Operation Infinite Projection
copyright 2001 by Jonathan Zap
(Note: Somewhat dated writing on 9-11, written days after the event)
If you can’t stand to hear or read one more word on the terrorism of 9-11 you might as well keep reading because you’ve just read twenty-seven more words, now twenty-nine on this subject so might as well as surrender to the fact that we’ll never hear the end of it as Operation Infinite Empty Rhetoric gathers full steam. And what I have to say is going to be a disorganized rant on the infinite levels of projection going on.
I seem to notice that one week was like a magic line drawn in the sand. Most of what I heard people saying during the first week had some connection to genuine feeling. After the first week I noticed that the trauma queens had taken the spotlight and the statements of intense feeling were mostly neurotic, self indulgent and narcissistic. A classic example is that Michael Jackson, that psychic scarecrow who looks like an over-the-top make-up job from Nightmare at the Doll Factory or some other yet to be made horror movie is trying to resuscitate his moribund pop star career with a “We are the World” type song about 9-11. Another classic was a talk radio show I overheard. The talk radio psychologist took a call from a woman who said that she was disturbed because after the first couple of days she noticed that, compared to others (probably seen on TV), she didn’t feel all that shocked and seemed to be “just going about my business” and she earnestly wanted to know, “Could this mean I’m suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?” “Yes,” replied the talk radio psychologist with solemn assurance, “and you should talk about this with a therapist.” George Carlin has already talked about how we devolved linguistically from the graphic, succinct, two syllable “shell shock” into the four syllables of “battle fatigue” and then doubled this into eight syllables with “post traumatic stress disorder.” With that many syllables separating us from what can happen to soldiers who are shot at and actually hit by bullets and see their buddies blown up right before their eyes we can now confuse being upset by something seen on television with being a casuality of war. So the people caught up in trauma and patriotic fervor (after the first week) and who weren’t at ground zero, and didn’t lose a loved one on 9-11 and are mostly neurotic hysterics, now have a new badge of honor they can wave in our face—they saw “the defining moment of our generation” (as pundits keep calling it) on television and have a new fad they can catch hold of. Another person called a talk show and said that following 9-11 “I just don’t feel happy anymore.” Why do I have the feeling that if we looked into it we would find that this person probably didn’t feel all that happy before 9-11? Maybe birth trauma and this whole crazy world is enough for us all to have permanent post traumatic stress disorder so why don’t we just take stress for granted and get on with life?
When child abuse exploded into public awareness a few years ago, this band wagon became a real tragedy that everyone wanted to jump on. The best-selling book on child abuse, one that topped the New York Times best-seller list for months, began with a list of symptoms that were indications that you might have been a victim of child abuse. Those symptoms included: fatigue, lethargy, hyperactivity, insomnia, sleeping too much or too little, depression, anxiety, moodiness, being able to remember abuse, not being able to remember abuse… You get the idea. So anyway, that’s the therapeutic response to 9-11. Now let’s go deeper into insanity and look at the Republican response.
George Bush says he wants to “rid the world of evil doers.” This is like a snake hissing in your ear that it wants to “rid the world of reptiles.” When a snake tells you it wants to rid the world of evil doers it’s time for all those of the mammal persuasion to become alarmed. I hear all these Americans saying “I’m willing to give up some freedoms to fight the war on terrorism.” Might as well tell a snake to bite you in the jugular to win the war on reptiles. Meanwhile someone just reported a disturbing dream to me where they saw Bush in a room and he had reptilian skin and spurs all over his body.
If you read my earlier email on 9-11 you may recall that I asked the image oracle about this event and pulled a card that showed a naive, possessed looking Saint Anthony slaying a dragon. The caption I had written for this card read, “Slaying dragon projections while in trance.” And, yes, that applies to the Bin Laden types as well as to the Bushes. Let’s not fall into the blindness of projecting our shadow onto Republicans, white Americans or the West. At the core of the cycle of violence is what Jung called “shadow projection.” I find shadow projection alive and well in environmentalists and rainbow people as well as in fundamentalists. Environmentalists, hippies, and other “good” people engage in the same simple-minded world view of white hats and black hats. Corporations and globalism are bad, trees and people who wear hemp jewelry are good. I remember one rainbow sister who kept up an endless monologue about “they” —how bad they were, how they had polluted the whole world, how they had oppressed native peoples, meanwhile she didn’t notice how in expressing these stereotyped opinions she was monopolizing the conversation, no one could get a word in edgewise, and that she was being a living personification of the selfish, encroaching Western ego, just like “they.” She especially irritated me because I could project my shadow onto her, because I love to be the center of attention too, and in her I saw part of myself.
Once Jung was giving a seminar and Nazis were literally goose-stepping out on the street bellow. People wanted to know what they could do, given that evil was so present in the world. Jung said the greatest act of moral courage was to start by withdrawing your own personal shadow from the world. It’s all too easy to see others projecting their shadows. We can see the terrorist projecting his shadow onto America. We can see America projecting its shadow outside and beginning a war they have named “Infinite Justice.” But many of us who would criticize our government don’t see that we project our shadow onto Republicans. I hear people calling up NPR and they’re sure that terrorism is purely a result of our foreign policy. Everything bad, they believe, must be the result of Caucasian Western people. This is another form of ego inflation. We’re so powerful that if other people do bad things it must be because of us. But non-white folks, people from Third World countries, and indigenous people, are just as capable of being evil and crazy as we are! And not only is the dark force in all human beings, as Jung and the Taoists point out, but it also exists in nature, it exists in the mind of God. We were created by nature, we were made in God’s image, we help to fire up shadow projection when we attribute the dark principle exclusively to human beings. When we do make that naive attribution then we start look for the bad “they,” the bad people “out there” since we know it can’t be us. We see this naive view of the black hats and the white hats when people talk about the Middle East. Aren’t the Palestinians supposed to be the good ones, and the Israelis, supported by America, the bad ones? Or vice-versa. No, surprise, surprise, it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. Did you know that there was no nation called Palestine, and no people called Palestinians before Israel existed? They are mostly refugees from Jordan. You may feel I’m biased because I’m Jewish but I’ve never been to Israel, have no friends or relatives there as far as I know, and my only sibling is married to a Jordanian (Palestinian). My only nephew and two nieces are half Jordanian. I don’t claim to have a full understanding of the complexity of what’s going on there, but if you look out into the world and see black hats and white hats then you need to look again and perhaps need to start with looking in the mirror. My environmentalist and rainbow friends were often so sure that they wore the white hat and globalists and people who work in corporations wore the black hats that they didn’t seem to notice that they polluted their own bodies with hand rolled cigarettes and that their own personal lives were filled with dark things like peer conformity (the same attitudes, clothing, special words like all their friends), plus lots of sleeping around, cheating, typical high school games and social posturing, slackerness, stagnation. Just like I can forget about my shadow while I write the above sentence about their shadow.
Terrorists are not good Third World people who do bad things because the bad Westerners have done bad things to them. Let’s get rid of this naive belief that only white people carry the shadow. Recently anthropologists have introduced substantial evidence that the Anasazi (ancient native Americans of the southwest) engaged in cannibalism. But native groups were outraged and tried to suppress this information. As much as they complain about New Agers romanticizing and idealizing them, they seemed to like the truth even less. Similarly, Palestinian authorities have recently threatened to execute Western journalists and film crews that showed video clips of Palestinians celebrating after 9-11.
The best speech that any human being ever gave was a single sentence long and was spoken by a Westerner in the Twentieth Century under the most difficult possible circumstances. It was concise, self aware, got to the heart of the matter and was impossible to disagree with. Was it Winston Churchill? No, it was Jeffrey Dahmer speaking at the conclusion of his trial for serial murder and cannibalism.
They say that most people are more afraid of public speaking than the electric chair. Now imagine this challenge: You have just been convicted of being a sex abuser, a serial killer and a cannibal following a trial that involved a mountain of graphic evidence of your absolute guilt. You stand before a courtroom of your accusers and are on global television. People in the court room have just delivered their “victim impact testimony” cursing you and damning you to hell. Now you have to get up and in a single sentence make the most self aware and illuminating speech that a human being has ever uttered and which no one could possibly contradict. Jeffrey Dahmer stood up and with great simplicity and sincerity said, “I can only assume that I must be evil or crazy or both.”
I think we should take all the billions pouring into the Infinite Justice crusade and replace the twin towers with two twelve hundred foot high statues of George Bush and Osama Bin Laden holding up a red neon banner that reads “I must be evil or crazy or both.” And we should erect that monument in Kabul, Afghanistan and every major capitol on the planet.
Are we going to rid the world of evil doers by having a war on terrorism? Doing violence to people who are evil and crazy, who are willing to be suicide bombers, does not stop them from being evil and crazy. From one point of view that may not matter. A New Yorker who called a radio show I heard in the Seventies put it this way: “If I kill a rat in my cellar, it’s not to set an example to other rats, but to get rid of that particular rat.” One problem with that analogy, however, is that it assumes that other rats won’t view the rat you killed as a martyr and decide to target your cellar in particular.
Remember Oklahoma City? True believer human beings who are mad at a “they” and have access to modern technology are a diabolical combination and no amount of gun control or antiterrorism can stop those forces from mixing. Operation Infinite Justice may accomplish something, but it could also make the cancer spread. It is also the nature of unconsciousness to get blindsided, to get shocks from fate that it never anticipated. Maybe we will have a successful war on terrorism only to remember too late about climate change and find that a two-thousand-foot tidal wave is heading toward New York.
Also, we are not going to stop terrorism by starting to be nice to Islamic fundamentalists and wringing our hands about what we did wrong and who we might have offended with our often stupid and malign foreign policies. There is a well known parable about the Middle East. A donkey and a scorpion are standing at the edge of a river. The scorpion asks the donkey for a ride. The donkey refuses for obvious reasons. But the scorpion reasons, “If I sting you while we’re crossing the river, I would drown too.” This seems to make sense so the donkey allows the scorpion on his back. They are swimming across the river when the scorpion stings the donkey. As they both fall to the bottom of the river, the donkey, with bubbles coming out of its mouth asks, “Why did you do that ? Now we are both going to drown!” The scorpion answers, “Because this is the Middle East.” We are not going to stop people being evil to us by our treating everyone nice. There is a Native American story about a woman who befriends a hurt snake. She cares for the snake, brings it back to health, feeds and cares for it in every way a snake could want, and then one day the snake bites the woman. As she is dying she tearfully asks “Why?” The snake replies, “What did you expect bitch? I’m a snake.”
Religious fundamentalists are both evil and crazy and being nice won’t stop them. As Jung has pointed out more blood has been spilled by Christian Fundamentalists than anyone else. If you would like to find out why, and want to learn more about why Christianity will tend to create such madness, read Jung’s book Aion. To understand our present terrifying situation I would also recommend reading volume 10 of his collected works, Civilization in Transition. For more about the nature of evil read God’s Answer to Job (all by Carl Jung, but if you’ve never read him before you may want to start with Man and His Symbols or his autobiographical work Memories, Dreams, Reflections).
There is a saying that “the oppressed is always in the act of becoming the oppressor.” Another saying is “Choose your enemies with care, because you will tend to become like them.” Stepping outside of nationalities we notice a species that is entangled in madness and evil. That the Germans were humiliated after World War I by the Versailles Treaty of 1919 no doubt made Hitler’s job a lot easier. But by the time the Nazis were invading Poland it was probably too late to start being nice to them. We may need to do something about certain rats in the cellar, and it may or may not work, but above all we need, each of us, to perform a great act of moral courage and to reclaim our own personal shadow from the world. Modern physicists say that the energy charge of the universe is probably zero—that positive energies like light are counterbalanced by negative energies like gravity. This is pretty much like saying that the universe is balanced between yin and yang. If we don’t want to keep repeating the old, stereotyped forever war of light and dark (Infinite Justice, evil doers ridding the world of evil doers, the snake swallowing its own tail) then we need to bring in the third force of self aware consciousness. Maybe we need to get all six billion of us, and God and nature too, sitting in a big Twelve Step group. I can see myself saying, “Hello, my name is Jonathan and I am a recovering human being. I know that I am evil or crazy or both.” Now it’s your turn.