Apocalypse No! Chapter Four: Twenty-First Century Life – Table of DisContents
Dangling Above an Abyss and Everyday Rebirthing: The Perinatal Is Rising … The Doors of Perception—Stormed!
Dangling Above an Abyss and Pervasive Perinatal Aliens
Dangling Above an Abyss
Beyond the entertainment media, it seems perinatal themes and elements are showing up everywhere else in our surrounding environment and culture. The scenery of our everyday reality consists of pollution of our air, water, and food; threat of death “at any moment,” caused by the knowledge of the power of nuclear weapons; fantasies of apocalypse of all kinds, magnified, perhaps, by the ending of a millennium and the approach of 2012—including fundamentalist Christian imaginings of an end to human civilization in an apocalyptic “rapture”; New Age fantasies of ecological, spiritual, and social utopias; and so on.
First, let us consider a few of the most blatantly birth-related of the events around us.
The Primal Screen: Aliens … Ooooooooooo … Sca-ry….
Alien abduction stories, while a relatively recent addition to our cultural landscape, are unusual in the rapidity with which they have gained cultural currency and are telling in the extreme fascination the public has with them. They have catapulted more than one show—The X Files being the prime example, of course—to cult-like status. The photo here is a scene after the abduction of Fox Mulder, one of The X-Files main characters.
Yet Alvin Lawson has pointed out how alien abduction stories are replete with perinatal elements: passing through walls, umbilical beams of connection to the “mother ship”—the placenta—either fetal-looking aliens or aliens whose eyes are most prominent and the lower parts of their faces undistinguished—similar to the way a newborn might see an obstetrician wearing a medical mask.
Then of course there are the elements of being medically probed, measured, samples taken from one, and being swooshed from one place to another with no say on one’s part—all remarkably like the experience of a newborn, right out of the womb. [Footnote 1]
While I do not think that the “alien abduction” phenomenon is just derivative of birth, as Lawson does, I do believe that we perceive these events through a veil of birth trauma, the likes of which the world has never known. My position is explained in the article, “Alien Abductors: Angelic Midwives or Hounds From Hell?“
Mouth Suctioning…”Oh, What Pretty Teeth You Have, My Alien”
An interesting development in the alien face is the “shoved down the throat” thing going on. Similar to the “Jacob’s Ladder” kind of vegetable thrusting out, which was described in the last chapter, it was popularized greatly in the movie, “Alien.”
As a neonate we cannot see the mouths of the masked attendants at our birth. In a traumatic situation, whatever is hidden is more feared than what can be seen. As in anything else, onto the unknown we can project the most magnified versions of our fears. When these images arise in us, then, it makes sense that if the mouth is shown it might be even more frightening than that above the mouth.
So in modern times, for the first time in history, we see something going on where these feelings are symbolized as a ferocious mouth coming out of the mouth. The fact that it appears like something that would gag reveals that this image contains elements of the trauma around ungentle mouth suctioning or clearing as well as the reveal of what might be under the mask of the seeming attacker, the obstetrician. Add lots of teeth and you have the perinatal vagina dentate as well, symbolizing the trauma occurring at birth, when actually emerging from the mother.
Fleshy Mosh Wombs, Rock Rebirthing, Trolls, and the Doors of Perception … Stormed
The Perinatal Veil: Rock Concerts (For some, ditto)
Keep in mind that rock music popularity and concert rituals are world-wide phenomena. Youth from nearly all countries are involved in rock culture. Among other things, Lawson, in his article, refers to placental guitars, umbilical mikes, and youths jumping into mosh pits. Mosh pits suggest birth feelings in that they simulate the crushing in the womb.
At birth our consciousness is filled with the feeling of flesh all around. The world is crushing, heaving, rollicking, bouncing flesh everywhere. During a non-cesarean birth one struggles and moves through this flesh to reach space, air, light…freedom. We re-create this pattern of struggle in order to reach the light, or freedom and space, throughout life. It is obvious that mosh pits are attractive, appealing places to re-create the danger of birth alongside the hope of being “held up,” uplifted, and reborn.
The Doors of Perception … Stormed
We could also mention the loud music, fireworks, and flashing and bright explosions of light at these concerts as perinatal in that they re-create the assault of sensation that occurs to the newly emerged fetus—an assault which in one’s mind is like unto a bomb exploding.
The rock groups and their lyrics themselves are often blatantly perinatal. The most obvious example of this was the group, Nirvana, who came out with a CD titled “In Utero.” The fact that the leader of the group, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide is a strong indication of his closeness and access to his perinatal trauma…as I will soon explain.
Pacifiers, Trolls, and Collective Rebirth
The forms this “regression” has taken include the surprising popularity of a pop song, sung by a very young child, expressing the difficulties of being a baby; the wearing of baby pacifiers as ornaments as a powerful fashion fad; and being enamored of troll-like dolls, which, according to the authors indicate a “regression to the womb.”
I would say a progression to the womb, by the way….I will soon explain why.
Crushing Populations and Its Relief — Perinatal Pulls of Public Life, Sky Diving, Dancing, Swimming, and “Birth”Day Parties
The Perinatal Pulls of Population Explosion, Sky Diving, Dancing, Swimming, and “Birth”Day Parties
Overpopulation Bring Up in Us Uncomfortable Claustrophobic Feelings From Our Births
We have no-exit, claustrophobic BPM II elements manifesting in the crushing populations in major cities throughout the world.
In the later stages of our womb lives, we are increasingly compressed with flesh all around. It is a time of ever more compression, constriction, restriction of movement, suppression of freedom, and suffering, which seems unending. However uncomfortable, we are compelled to manifest similar situations in our later adult lives, as in creating our crowded cities. We then find ourselves triggered into feelings like the ones we had back then.
Though it is irrational to draw suffering to oneself, it makes psychic sense in that consciousness seeks to integrate that which was overwhelming at the time. Think of this as a memory of a dire threat to one’s life that a part of ourselves remembers and tries to remove as a threat to our well-being by drawing it to ourselves repeatedly in life until we have managed to accept it—deal with it, perceive it differently than being a threat—so that we can go beyond it.
For the psyche’s main goal is to grow and heal itself. We see this intention of consciousness manifest in observing the body that Consciousness creates and which we see, which does exactly that growing and healing throughout life. Consciousness seeks, always, greater consciousness. Consciousness seeks unity.
Earlier we looked into how we do that seeking of psychological healing at rock concerts and with their mosh pits, in particular.
So we unconsciously create situations in life that make us feel like we once did but could not deal with at the time. And these feelings of course are uncomfortable…why else could we not deal with them originally? This does not mean that by bringing suffering to us we solve it and accept it. We would not be bringing it repeatedly to us if we successfully got beyond it.
No, we create suffering such as overpopulation because we are NOT dealing with, accepting, resolving, facing the memories that are making us continually manifest situations that should remind us…but don’t. What to do about this—and how this might be hopeful for solving the biggest problems of all on Earth—is what I deal with in time in this work. But I digress. Stay tuned, though.
Air Pollution, Fetal Suffocation, and Human Nature: Profound Sculpting of Who We Are Occurs at a Time We Cannot See
Pollution and The Greenhouse Effect Pushes Up Perinatal Pulls and Political Palpitations … and Vice Versa
The Perinatal Pulls of Pollution: Air Pollution and Fetal Oxygen Starvation
Increased Carbon Dioxide, But Also Decreased Oxygen
One overlooked, but hugely pervasive perinatal element of these strange days is connected to the increasing carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere called “the greenhouse effect” which occurs alongside the curiously overlooked yet necessarily corresponding decreases in oxygen levels. There is increasingly less oxygen as we use it up burning carbon-based fossil fuels and making carbon dioxide. [Footnote 4]
We have more carbon dioxide for that reason and also because we are stupidly destroying the Earth’s mechanisms for turning that carbon dioxide back into oxygen…forests and ocean plankton, for example. This increased carbon dioxide is called “the greenhouse effect.” While this has been looked at from the perspective of it creating global warming and climate change, there are even stronger corporate (profit-motivated) as well as personal psychological reasons why we do not look at its most immediate effect on humans—the amount of oxygen we get from the air we breathe. We will steal at least a brief glance into some psychological reasons now and while we are at it uncover rich veins of understanding of and possible solutions for not only our current environmental problems but certain political and social dilemmas which we will find are operating dialectically with them. For there are provocative and profound influences from our experiences in the late stages of our womb life on the kaleidoscope of our current postmodern lives.
Air Pollution Bring Up in Us Uncomfortable Feelings From Our Births
For the increased carbon dioxide and reduced oxygen of the globe is analogous to the situation of “fetal malnutrition,” described by Briend and DeMause, that occurs prior to birth, and which is the basis for DeMause’s explanation of poisonous placenta symbolism. Keep in mind in particular that we experience this reduction in oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide in the form of air pollution, which is most pronounced in larger cities. [Footnote 5]
Raging to Reenter, Vampire Apocalypse, Drug Use, and Being Gratefully Dead – Perinatal Printouts Of Sixties, X, and Millennial Generations
Perinatal Arising in Sixties and Generations Since as Seen in Drug Use, Fantasy of Fusion, Vampire Apocalypse, and Being Gratefully Dead
Perinatal Arising in Sixties and Generations Since
Other evidence for closeness to the perinatal unconscious comes from Kenneth Keniston, who studied the youth of the Sixties. In Keniston’s widely read book of the time titled The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society, he described an increasingly prevalent, unusually influential, and relatively newly emerging personality type, which he discovered in his sociopsychological study of youthful college students.
Raging to Reenter, Digging Under Ground, Fantasy of Fusion
Among other traits, he found these youth to be characterized by fantasies of a “rage to reenter” the womb; and a “fantasy of fusion” with the mother, which took perinatal forms of all kinds including stories of wishing to dig one’s way back into the earth; a fascination with and wish to return to the past, the long forgotten, and the under ground; and a desire to find oblivion in some enveloping medium…even at the price of self-destruction!
Existential Angst, Death and Dying, Peter Pan
Some of the other noticeably perinatal elements of Sixties youth were existential angst, being enamored of death and dying, and a refusal of “normal” adulthood. (See BPM I, BPM II, and BPM II.) And think about it. Are these descriptions also not a lot like what we have heard of the generation that followed Sixties youth…the so-called Generation X?
Vampire Apocalypse…It’s All So Black and White
And what was this statement of that sector of Gen X youth—a statement that began in the Seventies among what was then called the “punk” movement, which includes now the fad of vampirism—except the same fascination with death as Sixties “alienated” youth…again. This mental set is an obvious reflection of the death/rebirth aspects of the perinatal I’ve been discussing. The “perinatal veil” through which they saw things was becoming more blatant.
Being Gratefully Dead
But this trend began with the Boomer Generation. Need I remind of this same theme of being dead and then reborn coming from the Sixties as in being “gratefully dead”? It seems that this trend toward easier access to and higher awareness of perinatal influences has been going on for a while now.
A Perinatal Printout Is Indicated by Drug Use
There are other perinatal similarities between the youth of the Sixties and the generations to follow—this time specifically with the Millennial Generation, the one that followed Gen X and who are predominantly the sons and daughters of Boomer parents. Millennials were born after the mid-Seventies; they are a different cohort from those born 1960 till roughly 1974—Gen X; and those born 1945 to 1959—the Boomers.
Drug Usage Rising Since the Nineties Shows Perinatal Attraction
Illegal drug use among youth, beginning in the Nineties, began going up again. This coincides with the coming into young adulthood of the Millennial Generation. Unlike drug usage of the legal and mind-debilitating kind (booze and tobacco), drug usage of the illegal and mind-facilitating kind (pot, LSD, speed, ecstacy) is an indication of an emerging perinatal unconscious. Drugs are intimately woven with perinatal influences in a number of ways. Not only can some drugs bring up birth feelings, as Grof’s work has shown, but the mother being drugged while giving birth to her child can result in drug abuse by that child later in life.
An Aside on Drugs and Generations—Sixties, Gen X, Millennials and Their Parents
Millennials Are Sixty-ish
There is another overlooked factor or aspect of this rise in drug use in the Nineties by Millennials: These youngsters were the sons and daughters of the Sixties generation who, in their own youth, as we all know too well, engaged in drug experimentation. In fact, this younger generation of drug users has sometimes been called the baby-boomer “echo” generation.
Gen Xers Are Fifty-ish
Millennials are quite a bit different from the previous “echo” generation — Gen X. The generation that came to age during the Eighties—Yuppies and Xers—had parents who were born during the Great Depression and World War Two, who had their young adult formative years during the Eisenhower — Joe McCarthy –Presley Fifties. So Gen X was influenced by their parents to conservatism, career-mindedness, and, for drug-of-choice, alcohol.
But this “echo” generation of Millennials has parents whose young adulthood was forged in the rebellion, drug and sex experimentation, activism, liberal-radicalism, and idealism of the Sixties, not the Fifties. [Footnote 6]
Forget What You’ve Heard About Generation Gap
Generationally speaking, we know that children do not predominantly rebel to the opposite of their parents’ values. Kenneth Keniston, for one, has made it clear—referring to studies—that children are paramountly influenced by the values and attitudes…conscious and unconscious…of their parents. So this most recent cohort of youth was of course going to be more liberal in their attitude to drug use than Gen X, even if their parents, in their coming into adulthood, overtly decry or are against the use of drugs. Keep in mind also that many of the baby-boomers have retained, not reversed, their acceptance of drug experimentation, and many still believe in and use drugs; many still considering the occasional use of certain types—especially the psychedelics, and to some extent, pot—to be an aid to self-development and/or spiritual awareness.
Family Lies Not “Family Ties”
The myth that youth rebel against their parents’ values was expressed and propagandized by the TV show “Family Ties.” This was an oh-so-convenient portrayal, as it contributed to the pervasive scapegoating of the Sixties generation by the Fifties Generation—the Eisenhower–Joe McCarthy–Presley generation—who came into their Triumphant Phase, that is, took over the reins of society as mature adults in the Eighties.
Rebellion in Youth Amounts to Being Uncompromising About Parents’ Values Not Defying Them
This “Family Ties” kind of rebellion, however inaccurate, seems to be credible largely as a result of the observation that youth do rebel against their parents. But it ignores the fact that when they do, and they don’t always, they revolt or rebel, as in the Sixties youth, most often in the direction of being more insistent of actually living the values of their parents, not simply voicing them. As Keniston found out, for example, as he described in his follow-up to The Uncommitted, in the book, Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth, radical youth had liberal (hardly conservative!) parents.
When Sixties youth were angry at their parents it was out of their perception of their parents as compromising and not living out their own expressed ideals, as laid out to their children in raising them. Therefore, Sixties rage against adults came out of their disgust at their parents for “not walking their talk.” As we may recollect, there was the oft-repeated charge of “hypocrite” directed by some of these youth toward their parental generation.
Millennials and Their Sixties Parents
In this regard notice also that this latest crop of young—born mid-70s through roughly 2000 (Boomers had children over a longer expanse of time than generations previous and since, for reasons that I’ve dealt with in other places) and being now in their twenties and thirties…the sons and daughters of the Sixties Generation—has also seen increases in voting for liberal or Democratic candidates. Their turnout for Clinton in 1992 was the first time since the Seventies that the youth vote went Democratic. Their support of Obama was widely given as the reason for his success.
Occupy Wall Street … Sixties Gen Liberals, Millennial Revolutionaries?
In the Nineties we saw — despite the AIDS scare — an end to a fledgling “youth celibacy movement” — which had been a movement of Yuppie/Gen Xers encouraged by their Fifties Generation parents. The Millennials, echoing again their parents and this time the sexual revolution, were noted for early and/or increased sexual experimentation. This latest cohort of youth also has seen increases in idealism, activism, and volunteerism. It is no coincidence that we have finally seen a rising up of activism again in the occupy wall street movement, with Millennials taking the lead and supported, taught, and inspired by their Sixties cohort parents. [Footnote 7]
Perinatal Propensities in LSD Use … Lucy in the Sewer with Depression and No-Exit Wombs
The Epidemic of Depression Shows Pervasive BPM II Influence
Lucy in the Sewer with Depression
Other connections between drug use and perinatal influence: Perinatal feelings are very often of the depressive, no-exit type, and some drugs are temporarily effective antidotes for that. Depression itself is epidemic nowadays, indicating the rise of BPM II feelings. There is widespread use of antidepressants in America currently.
Stanislav Grof has claimed, based upon the tens of thousands of sessions of exploration into the perinatal unconscious that he has personally facilitated and thus observed, that the roots of endogenous—that is to say, deep rooted and engrained, not just situational—depression lie in the no-exit BPM II experience in the womb prior to birth. Furthermore, my personal experience with depression earlier in my life and my primal re-experiencing of prenatal, womb feelings, as well as birth, confirms his statement.
Psychedelics and Birth: Tune Inward, Turn Back, Drop Down
Finally, psychedelic drugs..LSD… “they’re ba-a-a-ack.” Though they are more discreetly used these days and so are less obviously evident. Various psychedelics and hallucinogens are used at postmodern raves, among many other places.
Their increased use also points to perinatal influences in that it is known that psychedelics—LSD in particular—can help people to access and to some extent resolve perinatal trauma, when taken for purposes of personal growth.
Corrective on LSD Misinformation
For those who have cynically adopted the line that either psychedelics are another drug that blots out one’s Pain or that they are only used for recreational or sensual/hedonistic purposes or that the kinds of birth experiences that Grof describes as occurring on LSD only occur in supervised and guided sessions, like the ones he offered…for those who have dismissed psychedelics and LSD in any of these ways, let me say,
LSD is Hardly Escapist
First, psychedelics, especially LSD and to some extent, even marijuana, are known to act in the brain in a way almost exactly the opposite of the drugs used to escape from reality—such as, for example, alcohol, nicotine, or heroin—though this news flies in the face of the myth put out by the all-encompassing anti-drug propaganda machine, which puts all drugs in the same category. This is common knowledge among researchers and scientists who study these things. For elaboration, see Culture War, Class War Chapter Three: Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Opposing Worlds—especially the part on “Drugs and Consciousness“—as well as subsequent chapters of that book/blog.
Drugs—Not Just for Fun Anymore
Second, that drugs are only used for recreational purposes is patently false. Though the vast majority of drug use is recreational, there are in print many examples, and the admissions of many authors, of the use of LSD by individuals and groups for purposes of personal growth. And, in my own limited exploration, personal growth was my motivation. In fact, many people are afraid to take the drug LSD, knowing full well that its effects are not always pleasurable or recreational. So why would they accept that risk if they did not have some other intent, like personal growth, for experimenting on themselves with it?
LSD and Birth Reliving
Finally, before I had ever heard of such a possibility of reliving one’s birth, let alone heard of Grof, or Janov for that matter, I learned that at least one person at my university on LSD found himself feeling like a fetus and then going through a process of struggling through a birth canal, and so on.
“Most Peculiar, Mama!”
In this book so far, we have considered the uniqueness of our times and the elements of the perinatal unconscious. We have followed that with a look at the predominant underlying fantasies and myths of our times—our contemporary collective dreams as projected onto the silver screen, boob tube, and printed page, with a perinatal rock heartbeat of a soundtrack.
Our Nightly News and Neighborhoods
Finally we have taken a look at the anomalous elements of our everyday reality — those confusing and bizarre, newly emerging images that permeate our nightly news and neighborhoods, along with those totally unprecedented cultural, environmental, and social factors that weave the backdrops of our lives.
Going Forward, Explore Our Hells and Heavens
Let us now go deeper. Let us make the connections. Let us explore the way we have reflected our innermost intimate hells and heavens into the fabric of our times. And back again, let us uncover the way the warp and woof of these strangest of days has affected each of us, in our most superficial of behaviors to the most intimate and deepest of our minds. The way forward is down.
Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Five:
Birth Wars, World Woes
1. Alvin H. Lawson, “UFO abductions or birth memories?” Fate, 38(3) March 1985, pp. 68-80; and Alvin H. Lawson, “Perinatal imagery in UFO abduction reports.” In T. Verny (ed.): Pre- and Perinatal Psychology: An Introduction. Human Sciences Press, New York, 1987.
2. Alvin H. Lawson, “Placental Guitars, Umbilical Mikes, and the Maternal Rock-Beat: Birth Fantasies and Rock Music Videos.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1994): 335-353.
3. Daniela F. Mayr & Artur R. Boelderl, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1993): 143-156.
4. This obvious though insistently overlooked fact has scientific support, of course:
According to a study conducted by scientists from the Scripps Institute there is less oxygen in the atmosphere today than there used to be. The ongoing study, which accumulated and interpreted data from NOAA monitoring stations all over the world, has been running from 1989 to the present. It monitored both the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decline in oxygen. The conclusion of that 20 year study is that, as carbon dioxide (produced primarily by burning fossil fuels) accumulates in the atmosphere, available oxygen is decreasing.
Carbon dioxide seems to be almost the total focus of attention in the climate change model as it exists today. After reviewing the results of this study and talking with Dr. Ralph Keeling (one of the lead scientists on the study), it seemed to me that the consequences of atmospheric oxygen depletion should be included in any discussion of atmospheric change….
5. A. Briend, “Fetal Malnutrition: The Price of Upright Posture?” British Medical Journal 2 (1979): 317-319. [return to text]
6. See my blog/book Culture War, Class War, especially Chapter Two: Matrix Aroused, the Sixties and Chapter Four: Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Concocted Worlds and Chapter Five: The King Won’t Die – An Aborted Changing of the Guard.
7. These aspects and generational phenomena are spelled out in more detail in my work-in-progress, Regression, Mysticism, and “My Generation.” Right at hand, however, you can read an elaboration of some of these ideas in the chapters mentioned in Culture War, Class War—especially Chapters One through Seven and the post, Awakening Millennial Generation Occupy Global Revolution.
Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Five:
Birth Wars, World Woes
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