Repression and the Uncanny
Psychology as the Divinatory Art
There is a Chinese myth about the origin of writing, the antiquity and significance of which one should be able to intuit. In this story, the inventor of Chinese characters was one Cangjie 倉頡, a man with four eyes. In one version, it was the tracks of animals which inspired him: to an informed hunter, every animal leaves a distinct track - and although only representing a fraction of the whole, each trace is distinct. Cangjie was thus inspired to discover the minimally distinct trace for every word, and thus generate a maximally efficient medium of communication with minimal redundancy. Ancient Chinese is one of the most terse and informatively dense human languages I know of: it was possible to say with a four character string what no modern language could match in richness and implication.
But why does Cangjie have four eyes? To begin to answer this, we turn to another version of the myth which I believe is of greater antiquity: in this story, it’s said he discovered the signs in the cracks of a turtle shell. The practice of divination among at least some of the Neolithic Chinese seemed to focus almost exclusively on the art of reading cracks in the turtle plastron. First, small divots were bored into the underside, the bone was then heated over a fire, and the resulting cracks were read by the oracle and a prognostication generated from them. As far as I know, no one has yet made a guess at what seems obvious to me: that the art in question here, was originally to hallucinate characters in these cracks, to perceive signs emergent in the world.
It’s also my guess that both the extant Shang dynasty oracle bones circa 1200 BC and the Zhou dynasty Yijing text circa 600 BC were formulated as a quick-and-dirty shorthand long after this kind of practice had ceased to be genuine and improvisational, much as the Delphic oracle ceased to function by the time of Plutarch. In its most evocative and ancient form, divination is the art of creating useful messages out of a contained entropic space - seeing what one needs to see, discovering the writing of the world.
The Xici 繫辭 commentary of the Yijing preserves a clue:
Gaze upward and discern the writing in the sky. Bow your head and discern the logic of the earth.
Why is this important to us, we who fancy ourselves fully rational and cured of everything unscientific, we who pose in front of our many distorted digital mirrors like a hungover clown with running makeup lost in his own funhouse, we who imagine ourselves fully conscious, who despite the raging incessant auditory hallucination of voices we call “thinking”, we imagine we have no need of divination.
Since the early 20th century, whenever some ambitious thinker attempts a formulaic distillation of the proper practice of science, he concludes with the same wishful theory of Karl Popper: that science proceeds solely via falsifiable hypotheses. Rather than what really happens: intuitive theoretical saltations followed by a long tail of mostly tautological confirmation, entrenchment, and an increasingly erroneous certainty as we chase down persistent demons of inaccuracy into the distant decimals where so much of 21st century science now takes place. As neatly logical as the Popperian falsification model is, it fails to account for the importance of guessing - or “inductive inference” in a more elaborate dialect. The physicists talk of the three B’s: “bed, bath, and bus” is where the eurekas come from, when the conscious mind wanders off, and the unconscious mind is allowed to do its work.
This is such common knowledge, that it’s shameful to have to spell it out. Moreover it’s shameful that my own field, psychology, which should be more aware of this process than any other, is more foreclosed and hostile to the process of intuitive divinatory knowledge than say, physics and mathematics, where intuition is still granted a place among the powers any practitioner must develop - and ultimately even the most trenchantly classical mathematicians have to occasionally concede that iconoclasts like L. E. J. Brouwer and Wittgenstein may have been seeking a more rigorous definition of truth than their own.
But why? Why is 21st century psychology so frightened of its own shadow and overeager to dress itself in scientific accoutrements? Is it because we know better? Is it because we’ve been burned by too many charlatans at too many distinct locales, and have learned to guard against quackery with rigorous method? Or is something more nefarious at work? 21st century psychology not only fails as psychology, it seeks to erase and undermine native intuitive psychological understanding, which in primates is no small charge. It’s a science that makes you stupider than you really are.
I can grant that current academic psychology successfully keeps overt and obvious charlatanism at bay. What it does not do, is remain relevant - nor does it guard against the kind of systemic and implicit charlatanism which makes the entire project of psychology seem so worthless and dull.
As a rogue and apostate psychologist, it will noticed I am not kind to my wouldbe colleagues. Some would ascribe this to bitterness and no more - at least I can hardly pretend that rivalry plays no role. But I prefer to believe that I’m so unforgiving of contemporary psychology because I understand it: because I have walked those halls, have been among them, and because therefore I see nothing but their faults. I dismiss their compassion and well-meaning towards humanity as impotent at best, and repulsive hypocrisy in most cases. I dismiss their scientific efforts as desperate mimicry at best, and Foucaultian collaborative disciplines of social control in most cases. We critique most harshly what we do not wish to take for granted: I would much rather be judged maniacal and unfair than timid and complicit.
I’m unfair to their scientific rigor; I’m unfair to their attempts to ground psychology in physiology and neurology; I’m unfair to their earnest attempts to quantize and generate computational models of social behavior. Why? Because it’s all premature. Premature scientificality does more than waste time - it even does more than hinder progress: it regresses the field. The field of psychology is much worse in the 21st century than the early 20th: unrelenting scientific posturing is part of why. This is an old battle: Kraepelin versus Freud, Skinner versus Erickson.
The premature Aristotelian scientificality defined nearly a millennium of learned discourse in both Christendom and the Islamosphere: the result was to encourage unreadable tomes of meticulously logical nonsense, from Avicenna to Maimonides to Aquinas. Premature systemization stultified Chinese medicine as early as the Huainanzi in 200 BC, and while excellent at the preservation of herbal lore and the factorization of the psychosomatic, the Chinese style also generated countless systemized deadends and alluring premature lattices of half-knowledge, from which the contemporary student of acupuncture still suffers.
Language is the urform of the system of knowledge: Lévi-Strauss is correct thus far. And I have always been extremely indulgent of the systemizations of language: ancient Chinese fascinates me more than almost anything… But why indulge these urges? Why should the Mayan logography be handled like a priceless scrying obsidian mirror? Because we are looking into the soulworld of reason. Because this is the neurological topology our scientific fools are seeking - if only they had the patience, humility, and imagination to understand what they’re looking at. But scrying requires the ability to dream with the eyes open: logography in particular - the early Sumerian, the Egyptian, the Mayan, the Chinese - is an uncanny bridge between the concrete and the abstract. Here is the function of unconscious structuring at work, here are unconscious topological transformations revealed, with their invariant vertices, their reflexive spirals, their marriage of the phonological and the logical, their excursions to the limit of the dialectic of the particular within the matrix of the universal, or what we may provisionally term “deictic singularity”…
Dreaming with the eyes open: that means aim-directed hallucination, that means seeing what one needs to see, that means discovering latent knowledge by encouraging the redundancy of conscious formation - becoming-conscious is largely nothing but redundant marking. “We dream, we undream”: it’s often easier to understand what dreaming is, if we understand what I term “undreaming”. Undreaming is redundant, saturated signification bounded by repression: what’s vital to internalize, is that there is no hard line between conscious and unconscious, only a difference of degree. What we are conscious of, is what we are “unconscious of” many times over. Undreaming is to erase lines of descent, to erase the manifold traces of signification, to repress everything but the overwritten and overdetermined: this is why the conversation of most “normal” people is so bewilderingly monotonous, repetitive, colorless, and yet brimming with the uncanny. Spiritual monotony, the école normale of bourgeois modernity, is also an unsettling, slow, shuffling dance of masks: that there is a surface, implies a depth. That there is a certain something, so desperately grasped and grafted, implies an uncertain something else. This is the kind of “drama of the gifted child” which you and I have lived through: to have watched this maskdance many times over, knowing instinctively that it meant something drastically other than the explicit symbols, but not knowing what or why. A recovery from deep, abiding childhood paranoia is probably one of the prerequisites to understanding my work: “The Truman Show” demonstrates, I suspect, a common spontaneous fantasy among bright little boys of the television age.
What is “uncanny”? The English word has a Germanic root, which ultimately leads back to a Proto-Indo-European stratum which ramifies into “ken”, “can”, “know”, German “kennen”, Greek γνῶσῐς, and so on. Therefore uncanny means simply the “unknown”. But there’s a little more here: the German negation prefix “un-” has special qualities: sometimes it can be considered a simple inversion, and sometimes it seems to mean “worse, bad, terrifying”. Such as the German “Untier”, which is literally “un-animal”, but means “monster”; or “Unfall”, which is literally “not a case of”, but means “accident”. There is even an old English word, “unweather” which means “storm”.
In fact, agglutinate negation in many languages reveals something very important and ancient: in their deep core, many adjectival morphemes can be shown to denote an axis of value, rather than any one pole. Any signifier pushed too far in one direction, eventually begins to acquire implications of its opposite: ambivalence is the only stable signifying locus, oddly enough. Freud first discovered this for himself in his analysis of dreams, and only much later became aware of the linguistic evidence.
…das »Nein« scheint für den Traum nicht zu existieren.
…“No” seems not to exist in the dream.
Die Traumdeutung, VI.C
There is much for the contemporary philologist to dispute here, but I’ll point out an incontrovertible example from Freud’s essay, “Über den Gegensinn der Urworte”: the English word “with” was originally constructed from the Proto-Indo-European root ṷi-, meaning “separate, apart”, and is also the root of the word “wide”, originally meaning “sundered, distant”. But as is so often the case with slippery semantics, “with” was formed by a reinforcing comparative to render ṷitero-, literally “even more separate”. The history of language is the history of a crumbling shantytown built atop temple ruins built atop shantytowns…
In other words, “with” used to mean “without”, and in some compounds like “withhold”, still does.
What is uncanny? When something is what it is, but is also something else which is obscured by this first identity. It involves duplication, but is not quite synonymous with the Doppelgänger: it’s not merely resemblance and twinning, but repression which imparts the uncanny effect. Freud says:
Erstens, wenn die psychoanalytische Theorie in der Behauptung recht hat, daß jeder Affekt einer Gefühlsregung, gleichgültig von welcher Art, durch die Verdrängung in Angst verwandelt wird, so muß es unter den Fällen des Ängstlichen eine Gruppe geben, in der sich zeigen läßt, daß dies Ängstliche etwas wiederkehrendes Verdrängtes ist.
If psychoanalytic theory is correct in maintaining that every affect of a feeling state, of whatever kind, is transformed by repression into anxiety, then among instances of the anxiety-inducing there must be one class in which this anxiety can be shown to be the return of something repressed.
Das Unheimliche, §II
Are you aware of the “uncanny valley” involved in the production of artificial life? The more closely an android resembles a human being, the worse the feeling of dread. Supposedly this disappears as the android becomes indistinguishable - but I’m not convinced that any emotionally intact creature would not feel deep alarm at this unholy camouflage: imagine the reaction of a healthy dog. Under what conditions does an animal ever encounter something pretending to be something it’s not? The predator-prey relationship: when you are hiding from something that wants to eat you, or are hiding from something you want to eat. That this hasn’t occurred to anyone, among all the endless excited chatter about artificial life, is only one more reason to keep a long hostile distance between ourselves and all the naïvely complicit, unconsciously malicious sycophantic flutter around “futurology”: profound hostility to organic life surrounds this blinkered murder-suicide tinkering-in-the-dark with artificial life.
There is also something similar at work in plastic surgery: ever wondered why an aggressive nosejob is so unsettling?
It still remains to explain why Cangjie has four eyes.
If you’ll forgive a liberal borrowing from information theory, we could assume that each eye produces one bit of information: the object either is, or is not perceived. This is the case with very simple eyes, for example the shadow-detecting eyes on the top of the heads of some lizards. Thus in an extremely reductionistic sense, two eyes produces four possible states: 00, 01, 10, 11: not, right, left, center. Following this exponentiation, four simple eyes would produce 16 possible states. As in the case of tetrachromatic women, the extra cone cell produces not
x*(n+1) colors, but
xⁿ⁺¹: each cone cell detects about 100 gradations, thus tetrachromacy yields an increase of two orders of magnitude, or about 100 million colors compared to 1 million. A better argument for the adaptive value of women as herbalists could hardly be found - and the medicinal value of common plants encountered everywhere you look once you know how to look, is also an exponentiation and overdetermination of the Umwelt, isn’t it?
Thus if Cangjie’s extra pair of eyes is the ability to read signs, he does not see merely double, he sees logarithmically double: in the sense that given
y = xⁿ, if
y is the exponentially increasing depth,
x the possible states of any one eye, the exponent
n is not only the number of eyes but the degree of apparent mastery over that complex field, since what we experience is never the total possible depth but access to complex perceptual results when we need it - our senses are inclined to produce gentle logarithmic responses which hide as much variance as reveal.
But this kind of power-law relationship is one of the signatures of biological adaptation to nonlinearity: attempts to map the “totality of subjective experience” always run up against the limitations of linear assumptions when dealing with complex manifolds - the topic gets away from you, the lattice disappears across some other horizon, prose falters, and poetical recoveries diminish into vacuity… This should sound an awful lot like most philosophy: if not, you either have not subjected yourself to its tortured paths, or are one of the perpetrators of the priestly banalization of the sacred.
In other words, a topological and statespace approach is called for: the persistent Platonic-Kantian assumptions about irreducible yet articulable categories of experience, which plague the Western tradition and make it so characteristically stupid, fail because they are essentially a confusion of method with metaphysics. Western thinking is typically brilliant in analytic method, and obtuse in synthetic speculation. But speculum means “mirror”, and it was typical of the high middle ages, with its urge to summarize all knowledge into a bounded sphere, to produce literary specula - and by so doing approximate a long awkward journey back to preaxial mythological coherence, which said so much with densely packed details. But very little of the requisite dreaminess is present for these mirrors to function as divinatory aids: illuminated manuscripts are clearly such hypnoid divinatory aids, but despite their roots in sublime Celtic metallurgy, they speak largely of cloistered stink, rather than florid excursions.
All this becomes salient when comparing Western speculative philosophy with the Chinese tradition, which in my view more successfully preserved Neolithic means of cultivating and transmitting intuitive disciplines. The explicitly logographic nature of Chinese played no small part: the core Chinese lexicon of radicals are all pictorial in origin and many are still recognizable. The logograph implies the likeness of the thing, the phonemic sequence, and the functional concept itself: signified, signifier, sign - in Peircian terminology, “object”, “representamen”, “interpretant”. Unlike the more obscured semiosis of an alphabetic system, it is the explicit compression of the logograph that is uncanny: the logograph is not the thing it represents, and yet because the graph designates both the object and the phonemic sequence of the word, and the word designates the object, we cannot experience or demonstrate this object by any means which does not seem to invoke the same sequence in reverse. This is probably the reason for the southern Daoist tradition of “finger pointing” in transmitting intangible knowledge - along with occasional beatings for the especially obtuse… But pedantic “semiotics” always invokes a certain need to be slapped, doesn’t it?
If this section seems more obscure and heady than I normally allow myself, let it be a testament to the influence of the topic and a witness to my method: what is discussed should percolate through the means, it should recurse and drive you a little mad, else you’re not yet thinking to full capacity.
Discerning the writing in the world: why psychology devolves into conspiracy theory in the hands of the inept. Why psychology begins as animism. Why there is always an element of the superstitious in any psychological interpretation: every interpretation is properly considered a placeholder for a more complex experience. But the reduction of complexity and the suppression of implication, is precisely the function of consciousness: one must understand it as a useful falsification, else one has failed to understand one’s own understanding - definition of postaxial technocratic arrogance.
Another point from information theory I should mention, is that the transmission of information depends upon uncertainty in the occurrence of signs: every meaningful communication requires a probabilistic headroom, a contained entropic space - otherwise it is merely formulaic redundancy. As I’ve hinted, “punitive normalcy” is this kind of redundancy: or rather, it is an attempt at the erasure of meaning through the expansion of the domain of redundancy. Freudian repression may not be just “pressing down” as the words re-pression and Verdrängung suggest, or defensive egoic “censure”, or Kleinian “splitting”: it may be more like an overwritten palimpsest, an erasure through repetitive redundancy - a kind of antitrance. It’s noteworthy that the Ericksonian method of hypnotic induction often depends upon the frightfully unexpected - the man was capable of surprising bluntness, of an almost Daoist intensity: a healing trance, a desirable trance, requires first that an antitrance be disturbed… The slightest nudge in the right place, and what seemed like an immovable edifice of the uncanny - this overwritten, years-long trance of neurotic fixation, can move. Much of what is uncanny in human psychology is precisely this kind of doubling: everything is plainly said, plainly visible, the history of a person is written on the face - and yet everyone pretends not to know how to read.
Cangjie, as I understand the myth, is the critical juncture between divinatory seeing and blind literacy: a visionary made explicit what was implicit, and forever after those signs no longer function as magical invocations - or they do, but no one knows it. The history of most of the teachers of psychology I know of, follows a similar pattern: Freudians ruined the potency of Freudian concepts, the students of Erickson turned his art into a suspiciously “well-meaning” psychotherapeutic blandishment, the history of the influence of Heraklitus is one long misunderstanding and slander after another… As the Daoists say, one must return to the source, and be nourished by the wordless.
The careful reader will notice that there are at least two competing models of the uncanny in what I’ve said: that the uncanny is invasive informative redundancy as a result of Freudian repression, and that the uncanny arises from the instability of signification. But they are not so different: in both cases, something which means something explicitly, also implies something which its very meaning obscures. Every sign is written atop something else.
Unconscious phenomena are compressed: which in informational terms, means low redundancy in the message. I frequently speak of “overdetermination”: nothing characterizes the dreamstate, like an object that is many things at once. The sign similarly, is many things at once. But it is the intrusion of unconscious repressive schemata into consciousness, which most visibly and daily gives us the experience of the uncanny: repression compresses data into the very means of obscuring it - namely redundancy. This is why brilliant psychoanalytic interpretation usually begins from some mundane neglected detail - often something the patient hesitated to mention it was so trivial, “not worth mentioning”, as people say. But people leave the most important clues in the margins, in their garbage, and their footnotes: it’s not for nothing that postmodern hermeneutics has its roots in the Jewish passion for endless textual commentary - Levinas as the reluctant rabbi-godfather of postmodern philosophy…
Have I been understood? The strategy of repression is not, as is usually assumed, merely denial and inhibition: fully developed repression hides everything in plain sight. This too, is part of how and why fully committed religious folk, like the Amish, can feel that everything is sacred and “belongs to God”: everything means itself, and something else entirely. That programs of repression could possibly return us to a “state of grace”, to the vision of an illuminated manuscript written upon the world - that too, should be no surprise to anyone willing to understand the functional value of postaxial religious entrainment. To regain the sacred, at any cost to our instinctual coherence - which in civilizational contexts is skewed and hopeless anyway: that’s the winning formula which will repeat many times yet, and why I expect global religiosity to surge right back to where it once was, no matter the distortions involved.
There is yet another distinction worth pointing out here: the difference between natively unconscious process, and what I call repressive schemata. This was an important point Freud brought up more than once, which is generally missed: repressed content is hidden amongst the innocently unconscious, like a fugitive in disguise. The difference is qualitative and difficult to discern until it’s probed: repressed material slithers away, vanishes, or plays dead. Unlike everything else in the dreamstate, it often refuses to transform when perceived: that’s a sure sign that you’ve cornered a highly compressed signal which needs precisely this disguise and no other…
When the Netsilik and all traditional peoples describe their tunraq, their personal guardian spirits, their visions, they are describing their dreams and hallucinations: this is the stage before humanity has learned to distinguish between waking and dreaming, seeing and seeing. Not that this distinguishment represents an advance on all fronts: much has been lost, since we began talking our children out of their imagination. Much that was formerly known and experienced communally, is now repressed and solely the domain of psychosis, unguided adolescent psychedelia, and the occasional intrepid psychologist. The “supersane”, is what one of them once called this domain: it’s been noted many times, that the onset of schizophrenia contains almost identical characteristics to the shamanistic initiation. But it’s not that being crazy is somehow better: contained and controlled hallucination was always the ancient goal. As much hallucination as is fruitful for the sake of insight and power: there seems to be a more or less constant ratio of children born every generation, who bear an excess of insight. This excess of understanding seeks shape, generates perceptual traces - it is not only the perceptual apparatus playing with itself and finding positive feedback loops, it is the exploitation of perceptual marginalia for the purposes making consciously comprehensible what is otherwise too latent and unconscious to be manipulable.
Homo sapiens is burdened with its frontal lobe: a gross excess of unsettled intelligence freed from instinctual discharge, channeled and amplified by the linguistic faculty, reaching an unstable criticality when constrained by repression, and finally emerging like a supercoherent laser, but without any unambiguous instinctual terminus - this is the danger we represent to ourselves.
That we took so long to “emerge” from Pleistocene nomadism, is not merely an artifact of technological acceleration: our ancestors were by no means and in no way dumber than we are. It’s a dirty little secret of paleontology, that the human brain has actually decreased in volume since about 20,000 BC: we already reached the adaptive maximum of excess cleverness. Moreover, we already perfected the means to contain this intelligence… The kind of endless anxiety, crippling neurosis, hyperalgesia and hypochondria we suffer from in modernity, would never have been tolerated nor remotely viable in that rigorous past: so much of the concern with spirits and the supernatural, is the adaptive means of discharging, redirecting, and reappropriating our surplus intelligence. “Idle hands are the playground of the devil”: this means, too much leisure is bad for the clever ape, because he will begin hallucinating with the same kind of ferocity all his kind employs in masturbation. “Thinking” is hallucination which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system: in other contexts known as dreaming.
That our ancestors did not distinguish between dreaming and waking - again this is not due to lack of intelligence, nor to a lack of honesty. It’s not even strictly true: they knew very well the difference, but considered the “spirit world” - in our language, hallucination - to be equally valid forms of information. They weren’t just lying, either to themselves out of weakness of mind, nor to everyone else for the sake of shamanistic power - although this certainly happened frequently - a powerful shaman reports genuine visions. Falsified visions may have a populist, shortlived impact - the scam artist has always been with us and always will - but there are also completely sincere medicine men, who report what they see. This is why many of their visions and spirits are so strange, so unexpected, so specific:
The following is the list of spirits owned by Iksivalitaq, the last practicing shaman among the Netsilik: 1. Kingarjuaq, big mountain, about three inches long and one inch high, with black and red spots. The shaman could remove this tunraq from his mouth, where it was in the habit of staying, and make it run on his hand. 2. Kanayuq, sea scorpion, residing also in Iksivalitaq’s mouth, whence it could show its ugly head. 3. Kaiutinuaq, the ghost of a dead man. 4. Kringarsarut, the ghost of a dead man, big as a needle, with a crooked mouth and one very small ear. 5. Arlu, the killer whale, white, very big. 6. Kunnararjuq, a black dog with no ears. 7. Iksivalitak, the ghost of the shaman’s grandfather.
The Netsilik Eskimo, Asen Balikci, §4.10
It’s easy to invent gratifying lies - this is almost identical to the social capacity - but it’s impossible to fake unconscious depth and the uncanny: yet only a living familiarity with one’s own dreams can impart this sense for the difference. Perhaps a good poet knows the difference: Shakespeare cannot be faked, and there’s something about his phrasing that is untranslatable.
There is the possibility that psychology will never be a science - that it cannot by definition be science. That psychology is always properly concerned with the “occult”, because it is by definition a knowing of that which is hidden: what is unconscious is unknown, uncanny, occult. If the domain of human knowledge were to expand to include that which is unconscious today, psychology would no longer be necessary - or would psychology expand indefinitely? Since its inception, visible in Heraklitus in the West and Zhuangzi in the East, it’s long been a question whether our psychologists are discovering the ontogeny of the soul, or inventing fantasies useful to themselves: both, is probably the answer. ψυχῆς ἐστι λόγος ἑωυτὸν αὔξων: one of the peculiarities of consciousness, is the way it grows uncontrollably past its native dampening thresholds - the story is involute, anxiety has no functional limit. Furthermore, one of the peculiarities familiar to anyone who has actually tried to become fully conscious, is that at these asymptotic limits consciousness begins to resemble unconsciousness: a multiplication of concurrent threads, parallel operation, persistent unresolved contradiction, multiplying dimensionality, recursive implications forever collapsing back into condensation and overdetermination - in short, everything which makes consciousness tremble before the task and which spreads awareness too thinly, because it is too costly. Again “awareness” being nothing but reduplicative representation - an inhibitory function: obviously this kind of expensive overhead cannot be tolerated at all levels, and in meditative practice one learns to turn down that flame as low as possible, without falling asleep… The art of psychology is for me this low flame: only a flickering light, so as not to scare away the spirits. Our projective imagination, our filling out what is perhaps only shadow puppetry and tricks of the séance, should not be dismissed: “superstition” often expresses a knowledge otherwise difficult to justify, misplaced perhaps, displaced perhaps necessarily - but nonetheless valid to those with a Grimm Brother’s eye for valuable lore.
If it’s possible for psychology to become the “queen of the sciences”, then it is important she remain a queen: that is aloof, inscrutable, both more and less than mere woman - the “virgin queen”. Something to inspire us, cast doubt in us, and draw on sources of myth and power: psychology must not be allowed to become a bureaucrat’s tabulation exercise, a correlation of probabilities and measurements - but nor should it become a “carnival of the soul”, a breeding ground for neon charlatanism, a means of mystifying the credulous. It should be neither too certain of its attainments, nor permissive of vacuous showmanship, nor encouraging of the moral actor and the well-meaning of clumsy dolts: it should at all times seek the truth function in the human creature - it should welcome wickedness and deceit and willful reversals without losing sight of them, because these too are means of telling the truth. Psychology in our age perhaps above all, needs to turn away the vaguely well-meaning and welcome the crisply wicked: in wickedness there is much more sincerity and power to heal. To find cruelty in the good, vulnerability in the charlatan, and ignorance in the knowledgeable.