21 November 2004 | Draft
Twistedness in Psycho-social Systems
challenge to logic, morality, leadership
and personal development
- / -
This paper is an annex to Engaging
with Questions of Higher Order: cognitive vigilance required for higher degrees
of twistedness (2004). The web resources presented here were a basis for
research on an associated paper on Strategic
Opportunities of the Twice Born: reflections on systemic camouflage of mass deception
Psychoanalysis of twisteness
Twistedness in psychotherapy
Symbols of twistedness
Myth and twistedness
In the final week prior to the American presidential election, the International
Herald Tribune (25 October 2004) produced its lead editorial under the heading:
Bush crowd twisted intelligence. This focused on the report by Carl
Levin (Democrat, Senate
Armed Services Committee) demonstrating "how intelligence can be cooked
to fit a political agenda", and showing the distortions of intelligence
that were essentially fabricated through the office of the Under Secretary of
Defense for Policy. Subsequent to the election, Maureen Dowd (A
Plague of Toadies. New York Times, 18 November 2004) notes that:
The president and vice president are dispatching their toadies to the agencies
to quell dissent. The crackdown seems bizarre, since hardly anyone dared to
disagree with them anyway and there were plenty willing to twist the truth
In a summary at a workshop on "National Security and Constitutional Rights
in the Asia Pacific Region", Muto Ichiyo (1947
Constitution situated in the problematic of the postwar Japanese state) in summarizing,
2002) notes that:
The problematic of the 1947 Japanese constitution should be situated in the
context of the inherent twistedness of the statehood of the postwar Japanese
state (PWJS), a historical product with enduring characteristics. Constituted
under the post-WWII American hegemony, and specifically under the US occupation,
PWJS incorporated in it three mutually contradictory principles, hence systems,
giving rise to dynamics that characterized its behavior over decades of its
existence. The three principles are (A) identification with the US global-Asian
hegemonic design (free worldism, anti-Communism, and the security treaty),
(B) constitutional pacifism, and (C) continuity from the Imperial past....
Twistedness in statehood was permeating; convenient use of one of the three
principles, depending who Japan was talking to; hence the loss of the principle
status of all the three; the maturity of PWJS as an opportunist state (opportunism
raised to the status of principle!)
Those inspired by Marxist analysis make extensive reference to "capitalist
contradictions" -- a particular understanding of twistedness.(Jose Maria
in the World Capitalist System and the Necessity of Socialist Revolution,
2001; Jim Peron, The Contradictions
of Capitalism, 2002; Yves Engler. Capitalist
Contradictions, 2003). Some form of twistedness is a frequent descriptor
in Marxist perceptions of capitalist policies. For example, comments in the
The Marxist-Leninist Daily
- Within the twisted system that Washington is mounting comes the recent designation
of right-wing ideologue Otto Reich as Under Secretary of State for Latin American
Affairs. Reich was a member of the Reagan administration and participated
in the Iran-Contra scandal. He also helped to design the notorious Helms-Burton
law which, among other draconian measures, toughens Washington's economic
blockade against Cuba. (13 April 2001)
- U.S. President George Bush has reached a point of no return in his twisted
and obsessive relationship with Cuba. (30 June 2004)
On the other hand, Marxism itself is frequently held to be "twisted"
in a variety of ways:
- Stalinism has been presented as a particular perversion of Marxism-Leninism
at the hands of Joseph Stalin. "As a result of the institutionalizing
and solidifying of Communist power in the Soviet Union, Stalin twisted Marxist
theory", notably with regard to the concept of "socialism in one
- In Chile, action against General Pinochet by so-called "human rights groups"
were claimed to a front for a terrorist group (FPMR). Therefore "they
can't be campaigning for human rights, but a twisted marxist version, a farce,
or mock of human rights" (The
Face of World Communism).
Economic policy may be seen as inherently twisted (Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Logic, 2000). In commenting on a study by Richard Peet (Unholy
Trinity: The IMF, World Bank and the WTO), John Cavanagh, co-author
of Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible,
states that the work demonstrates "how the IMF, World Bank, and WTO were twisted
from their original mandates to serve the interests of corporate globalization".
Reviewing the World Bank's World Development Report (1991), the New
Internationalist (November 1991), states: "Structural adjustment is
the World Bank's current religion and any evidence that it is not the true faith
must be either omitted or twisted" [more].
Corporate initiatives can be perceived as highly twisted, and deliberaely so,
as in the case of Enron (Building
the Labyrinth: The Enron Collapse, 2004):
Like everything else complex, Enron excelled in architecting financial complexity.
They took minor accounting tricks and grew them into a maze of accounting
slights of hands in which trillions of dollars of debt were ferreted away
in off-balance sheet subsidiaries, partnerships, and other obligations such
as pension funds and take-or-pay contracts with suppliers. Their accounting
still confounds the experts. How many accounting rules can be bent and twisted
and manipulated while still believing that the rules themselves aren't broken?
When does complexity give way to immorality?
The declarations of arguments of dictators are typically seen as based on
twisted logic, as are those inciting to jihad and terrorism. With respect
to the events of 9/11, Robert E. Heiler (America
and the Peace Process: A Closer Look) of the Instute
of Advanced Strategc and Political Studies, argues that :
American culture, however, has long been preparing for the twisted logic
of the Peace Process. The essence of this twisted logic is cowardice, which
is to say the renunciation of courage as expressed in the phrase, "having
the courage of one's convictions." To have the courage of conviction requires
the belief that one is unequivocally right, which presupposes that objective
right and wrong exist. This notion is not in favor in American culture, particularly
among intellectuals and on our university campuses. For example, the "root
cause" of criminal behavior, according to the social scientists, is poverty,
the existence of which is somehow more the fault of the victims than the perpetrators.
Every situation is much more complicated than it seems, and any statement
that represents a clear moral choice is an oversimplification. And Americans
are expected to cower before this dialectic, examining every word and deed
to eradicate any possibility of offending the Politically Correct thought-police.
There is much mutual accusation of "twisted logic" in "dialogue"
between different socio-political factions -- and in advocating one position
in contrast with the absurdity of another. For example: "In the meantime,
civilian casualties are mounting. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has engaged
in twisted logic worthy of Orwell's 1984, claiming that the U.S. is not responsible
for the civilian casualties caused by its bombing raids" (Institute
for Public Accuracy, 2001). Again: "The secular character of the resistance
movement is denied. In an utterly twisted logic, Al Qaeda is said to constitute
a significant force behind the Iraqi insurgents" (Michel Chossudovsky.
Iraq and the
"War on Terrorism. 2004). Again: "In effect, in the twisted logic
of the committed terrorist, almost any attack anywhere that kills large numbers
of people is a legitimate blow" (Joseph M. DeThomas. The
War on Terror Will Be a Long One, 2003). Or again, "terrorism follows
its own, albeit twisted, logic." [more]
Those recognizing some validity in the position of "terrorists" (see
Mohammed Daud Mirakialso. Terrorism
Or Justice: In The Dichotomy Of 'Haves and Have-Nots'), argue that those
they oppose also use a twisted logic:
Unfortunately, that is where, the thought processes of those in the West
become paralyzed with their own self-partiality and arrogance and refer only
to their own losses and that of their allies as significant irrespective of
how high the losses on the opposing end are. It is not atypical but rather
the modus operandi of the twisted logic in creating self-melancholic make-believes.
Again, according to Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal (On
the terrorism of US imperialism and the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, 2002):
It is utterly irresponsible, baseless and malicious for the US and the regime
to tag the CPP and the NPA as terrorist. It is twisted logic that is behind
Macapagal-Arroyo's contention that the CPP and the NPA are "generic terrorists"
because they are waging armed struggle to overthrow the reactionary government.
Twisted logic is the focus of Boris Shusteff's (The
Logic of the Heart, 1999) claim regarding the deafening silence in Israel
in response to proposals to withdraw from the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza
(Yesha) according to the Wye Agreement:
It appears that the Jewish state has become so demoralized and submissive
that it is simply incapable of adequately comprehending the situation. Using
all kinds of twisted logic, the Israeli leaders try to explain why it is necessary
for the Jewish state to get rid of its heartland - the lands of Yesha. It
seems that everybody is in a hurry to deliver the soul of the Jewish state
to its enemies. It is assumed by default that as soon as the land of Yesha
is given to the Palestinian Arabs and the Golan is given to the Syrian Arabs
the Arab world will embrace the Jewish state and peace will descend on the
The challenge of sincerity has been explored in contrast to twistedness in
the earliest Confucian classics by A. Charles Muller (Essence-Function
and Interpenetration: Early Chinese Origins and Manifestations, 1999)
who cites the Doctrine of the Mean doctrine:
Those of the next level straighten out their own twistedness. Being straightened
they can possess sincerity. Having sincerity, they can give form to their
character. Their character having form, their sincerity becomes manifest.
Being manifest it is luminous, being luminous it can function. Functioning,
it changes; changing, it transforms. Only the most fully actualized sincerity
is able to transform [people].
The Judeo/Christian tradition also acknowledges a concept of twistedness. One
comment by J. I. Packer (What
Did the Cross Achieve? The Logic of Penal Substitution, 1973) notes
that Christ's death is seen as having its effect primarily on hostile spiritual
forces, external to people, which are held to be imprisoning people in a captivity
of which the inveterate moral twistedness of humans is one sign and symptom.
The phenomenon of twistedness is specifically associated with the fundamental
challenge of the defective moral quality of humanity, notably by religious commentators.
In a presentation of a Course
101: Christian Foundations (2004) the Asian Baptist Student Koinonia
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can see a portrait of God's
intense love for us. When we look at our world, we see sin and twistedness
all around us and inside us. We see ourselves groping for meaning in life
and yet gripped by the emptiness of death. And just when we despondently look
up to the heavens in pitiful protest, we find that the God of the universe
personally came down to this hellish, sin-ridden world and died in anguish.
In the greatest paradox, we can rejoice at this tragedy -- because it is in
His death that we find forgiveness and in His resurrection that we find our
For example, Richard H. Akeroyd (He
is Nigh), in his study of Christ's second coming, the rapture, the overcomers,
and the rule of Antichrist, notes in discussing the Origin
of Evil--Satan--The Antichrist:
Evil was conceived at that moment when Lucifer's eyes turned away from the
Creator and looked upon himself: "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy
beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness" (Ez. 28:17)--self-consciousness
awoke in him where none had existed before. The happy days of total freedom
from self in service to the Creator were over--a furtive look in the eyes
betrayed a profound inner change: "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the
day that thou wast created," says the Lord, "till unrighteousness (distortion,
or twistedness) was found in thee" (Ez 28:15). That distortion, introverted
preoccupation with self, produced an independence, another alternative, later
to be called "the lie." "He stood not in the truth, because there is no truth
in him," said the Lord Jesus. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his
own: for he is a liar and the father thereof" (Jn 8:44).
The truth of anything is the reality lying at the basis of its appearance--how
it looks and sounds in the presence of God. The lie betrays the presence of
a deformed and twisted nature which must draw to itself and, providing an
alternative focus, compete for attention and seek to distract from God....
When twistedness was found in Lucifer, he was cast out of the heaven of heavens
but was allowed considerable latitude of movement and influence throughout
the remainder of the creation. Why did God permit this? Why did He not dissolve
and annihilate this evil one immediately the evil found lodgment in his heart?
Force is a confession of weakness, and thus not God's way. For, had He obliterated
sin at its inception, there would always have remained a question as to what
might have happened had He allowed it to run its course. God's ultimate objective
is a new heaven and a new earth in which will dwell righteousness (clarity
and transparency, allowing His character to shine through the absence of distortion
and twistedness), and His way to that goal is by a moral victory, removing
the moral ground of any contrary element--even if it must cost the death of
His dearly beloved Son to pay the price for it. Thus God does not remove Satan
from his function as prince of the world; He bides His time until the season
is ripe and then acts, on the cross, to disqualify him for ever from any further
right over it.
For P. G. Mathew (Gifts
of the Holy Spirit, 1999) of the Grace Valley Christian Center:
What happens to you if you do not respect God-ordained authority? You will
be damaged and grow up twisted, crooked, and warped. And this twistedness
is not just a superficial blemish. It will be worked into the very fabric
of your being. It will be a basic structural defect that will manifest itself
in every aspect of your life.
Antonio Barbato (Instincts,
Centers and Subtypes, 2001) clarifies the relationship between "straight"
and "twisted" development as follows:
The final step in this process comes about when the intervention of the adaptation
instinct locks in our responses, affecting our natural homeostasis in a definite
way, giving birth to our Passion and finally the Fixation. I think that to
better understand this process intuitively (intuition being the "reasoning"
of the instinctive part), we can compare the development of a child to the
growth of a tree. A tree grows from the seed, following its fundamental instinct
of expansion, developing roots and then the trunk. If there are no disturbing
factors, the trunk will grow naturally straight, even if the roots by contrast
are gnarled and intermingled. If however, our tree is exposed to a strong
wind blowing constantly (the Original Wound), the trunk will begin to lean
in that direction (adaptation instinct). The tree will continue to grow (expansion
instinct), but its trunk will definitely be crooked (i.e., the Passion). In
my opinion, it is essential to our personal growth (and to the well-being
of our children and dear ones lest we contaminate them with our "twistedness")
that we work in a resolute and conscious way on this Original Wound.
Michael Hoffman (Cybernetics
and Ego Death)
relates the cybernetic challenge of self-governance to twistedness:
There awaits a "potential" inside the mind. Not the potential to talk to
spirits or bend spoons, but something more astonishing: the potential to apprehend
a self-control vortex in the mind. This vortex is a potential structure made
possible by the twistedness of our normal conception of ourselves as autonomous,
self-steering agents who creat and choose our own thoughts for ourselves.
This is the Cybernetic Revelation, the revealing of the hidden dynamics and
logical loops of self-steering.
In discussing the constraints on effective (Bohmian) dialogue, Nick Consoletti
In Science, Order, And Creativity (1987), Bohm and F. David Peat discuss
the "false play of mind" as an attribute of thought. Thought presents illusory
issues to us as if they were reality. In other words, thought, without knowing
it, separates the "me" from what is happening, which leads to illusory perceptions.
This twistedness reveals itself in the exploration of the dialogue group,
suggesting that a deeper understanding of one's makeup could lead to cooperation
between people in practical matters of survival. [more]
Psychoanalysis of twistedness
There is considerable controversy over the definition of perversion, defined
by some say as a matter of variant forms of human sexuality, by others as an
'aberrant' form. As discussed by Claire Pajaczkowska (In
Perversion), in relation to "Queer
Theory", it is only in psychoanalysis that the concept has a diagnostic
and descriptive meaning : it is neither a variant nor an aberration but has
specific underlying causes and recurring characteristics.
According to Queer Theory the word perversion is nothing but an unpleasant
and moralising anachronism that should be analysed in terms of its history,
or else should be taken up and used ironically as an emblem of the stigma
of social disapproval....Queer Theory also acknowledges the scapegoating of
'aberrant sexualities' which enables those 'nice normal people' to feel themselves
different from (superior to) the nasty 'perverts'.... Social determinism suggests
that repression is a product of the censorship exercised by juridico-discursive
institutions without psychological involvement. Where Queer Theory celebrates
the connotations of unpleasantness, twistedness and severe moral criticism,
it does so by implying that these are to be levelled at the accusers.
The concern about twistedness is notably articulated in relation to cults as
presented by Rafael Martinez (What
Cultic Mind Control Is):
Why do we assert that mind control is such a twisted factor in society? We
reply by reminding you... that the exercise of mind control proceeds from
the manipulative motivations of human nature. We have contended that this
side of human existence is essentially sullied by what Christian theology
would call our depravity, a sinful bent that all of us descend to in one way
or another. Fallen man, operating from his essentially self-centered nature,
seeking his own self-gratification at the expense of all else, will continually
seek his own good according to his own convictions.... Add the twistedness
of our human tendency to dominate and control by the use of fear, threats
and withheld social contact, and we can see more clearly why such a system
of authoritarian abuse that mind control imposes can come about in settings
other than the "cults" that are decried by the larger society.
Twistedness in psychotherapy
David D. Burns (The Feeling Good Handbook, 1989) identifies Ten
Forms of Twisted Thinking, namely "cognitive distortions"
that are the focus of cognitive
Twistedness may also be used to characterize illness as noted in the following
points by the School of Spiritual Psychology (Archetypal
Medicine, 2002) from a Jungian perspective:
If one tries to begin to work with one's own illnesses in an archetypal way,
which may be necessary, given that the practitioners of this art are almost
unheard of, it may at first be like entering a dark forest, where shadows
constantly pop up as seeming realities. The main shadow to be alert to consists
of the tricky inversion of this way of working back into the model of health.
Recently, I was speaking with someone who for months had been nauseous, felt
pain in the stomach, was weak, and continually losing weight.... A Jungian
told her that hearing the symptoms brought to mind a twisted telephone cord
and that what was needed was silence, relaxation, and unwinding... The twisted
telephone cord can also be seen as the body's necessity for knotting, for
complexity, twistedness, entanglement, confusion in communication.
According to Marion H. Hendricks (An
Experiential Version of Unconditional Positive Regard):
What is twisted, stuck, painful has implicit movement. There is even a sense
in which the twisted gives rise to untwisting. Untwisting inheres in twistedness.
From inside the vast texture, emotions like sadness, anger, fear are simply
part of the person being perfect exactly as she is right now. If it were possible
to displace these painful emotions, other than by untwisting, the untwisting
that inheres in them would be lost and there would be a loss or a hole in
The sense of twistedness of spirit is a focus of various religious teachings,
as ilustrated by the Antioch
Weekend Learders' Manual (1968):
The meditation begins with a consideration of Christ on the cross.... The
cross, however, is not an end in itself. It is a way, a passage from death
to life, a passage which is made painful by the twistedness and resistance
of the world. The goal is not suffering, but resurrection.
Or again, according to P. G. Mathew (Worship
Is All of Life Romans, 1997):
In Romans 8:5 we read, "Those who live according to the sinful nature
have their minds set on what that nature desires. . ." And in verse 6 we read,
"The mind of sinful man is death. . ." and verse 7, "The sinful mind is hostile
to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled
by the sinful nature cannot please God." Do you see the perversion, the twistedness
of the sinful mind? Romans 1:28 tells us it is a depraved mind, a God-rejected
mind. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 we read, "For the message of the cross
is foolishness to those who are perishing. . ." again, because of the twistedness
and perversion of the mind. Sin twists and perverts, "but to us who are being
saved, it is the power of God."
And from a Christian perspective again (What
Does God Expect of A Women?):
In the beginning, woman was created for companionship, conversation, and
co-rulership of the earth. Today she is not the person she used to be. Neither
is her male counterpart. Both suffer from distortions of gender that limit
their ability to give one another the love and help they were made to give.
Both are plagued by a twistedness rooted deep in their souls. Both reflect
caricatures that betray their inner trouble
For Pastor Kyle (The Exchange
We know we've sinned, but do something for your name's sake. Jeremiah uses
quite the concert of words here to describe Judah's breach of covenant. He
uses the term awan it means a twistedness or an iniquity, something that is
distorted. He uses the term meshuva from that term we talked about earlier
that means a backsliding. It can also be translated as a rebellion or a defection
or a turning or as an exchange. An exchange - turned around.
For Jared L. Olar ("We
Believe'': A Study of the Doctrines of the Church of God):
That Jesus had no original sin is shown from the fact that, unlike what the
rest of us face everyday, the Devil had to tempt Him in person. In exactly
the same way, Satan had to tempt Adam and Eve in person. Prior to their sin,
their bodies and souls did not possess that natural, innate, inescapable twistedness
that is known as original sin. That only became a fact of human life after
they had disobeyed God's commandment.
From another biblical perspective (Besetting
Therefore "subdue" in Gen 1:28 implies that creation will not do man's
bidding gladly or easily and that man must now bring creation into submission
by main strength. It is not to rule man. However, there is a twistedness in
humanity which causes us to perform such a task with fierce and destructive
delight. Try as we might, we cannot subdue this. But it can be subdued and
this is the promise of Mic 7:10, "He will subdue our iniquities".
A traditional concern with twistedness of spirit is associated with various
understandings of demonic possession, as indicated in How
To Cast Out Demons Understanding Demonisation (2002), specifically with
regard to how demons "gain entrance":
Blood line curses or generational curses are passed down. Spiritual genetic
weakness. Iniquity = bentness or crookedness. Ancestral spirits may inhabit
this twistedness. E.g. alcoholism, fits of rage, lust, fear, depression....
Iniquity = bent, crooked, twisted, warped, and perverse. Not merely an act
of transgression, but an inward disposition and bentness towards sin. Iniquities
are deliberate, wilful, habitual, repeated sins. These are not superficial,
but deep seated sins which are patterns and strongholds of sin in our lives.
They become our natural tendencies, second nature and driving forces to us.
Demonic spirits may inhabit this twistedness and strongholds of sin.
In the classical literature of Hatha Yoga, kundalini is described as a coiled
serpent at the base of the spine. Kundalini literally means 'coiling,' like
a snake. Energy and consciousness - moves in spiraling motion - coils - loops
- the snake. This is a metaphor for the spiraling energies of consciousness
-- the reality of thought in the light of sacred geometry. The loops of time
-- the slinky effect -- time as an illusion played out in a physical game of
polarities -- duality emotions.
The coiled and dormant 'feminine' energy, refers to the vast potential of psychic
energy contained within us all. It is normally symbolized as a serpent coiled
into three and a half circles, with its tail in its mouth, and spiraling around
the central axis (sacrum or sacred bone) at the base of the spine. The awakening
of this serpent and the manifestation of its powers is a primary aim of the
practice of Kundalini Yoga. [more]
Symbols of twistedness
Poetry offers particular insight into twistedness for contgemporary society
as illustrated by Andrew Nicol (Form
and Content in Eliot's Poetry: techniques and content in Eliot's 'Rhapsody on
a Windy Night' and 'The Hollow Men' ):
The recurring image of twistedness is gradually developed in the first stanzas.
The persona's memory is triggered by the "a crooked pin", which leads to "The
memory throws up high and dry | A crowd of twisted things". A coiled spring,
a curled tongue and the image of an old crab all feature as twisted and contorted
images in the subsequent stanzas. The images thrown up by the past, despite
being random and disordered, seem to have one thing in common - they are all
perverted. This motif suggests powerfully the angst that humans feel about
the disordered and nature of both the past and the present.
David Yarrow (Return
of the Dragon, 1990) reviews research into electromagnetism, biology
and consciousness, referring to the symbolism of the snake, the eagle -- and
the dragon as an integration of them.
Dragons are also associated with consciousness, but they're often confused
with the serpent, a creature who crawls on the earth. For example, in the
Garden of Eden, the serpent enticed Man and Woman to eat the fruit of the
Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. From India comes kundalini--the serpent
power coiled at base of the spine. Through meditation kundalini rises along
twin spiral channels to spin along the spine and energize the higher brain
centers. This union brings Enlightenment....
In Hermetic lore, Hermes Trismegistus slew the dragon Typhon--symbolizing
Ignorance--using a special staff. This is the caduceus
-- an erect rod with eagle wings on top and two serpents coiling up its base
. Later Hermes founded Egyptian medical science, and today his staff is still
the symbol of doctors.
The Dragon, then, is winged serpent -- union of eagle and snake. As such,
Dragon symbolizes universal, collective consciousness-the mind of our cells
wedded to rational intellect
This is a challenging paradigm for scientists in search of Gaia. Or neurologists
faced with the crucial question how neurons integrate to produce coherent
brain function. Or ecologists, who wonder how independent organisms cooperate
to maintain a stable biosphere that nurtures life.
The serpent is a symbol in many cultures. Ancient Egyptian priests held a tradition
maintaining that a serpent lies coiled in the Great Pyramid. The Sumarians of
4000 years ago called the Great Pyramid "The House of the Serpent".
The Torah was referred to as the "Serpent Book of the Ages" and as
a "Serpent that cannot be slain, safeguarded the Book of Thoth." Serpents
have always been used as emblems of the intelligence of God and of underlying
wisdom (see Jeremy Narby. The Cosmic Serpent : DNA and the Origins of Knowledge,
1999). In ancient times and in cultures as widespread as Australia, China, Japan,
Mexico, New Zealand, Babylonia, Sumaria, Egypt, India, and Central America,
serpents were feared and worshipped as gods for thousands of years.
Labyrinths, as important symbols, are typically and deliberately characterized
by twistedness and deception -- that has to be negotiated on the path to reedom.
Various cultures use sacred knots as key symbols. This is notably the case
with Celtic knots. It is worth recalling that, in the absence of writing, the
Incas used knotted cords (khipu) to hold and carry information notably
in the highly specialized art of recording political and military history [more].
Whereas relationships may be described as "bonds", without any implication
of a knot, curiously the process of "tying a knot" is associated with
marriage ("getting spliced"). A "binding " contract may
also be understood in these terms -- recalling the "pulling together"
sense of "con-tract". This suggests the possibility of asking the
question: what kind of knot is that relationship? Contracts might be usefully
analyzed in terms of knot theory.
Daniel Ogden explores The Importance of Twistedness in binding spells,
curses and voodoo dolls (in Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark (Eds). Witchcraft
and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome, 1999)
Myth and twistedness
Inspired by depth psychologist James Hillman, Greg Nixon (Currculum
as Mythic Image Spring 69: Education A Journal of Archetype and Culture,
2002) argues that:
It is the dreamlike -- horrifying or exalting -- quality of myths which seems
to exist as a "glistening interface" between the underworld of soul and our
daylight reality. In this light, myths are not the creations of words but,
in a twisted sense, the words are a condensation of myth. Archetypal psychology,
then, though never defining myth per se, would likely consider myth to be
an expression of the experience of the suprapersonal image. Myth is the name
of that experience, taken within, as it were -- subjected (not projected).
Hillman (On the Necessity for Abnormal Psychology, 1980) denies that
"the world of the gods" is an anthropomorphic projection of our own. Instead,
our "secular" world is "an imitative projection of theirs, including their
In Central America, for example, Itzcoliuhqui, the Twisted Obsidian One is
the God of the Curved Obsidian Blade, and god of darkness and destruction. Having
been blinded and cast down from the heavens, Itzcoliuhqui strikes out randomly
at his victims.
Of special interest in exploring the role of twistedness in the study of mythology
and religion of many cultures, is the trickster. This may be a god, goddess,
spirit or human who breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously,
but usually with ultimately positive effects. Often, the rule-breaking takes
the form of tricks or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both;
they are often very funny even when they are considered sacred and are performing
important cultural tasks. [more]
There is a case for recognizing forms of twistedness in philosophical argument
due to the inadequacies of language and the constraints on comprehension. Thus
the early Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, was nicknamed the Riddler
because the manner of his oracular style that favoured obscurity, ambiguity,
word play, riddles and paradoxes to produce lingusitic density and resonance.
Dissatisfied with earlier efforts to comprehend the world, Heraclitus notably
delivered his pronouncements in deliberately contradictory (or at least paradoxical)
form. The structure of puzzling statements, he believed, mirrors the chaotic
structure of thought, which in turn is parallel to the complex, dynamic character
of the world itself [more].
The Taoist "crazy wisdom" philosophers might be perceived in a similar