Here again are essays from A Lodging of Wayfaring Men that I later removed. As before, I’d write them a bit differently 20 years later, but I think they are meaningful nonetheless.
* * * * *
The Unity Ideal
It seems that almost every political or religious philosophy holds to what I call the Unity Ideal. This is the idea that if we could all just be completely unified, every problem would wither away, all our needs would be met, untapped power would spring into action… or something along these lines.
It is false.
Certainly this is an old, old myth, and there are stories supporting it in most of the holy books and national myths. But it is not true. The unity ideal is a spiritualized dream of getting something for nothing.
Unity is a false god. An idol.
The Unity ideal is infantile and needy. People who embrace it hope to cover their personal deficits – without having to face those deficits – either by magic or at the expense of the collective. By embracing unity, the individual seeks an improved situation, either by virtues supplied by others or by some special magic that will spring forth if we just submerge our individuality a little bit more. People who would never fall for such a scam in business are able to overlook the something for nothing aspect of unity because the transfer payments are obfuscated by the group’s unfathomable size. Unity implies that everything can melt into one, so there is no reason to feel like your deficits are made up for by others – your deficits are supplied by an unseen God once you all start to melt together.
I’m sorry friends, but there is no unity magic. In fact, all evidence leads to the opposite conclusion: If anything approaching magic is to be found, it is in individuality.
Where individuality has had the upper hand, prosperity, growth, and invention have defined the times. Where collective ideals (such as all melting into one) have had the upper hand, humanity has slowly sunk toward an animal level of existence. And I should add that a group of humans “acting as one” has never been maintained except by force and by terror.
Consciousness seems to organize itself into the minimal sustainable unit; or, stated in reverse, into the maximum sustainable concentration. (That’s nothing but my observation, and I certainly don’t have the time to prove it empirically.)
If this is true at all, then strong social grouping may alter the functioning of consciousness, diluting or devolving it, even if only temporarily. (This might help to explain the madness of crowds.)
But regardless of my unproven personal hypothesis, it is clear that the more individual the unit, the greater the ability of its consciousness. So, where does the unity ideal stand? Nowhere – It is a false god. It pumps your emotions, but it does not save.
* * * * * * *
Humans have a predisposition toward pattern-seeking. In most areas of life, this serves us well. But like all such things, it can be applied negatively as well as positively.
Pattern-finding, as applied to thinking, is called inductive logic. This is the process of beginning with specific information and extending it to a general conclusion. For example, we observe fish, swimming in the ocean near our home. Then, at some distant location, we see fish in the ocean again. We then say “the entire ocean is the realm of fishes.”
Inductive logic – mental pattern-finding – while useful for hunches or hypotheses, is never acceptable as proof. (“I have known three drunks, and all of them were Spaniards; therefore, all drunks are Spaniards.”)
Mystery is an excuse to believe in inductive logic; to accept it as proof.
Mystery is a sort of mental shunt; a glitch in the programming. But people like it. They get an emotional boost from it, akin to the thrill of discovery. It is useful for bypassing or explaining unpleasant aspects of reality. By finding a plausible pattern, then referring to a mysterious or super-rational force as a catalyst, a fallacy of inductive logic can be used to save the individual from things he/she would rather not face. And please believe me, I am not trying to criticize people for making this error. There are few of us who do not share an inability to face certain things, and I think there are none of us who have not made such an error.
No, I am not trying to condemn. I am trying to point out an error that has caused great harm; an error that has been used against honest men and women for millennia; an error that we can eliminate, or at least minimize.
Mystery provides an emotional boost that can be quite welcome in certain situations. When people do not actively live (as opposed to simply existing), or are not allowed to actively live, mystery is usually present, if only as a coping mechanism. If circumstances prevent you from experiencing the thrill of true discovery for yourself, mystery provides a similar emotional boost. Like a sort of morphine, mystery can soothe the mental agony of slavery. But also like morphine, it is a cruel drug. People addicted to it learn not to actually live; various mysteries safeguarding them from responsibilities and from reality. As this mentality spreads, it displaces competing ways of thinking and living.
This situation becomes critically destructive when one healthy person does somehow emerge in their midst. The person who is capable of loving reality and loving life creates more contradiction than can be borne by the others. Then, for the comfort and sanity of the many, the healthy one must die.
* * * * *
The novel that helped put the crypto revolution into high gear.
Comments from readers:
“Of the twenty five or so people I worked with last fall, all of them revered A Lodging of Wayfaring Men as a bible. They referred to the house and their community effort as a Lodge. We all felt it was modeled on the Free Souls.”
“Actually, I am somewhat at a loss as to how I might explain how I feel about this book other than to say what a great mind to write such an awesome story!”
“I’m an Old guy and find that Rosenberg has captured many Real-World truths in this novel. I wish the Millennial Generation would read this novel and consider the concepts and rationale presented here.”
* * * * *