Sunday, February 26, 2006

How I spent my Summer

Internal mental dialogue plays an important part in all our lives. While young, a most basic question that I asked was, what do I know? My conclusions centered on the notion that my knowledge was mostly made up of conventions and hearsay. I toyed with the idea that in fact, I “knew” nothing. This led to an obsession to better understand the nature of reality. To this end I formed a mental experiment or prayer really, that said; “Dear Lord, please let me see reality as it is, independent of my preconceptions as to the nature of that reality.” This prayer was repeated for several years, two or three times a week as I was going to sleep. I had heard that there are several seconds between waking and sleep where the conscious and unconscious minds can connect more freely. My request was answered via a strange experience that was neither a waking nor dreaming form of consciousness. Beyond showing that my perceptions of reality were wildly different than reality, and that all understanding is mediated through forms, I could only conclude, along with Jack Nicholson, that I could not handle the Truth. Subsequent to this my goal in life is to become better able to “handle the Truth”, keeping in mind the legitimate role that our conscious mind provides in filtering the mass of data we might otherwise have to deal with.

I love writers and their attempts at giving shape to their forms of understanding. Their varied expressions and reflections will always impress and inspire, yet in reading it seems, as often as not, that many people seek validation more than they seek “Truth”. Thus the expert class seems to function in a way that seeks to cover up or hide the Basic Fault (Morris Berman). That is, their job is often to provide the phychic comfort inherent in the notion that our perceptions of reality are accurate representations of reality.

From my experience, I “know” that my perceptions of reality are wildly different from reality. Perhaps this is one reason for me to prefer writers that upset conventional understanding. Early interest for me centered on physics. This led me to read every “new physics” book that could be found. One thing I noticed was that, with one exception, the arguments were tied to conventional understanding as a means, I supposed, to attain some credibility. The one book that did not follow this path was written by an insane genius, or as part of some govt. black budget shopping operation that was seeking to “out” (or encourage) unconventional thinkers. Credence was lent to this last book because it did provide the beginning basis for understanding my “prayer experience”.

As I learned to express some of these ideas in conversation with others, a curious thing was to be noticed. While regular people could deal with the ideas presented, those of the expert class would be quickly offended and threatened. This led to further study of history of religion, philosophy, the history of philosophy and history of science. I came to believe that our understanding is driven more by social rather than rational considerations and that regular people were more rational than those of the expert classes. Quite naturally, my focus turned toward consciousness and its relationship to the creation of our collective experience.

A newswire from around this time related a quote from Vaslev Havel speaking to our senate. He reportedly said; “The one thing we learned from communism was that consciousness does indeed precede being.” Most of modern thinking places being ahead of consciousness, as in “the mind is a by product of the functioning of the brain.” Materialism, evolutionary theory and other modern notions contain this premise, implicitly and explicitly. Institutional Christianity also places being first as they claim, (and seek to impose their) understanding of the “objective truth” of the Bible. While we may “save the appearances” even with our incorrect premise for quite some time, eventually the strain between social structures and reality will surface, as it has with communism, and some cults.

The time is coming where we no longer have the luxury of blaming others for the social chaos that exists. Strength of character must be developed so that people can confront disturbing concepts that may threaten psychic stability. One stepping-stone that has worked for me involves the redefinition of certain words and concepts. For example, from the bible; Satan is said to be the ruler of this world and also the great deceiver. How could this deception be so complete that he could become the ruler of this world? Yes, as an external truth this concept is nonsense, yet as an internal truth it may provide significant material for study. In my attempts to create new forms of understanding this idea has provided the best jumping off point that I have yet found.

Currently most people feel that the “other half” of the people are deceived. While most people feel that they are beacons of rationality, it is the “other half” that are responsible for all our social chaos. For our survival we may want to consider that a truly great deception will fool nearly everybody. The rest are placed in mental homes or killed.

The internal logic of this paper can stand up only if the reader can accept, at least while these ideas are being presented, that our focus of understanding is driven more by social considerations than by rationality. The deceptions function because we think of ourselves as rational when in fact we are not, or at least we are barely rational.

We look at “facts” whose evidentiary value is determined more often by unexamined assumptions, rather than non-prejudiced empirical observation. We live in an ocean of circular logic. If you say to some people, for instance, that it is in an open court record that in the 70’s the Argentine military was busy dumping leftists, off of flights out over the open ocean, and as it happened there was always a priest or pastor on the flight. Was this to console the leftists being tossed to their deaths? No, it was to console the soldiers doing the tossing. When this story was told to an Aunt and Uncle, they simply said, no that is not possible, didn’t happen.

We can laugh (uneasily) when we consider the simple mindedness of earlier folk who thought that a person was a witch if upon, being thrown into the moat they floated, yet innocent if they sank. Still, we produce reams of analysis that is devoid of one critical element. Is the initial premise correct? Is Al-Quada an enemy of the State, or instead are they a clever tool of the state? Was the establishment of Cartesian Dualism a surrender of authority by the Catholic Church, or rather a means to ensure their authority on “spiritual” matters, by encouraging the creation of a physical science that deals only with gross manifestations of existence? While the declaration that the physical and the spiritual are fundamentally different encouraged excellent progress within the physical sciences, we are wrong if we consider this duality to be an Absolute Truth.

Consider the wave-particle paradox. It may be the case that any particle is the agglutination of sub-particles that exhibit the proper combination of velocity, vector, and a cyclical balance between electro-magnetic attraction and static repulsion characteristics. It is reasonable to assert that particles may exist, that are many orders of magnitude smaller than the resolution powers of current instruments. These particles would still be physical yet so small that they may be driven by resonance relationships and may be kin to consciousness itself. If this idea or ones similar to it were given consideration we might begin to see how the gross physical world is produced out of the implicate order, the ineffable, or the zero-point.

How do we relate to, and bring material from out of the ineffable? We have “visions”, and then we interpret the vision into prosaic terms so that others may understand it. This social compact (or inevitability) feeds back into the questions that we ask of the ineffable. Our knowledge is not the recognition of a pre-existing ideal (Plato). Our knowledge is not a new discovery (Sophists). Our knowledge instead represents answers that are arrived at always within the terms of the questions asked (Aristotle).

Has the era of dualism served its function and are we ready to move towards new sets of questions? Only when good people admit to their own involvement in maintaining Absolute Truth value for answers that result from what are in fact outmoded questions, will we as a society advance to a stage where our perceptions of reality and reality itself will exist within a more dynamic and healthy relationship.

This writing is for people that are seeking a way to bring subtlety into their ideological tendencies and concerns. The shrill rhetoric within today’s polity creates a situation where understanding of substance is replaced by shallow and self-validating forms of understanding. We will look for the story behind the story of history as a path back towards the realization of a more authentic experience.

Surely both liberality and conservatism contain commendable elements, and just as certainly they become negative when taken to their extreme. This is so because all experience contains elements of order and liberty, law and spontaneity or Halacha and Agada. It seems we often read history as a contest between order and liberty. It is not, because higher expressions (experience) balance order and liberty while denigrating one to raise the other produces a more crude and possibly negative expression of both. The situation is further complicated with the common sense realization that different levels of consciousness change the proportions of order and liberty needed to achieve balance.

Look at the interplay of order and liberty as a metaphor for history or growth of consciousness. For illustration, take as an example the raising of children. It is a truism that young children want to be told what everything is, while older children (teenagers) do not want you to tell them anything. We do well to take advantage of, instead of being frustrated by this situation. If given consistent answers and direction, boundary conditions are created that provide a healthy self-image, or sense of place for a young child. As the consciousness becomes more active around seven years of age, it is these ingrained boundary conditions that provide the basis for later healthy decision-making.

This outlook has clear advantages over current mushy modern child psychology and the 19th century advice to not make children soft by showing to much affection. The mushy modern method produces indulgent youngsters, where when the parents finally clamp down, they find themselves to be ineffective. Likewise, the reactionary method will either crush the spirit or create a total rebel. The new method cultivates an order that will form the basis for later healthy expressions of order and liberty.

Our current criteria for understanding have largely been shaped by the mechanical philosophy, or Cartesian Dualism. The aristocracy and the Church promoted this philosophy in the 17th century as an antidote to what was then called enthusiasm. Our understanding is shaped, - no defined and controlled by its dictates. A dispassionate challenge of Dualism’s initial premise, that the spiritual and material are fundamentally different, may provide conclusions that begin to overcome the dichotomies inherent in modern society.

A similar controversy played out in the second century as Ireneius and Valentius promoted their respective understandings of the new Christian philosophy. Simply put, Ireneius felt the need for consistent doctrine amongst the various churches, while Valentius promoted ongoing inspiration. Again, orthodoxy versus intuition or enthusiasm. While orthodoxy provides consistency that seems necessary for social cohesion, enthusiasm provides a dynamic element that is necessary for social growth.

Future criteria will point towards substance that resonates with the inherent striving towards growth, and that overcomes our inhibitions of ego and outmoded habitual thinking.

We must try to square the circle so that our criteria for understanding can provide guidance, while at the same time avoid the mistake of acting as if our map is the territory. Any criteria must have substance if it is to survive; yet its forms of expression will always be co-opted, to the greatest degree possible by institutional power structures. Any novel criteria for understanding will be useful to the extent that its principles can immunize itself from this sickness.

The main theme of the New Testament was Christ’s gospel of love, yet Christians exhibit many symptoms of intolerance. The Middle East during these early centuries was an area of great cultural interaction and trade. It is sensible to consider that wise people would have tried to bridge these cultures by creating a story or myth cycle that might connect the various communities so as to promote healthy interaction. The new myth story, being derived from older stories, would likely contain descriptions of stages of growth and development. This inherent impulse towards growth was co-opted by literalizing its contents. The one iota of the Consul of Nicea, Christ is of God or Christ is God, changed Christianity from a personal growth tool into a tool insuring the growth of imperial power structures. The dark ages lasted a long time because it’s hard to be inspired when your sponsors effectively say; “ Think this way or think about the pain of death.” This confidence game started to break down with the Gutenberg press and the spread of information it produced. Descartes came to the rescue with a mechanistic philosophy that served to subvert the “enthusiasm” that was again entering the larger community. The strategy was effective because, with the spiritual and the material declared to be fundamentally different the Church could re-legitimize their claim to be the proper intermediaries between the common man and a far off God.

While the mechanical philosophy did provide a framework for the growth of analytical thinking, less benign elements were also introduced. Deductive, or if this then that, reasoning has produced a situation whereby abstractions of abstractions are supposed to lead to a proper understanding of reality. This house of cards falls when a clear empirical observation conflicts with accepted “knowledge”. All is well as long as novel evidence can be ignored or tortured into fitting within the existing framework, hence the high wages of the intellectual elites. After all, while workers build stuff, the elites must protect us from the whole thing (society) falling apart.

Both secular and religious “experts” rely on the common acceptance of stated initial assumptions. It should be a clue for us to observe that the initial assumptions of both served the same or similar purposes. This inhibiting of enthusiasm has produced an unquestioning and rigid mentality, despite protestations to the contrary. The genius of Cartesian Dualism is that it appeals to the two polar mental styles, to support the same limiting assumptions. The traditionalist pole considers that all order is from the spiritual and they tend to lament change, (which they call societal breakdown). The secularist pole believes that order results from the material and a utopia can be created through “rational” constructs. Both poles promote an artificial conception of order. While the traditionalist element requires the acceptance of the Bible as objective truth, the secular element promotes the value of objectivity within a value free science. Yet, where can objectivity be, if we are coming at reality from one side, or the other?

My bet is that culture and society are becoming grown up enough to see our current structures of understanding for what they really are. That is, a set of boundary conditions, that while not being “Truth”, still provides a necessary framework from which to operate. As we grow, the framework of our understanding will change. Kids learn that Santa Clause was a story. And that is the real story, its all allegory.

I will finish this paper with my own allegory and one criteria for understanding that I consider appropriate to this day and age. We battle against powers and principalities. The static principle represents the idea that you will do as you are told; this is to follow Ahriman, more popularly known as Satan. This is order without liberty. The other side of this coin is the principle of indiscriminate change, or liberty without order, otherwise known as Lucifer. We always have the opportunity to be "saved" by the Christ principle. This happens by bringing balance to order and liberty, and thereby removing the garbage from our minds. Until that point we worship idols and replace G-d's will with ego driven constructs.

1st. criteria: Taking or presenting relative truth as being Absolute Truth produces pathology.


So be it. With Love to all.

5 Comments:

Blogger weeptes silu said...

I like what you have to say.when will there be more. dalia

12:38 AM  
Blogger Oak said...

Sorry if its taken me some time to get back to you. I just got on my blogger today for the first time in awhile, and saw that i had a new comment (whoa!) and fancied over your writing for awhile. Its inspiring, and very well-thought out. I think Vonnegut said there's two kinds of writers (Timequake, maybe?) one of which throws everything down in fluency and goes back to clean it up, or one who picks away word by word, carefully inscribing exactly what they want. I'm curious to see how you go about, so, unless you're not giving away years and years of secrecy, let me know. I'm trying to see patterns in different writing styles. Its just curiosity.

Loved how you talked about "the truth," and what it means to get there, especially with all this clashing of reality. In the illuminatus! trilogy they leave me with some quote by Hassan I Sabbah...

"nothing is true but everything is permissible."

Sorry if my writing is long-winded. I'm kind of in a hurry.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Sounder said...

oak,

Thank-you for the feedback. It interests me that you consider the work to be 'well-thought out'. My self-image is that while I may be a decent enough of a thinker, I am not a very good writer as I do not seem to be engaging people with the ways that I make images. I will keep working on it.

As to my writing style; I do not go back and clean up much at all, so I must be doing it word by word, the printed form results of my lifelong obsession to better understand Reality.

Thanks again.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Brainpanhandler said...

Sounder,

I don't think I can stand to post another thing at RI commentland.

I still have not gotten very far with your essays and so don't really have much in the way of feedback. Just sayin hi.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Brainpanhandler said...

"The Copernican system was aesthetically more pleasing than the old Ptolemic system, yet at the time could not be said to predict events any better than the old system."

Actually the ptolemic system was more aesthetically pleasing. With a large enough data base either system could predict that which could be perceived as a repeating pattern and recorded as such.

What do you think of comet holmes? Did you read my exchange with ericswan?

4:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home