Reflections to share with adolescents
Reflections to share with adolescents who may be wondering about affect: its role in relationships, in adolescents’ future, in mythology, and in all of Creation. How does it figure in the choice between what is Real and unreal, True and false, Good and evil? Why does it matter?
The usual poetic content is heavy with subjective thought and feeling. Grief and romantic Love are common types of feeling but there are others. Many are related to the values listed in my piece on adolescence [Thirteen: Reflections on Character and Values at the Beginning of Adolescence. 08/28/21] T.R. Hummer’s non-rhyming poem, “My Mother in Bardo” (New Yorker 01/24/22 p. 50), is an example of a poem infused with grief. But if I’m assigned to compose a rhyming poem and I have no particular talent for lyrics, I might produce something lifeless, without affect.
Literature and poetry in particular say a lot about who we are and what’s important to us. For adolescents coming into their own it can be an effective way to gain self-awareness. If they feel a sense of loss, say, for a deceased grandparent, they might express it in a non-rhyming poem. It might be strikingly different from a poem whose search for originality, beauty, or other effect is through rhyme.
Before the Big Bang
Absence of affect in subjective, creative expression is a red flag. For an adolescent it might or might not have implications for character development, but, if so, they can run deep. Star Wars mythology is based on it. What turned Adam Skywalker toward the dark side and service to Palpatine, the galactic emperor? What made the galactic empire evil? Absence of affect.
Explaining Why requires theorizing with Logic about the antecedents of our material universe -- what I call “Reality-Creation.” It preceded the Big Bang, exists in parallel with our material universe, and heavily influences our behavior and its consequences beyond our awareness. It holds sway over the origin and fate of the universe and the meaning of life. Its context is Mind-Love, not spacetime-matter. I use initial caps to set terminology that is of this other Reality apart from the lower case of our un-reality.
The “Child” is the One we were in Reality before the Child lost Consciousness and became the many. While unconscious, it mis-identified with its shadow-reflection, went into a dream state corrupted by its shadow-code, dreamed our un-reality, replicated itself in isolated-separated human bodies, projected the material world detected by their bodies’ senses, and continues to replicate itself within its dream world under the influence of its shadow-reflection. An explanation for all this is the subject of my book-in-progress with the working title, The Story of the Child.
Affect is feeling -- emotional sensitivity. Feeling is value or Worth – things cared for. Gifts with talents the Child was given at birth with which to exercise Free Choice in Creation. Affect is rooted in Mother-Love, the source of all feeling in the Child’s phase of Reality-Creation.
The dis-integration of Love from Mind
The Child has Free Will or Free Choice because the Child is Free Choice, its role in Reality-Creation. In the Child’s phase with Free Choice, the loss of Consciousness produced a dream-world of un-reality where all ideas-thoughts and their associated feelings have opposites. Opposites are the reverse mirror-image shadow-reflection of the Child and all of its values, all of its gifts including its talents.
The code that defines all opposites is derived from the Child’s Being. The code is non-being. Which means it’s insane. Nuts. The appearance of a “system” which is the opposite of system. A system ruled not by laws but by chaos -- arbitrary rule where “rules” apply to everybody but the ruler. The reverse mirror-image of sanity, what we know as the “dark side.” Everyone and everything in our un-reality has a shadow-opposite. A dark side. No exceptions.
What makes the dark side “possible” in the dream state is the separation of Love-feeling from Mind-thought. The marriage between Father Mind / Logic-Choice and Mother Love / Freedom-Creativity not only produced the Child. It’s what holds all the Implications and Interconnections of Reality-Creation together. In our un-reality that integration is gone. Science’s search for a perfectly ordered, perfectly integrated cosmos ended over a century ago and now it’s even giving up on a cosmos that just makes sense. Because it doesn’t. Meanwhile, the judgment we need to manage human affairs, to maintain order in harmony, is equally dis-integrated. It needs to be constantly re-integrated, constantly pieced together, in all our choices.
The Reality-Creation of Consciousness knows nothing of shadows, reflections, or opposites. So, shadow-opposites played no part in the Child’s Conscious exercise of Free Choice in Reality. In un-reality it’s different. “Dark side” shadow-reflections very much represent a choice for us, the unconscious Child’s replications. The choice between Right and wrong, Good and evil, where good values-gifts are the product of Mind integrated with Love-affect and their evil shadow opposites are the product of Mind absent Love-affect. We choose correctly when we discipline our thoughts and feelings, our ideas and values, always to keep Love combined with Mind.
The pussycat “Lord Vader”
One of the traits that distinguish personality types is variation in levels of affect-feeling. In importance attributed to values because feeling is value rooted in Love, the Mother of everything cared for, everything of Worth. What distinguishes character is its values.
Adam Skywalker belonged to a personality type described in Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing. He “went over to the dark side” because his type’s level of affect-feeling and therefore his character was relatively shallow. Absence of affect-feeling translates to a relatively shallow-weak connection with the Good-positive and therefore a relatively strong susceptibility to, or attraction for, the shadow-negative.
The choice posed by Good-positive – who we are in Reality -- and evil-negative – our shadow in un-reality -- pulls different personality types in different directions. The son Luke Skywalker’s character was relatively deep with feeling-affect, strongly anchored to values, and therefore less susceptible to the attraction of shadow-opposites. The character of Darth Vader – “Dark Father” – was relatively weak with feeling-affect, loosely anchored to values, and therefore more susceptible. Adam Skywalker, who became the mythic “Lord Vader” feared by trembling subordinates, was a personality weakling -- a pussycat. Captives of shadow-reflections can impress with the appearance of strength but their reality is weakness.
Lack of values rooted in affect-feeling translates to a weak or missing internal moral compass. To a weak sense of right vs. wrong -- a lack of conscience. To insensitivity and therefore to predilection for cruelty. What defines the galactic empire and its emperor Palatine as “evil” is an absence of affect-feeling. It’s defined by Mind-thought without Love-value and therefore as character without conscience: insensitive and prone to cruelty. It becomes a universe where harm is done and pain inflicted because it is not felt, because character and values don’t matter.
Guidance from Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing
Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing intuits clues from personality types to differences that can account for and predict relative attraction for the dark side. The ESFP type with relatively weak feeling-judgment is a type that, if it’s not disciplined by its social culture, can be misled into shadow-opposites and wrongdoing. It happens to be the type exhibited by the current idol of the Republican party, a body-matter idolater, serial wrong-doer, and a menace to democracy, civilization, and world order. But any type weak on affect-feeling and character-values is a candidate.
My piece about adolescence listed both positive values and their shadow-opposites – the dark side. What an interest in the opposites might indicate about an adolescent’s developing personality type we don’t know. We do know that an ‘S’ (sensing) in preference to an ‘I’ (intuition) would fit an engineer or craftsman working with material objects. Sensing would account, say, for a poem engineered rather than intuited. Intuited, that is, from psyche or soul, from thoughts-feelings stored in humanity’s collective Memory.
We also know that Gifts Differing can help predict choices that different types tend to make and therefore where on balance they may be headed: To promoting humanitarian kindness and freedom (the Jedi Knights) or engaging in inhumane cruelty and oppression (the galactic empire). Definitive conclusions can’t be drawn by outside observers. They can only be drawn by subjects themselves who monitor their personality types – the building of character through their preferences.
While Isabel distinguishes between the light and dark sides the distinction is indirect. It’s implied, for example by reference to “wrongdoing,” inadequate consideration of costs, shallowness, insincerity, and other tendencies. But otherwise her “feeling” doesn’t account for dark side opposites. The difference between thinking (T) and feeling (F) isn’t necessarily what she’s intuited. Nevertheless, the difference is significant and deserves reflection. All of the differences – between introvert-extravert, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceptive – are relevant for types’ tendencies toward positive values and their opposites and therefore toward their subjects’ ultimate ending in fulfillment or disappointment.
The turning point: adolescence
Adolescence is a critical phase in establishing these tendencies. It’s the phase when Luke Skywalker committed to the cause of the Jedi Knights after the loss of his foster parents. It’s the phase when his father, Adam, started to part with Obi-Wan, his Jedi trainer, betray the Jedi cause, and go over to the empire. For many, our personal fortunes literally hang in the balance when we are adolescents.
May Affect be with you!