Sunday, September 12, 2010

"circuit boards" an essay

This is a rough draft of an essay that is advancing certain metaphysical ideas I’ve been thinking about for years. I have some fresh perspectives on pan-psychism; some new theories about group consciousness; and best of all, a few stronger metaphors to more fully explore what I mean about the “engines” that set habits in order.



            Circuit Boards



                The needs, turned into instincts, then tweaked into desires, either increase or decrease actively, with no provocation except the passing of time, or reactively, in response to circumstances in the environment: whatever happens in the world, we will grow more and more hungry, will get lonely, will get bored with time, but certain needs, like the need for a job, or the need to escape a fire, depend on external circumstances. More often, the active needs are interpreted to fit circumstance. We need love, and the complications of a trusting give and take relationship, but this can be interpreted into the world in many ways, and though all people share this need in its raw form, none of us fulfill it the same way. Needs are interpreted to fit circumstance: education allows this interpretation, culture allows this fit.

            There is more emotion then can be put into motion. The excess is crystallized into language. Language acts primarily to inspire desire in others, and yet language is more rich than action, and the language of fantasy and poetry incites more feeling than action. Language not only pleases the tongue that speaks it, merely by speaking it, but also the ears that hear it, merely by hearing it; words are also the sauce of muscle, making every action tastier by the salt of anticipation, the pepper of deep intentions, and the subtle pinches of ambiguous emotions. Ambiguity is freedom. With ambiguity, either actual or imagined, we can interpret more freely, and let the energy of each need find its correct outlet. The metaphorical mind can swerve the burst of energy, so that a madman in his fury is merely a genius lacking the handholds on the helm. Emotional overflow writes great poetry only when the wit of a strong ego can force those emotions to sit pretty.

            Words stand for things. But even when the don’t stand for things, their emptiness gives them potential. There is no God. And yet believing in God has changed the lives of billions. God, or Reason, or the State, or Eternity, or the Tao, are all equally interchangeable. They are each specific prejudices about what can fill the place holder of The Name of Highest Importance. This Name is merely “the greatest existing thing we can imagine” – it need not really exist. Names can inflate infinitely, for infinity is a positive and finite feeling we have when the right religious cues evoke it.

            The habits direct the energy of the needs into their right outlet in the body, and the body speaks and acts it into the world. This interface is a sort of circuit board. The various energies of the needs, forced into instincts and then smoothed into desires, are crossed mixed, and finally interpreted into the world. In this way, all our energies are like the winds, waters, and seasons of earth.

            This book, the Idius has been me foreworld for ten years, where I master emotions and excess of emotion through crystals of ideas. It is so many strategies for living in the world. It is like a visual control panel for my circuit board. For most others, this same process goes on through a Religion, and the faith acts like a mental and emotional hygiene. Emotions are called “Sin” or “guilt” or “attachment” – really it doesn’t matter what the name, just so that the excesses can be crammed into them, and they handled in an effective manner. For this reason, a man and prison can improve his life no matter what religion the opportunists proselytize to him.

            The overpraise of The Name cures a few excesses. The literary critic Harold Bloom stands again for the Jewish habit of overpraising a few things. He idolized Shakespeare, and idolized Yahweh, David, and Freud, more so than was keen for an honest literary critic, but also Cervantes and Emerson, to keep him more balanced then most. Yet his peculiar absurdity is to speak in hyperboles or not at all.

            All energies become commodities when the leave the body. Sex can be a commodity of a good sort, between romantic lovers, or of a commercial sort, with prostitution; but intimacy is also a commodity, and a psychologist can ascribe to any of dozens of models of the mind, and improve the patient, so long as he listens.

            The energies, when tied up, can weaken the system. In such cases, we might become depressed to weaken the flow of energy, and anxious, to hold it in place. Since language is made out of desire, it can act like magic if it is spoken correctly. It was Emerson’s mission to write a new Bible for the world – and indeed between his essays and Whitman’s poems we have it! – only be reading nature first hand. For him nature was a trope fountain: by making analogies from science and nature, we can understand our own nature. But this is merely interpretation, and it could be either nature, or myths, or even a laid out deck of cards, that allow us to see inwards. Seeing the inner is guess work seeking confirmation. The unconscious can be made to fit with any mental map, given that your interpretation skills are keen, for the unconscious takes the image of the conscious: we internalize our tools. The technology we act with becomes the unconscious we think by.

            And since the group is also one mind and one body, it too holds needs, moving through us, each of us acting like a neuron. Even the prisoner in jail pays his debt to society by being to us that man a prisoner in jail. Since we each internalize all those we think about, and we thus move our energy through our image of their mind and their heart, we participate in them, and can regulate our own emotions through the idea of them. Every man in England is a king when he considers the Crown. The gaudy rich stir more than envy and admiration: they feed our fantasy life.

            And thus the whole world moves by necessity. The whole world has needs. Wars, and struggles, and destruction are as necessary as charities and art – for even if tomorrow makes them unnecessary, it could not have without today.

            The cell who is exhausted for the sake of the body has died, and it would be rightfully angry to be so used. But the body cannot always be empathetic to the cell, for it must put its own needs first. The hierarchy of needs, the power struggle and love embrace between them, makes and moves history.

            And again, in this way, that fictional characters such as God and the gods have existence and think through us, even despite of us, though we created them. For the same energy that moves through us, though meaning one private thing to us, means something else to the greater body which contains us. Just as a muscle cell would consider itself free and autonomous, moving in response to its own environment, feeling its own feelings, it does not know that we are playing tennis with it for our own pleasure. And the game of tennis is helping direct emotions and opinions of society at large, keeping us in the right mood and physique to do our jobs, manage our family, fulfill our duties, and maintain our sanity. And the institution of tennis itself, fulfilling these needs and more, stands again for a philosophy of games and sports that is ancient, and by no means a light matter.

            The self of a man is his needs. His full self extends beyond his mind and body, to include his prized possessions, primarily – “the clothes make the man” – but to include really anything he influences. He puts himself into others, and to some degree holds copyright on it. In this way, we have circles of friends, a close circle, a middle circle, and an outer circle, each fulfilling its own needs. And further, we have an array of family and friends that not only necessitate each other (since I had a father like this, I now choose to have a friend like that), but also balance each other through you. Emotions must flow, but if you are blocked or inadequate to them, friends can stand for them, can feel pain for you, can cry for you, can live for you, and can die for you. Thus you may judge a man by his friends, if only you understand large ideas and complex things. But you cannot judge a man as being of the same character as his friends.

            In this way, with a mind that is pouring energy in different directions, in such a little space as the brain – and here we must assume that information itself is conscious and emotes – we move and rock the entire world. We voyeuristically and passively absorb thousands of stories daily, from television, literature, and from the never ending gossip of daily life. Balance this against the spontaneous and often unconscious fantasy life of the individual – unconscious not because we are guilty to see it, but because it is mostly irrelevant to the direct demands of daily life. And yet when these stories appear before us, coincidentally in books, movies, or stories from others, we recognize them as our own, without even having consciously thought them before.

            Literary criticism may be the ultimate human science, because memory is shaped as stories, and all the sciences work through memory and the experiences that made them. Stories themselves must be beautiful and interesting, but that is no science in itself. Criticism is stories of stories, but always be stated or implied assumptions, that is, by a philosophy, and a philosophy implies a standard of values and a method for applying it.

            Cause and effect can be absolute and yet leave space for freedom. Though x causes y, there are many modes and styles of this causation. The world is determined by necessity, yet pliable to will.

            In the same way, since we internalize dozens of roles in our head through education, we can’t help but placing ourselves somewhere among these roles. Though a man may be great in his time, in another time, he could not see himself that way, being unequal to the roles put before him: the medicine man place into New York City will feel himself to be bizarre. And yet a man marked for greatness will be great whatever society he is born into, for he will internalize whatever roles there are, and find a way to place himself above them. Place an Emerson here or there, he will always be eloquent; put Socrates in Egypt or China, he will still be a brilliant gadfly.

            We internalize roles, and of course take on many roles throughout life, many at the same time: I can be father, brother, husband, worker, writer, Christian, neighbor, etc., all at once, and I can evaluate myself on how I fit each of them, as a good father but a bad worker, as a good lover but bad Christian, and sometimes the virtues of one role fulfills the other role too: being  a good atheist I may therefore be a good neighbor and a good worker; and yet all these roles, or what I call “personas-for” are masked we press the face of the I into, and the I has no face until a mask gives it form.

            The roles are internalized by the engines of habit, which I spoke of in another place, and so they bend the desires, emotions, and energies into direct shapes. Once a man becomes a police officer, he thinks like a police officer, he can’t help it, even though he gives it style, and may yet be a crooked officer, or a good one, etc. The I moves under the mask, and yet the mask cannot be broken. It is amazing to me that a man can fit so many roles, do so many layers of activities at all times, take on so many burdens and duties, and yet have his mind be open and carefree, he might even sing at work and laugh with his children: for the unconscious mind is no weird Id, but a powerful life-structuring tool.

            The consciousness, which is the least part of the brain, is also the most important, being the free part, that which feels itself to be free. The feeling of freedom itself justifies all the praises we have for freedom, and the feeling of freedom is only an experience in relationship to fear and pain. For power and freedom are allied, and grow the from the pain of fear.

            All emotions must be expressed: directly, or indirectly, fully, or subtly, baldly, or masked. Every twitch of the body is an expression, and every twitch of society is an expression too. If a new how to read anything – impossible because he is not everything, but only a man – he could take any set of data, such as tomato production statistics, or crime rates, and know how it fits in with the bigger whole. But each man is yet omniscient: he knows everything he needs to know in this life, and holds the tools for finding out more.

            All things are known by somebody or something, but nobody save the universe as a whole knows the All, though she too learns, and listens to the wisdom of each of her children. The poetry of the crawling ant is unknown to the man who merely counts the number of instinctual movements each ant is born with. And yet empathy is possible. Emerson recommended using nature as a trope fountain, and writing a new bible from it. I recommend interpreting everything your eyes fall upon, and learning to find many uses for the same old thing. Science will yet discover many wonders, and yet the basic cognitive tools of science have been around since before man. Wisdom is ancient, and man has always been sapient. And the highest truth in the world is the one you discover alone.


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