Friday, April 16, 2010

abaissement du niveau mental

Heckuva paragraph today by Olga Tokarczuk in an Op Ed in the NY Times about the plane crash that claimed the lives of the Polish President and many of the members of the Polish elite.  She writes:

I am reminded that when a major trauma occurs, the kind that is both individual and collective, something happens that Jungian psychology calls an “abaissement du niveau mental” — a lowering of the level of consciousness. Intellect gives way to the gloom of the collective psyche. The horrified mind tries to find meaning, but lets itself be seduced by old myths. -- Olga Tokarczuk, April 15, 2010

Yep, that is EXACTLY what happened in the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks.  The U.S. regressed in its collective consciousness back to a prior stage of development.  That's the reason that Dennis Miller and Victoria Jackson went from being smart edgy comedians to becoming paranoid delusional spokespeople for radical conservatism.  That's the reason that we were able to elect appoint Bush, a guy with the intelligence of an average high school kid who likes to party, to two terms.  That's the reason that otherwise decent people quickly embraced violations of international law including torture and pre-emptive war. 

I'm just happy to have a term for it now. 


Shane said...

It's a great term isn't it? Fits the two situations perfectly, sadly it seems that there are always people ready to take advantage of the stunned public's smashed psyche for their own ends.

RFK Action Front said...

Hi Shane:

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to discover your blogs.

Yeah it's a great term (those French speakers know how to make stuff sound cool). It really explains some of the mechanics that Naomi Klein talks about in Shock Doctrine too (traumatized people accept an economic program that they would reject under ordinary circumstances). The whole Op Ed by Olga Tokarczuk is really quite excellent.