite. I just nearly memorized The Book in my late teens, and there are passages that pop to mind at odd moments.)

That factor is the soul, or the divine spark within us. They assumed that the body (and therefore, the physical brain) is what makes us who we are. But the soul cannot be touched by their manipulations, and it has a way of resisting and reasserting itself.

Also, it's interesting to see how totally nihilistic EST was. Also a lack of soul in that paradigm.

I could go on, but that would end up being a posting length comment.

But just one more thing: isn't it interesting that the foil to Freud in the documentary is Reich. No mention of Jung. It's easy to make Reich out to be a crackpot. Jung was a whole nuther kettle of fish. He assumed there was such a thing as the soul.

The Scribbler said...

Oh! And that factor could (as Gordon has been explaining it) also be described as Chaos. A potent force from outside our day-to-day existence. Once it enters the picture, all bets are off.

Chirotus Infinitum said...

YouTube video has been removed. Here's the full documentary on Vimeo:

The Scribbler said...

Good thing I watched it while I could . Vimeo generally doesn't work from Central Europe.

The Scribbler said...

I take it back. It works. Thanks for posting that URL. I have a few friends I will recommend it to.