Expressing human experience. LO24358

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 04/13/00

Replying to LO24309 --

Dear Organlearners,

Gavin Ritz <> writes, upon my note:

>> You have touched with your reference to Frankl upon a
>> very important as aspect on the diagram:
>> experiencing => [human] =>expressing
>> What happens when this diagram gets cut off so that only
>> experiencing => [human]
>> remains? Is it not possible to get a "build-up" of experiences
>> just like the pressure of steam in a container build up as it
>> gets more and more heat?
> This is not an accurate representation of how the human mind
> works, there is no pressure build up of any kind in the mind.
> The human mind is more like a set of images, sounds, feelings
> set in slides (or moving images) which is recalled by using the
> human sensory apparatus (eyes, ears, skin, nose, taste).

Greetings Gavin,

I have indicated by the "like" that I use the phrase "build up of
pressure" as a metaphor. I could also have said that there is an "overload
of raw experiences".

However, the questioned which I posed, is what happens to the mind if
there is insufficient expression of experiences -- too much (experiences)
coming in and too little (expressions) going out. Its like asking "What
happens to the body if too much food is eaten and too little excercise is
done?" By now we know that a string of events will follow:- obesity,
diabetes, heart failure, etc. But my question refers not the whole body,
but specifically the brain-mind (material-abastract) system.

I will try to answer that question myself. But before I do that, I have
some questions myself on what you have written above.

You wrote:
> The human mind is more like a set of images...... which is
> recalled by using the human sensory apparatus .....
Where does this "set of images" originally come from? Is this
"set of images" something else than "experiences having been
expressed"? Dear Gavin, I do not want to get in argument with
you. I merely want you to think about things which you may
have overlooked. Things just do not exist in our mind as blue
pets falling on our head from the sky.

You also wrote:

>The only reason why it feels like pressure is because we
>focus on the one sensory system that keeps bringing up
>the same slide(s). Often this is called by therapists as not
>being able to let go.

I suspect that you focus on experiences having been experienced before. In
that case your explanation sounds reasonable for such repeated experiences
which had never been expressed healthy before. But what happens when being
subjected quickly to many, diverse and new experiences so that the
majority of them cannot become expressed constructively? The answer will
be rich (and thus lenghty) once again. People all over the world are now
having unprecedented experiences as a result of "globalisation". Perhaps
my rich picture will give them some guidance.

The answer in terms of the physical neurological system is as follows.
Sensory inputs are relayed from one neuron to a bundel of subsequent
neurons (one-to-many) where they "almost join", the so-called neuron
synapses. They make effective contact with each other over a slight gap by
the transport of low molecular mass substances called neurotransmitters
like acetylcholine, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. When the
neurotransmitters enter the subsequent neuron longitudinally, they cause a
lateral displacement of cations (like potassium) through the wall of the
neuron's axon. This displacement then propagates itself as a soliton wave
along the wall of the axon to the other end of the neuron where the
process is repeated into the next bundels of neurons. A fresh neuron can
fire a couple of times in a second, but the rate of firing decreases
gradually if the neuron is not allowed to "rest". How?

We may almost think of a row of dominos branching like a tree. When the
first one at the base of the trunk topples over, it causes the toppling of
the subsequent ones until this entire tree "in the forest" has toppled
over. The tree cannot topple over again UNLESS its dominos are set up
again. In other words, the neurons have to return back to their original
state of "ready to fire". This happens with some of the neurotransmittters
diffusing back into the previous neurons, but the majority becoming
inactiviated (hydrolised) by special enzymes PRODUCED in the "forest" and
not the toppled tree. These enzymes are not just there, but have to be
produced. They are produced when the very forest begin to fire in harmony
so as incorporate the "dissonance" of the one toppled tree into a new
harmony. Its almost like Beethoven introducing a dissonant chord in a
sonata of him just to resolve it gradually in a fantastic new and richer

When the brain is subjected at a high rate with many, diverse and new
sensory inputs (discerned as experiences), the toppled over trees become
quickly more. The harmonius swaying of the forest cannot any more lift
each of them upright again. Its almost as if the harmonius swaying of the
forest is destroyed by a hurricane. Disaster in an actual forest is
emminent -- something which will take many years to recover from.

But what happens to the abstract mind and not the material brain? One of
the first signs is a feeling of mental discomfort. Then unease with basic,
daily practices like eating, sleeping and toilet sets in -- can I sleap
here, is it safe to go to sleep, how will I wake up, etc. Later on almost
imperceptable iodiosyncrasies begin to blow up into severe compulsions and
obsessions. Eventually an irrational urge to flee from it all (suicide,
emigration, destruction) at whatever cost sets in. The person's mental
faculties become either frantic or sloth-like.

It has happened frequently here in South Africa to members of the security
forces and trauma units in the few years before and after the end of
apartheid. They suddenly had to cope with too many new experiences -- post
traumatic stress. Psychiatrists were covered over their heads with cases,
even some of them falling aprt too. It is now happening again increasingly
to the "new elite" (formerly suppressed people) who have to handel
executive tasks beyond their wildest imaginations.

My first own experience with it was in 1974 (I am not sure of the date,
although the incident is still vivid). I decided to search for a very rare
succulent plant (Adenia spinosa) in the Soutpansberge ("salt lake
mountains") in the north of South Africa. I knew it from bare descriptions
in a couple of books, but never have seen one on any collection or even a
picture of it. So I set off from my home in Potchefstroom for a week long
journey to a place where I have never been before, looking for a thing
which I have never seen before.

That week in and around the Soutpansberge slowly became hell for me. I
have experienced as never before heat, thirst, insects, trees and shrubs
with thorns scratching and piercing, farmers curious about my mental
state, black people getting frightened because of me wandering solitary
through the bushes and even the police thinking I am a smuggler. By the
sixth day I was as edgy as can be. I was convinced that this was the most
foolish excursion I have ever undertaken. I have not found a single plant.

Late that afternoon I met a dear old man (90+), Oom Matewa Roos. Perhaps
he sensed my anguish. He invited me to come and stay with him. He made a
fire outside the house and told me stories about his own explorations
until I felt asleep. When I woke up the next morning, it was next to the
ashes of the fire with a blanket which he covered me with. I had slept
like a log. As I prepared to leave back to Potcehfstroom, he told me
where I wouldl find one plant --giving indications to the nearest yard. I
found this extraodinary. When I got into my vehicle, I stepped the
accelarator pedal as deep in as possible to get away from that horrible
place as fast as possible.

As I neared the locality where he said I will find a plant, my conscience
warned me not to rush past it, but stop and see if I can find the plant.
This was the best decision taken in many years. As I neared the exact
place against the mountain slope where he said I will find the plant,
counting every yard, I saw a dense clump of bushes. I felt very
disappointed as I reached the bushes seeing no plant. I walked up the
slope around the bush, then turned to face the bush, when "sudden
lightning striked" me. "No, it cannot be this beautiful moster" my mind
screamed. I fell backward against the slope on the rocks, just staring and
staring at this apparition. After many minutes, perhaps an hour, I do not
know, I made my first stir by streching my hand out to touch it. Its body
was incredibly cool in the heat!

When I got back to my vehicle, I suddenly experience again this intense
urge to rush away, the peace of the previous hour completely forgotten.
When I got back at home, my dear wife said to me: "It seems to me it was
no fun because you are very distraught." It took me more than a week to
get into routine again. I told her that I will never do such a foolish
thing again. However, six months later she saw me studying a road map
intensely. She laconically commented: "I thought you would never do such a
foolish trip again." I replied: "I thought so too". A month later I
collected for the first time ever ripe seed of A spinosa -- the feeling
was incredible.

Some ten years later I took people from Europe on an extensive trip
through all the deserts of the North Cape and Namibia. They paid for the
trip. We had to cover 10 000 km in three weeks. They had to be back in
time for their air flights back to Europe. The first week their behaviour
slowly cahnged. The second week when we reached the Skeleton Coast, they
were behaving erratically. But they still wanted me to push on, enjoying
their indredible experiences. When we reached Kaokoland, they decided that
enough is enough and we began our journey of 3 000km back to Pretoria.
After 1500km they began to beg me to stop so that they could just sit in
the desolation of the Khomas Hochland. I asked them what about their
flights back to Europe? Then Voitek Popiel (Polish) said the following:
"At de Lange, you have pushed me far worse than general MacArthur ever
would have pushed his own men. You have no mercy. Get human again!" They
were now behaving clearly sloth-like.

I though that I was strong enough and that a similar thing would never
happen to me again. My friend Basjan Crous and I discussed this "falling
to pieces" several times. He experienced it too. So when we set for a two
months tour to South America to hunt for rare cacti on the outskirts of
the deep Amazon, it was the last thing in our mind. But it did happened to
us because our Brazilian friend Augusto Miotto made sure that we
experience as much as possible for our money's worth. After three weeks I
became aware of this "experience overload" in both me and Basjan. But that
time I enjoyed it out of scientific curiosity, observing closely what is
happening to me and him.

I thought that I managed to control my mind even though it felt more and
more like falling to pieces. But on the Varig flight back I did a curious
thing. I drank some brandy and gave a sigh of relief. The bar attendent
thought it was doing me real good so that he started feeding me brandy on
Varig's expenses. I drank and drank until I fell into a death sleep. I
woke up as the plane touched down on Jonannesburg airport. When I stepped
out of the plane into the frosty midnight air of the Highveld, I was
suddenly shocked to my senses. I had been in a trance the last two weeks
without being aware of it!

These experiences were a very good preparation for me because during
1982-83 I made an empirical discovery which involved a vast paradigm
shift. Suddenly my whole "systems thinking" (would view) had to become
reorientated. I had to hunt for clues through thousands of books and
journals covering the entire academy trying to make more sense out of this
strange discovery. I used my eyes (sensory impulse) trying to pick up
certain thoughts in the minds of the writers in terms of what they have
expressed. In other words, picking up their thoughts which may perhaps
relate to my own discovery created mental experiences within me just as
any physical trip into the unknown wilds would have done.

I found little so that I had to read more, wider and faster. I began to
experience once again this "mind falling apart". But by then I knew how to
handle it. I had to create constructively whatever my mind found "begging"
for it. The next two years became a vortex of accelerated reading,
accelerated connecting of ideas, accelerated shooting down fruitless
creations, etc. My discovery of the seven essentialities came just in
time, otherwise my mind would have fallen apart. Reading too many books
can break one mentally.

>On the Boer war thing, this is just one event in the long line
>of persecutions that the Huguenots and the Dutch settlers
>had probably stretching back eons. The outcomes of this
>can be seen in the policies of the National government in
>RSA from the WW2. Most policies and ideals (opposite of
>our fears) from this government was to combat the fears that
>resided in the hearts of many of the Afrikaner people.

Dear Gavin, you are so right! But the very same thing is now happening
once again to the Banthu (black) people now in power. The interaction of
European cultures through colonisation on African cultures caused a whole
plethora of fears among them of which many have not yet been articulated.
If only the whole nation (black, brown, yellow, white) could see how our
country has been and still is driven by fears rather than wise missions.

A very serious excercise to do, is to take a publication (news papers work
best) for black people and scrutinise it as objectively as possible for
fears expressed in many different disguises, jotting them down one by one
as you get across them. Perhaps the people involved will argue themselves
blue in the head that some of these fears are not real. But that is beside
the point. The point is to become aware of fears (true and false) among
other people and see how they react or intend to react to such fears.

>The fact that you mentioned the Boer War is very interesting,
>I am sure you were not there, this is what we do as humans
>we bind time and rather strongly through our emotions and
>most often those of loss.

My own father and mother were born soon after the war in times when
poverty as a result of the war was rampant and the fears of their own
parents still burning high. Thus, through the actions of their parents to
their own fears these fears became also the fears of my parents, as these
fears later became mine. Moreover, these fears got distorted from
generation to generation! I had nothing to fear since the war was some
fourty years of the past, yet these very fears resulting from the
Brithish-Boer war, kept alive by WWI and WWII, came down right into my won
life. Thus the way in which my parents and other adults reacted because of
their own fears caused me to react in certain ways which instilled these
fears anew in me, but now somewaht distorted What a domino reaction of
fears from generation to generation!

Fortunately I learned a great lesson from my own parents. It was not a
lesson which others taught them, but one which each of them learned self
without the help of anybody else. They had no psychiatrists, pastors or
councelors to help them. Slowly they managed to heal much of the
disruption in their own lives by each doing a diversity of creative
things. I often admired them in my school years as two remarkable
creative people who allowed me to share in whatever creative venture they
undertook. When thinking back over all those years, they have changed
themselves for the better as much as ever can be expected.

But the clash began brewing as they tried more and more to force their
creative wisdom on me in my own creative undertakings. So long as I shared
in theirs, it was OK, but as soon as I created self innovatively, an ugly
thing lifted its head. The best I could express it in those days is that
they expected from me "rote creating", "rote learning", "rote believing"
and even "rote caring". Today I know much better. They wanted me to act
according to the prevailing paradigm of the MACHINE which was so deeply
imbedded in the far majoirty of people of their generation. Yes, consult
the dictionary and see how much this "rote" has etymologically to do with
"machine"! It was no error of theirs -- they were merely portraying to
their best what their generation thought best for my best interests.

Today I want to laugh and cry simultaneously. It was their creative lives
which fired the creative spirit in me so as to rebel. I was not a
machine, but a human, a living organism! They themselves tried to shift
beyond the paradigm of the machine -- and when I began to shift too,
neither they nor I had the insight to see that I was freeing myself from
the same paradigm. Were it not for their creativity affording me the kind
of experiences which could only be expressed creatively, my own creativity
would have been dead by now.

One last note about the BB War. The most serious strategic error which the
British have made before, during and even after that war, is that they are
far superior than the Boers in creativity. This error was made implicitly
in their tacit level of knowledge. Thus they started the one war which
they never could have won -- the BB War. It brought an end to the mighty
British Empire. The very sad thing is that the Afrikaners (what the Boers
began to call themselves some fifty years ago) made the same system error
when introducing the ideology and policy of apartheid -- they
underestimated the creativity of the black people completely.

It all boils down to one simple thing -- underestimating the humaneness of
humans -- underestimating the ability of humans to express their
experiences creatively -- underestimating the necessity of humans to
relieve themselves from experiences through expressions. When humans
create constructively, their expressions become paradise. But when humans
create destructively trying to portray their hurting experiences, their
expressions become hell.

The choice which humankind has to make is very clear to me -- stop
expressing experiences destructively. It is causing an "overload of raw
experiences" which more and more humans cannot bear and which even the
global ecology is staggering from. Remember Voitek Popiel's words; "You
have no mercy. Get human again!"

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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