Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
That's Unreasonable!You Bet!
Impertinent, Outrageous, Wild, Ludicrous, Mad, Improvisational, Experimental,
Ecstatic, Paradoxical and Unheard of
by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
reasonable man adapts himself to the world.
The dictionary tells us that the word unreasonable is synonymous with irrational and means not reasonable, specifically not rational, having or showing little sense or judgment as well as excessive, immoderate and exorbitant. This writing proposes that unreasonable also be understood as outside the realm of reason and rationality and essentially without being irrational, implying mental unsoundness and bad judgment. Further, it is proposed that the reclaiming of the unreasonable as a perfectly valid way to grow, know and contribute works in tandem with the reasonable, each helping balance the other in a give-and-take, checks-and-balance fashion. The non-reasonable invites innovation in all inner subjective realms like sensory perceptions, feelings and intuitions, not because it isn't reasonable, but because it is outside the realm of reason and in the realm of the intuitive, instinctual and holistic.
It is unreasonable human beings that bring the foresight, vision and courage of their ideas, that forge the original trail, create the new design, and discover the breakthrough paradigm that ushers in the progress of our species. Even the unreasonable need stay grounded with appropriate limits and structures to reap the benefits of true freedom. Who but an unreasonable person would ever follow their muse, inner voice and heart? Who but an unreasonable person would ever express themselves as an artist and creator of any stripe? Who but an unreasonable person would ever compulsively do what it takes to earn an advanced degree, initiate a new business or start-up, be a professional and become a success in the world? Who but an unreasonable person would grow and develop into being him or herself in a process Carl Gustav Jung called individuation or becoming your own individual? Who but an unreasonable person would be an innovator, inventor, creator or other seminal contributor to the progress of humankind? Who but an unreasonable person would be free of the insanity of the optical illusion and unreality of the imaginary self or ego-mind and living in this sanity and presence? Exploring the unreasonable realm is our course.
One might say that our society progresses through its progressives (or extremists and radicals) and is preserved by its conservatives (or do-nothings and maintainers of the status quo). By aiming at what has not been done or even imagined, such iconoclastic pioneers are blessed to not know what they cannot do, so they do it anyway for all our goods. By refusing to adapt themselves to the society of their day, they demand that society pay attention, listen and adapt to them. We all can bless and be ceaselessly grateful for the unreasonable, understood as outside of reason or non-reasonable. In ancient Greek mythology the dichotomy between the philosophical and literary concepts of Apollonian and Dionysian is relevant. The Apollonian, deriving from Apollo being the god of the Sun, is associated with the wish to create order and structure working with the principle of individuation. Furthermore, the Apollonian is associated with males, solidity, clarity and using reason and rationality. Alternatively, the Dionysian, deriving from Dionysus being the god of wine, is associated with the females, intoxication, orgiastic passion, dissolution of all boundaries and ecstasy, the celebration of nature, the instinctual and intuitive, the irrational and non-logical, as well as the wholeness of existence.
The ancient Greeks did not consider the two gods as rivals or opposites, but rather an essential balancing of these two core philosophical principles. At least since the philosopher Aristotle proposed his strong valuing of logos, which he means an argument from reason, logos has remained the primary criterion for what is right, good, logical and reasonable (e.g., the central tenant in Western Law being what the "reasonable person" would do in any given situation) in Western society and most of the world. According to Aristotle, the other two modes of persuasion, pathos or persuasion by means of emotional appeal and ethos or persuasion through moral competence, lack the advantages of logos with data being difficult to manipulate and the speaker of logos looking so knowledgeable and prepared to the audience.
In summary, the Western world largely has been oriented to Aristotle's logos or argument from reason and the Apollonian ordered reasonable creation, eclipsing pathos (persuasion by means of emotional appeal) and ethos (persuasion by moral competence) and Dionysian chaotic/wild unreasonable creation. This writing proposes that being reasonable and unreasonable, logos as well as pathos and ethos, are valid philosophical and practical approach to living and embracing all facets of human activity and relationship, awareness and consciousness.
Being Reasonable Doesn't Apply During Unreasonable Times
all faced with a series of great opportunities
Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished
We are living through dangerous, unreasonable times. Perhaps all times to the present are considered by the inhabitants to be filled with dangers. It has often been the case on this planet with the unending wars, conflict and violence that has characterized our human history. It's the norm. Yet, in our modern existence, we recognize our susceptibility to this madness given greatly increased information through selective media dissemination of opinions, polling and scientific research findings. When misdirected this becomes hyper-vigilant, fear-filled panic or dissociated numbness and withdrawal. When well directed it's a splash of refreshing water on the face and golden opportunities for innovation, adaptation and a renaissance of the spirit. Then we can reorder, awaken and create a new design. Being unreasonable does not mean being argumentative, divisive, positional or intractable. As it usually takes a crook to think like a crook and thus catch a crook, so it takes unreasonable or non-reasonable thinking by going outside of reason in action to cope with highly unreasonable times.
Rational, Non-rational and Irrational
Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding
Anyone who has begun to think places some
portion of the world in jeopardy.
Think enough and you won't know anything.
I've never had a rational feeling, whether it's joy or grief, and I don't think I would trust it if it ever arrived on my plate of life. It's not only an oxymoron, it's false. Feelings make perfect emotional sense, just no particular rational sense. And let's not confuse what makes rational sense, such as 2 + 2 = 4 or positioning the nail before you hit it with a hammer, with what makes emotional, intuitive sense, like sensing the connection with a kindred soul or feeling in danger and having the urge to leave immediately. The former can be helpful and even provide visionary ideas that can shake up the world. The latter is non-rational (including the unreasonable understood as non-reasonable) and can be equally revolutionary since these sensory-emotional-intuitive experiences are outside the purview of rationality. When our mind so identifies with thoughts, mental activity only turns on itself, becoming swollen with itself and senseless and defeating, much like watching the futility of a dog chasing it's own tail.
To think in terms of symbols and deeper psycho-spiritual meanings is inherently non-rational. When an idea is within the realm of reason and there is none to be found, like when someone says they sense rays from Mars or unfounded paranoid ideas of someone aiming to kill them, then we're looking at the irrational. That's not for the squeamish. The odd twist of it all is that the realm of the reasonable, broadly understood, incorporates both the rational and the non-rational, as do all polarities include both opposites. Most people might agree that it's perfectly reasonable to cry when you are hurt and grieve when you experience a significant loss, just like you regularly balance your checkbook and periodically check and revise your investment portfolio. The reasonable usually doesn't include the irrational.
The odder twist yet is that the realms of the unreasonable and non-reasonable include the non-rational and sometimes dips into the irrational. This is the borderline true artists inhabit that can create both great expressions of artistic genius as well as result in sheer madness and an early, senseless death. What a tightrope to traverse! Who we think we are, or our imaginary ego-minds, driven by fear, greed and hope coupled with the prime directive to physically and psychologically survive, perceives life 24/7 like walking across the thinnest of wires some 1000 feet up in thin air with no net!
At the same time, standing and looking from the space of who we all truly are, or the True Self or Original Nature, buoyed by fascination with everything and dwelling in true equanimity and love, and attuned to the instinctual, the intuitive and the non-reasonable (or unreasonable), you actually experience comfortably and effortlessly walking across a broad plank on solid ground with no net nor any need for one. Share where you stand, what you are looking at and place your attention elsewhere or here, and one of these two experiences will unfold. Follow the ego and veil the Self; drop the ego and unveil the Self.
Who Is Mad?
only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk,
Here's to the Crazy Ones
(Courtesy of Apple Computer-Author Unknown)
can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
They invent. They imagine. They heal.
they have to be crazy.
The Impertinent Question
That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent
As Einstein knew, only by going outside the frame of thinking that created critical problems can you rise to the next level that resolves them. Mystics, mad innovators, unreasonable wild men and passionate, highly intelligent, libertine women throughout time that have unendingly asked impertinent questions that challenged the sacred cows, foolish traditions and small-minded orthodoxy of the status quo. These free thinkers are the true heroes and heroines of the human species. It is these rare gifts to humankind that have dreamed the undreamable, spoken the unspeakable, written the unwriteable, proposed the unheard of, and somehow transformed their outrageous vision into realization. Heretics have always lived by real choice in societies and times that little understood and less appreciated most of them, yet powerfully advanced their cultures and modeled a riveting vision and light-shinning mentality.
The impertinent question is the glory and engine of human inquiry. Copernicus asked it and shook the foundations of Renaissance Europe. Darwin asked it and redefined humankind's very sense of itself. Thomas Jefferson asked it and was so invigorated by the asking that he declared one of our inalienable rights. Two hundred years later, Martin Luther King asked it, and forced the country to honor those rights. Daniel Defoe asked the impertinent question and invented the novel. James Joyce asked it and reinvented the novel, which was promptly banned. Jean-Paul Sartre asked it and inspired Simone de Beauvoir, who asked it and inspired a whole generation of women to question what they were doing with men like Jean-Paul Sartre. The Wright Brothers asked it and were ignored for five years. Bill Gates asked it and was ignored for five minutes, which was long enough for him to dominate the industry. Whether reviled or revered in their lifetimes, history's movers framed their questions in ways that were entirely disrespectful of conventional wisdom. Civilization has always advanced in the shimmering wake of its discontents.
Garry Trudeau, Commencement talk at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, June 2003
Wild Holy Fools
If you don't like my
principles, I've got others.
I Don't Wanna Go
A story is told of a son awakening one Sunday morning by his mother reminding him that he needs to get ready to go to church.
The son replies, "I don't wanna go to church this morning."
"Oh, nonsense," the mother answered, "you have to go."
responded, "But mother, everybody dislikes me, the sermons are
"Oh come now son," the mother began, "first of all everybody doesn't dislike you, only a few of the hard-nosed bullies, and you can just stand up to them. Second of all, the sermons mean a great deal to so many and if you really listened to them you might find them more interesting and helpful than you thought. Third, you have lots of friends at the church. For heaven's sake, they're always inviting you over to their houses! Besides all of this, you really do have to go. You're the minister, remember."
Appearances lie all the time and few things are as they appear. The holy fool and trickster comes in as many disguises are there are clouds in the sky and fish in the sea. Wherever we say "No," our ego's very denial, avoidance, dislike and resistance creates positionality along with ensuing pain, suffering and nothing much working or flowing in life. The moment we can simply face the realities in this moment by surrendering all unreal conceptualizations, all knots are untangled, all circles are closed and all is fine in heaven and earth, as in fact it ever is.
A Holy Fool Isn't Any Old Fool
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise
man knows himself to be a fool.
To value wisdom in a knowledge-dominated society is to be seen as a fool, heard as being unreasonable and experienced as a threat to the comfortable status quo of the powers that be. Only those awake to the language of the heart with its feeling intuitive truth see, hear, experience and value the holy fool. Holy fools are invaluable tricksters that light matches in the mind's self-righteous darkness while the awake fan the flames. Both do their best to prevent the threatened masses putting the light out. Shapeshifters endlessly shift their shape, form and type of engagement to fit the developmental stage and level of their present audience. In fact, such holy fools, tricksters and shapeshifters will use any honorable means to illuminate Being and empower another divine expression of the One to reach and touch That. Their saving grace is the knowledge that it's only a matter of time before Truth, Wisdom, Love and all that is holy, sacred and divine ultimately triumph. What can block Divinity's evolution?
Wrapped in being cheerfully subversive, Shakespeare's Falstaff reminds us that life is to be honestly, naturally, joyously and humanly lived. Modern movies have depicted the un-presentable and spoken the unspeakable wrapped in humor, including King of Hearts, Seven Beauties, Groundhog Day, The Truman Show and Pleasantville. When we laugh, we're vulnerable to new ideas. At that instant, we see the un-seeable and our lives are never quite the same thereafter. Is it a microscope, a telescope or a kaleidoscope? Is it all of these in great detail, great perspective and great creativity?
To Be Wild, Free and Flowing
Dance as if no one were watching,
sing as if no one were listening,
To be wild, free and flowing means to risk giving yourself wholly to the moment, a moment focused on the good. How else could or would anyone dance, sing or live whole-heartedly? What is reasonable about laughter, fun and artistic expression? What is reasonable about pressing the limits of the known to discover the unknown? What is reasonable about developing the cutting edge in any field? To taste this spirit is sublime, to realize this passion is exquisite, to live this truth-filled reality is divine.
Iconoclasts, Muckrakers, Tricksters, Inventors, Firebrands and Magnificent Idiots
mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.
Some took to the political arena, not as politicians, but as everyday spokespersons, eloquent everymen and plain talking advocates for the virtues of equitability, justice, freedom and fair play. Some followed their vision to be artists transforming an art form, or into business and aim to imbue it with quality, service and integrity. Some chose to invest themselves in relationships, whether in their personal or professional lives, thereby creating an experience of resonance, understanding and joy with people, animals and our natural world. Every last one of them came face-to-face with great obstacles, mighty opposition, incredible resistance and unfair oppression. And every last one of them rose to the occasion to stand tall, strong and fearless for their creative vision against daunting forces and long odds.
We owe them, those that asked impertinent questions, made outlandishly truthful proclamations, formulated unheard of hypotheses and shook up the conventions, traditions and status quo of our society years ahead of their time, an incredible depth of heartfelt appreciation. We are in their lasting gratitude and admirable honor. They are so worthy of our emulation. It is only through such remarkable individuals that our civilization earns the right to that name, breaks out of the quagmire of stale mindlessness and defiantly and unabashedly moves forward.
This article is an exploratory romp on the wild, silly, unreasonable, impertinent, ironic, paradoxical, unreasonable, absurd, outrageous, mad, ludicrous, unheard of, experimental and ecstatic side. This is in answer to the widespread and growing prevalence of "hypofunitis": inflammation over not having enough fun! One remedy, coined by rock group Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, is "pronoiac" or someone who believes that the world is conspiring to shower him or her with blessings. It's your surprise gift, your bountiful reward of the humorous interlude for making the journey through the tumbling rapids to this juncture and in preparation for the challenges that lie ahead. Just take it all in as you travel the scenic highway of what awake aware beings realize, linger in, revel over and embody.
An oxymoron is a phrase that contains two contradictory ideas, such as the following: True beliefs, real fear and hope, legitimate arguments, productive meetings, constructive criticism, authorized replicas, authentic simulations, real counterfeit diamonds, genuine imitation leather, trustworthy criminals, honest politicos, brilliant morons, intelligence (governmental), seedy class, volunteered and harmless wild pitches are all world-class Oxymoron's-they just don't fit together 98% of the time. The few exceptions validate the rule. Spot one, dodge a wild pitch unless you're willing to risk breaking your hand, be blamed and benched if not traded, and still not catch it!
You're welcome to add these favorite oxymoron's as well: person ego individual some "one" some "body" calm panic attack nice user happy hour ethical business constructive criticism being volunteered humble, kind, empathetic and compassionate narcissists self-righteous apologist altruistic taker strict conservative apologizing a dispassionate, non-argumentative progressive a level-headed terrorist a reasonable anarchist laissez-faire controller easy-going pressurer intelligent arguments kind debate an honest phony a written verbal warning a verbal written warning lovely ugliness a Type A personality living in Presence, and a true story (a true belief-based narrative). If both ends would be true, then the phrase is a paradox and not a contradiction.
Faster Is Slower and Slower Is Faster
faster we travel, the less there is to see.
The faster you go, the less you see and experience. The slower you go, the more you see and experience. Thus, faster is actually slower and slower is far faster. In the deeper realms of life transformation, here are two guiding lights that say the very same thing: The slower you go, the farther you'll get; the slower you proceed, the farther you'll progress.
Outrageous Truths and Absurdity At Its Best
Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.
The Priceless Value of Doing and the Priceless Value of Doing Nothing
Whatever we learn to do, we learn by
actually doing it: Men come to be builders,
do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.
To say you "know" anything on the relative plane of existence is a lie unless you live what you say you "know." A Zen saying goes, "To know and not to do is not yet to fully know." To fully know by living and embodying skills, tools, abilities, intelligences and a shift of perception variously called awakening, realization, illumination and enlightenment is highly unreasonable. To make a commitment and not follow through with actions in accord with your verbalized intention for action is equally a lie.
To give your word of honor to do something and not do that thing is being two-faced, hypocritical, untrustworthy and dishonest. At best all our "doings" and actions purely put warm, compassionate flesh on the skeleton of our integrity in being. All doing is a mirrored reflection of who and what we are being in every moment. So long as we have built and can emotionally hold our beingness, then very organically, naturally and spontaneously we express this in our doing. To perfect the practice of our doing in sharpening a skill or building a personality attribute or developing a character virtue means doing it repeatedly, completely and unendingly-ultimately being it.
You want to do nothing if doing something is not going to accomplish anything. Doing nothing is better than doing any harm. Often troubling situations have a way of working themselves out. Your creating the option to do nothing, other than show up and be, can be a stroke of genius! The option of non-action, no words or actions, can be brilliant and save costs. Just consider all those not-so-brilliant ideas like new math, new Coke, pre-qualified loans and so on. Not so hot. The administrators, managers and supervisors that do the least often give the most respect, freedom and support, not to mention being the most savvy and effective. They're also the only ones that receive the same in kind and are loved. Finding one is like discovering a diamond in the rough after mining in nowhere-land for years. Doing nothing can be the best something to be done. There's great value in what we wisely choose not to do.
To Be Is Not To Be Somebody; To Be Is To Be Nobody and Everybody
Nothing scares the bejesus
out of the ego since then it is effectively put out of business. It's extinction,
annihilation and death are its greatest fear. To realize that all being, like
all creation, comes out of nothing, including detachment, disinterest and disillusionment,
is progressively to be free of the ego's tyranny. All artists know that with the
inspiration of their muse they create everything out of nothing. Just look at
that untouched canvas, marble block, empty lot or blank paper. We block being
with our headstrong rush to be somebody and do something because
any object that follows "to be" blocks our very being. Besides, being
a self, person or role sells ourselves short of who we truly are. Our True Self
and Original Nature far exceeds and transcends the small ego self. Once we can
see the nothingness we can begin to embrace our beingness, wholeness and onenessour
supreme soul reality. Although Truth and the wholeness of the One cannot be directly
known, it is when we put aside all egoic resistance that we can simply be
it as we are. Experiencing being nobody includes experiencing being everybody
a full emptiness and an equally empty fullness. Both are experiential slices of
who we are.
Foresight is To See Before In This Moment
If you haven't got any foresight, then you aren't nothin' but backward! To be free of awareness within consciousness is hardly bliss! Without foresight the world is a jumbled, confusing mess punctuated by having your worst fears regularly energized into actuality. To use foresight means to see before, that is, to tap levels of intuition, reflectivity, intelligence and consequential thinking in this present moment, however unreasonable this is. To fully see probable outcomes by "playing the tape all the way thought" before they have unfolded is not only smart, it's wise. To learn from your own mistakes is smart; to learn from other people's errors is wise indeed. With foresight the world is your playground to enjoy, create and contribute to. Foresight is an incredible bargain today when you see the geometric, even exponential, costs that come without it tomorrow. Question authority, the status quo, and the Emperor's new clothes (as no clothes at all), and you fit right in this stellar company of improvisational, paradoxical and unreasonable innovators, creators and contributors to all humankind.
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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