I think Erikson tapped onto something deep here:
Among a people where solitude was as close to a crime as
possible. Where to separate was to weaken. Where the very
breaking of vision into its components — from seeing to
observing, from resurrecting memory and reshaping it
beyond the eye’s reach, onto walls of stone — demanded a
fine-edged, potentially deadly propensity.
There’s this one book I read long ago and that still today is the framework of all my convictions. In about 160 pages, it explains EVERYTHING. The title is “Theory of Society” but it’s far from a cold academic book. It explains what humanity is, it explains god, it explains existence and its meaning. It gives answer to everything and it does it through the most rigorous theory you can imagine. It admits no flaws and yet it is incredibly powerful.
A lot of what I read from Erikson echoes what’s written in that book, probably because his ideas come from an anthropological background, and so a study of humanity (and when something is true it doesn’t matter anymore who arrives to the conclusion, as everyone else says exactly the same thing). I would gladly share and recommend this book but it seems it only exists in Italian.
The wikipedia entry about Niklas Luhmann says: “Luhmann wrote prolifically, with more than 70 books and nearly 400 scholarly articles published on a variety of subjects, including law, economy, politics, art, religion, ecology, mass media, and love. While his theories have yet to make a major mark in American sociology, his theory is currently dominant in German sociology, and has also been rather intensively received in Japan and Eastern Europe, including Russia. His relatively low profile elsewhere is partly due to the fact that translating his work is a difficult task, since his writing presents a challenge even to readers of German, including many sociologists.”
The book I read, whose initial 160 pages are the door to everything, is listed as:
1992 (with Raffaele De Giorgi): Teoria della società, Milano: Franco Angeli
I don’t know if there’s another book that so succinctly explains the theory at its core and reading Luhmann is, indeed, as complicate as reading complex math problems. But it’s language and I could deal with it.
One important truth, not directly related to Luhmann but true to the spirit, is that we exist INSIDE the language. Language is perceived as something we use but in truth language is what we are made of and it defines the perimeter of what we can experience. Next time you read a book just remember that it can contain all aspects of existence and that language is omnipotent (as long your senses are human).
From the wikipedia:
Furthermore, each system has a distinctive identity that is constantly reproduced in its communication and depends on what is considered meaningful and what is not. If a system fails to maintain that identity, it ceases to exist as a system and dissolves back into the environment it emerged from. Luhmann called this process of reproduction from elements previously filtered from an over-complex environment autopoiesis (pronounced “auto-poy-E-sis”; literally: self-creation), using a term coined in cognitive biology by Chilean thinkers Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.
I have an inkling that Erikson’s complex system of belief, where gods are made and destroyed in cycles, is near to the same concepts explained by Luhmann. Like a concrete metaphor of the power of “meaning” and all its subtleties.
I don’t think even for a second that Erikson is aware of Luhmann theories, but I do think that he tapped onto something “true”, deep down, and so a common ground.
(and I actually bask in the delusion of following links between the most disparate stuff, looking for something true)