FABER AS TRANSFORMATIONAL OBJECT: HIS THEORY THUS FAR
For a quick overview of Faber at this point in my reading, I would say the following:
The problem we fail to realize is that there is not a one-ness at the heart of who we are, but a two-ness. And once that initial relationship with our primary care-giver is broken up — and we are required to take increasing responsibility for our own needs — we are forever in search of something that heals the wound and fills the empty space. And imagine our plight if Faber is right, that this condition is literally hard-wired into our brains.
As Huston Smith puts the problem:
“The finitude of mundane existence cannot satisfy the human heart completely. Built into the human makeup is a longing for ‘more’ that the world of everyday experience cannot requite. This outreach strongly suggests the existence of the something that life reaches for …”
Smith thinks life reaches for God, as the best thing we can imagine, as it is defined by all religions, which Smith calls our “wisdom traditions.” So Smith is a believer in God but not so keen on religions’ exclusionary doctrines. So, to his credit, he is a very free-thinking believer, but a believer nonetheless. Sadly, he’s not on the trail of human psychology like Faber, who says life is reaching forward and back at the same time, trying to achieve the re-instatement of the feelings that arose during the original care-giver situation, the memory of which is lost in the mists of infantile amnesia, so it doesn’t feel like part of our experience — it feels more like who we are — and it’s hinted at in phrases like “original sin,” “loss of paradise,” “fall from grace,” “existential anxiety,” or more recently as “Affliction” or “The Human Stain.”
This not only explains the power of religion, but it throws light on the many ways we seek to become “whole” people … through the church, through marriage and parenthood, through friendships or love affairs, through teaching and mentoring, through a career … even through reading, writing and making Web sites! No, I am not leaving myself out of the picture!
The new avenue that’s opened at his point — too early to tell if Faber will explore the topic — is the difference between the “safety” aspect of early care-giving and how it plays out in devout belief and the “transformational” aspect of early care-giving and how it may play out in curiosity and wonder, using our culture not for shelter but for self-evolution. If you’re oriented toward safety you go one way; if you’re wired for transformation you go the other.
Ironically, in the latter sense, Faber himself becomes a figure for reconnecting to the early care-giver situation. This is Faber as transformational object.
Related articles: Faber: The Psychology of Religious Belief •
Are You A Kitten or A Monkey? • The Psychology of Religious Belief II • Faber so Far • I don't recall posing for these pictures! • Faber: Art and Religion •