badness-out-there / evil typology sketch

  • […]
  • wanna say something like:
    • (1) It’s possible to “villainize” a person/leader/community/experience, to project something bad/disgusting/something on it.
    • (1a) And that could be “manufactured” in some way, like the person doing the villainizing was looking for something to blame.
      • (There can also be a thing where a person feels “pressure” or is “rewarded” to be traumatized, by a community or parts of a community, to “perform” being traumatized and so on. They might not realize they’re participating in that. It still feels bad.)
      • (There can also be a thing where someone wouldn’t have been traumatized if everyone around the hadn’t made such a big deal out of it. Complicated community/person interactions, secondary survivors, secondary survivors without primary survivors, so many things.)
    • (1b) It could also be that something happened that one was just hugely not prepared for, whether someone “should”/“could” have done informed consent or not. And the mind will potentially make that thing BAD. (Sometimes someone should have warned you. Sometimes they couldn’t have, but in a ideal world they would have wanted to. Sometimes no one could have predicted, etc. This is sometimes just “temporarily destabilizing” and other times (“actually”) “traumatic” (1c).
    • (1c) Something could be “actually”/”objectively” traumatic (see below.)
    • (1d) It could also be the case that something extra-and-above was going on, something coercive, “evil,” etc. (see below).
  • Regarding (1b), I do think that, in some sense, everything is “grist for the mill,” “everything is metabolizable experience,” and so on. Sometimes a person/brain/mind gets blindsided. And it is what one makes of it. This is true for (1c) and (1d) below, too.
  • And/but, re (1c) I do think trauma is objective. It’s when the mind loses degrees of freedom because something is too painful, too unhandleable. This is “natural,” but it can be cumulative and costly. Because constraint begets constraint. And there is opportunity cost in clearing it up, which can be extremely hard. This can be from being hugely surprised or disappointed. And it can also be from abuse, neglect, etc. The latter sort of bleeds into (1d).
  • And then there’s “objective evil/badness” (1d). In this case someone, or a community downstream of someone, or “something in someone” is actively and creatively working against a person, trying to thwart them, tie them in knots [lose capabilities and degrees of freedom and problem-solving ability and creativity, act against oneself], cause them to have fewer good things now and in the future. This can be from myopic zero-sum competition, desperation, fear, “believing that something bad is good [e.g. destructive competition or nonconsenting sexual domination]. Usually the “evildoer” will have had something terrible happen to them in childhood, overtly or subtly, or they had an experience or series of experiences that they terribly misinterpreted, again possibly because a caregiver had had something terrible happen to them… (I believe the “tying in knots” thing is what Popperians or people who like David Deutch’s work would call coercion.) [Often evil will use language of “truth” and “goodness” and will deny, deflect, shame, blame, argue, “logic,” and stonewall. Sometimes that language will be sincerely felt/meant/believe (“on the surface”; or at least endorsed) and sometimes it will be insincere, or a combination.]
    • There are subsets of this, too.
      • (a) Sometimes the “evil” is reactionary, one-off or three-off or along relatively narrow dimensions. This could be an unsupportive significant other or one who’s crabs-in-a-bucket along a particular dimension. It’d be hard to always call this evil [of course both people could be doing complex, challenging, beautiful, subtle, overt shitty things], maybe it’s “being a culturally unprepared human,” but it bleeds into evil sometimes. [People can be mixed amazing and shitty, mixed empowering and evil. Gotta be strong or hopefully avoid when you can, try to fix them only in extremely narrow circumstances. Can be insidiously sucked in. Can become evil yourself.][I talk in my protocol doc about the “generativity of evil” and the potential subtleness of evil’s methods. This could be thousands of pages, of course.]
      • (b) And then there’s another kind of evil, one that’s more systematic, more planful, more plotting. This can be in the small or in the large. Narcissistic + schizoid + …
  • In any case, one the one hand, with respect to SOME of this, “a good meditation/trip/something is one you did.” (I think Shinzen Young says this for meditation, and there’s something very true, there.) At the same time, particular experiences or communities can be incredibly damaging to someone, in a way that can do harm for decades or a lifetime.
  • And, on the OTHER hand, I think it’s sometimes a terrible abdication of responsibility to put everything on the individual (“it’s *your* responsibility to…process this, extract goodness from this, to ask for what you need, to reject the bad, to figure out how the “bad” here is good…”). And this SOMETIMES firmly bleeds into “actual evil,” at least from a relative standpoint.


It’s possible to • work through blindsidedness, • empower individuality and independence, • heal trauma, • apologize and make amends for being a terrible person, • learn how to coexist, to synergize, to co-create in family or community or institution or project; • to fight to limit evil with the goal of eliciting reparations and transformation (or it’s a big enough world and can just walk away and do big, beautiful things, or quiet, intimate things (that might spread inexorably on their own, or not), elsewhere)


(And then there’s the thing where being terribly traumatized can be a massive learning opportunity and massively empowering if one has the contingency/tools/resources/freedom/privilege to work through it. Presumably sometimes the opportunity costs and (sometimes) long-term issues, e.g. physical issues that maybe don’t 100% heal(??), can still outweigh the benefits even when there is otherwise an abundance of resources. I’m not sure who would retrospectively or prospectively choose this route, but it’s a thing.)

(And then there’s nonarbitrary, still personal-yet-impersonal, maybe, transcendence beyond even the above…, your own meaning, your own everything, on your own terms, and perhaps beyond…)

Someone else’s take on a bunch of stuff in this space:



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