Mind The Gap! · The Secret Of Systems

Live Wires

The Secret Of Systems, Part 11.

The consequences of my error have been far worse than I could have expected. It’s not as if these guys mean to be nasty, they are only doing their job in the way any bureaucrat will. The problem is that they’re doing the job their boss tells them to do and give it no further thought.
This is in my box room, today at 10:51 am.
These are live wires with 220v. The Americans are sensible and only have 110v. That’s not enough to kill.
220v can.
And the Dutch simply don’t care. It doesn’t look much, does it?

(Caution: adult content).

I made a mistake: I let a Dutch tradesman in my home.

Actually, it’s considerably worse than that. The consequences of my error have been far worse than I could have expected. It’s not as if these guys mean to be nasty, they are only doing their job in the way any bureaucrat will. The problem is that they’re doing the job their boss tells them to do and give it no further thought. That means when something unusual happens, they are caught unawares.

Because they removed an electrical socket from my bathroom and then forgot all about it. After all, they’re working in the bathroom, aren’t they?

So there it is: 220v just waiting to catch the pipework.

I will remind you that there is an expression here in Holland that says, ‘Shit Happens.’ It’s not common in other cultures because you need a Dutchman to be present for shit to happen. Because in my box room, shit might just happen. And my electrician is blindly oblivious. He visited my bathroom the other day – I know this because all Dutch tradesmen tell you that they switch off the light when they leave the room. When you see the light left on, you know they’ve been there. It’s simple: the Dutch don’t even know when they’re lying! There is no other word for it.

Anyway, there was no loose wire in the bathroom. His business wasn’t in the box room.

This post isn’t about the egregious mistakes that the Dutch make through their incompetence. This post is about what happens to the unwary when they are faced with the consequences. Not like the time when a student was electrocuted at the university in Amsterdam; he only got a severe shock from a poorly mounted fitting. They sat him down, patted him on the head and gave him a coffee. You can imagine the shit-storm an American would raise, but this isn’t America. This is dull witted Holland and nothing more was said.

You learn to deal with their incompetence, and the easiest way is not to let them start.

Boys will be boys, and live as though they cannot die. My electrician is one such, or he would have a very different attitude to the dangers associated with his work. I had those illusions torn away as a child growing up in a war zone. We were sitting down to dinner and I remember the bang that confused us all. Bangs don’t happen, not at dinner time, anyway. This was a real thundery bang. The next day there was a report about a jet fighter that had crashed into a block of flats. (1)

At dinnertime.

That was my wakeup call.

I didn’t know the people who lived there. I didn’t need to. It told me that war is about killing and that sometimes innocent people meet this fate too. The Dutch do not live in a war zone, and so they can retain their illusions about what life is all about. Oh, and forget all about death.

They will retain their illusion of immortality. Naturally a few of them find themselves wound around a lamppost. But there are still enough Dutchmen who break the speed limits to tell me that they haven’t learned the lesson the others are trying to teach them.

Mind The Gap.

They are helped by psychiatrists whose understanding of trauma runs to having read about it in one of their books. They are, after all, part of the system. Which means that they’re hardly likely to think beyond it – if for the simple reason that they aren’t aware of being in a system in the first place.
This is Dean, and he was a soldier.
He had been sent to Afghanistan to make it look like the Dutch were happy in supporting the American insurgency there.
Claire Felicie, Museum de Fundatie.

To the left is a photo of Dean, and he was a soldier.

He had been sent to Afghanistan to make it look like the Dutch were happy in supporting the American insurgency there. The cause of his suffering isn’t mentioned. It might ahve been a roadside bomb that tore his friend’s head off, or a grenade that made him a necktie of his best friend’s intestines.

The point was that something happened to show Dean the truth of what he was doing. After all, soldiers are about killing and the possibility of being killed is what you sign up for. What none of them are trained for is to continue living after their best friend has been torn in two before you could even say goodbye.

It might have been Dean seeing the dead body of the person he’d just murdered.

Either way, Dean was alive and the others weren’t.

HMS Lion and HMS Queen Mary.
HMS Lion and what had been HMS Queen Mary.

How can you train someone for something you’ve never experienced yourself? The Dutch military exists in a little bubble of its own imagination, and like the British in 1916 (2), are fighting the wars they can imagine. Fighting a real war brought the Royal Navy to question how it prepared for war with an enemy, rather than a war without one. Three thousand sailors lost their lives because their Admiral was fighting a war that didn’t take account of an enemy intent on sinking them: that’s not playing fair! (3)

The soldiers, part of a system, are trained to do, not think. They, like any self respecting bureaucrat – the epitome of a system – are not trained to look to the consequences of the things they do.

But that’s not the point.

They aren’t trained to live through a trauma. They arrive home with a mind numbed by shock. A numbing so profound that they can’t lift a teaspoon. They are helped by psychiatrists whose understanding of trauma runs to having read about it in one of their books. They are, after all, part of the system.

Which means that they’re hardly likely to think beyond it – if for the simple reason that they aren’t aware of being in a system in the first place. That is the insidiousness of a system; the psychiatrist is as helpless as his patients. He’s never been trained to empathize, he was too busy trying to pass his exams to think of what the reality of psychiatry actually is. All he can do is ask the standard questions of a person who has suffered something unforgivingly unique.

Waking Up.

Dean and Fred, built up through mutual trust and a pride in their country is there in part to keep both of them asleep. When Dean holds his arm in sympathy and then finds that is all he’s holding,
In our day and age, soldiers can be female, too.
People do not like being woken up.
That’s why we have systems: so they don’t have to.
Claire Felicie, Museum de Fundatie.

I was woken up when that jet fighter met its end that evenin in Bangkok. Was it the jet they called a flying coffin? 50% of the aircraft in the Canadian Air Force crashed; 30% of the German ones did. There are no figures for the US Air Force, which probably means they’re higher. People do not like being woken up.

That’s why we have systems: so they don’t have to wake up. The camaraderie of the Dean and his fellow soldier, Fred. A cameraderie built up through mutual trust and a pride in their country, which is there in part to keep both of them asleep. Then Dean holds Fred’s arm in restraint only to find that is all he’s holding, with Fred’s blood dripping from the end of his nose.

That is too harsh a wake-up call.

The problem is as nasty: nothing else would get through.

That is the ‘gap’ that exists in all modern societies, the gap between what people want in their life – their illusions – and the things they need. The truth. Reality.

It’s why we have systems: so reality, the truth can’t get through. Look around you, you will see barriers put up everywhere. And yes, I do it myself. Only I am aware of the consequences where most people are not. Which is why I’m going to sort that wiring for myself.

Then I can rest assured that it is safe. I know what trust is, and how people show that they can be trusted.

I learned it the hard way. I don’t want my neighbour upset when her son’s electrocuted just because he touched the pipework. She’d blame me for not getting the electrician to fix it.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried. He’s just oblivious to the dangers.

The two portraits of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are from the photographic exhibition by Claire Felicie at the Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle until the 15th of January 2017.


(1) The archive at the Bangkok Post does not cover the war years.
(2) Something’s Wrong With Our Bloody Ships Today. Beatty was fighting a war on his own terms, and fighting it as though nobody was going to fight back. Enemies are enemies because they aren’t so compliant as a bullied weakling. Read more here.
(3) That’s Not Fair Play!

The Secret Of Systems, Links To Other Parts In This Series:

Part 1: How Can Lidl Be So Cheap?

Part 2: All Hard Drives Look Alike.

Part 3: A Different View Of Karma. (Published Privately).

Part 4: The Value Of Money.

Part 5: Google’s Panda Algorithm. (Technical)

Part 6: Thomas Hardy And Friedrich Nietzsche. (Published Privately).

Part 7: That’s Not Fair Play!

Part 8: Confessions Of A Lapsed Adwords Jockey.

Part 9: When The System Bites Back.

Part 10: I Admit It: I Made A Mistake.

Part 11: Live Wires.

Please note that privately published posts are available to trusted friends without cost. The content is not intended for the general public and is restricted to those who can demonstrate that they understand the nature – and implications of – Rudolf Steiner’s scientific thinking. That is to say, a practical understanding of thinking, feeling and willing; Perry Marshall’s ‘Tactical Triangle’ is one specific application of this general law, and arises out of the economic sphere.

It is not for the unready (see above).

In certain circumstances, pdfs of these posts are available on request; you may do so by leaving a comment. This will tell me if you can grasp the nature of the post you are enquiring about. The comment itself can be left unmoderated or deleted if requested.



17 thoughts on “Live Wires

  1. OK, I finally followed to your pages here from The Slog (which for some reason, I hadn’t been able to before). What you write is of interest to me (I am not so vain as to think that my like or dislike is a marker of your virtue as a writer), and I will make an effort to read more.

    I have two immediate responses to this particular article (which is the first one for me).

    1. I agree with what I think you are saying. Mortality is what divides us from the rest of creation – animals do not, despite certain wishful thinking on the part of some, contemplate Death. They encounter it, but their lives are not in any sense informed by it. Man (Woman) only Lives, (in a self- and other-capitalised way,) because of Death. And emphatically not only of self, but of the Other too. Loneliness, regret, the well of isolation, that consciousness of abandonment, in both directions, are intolerable without a degree of effort that may be unimaginable or intolerable. So deception, of the self and others, may be a basic facet of the condition of Being, for a human. Systems are bent – they will always service that need for denial, through an entropy of moral energy, a dissipation into mere activity. So to overcome them needs something extraordinary, a different kind of Given. What that is, I do not know, I can only speculate, like others.

    2. I am British. English, even. I remember when I was about two years old taking a screwdriver and inserting it into a mains socket at the base of the wall. I received quite a jolt, although not too serious. I have a vague recollection of my father getting hold of me and making sure I was alright. I had been watching him replace the socket before, and was deliberately turning Vicarious Trial and Error into Personal Trial and Risk..

    I found out decades later, after my father had died, and from my wife, to whom he had told this, that he had watched me do this, and stood by deliberately, in the expectation of what did actually happen. He told her that he thought it would teach me a lesson. He also tortured worms, apparently, when he was a child.

    Not necessarily relevant, but I still don’t know what I think of him for the socket episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou for your frank and thoughtful response. Your first point stands witness to a person who has truly thought things through for themselves, and it is always a delight to meet people like yourself. I was disappointed that your blog was empty; there is much you could say if but you gave it the time, or had it to spare.

      You speak of systems in a way that few others do. To tell the truth, I have never met anybody who has spoken of them with the power of reflection that you have described. They cannot be overcome, nor should they be.

      What needs to happen is for people to become aware of what they are and why they are there. Systems do not invent themselves. The temptation is to ‘inwardly’ serve the system rather than the people it serves, which is what it was designed for, after all. From the manner of your writing, I am quite sure that you will understand this. The latter part of my post on Adwords might show you what I am saying (it’s here.)

      I have worked with electricity, professionally too, installing minor cable-work. I know how dangerous it can be, and 240v is more than sufficient to kill.

      Your father was taking a risk that I never would.

      Thankfully that shock seems to have brought you the ability to write about death, rather than bringing about a tragedy in ending your short life. Your father seemed to be as unaware of the dangers as the soldiers described in this post. Had you been killed, he too would have been deranged by the experience. There are times that governments are there to protect us by demanding electrical safety regulations! I will add that Britain’s electrical regulations are some of the best in the world, albeit that the plugs are poorly designed. The German plug and socket along with the British wiring regulations would be the best the world could offer.

      I will leave the Dutch regulations for another day; they are a fire hazard.

      Men should stick to torturing worms and flies. The realization of what they did will be a lot easier to bear.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “That is the ‘gap’ that exists in all modern societies, the gap between what people want in their life – their illusions – and the things they need. The truth. Reality-” what truth or reality do you think that that is..? Things which really actualise or fufill people, rather than things which just keep them active and moving forwards.. ? You say, the system shouldn’t be fought.. do you not think it’s important to keep up the pressure on “the system,” to work to try and alter it so it promotes the greatest happiness in the greatest number? (When I say, “the system” in this context I’m talking about the great big one we all exist in, which leads men to get up in the morning and tie a noose around their neck, and women to worry that they will have betrayed their deepest purpose if they don’t have kids etc etc etc..) I think social standards and norms have changed so much in the last 100 years that THAT system, the biggest one of all, has changed somewhat.. we are not so controlled by externally created standards and rules now. Anyway, just thoughts.. have a good sunday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My real point about the system is that people need to be aware of being inside it in the first place!

      It’s only when armed with this knowledge that they can do anything about it.

      That is part of the ‘gap’ in our awareness… 😉


  3. Hmm.. I feel as though most people I’ve met are aware.. they are just completely apathetic about the fact.. they don’t let it ruffle them, or think about it’s consequences and implications- which as always utterly baffled me..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the hard bit: humans have the capacity to be self-aware, that is to say, conscious. But none of us can be conscious of everything, and so there are areas of our lives that are unconscious.

      Like our tummies… the only time we’re conscious of them is when they go wrong. It’s called “being hungry”.

      There are limits to our conscious ability to perceive, too. For some, it’s more than others – hence my post about ‘The Threshold Today’ (private). There are thus three kinds of “not getting it” for us to consider.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I might’ve started reading that post last night.. is it the one with the driving analogy. Or was that one the direct experience of time. I’ll check out this one now 🙂


    1. Acceptance is how the situation has spun out of control. If nobody challenges each other, everybody will wander around half conscious, and think it’s all that life has to offer.

      Someone has to kick the doors down.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep.. although I do have time for the other side of the argument, which says that quite a good way to remain HAPPY, in this life, is to just keep your head down and try not to think about any of it too much.. it can make for sobering contemplation when you start to think about the system, and about how much we’re all affected by forces which are out of our control. A happy mid-point is definitely preferable.. when you can consider the truths behind the illusions we are peddled.. but not let the whole thing get you down. I’m learning this now, I think- not to let it all bother me so much, and enjoy life for what it is, because god there is a lot of enjoyment out there to be had. But I think a lot of people remain half-consious because to wake up fully and smell the bs would be too depressing to handle!! But, then again, this is a very subjective statement, because I have had a very specific set of experiences which kinda make me hyper stressed by the whole idea of “systems….” I’m sure most people wouldn’t let themselves become depressed about concepts such as these.. there are definitely realer and more pressing issues to become depressed about happening in the world right now!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Isn’t this the point, though? The problem here is that when they’re all keeping their heads down because to look would depress them… they allow the problem to get bigger.


        They’re only doing their job. They’re in exactly the same place as the prison guard at Auschwitz – or the US bomber pilot told to work for the genocide. None of them wanted to look to the consequences of their actions because to do so would wreck their lives.

        Well, you had your life wrecked, you know what it’s like. Thankfully, this time around, you came out of it all by yourself. That doesn’t mean the horrors will be any less; it does mean that you have the cerebral capacities to see them for what they are.

        Because the real problem is that the ‘realer and more pressing problems’ are all due to people who would rather look the other way…

        … in short, this mess ain’t natural. If it were bullshit, I’d be able to put it on my garden and improve the soil.


  4. Ha so funny.. read this and had a completely different reaction to one I did last time.. All I’ll say this time around is great post! And yes.. the systems are there to make sense of the world around us, dare I say it- make sense of realty. Yet the people who have created these systems have no understanding of reality, so we are all believing things which are only half of the truth.. a third of the truth.. an 8th?! We embrace these systems because they appear to keep us safe.. when in reality all they are doing is stifling us. And there are SO MANY different systems, on SO MANY different levels.. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My take is this: if it’s not an attempt at discovering the absolute truth in all its ugliness, it’s not worth anything. The challenge we have set ourselves in making these systems is that we should master them; then they are good servants.

      Let them rule us and the result is absolute horror.

      As to the levels involved, just stick with the basics: either it’s fully conscious, or it’s not. That’s hard enough to work out, and doing so will teach you a very great deal about Schiz.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm yes.. but do we need to acknowledge the fact that a lot of the systems are created without our involvement or our consent?? Which is the reason that a large proportion of people do not realise that they are there at all! :/


      2. Isn’t it more that they’re not aware of the system at all? That to them, it’s how the world is?

        This is something you need to approach in your book, by the way: because most of the doctors will be working inside their invisible system. You’ll know which ones are because they’ll be the ones who believe in evidence – the corollary to which is their disbelief in anecdotal evidence.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s