The Foundations Project – The Ideal

The question of the Ideal is that of transcendence. What is it about human beings or the human condition that we seem to be able, want, or need to go past ourselves?

 

Responses to this question, which has entered human thought at least since the times of domestication of the species (P. Wilson), has been various. Most enduring, perhaps, is that we are the creatures who have been created by a transcendent force or deity. Our transcendence is determined by our ability and necessity to know God. In fact, much of religious thought justifies itself against various forms of Humanism with this sort of argument. The purely mechanical, objectivist Enlightenment response is that we are not really transcendent, merely some collectivity of neurones or other parts which genes, say, use in order that we survive as a species.

 

Other forms of argument have existentialized the human condition, moving away from fixed, essentialist sorts of explanation and have pondered how best to seek out our destiny: to stay on the way as in Confucianism; to seek to be an Overman a la Nietzsche, to use teachers as models for seeking the always higher and more difficult wisdom. Much of the current argument devolves upon the Schopenhauerian-Nietzschean propositions that we will to live and the transcendent/ideal is an aspect of the human will; that the will is to seek power and to re-evaluate all values.

 

Some of the most powerful and enduring sorts of argument posit not experience but a direction toward the ideal: forms of utopias which, if we reach them, we will be…in heaven, nirvana, the best of all worlds.

 

 

The Ideal: The nature of society, or reality, of…, determined by how each people, each era constructs its

notion of what:

1. should be

2. can be

3. might be

4. was

5. is

6. is said/claimed to be, by ‘what’ by whom, by texts

7. will be

8. can not be, etc.

9. success(es)

 

Construction of the Ideal: the image and imagination of perfection. Must it imply something wrong, lacking, imperfect in what there is? Should(!) it be an existential metaphor: that times change, and we must move on? An attempt to draw out where there is to go?

 

The description of each people, every civilization – by how it goes about constructing the ideal: as, (for example), ‘real’ persons, fictitious, old/young, angels, gods.

 

What are the habits and possibilities by which ideals are drawn? Must they not derive from experience? Must they not, in some sense, deny that experience (at the very least, as insufficient)? Must they not include (theories of) judgment? – criticism? How do these work?

 

Is God the Ideal? Does the ideal (or the idea of the ideal) exist independently from me; or is (it) our observation, our construction? Is beauty what moves us to look at it, to listen to it – or does it exist in some other realm?

 

What do we note; what do we order and rank? Does this have its own history?

 

The Ideal, a Measure: some notion of the ideal implies that the ideal is a standard against which to judge (actual) instances (of the ideal). A common metaphor is the ideal physical object moving in a vacuum; i.e., without all the forces of friction, gravity, etc., acting upon it. What then would it be like? Setting up this sort of ideal as a model, does it help us to infer and analyze the sorts of forces, aspects, modes of its being which cause it to be or to behave in the ways that we actually observe? And – yes – it does help if we guess or infer well.

 

What’s wrong, then, when this idea or metaphor is applied to the living condition?

 

Life ‘includes’ time, is an aspect of time; the ‘thing’, the object doesn’t exist in the same senses, to be able to identify some one, some form, is already to have an ideal picture in mind!?

 

(P.S. As in the Aristotelian notion of “the self-caused first cause,” there is the problem of infinite regression here: the ideal creates its own ideal – there is no end to ideality. Notions of progress and telos are ways of forestalling the awareness of this possibility, or to cap it temporarily or practically.)

 

Is it any necessity(?) that the concept of the ideal rests outside of time?

 

The ideal – the attempt to destroy or to fix time: the absolute, eternity, what is, is what (always) was. Experience become illusion. The world is perfect — and if it is not — then it is not the real world(!).

 

The ideal thus often becomes the substitute for what is experienced as imperfect. What then is experience, judgment? How do we determine what is good enough, for what and whom? When are we likely to seek permanence — fright, sicknesss…!?

 

The circle, perfect, enduring – all points, equidistant from…the center, the out-side. All harmonies (musical) in mathematical relationships (Pythagoras) – (but to what in us that is human?)

 

The limited vs. the unlimited (Pythagoras): The limited, we know, is not perfect; the world is composed of certain details – e.g., oppositions and triangularities; the unlimited is perfect.

 

What is ideal is perfect is unlimited. It only now depends on defining the meaning of unlimited. The mathematical notion of infinity will serve: What there is beyond knowledge, to the limits of imagination and beyond; the principle behind – what goes on forever (and when you decide to give up on any further sorts of explanation or accounting beyond that which has `satisfied’ you or to which you have become `accustomed’).

 

On Defining the Ideal: by what it is not; by what is like it or informs it – and then the rules for arriving at that; by what is tempting and impossible; by what was and can be no longer; by what some others claim is perfect; as a circle of being of which we are some lesser part; by what is tempting and possible;…

 

Much of what is ideal is that which cannot be – but in particular ways. Much of what is ideal is referred to something other, which we then scurry to fill-in; hoping, assuming then we will know it and have it.

 

Is truth that sort of ideal? – knowledge? Do we get stuck in certain (historical) notions of ideal? (cf. my view of Heraclitus as an existentialist?) Must we then fall into some form or other of nihilism when the trust in truth fails?

 

How is it that ideal theories of being can take over being and inform our ‘actual’ (experiential?) theories? Is there no actual actuality? (Ans.- not to the extent that our being is defined in terms of others, and their beliefs about being.)

 

Ideal-Normal: There is a temptation which abounds when seeing the actual world through the lenses which we call ‘ideal’. Since what we see, if we look at all clearly and even for a few moments, bespeaks of a world which lacks perfection by some considerable amount, then we have to work at observing through the ideal(izing) lenses. This ‘work’, a remaking and reconstruction both of what we see and how we look, often takes the form of imagining what `would’ be ideal, thinking of that as a kind of normal or normative against which to measure all that we observe and experience. Thus we not only see ‘what there is’, (though the appropriate ideal lenses can obstruct our very visualization in one or more dimensions), but do an instantaneous measure of what there is, located on the scales of what there should be, if (only) it were ideal.

 

What is different from the ideal as seen through the lenses, is already lesser, and needs to be corrected, or to be cured, or condemned depending, I suppose, on the consequences of the metaphysics within which that notion of ideal-ity has been construed.

 

(This notion, which I first rubbed-up against in terms of American-English dialects, was where I first entered the problems of ideal-normal, and noted the entailments of this as a ‘vision’, a position through which to observe the actuality. I imagine that, deep in our thought constructions, especially those that concern the self which observes, is a self-monitor which tends toward remaking all our ‘negative’, non-ideal experiences into whatever we would like to think of our selves.)

 

The Ideal-Form: the abstraction, the concept, the ‘picture’ such that we recognize or somehow know all actual instances, each and every chair? — and we do!

 

In this sense, ‘ideal’ is the set of schemes we have and keep (in mind? — in body? — in –?), by which we judge and classify the objects of world-fill.

 

In this sense, too, ‘ideal’ is the set of schemes by which we derive our selves-as-objects (or vice-versa); a set of complex events-become-I; a scheme by which I am; a picture of self.

 

It is difficult (for me) to say whether these ideal-form schemes endure through time/as time, or whether we devolve a notion of time in which these schemes somehow reside. (When? –>response set!) In either(?) case the notion of ideal-form tends to exist/endure/perdure through time, and by convincing us of its generality and universality, eventually to destroy our concept of time in certain senses (e.g., essentializing being is done via a theory of time which leads us to disattend to experiential time as lesser, or to make it no longer appear, us to no longer appear…).

 

The Image of God: humans are created in the image of God, it is claimed. Everything else first, humans last, in the image of God. So like God, to be.(Or made by our language!)

 

We are, more than anything else, like God; like the image of God. Whatever the etymology of two constructions such as ‘image’ and ‘God’, the notion nonetheless shows how the notion of the ideal can remain powerful irrespective of the precise meaning of any of the words. That is, the notion of us being like some ideal, holds out the promise that we are not (merely) what we are: we are more, we are other; part of us is invisible, hidden, promised; more.

 

The story of human, of God, in different eras and constructions, is mainly concerned with the details and particulars of what image, what God(s), what hidden. The important concept is that what we seem to be, what we actually experience, is less than what there is, ‘really’. We are some ideal, some form, somehow what we are not; not here, not now, not sufficient.

 

A Pure Tone: In the church on the corner where I live there is a new organ. I play the violin with that organ in the church, and occasionally (says J.), there is something like a purity-of-tone which emerges. There is something about violin, organ, and the acoustics which strikes our ears in special ways.

 

No doubt we are estheticians, looking, seeking for…certain sorts of experience, which are beautiful; pure-in-tone.

 

The Music of Heaven: modern metaphors of heaven include a sense for what would be its beautiful music; heavenly, beautiful music. The music of repose set in the Amens of all of time creates a sense of scenic splendor, carrying our pictures of perfection forward into the rewards for a perfect life.

 

But the music has its own history, much of it secular; much of it composed with the notion of earthly technology in the harmonic vibrations of our inner ears. Does this depict heaven, truly? Or has a sense-which-sells grown up over the centuries, that we imagine heaven in this way?

 

Is this alright? Is it blasphemous? Did the God of all of time give us the harp, the organ, the strings? Or did we, seeking earthly esthetics, create them in our terms, to satisfy some human seekings and yearnings – later to find the ideal in them and to call this “God?”

 

What about us is there that such music works to create in us pictures of heavenly perfection? Inspired by God, or a music which titillates and vibrates our nerves in such ways that we feel the presence of God? New ways to pull our flesh, to create the eerie back-of-the-neck feelings which invade the neckly tissues in such ways that we feel that we must feel the presence of some Other. (The development of the church structure to enhance the music also to retain and maintain those self-same feelings of the presence of the more-than-we-are?)

 

Is the Ideal a metaphor? How do such metaphors inform: life, our thinking, activity, the what will be…nostalgia?

 

Why? – Because! - the ideal as a response to the question, why? The notion that we are – because; that whatever is, is caused; that if there is any futurity, we must direct it (it must be directed); that the notion of direction; of purpose, is causally provided – somehow, somewhere; that this purpose, this cause, this mirror of causality, this toward which, is the Ideal.

 

Is this notion of ideal, then, a circle which we invent to `motivate’ ourselves? Whenever we ask Why, we look for ideality; and come up with whatever satisfies, whatever mollifies, whatever answers that question, whatever satisfies us that it answers that question. The issues, in this sense, then reduce to when and why we ask the question (and what constitutes an answer).

 

(See: “Question-Response System in Language” Lang. & H-Nature – Chapters 9-11.)

 

Harmony: Pythagoras’ construction of the universe is based on the integral relationships of string pitches; octaves, fifths, etc. – they turn out to be “ratios” of whole numbers – thus, rationality. The imputation of these harmonies to the universe, that the universe is in harmony, thus mathematical, in integral relationships. Because human (in this thinking) are/is aspects derived from the intrinsic universe, we are also in-harmony in an overarching sense. Thus the essential human is to be found and seen in whatever senses we are harmonic and mathematical. So the experential, the whatever is, is taken – in this ideal-harmonic notion – to be derived or to be residual. The soul or mind or psyche is taken to be a deeper reality, the real human science, and the (varying [I think] definition of mind is taken to ‘fit’ this notion of harmonic essentiality. Here, in the world of pure, ideal form, experience is irrelevant or misleading, and we are to see-through the illusions of ‘actual’ life to the ideal beneath the shadows: harmonies, integral relationships, enduring without time. (Plato/Augustine: The City of God)

 

The Essential=The Ideal:

“To idealize is to essentialize – to eliminate non-characteristic elements.”

The Philosophy of Plotinus – W.R.Inge, London: Longmas, Green and Co., 1918. P. 75

 

But we must have `decided’, some time, somehow, obviously or surreptitiously, what is characteristic and what is not. It is in this deciding, in the scheme or in the method or in the process that the ideal is located. It is refinement of definitions, often concerning words or notions which are abstract: beauty, evil. It relies upon the idea of the ideal, the notion of there being a basic, fundamental picture of reality.

 

The experiential problem; how we talk about this or that ‘table’ unless there is a class meaning of ‘tableness’ which is ‘pure table’. We do have such essentialist concepts in our cognitive-mappings, which we draw upon, or abstract from, in any instantiation. This is neither to affirm nor to deny this underlying ideality of forms, but to state that humans (at least through many linguistic systems – e.g., naming of any object both as particular and universal from age 2 on) operate in this fashion: and it works pretty well, especially where there is a confirmable, tangible experiential base (e.g., objects), less well with ‘abstract’ notions.

 

[Ten years later: it has seemed to me that the ideal is characteristic of `larger' (e.g., Western) traditions, to deny the paradoxical character of life, and to want to `resolve' such life-paradoxes on one side or the other: in this case, toward the universal - and unchanging.]

 

Ideal as Progress: The towards which…where are we heading…the telos, perfection. Each step on the way to Buddha, Confucius, Christ, Mohammed…(a Hitler?)

 

But if there is no ideal, no towards which, why do we go on? For what purpose? – we ask.

 

Living, life, is it not instrinsically interesting that its changes, its existence, are sufficient to promote its own continuity?

 

If there is no notion of ideal and of perfection, then where can we derive any notion of what is better-than, what is good, what morality and shouldness? Without these, how do we distinguish, to take it to its ultimate – between life and death? (Is this particularly Western, or more universal?)

 

The Great Irony (in Western Thought): with religion or without religion (i.e., perfection), we can occasionally not distinguish between the Two Kingdoms.

 

Ideals and The Will: The Will to…Power, Fame, Heroism, Vanity…to Go On. The fact that we do go on, that we remain alive and kicking may, in fact, be self-sustaining, and the questions of why, arise only when there is trouble. The trouble is that weakness, of faltering of the will (to go on) may give rise to thoughts of the ideal, of progress.

 

We then suspend the Will, the self of maintenance and sustaining, and begin to attribute the continuity to some force (ideal) which – we tell ourselves – sustains.

 

It is the hint of chaos which has driven the development of ideality, at least in Western Thought.

 

(A confusion between personal history and social history?)

 

A Circle (…a—): a geometric solution, everything equidistant, a concept of perfection; everything begins, everything ends, all has a place; nothing begins, nothing ends, everything returns. Life lived upon the circumference!

 

Or the yin/yang within the circle; all is bounded, but there is the other which is the some and the opposite, all in the same moment. This lends itself more to the existential, because it calls attention to the present in a way which shouts: “Watch out!” “Beware!” “Careful!”

 

A modern tendency is to call this a woman’s metaphor; an attack upon the linearity of thinking and of being.

 

Linearity upon the circumference of a circle vs. out in the world of…of what — pure time?

 

The problem of ideality and time: it is easier, more persuasive, to pursue ideality and to lose, destroy, not have any concept of time. Or to have time, a la Ecclesiastes, in eternal cycles – where there is a short (a moment, a second, a life-time, a…?) temporality, but “all is vanity”; i.e., the acuality is really mundane, a mere arrangement, a kind of pre-determination, a pathness upon which we are set (by God?), and upon which we go, like Sisyphus, perhaps, but less burdensome/no freedom; fate, Kismet.

 

The Ideal a Measure: against which to consider all of life. It is easy thus to consider life as ugly, dirty, sinful, temporary, unreal. It is never – with respect to some notion of ideal – what it might be, what it should be. It may be a yielding to the temptation to make everything lesser; an apology (the search for the “perfect picnic” measured against which any actual picnic pales).

 

Or – it may be a carrot, a notion in mind, to try harder, to make each moment better; to say, Yea, rather than Nay.

 

If it includes the balance of the anti-ideal (utopias as well as dystopias) then the ideal may help us to determine where we are: what is the present moment…

 

The Existential Ideal: the notion that the Ideal (any one’s concept of the Ideal) differs depending on who and where anyone is. If I am, say, a curer, then my ordinary purview is (from) pathology. The Ideal is less what can be, than what is not now. When what is now, is no longer the case, then the pathologist is done. Or, why pathology and prevention never come together, and are probabably antithetical in some senses (cf. the importance of the concept of `wellness’ entering medicine from S. & E. Asia).

 

Or say I am a pragmatist, an engineer for example. Then the ideal is an arc around what works; the other side of what fails, what cannot hold up its own weight. The world in which the pragmatist lives is the attempt to widen the what-works- world, the what could be but won’t…be. Its other side is what fails. The engineer accepts the idea of limitations and makes things work, neither falling for failure, nor lamenting in each moment what does not (yet! – “invention” resides here.).

 

Ideals Which Inform: the Confucionist notion that life is at all moments perfectible, just live it right (remain on `the Way’). Here the ideal is attainable and one must study life, and live it. The self is minimally dual: who I am, who I can be. It is future-directable, towards attaining the ideal when one is old, venerable. (Why: a Pedagogy of Dialogue!)

 

The `political’ difficulty in the sense of politics as present-process is that the ideal – there being a single ideal for everyone, willy-nilly – is socially very conservative = oligarchical. The end of all of personhood, of all persons in all times, is the same, thus society remains in stasis. It allows for a highly stratified, structured society, by denying any social theory (or at least disattending to it).

 

Ideals Which Undermine: if ideality, perfectibility is not possible (in this life; ever), not possible for me/you/them, debatably possible,…then I must `talk’ my self into (be talked into) living, especially when the going gets rough. What would convince me that one way of being is better than another? What – other than retaliation – would convince me to aid others, not to destroy them whenever I have power? (And power, in its own terms, becomes the ideality with little difficulty – Freire’s problem of the oppressed become oppressors whenever they gain power.)

 

If the ideal professes perfectibility but offers no way to it, then it remains subversive because a(ny) way of being is better, surer than any other. This notion of ideal leads to a nihilism in which one is always at war with oneself not only over whether to be somehow constructive vs. destructive, but rather whether s/he can tell which is which (e.g., St. Thomas). Previous solutions to this ‘difficulty’ have used other species as the examples of what is anti-perfect. But this now seems to be incorrect and no longer viable. So we must seek to re-study, re-understand, what the notion of ideality can mean, without the invention of any extrinsically-based dialectic (e.g., other species, deific, etc.)

 

History: collapses into today’s fantasy, in an ideal-ist’s world. And each moment passes into a next during the time it takes to write, read this sentence. And so it is all the same, you see (says Borges). Life’s ambition is to make life as good (or as bad) as one desires. Since life is constructed so as to conform to what one wants, it remains totally inobvious that anyone actually possesses desires or motivations, and the psychology of being either gets buried or handled as so much disturbance and ‘noise’, in an otherwise explicable universe. [The only important question, in an ideal world, is what one fills up s/his thoughts -- with!]

 

Optimum: how well can any thing do? What is the best there is, the best to be hoped for? A question which arose in a biology seminar. A long life, the most viable offspring, self-satisfaction, the bringing of joy or the optimum life, or…to others?

 

The question, which is the question of ideality in actual life, is at once obvious and as obtuse as we can imagine. It is the theme of life’s hope, of planning for a future which does not run continually down hill.

 

The difficulty is that life is not its own answer. It is a surprise. It is not isolable: its history, encapsulated as our body, does not disappear if we close our eyes, into the ideality that we can imagine…if we were not exactly as we are.

 

And we are — with others. We imagine ourselves within the logic and constructs of life’s possibilities, that the others see as us, and as possible.

 

A Religious Point-of-View: is much more than the belief in the divine and salvation, creation and omnipotence. It is a framework of being and interpretation whose corpus is filled from a sense of experience which has already been informed by a set of texts. It is a way, an interpetative matrix which is predisposed to see what it is seeking, and to not see ‘all the rest’. It is interpretive already, in each experience; its framework is disposed to see ritual in movement, to take what is and transform it in its very occurrence to some other text-informed world view.

 

This willingness of the religious point-of-view to rely solely on textual interpretation seems un-open to discussion, discourse, much less disproof. But this is less because of what a particular interpretation is, than that all raw data is constantly ensconced in some Urscheme which is itself held at the level of what is common-sensically obvious. To attempt to argue about data, its form or nature, is not useful because “it” has, in any moment, already been joined to something else. The argument about the matrix or framework is thus the arena in which discourse may occur; but the stakes have already been raised by this time, because the matrix represents something other. Any possible argument is about the nature of why it is so difficult to see what there is.

 

It (RPOV): is constantly being renegotatiated in the sense of the present updating of textual interpretation, its exegesis, etc. The religion is an impermanent state of being (if not in process), whose reinterpretation is seen through some (present) experiencing; e.g. `Orthodox’ Jewish women deciding to work, then seeking texts which justify their decisions. At some point, a splintering, an orthodoxy which interprets some other interpretation as “heresy” (as “other”), and so on.

 

So the religion, from a religious point-of-view, becomes a stable notion which is ‘kept’ in one’s mind, one’s being, to serve as some sort of existential anchor in a tide of changing winds. Or it is a mirage of eternality; a wanting to have some permanence, but also a wanting to possess a belief, and a wanting to be possessed by that belief: a form of love affair with aspects of oneself (those which one calls ‘unchanging’?) In a few cases, it involves a `convenant’ (Jewish) with other persons – but in Western Platonism it has usually been life-denying in any number of ways.

 

Ritual: a renegotiation of self; saying that who one is, is the same as who one was…the last time, and every time before that. Is a way of taking oneself out of time into the universe of constancy, non-change, eternality, always was and will be. Ritual is an anchor, a mode of turning life, which is change, into the geometry of forms, the reality into the infinitude of numerology.

 

Ritual is also in life. It is a way of keeping some things steady, renewing relationships – motherhood, daughterhood are forever and may allow for growth and change in other places – moves into new ports from older towns of debarkation. It is not merely what it is, but a set of reminders, movements of experience from safety to be updated, perhaps to be redone.

 

Irony: I had thought that irony had disappeared from the worldlike virtues which appear locked into ‘virtuous eras’. But I was mistaken – I had become a non-player; rather, I had not been a ‘player’ who had sufficient holdings in the game, to be counted on, to remain vying for the pot of fool’s gold. Surprise! How ironic, to note that the presence of irony is itself cyclical, depending apparently on where we are within some ‘moral cycles.’

 

History: (History vs…?) – where to penetrate the web of custom, the concept of being to which one is (I am) heir? Speak, English!? Because my grandparents decided/were forced/…to come to America? What is the range of becauses? Which ones count? For what? How does one pose a ‘question’; the question? To not pose such questions is to assume (believe?) that we operate externally to our own being. We do what we do, are what we are, precisely because that is ‘our nature’. But this is no explanation (though it does seem to provide an ‘accounting’).

 

The difficulty is that history, the past,…is no longer, and the temptation is to apply causality to everything which is antecendent. But we are not discontinuous in any clear sense. Nor are we continuous in any clear sense; nor…are we either the same or different in every place and time. So theories of history falter, as they try to find a story (a theory, a…) which is the story of history; but there isn’t one. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any, just not one. The usual reaction to the ‘disappointment’ of not finding one, is to deny that there are any; and entails that life is an illusion through the reactive line of thinking which flows from the disappointment; and existence – from which all questions flow – itself becomes problematic ==> a form of nihilism.

 

Why, “After Metaphysics”: because Martin Krieger gave me the title, and because on reading Kant’s “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics”, I decided that the ‘game’ was entirely prefigured and left no room for any ‘new’ (my) ideas; no room for the original, only the originary. It makes more sense to me to proclaim a ‘new’ time than to set up a variety of schemes which claim to criticise the present=modern by proclaiming some ‘post-modern’ out of some scheme of ideality.

 

The Power of History: because we think of much of our present, i.e. today, right now, in terms of how we think we used to be (e.g., in thinking of our children – right now – we think also of how we were at the age of whatever our children are, right now). These judgements seem to be somewhat ‘open’ to rethinking and revision, depending on how we think of ourselves in the present; i.e., we tend to ‘update’ our (memories of) our personal history (good/better ways to update?).

 

There is a linkage, and this linkage serves/may serve a variety of psychological purposes. The importance of history resides in the fact that any (new) interpretation of history is linked to how we think of ourselves in the present and can easily ’cause’ us to rethink, revalue, recast any present; even, I think, to be able to recast our ideas of truth, reality and illusion – our responsibilities, our debts, etc.

 

Antidotes reside in attempting to find a locus-of-permanence within the history of ideas, sociology of knowledge, and a study of one’s personal historiography via a ‘bodily’ skill (e.g., why I study the violin); or, why most people who try to keep themselves ‘centered’ are persuaded that the only way to do so is to take oneself out-of-time by altering s/his concept of time (e.g., eternal, momentary).

 

Living-thru Revolutions: I like many aspects of life to change, but living-through the period of change is often like being totally external to one’s own life. ‘After’ the revolution is secured…then we can talk! But – until then – I have no place, no being; I am a stereotype of the revolution, captive of my propagandistic description of someone like myself — Forms of Loneliness (But I am not that person!).

 

Toward a Social Ontology: questions about being and becoming; the assumption of change; a description of its dynamics; the position of its static aspects, its ‘places’, being temporary. Questions of permanence vs. change shift to continuity as aspects of change.

 

The Anthropology of Ontology has to do with the location and perspectives of the persona: the problematic aspects of life are transfigured into perspectives in living. The persona is both continuous and in-process, depending on s/his ‘position’ within some schemata of continuity and process, both about others and about the persona (more of the tensions of living-one’s-persona). Problematic aspects of life also include personal questions of becoming, each from the other perspectives of who one has been, is, and soon will be: how to get past, go beyond who one has been; how to find a way of becoming within others’ perspectives of who one can be.

 

Issues of individual and society; not an easy either-or. From the perspectives of the individual, from the perspective of the individual seeing oneself as others see s/him, present the possibilities of seeing oneself, those possibilities, etc. –> “Culture and Character: Exercises in Social Ontology (see: meditations on…Next Places).

 

Dualism and Polemics: I ‘accused’ J. Barkow of doing politics rather than biology. He reacted by accusing me of being a “fink”, and turn-coat, a traitor! He had thought we agreed.

 

The dualist cannot see disagreement as anything but adversarial. If I agreed in part, I must agree in whole – or else be opposed – in whole. I did/do agree in part, but am not myself a dualist, and so am free to disagree-in-part; or redefine and re-embed the discussion, and can ‘see’ politics for what it is, rather than as a mere extension of my (any) particular point-of-view.

 

The Platonist problematic of oppositional dualism can turn any intellectual(?) argument into politics by taking the originary mind-body scheme and granting hegemony to the mind-like aspects of one side of the argument. Since Aristotle (“Politics”), the temptation is to take any opposition and place it into social theory.

 

Death: per se? who knows? Our ‘knowledge’ – what we seem to call knowing – is tied intimately, deeply to existence and/or experience. What would a “picture from death” look like, feel like? Would it have sensate properties? The pictures – living pictures – we carry with us, are derived from life, imagining, an airy image, phantoms, spirits: but these are constructed from existential theories about death; not from death. I wanted to say: “from death, itself”.) But isn’t this exactly the dilemma, that death is not a state which is somehow opposite to life, but different in ways not capable of being constructed in the imagination? (At least, so far!) Another reason to consider life to be paradoxical rather than dualistic! (Does the experience of ‘almost-dying’ apply?)

 

Death: informs life! However we construct our notions of death does, on the other hand, deeply affect how we imagine and experience life. The possibilities and variations are legion: life as preparation for death; life as bounded; as infinite in each moment; as originating in some ‘moment’ of creation, as always was and will be; as illusion; as all there is and what there is; good/bad life, techniques of eva-luation, countings.

 

Death: creates time! Would it be knowable which way is the future if it were not for theories of life informed by theories of death? Is this why it seems impossible to know death except as a theory from life?

 

Death: stops time. No longer, never, ever, not even once do I have to confront (nor have the joy of seeing), e.g., my father, in any but terms which I seem to possess, to own. I may and do update him, but it is all ‘mine’. To be redone, I will have to redo him. He lurks in no corners, across no streets; only in my imagination. I would question his ever existing, but I seem to calculate my own existence in ways which do not permit me to destroy my memories: if I forget ‘him’, what else will I have forgotten? It seems important, right now at any rate, that there are others…who remember him as well as I, and that their pictures are remarkably/sufficiently like my own.

 

(After a conference on Death and Dying in which I talked on “Cultural Diversity of Grief”)

 

Death: a fear of certain of one’s feeling-states?

 

Form-Content: I believe that I am a ‘content theorist’ – my good friends agree; but what does this mean?

 

I am opposed in certain senses to “Structuralism”, but am fairly certain that I entertain fine distinctions between situations which are indeed (in certain senses) “structural”. Knowing, say, the structure of a particular socio-political organization, or even of the structure of a certain framework of thought, I can “predict” what will happen to particulars: ideas or persons; what is general-izable, what is specific and particular.

 

I understand that some structures such as languages, universities, etc., have, or at least take on “lives” of their own. I presume, however, that they are, in certain senses, perceived to exist –> thus, they are. Is this to say that most people are form(-al) theorists; concerned principally with stylistics? – to say that they distinguish rarely or poorly between form and content?

 

Knowing that we (all?) treat structures as if they really exist confers and confirms their reality, but doesn’t mean that they cannot change quite rapidly and radically given the proper conditions; or, from the structuralist’s perspective, when the proper conditions no longer prevail.

 

Metaphors:“Language” doesn’t change – people’s hearing changes (often ‘collectively!’).

 

Wonderment and Doubt: Kierkegaard’s (Journals: “Philosophy”) says that Western thought has had two (only) guiding metaphors: wonderment and doubt. I am certain that I am primarily concerned, motivated by wonderment. A major problem is in inventing ways to use wonderment to deal with pain. Haven’t people like F.M. Alexander and M. Feldenkreis been working at this, exactly? I love ‘doubt’ as well, but it tends to feed itself, rather than to illuminate anything else: doubt begins peripherally and gradually places itself as the centerpiece in a hall of mirrors. (Western-Platonic thought as a skepticism about knowledge leading to the current malaise of nihilism!)

 

Puzzles and Solutions: P. Regal says that he has ‘solved’ certain puzzles – as far as he can tell – once and for all. (He referred to a paper on “why feathers evolved”.) But many other biologists don’t recognize that this is a ‘real’ solution, not because it is (in)correct in any obvious sense, but that they have no sharpened sense of puzzle, of wonder; of any pictures of a universe of existence which calls us to explore and explain: a major problem of scholarship if a ‘discipline’ is sufficiently old to possess a history which has become the central subject matter!? And I had thought biologists were better at spotting issues than are anthropologists…The ‘sciences’ of behavior as an afterthought: metascience ( = meta physics?)

 

Form: isn’t it form by which we determine who is what and for what: and e.g., who we sleep with, whom we eat? Human and non-human? Isn’t it form which attracts us, allures us, tells us what is beauty? Form may not be content, but it is not nothing; nor is it the everything which also leads to a form of nihilism.

 

My work: an anthropology of the ordinary.

(most ‘anthropology’ is of the exotic).

 

To give voice to all the people(s); all the living creatures upon earth. To problematize that to which we are accustomed.

 

History of Ideas: History of one’s Life: confusion, complications. Some issues (e.g., language-human uniqueness); I feel like I have lived so-o-o long with this issue, have solved it sufficiently that it ought to go away. In my life and history, it is already very old and from-my-youth. Older and more global issues (e.g., morality) are much newer for me, requiring perhaps the kind of maturity which may enter one merely from having been around a fairly long time and two generations. So, in some senses, my own history of ideas is an inversion of the history, and I must construct them inside-out in order to keep straight where I am and how I got here (similarly: on re-considering Psychoanalysis on joining the Humanities-Literature).

 

Strong-Will <==> Weak-Will Theories: The behavioral sciences divide, often, along this axis. If, e.g., we explain ‘being’ by extrinsic means (Environment, Stimulus-Response in Psychology vs. Society-defining-one as Social Roles in Sociology), then there is little of the self or will which seems to need explaining –> weak will theories. Strong-will theories (as in Boasian Anthropology) begin from the indi-vidual having some intrinsic being (Biology) which the environment alters (Rousseauan-Social Contract). That there can also be weak-will theories is attested to by Sociobiology which invokes society, once again.

 

Why is there such a pendulum of thinking about being? Why not a ‘truer’ (my observation, experience) interactionist theory? Because, I think, each side tends to overlook the other side, and uses residual explanations to account for its own position (while surreptitiously accepting the same framework as its ostensive opposition). Dualists, that is, create the opposition in its own image, and rarely can step outside of its own form of argument: so that even content theorists become formalists in an oppositional dialectic.

 

Reactive vs. Reflective/Social Science: responds to questionnaires all reactive — a “poll of opinion”. Reflection is to ask people to become analytic about their lives. Is reflection ‘closer to truth’ than reaction? Doesn’t the market of opinion create its own truth? Or is just another form of herd behavior which we now justify on the grounds of wanting to join the market economy rather than act as its critics.

 

On being Re-connected: going to my first behavioral biology discussion/lecture in 10 (ten) years; being invited to talk to linguists for first time in 13 or 14 years: strange, deja-vu. I had suppressed thinking about such possibilities over the years, and now they re-appear. To be doused again? Probably. Feelings range from ‘how nice’ to ‘why should I care’. Like finding long-lost relatives with whom one had an (increasingly obscure) argument eons ago. But they went on different paths for what appeared to be good reasons: strange and outside of time, experientially.

 

Skepticism and Knowledge: Kant’s response to philosophical skepticism which postulates some a priori form of knowledge as pure reason has unleashed its own deeper skepticism, as we find ourselves embattled over the nature of who controls reality (“if I don’t like yours, I’ll kill you” –> proof?) Survival equaling knowledge is as much a proof of the nature of knowledge as a proof through toxins. But the a priori is persuasive as it eliminates doubt and the skeptic; and any theory which removes doubt…saves personal energy, focuses one’s visions of futurity and of a derived present (derived; e.g., from other’s texts) “works” for some people.

 

Kant’s type of response also “contains” the argument of any future metaphysics since the reasonable mind is focused totally on the explanation of a particular definition or delineation of what “reason” is considered to be; itself, some variety of a derived linguistics which considers its own “primariness” (nouns:objects::verbs:actions) itself derived from a picture of the human as reasonable in the sense of being non-animal:non-body.

 

But our ‘here-ness’ is as bodily as the chair which I require to support me. (Would the skeptic reply:”What chair?”)

 

The argument shifted to the nature of the ‘senses’, but in such a way that the senses ‘themselves’ became a derived aspect of our being. The human-as-sensate is much more complicated than the skeptic would like them to be, because the underlying problem has been to cope not with the nature of being but with its surcease. (A conflict between the fears of the almost dead and the wisdom of maturity in a world where we are not careful about the development of character!)

 

Causality:Personal: why did I get into this state of being?

 

Derived from observations of the severely disabled (para- and quadraplegics) and from heart attack “victims.” “Why, dear God, oh why me? Why now? Where did I/it go wrong? Whose fault?” `Quads’ seem merely to die if they do not come to (evolve?) a theory of causation of self-wound in which they are primarily, personally responsible for their crippling accident. That is, they do not survive unless they come to believe and to accept that they are personally “responsible” for causing their own crippling. (This is probably because the energy necessary for survival as a quad is similiar to, or derived from the same sort of thinking by which they assign responsibility to self.)

 

In the case of heart-attack victims, it seems that they spend a good deal of time assigning cause. One suspects that their progress in recovering has something to do with how their causal thinking evolves; where one assigns blame: self, other, external events, etc.

 

The question which arises from these cases has to do with how, in general, we constitute our lives: assigning blame, causality, explaining to ourselves where we are and how we got here. How are we with respect to how we imagine that we could be…now, someday. Some of these stories-to-oneself apparently help sustain life itself, yield energy or create the contexts in which we rebuild, recreate selfness; stories by which to find sleep and repose, by which to meditate, cure, absorb, and channel pain, vengeance, bitterness, hatred-of self and of others (Schopenhauer’s “Will to Live” given metaphorical substantiation!).

 

How we go about doing the ‘willing’; how we explain ourselves to ourselves – has much to so with our continuity and survival.

 

The shaping of personal causal explanation, the “within which” we cast our lot, our evaluation of ourselves, is not simple in any sense, and indeed has increasingly its own history in the sense that, say, success is cast within some organization, community, discipline, notion, for most persons. The evaluation of self is to some (large?) extent cast within that sense of self, within…!? (The `bureaucratization’ of the mind?)

 

Waiting for the Holocaust: More than half depending on it, I realized the other day. For good reason? Perhaps. A good friend has just died, early, of cancer, calling attention to the doom and gloom, and giving backing to the down and paranoid aspects of my outlook. In taking-over the role of housekeeper, I have become the one to dread the telephone call about the accidents my children may have incurred (and J. had abandoned the same dread in exchange!)

 

But reading the world, studying the transition on a day-to-day basis of the country’s attitude toward anti-liberalism, noting how the forces of the political “right” are being unleashed, I am more than half-convinced we are in for dangerous times. The aspects I actually see and the daily attitude changes of academic bureaucrats reacting to changing perceptions; not probing those perceptions, why they change, whose direction are they heading.

 

Like the rest of us, “they” have a particular reference outside, limited and bounded, also reacting to the same world, and extending “that” world to the real world. We are in a delicate skirmish for the definition of reality and whose reality will prevail. The bureaucrats’ will and knowledge to survive undermines their outlook, their repre-sentation of what the institution does and should do, who it should serve, and how.

 

Watching them – as I do – I am worried that “they” will make decisions out of concern for their own safety, risking ours as they preserve who and what they believe will preserve them. With heightened urgency, they will react to events more and more as if they are forced to, again heightening the sense of urgency.

 

Physics-meta-Physics and Bodies: on hearing D. Garber, a philosopher, talk on the theory of a body in Descartes and Leibniz, a sense of the derivation of our being from some theory of existence which seems to make it obvious that bodily being is derivation from objects, and from the mathematization of object and activity useful to depict the physical world. So strange; so backwards, inverted. Could (a) physics have developed without this strange journey of disembodiment of the human condition? How, yes? – or why not? It is almost as if we have had to deny our human experience in order to reinvent it.

 

Continuity and Change: as the creation-evolution argument is more about the life experience – than of death – the notion of whether change is aberrant beyond some normativization points seems to be so frightening and unusual as to frame the notions of ordinary and normal. In the book “Snapping,” the depiction is of a state in which the normal `continuous experience and awareness’ is dramatically altered and one suddenly ‘believes’ in something new and other.

 

That this is the way non-believers and non-converts tell the story is important; but, more important, is that the way this is argued is to posit an ordinary experience which is continuous in some static, everyday, and presumably common (and common-sense way), and then a snapping occurs: a new belief, a psychotic break (but not an interesting insight, not a conceptual break-through). It is portrayed as false knowledge (= “cult”), a giving-away of mental capability to a false set of truths manipulated by some self-annointed messiah who has seemed to preach against whatever the “normal continuity” is assumed to consist of.

 

It is also – by implication – a normative vs. relative argument because the notion of an ordinary continuity of awareness and of our inner mental life is presumed to be the relativity; the only one in which is found ordinary (non-cult?) truth. In this sense “snapping” is an argument against rhetoric, against any notion of social reality (e.g., that others manipulate our mentalities and cause us to snap!)

 

Positively the notion calls attention to the intellectual questions and problems of how we think: what is our inner life; how continuous, how not?

 

Residual Categories: In many theories of the world and of things within it, many features or aspects are paid attention to. Theories, explanations call attention to such features in ways such that descriptions are generated which account for or explain ideas and/or observations. Because theories seem to be systematic, they also urge us to believe they are true, and completely true; exhaustively true.

 

But most such theories, even though they may be true (in part, in some sense or other) are not exhaustively true. There are “left-overs”, extrusions, things and aspects of the universe which are not included: some on purpose, others because the theory works to direct our attention in some positive sense toward something else, and we do not notice what is residual; or draw lines about our thinking for positive methodological reasons. What is left-over can become, can be what is important – even within the universe of the theory, and we will never note it, never find it worthy of notice.

 

An example: language is clearly an aspect of the human body. Within theories of language, however, the body is said to be “biological”, mechanical, something “other”. Presumably it is within the purview of other observers. But, in any case, it is not “our” business. Language “needs” an independent theory. But if the body is, indeed important, linguists will never find this out – except, perhaps in their final moments.

 

Theories of the Present: How long is right now? When is tomorrow? How did we get here? Where are we?

 

The biologists’ present is 10,000(000,000) years. How can we do today whatever needs to be done? Can’t, Can’t, Can’t? What’s happening is inevitable; will have to run its course, its cycle. The best we can do is what we know to do well; carve out a niche of intellectual freedom. (P.R.)

 

H. “But aren’t we rational? Cannot we think it out, outthink the present unto the future? – redo theories of the past, change how it informs the present? You’re so pessimistic!”

 

P. “I – a pessimist? I feel like I’m an optimist. I’m here to survive, and I will. The others? – what can I do about them? Today there’s lots of time for me. But what is, was foreshadowed, caused by history, for them.”

 

Do biologists have two theories of the present; simultaneously?

 

How many do I have? – for me, for you, for us (for us, for me…)?

 

Teleology: Does the future really determine the present? Or is it purely that our beliefs about the future inform our beliefs about causality in what we call the present? (And when an era of prophecy overtakes this era of prediction? –> the millennium? Then will history disappear and the present lose meaning?)

 

My Hands: Today, just now, I picked up my violin for the first time in a month. I’ve enjoyed the lay-off; my body has enjoyed the rest; and time to re-be. And it worked; I remembered; especially, my hands. They know. They’re stunning, beautiful. They work. They’re so strong, go to the right places. Gentle, quick. How can one not love such hands? (Wittgenstein on skepticism: just give me, prove to me, my right hand. What proof given, what offered beyond it is?)

 

Mysteries: this is a time for mysteries, for the occult and the mysterious; for mystical masters and magicians; for fakes, quacks and quarks; mystics, mouse-tics (and house-husbands).

 

I used to think that mysteries were wonderful, because they formed problems, puzzles – to be solved. But now, we want mysteries to stay, to be renewed – a mental polysorbate. If, it seems, there are mysteries; well, isn’t that wonderful!

 

More! Not only are mysteries wonderful, but if there really are mysteries, well…we humans must be more wonderful than we thought we were; think we are…

 

Ah! If there are mysteries, then it must be true that we are more than we are, more than we seem to be. We don’t have to dislike or hate ourselves, because those selves we hate are not our real selves. We can think ourselves into new, better, more likeable our-selves. How wonderful! How mysterious!

 

If wishing could make it so…? Well, wishing can.

 

Drugs?!

 

(A remaining problem: How to have our mysteries and be sure that they don’t turn into mysteriouser wonders which will cause us to hate ourselves even more. Heaven help us, if Heaven will?!)

 

Consciousness: (a beginning) metaphysics (so-called) often begins with an invocaton about some “facts” of consciousness, of ‘self-consciousness’ (Hegel, Eccles, etc.), which may differ from person-to-person (or they may not –> “universalism”.)

 

It is an invocation because each of us tells ourselves some story about what we regard to be such ‘facts’. And if we believe in universalism, some essence of humankind, then we will presumably ‘know’ these ‘facts’ of consciousness, because (being human) each of us partakes in the human “essence.” What is `in’ consciousness, at any moment – through some (single?) stream of consciousness; the `contents’ of consciousness? What am I thinking about right now; do I `know’? (Do I tell myself a narrative which is the one I would tell an other; while in internal dialogue?)

 

What I think we mean or refer to is some set of stories about our thinking processes in terms of which we (seem to) speak, think about whatever, etc. ‘It – the ‘facts’- may consist of the rudiments or elements or grammatical rules of speech, some notion about knowledge, and knowing that we know. Often this arena moves toward or reduces to some examination of what knowledge is, especially self-knowledge.

 

Why it takes certain forms, gathers-in particular facts, operates through certain metaphors and not others, is a long story about nature, especially (in Western thought) about what is human, uniquely.

 

Whether consciousness `belongs’ to each individual, whether it is socially `assigned’ or attributed to us – remains a question which we don’t think about very well: whether consciousness involves various forms of repression and of hiddenness; whether wakefulness is the real, or is sleeping-dreaming when we are truly `alone’(Heraclitus)?

 

(‘I’ begin already within a story of others telling me I am. Consciousness must be ‘derived’!)

 

Active or Passive: is the human (sic!) condition intrinsically active or is it passive? On any minimal observation of infants and children the human condition is obviously active – with time to nap and to sleep, to recover the high level of expected energy. If, as in Hegel, however, one begins to think of what is human already in dualistic terms, human being is obviously passive because what moves (our bodies) is the animal, non-human aspect of our beingness. Activity has to so with the wedding of the human and animal thru ‘desire’. But the human, that which is consciousness, self-consciousness, etc., is passive. So much for Western thought and the solution to the problem of being…

 

Simple: as opposed to complex?! – not simple in its associations of meaning. Because ‘simple’ is so often a beginning, a lesser-than, [it is] not obvious that it can also be a complication. With respect to any holism, any integral something, what is simple is a part of that whole. But the something-ness, the integral whatever also can be itself, or in some relation. If whole-ness is what is at issue, it may be that integrity is a whole, irrespective of its own internal complexity; that, for example, an amoeba is equally as complex as a mammal. It is; it remains alive; it reproduces; it does what it does as well as any other being. The simple-complex notion should be stood on its head in order to see what there is to see. (This not to oppose analysis, but to avoid synthesizing by directly piling up its atomites and proclaiming that whole, the whole.)

 

With respect to the notion of the ideal, simple seems principally to be the hope that there is some short-cut to the nature of our nature, to experience without simply(!) reproducing that experience. That there are structures, `rules,’ generalities and generalizations is beyond doubt (e.g., the very notion of language, grammar, etc.), but the move toward the simple seems to want to by-pass observation, to see-through or see-into, more than to see.

 

Form and Substance: what if…what if the human infant is (simply, purely?) form; the substance ‘provided’ by the ‘outside’ definition and treatment? The form is dynamic, in flux, creating the world with respect to…as its shape, its form, its ‘envelope’. It does not ‘know’ its shape; the world is, ‘bent’ (how: 3-D inside out? -’n’-D?) with respect to its shape, aspects of it-self.

 

The outside ‘sees’ (interprets) no (mere) form but a person – already with ‘facial expression’; a character; a continuity; a history of having been and will have been.

 

The ‘tension’ derives from the interaction of the world experienced as infant-form and the extrinsic definition, which is one of self-ness and personhood. Development occurs with respect to (a function of?) this tension, including the aspects of self we think of, as emotions.

 

The infant (one) does not `learn’ language, but becomes languaging (language) –> content. Form –> content (= form –> content,…

 

Beyond Good and Evil: (Nietzsche, #4) – the question of untruth, falsity, especially (for me) of myth. The stories we tell ourselves about how it is, how we are, how we got here and where we are going, inform our thinking about “life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing.” These are probably always ‘opinions which work’, more-or-less well. Thus, morality is less a question of ‘truth’, more of the imagination and its translations into practice (and in, the Global Village, what works; for whom).

 

Against ‘System’: P. urges me to systematize – to study ‘my’ (Anthropology’s) formal history, and to state what (I think) I know, as a series of laws, of propositions, of rules for exegesis and interpretation. Why – to become known, powerful, famous; to gain credits…but from whom?

 

If, as I prefer, the ‘world’ is in flux (i.e., we are in flux and the world either goes with us or it doesn’t), then in effect, reality and truth change, at least evolve. The quest for truth, for meaning, has to be renewed, re-taken in each era. Truth – as it were – finds a ‘new’ history, a ‘longer’ development in a time flow whose direction is progressive; in a changing time, moving toward futurity. Truth…differs in an historicist world where today is today merely, and no more than an outcome.

 

No – no system.

 

A pedagogy – a training, an establishment of teacher personae who live the past into the present, surviving and ‘guaranteeing’ their own present, and (thence) the students’ futures – that is all. That is not bad, if never exactly enough. What I can do is help the students learn to engage in their own life studies, in their own times – which are informed by me and mine; but they are theirs, and not mine.

 

No system!

 

No…

 

The Invention of the Past: = the death of time?

 

A means for killing oneself gradually, so as to be ready for Death, whenever…?

 

Does each re-doing of history necessarily entail a re-doing of one’s present – one’s self? Likely, because an (large?) aspect of present being is the story of how we came to be here, did to be as we are. (Shouldn’t thinkers engage in re-thinking their own [speculative?] history from time-to-time, so one has a sense of how s/he is formed historiographically? – more sense, more sales-resistance to the power of feelings in each present moment.)

 

My suspicion that scholasticism, the celebration of the textual past leads to the diminution of the present, as well as the disappearance of being, dissolves the very concept of history. Witness the millennium! (a dare!)

 

Proclaiming the past as the classical moment when the great author-ity appeared on earth – sacredly, intellectually, morally,…tends to diminish and to disciple the present experience to the Ago of some Golden time. In contrast the present is brass, or tin, or a mere copy of the genuineness of being. The strength with which the past appears to dominate the present (read Plato, Mohammed), believe that they dominate this and every moment, and history effective does not appear. If, in the millennial moment, the Christ is supposed to appear once again, it will be as if there was no time between zero and two thousand: no time for being in respect of the ideal. A matching of who I am with who is the ideal, and always finding my own senses senseless.

 

Witness to Our Own Lives: have we become voyeurs, even of our own existence?

 

Do we watch ourselves watch ourselves, regressed to the shadows of our being?

 

A cheap conversion, a cheap lay. Is the struggle-not-to-struggle paramount?

 

Do we no longer believe in our own reality? Do we believe, then, in the reality of others? Are we, if anything, merely derived? Do we believe in our derived selves? Whence, this belief?

 

Are we afraid? Of what? Of death; of life – as Nietzsche suggests, afraid of pessimism itself? Do we analyze our own characters into some modes, aspects, parts? What do we do with these parts? Do we love some, hate some? How do we know?

 

Seekers after Truth? In the Creation/Science debate, it seems that there are indeed a number of ‘scientists’ who are seekers after truth in such ways that they become seekers of certitude. Or they followed scientific endeavors because they sought certainty (a clerisy?).

 

These ‘scientists’ become easy prey to the creationists who admit the search is for everlasting truth, and then flip-flop (“snap”) when the winds of time turn upon them and carry the stench of (their!?) flesh to their hungry nostrils.

 

Now they engage themselves in trying to prove the unprovable…at last convincing themselves that everything is unprovable. A rediscovery of a Cosmology in which the notion of skepticism is raised from an issue of any possible knowing, to the issue of any possible existence- particularly their own.

 

Conversion/Snapping: To change a person’s thinking, to alter s/him completely to see the world differently, anew; to cleanse the brain, to wash it out and take the constructs of its life-ways, and to move them into ‘new’ horizons.

 

Is everyone susceptible? Are there safeguards?

 

To whatever extent ‘others’ can affect us, to that extent we are open to conversion.

 

To whatever extent we love and want love, and have once yielded the soul of self, to that extent we can see the world in new ways.

 

But how, suddenly; what modes of instant change?

 

Read Nietzsche’s diagnosis, his ‘history of the next two centuries’ in Will to Power, Intro. Rise of European Nihilism.

 

The problem in converting – for those who wish to convert (why do they?) – is to discover the ‘grounds’ upon which one ‘puts’ s/himself together, the ‘how-ness’ of who I am, to attempt to grab those groundings by treating them as if they are not there; as if the ‘person’ who thinks has no grounds:

 

“Look here, I am talking to you, Reader! You think you are reading my words, but that is not true. You are reading your own mind. My words, these markings upon paper, are no more mine than the paper in your own hands. Look here, not here on paper, but inside your own mind!

 

What do you see? Where are the words which tell just now, you thought were mine? They are yours.

 

Yours? Mine.

 

You are my words. You own my thinking. You own my mind.

 

You are my words. You are my mind. You are mine.

 

Some of the most powerful and enduring sorts of argument posit not experience but a direction toward the ideal: forms of utopias which, if we reach them, we will be…in heaven, nirvana, the best of all worlds.

 

 

The Ideal: The nature of society, or reality, of…, determined by how each people, each era constructs its

notion of what:

1. should be

2. can be

3. might be

4. was

5. is

6. is said/claimed to be, by ‘what’ by whom, by texts

7. will be

8. can not be, etc.

9. success(es)

 

Construction of the Ideal: the image and imagination of perfection. Must it imply something wrong, lacking, imperfect in what there is? Should(!) it be an existential metaphor: that times change, and we must move on? An attempt to draw out where there is to go?

 

The description of each people, every civilization – by how it goes about constructing the ideal: as, (for example), ‘real’ persons, fictitious, old/young, angels, gods.

 

What are the habits and possibilities by which ideals are drawn? Must they not derive from experience? Must they not, in some sense, deny that experience (at the very least, as insufficient)? Must they not include (theories of) judgment? – criticism? How do these work?

 

Is God the Ideal? Does the ideal (or the idea of the ideal) exist independently from me; or is (it) our observation, our construction? Is beauty what moves us to look at it, to listen to it – or does it exist in some other realm?

 

What do we note; what do we order and rank? Does this have its own history?

 

The Ideal, a Measure: some notion of the ideal implies that the ideal is a standard against which to judge (actual) instances (of the ideal). A common metaphor is the ideal physical object moving in a vacuum; i.e., without all the forces of friction, gravity, etc., acting upon it. What then would it be like? Setting up this sort of ideal as a model, does it help us to infer and analyze the sorts of forces, aspects, modes of its being which cause it to be or to behave in the ways that we actually observe? And – yes – it does help if we guess or infer well.

 

What’s wrong, then, when this idea or metaphor is applied to the living condition?

 

Life ‘includes’ time, is an aspect of time; the ‘thing’, the object doesn’t exist in the same senses, to be able to identify some one, some form, is already to have an ideal picture in mind!?

 

(P.S. As in the Aristotelian notion of “the self-caused first cause,” there is the problem of infinite regression here: the ideal creates its own ideal – there is no end to ideality. Notions of progress and telos are ways of forestalling the awareness of this possibility, or to cap it temporarily or practically.)

 

Is it any necessity(?) that the concept of the ideal rests outside of time?

 

The ideal – the attempt to destroy or to fix time: the absolute, eternity, what is, is what (always) was. Experience become illusion. The world is perfect — and if it is not — then it is not the real world(!).

 

The ideal thus often becomes the substitute for what is experienced as imperfect. What then is experience, judgment? How do we determine what is good enough, for what and whom? When are we likely to seek permanence — fright, sicknesss…!?

 

The circle, perfect, enduring – all points, equidistant from…the center, the out-side. All harmonies (musical) in mathematical relationships (Pythagoras) – (but to what in us that is human?)

 

The limited vs. the unlimited (Pythagoras): The limited, we know, is not perfect; the world is composed of certain details – e.g., oppositions and triangularities; the unlimited is perfect.

 

What is ideal is perfect is unlimited. It only now depends on defining the meaning of unlimited. The mathematical notion of infinity will serve: What there is beyond knowledge, to the limits of imagination and beyond; the principle behind – what goes on forever (and when you decide to give up on any further sorts of explanation or accounting beyond that which has `satisfied’ you or to which you have become `accustomed’).

 

On Defining the Ideal: by what it is not; by what is like it or informs it – and then the rules for arriving at that; by what is tempting and impossible; by what was and can be no longer; by what some others claim is perfect; as a circle of being of which we are some lesser part; by what is tempting and possible;…

 

Much of what is ideal is that which cannot be – but in particular ways. Much of what is ideal is referred to something other, which we then scurry to fill-in; hoping, assuming then we will know it and have it.

 

Is truth that sort of ideal? – knowledge? Do we get stuck in certain (historical) notions of ideal? (cf. my view of Heraclitus as an existentialist?) Must we then fall into some form or other of nihilism when the trust in truth fails?

 

How is it that ideal theories of being can take over being and inform our ‘actual’ (experiential?) theories? Is there no actual actuality? (Ans.- not to the extent that our being is defined in terms of others, and their beliefs about being.)

 

Ideal-Normal: There is a temptation which abounds when seeing the actual world through the lenses which we call ‘ideal’. Since what we see, if we look at all clearly and even for a few moments, bespeaks of a world which lacks perfection by some considerable amount, then we have to work at observing through the ideal(izing) lenses. This ‘work’, a remaking and reconstruction both of what we see and how we look, often takes the form of imagining what `would’ be ideal, thinking of that as a kind of normal or normative against which to measure all that we observe and experience. Thus we not only see ‘what there is’, (though the appropriate ideal lenses can obstruct our very visualization in one or more dimensions), but do an instantaneous measure of what there is, located on the scales of what there should be, if (only) it were ideal.

 

What is different from the ideal as seen through the lenses, is already lesser, and needs to be corrected, or to be cured, or condemned depending, I suppose, on the consequences of the metaphysics within which that notion of ideal-ity has been construed.

 

(This notion, which I first rubbed-up against in terms of American-English dialects, was where I first entered the problems of ideal-normal, and noted the entailments of this as a ‘vision’, a position through which to observe the actuality. I imagine that, deep in our thought constructions, especially those that concern the self which observes, is a self-monitor which tends toward remaking all our ‘negative’, non-ideal experiences into whatever we would like to think of our selves.)

 

The Ideal-Form: the abstraction, the concept, the ‘picture’ such that we recognize or somehow know all actual instances, each and every chair? — and we do!

 

In this sense, ‘ideal’ is the set of schemes we have and keep (in mind? — in body? — in –?), by which we judge and classify the objects of world-fill.

 

In this sense, too, ‘ideal’ is the set of schemes by which we derive our selves-as-objects (or vice-versa); a set of complex events-become-I; a scheme by which I am; a picture of self.

 

It is difficult (for me) to say whether these ideal-form schemes endure through time/as time, or whether we devolve a notion of time in which these schemes somehow reside. (When? –>response set!) In either(?) case the notion of ideal-form tends to exist/endure/perdure through time, and by convincing us of its generality and universality, eventually to destroy our concept of time in certain senses (e.g., essentializing being is done via a theory of time which leads us to disattend to experiential time as lesser, or to make it no longer appear, us to no longer appear…).

 

The Image of God: humans are created in the image of God, it is claimed. Everything else first, humans last, in the image of God. So like God, to be.(Or made by our language!)

 

We are, more than anything else, like God; like the image of God. Whatever the etymology of two constructions such as ‘image’ and ‘God’, the notion nonetheless shows how the notion of the ideal can remain powerful irrespective of the precise meaning of any of the words. That is, the notion of us being like some ideal, holds out the promise that we are not (merely) what we are: we are more, we are other; part of us is invisible, hidden, promised; more.

 

The story of human, of God, in different eras and constructions, is mainly concerned with the details and particulars of what image, what God(s), what hidden. The important concept is that what we seem to be, what we actually experience, is less than what there is, ‘really’. We are some ideal, some form, somehow what we are not; not here, not now, not sufficient.

 

A Pure Tone: In the church on the corner where I live there is a new organ. I play the violin with that organ in the church, and occasionally (says J.), there is something like a purity-of-tone which emerges. There is something about violin, organ, and the acoustics which strikes our ears in special ways.

 

No doubt we are estheticians, looking, seeking for…certain sorts of experience, which are beautiful; pure-in-tone.

 

The Music of Heaven: modern metaphors of heaven include a sense for what would be its beautiful music; heavenly, beautiful music. The music of repose set in the Amens of all of time creates a sense of scenic splendor, carrying our pictures of perfection forward into the rewards for a perfect life.

 

But the music has its own history, much of it secular; much of it composed with the notion of earthly technology in the harmonic vibrations of our inner ears. Does this depict heaven, truly? Or has a sense-which-sells grown up over the centuries, that we imagine heaven in this way?

 

Is this alright? Is it blasphemous? Did the God of all of time give us the harp, the organ, the strings? Or did we, seeking earthly esthetics, create them in our terms, to satisfy some human seekings and yearnings – later to find the ideal in them and to call this “God?”

 

What about us is there that such music works to create in us pictures of heavenly perfection? Inspired by God, or a music which titillates and vibrates our nerves in such ways that we feel the presence of God? New ways to pull our flesh, to create the eerie back-of-the-neck feelings which invade the neckly tissues in such ways that we feel that we must feel the presence of some Other. (The development of the church structure to enhance the music also to retain and maintain those self-same feelings of the presence of the more-than-we-are?)

 

Is the Ideal a metaphor? How do such metaphors inform: life, our thinking, activity, the what will be…nostalgia?

 

Why? – Because! - the ideal as a response to the question, why? The notion that we are – because; that whatever is, is caused; that if there is any futurity, we must direct it (it must be directed); that the notion of direction; of purpose, is causally provided – somehow, somewhere; that this purpose, this cause, this mirror of causality, this toward which, is the Ideal.

 

Is this notion of ideal, then, a circle which we invent to `motivate’ ourselves? Whenever we ask Why, we look for ideality; and come up with whatever satisfies, whatever mollifies, whatever answers that question, whatever satisfies us that it answers that question. The issues, in this sense, then reduce to when and why we ask the question (and what constitutes an answer).

 

(See: “Question-Response System in Language” Lang. & H-Nature – Chapters 9-11.)

 

Harmony: Pythagoras’ construction of the universe is based on the integral relationships of string pitches; octaves, fifths, etc. – they turn out to be “ratios” of whole numbers – thus, rationality. The imputation of these harmonies to the universe, that the universe is in harmony, thus mathematical, in integral relationships. Because human (in this thinking) are/is aspects derived from the intrinsic universe, we are also in-harmony in an overarching sense. Thus the essential human is to be found and seen in whatever senses we are harmonic and mathematical. So the experential, the whatever is, is taken – in this ideal-harmonic notion – to be derived or to be residual. The soul or mind or psyche is taken to be a deeper reality, the real human science, and the (varying [I think] definition of mind is taken to ‘fit’ this notion of harmonic essentiality. Here, in the world of pure, ideal form, experience is irrelevant or misleading, and we are to see-through the illusions of ‘actual’ life to the ideal beneath the shadows: harmonies, integral relationships, enduring without time. (Plato/Augustine: The City of God)

 

The Essential=The Ideal:

“To idealize is to essentialize – to eliminate non-characteristic elements.”

The Philosophy of Plotinus – W.R.Inge, London: Longmas, Green and Co., 1918. P. 75

 

But we must have `decided’, some time, somehow, obviously or surreptitiously, what is characteristic and what is not. It is in this deciding, in the scheme or in the method or in the process that the ideal is located. It is refinement of definitions, often concerning words or notions which are abstract: beauty, evil. It relies upon the idea of the ideal, the notion of there being a basic, fundamental picture of reality.

 

The experiential problem; how we talk about this or that ‘table’ unless there is a class meaning of ‘tableness’ which is ‘pure table’. We do have such essentialist concepts in our cognitive-mappings, which we draw upon, or abstract from, in any instantiation. This is neither to affirm nor to deny this underlying ideality of forms, but to state that humans (at least through many linguistic systems – e.g., naming of any object both as particular and universal from age 2 on) operate in this fashion: and it works pretty well, especially where there is a confirmable, tangible experiential base (e.g., objects), less well with ‘abstract’ notions.

 

[Ten years later: it has seemed to me that the ideal is characteristic of `larger' (e.g., Western) traditions, to deny the paradoxical character of life, and to want to `resolve' such life-paradoxes on one side or the other: in this case, toward the universal - and unchanging.]

 

Ideal as Progress: The towards which…where are we heading…the telos, perfection. Each step on the way to Buddha, Confucius, Christ, Mohammed…(a Hitler?)

 

But if there is no ideal, no towards which, why do we go on? For what purpose? – we ask.

 

Living, life, is it not instrinsically interesting that its changes, its existence, are sufficient to promote its own continuity?

 

If there is no notion of ideal and of perfection, then where can we derive any notion of what is better-than, what is good, what morality and shouldness? Without these, how do we distinguish, to take it to its ultimate – between life and death? (Is this particularly Western, or more universal?)

 

The Great Irony (in Western Thought): with religion or without religion (i.e., perfection), we can occasionally not distinguish between the Two Kingdoms.

 

Ideals and The Will: The Will to…Power, Fame, Heroism, Vanity…to Go On. The fact that we do go on, that we remain alive and kicking may, in fact, be self-sustaining, and the questions of why, arise only when there is trouble. The trouble is that weakness, of faltering of the will (to go on) may give rise to thoughts of the ideal, of progress.

 

We then suspend the Will, the self of maintenance and sustaining, and begin to attribute the continuity to some force (ideal) which – we tell ourselves – sustains.

 

It is the hint of chaos which has driven the development of ideality, at least in Western Thought.

 

(A confusion between personal history and social history?)

 

A Circle (…a—): a geometric solution, everything equidistant, a concept of perfection; everything begins, everything ends, all has a place; nothing begins, nothing ends, everything returns. Life lived upon the circumference!

 

Or the yin/yang within the circle; all is bounded, but there is the other which is the some and the opposite, all in the same moment. This lends itself more to the existential, because it calls attention to the present in a way which shouts: “Watch out!” “Beware!” “Careful!”

 

A modern tendency is to call this a woman’s metaphor; an attack upon the linearity of thinking and of being.

 

Linearity upon the circumference of a circle vs. out in the world of…of what — pure time?

 

The problem of ideality and time: it is easier, more persuasive, to pursue ideality and to lose, destroy, not have any concept of time. Or to have time, a la Ecclesiastes, in eternal cycles – where there is a short (a moment, a second, a life-time, a…?) temporality, but “all is vanity”; i.e., the acuality is really mundane, a mere arrangement, a kind of pre-determination, a pathness upon which we are set (by God?), and upon which we go, like Sisyphus, perhaps, but less burdensome/no freedom; fate, Kismet.

 

The Ideal a Measure: against which to consider all of life. It is easy thus to consider life as ugly, dirty, sinful, temporary, unreal. It is never – with respect to some notion of ideal – what it might be, what it should be. It may be a yielding to the temptation to make everything lesser; an apology (the search for the “perfect picnic” measured against which any actual picnic pales).

 

Or – it may be a carrot, a notion in mind, to try harder, to make each moment better; to say, Yea, rather than Nay.

 

If it includes the balance of the anti-ideal (utopias as well as dystopias) then the ideal may help us to determine where we are: what is the present moment…

 

The Existential Ideal: the notion that the Ideal (any one’s concept of the Ideal) differs depending on who and where anyone is. If I am, say, a curer, then my ordinary purview is (from) pathology. The Ideal is less what can be, than what is not now. When what is now, is no longer the case, then the pathologist is done. Or, why pathology and prevention never come together, and are probabably antithetical in some senses (cf. the importance of the concept of `wellness’ entering medicine from S. & E. Asia).

 

Or say I am a pragmatist, an engineer for example. Then the ideal is an arc around what works; the other side of what fails, what cannot hold up its own weight. The world in which the pragmatist lives is the attempt to widen the what-works- world, the what could be but won’t…be. Its other side is what fails. The engineer accepts the idea of limitations and makes things work, neither falling for failure, nor lamenting in each moment what does not (yet! – “invention” resides here.).

 

Ideals Which Inform: the Confucionist notion that life is at all moments perfectible, just live it right (remain on `the Way’). Here the ideal is attainable and one must study life, and live it. The self is minimally dual: who I am, who I can be. It is future-directable, towards attaining the ideal when one is old, venerable. (Why: a Pedagogy of Dialogue!)

 

The `political’ difficulty in the sense of politics as present-process is that the ideal – there being a single ideal for everyone, willy-nilly – is socially very conservative = oligarchical. The end of all of personhood, of all persons in all times, is the same, thus society remains in stasis. It allows for a highly stratified, structured society, by denying any social theory (or at least disattending to it).

 

Ideals Which Undermine: if ideality, perfectibility is not possible (in this life; ever), not possible for me/you/them, debatably possible,…then I must `talk’ my self into (be talked into) living, especially when the going gets rough. What would convince me that one way of being is better than another? What – other than retaliation – would convince me to aid others, not to destroy them whenever I have power? (And power, in its own terms, becomes the ideality with little difficulty – Freire’s problem of the oppressed become oppressors whenever they gain power.)

 

If the ideal professes perfectibility but offers no way to it, then it remains subversive because a(ny) way of being is better, surer than any other. This notion of ideal leads to a nihilism in which one is always at war with oneself not only over whether to be somehow constructive vs. destructive, but rather whether s/he can tell which is which (e.g., St. Thomas). Previous solutions to this ‘difficulty’ have used other species as the examples of what is anti-perfect. But this now seems to be incorrect and no longer viable. So we must seek to re-study, re-understand, what the notion of ideality can mean, without the invention of any extrinsically-based dialectic (e.g., other species, deific, etc.)

 

History: collapses into today’s fantasy, in an ideal-ist’s world. And each moment passes into a next during the time it takes to write, read this sentence. And so it is all the same, you see (says Borges). Life’s ambition is to make life as good (or as bad) as one desires. Since life is constructed so as to conform to what one wants, it remains totally inobvious that anyone actually possesses desires or motivations, and the psychology of being either gets buried or handled as so much disturbance and ‘noise’, in an otherwise explicable universe. [The only important question, in an ideal world, is what one fills up s/his thoughts -- with!]

 

Optimum: how well can any thing do? What is the best there is, the best to be hoped for? A question which arose in a biology seminar. A long life, the most viable offspring, self-satisfaction, the bringing of joy or the optimum life, or…to others?

 

The question, which is the question of ideality in actual life, is at once obvious and as obtuse as we can imagine. It is the theme of life’s hope, of planning for a future which does not run continually down hill.

 

The difficulty is that life is not its own answer. It is a surprise. It is not isolable: its history, encapsulated as our body, does not disappear if we close our eyes, into the ideality that we can imagine…if we were not exactly as we are.

 

And we are — with others. We imagine ourselves within the logic and constructs of life’s possibilities, that the others see as us, and as possible.

 

A Religious Point-of-View: is much more than the belief in the divine and salvation, creation and omnipotence. It is a framework of being and interpretation whose corpus is filled from a sense of experience which has already been informed by a set of texts. It is a way, an interpetative matrix which is predisposed to see what it is seeking, and to not see ‘all the rest’. It is interpretive already, in each experience; its framework is disposed to see ritual in movement, to take what is and transform it in its very occurrence to some other text-informed world view.

 

This willingness of the religious point-of-view to rely solely on textual interpretation seems un-open to discussion, discourse, much less disproof. But this is less because of what a particular interpretation is, than that all raw data is constantly ensconced in some Urscheme which is itself held at the level of what is common-sensically obvious. To attempt to argue about data, its form or nature, is not useful because “it” has, in any moment, already been joined to something else. The argument about the matrix or framework is thus the arena in which discourse may occur; but the stakes have already been raised by this time, because the matrix represents something other. Any possible argument is about the nature of why it is so difficult to see what there is.

 

It (RPOV): is constantly being renegotatiated in the sense of the present updating of textual interpretation, its exegesis, etc. The religion is an impermanent state of being (if not in process), whose reinterpretation is seen through some (present) experiencing; e.g. `Orthodox’ Jewish women deciding to work, then seeking texts which justify their decisions. At some point, a splintering, an orthodoxy which interprets some other interpretation as “heresy” (as “other”), and so on.

 

So the religion, from a religious point-of-view, becomes a stable notion which is ‘kept’ in one’s mind, one’s being, to serve as some sort of existential anchor in a tide of changing winds. Or it is a mirage of eternality; a wanting to have some permanence, but also a wanting to possess a belief, and a wanting to be possessed by that belief: a form of love affair with aspects of oneself (those which one calls ‘unchanging’?) In a few cases, it involves a `convenant’ (Jewish) with other persons – but in Western Platonism it has usually been life-denying in any number of ways.

 

Ritual: a renegotiation of self; saying that who one is, is the same as who one was…the last time, and every time before that. Is a way of taking oneself out of time into the universe of constancy, non-change, eternality, always was and will be. Ritual is an anchor, a mode of turning life, which is change, into the geometry of forms, the reality into the infinitude of numerology.

 

Ritual is also in life. It is a way of keeping some things steady, renewing relationships – motherhood, daughterhood are forever and may allow for growth and change in other places – moves into new ports from older towns of debarkation. It is not merely what it is, but a set of reminders, movements of experience from safety to be updated, perhaps to be redone.

 

Irony: I had thought that irony had disappeared from the worldlike virtues which appear locked into ‘virtuous eras’. But I was mistaken – I had become a non-player; rather, I had not been a ‘player’ who had sufficient holdings in the game, to be counted on, to remain vying for the pot of fool’s gold. Surprise! How ironic, to note that the presence of irony is itself cyclical, depending apparently on where we are within some ‘moral cycles.’

 

History: (History vs…?) – where to penetrate the web of custom, the concept of being to which one is (I am) heir? Speak, English!? Because my grandparents decided/were forced/…to come to America? What is the range of becauses? Which ones count? For what? How does one pose a ‘question’; the question? To not pose such questions is to assume (believe?) that we operate externally to our own being. We do what we do, are what we are, precisely because that is ‘our nature’. But this is no explanation (though it does seem to provide an ‘accounting’).

 

The difficulty is that history, the past,…is no longer, and the temptation is to apply causality to everything which is antecendent. But we are not discontinuous in any clear sense. Nor are we continuous in any clear sense; nor…are we either the same or different in every place and time. So theories of history falter, as they try to find a story (a theory, a…) which is the story of history; but there isn’t one. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any, just not one. The usual reaction to the ‘disappointment’ of not finding one, is to deny that there are any; and entails that life is an illusion through the reactive line of thinking which flows from the disappointment; and existence – from which all questions flow – itself becomes problematic ==> a form of nihilism.

 

Why, “After Metaphysics”: because Martin Krieger gave me the title, and because on reading Kant’s “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics”, I decided that the ‘game’ was entirely prefigured and left no room for any ‘new’ (my) ideas; no room for the original, only the originary. It makes more sense to me to proclaim a ‘new’ time than to set up a variety of schemes which claim to criticise the present=modern by proclaiming some ‘post-modern’ out of some scheme of ideality.

 

The Power of History: because we think of much of our present, i.e. today, right now, in terms of how we think we used to be (e.g., in thinking of our children – right now – we think also of how we were at the age of whatever our children are, right now). These judgements seem to be somewhat ‘open’ to rethinking and revision, depending on how we think of ourselves in the present; i.e., we tend to ‘update’ our (memories of) our personal history (good/better ways to update?).

 

There is a linkage, and this linkage serves/may serve a variety of psychological purposes. The importance of history resides in the fact that any (new) interpretation of history is linked to how we think of ourselves in the present and can easily ’cause’ us to rethink, revalue, recast any present; even, I think, to be able to recast our ideas of truth, reality and illusion – our responsibilities, our debts, etc.

 

Antidotes reside in attempting to find a locus-of-permanence within the history of ideas, sociology of knowledge, and a study of one’s personal historiography via a ‘bodily’ skill (e.g., why I study the violin); or, why most people who try to keep themselves ‘centered’ are persuaded that the only way to do so is to take oneself out-of-time by altering s/his concept of time (e.g., eternal, momentary).

 

Living-thru Revolutions: I like many aspects of life to change, but living-through the period of change is often like being totally external to one’s own life. ‘After’ the revolution is secured…then we can talk! But – until then – I have no place, no being; I am a stereotype of the revolution, captive of my propagandistic description of someone like myself — Forms of Loneliness (But I am not that person!).

 

Toward a Social Ontology: questions about being and becoming; the assumption of change; a description of its dynamics; the position of its static aspects, its ‘places’, being temporary. Questions of permanence vs. change shift to continuity as aspects of change.

 

The Anthropology of Ontology has to do with the location and perspectives of the persona: the problematic aspects of life are transfigured into perspectives in living. The persona is both continuous and in-process, depending on s/his ‘position’ within some schemata of continuity and process, both about others and about the persona (more of the tensions of living-one’s-persona). Problematic aspects of life also include personal questions of becoming, each from the other perspectives of who one has been, is, and soon will be: how to get past, go beyond who one has been; how to find a way of becoming within others’ perspectives of who one can be.

 

Issues of individual and society; not an easy either-or. From the perspectives of the individual, from the perspective of the individual seeing oneself as others see s/him, present the possibilities of seeing oneself, those possibilities, etc. –> “Culture and Character: Exercises in Social Ontology (see: meditations on…Next Places).

 

Dualism and Polemics: I ‘accused’ J. Barkow of doing politics rather than biology. He reacted by accusing me of being a “fink”, and turn-coat, a traitor! He had thought we agreed.

 

The dualist cannot see disagreement as anything but adversarial. If I agreed in part, I must agree in whole – or else be opposed – in whole. I did/do agree in part, but am not myself a dualist, and so am free to disagree-in-part; or redefine and re-embed the discussion, and can ‘see’ politics for what it is, rather than as a mere extension of my (any) particular point-of-view.

 

The Platonist problematic of oppositional dualism can turn any intellectual(?) argument into politics by taking the originary mind-body scheme and granting hegemony to the mind-like aspects of one side of the argument. Since Aristotle (“Politics”), the temptation is to take any opposition and place it into social theory.

 

Death: per se? who knows? Our ‘knowledge’ – what we seem to call knowing – is tied intimately, deeply to existence and/or experience. What would a “picture from death” look like, feel like? Would it have sensate properties? The pictures – living pictures – we carry with us, are derived from life, imagining, an airy image, phantoms, spirits: but these are constructed from existential theories about death; not from death. I wanted to say: “from death, itself”.) But isn’t this exactly the dilemma, that death is not a state which is somehow opposite to life, but different in ways not capable of being constructed in the imagination? (At least, so far!) Another reason to consider life to be paradoxical rather than dualistic! (Does the experience of ‘almost-dying’ apply?)

 

Death: informs life! However we construct our notions of death does, on the other hand, deeply affect how we imagine and experience life. The possibilities and variations are legion: life as preparation for death; life as bounded; as infinite in each moment; as originating in some ‘moment’ of creation, as always was and will be; as illusion; as all there is and what there is; good/bad life, techniques of eva-luation, countings.

 

Death: creates time! Would it be knowable which way is the future if it were not for theories of life informed by theories of death? Is this why it seems impossible to know death except as a theory from life?

 

Death: stops time. No longer, never, ever, not even once do I have to confront (nor have the joy of seeing), e.g., my father, in any but terms which I seem to possess, to own. I may and do update him, but it is all ‘mine’. To be redone, I will have to redo him. He lurks in no corners, across no streets; only in my imagination. I would question his ever existing, but I seem to calculate my own existence in ways which do not permit me to destroy my memories: if I forget ‘him’, what else will I have forgotten? It seems important, right now at any rate, that there are others…who remember him as well as I, and that their pictures are remarkably/sufficiently like my own.

 

(After a conference on Death and Dying in which I talked on “Cultural Diversity of Grief”)

 

Death: a fear of certain of one’s feeling-states?

 

Form-Content: I believe that I am a ‘content theorist’ – my good friends agree; but what does this mean?

 

I am opposed in certain senses to “Structuralism”, but am fairly certain that I entertain fine distinctions between situations which are indeed (in certain senses) “structural”. Knowing, say, the structure of a particular socio-political organization, or even of the structure of a certain framework of thought, I can “predict” what will happen to particulars: ideas or persons; what is general-izable, what is specific and particular.

 

I understand that some structures such as languages, universities, etc., have, or at least take on “lives” of their own. I presume, however, that they are, in certain senses, perceived to exist –> thus, they are. Is this to say that most people are form(-al) theorists; concerned principally with stylistics? – to say that they distinguish rarely or poorly between form and content?

 

Knowing that we (all?) treat structures as if they really exist confers and confirms their reality, but doesn’t mean that they cannot change quite rapidly and radically given the proper conditions; or, from the structuralist’s perspective, when the proper conditions no longer prevail.

 

Metaphors:“Language” doesn’t change – people’s hearing changes (often ‘collectively!’).

 

Wonderment and Doubt: Kierkegaard’s (Journals: “Philosophy”) says that Western thought has had two (only) guiding metaphors: wonderment and doubt. I am certain that I am primarily concerned, motivated by wonderment. A major problem is in inventing ways to use wonderment to deal with pain. Haven’t people like F.M. Alexander and M. Feldenkreis been working at this, exactly? I love ‘doubt’ as well, but it tends to feed itself, rather than to illuminate anything else: doubt begins peripherally and gradually places itself as the centerpiece in a hall of mirrors. (Western-Platonic thought as a skepticism about knowledge leading to the current malaise of nihilism!)

 

Puzzles and Solutions: P. Regal says that he has ‘solved’ certain puzzles – as far as he can tell – once and for all. (He referred to a paper on “why feathers evolved”.) But many other biologists don’t recognize that this is a ‘real’ solution, not because it is (in)correct in any obvious sense, but that they have no sharpened sense of puzzle, of wonder; of any pictures of a universe of existence which calls us to explore and explain: a major problem of scholarship if a ‘discipline’ is sufficiently old to possess a history which has become the central subject matter!? And I had thought biologists were better at spotting issues than are anthropologists…The ‘sciences’ of behavior as an afterthought: metascience ( = meta physics?)

 

Form: isn’t it form by which we determine who is what and for what: and e.g., who we sleep with, whom we eat? Human and non-human? Isn’t it form which attracts us, allures us, tells us what is beauty? Form may not be content, but it is not nothing; nor is it the everything which also leads to a form of nihilism.

 

My work: an anthropology of the ordinary.

(most ‘anthropology’ is of the exotic).

 

To give voice to all the people(s); all the living creatures upon earth. To problematize that to which we are accustomed.

 

History of Ideas: History of one’s Life: confusion, complications. Some issues (e.g., language-human uniqueness); I feel like I have lived so-o-o long with this issue, have solved it sufficiently that it ought to go away. In my life and history, it is already very old and from-my-youth. Older and more global issues (e.g., morality) are much newer for me, requiring perhaps the kind of maturity which may enter one merely from having been around a fairly long time and two generations. So, in some senses, my own history of ideas is an inversion of the history, and I must construct them inside-out in order to keep straight where I am and how I got here (similarly: on re-considering Psychoanalysis on joining the Humanities-Literature).

 

Strong-Will <==> Weak-Will Theories: The behavioral sciences divide, often, along this axis. If, e.g., we explain ‘being’ by extrinsic means (Environment, Stimulus-Response in Psychology vs. Society-defining-one as Social Roles in Sociology), then there is little of the self or will which seems to need explaining –> weak will theories. Strong-will theories (as in Boasian Anthropology) begin from the indi-vidual having some intrinsic being (Biology) which the environment alters (Rousseauan-Social Contract). That there can also be weak-will theories is attested to by Sociobiology which invokes society, once again.

 

Why is there such a pendulum of thinking about being? Why not a ‘truer’ (my observation, experience) interactionist theory? Because, I think, each side tends to overlook the other side, and uses residual explanations to account for its own position (while surreptitiously accepting the same framework as its ostensive opposition). Dualists, that is, create the opposition in its own image, and rarely can step outside of its own form of argument: so that even content theorists become formalists in an oppositional dialectic.

 

Reactive vs. Reflective/Social Science: responds to questionnaires all reactive — a “poll of opinion”. Reflection is to ask people to become analytic about their lives. Is reflection ‘closer to truth’ than reaction? Doesn’t the market of opinion create its own truth? Or is just another form of herd behavior which we now justify on the grounds of wanting to join the market economy rather than act as its critics.

 

On being Re-connected: going to my first behavioral biology discussion/lecture in 10 (ten) years; being invited to talk to linguists for first time in 13 or 14 years: strange, deja-vu. I had suppressed thinking about such possibilities over the years, and now they re-appear. To be doused again? Probably. Feelings range from ‘how nice’ to ‘why should I care’. Like finding long-lost relatives with whom one had an (increasingly obscure) argument eons ago. But they went on different paths for what appeared to be good reasons: strange and outside of time, experientially.

 

Skepticism and Knowledge: Kant’s response to philosophical skepticism which postulates some a priori form of knowledge as pure reason has unleashed its own deeper skepticism, as we find ourselves embattled over the nature of who controls reality (“if I don’t like yours, I’ll kill you” –> proof?) Survival equaling knowledge is as much a proof of the nature of knowledge as a proof through toxins. But the a priori is persuasive as it eliminates doubt and the skeptic; and any theory which removes doubt…saves personal energy, focuses one’s visions of futurity and of a derived present (derived; e.g., from other’s texts) “works” for some people.

 

Kant’s type of response also “contains” the argument of any future metaphysics since the reasonable mind is focused totally on the explanation of a particular definition or delineation of what “reason” is considered to be; itself, some variety of a derived linguistics which considers its own “primariness” (nouns:objects::verbs:actions) itself derived from a picture of the human as reasonable in the sense of being non-animal:non-body.

 

But our ‘here-ness’ is as bodily as the chair which I require to support me. (Would the skeptic reply:”What chair?”)

 

The argument shifted to the nature of the ‘senses’, but in such a way that the senses ‘themselves’ became a derived aspect of our being. The human-as-sensate is much more complicated than the skeptic would like them to be, because the underlying problem has been to cope not with the nature of being but with its surcease. (A conflict between the fears of the almost dead and the wisdom of maturity in a world where we are not careful about the development of character!)

 

Causality:Personal: why did I get into this state of being?

 

Derived from observations of the severely disabled (para- and quadraplegics) and from heart attack “victims.” “Why, dear God, oh why me? Why now? Where did I/it go wrong? Whose fault?” `Quads’ seem merely to die if they do not come to (evolve?) a theory of causation of self-wound in which they are primarily, personally responsible for their crippling accident. That is, they do not survive unless they come to believe and to accept that they are personally “responsible” for causing their own crippling. (This is probably because the energy necessary for survival as a quad is similiar to, or derived from the same sort of thinking by which they assign responsibility to self.)

 

In the case of heart-attack victims, it seems that they spend a good deal of time assigning cause. One suspects that their progress in recovering has something to do with how their causal thinking evolves; where one assigns blame: self, other, external events, etc.

 

The question which arises from these cases has to do with how, in general, we constitute our lives: assigning blame, causality, explaining to ourselves where we are and how we got here. How are we with respect to how we imagine that we could be…now, someday. Some of these stories-to-oneself apparently help sustain life itself, yield energy or create the contexts in which we rebuild, recreate selfness; stories by which to find sleep and repose, by which to meditate, cure, absorb, and channel pain, vengeance, bitterness, hatred-of self and of others (Schopenhauer’s “Will to Live” given metaphorical substantiation!).

 

How we go about doing the ‘willing’; how we explain ourselves to ourselves – has much to so with our continuity and survival.

 

The shaping of personal causal explanation, the “within which” we cast our lot, our evaluation of ourselves, is not simple in any sense, and indeed has increasingly its own history in the sense that, say, success is cast within some organization, community, discipline, notion, for most persons. The evaluation of self is to some (large?) extent cast within that sense of self, within…!? (The `bureaucratization’ of the mind?)

 

Waiting for the Holocaust: More than half depending on it, I realized the other day. For good reason? Perhaps. A good friend has just died, early, of cancer, calling attention to the doom and gloom, and giving backing to the down and paranoid aspects of my outlook. In taking-over the role of housekeeper, I have become the one to dread the telephone call about the accidents my children may have incurred (and J. had abandoned the same dread in exchange!)

 

But reading the world, studying the transition on a day-to-day basis of the country’s attitude toward anti-liberalism, noting how the forces of the political “right” are being unleashed, I am more than half-convinced we are in for dangerous times. The aspects I actually see and the daily attitude changes of academic bureaucrats reacting to changing perceptions; not probing those perceptions, why they change, whose direction are they heading.

 

Like the rest of us, “they” have a particular reference outside, limited and bounded, also reacting to the same world, and extending “that” world to the real world. We are in a delicate skirmish for the definition of reality and whose reality will prevail. The bureaucrats’ will and knowledge to survive undermines their outlook, their repre-sentation of what the institution does and should do, who it should serve, and how.

 

Watching them – as I do – I am worried that “they” will make decisions out of concern for their own safety, risking ours as they preserve who and what they believe will preserve them. With heightened urgency, they will react to events more and more as if they are forced to, again heightening the sense of urgency.

 

Physics-meta-Physics and Bodies: on hearing D. Garber, a philosopher, talk on the theory of a body in Descartes and Leibniz, a sense of the derivation of our being from some theory of existence which seems to make it obvious that bodily being is derivation from objects, and from the mathematization of object and activity useful to depict the physical world. So strange; so backwards, inverted. Could (a) physics have developed without this strange journey of disembodiment of the human condition? How, yes? – or why not? It is almost as if we have had to deny our human experience in order to reinvent it.

 

Continuity and Change: as the creation-evolution argument is more about the life experience – than of death – the notion of whether change is aberrant beyond some normativization points seems to be so frightening and unusual as to frame the notions of ordinary and normal. In the book “Snapping,” the depiction is of a state in which the normal `continuous experience and awareness’ is dramatically altered and one suddenly ‘believes’ in something new and other.

 

That this is the way non-believers and non-converts tell the story is important; but, more important, is that the way this is argued is to posit an ordinary experience which is continuous in some static, everyday, and presumably common (and common-sense way), and then a snapping occurs: a new belief, a psychotic break (but not an interesting insight, not a conceptual break-through). It is portrayed as false knowledge (= “cult”), a giving-away of mental capability to a false set of truths manipulated by some self-annointed messiah who has seemed to preach against whatever the “normal continuity” is assumed to consist of.

 

It is also – by implication – a normative vs. relative argument because the notion of an ordinary continuity of awareness and of our inner mental life is presumed to be the relativity; the only one in which is found ordinary (non-cult?) truth. In this sense “snapping” is an argument against rhetoric, against any notion of social reality (e.g., that others manipulate our mentalities and cause us to snap!)

 

Positively the notion calls attention to the intellectual questions and problems of how we think: what is our inner life; how continuous, how not?

 

Residual Categories: In many theories of the world and of things within it, many features or aspects are paid attention to. Theories, explanations call attention to such features in ways such that descriptions are generated which account for or explain ideas and/or observations. Because theories seem to be systematic, they also urge us to believe they are true, and completely true; exhaustively true.

 

But most such theories, even though they may be true (in part, in some sense or other) are not exhaustively true. There are “left-overs”, extrusions, things and aspects of the universe which are not included: some on purpose, others because the theory works to direct our attention in some positive sense toward something else, and we do not notice what is residual; or draw lines about our thinking for positive methodological reasons. What is left-over can become, can be what is important – even within the universe of the theory, and we will never note it, never find it worthy of notice.

 

An example: language is clearly an aspect of the human body. Within theories of language, however, the body is said to be “biological”, mechanical, something “other”. Presumably it is within the purview of other observers. But, in any case, it is not “our” business. Language “needs” an independent theory. But if the body is, indeed important, linguists will never find this out – except, perhaps in their final moments.

 

Theories of the Present: How long is right now? When is tomorrow? How did we get here? Where are we?

 

The biologists’ present is 10,000(000,000) years. How can we do today whatever needs to be done? Can’t, Can’t, Can’t? What’s happening is inevitable; will have to run its course, its cycle. The best we can do is what we know to do well; carve out a niche of intellectual freedom. (P.R.)

 

H. “But aren’t we rational? Cannot we think it out, outthink the present unto the future? – redo theories of the past, change how it informs the present? You’re so pessimistic!”

 

P. “I – a pessimist? I feel like I’m an optimist. I’m here to survive, and I will. The others? – what can I do about them? Today there’s lots of time for me. But what is, was foreshadowed, caused by history, for them.”

 

Do biologists have two theories of the present; simultaneously?

 

How many do I have? – for me, for you, for us (for us, for me…)?

 

Teleology: Does the future really determine the present? Or is it purely that our beliefs about the future inform our beliefs about causality in what we call the present? (And when an era of prophecy overtakes this era of prediction? –> the millennium? Then will history disappear and the present lose meaning?)

 

My Hands: Today, just now, I picked up my violin for the first time in a month. I’ve enjoyed the lay-off; my body has enjoyed the rest; and time to re-be. And it worked; I remembered; especially, my hands. They know. They’re stunning, beautiful. They work. They’re so strong, go to the right places. Gentle, quick. How can one not love such hands? (Wittgenstein on skepticism: just give me, prove to me, my right hand. What proof given, what offered beyond it is?)

 

Mysteries: this is a time for mysteries, for the occult and the mysterious; for mystical masters and magicians; for fakes, quacks and quarks; mystics, mouse-tics (and house-husbands).

 

I used to think that mysteries were wonderful, because they formed problems, puzzles – to be solved. But now, we want mysteries to stay, to be renewed – a mental polysorbate. If, it seems, there are mysteries; well, isn’t that wonderful!

 

More! Not only are mysteries wonderful, but if there really are mysteries, well…we humans must be more wonderful than we thought we were; think we are…

 

Ah! If there are mysteries, then it must be true that we are more than we are, more than we seem to be. We don’t have to dislike or hate ourselves, because those selves we hate are not our real selves. We can think ourselves into new, better, more likeable our-selves. How wonderful! How mysterious!

 

If wishing could make it so…? Well, wishing can.

 

Drugs?!

 

(A remaining problem: How to have our mysteries and be sure that they don’t turn into mysteriouser wonders which will cause us to hate ourselves even more. Heaven help us, if Heaven will?!)

 

Consciousness: (a beginning) metaphysics (so-called) often begins with an invocaton about some “facts” of consciousness, of ‘self-consciousness’ (Hegel, Eccles, etc.), which may differ from person-to-person (or they may not –> “universalism”.)

 

It is an invocation because each of us tells ourselves some story about what we regard to be such ‘facts’. And if we believe in universalism, some essence of humankind, then we will presumably ‘know’ these ‘facts’ of consciousness, because (being human) each of us partakes in the human “essence.” What is `in’ consciousness, at any moment – through some (single?) stream of consciousness; the `contents’ of consciousness? What am I thinking about right now; do I `know’? (Do I tell myself a narrative which is the one I would tell an other; while in internal dialogue?)

 

What I think we mean or refer to is some set of stories about our thinking processes in terms of which we (seem to) speak, think about whatever, etc. ‘It – the ‘facts’- may consist of the rudiments or elements or grammatical rules of speech, some notion about knowledge, and knowing that we know. Often this arena moves toward or reduces to some examination of what knowledge is, especially self-knowledge.

 

Why it takes certain forms, gathers-in particular facts, operates through certain metaphors and not others, is a long story about nature, especially (in Western thought) about what is human, uniquely.

 

Whether consciousness `belongs’ to each individual, whether it is socially `assigned’ or attributed to us – remains a question which we don’t think about very well: whether consciousness involves various forms of repression and of hiddenness; whether wakefulness is the real, or is sleeping-dreaming when we are truly `alone’(Heraclitus)?

 

(‘I’ begin already within a story of others telling me I am. Consciousness must be ‘derived’!)

 

Active or Passive: is the human (sic!) condition intrinsically active or is it passive? On any minimal observation of infants and children the human condition is obviously active – with time to nap and to sleep, to recover the high level of expected energy. If, as in Hegel, however, one begins to think of what is human already in dualistic terms, human being is obviously passive because what moves (our bodies) is the animal, non-human aspect of our beingness. Activity has to so with the wedding of the human and animal thru ‘desire’. But the human, that which is consciousness, self-consciousness, etc., is passive. So much for Western thought and the solution to the problem of being…

 

Simple: as opposed to complex?! – not simple in its associations of meaning. Because ‘simple’ is so often a beginning, a lesser-than, [it is] not obvious that it can also be a complication. With respect to any holism, any integral something, what is simple is a part of that whole. But the something-ness, the integral whatever also can be itself, or in some relation. If whole-ness is what is at issue, it may be that integrity is a whole, irrespective of its own internal complexity; that, for example, an amoeba is equally as complex as a mammal. It is; it remains alive; it reproduces; it does what it does as well as any other being. The simple-complex notion should be stood on its head in order to see what there is to see. (This not to oppose analysis, but to avoid synthesizing by directly piling up its atomites and proclaiming that whole, the whole.)

 

With respect to the notion of the ideal, simple seems principally to be the hope that there is some short-cut to the nature of our nature, to experience without simply(!) reproducing that experience. That there are structures, `rules,’ generalities and generalizations is beyond doubt (e.g., the very notion of language, grammar, etc.), but the move toward the simple seems to want to by-pass observation, to see-through or see-into, more than to see.

 

Form and Substance: what if…what if the human infant is (simply, purely?) form; the substance ‘provided’ by the ‘outside’ definition and treatment? The form is dynamic, in flux, creating the world with respect to…as its shape, its form, its ‘envelope’. It does not ‘know’ its shape; the world is, ‘bent’ (how: 3-D inside out? -’n’-D?) with respect to its shape, aspects of it-self.

 

The outside ‘sees’ (interprets) no (mere) form but a person – already with ‘facial expression’; a character; a continuity; a history of having been and will have been.

 

The ‘tension’ derives from the interaction of the world experienced as infant-form and the extrinsic definition, which is one of self-ness and personhood. Development occurs with respect to (a function of?) this tension, including the aspects of self we think of, as emotions.

 

The infant (one) does not `learn’ language, but becomes languaging (language) –> content. Form –> content (= form –> content,…

 

Beyond Good and Evil: (Nietzsche, #4) – the question of untruth, falsity, especially (for me) of myth. The stories we tell ourselves about how it is, how we are, how we got here and where we are going, inform our thinking about “life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing.” These are probably always ‘opinions which work’, more-or-less well. Thus, morality is less a question of ‘truth’, more of the imagination and its translations into practice (and in, the Global Village, what works; for whom).

 

Against ‘System’: P. urges me to systematize – to study ‘my’ (Anthropology’s) formal history, and to state what (I think) I know, as a series of laws, of propositions, of rules for exegesis and interpretation. Why – to become known, powerful, famous; to gain credits…but from whom?

 

If, as I prefer, the ‘world’ is in flux (i.e., we are in flux and the world either goes with us or it doesn’t), then in effect, reality and truth change, at least evolve. The quest for truth, for meaning, has to be renewed, re-taken in each era. Truth – as it were – finds a ‘new’ history, a ‘longer’ development in a time flow whose direction is progressive; in a changing time, moving toward futurity. Truth…differs in an historicist world where today is today merely, and no more than an outcome.

 

No – no system.

 

A pedagogy – a training, an establishment of teacher personae who live the past into the present, surviving and ‘guaranteeing’ their own present, and (thence) the students’ futures – that is all. That is not bad, if never exactly enough. What I can do is help the students learn to engage in their own life studies, in their own times – which are informed by me and mine; but they are theirs, and not mine.

 

No system!

 

No…

 

The Invention of the Past: = the death of time?

 

A means for killing oneself gradually, so as to be ready for Death, whenever…?

 

Does each re-doing of history necessarily entail a re-doing of one’s present – one’s self? Likely, because an (large?) aspect of present being is the story of how we came to be here, did to be as we are. (Shouldn’t thinkers engage in re-thinking their own [speculative?] history from time-to-time, so one has a sense of how s/he is formed historiographically? – more sense, more sales-resistance to the power of feelings in each present moment.)

 

My suspicion that scholasticism, the celebration of the textual past leads to the diminution of the present, as well as the disappearance of being, dissolves the very concept of history. Witness the millennium! (a dare!)

 

Proclaiming the past as the classical moment when the great author-ity appeared on earth – sacredly, intellectually, morally,…tends to diminish and to disciple the present experience to the Ago of some Golden time. In contrast the present is brass, or tin, or a mere copy of the genuineness of being. The strength with which the past appears to dominate the present (read Plato, Mohammed), believe that they dominate this and every moment, and history effective does not appear. If, in the millennial moment, the Christ is supposed to appear once again, it will be as if there was no time between zero and two thousand: no time for being in respect of the ideal. A matching of who I am with who is the ideal, and always finding my own senses senseless.

 

Witness to Our Own Lives: have we become voyeurs, even of our own existence?

 

Do we watch ourselves watch ourselves, regressed to the shadows of our being?

 

A cheap conversion, a cheap lay. Is the struggle-not-to-struggle paramount?

 

Do we no longer believe in our own reality? Do we believe, then, in the reality of others? Are we, if anything, merely derived? Do we believe in our derived selves? Whence, this belief?

 

Are we afraid? Of what? Of death; of life – as Nietzsche suggests, afraid of pessimism itself? Do we analyze our own characters into some modes, aspects, parts? What do we do with these parts? Do we love some, hate some? How do we know?

 

Seekers after Truth? In the Creation/Science debate, it seems that there are indeed a number of ‘scientists’ who are seekers after truth in such ways that they become seekers of certitude. Or they followed scientific endeavors because they sought certainty (a clerisy?).

 

These ‘scientists’ become easy prey to the creationists who admit the search is for everlasting truth, and then flip-flop (“snap”) when the winds of time turn upon them and carry the stench of (their!?) flesh to their hungry nostrils.

 

Now they engage themselves in trying to prove the unprovable…at last convincing themselves that everything is unprovable. A rediscovery of a Cosmology in which the notion of skepticism is raised from an issue of any possible knowing, to the issue of any possible existence- particularly their own.

 

Conversion/Snapping: To change a person’s thinking, to alter s/him completely to see the world differently, anew; to cleanse the brain, to wash it out and take the constructs of its life-ways, and to move them into ‘new’ horizons.

 

Is everyone susceptible? Are there safeguards?

 

To whatever extent ‘others’ can affect us, to that extent we are open to conversion.

 

To whatever extent we love and want love, and have once yielded the soul of self, to that extent we can see the world in new ways.

 

But how, suddenly; what modes of instant change?

 

Read Nietzsche’s diagnosis, his ‘history of the next two centuries’ in Will to Power, Intro. Rise of European Nihilism.

 

The problem in converting – for those who wish to convert (why do they?) – is to discover the ‘grounds’ upon which one ‘puts’ s/himself together, the ‘how-ness’ of who I am, to attempt to grab those groundings by treating them as if they are not there; as if the ‘person’ who thinks has no grounds:

 

“Look here, I am talking to you, Reader! You think you are reading my words, but that is not true. You are reading your own mind. My words, these markings upon paper, are no more mine than the paper in your own hands. Look here, not here on paper, but inside your own mind!

 

What do you see? Where are the words which tell just now, you thought were mine? They are yours.

 

Yours? Mine.

 

You are my words. You own my thinking. You own my mind.

 

You are my words. You are my mind. You are mine.

 

The trick of snapping is in the third line. Where “I” convince you that you are no longer you, but an aspect of ‘me’. If ‘you’ go for this argument, if you can be brought to wonder if you have, are an independent…(person), then you are ‘had’, and I can re-fill your mind with whatever ‘I’ find interesting. The procedural problem of the converter is to soften up your resistance to your being mine, my being yours.

 

Scientizing Morality: to set upon a scale a measure of the quality of being, which claims to be ‘objective’, aside from its own in-built judgements; to claim that ‘values’ can be judged ‘value-free’, is to open the wounds of being. (Kohlberg)

 

To observe what is, to claim that is what has to be, to equate quality with maturity and endurance, is to claim oneself as the measure of moral perfection, and to judge others as lesser – not quite’s, never will be’s,…

 

To take what a particular segment of a particular society has thought to be valuable, and to proclaim that is what value is, is to usurp ideality into pragmatics. It is to claim for some men(sic!), what others can only hope is represented by the deity.

 

It has no striving, no hope, no progress which is not preformed. It makes the ordinary seem out-of-the ordinary, and diminishes each person who resists or fears to be God. It proclaims morality without claiming to be moral or even that there is any such notion.

 

Jonestown: to control the reality and destiny of others, to take them to the edges of their minds and being, to ask them to suicide – is not beyond experience – and not so difficult.

 

S/he who grants reality can also remove it.

 

[In 1979, in Guyana on the northern coast of South America, the Reverend Jones took some 10,000 of his devotees with him to await their destiny. When they were found-out, discovered by some American congressmen, they became dismayed, and - under the influence of Rev. Jones - about 9,000 of them drank some sweetened juice laced with strychnine, and died.]

 

Jone’s Recipe: fear of…by subjects. A royal bearing who claims power and knowledge. The discussion/debate reigns over the ground(s) of power and knowledge. The grounds may shift – slowly, or rapidly if it is done cleverly. And gradually those grounds are taken away, or disappear. There is no perceivable continuity, and any force for life is made to seem vacuous. And so we all die; and that is life!

 

Heavenly. This is what they sought, from pain and out of pain. Father has delivered them. And who can say he was wrong?

 

The (re-)discovery of Cosmology is all about skepticism and increasing doubt about one’s own existence: death overtakes life as life’s domain diminishes and the question is handled existentially by praying for the deity to prey upon life. The joy of life diminishes as its pain is explored and turned into a sense of joy outside of being.

 

Beginnings: how did it all begin? The big-bang a la Freud – something out of nothing? (Parmenides) What is nothing? -God, the creator.

 

The creator – God? A cheap deity – nothing more than the auto-matic response to a human question: something from nothing? – how? God!

 

Then God went into repose. Having created time, space, and being. Being? – who, why? Vanity?

 

Why are we here? Where are we?

 

Why should one stay alive? Ask Reverend Jones.

 

The Destruction of Time: this is what is desired. The world forever, everlasting. Today as a mirage – yesterday, tomorrow – all a pre-paration for heaven, for enduring being. The view of life from its demise (Phaedo). There being no time, there is no cause for fear, no death, no…

 

Purity…beauty…forever.

 

But; today? Who I am? What to do? Pray?

 

[But since we don't know-from-death, all of our thinking is about death from theories from life and experience. How do such theories define death so that they can be brought to life, and truly inform experience? Is this a good idea?]

 

Destroying Time: the Existential Challenge.

 

Here I am. The world is my invention and my punishment. Not my fault? Bah! The curse (love?) of my parents is me, is upon me. Not their fault? Bah!

 

It is my fault/their fault. All of us are to blame. Why Lord?

 

Death, no more. Tell me, Lord, what should I do? How shall I be? To be…with you in your heaven. Not to die. How?

 

What do you say?

 

In the beginning was…the Heaven (yes, oh yes) – and the earth? Ohh.

 

Help me, Lord. Not to die, but to be with you.

 

No Death? No…death! Help me, Lord.

 

How, no Death? Can It be; can I learn to see, NO DEATH? Yes? Yes. Yes. Yes? Yes!

 

At war, I am? With…my self. My self is a punishment? My self is not myself? How; riddles?

 

Not my fault. My parents’ – Adam, deceived. Curse me, but not me! My body – not me. Kill my body – not me. Die, my body – not me.

 

Ah! I am not – my body – not me.

 

A trick; a deceit. My body – not me.

 

Burns, yearns – my body – not me. My body – against me. At war with – my body – not me.

 

Yes – at war. Against, opposed – not my body, my body – not me.

 

Yes – at war. Kill bodies – not me. I am not my body- not me. No, death! No death. My body – not me.

 

No body, no time, no me, no death. Life – that is the illusion; that is the penance. Not my fault, Lord. My body – not me.

 

(No time = No Evolution. A theoretical requirement!)

 

Questions/Non-Questions: Which of these are questions, and for whom?

 

Are we…here? (existence)

 

Why are we…here? (survival, ‘Fall’ into the human body, redemption, etc.)

 

When is now? (strong/weak theories of the ‘present’)

 

When is forever? (How long is a long time? is time an illusion? creation/evolution)

 

Does ‘something’ imply/entail ‘nothing’? (creation-origins)

 

What is ‘human’?

 

What is not-human?

 

How do we know?

 

What informs us? [texts; the world? -in which order?]

 

What is sex for? [the Fall; survival]

 

What is life? – death?

 

Is life ‘informed’ by death? – a Ding an sich?

 

Are we deceived? (possibility of sense-data, empiricism)

 

By whom? (self; others; Satan; God?)

 

What is truth?

 

How do we know?

 

Is comparison possible/legitimate?

 

The Loss of Meaning: if meaning was lost when God died…can we get it back by resurrecting the deity?

 

Do we require another Messiah? Do we create that one, invent it? Can we merely declare it? Use one from another ‘time’ or borrow it from another tradition: Buddha?

 

If Creation defeats Evolution, will God be where ‘He’s’ supposed to be? Is that sufficient?

 

Yes? God is said to have said…that we are, that we should be! Do we agree; do we believe that we are and should be, that He said what he meant; meant what he said?

 

Can we mean, as others meant 2,000 (2 billion?),…, years ago? How? Are we the same? Haven’t we, too, evolved – or has virtually no ‘time’ gone by? (Authority? – Biblical?)

 

Can we not create our own meaning? Can we not live in our own present? Wouldn’t God have wanted us to?

 

Can we remake, re-invent meaning? Are we to believe that we are merely who we were told to be; made to be? Outcomes of our antecedents? Futurity? All or none!?

 

Or…is there nothing? The nilihism predicted by Nietzsche (Will to Power) takes the loss of meaning, and actively mourns. For two centuries, he guessed. What he didn’t guess was the Bomb and other ‘total’means of destruction; the shrinking of global space; the active conflict of ideas and ideologies between those who are lost, those who are losing meaning – and those who have not. How desperate are those who have lost…meaning? Can we hope to regain meaning by destroying those who still believe they have it? Is there just so much meaning available in the universe? Is any remaining?

 

Alienation: Work, he said. Work will do it; give us meaning. The trouble is, we have lost our personal means of production; we don’t own the goods, nor the goodies. Meaning is in making, doing, working where one owns the work. It is good and necessary to work.

 

Studs Terkel (Working )finds that work is ‘out’. We (all?) try to shut off our minds while we work, regardless of whose work, which task, who owns ‘it’. We have exteriorized meaning, even through work. No body wants to work, we believe; not for work’s sake. Management (hah?) believes we don’t want to work, and has to offer ‘incentives’ to get us to work, incentives which are also non-work.

 

But, in the world of non-work, even those of us who ‘have’ work, who own, who,…, find ourselves alienated. Work is nice, but it doesn’t suffice.

 

Is it bureaucracy which provides meaning these days? We get defined by a faceless grouping, in limited ways, and get caught between that definition and our ‘own’. The pursuit of meaning robbed of movement, robbed of momentum. Push, pull, elastic, the bureacracy like a womb, constraining but apparently malleable. The universe expanding as we push. But the constraints: so inobvious that we quit pushing in one direction, and are pulled elswhere. Bounded in such ways that they feel unbounded. Defined elastically, on the rubber of our tethers.

 

Where are we? Here we are? Watching ourselves watching ourselves…being?

 

Moving Past One Another: We argue, fight, retreat, contradict, return to…what? to whom? Do we find one another? Do we argue against you, them, or only some aspects of ourselves?

 

In the religion vs. science battle, do they argue against one another, or only against each side’s imagined adversary? Straw arguments entail straw people?

 

How can we (‘I’) mediate, how can I explain and broker an apparent but deeply felt argument? Can we understand one another, in each’s terms, or only in our imagination of their terms? – only by becoming them? – losing the argument already by attempting to understand it; them?

 

“No”, you say. The only winning is in changing, is in a real conversion to that other, still alien point-of-view. To change is to sell-out, to see the new light, to become not-other, but to become the other.

 

I say, “Yes.” That is my task, my job; my quest and realization of me; my vocation, to create understanding. “But, stop!” – you say, a war will result, irrevocably; perhaps with less anger, malice. “Understand, hah.”

 

“Yes”, I say. Maybe there are two, maybe 12 or 20 ways of thinking about it, about being. Maybe they contradict, but maybe we construct them, and never hear what they say. Maybe there are versions and visions. How different is different? If different is beyond vision, beyond imagination, then I argue against my vision of you. Yours is truly different? But perhaps we will remain opposed, continue to hate, to vie for…whatever there might be.

 

“So?”, she says. Try harder! Capture your sadness, and hatred, and vengeance, and use it to construct; not to maintain. Destroy, if you will! But know what you will. So? (J)

 

Silence-full::Silence-empty: In a room, people silent, witnessing. Taking on big issues, important problems, important persons. The crowd is silent; but how silent, what silences?

 

In one case, the front, the podium controlled by the power of his office. I challenged, he ‘stonewalled’; acted as if I had no right to question, to argue. “But”, I argued, “you don’t know much about this topic. I know as much, and I know I don’t know much. Let’s just talk. No lecture. No hortation!”

 

The silence. Silence so deep, so profound. The people, my neighbors, my childrens’ teachers went deep into their mentalities. So quiet, so deep. Into places where they sought refuge from my questions. Embarassed, morally forced, they removed their being from me, the challenger. Was I right, correct? Would they even know? So silent, they hear pins dropping in the rapidly emptying depths of their mentalities. “Click, click, click.” So deep; they’ll never forget the scene. So deep, they’ll never know the issue, but only the nature of the protective depths into which they retreat from the challenge to ‘their’ speaker. “Click, click, click.”

 

Another day! Another speaker, other powers. Some challenge, same challenger, later; no wiser. Defends, but doesn’t stonewall. A new era? Lisening to me? Co-opting me? A critic, I am, not opposed. Let’s do it better, tougher, …together? A different silence, now. Warm, pregnant, no clicks, no defense. I, become we. A challenge, a criticism? O.K. Another time? Other perceptions? Silence – full…steam ahead!?

 

Inversions: in our thinking. To turn an idea upside-down or right-side-up. To state a counter-intuition, knowing deeply both what is that intuition, and that it is mistaken. It is to state, e.g., a question whose ‘answer’ already proves that the respondent does not understand the issue.

 

An inversion is to take the ‘primary’ of any system of thought and show that it is derived or assumptive in such a way that alternative systems are generated which illuminate the others; e.g., to show that the ‘individual’ is within and derived from other’s casting of that individual. It is to show that the sun is central, that language is an aspect of body. Inversions are powerful, not necessarily in their correctness, but in their power to illuminate what we had previously believed to have been intuition and/or obvious.

 

Biological Morality: If, as ethologists claim, other species than humans are social, then they must also be moral. That is, if others live together, raise their young, they must have ways of treating and of understanding one another, which…is what we mean by moral. Moral is about ways of being, of being with others, of treating them and of oneself.

 

We thought that it was a deity, a human deity, a god for humans which informed morality. There ‘was’ a religious base, a foundation which had to say that thou shalt or shall not. Otherwise we would be like beasts, and act like beasts, assuming ‘beasts’ to be brutal, selfish, dealing with others by impulse and whim.

 

But other species are not like that! They are not the beasts of our construction; they are not humans gone rotten. They are, apparently, themselves. And they are moral…as we.

 

Are they also ‘religious’? Is there a god for each species, one over all?

 

Do we need to create a god to tell us and command us, to threaten us, to curse, and wreak vengeance upon us? Or, can we dig within our own beingness, and come up as moral creatures?

 

[The ultimate cynicism: that we are less than other creatures!]

 

The Invention of Creation: Was ‘creation’ invented? Was it always obvious in the human condition, that causes went back to a first cause – that something did not come from nothing?

 

Was there an ‘origin’? Or was it a concept which was invented, had a creator, much as the universe was posited to do? (A consuming worry that a truth-telling tradition does not understand causality: Hume on Plato)

 

In the beginning…was the chicken and the egg? (Two chickens, two…?)

 

The Philosophic Vision: (Phaedo), the acceptance of one’s personal death, looking ‘back’ at the present through that acceptance. This vision – which can hardly be denied, or said to be incorrect or untrue on any grounds derived from life’s experiences – informs ‘the present’ in very peculiar, yet powerful ways. It would not be too strong to state that Plato figured out how to frame the very notion of reality in whose terms we calculate being; our being.

 

Instead of merely doing, one is pushed to wonder whether s/he is. If I have accepted death, if I am virtually or essentially dead, then I do not exist exactly. The idea of life, of living, turns from experiencing to an idea, a theory – that one is: in each present; in each moment.

 

Since many ideas do not exist exactly, since ideas are in the imagination, since the present is an idea, then it may seem imaginary. If the present…is, or seems to be imaginary, it is an easy step to believe that life is (merely) an aspect or outcome of the imagination. Then one’s theory of life easily becomes a theory of what is real (including oneself).

 

If one ‘lives’ in one’s imagination, the acceptance of death, the ‘reality’ of that death, ongoing into the indefinite, into the lasting, into the infinite, the ever-lasting, then the ‘real’ seems, obviously, to be that which is for ever. “It” is the forms, the ideas which become and have become ‘alive’ – for a brief moment. Life, in this vision, is not necessary. Life, for the philosopher, has become a necessity – to be endured, to be ‘explained away’ (but hardly to be explained!).

 

The subject matter, the ‘real’, is that which lasts, that which is behind, that which is deep; that which makes the timeless into time; the invisible, visible; that which gives life to the enduring forms, the pure forms; that which makes the pure, impure; that which places the timeless ‘mind’ into these impure bodies.

 

Thus, a theory which ‘solved’ the problem of death by offering us eternality, turned back upon itself to offer a vision of life, which does not observe life ‘in its own terms’, but which concentrates upon stability, upon timelessness, upon ideality, on what would be – and, very little, upon what is. (Parmenides, Pythagoras, Plato–>us?)

 

Reinventing the Present: in the vision of the world everlasting, each present is the same as every other. Our experience tells us that this is not the case, that time has direction; that to be here, in this present, is to have gotten here by routes which are/were specific; i.e., each present is not the same.

 

The problem: to reconcile these contradictory visions of time and of being.

 

A ‘solution’: to recreate the past as if it were the present; to deny time, to re-cast experience by denial or by reinterpretation of experience. It can be done by positing a “once when” which is “always” and “forever” – but how to know consistently that “once when,” that messianic age when…? One can use texts, Bibles, stories, Great Author-ities – but to do that, we must be constant (forever?), assume that we can gain identical and direct access to the text – especially to the mind and thinking of the writer or inspirer of the text – and, since this is not like our experience, we must deny at least some aspects of experience. But: how to do this without becoming “crazy”, out of touch with the present realities? By positing other selves? – how not to dissociate?

 

The solution? – to reinvent the present, making it appear ‘sufficiently’, not to change. To attribute what appears to change (evolution?) to a Satanic force, an anti-, a destructive.

 

Its own problem: how not to destroy experience to the extent that one destroys oneself!

 

Origins: does the concept of heaven, of immortality, rest on the notion of causality which leads back to the postulation of the origin, creation, and a creator?

 

Within this, is it problematic to account for our earthly ‘existence’ – Why? – except for sin/Satan? Is it a surprise to creationists, to discover each day, that they are alive? (If not, why not?)

 

Aren’t there lurking deep in our mentalitiesa series of surreptitious issues in seeking for origins, for the ‘originary.’ In wondering about the origin of meaning, the issues seems quickly to collapse into the question of human origins, and the beginnings of my own personal memory. When, that is, I seek for who I am, the lack of memory of my early pre-articulated stories to myself of myself collapse somehow with the pre-articulated stories of the originary humans. To me, this conflation seems odd, but to most of us it seems, well, ordinary.

 

The existential issue of today is thereby swallowed up in speculation, wanting to rewrite today by recreating history. It is useful to update, to think about where to ‘go’ next, but to want to recreate and rewrite history is to search for destiny within: another mode of essentialism versus experiencing – against life!?

 

The Writer: Just who is the ghost in my machine? Many writers, coming to the blank page, suspend their judgement, their critical acumen, and ‘give away’ their hands to…some other, some greater power who ‘takes over’ and does the writing – an ‘amanuensis’.

 

Well – here I am! Sitting, coffee-ing; the blare of mostly baroque setting boundaries to my sensate tentacles; and writing. Do I guide my pen? My right hand, my ‘bowing’ hand, guiding? – or being guided? Do I know? Should I care?

 

Would it help if I told myself that my story, the message, is divine; rather, Divine? But, I tell myself, it is no more divine (Divine?) than myself, and I am ordinary. It is alright (I tell myself) to be ordinary. But, irrefutably, if the divine in me tells my-self to tell me that I am ordinary, who is to say whether I am, or am not?

 

Who is the writer? The Writer?

 

A puzzle or an enigma? Sacrament or sacrilege?

 

On Being Spiritual: in the current converation between religious fundamentalists (“scientific” creationists) and ‘atheistic’ evolutionists, I who used to be agnostic, now think of myself as ‘spiritual’.

 

I, who used to be agnostic, and used that notion to perhaps delay grappling with life-death and other paradoxical issues till age would be self-persuasive, have found myself still occupying some ground-in-the-middle. But it is not any longer precisely agnostic. Rather it resides more on firm ground; on some positive assertion about life, and upon considerations of life informed by a wide range of spectres and visions of life – from death. And, from wonder. Perhaps it is because my name is ‘Life’. (Chaym).

 

I who used to be agnostic, and am now spiritual, try to gloss over any feelings of dread with wonderment about being, about being human; about being in the world, with others and alone. And I know, increasingly, that what I know is largely related to what others know and how they regard me. My vision of alone-ness, even, is tempered and shaped, by my spouse (how much does her spirit – my thinking about her spirit, about her view of…guide my pen?) who is also wondrous, also spiritual? I know, increasingly, that visions of life and of death are formed by human ideas. And I want to know what is human, because our ideas and talk about what human is and is not, what is divine and is not, is constructed within a network of webs of thought: historical, familial, sociological, economic, psychological, medical… These webs must be de-constructed to see what is in them, why they are persuasive, why they endure, why they do not; when they provoke opposition, and in what forms. Knowing if that is possible – what is human, then I can, perhaps, begin to know what is spiritual.

 

I, who used to be agnostic, wonder now what it is which maintains, what is it which sustains. And what it is, is stories about how we are and how we will be, about life, and frequently about death. And I wonder which stories ‘work’ to maintain, to sustain. And their forms and varieties I find wondrous; and wonder what they are, and why they work, and when they do not. And, for now, this is what I mean when I tell myself that I am…being spiritual.

 

Later: much the same, but regarding spiritual as being somehow responsive/responsible for everyone’s spirituality as well as my own –> ‘the teacher’.

 

Lessons from:…how is it possible to use the writings and thoughts of the great thinkers, and translate them into this time? Can I ask Augustine what he would do, how he would think – were he me; were I he? Or must I think like him, like I think he thought, through my study of his thoughts, and to be like him; to seek his solutions? – in his time?

 

But the time is different; no less frightening, perhaps, but different. And, yet; some samenesses: the urge toward fundamentalism, the destruction of an established and fraying order, a dwelling upon death as the solution to life.

 

Augustine’s solutions used the same text(s) as his opponents – complicated beyond their erudition, establishing his views as those which are necessary for understanding, even penetration of the Baiblical text. (“On Christian Doctrine”)

 

What text(s) do we have? – we have nature (Nature?!), And the argument is about the same: who is to interpret her, and upon what grounds? (Do we usually set Culture above Nature, because Nature ‘is’ a woman?)

 

Ten Years from Barbarism: in the context of human import and of human interpretation, memory, re-interpretation, a generation is about 10 years. If children are not taught, do not have access to certain aspects of the parental world, they – our children – come to adulthood not knowing, not having experienced, say, their parents’ native language, or their history or culture, or…

 

Within the whatever is all of history, all of technology, all of Culture; all of whatever has brought us to this point of history. Lost – it could be- and in only 10 years…A report from the history of…a lament?

 

A Vast Unseen World: (Wm James) There is another world which is ‘out there’, invisible, yet nonetheless powerful; where decisions are made, and things happen; where chance events are determined, where the spirits reside and float close-in and far-out; where mysteries are clarities, and the faith-in-faith reigns. It is a ‘truer’ world, where human will has no sway.

 

(Religions: are determination of what such a putative world is like, how it intersects with the visible world, and how it decides we are!)

 

And this world…?

 

The Falling World: moving downward and outward from the age of perfection. Perfection, when we were in the Gardens of Eden. And now, now we are rapidly being rendered asunder. Entropic processes, disintegration, the curse of knowledge, the curse of life.

 

But life is not that. Life renews; life recreates and organizes from the dusts of forever.

 

Why should we believe the current prophets, if they too have fallen as far as they claim we all have? Are they not also vestiges, disparate cells and tentacles grasping for a sense of wholeness which they curse us for having – for thinking we have? Must we abandon hope in order to get through each day, one at a time? I hope not!

 

Why Missionaries Win: Actually, I don’t know with any certitude. The only idea which has occurred to me, which makes so far any sense at all, is that the encompassing visions within which most peoples of the world have constituted the meaning of life, have found Western religion to be – as ‘detail’ – within larger frameworks of thought.

 

Questions of the order of: “Why are we here?”, informed by a cosmology, seem to regard metaphysics – being – as a way, a method of interpretation and exegesis; details of the larger questions whose minor aspects (from the perspective of, say, cosmology), are always up for grabs. Like the details of my calendars, the specifics of today – what to do this morning; where, with whom to lunch; a discussion at 3:00 this afternoon; how to get home; the bus fare up a dime today – metaphysics appears as a way through the day, and through the week, and the years. And, I guess it is very important in this case that the method and detail are very clear, concise, organized, and orderly.

 

What – I suspect- is never clear to ‘broader’ thinkers is that process and procedure which seem minor and like detail, have a politics. This is true, especially, of the world religions which have already survived attack and onslaught. These politics, working themselves out from daily and weekly processes, become – in only a few years (I would guess) – what there is.

 

This happens with metaphysics because it freezes time and causes one to focus differently on which questions appear reasonable, within its vision. This does not necessarily mean that the earlier cosmologies disappear; they seem to endure with great and deep strengths. But many people seem to become embattled within their own visions – and, particularly within Christianity, this is an aspect of its theology – this war of the self within and against itself. The missionaries win, and the people…?

 

Freedom-in-Belief: The dialectic between the freedom (and the burden) to choose at-all-moments who one is and what one is to do vs. the yielding of large aspects of self to a Law, a Truth, an Otherness which lays out a great deal of what one must do to ensure…one’s continuity within that construct.

 

Yet the question of freedom is not so easy because a partial yielding, a giving-away of one’s soul relieves it of so much planning, so much guilt about what one might have, should have been or done. It is so tempting to give oneself to…and to be free of having to construct so much of one’s life.

 

Freedom – well, it is so tempting to say, to claim and to believe that I am truly free. And the best part is that I can be and do whatever I ‘want’. But then, whatever doesn’t work out is my own…fault?, my own credit? What script to follow, to be…what? – successful, a good person? For whom? – for myself, for others? If I judge myself in others’ terms, am I merely substituting one type of judgement for another, one set of judges who are not present in the sense of being ever/never present for another who are human, and whom I worship? Where has my sense of freedom, of worth, gone to?

 

[Isn't bureaucracy a yielding of oneself in similar ways as yielding to any transcendent, but with the appearance and self-delusion that it is I who am deciding who I am?]

 

An Existential Interpreting: That which endures, which is constant, forever and everlasting is the notion of myself as an independent, a persona, a vision of self which I can trust, which I can always find; and, which I believe, can always be found. It is a story to myself about my existence. It can be the idea of God-within me, or of me which is or seems very independent, or,…!? It is this sense of endurance and continuity against which one constructs and argues the flux in life; against which experience rubs – sometimes soothing, at others abrasive and corroding. Occasionally both find contact and a mutuality and a loving of self from both points of view.

 

It is the necessity (imposed, I believe, from the ‘outside’ in the first instance and continuing) for this constancy of persona which leads us often, perhaps usually, to ‘lose’ our bodies, to move away from the everyday-ness of flux, time, and gravity, and movement. It is within this construct of self that we lose time.

 

How we go about the loss of experiencing depends, it seems, on how we construct our constant/continuant personae. Perhaps paradoxically, whether we lose or gain a sense of well-being depends on how we ‘use’ the notion of permanence within the (actual) experiencing. It matters less, apparently, whether the sense of continuity is attributed to self or to an external God-ness. One finds it assaulted occasionally, and must re-…re-what? re-think?, re-do, re-construct?

 

Much of what are called the ‘religious texts’ can be understood precisely as this problem of the internal (and ongoing) dialectic between being-now and being-always; and its ensuing pain. (Are life’s paradoxicalities unacceptable within our forms of thought/thinking?)

 

God’s Truth:

 

1. Is (was,…) God deceitful? – if so, was humankind favored to find the Truth; or further to obscure it?

 

a. Does God care?

 

2. Does our concept of God’s Truth match God’s concept?

 

a. How can we know?

 

3. If God is alive, how would we tell?

 

a. What is method?

 

4. Are bravery, arrogance, nobility…forms of hubris?

 

a. Is Faust recreating the Tower of Babel? Am I (are you) Faust?

 

On “Scientific” Creationism: it can’t be science or scientific if there’s no possible way of being wrong. The issue of the ‘end’, the telos, is precisely that these statements are circular: we have%