A fascinating work that explores the ways in which the individual perceives his immediate surroundings and maneuvers within social constructs to describe the dynamic interplay between the individual and his society.
Our sense of immediacy, a psychological and social process of reciprocity with our proximal surroundings, can be a vehicle for the moral justification of both exemplar and horrific acts by the ordinary individual subscribing to an overriding belief system. In this illuminating work, Katz organizes his essays around five dimensions that illustrate the immediacy paradigm. Transcendence (1) is the ability to rise above a circumscribed situation to alleviate deep suffering and pain in a search for an overarching meaning in life. Katz offers the example of many prisoners of Auschwitz who took such a spiritual path to find solace when confronted by the extraordinary evil of the Nazi regime. Constriction (2) involves the creation of a local moral universe that requires complete allegiance to a specific cause, effectively squelching any outside ethical or moral value. As a contemporary example, the extreme abuses of Iraqi captives at Abu Ghraib prison occurred within a military-sanctioned construct that subverted prisoner rights beneath the overriding cause of the war on terror. Impinging (3), a process that utilizes languages and symbols to directly impress the concerns of the societal construct upon the individual, is often the means of transmission. The transforming (4) process involves the parallel duality within an individual psychological makeup: the public persona, Path 1, that often reflects a successful career trajectory and general contentment on the surface, and Path 2, often dormant, that includes a private reservoir of insecurities, survivor guilt and self-hatred. In the process of transformation, there may be a catalyst for the activation of Path 2, enabling previously unmentionables to surface, which often brings about a feeling of being overwhelmed, and sometimes leads to murder, suicide or other reprehensible acts in the face of utter despair. The final attribute of immediacy is the existence of a certain degree of the unknowable (5) within the established boundaries of the rules of conduct, a gray area that often leads to uninformed, poor and often violent decisions. This well-organized text contains many valuable nuggets of information that explain the model of immediacy and how it relates to the often shocking behavior of humanity.
An excellent exploration of a new paradigm of behavior for our chaotic times.