A Way of Being
I’ve been reading some Carl Rogers lately, specifically A Way of Being, which is a collection of some of his later work. He becomes particularly mystical here, referencing the possibility of multiple realities and so on. But he also lays out a retrospective on some of his theories on learning and personhood, which are of course where my interest lies.
I’ve always been a bit suspicious of the idea that the goal of — anything really — was to “be oneself” or “get in touch with the inner me” or whatever. Mostly, I’m still suspicious of the language; a lack of usable terminology makes any attempt to talk about self-actualization sound like the worst New Age claptrap. But I’m now pretty convinced that this indeed is what the actual purpose of life is: to get in touch with what Crowley called the True Will, and what Rogers seems to think is an inborn tendency toward health.
What Rogers skirts around is that this true will means embracing criminality. If the rest of society offers only approval or disapproval, to become a person in his sense is to declare oneself an eternal rebel against society. It’s to become a criminal. And if we live in a place where the choice is between being sick or being a criminal . . . the choice is a hard one to make. (Of course, it doesn’t follow, please, that every criminal is mentally well — in fact, most of them are the opposite: they’ve embraced the wrong kind of criminality, the wrong rebellion, but the fact they embraced a rebellion at all is evidence of a true will working in them).