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Dialogue Room

Wide Open Spaces

When I ran groups it followed a simple formula. People were supposed to talk about whatever was on their minds, which we did for perhaps half the group, then we tried to reflect on what we had been talking about. The first part was not simply arbitrary, it is the Freudian idea of scanning for the unconscious via associations, affect, and verbal slips. Freud got some things right, although intuition might better describe the situation here than the unconscious. After all, one has to consciously  hide something in the unconscious to get it there in the first place, and then forever be consciously aware of what to keep suppressed. The mind is not a safe deposit box, And ideas always strive for expression; they have to be constrained rather than liberated.

So in group we initially talked about things first in line to fly, and then reflected what came out. Reflection appears to be a lost art. This works well for world handlers, if we have them, which we do, since it turns perfectly decent people into not so functional sheep. We take for granted, against Socrates’ advice, fundamental concepts of our beings. Faith, believe, love, knowledge, proof, worship, learning, and purpose are words most of us understand as tradition dictates.  None of these hold up when not illicitly warranted under “common sense”, or “self-evident”. All of them fall apart under cross examination. For example, “proof” is being defined today by science, almost limited  to DNA, videotape and cell phone shots. Whatever happened to  simply “knowing”?  It is subjective, that is what happened, and science has to throw it out. Science needs to be able to see and to count. Neither perception nor quantity can be applied to anything mental.

    Thus we intuited, Freud’s metaphor of that was of being in a moving train and observing the landscape as it streamed by. And a disturbing thing happened as the vets walked out the doors. Few, if any, grasped this concept. They either treated the content as valuable in itself, like say the address of the local American Legion, or failed to appreciate the importance of connecting the two. Content alone is like being given a fish, content and process is like learning to fish. This does not mean that some did not learn to fish, but it does mean that they could never teach fishing or manage it efficiently. Something is better than nothing, but more comprehension and options are better than less—except for fish in the fishing metaphors.

    So much for group therapy, which is not the issue today. Looking out my window at the scenery yesterday revealed little except comparing the vet group at the hospital with a possible online group on the website. The addition of music prompted that line of thinking given its added resonance. and even on reflection there seems to be some gold in that hill. The vets and I were misfits, together, working, together, on a common problem. I have a compelling interest in what I would call post-traumatic stress disorder. When I was a resident in psychiatry I received a Falk Resident Fellowship which allowed me to participate in compiling some the diagnostic manual for mental disorders. It was held in Washington. I remember going to the meetings. Our section was about child psychiatry, of which I had no special interest, but it seems to me that my opinion had some measure of authority. It also included an invitation to a White House Dinner (not on the same trip), which I thought was interesting, but dismissed on the basis of the idea that any dinner that would have me as a guest would not be worth attending. (Adoption was the subject of my predicates.)

    My belabored point here is that the criteria for mental disorders, all void of cat scans or lab tests are subjective, arbitrary, and constructed by people who spend more time with books than with patients.  In my opinion Post-traumatic Stress Disorder puts too much emphasis on physical injury, not enough on Sophie's Choice (existentially impossible) problems, and not enough on the post-traumatic support system. For me, my black market adoption and lies for a lifetime were existentially demanding with nowhere to take them. So to with the Vets. We formed a team and to the degree we were both working on the same type of problem we did well, as measured subjectively and objectively.

    What was good for the vets should be good for me individually. Why all the issues about vet group and world group: How would the writings on my newest book and the blog posts interface. Two separate projects appears wasteful. Content in the blogs and process in the book; simply slice chapters randomly to fit songs, the blog posts for the world and the book for me, etc

   Then there is the abject alone of my life today compared to when I was working. I do not fit with people in so many ways, yet with the vets I fit rather well. A hermit who’s job and now perhaps avocation involves emotional and meaningful contact with a large number of people, but only in a restricted way. I never socialize just to socialize. It always is and has been in connection to an activity. The vets and I worked on an issue together. Basketball games were always playing basketball. I do not do friends qua friends; I have friends with whom we do things together. It seems normal to me, affectual and gratifying but it always includes a component of self improvement. Everything I do has something to do with never want to have sand kicked in my face again. Fun qua fun is not fun for me. Fun playing basketball is; and satisfaction working on horrific life experiences together works for me.

    The two seismic shifts in my life today are the collapse of my whole previous social system (based on looking away); and the intense energy I now have about simple, but beautiful, experiences. My metaphor is excitement of seeing pollywogs in the pond at age six with all its majesty in youth. And it leads me to very odd choices. Stan Kronke took the Rams to Los Angeles. I find nothing to like about him. One day I noted that my thrill about having just the right picture with the music on my new blog site made for a better day for me than would having his billions. I still feel that way today. Everything is bright, also more horrifying, and also more compelling. I have enough purpose today to certainly outrun my leash. And it makes everything worthwhile.

    Yet I have still not reached the critical point here today. If I apply precepts from group to my life today the intuition leads to my audience: One friend reads my work, my children could care less, and no family, associates, community, clan, or nation gives a hoot about my work. This always remains a problem for me, but it has turned into a project. How does one measure success? I experience my material as significant--relevant, creative, and articulate. The world could care less.  So it appears that my concept of a world group on the website would address the issue of a human audience. After all, the site register now is 234,000 visitors. They are real people. Forget the logistics of putting vet group and world group together. Philosophers can put heaven and hell together if someone sees gain in so doing. It could be done.

    The issue that I simply cannot outrun is that no one will ever read my stuff on the basis of who I am, rather than what I do. A world group, even if they were all existentially damaged like myself, cannot ever embrace something so existentially demanding. Sophie had to choose between the life of her son or her daughter. I have to choose either humanity and empty or genuine and God. I am down to my last option, God. And I do not understand why that seems so conceptually difficult. Yes, I realize the world has been moving away from God, Freud and the Four Horsemen of atheism attest to that. But I have been turning to God for some time now, and it is rather pathetic that I seem to keep grasping for humanity. God is not silent; I consider my subjectivity a communication with him. That is what the little things feels so very wonderful now. But it does leave me with a choice that is rather disquieting. Bob, would you rather have 8.7 billion dollars or the perfect picture for a blog post?  And I choose blog post. Tell me that is not a bit scary. It is so hard to let go and this choice is either/or.

     I am going to consider the above post a dialectic. That is perhaps a philosophy shop-talk word that means a cooperative debate seeking to place the best parts of differing positions into a new and better whole. We need this term today because “debate” has degenerated into the political circus we are witnessing today in the United States.

    In my dialectic, out goes the concept of group and also the idea of therapy. There is no therapy for significant PTSD. There is life adjustment. And my overall project will now be referred to as philosophy of life rather than a save the world project, thereby perhaps intimating the lunatic fringe (for which, however, I would have the perfect song.) Kept will be the two modes of writing, brief and more descriptive for the blog posts, and longer and more comprehensive for the book. The blog will be more casual; the book more abstract. We need both. Also, it is hard to make a book sing.

    Finally, the music seems to have set off this whole interchange. It was a big part of the vet group. I think it should also get a shot for the blog. We want experience, not information; aesthetics in addition to reason. Resonance is a book about finding God, and so it shall remain. But a new philosophy and psychology fits well with God, so we will subsume philosophy and psychology under spirituality--or religion, if you prefer, so long as it entails personal communication with God. Subjectivity contains the network with which we connect. Wide Open Spaces is not the first song here, but it speaks to where we stand on the project at this moment. It is currently a wide open, perhaps even empty, playing field.

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                                                                                 Wide Open Spaces: The Dixie Chicks

Wrestling Weight

The blog spins off the writing of whatever latest book, or visa versa. The book is stuck on an instantiation of experience with God, a diet (abstract has to resonate with something tangible, which a diet is in spades). We do not need a calorie by calorie count as the diet rolls inexorably but slowly on, while the ideas race ahead, as untethered ideas can do. So I am just going to grab the ideas as they flow by and paste them here. Ultimately they will find a home in the new book, along with a thinner me. My high school wrestling weight is the diet goal here (165 lb), not for aesthetics but for mobility. Hopefully, each blog post will stand on its own:

"The diet appears to be finally on course, without which writing makes zero sense. Ideas have to be tethered to reality and reality for me moves around on my immobility. Probably I overestimate how far back time can be turned, but to not work at it is simply a dereliction of duty. 

However (as an analogy), if I need a desk to write and do not have one, then if I choose to make one (which I have usually done) time will be required. But time does not stop. I can walk and chew gum at the same time, and seem to be doing so now. The diet is progressing, but the writing cannot simply stop until it is done. I can fill in the course of the diet without a calorie by calorie account. Ideas, however, seem to leap forward, backwards, everywhere on their own. And I build a desk so that I can write, not write so I can build a desk. So I think and not eat at the same time. This is an issue about grounding idea to matter and God to experience.

This book started with Josiah Royce, his mother actually. Always moving to the first cause, Royce was Hocking’s instructor at Harvard, Sarah was Josiah’s mother, and his mother seemed like one inspiring step back on the same conceptual tree. I read six or seven of Josiah;’s works, one or two times each, and found concepts which every writer borrows, but which good writers make their own. That remains so with Josiah Royce, but for me, Hocking is my mentor, my prophet, and my inspiration. This is not simply flipping a coin on philosophers, rather it is something in me that rises to meet him—we resonate. And it appears at this point in my journey that I may never leave Hocking, nor need to. He gets the credit for originality, I get credit for recognizing its value. After all, no one in my home town of perhaps 40, 000 people probably even knows who he is. To me, he is everything, except for God and my dogs. No one would choose a life such as mine their first option, but I chose it as the best response to my reality. Hard choices require hard answers.
I will address Royce at a later point, either in this book or the next. He makes important points, but they have been surpassed in importance for me by several of Hocking’s other works--perhaps five or six of them,first of which is Human Nature and Its Remaking. We will address that book for as long as it takes. Books can get too fat, but sequels can never become too many. So we will do what must be done. Human Nature and Its Remaking is more than philosophy, more than psychology, more than biology. It is the cosmological whole, not defaulting to materialism as the last word in reality. Nothing strikes me as more important than to understand the big questions. Meaning flows from the top down, and life is nothing but meaning. Hocking’s work was written during World War I, and that fact never leaves his mind. That European “experiment” was a direct effect of running the table on materialism, i.e.,follow instinct, as interpreted, and push it to the end—Nietzsche, Rousseau.  We should be able to read the results, reflect on where we are now, and assess how we are doing, Perhaps we can  to come up with something better than man playing God. An idiot can destroy. It takes thought, effort, courage, and love to create. Does the media cover violence and destruction because creativity is dead or because violence is so compelling? Nothing interesting goes on in the violent minds, no beauty, no art, no love—just stuck on stupid. That well is dry; look somewhere else for value.Violence is unproductive; worse, it's boring.
A causal philosophy does has no compassion. Quarks do not love, even charmed ones. We can act like God, and should try to do so, but can never presume to be God. We are contingent, forever and all time, and acting beyond our warrant can turn heaven into hell. Heaven and hell seems to be a choice. That would be free will, wouldn’t it? Drastic even.

Hocking inserts purpose back in the world and creates a psychology inclusive of that. My past rises up to speak on this issue. I witnessed the rise and fall of a psychological system. Psychoanalysis outran its leash. It reduces humans to objects, driven by physical forces with funny names: ego, id, libido. It is hard to refute what you cannot define. Ultimately human purpose gets reduced to a “conflict-free ego” which sits somewhere in nowhere and acts very much like a  small, ethereal person. We do not choose, the conflict ego chooses, bits of matter, or quanta of energy run the show. How is this different from Steven Hawking’s law of gravity as the world defining factor. Both Freud and Hawking (not Hocking) eliminate God. Both of this people turn to idols while looking the other way and inflating their egos (excuse me, their sense of importance.) Apparently confidence is just an illusion away. But it will also forever demand looking away, which is the death knell of confidence.
My professional opinion, having spent forty years in the business of whatever we call psychology today, is that we need to start all over. Hocking does just that. I hope to add to the effort. When the well is dry, look for a new one. A picture of a river is not going to help." 

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                                                                             Who'll Stop the Rain: Creedence Clearwater


The work on this site is not easy, however, neither is it empty. My work has essentially become a solitary project at this point. A Bridge Less Traveled, a previous book, has become even less traveled. My efforts are noticed on the website, just not in my personal life. Neither friends, family, nor acquaintances accompany me at this point. A prophet may not be without honor except in his own town, but then he must consider the possibility that he could be simply presumptuous.  

Presumptuousness is easily handled, however, since it involves only one person, whereas loss of insight can affect many.  So I place my bet, watching with each step the crumbling of my previous world. That no one noticed the difficulties means little; they do not see the failure of paper currency either. I was sold through the black market, not adopted for thirteen years, lied to about everything related to this, and expected to ignore the duplicity. All the players in my early life simply looked away. That I could hit an outside fastball, make a jump shot, and answer science questions got me by for awhile, but my inner life was an empty room except for my dog and some rescue fantasies.   

The first person in my life to directly ask how adoption was for me did so when I was fifty-eight. I was the subject of a People magazine article on castaway children, doing a photo op at the very house where I was probably born. The woman who asked about my view owned the house—we shared a history. Something is very wrong with a fifty-eight year gap like that, and my world keeps crumbling down to fill it in. Intrigue has now replaced horror, as the process touches everything. Worse, even today I see no one who grasps the potential problem adoption can present—not adoptees, not birth parents, not adoptive parents, nor professionals. Professionals are the worst. They always have a solution as long as the insurance lasts. But the other groups also have their personal reasons for turning away. The concept “therapy” is too feeble to address the problem, like a band-aid for a  compound fracture. Life adjustment is necessary, not some cognitive exercise. Broken trust is not fixable; only life adjustment addresses it. That requires replacing lies with truth and building from the ground up. Loss in adoption is not the problem; loss can be grieved. Trust is the problem and once broken it can never be repaired as long as we remain conscious. But the lying tends to be forever, lies are never forgotten, and duplicity is endemic in adoption. This is not about food, shelter, medical care, and toys—all adoptees get that. This is about “self” and self is not easy to identify in the first place, let alone when built on deception.  The problem in adoption is lies, not loss; but lies are endemic. “Just like real” is not “real”, yet different is required for change. Out of the frying pan into the fire, but somehow better. 

Truth touches the core of the problem, which is one’s “self”. We all use some word for the core of our being (ego, self, soul, person, character), but it is essentially the subject to which we attach our predicates. The predicates are everything we actively do, from occupation to favorite color. Everywhere we go, there we are. Subject is half of every predicate. We name ourselves on the basis of the most inclusive entity or factor, our DNA.  The apple does not fall too far from the tree. The adoptee's central identifier is false. If we are buying a house we want to know its history. If that is redacted, we might move on to the next house—no ghosts wanted.  Nothing good is being sequestered in redacted files. Adolph Hitler’s nephew served in the United States Navy in World War II, but not in the North Atlantic. Why run the additional risk? No matter where this American sailor went, "Hitler’s nephew" went with him. Wherever adopted people go, adopted child goes with them. Adoption is always restitution for an untoward situation, inadvertent or characterological. With this redacted information, why run the risk? After all, animals do not abandon their offspring; even crocodiles protect their young. Do not insult one’s intelligence by presenting adoption as a win/win situation. It’s a salvage job. The lack of information makes the adoptee less predictable. The world sees this as a liability, and they should. Nothing good sits at the bottom of relinquishment, be it tragedy or character. And if the adoptee does not see the difficulty here, he or she can add uninspiring to the list. The worst part of a problem is not being able to face it. You can’t fix what you can’t conceive, and in this case that is the self, which follows wherever you go. Society wants truth; adoption gives it lies. That becomes defining. 

Josiah Royce felt that situations like mine could only be managed by a combination of acceptance and commitment, which by the way is becoming a new school of psychotherapy. (It will need a more colorful name.)  Royce called the process “atonement”, but that implies making restitution for one’s own improprieties. I prefer “life adjustment”, which entails that one road closing might mean another one opening, perhaps even on a more productive path. Proverbs probably abound for such experience, but I came across the perfect one in a quite unsuspected place. So I shall quote Raymond Reddington, familiar to those who watch Blacklist, when he said last night, “It is children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.” 

Therefor I will run with this, playing the odds, and developing a fascination with the extent and the damage of a situation my world chose to ignore. The aphorism perhaps shifts the issue to a world stage, where purpose replaces fun and satisfaction transcends happy. 

About Blacklist, the drama might be a bit much, but the character development is convincing. After all, art is life, just a few years ahead. Also looking ahead, we can see that humanity will not make it without a higher spiritual being. But people cannot just take someone else’s word for God. Connection to God is an individual responsibility that each of us has to work out on our own. We can borrow insights to pursue the quest, but the project itself has to be personal. Would you want it to be otherwise; what would be the point? 

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                                                                                             Dreams:  The Cranberries


This new work continues from the previous two. We are trying to find the real God, if there is such a being The title comes from the concept that our connection with Him will be subjective--experienced as greater intensity and inspiration, i.e., more instruments in the band. The writing appears to lead me, rather than me producing it. Perhaps we listen better when our cell phones are turned off. 

Click on book for current pdf. 

The Absolute

The Absolute:

"Let’s cut to the chase. There either is or is not a god. Yes or no is the answer; we just do not know which it is. Science says no, religion says yes, and reason picks a side, apparently rationalizing desire. We care more about sports scores, violence, and gossip today than about existential questions determining the fate of our planet. Is there anyone in the United States today who gains confidence by observing our political circus? Intuition knows we are lost, yet we gather online giving “thumbs up” to people and telling everyone how much we like them. Facts have replaced thought, and cell phones have replaced life, substituting pictures of everyone's breakfast for watching the robins. This cannot end well. . . . . . "
                            (see more: )

March 12, 2016   (To the class of 1958 at Menlo-Atherton High School) 

"Life without music might not be worth living. Schopenhauer thought music to be the language of the gods, but then he did not have a god. Music condenses things. Here is my life today in a song. But, again, since Classmates does not allow links, we have to cheat a bit. Put the "w's" and "com" around "badgerhillbooks", and when you reach the website click on the "Contact" page. There I am, perhaps there we all are, in a song."     --Robert 

 (We, however, are linked to the website):

New pages

Additional pages have been added to Resonance   (58-77)

        (click on picture to open) 


"More matter (material) never gets there, always begging the same question “what caused the cause”. The only reasonable answer appears to be spirit. And the only useful spirit is a conscious one. All roads do not lead to Rome, for Rome is just a halfway house to God. This is not just idle thinking. It is sound reason, which people fail to see the need for because they presume reason under common sense. But quite simply, we cannot have an explanation of the universe that begins with “Once upon a time . . .”

**Note: Our visitor count has now reached 243,000. That probably means something. 

Overdosing on Facts

The following post in traversing the internet. While I did not think of it, I wish I had. 

"I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles. Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell passers by what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later and with whom.

 I give them pictures of my family, my dog, and of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch and doing what anybody and everybody does every day.  I also listen to their conversations, give them the “thumbs up” and tell them I like them.

And it works just like Facebook. I already have four people following me: two police officers, a private investigator, and a psychiatrist." 

On a personal note, as youngsters we used to walk the Dumbarton mudflats with our dogs. Today that is Facebook Headquarters. I used to repair gas lines down the main street of Menlo Park, California--birthplace to Google. It certainly is a different world today. Some of the changes have been good. Overdosing on facts is not one of them.


Moving inexorably through my life I find myself returning to my roots—basically my adoption (black market) and its effects. This surprises me because little of my thought in recent years had gone in that direction. But this was perhaps because I had come to think with adoption rather than about it. Adoption had become too close to notice. In any event, here it is again, hopefully not so that I can revisit the past in an attempt to replace missing pieces, but instead to gather lessons. If life is more of a battle than a beach, then insight, skills, and experience beats contentment. So bring it on, I say—hopefully not just whistling in the dark.

Thus today I look again at my adoption experience, realizing the enormity of its depth and hopefully mining its insights. While my roots are specific, everyone has roots and in abstracting from them the issues are similar. We can generalize the roots of individuals. In fact we  can even abstract to the level of the roots of groups, such as cities and countries. Countries themselves can lose their way, Germany did so, and we might be on a similar path. Periodic reflexion is not merely good, it is essential.  

Pursuant to that I wrote this correspondence:


The group appears to be useful to me, especially in the fact that all suffered the same situation. So that is nice, but where to go with it remains uncertain. I think (hope) I become wiser about it all with continued focus. But this places me always on the edge of goodbye, because the more convinced I am about my intuition, the more fixed becomes the color of my feathers. A bird of a different feather remains a bird, but not always part of the flock. 

The unity of people who were adopted is genuine and perhaps at the level of family. What is not general is their response to this experience. And to the degree that one response type or another demands subservience, the unity is gone. We, of all people, should be able to recognize the need for individuality. That is precisely what is lost in adoption. On the other hand we also need to find our commonality or we fracture again into alone.

There is work to be done. But that is what life is about. Heaven is not eternal rest. Heaven is individual will applied to that which we care about in an effort to help insure its existence. Plato called this love. That works. And it is blood, sweat, and tears—not indolence; today, not tomorrow. 


New website

We have a new website. It began as a backup and ends as a boutique. It will not replace this site, but places the books and videos on four easy pages. 

<-----Click on picture to go there

Reflection on Year End Thoughts

The short version is in the previous post. That is what the behaviorist could see of my thinking on new years eve. The long version goes as follows, a subjectivist view

Salmon swim down a river after they are born and then go out in the ocean to do whatever salmon do. Then they return to where they were born, as the only place they will spawn—and die. Salmon do not carry maps or discuss among themselves where they should go. It is programmed into them somehow,  the most significant part of their lives carried inside. 

If salmon, then us. Two germ cells produce the whole body, but apparently much of our disposition as well. Knowing our family history gives us hints as to what we might become. 
Not knowing that family history we lack the ideas under which important experience is filed. That experience becomes lost in a cyber cloud somewhere in mind-space. 

Since we are all about purpose, knowing our proclivities becomes relevant to uncovering the bedrock of our lives. Normal people do not get what a gap this is for those not privy to ancestry, as they have never been without that information. Explaining this is like trying to describe to them the taste of a banana. I do not recommend spending much time on that. 

I know nothing about my family history. The last thing my adoptive father said to me was that whatever happened to me before they bought me was none of my business. So it was game over with him. My options today are to run in place or jump, meaning flying on a prayer toward a purpose. The gap described in the previous post is not comprehensible because purpose, the essence of our lives, is on the other side of it. The issue is too big. Without purpose, life has no meaning; it is truly only neurons in a black box. Most people will not be able to help here, or even see the problem. For me at this point it is either God or nothing. So I jump, and cling to my hope while airborne. 

Yet no one can prove me wrong here, or right, for that matter. Perhaps this is a quantum issue, but that awaits  another day. My whole professional life was spent as a dialogue (to be generous) between subjectivity and science. Humanity has been struggling with this issue for at least five centuries. We have gotten nowhere. Perhaps this will be our year. It certainly will be my project during that time. Someone has to do it. And it carries its own warrant for satisfaction, so it does not feel like work. Happy is the man who’s job is his passion--not fun exactly, but satisfying. 

Getting back to the main point, it appears that we, like salmon, resonate with our heritage. However, we have to listen and know how to do so. Voices do not come from outside. They are carried within. The voices are us.

Robert Andersen, M.D.

Year end thoughts

There is something about a gap, a gulf between some ideas, that is unthinkable. Death is one of these; not knowing one's history is another—issues up with which one cannot put. 

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men fall short here. We have yet to find a salve. God’s apothecary is probably the final place to look; where, if a solution exists at all, it likely involves soul rather than space. 


Letter to a friend

Here are Ernest Hocking's words on instincts as he tries to solve the mind/body dichotomy. I think this is excellent, but then he is my favorite philosopher. (There is a quote inside his quote.)
Hocking's quote:
"To a sound instinct it is never a particular stimulus alone, it is reality that commands. The living instinct of man has in it an element of the mystical: it is responding to the world in its invisible unity.
It is not human instinct alone that looks thus beyond its physical stimulus. Throughout the animal kingdom, the maternal instinct shows this sense of being. A correspondent sends me a plea for retaining the word “divine” as descriptive of this quality in the animal world, while abolishing the idea of God as its subject.
'To change the name of the abysmal mystery one need not abolish mysticism. It might almost seem to plunge the mind into deeper mystery, and an added sense of the tragic sublimity of the principle in the hen, the monkey, the tigress, which in order that the race may go on at all has been stuffed into animal life by nature. The reference to God only obscures what we can see clearly enough, that this element is sacrificial and pure, that is, goodness.'  
I agree with my correspondent that the maternal instinct in animals, as in the little monkey that Darwin tells about, frequently shows the genuine beauty of devotion. I am willing to say that in the animal response to the total demand of life we can see the germ of religion. But in man, instinct becomes self-conscious and self-critical, and can survive only if, with all his science, he can still approve its object. It is man’s business to know what his impulses mean: and hence if there is any impulse in animal or man that deserves the name “divine,” it is because the reality to which his instinct is responding is a reasonable object of loyalty."
                                                                        *   *   *   *   *
For adoptees, the issue is where do we fit as reasonable objects of loyalty. Having been abandoned, neither of the main choices look good--deficient child or lack of maternal goodness. Yet I cannot turn away from this issue; society will not be looking away. Failing to address this problem is like continuing to believe in Santa Claus—and waiting for the presents. It's called clueless, and constitutes the least attractive position of all. Perhaps that is why adoptees are always referred to as adoptive children, regardless of age.


Time Travel

Another Classmates post: 

December 17, 2015.  Xmas Cheer

I reside in St. Louis, Missouri, but my experience feels less grounded—more like everywhere and nowhere. Personal reality for me today is both a blessing and a curse. It also carries an analogy to an earlier experience.

I took physics late in my college career, having switched majors several times before deciding to apply to medical school. I rarely grasped answers to physics questions without effort, but blindly following intuitive hunches usually proved effective, if not reassuring. I ended up with the top score out of 325 students. Essentially, I was highly focused on getting into medical school and did nothing except study all day long.  If not fun, it certainly was compelling. 

The analogy today is with philosophy, psychology having shot itself in the foot as behavioral science. The program I am trying to get into is Eternity 101. We appear to have a blind spot in our souls, the understanding of which feels analogous to grasping a physics problem. Reason alone tells us clearly that the world is spiritual rather than material. Reality exists, but no substance backs it up. Also, time, space, and cause are conceptual—when is the last time you caught a glimpse of any of these?  The Idealists, Plato, Spinoza, Berkeley, Kant, Fitche, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Royce, and Hocking, all saw the world as fundamentally spiritual. But viewing it that way today appears so counter-intuitive that common sense laughs it out of court. The truth of this debate becomes of utmost importance to the human race, since it determines what we are and what we may become. And like a physics problem, I do not yet get it but am aware of that deficit. Socrates would be proud of me. I, however, am not so thrilled. 

Yet perhaps we can understand ourselves, and trying to do so becomes a must. Ernest Hocking had an important aphorism that has become a part of my thinking: "Ask not whether something is impossible, but whether it needs to be done and if the finger of responsibility points to you". Few in my environment are working on the spirit/matter controversy, and about as many are interested in it. Responsibility seems to be pointing at me, and I cannot wriggle off this hook. 

However, alone with a compelling purpose, even at Christmas, is not a bad place to be. My life may yet have a final act, perhaps its most important one. So I am not bored, even though I do little else besides work on this problem and care for my dogs. Life is full of meaning, and hope appears to be more than an illusion. The essence of hope, by the way, appears to be placing “will” rather than “perception” as the basis of truth. That is a quantum concept. Hopefully, it will grow on us. 

                       ---Go Bears. 

Christmas 2015

See our Christmas greeting at Bill's Corner. 
Real poetry for real Christmas, even if a
paler shade of green.