Billiette Calling! 06.10.2021

Dream 5/25/2021 6:58 AM. I am still working on an issue that is slowly finding its way to the surface – something is being clarified.

Associations: The theme of this dream has been repeating itself these past weeks. My first association is that I am in the midst of trying to secure Billiette’s Fargo AA Silver Dollar columns, which I sense will help others and myself become more conscious!

Amplification: I am re-reading Colin Wilson Strength to Dream. I have been re-reading Chapter Seven The Need for Polarities – a key topic is imagination. Reading from p.189-191, I sensed is an amplification for this dream. I also realized it provides an introduction to our third Billiette Calling blog post.

“Some kind of moral judgment on the world must, then, be inherent in all works of literature, the writer’s accepted view of man and the universe – which is to say that, in some sense, every work of fiction that has ever been written is somehow obscurely concerned with the problem of how men should live. The judgement may be overt, as in Candide or Rasselas, both openly concerned with man’s dubious position in the universe. It may occur only at the end of a work, as in Epitaph for a Small Winner, the work of the great Brazilian writer Joaquim de Assis, who feels that his hero is a ‘small winner’ in the game of life because he has left no children to whom he can pass on the misery of human existence. In this case, as in all classic tragedy, the polarities are the hopeless desires of man and the indifferences of the universe. But the most important condition for the function of imagination has been observed – the great gap has been fixed.
This generalization leaves one important fact unexplained. There are many writers, particularly among the great novelists of the nineteenth century, who seem to work on a ‘humanistic’ level, with no great polarities of good or evil, triumph or tragedy, and yet who reveal a considerable inventive power. Dickens, Thackeray and Balzac are arguably among them, …Trollope and Dumas most certainly are.
   The interest here lies in the ‘unseen’ pole of which the writers may be completely unaware, the instinctive faculty of ‘affirmation’. The negative pole of the world is always visible, since man is far more capable of pain than of pleasure. Most pleasures are brief and easily forgotten; on the other hand, human life seems to be largely a matter of obstacles, always culminating in death, and frequently in a great deal of pain. It is easy to be fully conscious of ‘evil’; any philosopher of minimal talent can produce a hundred reasons why life is not worth living. The power of the urge to live is an altogether different matter. It requires either enormous strength to become aware of it, or one of those freak mystical insights that certain men seem to experience. A powerhouse exits in the subconscious regions of the mind. Occasionally we may become aware of it in some moment of relief from anxiety or of sudden joy. But for the most part it seems to communicate the urge to life in a curiously stealthy manner, on a level where we fail to notice it. A man like Dostoevsky, about to be executed, sees it without disguise, and spends the rest of his life trying to explain to human beings that they have no idea of what life is. He does so by a curious method; from the gentle melancholy of his early work, his books develop an increasingly gloomy picture of human existence. There are brief flashes of mystical affirmation, but these are only hints. His purpose seems to be to communicate to his readers the inexpressible value of lift by deliberately trying to produce a kind of ‘soul sickness’ in them, and relying on this sickness to evoke a sense of values. His own imaginative powers increase as he becomes more deeply aware of the polarities, the visible pole of human misery and futility and the invisible strength of human misery and futility and the invisible strength of the powerhouse.
   It might be said, then, that the ultimate aim of all imaginative literature is to teach men ‘what life is’. In La Nausee, Sartre points out that ‘nature’ has an aggressive way with the human consciousness, which is analogous to the way a bellicose man thrusts his face close to the face of a person he is threatening. It tends to hypnotise, to jam the ‘prehensive powers’. Art is the most primitive human device for enabling the consciousness to retaliate; it attempts to thrust nature to arm’s length. Like science, it works on the principle of hypothesis and proof; it suggests ‘general theorems’ about life (i.e., spirit is good, nature evil; ‘you can’t win’; ‘as for living, our servants will do that for us,’ etc.) and then tries to create works of art that will ‘demonstrate’ the idea.
   All this means that the Flaubert-Joyce attitude to literature is untenable. Literature need not have a ‘message’, in the sense that a problem play has, but neither is its purpose simple to hold a mirror up to nature. The passive attitude to literature is ultimately as untenable as total pessimism. No matter how detached and uncommitted an artist pretends to be, he is involved in a world whose ‘direction’ is as positive as the current of a river. It is impossible to exercise the imagination and not to be involved in this current, in man’s need for a supra-personal purpose, in the evolutionary drive.”

My brother Michael located two Billiette Calling! columns, one of which is presented next as a concrete experience to be followed by reflective observation using our abstract conceptualization (theories) calling us to actively experiment with generating a new more enlightened concrete experience to guide our lives – this is the experiential learning model, CE – RO – AC – AE, the AA Way Billiette used and wrote about to actualize her self. This is a never ending process! Every morning, if you remember your dream, before getting out of bed, record it! Then think about it for a moment, securing it, then start the coffee, and then begin to expand (associating, amplifying) your dream in your dream journal. Now, it is time for your cup of coffee. This is the important step in actualizing yourself!

Billiette Calling! March 10th.
   Oh, what a beautiful morning – this tenth day of March. “This is the day that God has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it!” I shall never forget past days when I awoke with ‘head in hand’, moaning, “Good God, it’s morning.” “Tis good to remember those ‘daze’ – for in remembering them I am able to be ever so grateful for this beautiful sunrise today, with nearly 28 tremendous years of sobriety. No matter what the day may bring – good or bad, prosperity or famine, sunshine or storm, whatever it may be – “I BE ME, BILLIETTE”, a very grateful recovering alcoholic. I am grateful to my God to be Sober and Free! He came to set us ‘captives’ free. Glory be to my God and Creator!
   We, alcoholics, know, all too well, that there is a ‘power that destroys’. It may be alcohol – drugs – and let’s not forget ‘self’. But, we who are sober and free today KNOW that there is a power greater than ourselves, a ‘power that creates’. This Power that creates gives life and joy and peace. It gives freedom and not bondage, life and not death, transformation and not coercion. The power that creates restores relationships and gives the gift of wholeness to all. The POWER THAT CREATES is SPIRITUAL POWER – the power that proceeds from God. It is the Power that you and I came to believe in after we gulped down our PRIDE and HUMBLY ADMITTED we were alcoholics and could not manage our own lives. We came and we learned that we were “suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer” (Big Book, p.44).
   “Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…” With all the negative happenings that have been occurring in my life recently, I have found myself once again in the ‘drivers’ seat’, attempting to take control, shutting God out.  I came to realize that I was on a ‘dry drunk’, with all the above-mentioned defects of character in full bloom. I had to get back to the basics or die. “Oh, God,” I cried, “I can’t You can. Help me get through this one more time.” This is the how and why of it – without God, we will be on a drunk, be it dry or wet!!!
   HOW IT WORKS… peace of mind in sobriety: The Big Book says on page 62, “This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quite playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal’ we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”
   “When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all-powerful, He provides what we needed. If we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans, and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. (emphasis added) As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed the peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or hereafter.
   Every day can be a ‘new beginning’ if we but remember to say to our Maker, as we understand Him/Her: “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” (Big Book, Third Step Prayer, p. 63)

Billiette penned this column on March 10th, however, we do not know the year, saying only that she has had “nearly 28 tremendous years of sobriety”. I like putting myself into the time of a writer and to date this column we would have to know when Billiette stopped drinking. I guess she stopped drinking in 1960s, which dates the column about 1995. What then catches my attentions is Mom writing, “We, alcoholics, know, all too well, that there is a ‘power that destroys’. It may be alcohol – drugs – and let’s not forget ‘self’.” What must we not forget about ‘self’, I suggest is a key to exploring Mom’s message? Colin Wilson may have identified this in writing, “No matter how detached and uncommitted an artist pretends to be, he is involved in a world whose ‘direction’ is as positive as the current of a river. It is impossible to exercise the imagination and not to be involved in this current, in man’s need for a supra-personal purpose, in the evolutionary drive.” This is Maslow’s ‘self-actualizing need’, Jung’s ‘individuation process’, Wilson’s ‘evolutionary drive’, and for Billiette it was writing her Fargo AA Silver Dollar columns!

Wilson suggest that “every work of fiction that has ever been written is somehow obscurely concerned with the problem of how men should live.” Billiette’s writing was not fictional, her work though was on the fictions alcoholics were making of their lives, she worked to help men and women learn how to live well, how to self-actualize, how to individualize. This same sense is what motivated me to say I am awakening not recovering. An awakening person is being pulled toward a more comprehensive individualizing Self, he/she is searching for fullness not being pushed from behind to avoid what was. Therefore, there are different thinking/feeling processes going on in these two perspectives. We are interested in understanding the processes of individuation. How does one awaken?

The polarities of mankind Wilson defines as “the hopeless desires of man and the indifferences of the universe”. It is important for us to understand – how the imagination functions. Wilson directs us away from the idea of polarities and toward the idea of ‘humanistic’ writing without great polarities, we are told has “considerable inventive power” – imaginative power. So, how does this powerful energy operate? Wilson explains that the negative pole of the world is always more visible, man more easily fluctuates between his pleasures and pains than being involved with the power of the urge to live, which is the processes of individuation (Jung). Wilson describes this urge to live power as being different in that, “It requires either enormous strength to become aware of it, or requires one of those freak mystical insights (Peak Experiences) that certain men seem to experience.” We are next told that this powerhouse exits in the “subconscious regions of the mind” and it is Wilson’s view, going against Maslow’s, that Peak Experiences can be brought about using one’s ‘will’. Some individual examples having developed this power are Dickens, Thackeray, Balzac, Trollope and Dumas.

I suppose agreeing with someone completely indicates one has been brain-washed. We need to listen carefully with our ‘third ear‘ and read carefully with our ‘third eye‘ to what is being said and written. Billie and I often discussed ideas and had disagreements we tried to work through. She ends this column writing this, which is an example of what we discussed: “Every day can be a ‘new beginning’ if we but remember to say to our Maker, as we understand Him/Her: “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” (Big Book, Third Step Prayer, p. 63). Billiette, uses the words “our Maker as we understand Him/Her” but we know her understanding is Christian as this prayer reveals. What I would try to point out to mother, is that writing “Relieve me of the bondage of self” is a fundamentally wrong psychoanalytically statement to make! We do not hope to be ‘relieved of self’ but to be ‘assisted in the fulfillment our Self”. This is the project, however, I have not forgotten as Sartre points out “that ‘nature’ has an aggressive way with the human consciousness, which is analogous to the way a bellicose man thrusts his face close to the face of a person he is threatening.” (underlining added)

A Dream, Association, Amplification

To be continued …

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