The Liminalist # 253: Hanging Out Under the Tree of Trauma (with James Ellis of Hermitix)

Return conversation with James Ellis of Hermitix on Hollywood malevolence, mapping Hell, the mystery of affect, conceptualization vs sensation, and the essentiality of experience.

Part One: The Hollywood Implant (0 – 30 mins)

Clashing opinions over 16 Maps of Hell, writing and theory of mind, behind the scenes malevolence, demonic Hollywood, a possibly morbid fascination, what’s the purpose of the book, rewriting the book, finding the thesis, too many case studies, the Hollywood implant, turning Roman Polanski into the protagonist, torture the women, making the world coherent, moving into and past the original wound, from David Byrne to Ed Gein, seeking the exit, the bleaker-than-thou outlook, the need to turn away.

Part Two: Integrating Hell (30 mins – 1 hr 4 mins)

The finitude of Hell, Schopenhauer on the positivity of misery, the architecture of Hell, the danger of loving thy neighbor, Ernst Junger, reveling in evil, modernity as a void, post-apocalyptic media, a plane of negativity, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, breaking in method in criminology, the toybox killers, false optimism vs morbid pessimism, the third path, addiction and advertising as control mechanisms, what mapping hell means, traumatic imprints, an infinite avoidance strategy, integrating Hell, a Kantian view, the hell of affect.

Part Three: Respect Your Elders! (1 hr 4 mins – end)

Experiencing hell, body terror, do babies read Dostoyevsky? mind awareness & body awareness, the Hollywood parasite, the pros and cons of watching movies, temptations of the world, cultural colonization, hyper-masculine role models, crossing the abyss, respecting elders, occultism, learning from mistakes, the journey of zero distance, the illusion of a path, reconciling.

Hermitix site.

Songs: “Pirates” by Entertainment for the Braindead; “All I Want from You Is Love,” by Let’s Go Sailing; “A Bomb” by The Dead Mantra; “Changes” by Short Hand.

13 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 253: Hanging Out Under the Tree of Trauma (with James Ellis of Hermitix)”

  1. That gentleman has a big brain and a tin ear. And I’m not even talking about the more elusive concepts. Eg, The part of the discussion about the need to prune from the top of the tree before getting to the poisoned root (at around 1hr:24) when he said himself that it takes years of prep before leaving the shade for the sun. Jason then mentions the age difference, but instead of taking it as “I’ve done the prep, I’m ready for the sun, I’m not rushing this” he took it back to the earlier misinterpreted ‘old must be wiser than young” perceived barb. That was head shake-inducing for this listener. It was like he was preparing his next defence/offence before processing what he’d heard. Jasun’s demeanor in the mist of the frustration is what made this talk special.

  2. Crikey, you know that I’m rarely ever compelled to leave my thoughts, but this interview caught me. I like James. But…

    My sense, as a 46 year old, who knows Hell very well, is that James has no real lived experience (yet), of what Hell is, only booked learned ones. I mean, to even have to ask….er it is kinda in the book!?? As a metaphor for the Hell in which we’re raised, that has infiltrated our minds and hearts, producing disconnected, heady people, with lots of defend and distract techniques. In such a state we can neither live full lives or do good in the world. As if James didn’t like how the book felt, as if actually, he is just afraid, so mentalization took control, the old “it’s not all bad” routine. Trying to deflect with such a silly question…you did…read…the book… right?

    What is Hell? “How about 41 years of depression, chaos, frustration, psychosis and addiction?” I said out loud. Perfect musical interlude Jasun! Night terrors? Or hey, what about the Hell THOSE CHILDREN, in the book that YOU think should not exist, went through? Their voices, our sorrow to bear witness that this is happening right under our noses, that we are complicit in it (just keeping an eye on it, whilst free to imbibe from it whatever we like)…and what about the true extent of the rot? I could write a book right? A series of books, oh wait…

    And that’s the issue.

    The lad does not want to go fully in, rather “yeah seen it, but Kant said, and define and…” because it’s a rabbit hole indeed, to see how little one knows, and how poorly ones concepts really hold up against a hostile world, out to eat us. Fair dues, takes a few decades that. Violent earth and, yes, chapel perilous: few get out sane, if they get out alive. I guess you don’t really dare though James, concepts – much safer. Maybe… right?

    There’s an old thought experiment in consciousness studies (Chalmers I think) about a colour blind lady called Mary. It’s worth repeating even if you have heard it James.

    Mary studies the cones and rods in the eyes, she listens to others subjective experiences of colour, She studies light and its wavelengths, she even attends colour therapy classes and paints. She knows absolutely everything there is to know about colour. At some point a pair of glasses are invented that allows colour blind people see colour, it is then, boom, finally Mary learns something else….what it is like, which cannot be defined.

    Take that to the bank James, keep an eye on those sinister forces without ever seeing how they’ve penetrated and are living inside you…and maybe, just maybe listen a little more, recognize much of what you are doing in this interview, (once Jasun highlighted your arrogance) is simply defending a faulty premise with lofty intellectualizations, (the parasite in action), and THAT is all in your head.

    There’s life from the neck down you know, which possesses an intelligence that the mind is the last to know, if it ever does. Trauma blocks this, keeps us imprisoned in our heads. It was one thing for Mary to define colour before having had the experience, it was quite another afterwards, bringing the experience back for the mind to convey, as Jasun tried to you, with Hell, but you blocked him, with Mary’s prior knowledge from before she experienced it. Which is the condescension.

    James, sincerely, do yourself a favour and examine the shame I could sense you felt at the end, in your apology and listen again to yourself. Why was that? That, right there is a little taste of your Hell. Not everything can be explained or even conceptualized, but it can be directly experienced, in the body, once freed of the Hell stored there. I say this to you because I know you’re a sweetheart, and I learned this the fooking hard way, save some face lad. Develop a true humility now…maybe you are not sufficiently wise to really perceive the text deeply enough, and that it is your reaction to it that should be examined, not the text or the reason for it. The question “what do you want?” is easy too, we cannot heal what we cannot see.

    As you can probably tell from this message we are all a bit of a condescending asshole sometimes. We suck it up i guess.

    With love
    Mari x

  3. Oh and one final thing from my wordy self is that I love how James experience of the text counts and was taken on board, a cautionary point. Indeed we do not want to get stuck in the quagmire!

  4. I wonder if James will read these comments, and if so, how me might respond, whether any of this has been useful in broadening his view of the sky. I thought it might provoke some strong(er) responses, and I’m glad that it galvanized Mari H into fiery action. Results are what count, and that is one clearly visible one.


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