Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Ideas that fix focus" an essay

Here I the beginning of an essay about what ideas we have that hold our focus of awareness (what we think of all day) in place. It was hard to organize all the ideas together, so it needs work at subordination to make it less clumsy. Still, I feel a few new directions opening up in my ideas on awareness.

Daniel

 

 

The ideas that fix our focus

 

Caravaggio - Medusa.jpg

                People are only unhappy because they don’t know they are happy. Comfort, which is the pleasurable form of fear, makes life more livable than challenge. Emerson was right to say that life consists of what you think about all day: what we focus on is real to us, and how we focus on stubborn externals isn’t so stubborn and inflexible: two men could live inside one skull, the first happy, the second miserable, daily life being the same. A man is only unhappy because he wants to be, it is in tune with his view of the world, and so the architecture of the mind holds his focus in place, and the unconscious habits of thought called engines, thinking tools, use concepts such as infinity and nothingness – both impossible fantasies, to anchor his waking I of focus in place.

Negations don’t exist!

            The external realizable positively is.

            The internal realized stems from this.

Experience is the real, and persists.

 

Negations are the preposotional phrases of the inner world

            They turn the chin and cause the eye to blink

            If powertul, they make a thought impossible to think

And reveal the conceivable rightly absurd.

 

            Therefore, impossible fantasies balance the pain of the ordinay. God, heaven, nirvana, Tao, can be loved because they are shaped by our love, and mirror our own desires, and do not resist us the way the external world does.

            Eternity is a mere extension of the temporal. Our experience of eternity is really based on the sensation of increase alone, and is itself fully temporal and finite. All things are finite, even the infinite, or else the infinite would be all things, and therefore there would no things at all, just the thing.

            Infinite objects are made of purified desire: they are intellectual idols. And so we learn that the immortal is made by the mortal, eternity is borne from time, the lesser is father to the greater, and the mother gives birth to her opposite.

            Therefore, God and heaven pragmatically amount to ways of looking at the real things of this earth. And the stomach of unconscious processing uses many impossibilities such as these to muscle its lunch.

            Processing is required to internalize and integrate a surprise. When we take a new thing and fantacize about all its possibilities, all its potential stories and deviations, we will have spun a web of expectations, and no longer fear the new. Processing is living through all conceivable alternatives, exhausting all anticipations. This is only conscious for the difficult ones, for the tried and true methods, thinking is so streamlined to require no care from focus. Thus a death in the family, a gained job, a lost job, a new house, a burned house, all take much processessing, perhaps best when the mind is distracted by daily work, and we seem to be not thinking of it at all.

            The stones and gizzards of the unconscious use impossibilities to grind out possibilities. Suicide, murder, godhood, heaven, hell, dictatorship, and other hyperbolic dreams become the tough ideas, the absurd ideas, that bust down reality into usable forms.

            The mind also develops a set of blinks. A blink is when the mind, and usually the literal eyes, blink, unfocus, look away, and immediately forget a train of thought. A madman I met once confessed to his psychologist:

            “I noticed it first in the playing cards! The Jokers, we took them out of the deck, but we didn’t get them all. They were still in there, facing the wrong way even, but we couldn’t see them. They kept doing their magic trick of being invisible. That’s how the magic decides who wins the game. And they leave these joker card everywhere, in the hall, in our house. We don’t see them. We line them up. We put them on things we don’t see, we hide our faces with them, we hide our secrets. They circulate. And then there’s the guy who sees them and is entranced. They don’t want to be seen. But when the are, the hypnotize you to obsess. That guy, he lives alone and has piles of these things. All his neighbors are unhappy. And so they put this guy in here right now!”

            To move from a psychotic fantasy to a poetical one, there is a circle of thrones in each of our hearts. Upon them sit the beloved persons of our inner circle: wife, child, father, master. Mine seats my immediate family, my wife, myself, Emerson, Nietzsche. I love them, yes, but I also love through them. The internalized image of them, the idea I have of them, is made out of my own energy, and so let’s me love myself and others as if I were them. I can only love my wife through the love she has of herself: the person who cannot love himself can also not be satisfactorily loved. Ditto his capacity for loving others: we are loved by the heart through which we love. Therefore, a man is more than his body, mind, spirit, and soul; he is also his possessions and his friends, both what he has taken from them and also what he has given to them. Poetically, the idea seems trite, but philosophically, it requires much unpacking.

            For the poets lie. Poets, and religious founders, boldy state: X IS Y! They convince others by power of their own convictions. Yet they lack the intellectual conscious to turn their fervor against their very convictions, to fight with what they love, to kill beauty when she is too weak. For yes, weakness is loved, and beauty is weak. Women and children are more beautiful than men. Power is respected, but beauty is loved, and what a woman loves dearest in her husband is some part of him, preferably hidden from the public, that she can pity. That is how the female instinct works: they call it the maternal instinct—where the father protects, the mother nourishes. This is why love between men is violent, but not hateful. They struggle and jest. They assualt each other with wit.

            The poets lie and are even sentimental, as beauty lies, and love lies, and pretty phrases get orgied together: Love = truth = grace = beauty = joy. Power makes distinctions, insists on categories and ranks.

            For we need not only loving stability, but the power of growth, to be happy, yet challenged, at peace, yet improving, confident, yet learning. We need balance, but balance itself must balanced with imbalance. To imagine a happy life, let alone a great one, without episodes of personal failure and self doubt, is impossible. When the emotion cycles become too regular, a boredom builds and summons a trauma to upset the system.

            Image is the shape of concepts, voice the shape of emotions. Man the eyes, women the ears. Our character is in our muscle shape, and our attitudes in our blood (blood is soul), that is, character is in the habits the muscles itch to do, and attitude is the feelings our chemisty is used to feeling.

            All these aspects keep the focus in place. The mind is free, but free within limits. What we think of the infintie and the nothing holds the focus in place: for the philosophy of our assumptions determines what is thinkable to us, what is experiential. It is the allistic breath that says “everything is everything” and seeks the powerful metaphors to burst through the familiar ideas and free their energy for further use.

 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"the contributions of the four types of people" an essay

Some further thoughts for my old essay “tetramatrix” which is about the four types of habits – feeling, thinking, saying, and doing – and the four types of men – mystics, philosophers, poets, and heroes. Here I try to explore what each type contributes

Daniel june

 

The contributions of the four types of men

            Language is created through poets who invent a metaphor and trope, and philosophers who define a word and category. Therefore, culture, which is really nothing more than a Language in the complete sense of the word, owes the most to poets and philosophers, poets because they were insane and therefore able to see beyond convention, and philosophers because they were able to fix the confusions of our collective experience and put them into definite words and phrases, thus giving language power.

            Heroes and mystics (saints) are also aligned, and they add the objective and subjective realties which. Heroes, historical and imagined, face the deadlocks of living in the world, they show how to solve the plot of life. The basic plot of all stories is this:

Hero desires

Hero’s desires are frustrated

Hero’s desires are resolved

            We can see therefore the connection between emotion and action, and see how thought and language are means of preparing, allowing, reinforcing, opening up the possibility of action and more emotion. Thought and language are mediators that turn desire and emotion into objects and tools, and in this way the mind controls emotions and is not controlled by them.

            Since the hero’s quest is based on his desires and their place within his world, the basic plot is about tension and relief – as is the same for music. And music is the objective form of emotion, the stuff of mysticism. Desires and emotion in the mind are already structured like music, and music therefore serves as the best and perhaps only language for directly transferring complicated emotions into the hearts of others. It could even be imagined that when we feel a given emotional desire, unconsciously, the emotion is moving like music. This at least is true when emotions are expressed, through the cadence, pitch, and other articulative devices of language: language is musical, even written language: it has rhythm, balance, tense, and breath – for every sentence is a breath.

            The mystic who does nothing but feel seems the opposite of the hero who acts, but they are aligned like music to dance. All music is dance music, it implies a moving of the body, is based on amplifying the movements of the body, from lungs, heart, and muscles, to sex and fighting sounds.

            The greatest events in history are the creation of a profound metaphor, that opens up a new way of thinking, of making technology, doing science, and doing politics – the work of the poet; and when a philosopher defines a series of terms that subordinate wide ranges of experience to a few powerful words.

            The human organism, as well as the group organism, is built so that energy is channeled, diminished or allowed, through language, and in this language holds a magical potency. All language is a circuit, or an attempt to one: we want the world to mirror us and echo us, not word for word, but spirit to spirit. Those special forms of language created by the legal system called contracts and rules function like razor thread, being ultimately allowed by violence, and we use such threads to pass beads of money through the system. Or in another sense, money is the oil that makes the social machine work. Imagine the system without money, but people acting in the same way. Money is nothing more then pure numbers, held in place by violence and the laws violence makes, to coordinate group activity towards agreed upon goals.

            Ownership only comes from intimate and continual use. Though a man may legally own his house, he doesn’t own it psychologically for weeks or months until he has internalized its structure and reduced the regular activities there to an idea of what the house is for.

            Just as all our concepts of ownership and fairness seem so common sense to be almost universal, and even called god-given, we really owe this common sense to the work of hundreds of thousands of lawyers, judges, and court cases, and these drawing their wisdom from the great philosophers who invented the very concepts that the laws enact. Our common sense is the work of thousands of years: the original poets and philosophers, mad and eccentric though they were, have given society its greatest gifts.

            Sometimes it is helpful to take an object out of its context and conceptualize it alone. Take the visual concept of yourself: a naked person standing in an infinite white vacuum, and all the activities you do are reduced to that body lifting objects that aren’t there, walking in place, working with invisible tools, like an immobile mime, in a wide universe of his own imagination. That would be the concept of your body abstracted from any visible world. This too can teach us about what you are. By looking only at one object, and letting its context fade into the background, we get to see what it itself is up to, where its autonomy lay, what it stands for, but this isn’t the whole picture. We must also see it in a wider picture, then a wider, then a wider, and we must even try to imagine the widest of pictures, the structure of the All. Allism is based on trying to shift between levels, and to integrate them.

            By doing this with desires, we see that a mystic is somebody who plays with his desires, and finds their fulfillment in merely purifying them, isolating them, and putting them in the right musical form to transfer them to others; and by frustrating them from being expressed into action, those desires become monstrous and intense, just as a man whose secret lover has died, and isn’t allowed to cry to give away his despair actually feels much worse from the lack of tears. The hero however does not believe in emotions as an end in themselves, but as motivators for action. The frustration of his desires may lead to much thought and further feeling, but the ultimate freedom from the deadlock of them is in the violent break that changes the structure of the world – and more so the outer world than the inner world.

            Thus the basic virtue of the hero is what it should be for all: courage, the courage to seek one’s desires at all costs and in the face of every discouragement and impossibility. The wisdom of the hero is to show how one does this, how one holds on to his desires, when enemies, friends, the good and the wise would call him foolish.

            Thus if we take the hero from his context, and merely watch his body and listen in to his expressions, we will see where the point of decision is, and where the decision for violence comes out – and here I mean violence in its abstracted sense of altering and destroying an impasses, even if it is merely an idea or custom. Or again, if we take away from the hero any language or expression of emotion, and look only at actions, this too can convey a truth lost if we must also process his words, alleged intentions, and feelings at the time.

            So where the poet seeks a trope, a way of bending ideas into a new shape, the hero seeks to break an idea, and the violent act forever repeats itself. Just as we cannot use money without at some living thinking of what violence the money stands for: in those that would steal it, at those who would attack thieves, and arrest them, at the prison system that prosecutes those that break the laws on how money is given, and when, and to whom: a wide range of stories are at the back of money, including of course the suffering it costs to earn it, secure it, protect it, and use it. Sex and violence, pleasure and pain, are at the back of every social reality, and all other social realities, buildings, bridges, streets, clothing, etc. are nothing more than solidified words and language to hold them in place.

            Imagine if somehow we built a bomb that destroyed every man made object, but couldn’t hurt us, so that our property, buildings, possessions, books, contracts, etc, was completely gone, the world over. After the initial shock, there would be the rush to rebuild the systems that keep us warm, fed, safe, and breathing. Any anarchy would be temporary: we would all seek to rebuild our civilization. But meanwhile, what happens to our social rank, our community place, or class, our identity? Perhaps those who are used to being rich would do everything to be so again, and those used to being poor would also stick with what they were familiar with – for we all have already internalized our possessions and have a sense for our rank without the actual external things. And yet without the external tether to hold those internalized possessions in place, without the language that all ownership stands for, our cultures would not be able to be reinstated: we would have to start over. A building is a story that keeps telling itself: when it is gone, not even our memories can keep the story going. The plastic form of culture is a concrete language which keeps telling itself, and holding our world in place.

            Now imagine that instead of a bomb that destroyed all manmade things, it destroyed all people – except a dozen – but kept the manmade things in place. This is a childhood favorite daydream: how would we live in the world if there were no people in it? We would perhaps choose the finest house, and put the best things in it. We would eat what we wanted at the store, drove what care we wanted. Eventually we would have to wonder how to get plumbing and electricity to work, and figure out what to do when the food at the grocery store went bad. You could play with this scenario for hours on a car trip.

            But what if there was enough people to start to rebuild a society? What if you started a “tribe” amidst the remnants of a great city? Isn’t it conceivable that within a few generations, or maybe many generations, the things left behind would put us in our place, and we would slowly approach the world we knew before the people left? This brings up the problem of meaning. Does a book have meaning? We would say that no, it doesn’t, but the author had some, and the reader has the potential for it, and that the book is a code that transfers meaning, but lacks it itself. So if every living being in the universe were vaporized, but a billion years from now a species evolved and found some intact books on a silicon chip or something, they may be able to decipher the meaning of our books, though for a period, there wasn’t a mind in the universe, and therefore, there was no meaning.

            Therefore, the greatest objects in our culture are the few books that speak the most profoundly, and which directly and indirectly extend themselves throughout the world, and continue to think, move, act, and create, through the readers, through those who talk to the readers, and even through those who are unaware that the book exists at all.

            The popular books that come out every year are like footholds for the centipede of tradition; events and people are stepping stones: a great book takes thousands of years to unfold, and whatever spirit the author possessed in his life time, acts and is conscious through the activity of his book: and so he is immortal.

            Philosophy is the trunk from which every science and discipline branches off. Science would be impossible without a metaphysical basis, and this is as true for art, though art can be equally based in the opposite of philosophy, which is to say, pure madness. The poet converses with chaos, and brings back the fire, whereas the philosopher transmutes all these raw materials to golden syllogisms.


 

 

a retelling of "the ant and the grasshopper"

Many of you are familiar with my little story here, but I am sending it out for those who haven’t heard it. It is my justification for my own view on work.

===========================================

THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER

 

 

 

Let us consider the fable of the ant and the grasshopper:

            One summer an ant wandered far from her nest. She came upon a grasshopper eating a leaf of grass.

            "A riddle for you," sang the grasshopper:       

            “What eats sweetest grass, but sees no green? What drinks the deepest ocean but knows no blue? What last longer than calendars? What hallows her heaven, yet speaks no prayers?”

            The ant, however had no time for riddles. Presently, the grasshopper flexed her supple jumping leg and struck a song across her wing.

            "And what bread will fiddling find?" asked the ant. "Why play at all? A cold winter comes and will swallow you whole. Work for your winter or you will die in your sloth. But if you do not work, then your soul is already winter, if you foster sloth than you already sleep in your grave. Until you have known the sweetness of doing a job well, of putting your whole heart into your work, you will know nothing of fulfillment.

            "All this mumbling to yourself is meaningless––oh lazy do-nothing, don't smirk as if you understood. She who understands gives her understanding action. You are all flicker and no flame. You are all wick and no dynamite. Sooner bite the queen than think without action. And when action is needed, don't think. Will you who has no goals smirk? Yes, we ants have heard much of grasshoppers. They are the last supplies we bring in for winter."

            To which the grasshopper returned: "What bread do I find? The world is my leaf. Why sing my song? I sing for romance, and the romance of a singing heart. Do you really think an ant lives longer than a grasshopper? Or will 'your life' be your colony? Grasshoppers avoid numbers like a plague, but individually we will survive just as long as you ants. We grasshoppers do have a grind to ax.

            "Life is leaping, not crawling. Life is singing, not dragging. Love is a pale jade locust with summer eyes, not a slave-driving queen upon her mound. Yet what can I tell you of love and life? Each to her own. A worker who does not work, rots, but never rotting without work is a singer. She dreams.

            "What you call sloth, I call meditation. What you call sloth, I call inspiration. What you call sloth, I call transfiguration. Is life in the length or is life in the living? When the green goes, I go with it. Don't you see the poetry in this?"

            And the grasshopper went her way, and lived for summer; the ant went her way and lived for winter. As for the wiser of the two, who can tell?

 

a retelling of "the good samaritan"

I remember sending this one out about four years ago, and a lot of people didn’t like it. I am not certain if that is good or bad. Maybe you aren’t supposed to like it?

 

 

The good Samaritan

Retold by Daniel June

 

During the Nazi occupation and the entire fiasco, a certain literary Jew fled for his life, taking as his sole possession his magnum opus, which was still in the form of an unfinished manuscript. He had heard of an underground railroad, supported by some pastor of the protestant faith, who pitied the Jews. But this pastor said: “Aha, you literary atheist, you do not find me ignorant of your writings, which were so disruptive to my religion! Would I risk my neck to save you, who have already cost so many souls and will cost even more if I save you? Go hence: I would report you if that wouldn't jeapordize me.” Indignant, the literary Jew went to another, a Catholic priest. The catholic priest said: “We have made our peace with the Reich, and will not risk our standing. But take heart, we will help in other ways. For instance, I will not report you, though this breaches fealty. Pray to our God and wait for your tribulation to end.” Again, the Jew left. But when the gestapo questioned the pious priest, he folded the Jew over. In custody, the Jew was questioned irreverently by the Nazis. However, a certain Nazi soldier leafed through the Jew's manuscript, and was pierced by its humanity. He stole into the Jew's cell, and talked to him face to face. “You are an atheist of some influence, and therefore I who have God on my side can hardly sympathize. Nevertheless, you have a passion in your style which is worthy if anything of prospering and flourishing. Which cannot happen here. Therefore, I will help you to escape to America.” Which he did, at some risk. Who then was the neighbor to the Jew?

 

Monday, September 20, 2010

a few further notes on Zizek

Here I am extending my ideas on Zizek, a commentator on philosophy. I have read many of his books, I might read them all, yet I find the man and his views repulsive. His style and wit I enjoy.
 
 
2.

                Zizek is clever and charismatic, and indeed has to be, since his nihilistic views demand cleverness and charisma. The central insights of Zizek are that

1.       Man is shit

2.       The deepest reality of the Psyche is the void at the center.

3.       Love is an illusion.

4.       Sexual relationships are always failures.

5.       The world is a great big mess, and communism alone can save it.

6.       Truth is fragmented into incompatible bits

7.       Suicide in some form or gesture is the best solution to life.

8.       All of life is a disease, and the way to get ahead is to accurately read the symptoms.

                These views are the axis of his graph, and once one learns to ignore them, he can admire the cleverness of his argument. Like almost all stand-up comedians, he is a depressed and anxious wreck. But the suffering of life is more than paid for through the art of continual interpretation: movies, books, historical events, all become illustrations for the ideas of Hegel, Lacan, and Marx (strictly speaking, Zizek has no original ideas, nor would want them).

                Thus his books are collages. The overall structure seems to be based on a simple gross outline, but the flow of the pages sound stream of conscious. If anything he wants to introduce a sort of logic for the reader to emulate: but the structure of the books – and this is an indictment against all writers of my period – shows no capacity for wide thinking.

                The sections of his chapter contain a few illustrations: all his philosophical ideas are shaped like jokes. He gives us some lead-up, with a political situation, or a movie plot, and then say, “We should avoid the temptation of the obvious interpretation, or this second more clever interpretation, or the third, but combine them all into the fourth.”

                He is handy with illustrations, but though he constantly illustrates Lacan’s difficult ideas, his respect of Lacan is never justified, the stories prove more interesting then the absurd Lacanian circumlocution.  He is akin to the journalist Hitchens, who does not think in abstract ideas, but in historical events. Hitchens writes only in examples, and beneath these you can hear a bent of thought. In the same way Zizek is really no philosopher: his philosophical formulas and definitions are always quotations of others. He is a synthesizer, a populizer, a circus barker.

                “No profundity but the paradoxical” is the motto of such a man.

 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"The place of the Name" a critical essay

This is an essay continuing my work on “engines” and “internalizations,” expanding it to theology.

 

 

The Place of “The Name” in the mind’s architecture

art - solitude.jpg

                It is wrong to believe there is a unified “superego” standing above the ego, telling it what it should not do. Yes, we internalize our parents, our friends, society in general, and again, what we take to be God, Justice, the voice of Truth – all these are fictions even though we can plug them into external realities. Each has its own role, internalizations do not all run together.

            They are fictions because they are made up, though they are often inspired by extenal realities. A dead spouse continues to live in our heart. Poetical or not, there are no more direct words than this to describe the situation. She may also live in the possessions she once owned, and in the collective memories we hold of her, in the things she created, in the words she wrote. Are these merely reminders, or is there any of her living reality in them? Scientific materialism might argue that her personal consciousness is extinct, but panpsychic materialism opens up the possibility that she may really think through some material her living body left behind.

            This at least has been the prejudice of nearly every religion yet to be created, and that at least indicates how fulfilling the idea appears to be. Should we assume that the extinction of an autonomous personality is more fulfilling, because it is really true? Is the truth more fulfilling than delusion and self-deceit. Yes, we must respect the truth enough to regard her as ultimately more fulfilling than deceit, yet though the belief in the survival of the person after physical death acts like a self-deception (comfort is its justification, not observable facts nor argued philosophy – at least for the majority of people), it may yet be found to be grounded in reality, for the idea is in itself neither absurd nor self-contradictory.

            Yet even if her personality dies with her body, the collective memories we have of her take on a persona of themselves, and move through what we say and what we do not say, and in this way, even characters in plays and religions, such as God and angels, hold agency to act in the world, though prior to our creating them they existed not at all.

            “The Name” is a term for what we already have many terms for: the highest, the most important, the highest meaning. It stands for what each of us believe to be most important to believe in, and though we may believe it to be one of many things, it must at least be something – and so we need to value something in our life as important.

            Reductively, it would be best to need needs themselves, as highest, as most important; or to argue like Anselm that the greatest being conceivable to the human mind with be the unity of All things, since nothing greater could be conceived without also becoming part of the All by mere conception.

            It is useful for the Name to be externally nonexistent, because in this way, it is truly limitless in its functions, whereas an externally existing being would have limited use, being restricted to its nature, and not our own needs. God for instance, as an internalized fiction, can be infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, can do anything we want a God to do: we can pray to him and find comfort, we can hide from him and enjoy our sins more than an atheist could, we can do acts of kindness for others, and yet not really care for them and thus be hurt by them, we can be hypocrites or we can be saints – insofar as He doesn’t exist. We could be none of these things if God really existed, for his reality would negate our own desires of what he should be. Insofar as God is autonomous, real, and existent, history makes no sense, the various religions make no sense, there can be no heaven, no hell, no universal salvation, nothing to hope in. The greatest proof that He doesn’t exist is in the religions that believe in him, their style of worship, their manner of character, the quality of their holy books, and the very history they claim he works through.

            Thus we can say that true believers are in fact atheists – they do not believe in an external God, but they believe in fictions they at some level know they don’t really believe in; whereas nonbelievers are in fact theists, what they believe that the Truth of what God should be doesn’t exist, and so they do not believe in lies, and are faithful to what they believe as Truth.

            True-believers in God rationalize the facts to fit their faith. This willingness to perjure themselves at all costs is another name for “Faith” – as Mark Twain defined it “believing what you know ain’t true.” Thus, in the history of the Jews, if the question as to how God acts in history were made into a historical system, we would have to admit that God allows his Chosen People to be enslaved, dislocated, and killed outright in large numbers – and this is called punishment for the supposed sins of the people – we would have to admit of a God who let the Ark of the Covenant, his throne in the world, be taken by foreigners and destroyed, a God who lets his temple be overtaken by Romans, and at his holy alter, a pig sacrificed to a foreign God, that allows various holocausts against his people throughout history, and a World War involving the torturous deaths of women, men, and children. If we are asked what this proves about their God, when the Gods, Taos, Brahmas, and True Principles of other peoples, some more ancient, did not all suffer similar things, but some were notably blessed throughout history, then we can only use one method of thought to reconcile the contradictions: interpretive rationalization.

            Ditto this for the Christians who for two-thousand years, have been sneering at their opponents who couldn’t read “the signs of the times,” who were so dumb they couldn’t predict rain by the red sunrise, as Jesus sneered at the Pharisees; and we hear this continually, because in the imagination of the believers, the fantasy of the “end of the world” must be true – or really, what’s to live for? The character of Jesus in the Gospels believed in the end of the world, Paul believed in it, the writer of the Apocalypse believed in it; and throughout history, the religious, from the paranoid schizophrenic to the most sane of pastors, have interpreted historical events to prove that they are living in the “last generation.” During the black plague in Europe, we had the proof that God was destroying the world; in the year 999 we had proofs that the world was going to end; seventh day Adventists predicted the end of the world to the day, as did Jehovah witnesses, but even the historical failure of these predictions did not end the cults, but intensified them. It seems that one believes God acts in history, not because history proves it, but because any history at all can be used to prove it, and prove it not only for Christians or Jews, but any religion that cares to think about history in light of its own faith.

            Islam also lay a claim to a historical God, and the rapid advancement of Islam in its militant beginning was taken as the greatest proof that Islam would conquer the entire world. When Islam was a higher culture than Europe, this also was taken as proof that Islam was the one true religion, but when Islam declined, and Europe expanded, this was not taken as counterevidence, that Islam was in fact false. At least not consciously, but only implicitly and unconsciously; and this resurfaced as cultural struggle, fanaticism, violence, and anger. Violence against the nonbeliever is the external expression of doubt of God.

            Mormonism, our fourth Abrahamic religion, arose because of historical problems. Why didn’t the Bible predict America? Where is our story? Who were the Indians, and what if they never heard of Christ before us? These doubts, which didn’t consciously trouble most Christians, nevertheless did trouble them unconsciously, and this collective doubt turned into inspiration for the writers of the book of Mormon (here I am assuming that Joseph Smith had read the already written fictions about the Indians being a lost tribe). But though Mormonism claimed to explain history, the facts it posited, as to geographical locations of lost tribes, their technology, and so forth, have never been verified, and seemingly never will be – and it is precisely because of this falsehood, and the absurdity of the book (no more absurd than the gospels of course, but much more immediate), allows the Mormons to believe all the more fervently, and to live lives more pious and holy than most Christians – by their fruits you will know them! – and, despite the lack of beauty of their scriptures, they make more conversions than all religions, except perhaps Pentacostal Christianity.

            The rhetorical trick is clear: faith is proved by evidence, which will not seem so to any but the eyes of faith. And those eyes are usually implanted in childhood, when any absurdity will be loved as the highest truth, on trust of mom and dad.

            The Name must be a fiction in order to be flexible. Since God doesn’t exist, preachers can claim whatever they want for him, they have full creative license. Like novelists, they must speak plausibly. Yet though the law in the bible says not to take God’s name in vain, historically, the most outrageous, loathsome, despicable things have been claimed to come from God’s mouth, as well a the most subtle, beautiful, and delightful – and no external God ever spoke up to correct this audacity. Hitler spoke for God at times, as did Joseph Smith, Muhammad, Paul – and televangelists quote live conversations they’ve had with him, and historically, God has never spoken up to correct them.

            Thus God is like a mistress. The greatest virtue of a mistress is her distance from the home. Such a necessary distance allows certain intimacies impossible with the wife of your children, and yet, without the immediate wife, the mistress would have no use. A widower does not marry the mistress, or if he does, he soon regrets it. Therefore, the mistress becomes the shadow of the wife: she is chosen because she balances the wife out, gives the man what the wife won’t or can’t give, and more so, she is programmed to be what the wife isn’t, more affectionate, more supportive, less critical, more sexual – things impossible even the most willing of wives, because a wife is one woman, situatiated in a family, and held too close to give her freedom. As in Greek Myth, life on earth could only exist when heaven was separate from earth – to provide a place for life to exist – and so the faithful can only be happy because God is the farthest mistress, the fully fictional one.

            Thus we come to the use of the Name. Since everybody who exists must necessarily hold values, and a basis for his values, we all refer to a name of some sort: God, Reason, Science, Tao, Spirit, Life, the Good. What a name allows is a consolidation of values under one banner. For the mind can only focus on four independent objects at a time: what an efficacious shortcut to make an engine that refers all values to one name. And that name can be inflated infinitely.

            Infinity itself is a negation (“not finite”) and negations do not exist in reality. We can imagine infinity, we can experience infinity, we can do math with infinity, and we can have religious experiences with infinity – though all these functions are themselves finite, and describable, and the infinite itself is unthinkable and nonexistent. Like the idea of “Nothing” which is also a negation (“no thing”), infinity has no positive existence, and therefore is not agent, it can do nothing, it can mean nothing, it is useless, except as a placeholder for real things. I may call my hand “empty” though literally, there is no emptiness anywhere, but as a word it expresses a meaning. Thus, words like nothing, infinity, God, spirit, etc. refer to no existing objects at all; they are nothing more than Prepositional Phrases. They exist only to orient us in reality, not to orient us to themselves.

            Therefore, there is a difference between what a man regards as “the most important being,” – God or Reason, or whatever – and what in his personal life really is most important. This shifts, so perhaps the apparatus for choosing among shifting things, the mind itself should be taken as vital. Yet the pragmatic passion of a man’s life should be regarded as his real “highest importance,” such as being a doctor, or the loving of his family, or his creating art, and this even when officially he believes in God – and for the clergy to call the man an “idolater” is the greatest crime I can charge against religion. The words “Love God with all your mind, with all your heart, with all your body, and with all your soul” are the most evil words ever spoken.

            For they ask a man to betray what he loves for the sake of an idol – and here the God being unable to stir deep passion proves the real idol – is to commit what Dante was right to call the worst sin: betrayal of the beloved. Idolatry, so called, was what ancient Hebrews condemned, the use of art to connect with the divine. A statue, used to connect with God, was considered the greatest sin – and this in the same spirit as most the laws in the Old Testament, as a reaction against the other religions of the area. “Don’t boil a calf in its mother’s milk” it also says, not an admonition against cruelty, but to avoid the use of magic, as others in the area practiced. And this is the true logic of many of the hundreds of laws in the Old Testament, which to the historically na├»ve, seem perplexing and arbitrary (don’t wear shirts made out of mixed materials, don’t eat swine, etc.).

            The great distinction of Judaism, then, its reviling of idolatry, taken over with violent fervor by the iconoclastic Muslims, begins, therefore, with an evil eye on one’s neighbors, hate of the neighbor, and the need that we all have of distinguishing ourselves from other groups. But the idea that God is “more present” in a temple, or that he prefers one holy book to another, that a Quran is in itself Divine, that God has a name, any name, that God has holidays, that certain activities bring God’s presence – praying, singing, dancing, sacrifices, etc. – all objectify God, and are equally as “idolatrous” as worshipping God through a statue.

            The latest interpretation, that loving anything intently, your wife, your children, your job, money, friends, yourself, is idolatry, is to misunderstand a misunderstanding. I call it the great curse on life, and is the worst crime of religion. The very guilt this causes, conscious and unconscious, of the many believers becomes the platform that the pious believers with their humble arrogance stand upon. “Because it is our job to love God most, we will step on your bent backs, who pay our bills.”

            The Tao de Jing gets the closest to the true nature of the Divine when it calls her “the emptiness.” By being an infinite nothing, God is completely owned, understand, comprehended, and his divinity fully spent and used, to put in place the true Beloved, who can be fully loved, because she is real and can be touched, and therefore, comes with risks, and brings her as close as possible. An atheist may regard Reason as the greatest reality in the world, but often his beloved is in something more intimate, immediate, and tangible. For love is about intimacy, and ot the kind of intimacy that lacks an external relationship. The relationship to the divine, made out of old myths and theological abstractions, might be the most important thing in a worldview, but it ought never be the most important reality to the heart.

            Inspiration is the God of the artists. Creating is itself is the ultimate reality for the poet, the writer, the singer, but the object of inspiration, God, or a woman, any muse, is merely an excuse to do that one real thing we love best to do. And so the greatest reality of any person is what he loves best to do, whatever ideal Name he uses to excuse his indulgence.

            The focus itself is the ultimate agent of the man, his greatest aspect, consciousness itself, and the style by which it leads the mind is the best of a man’s reality. Concepts, abstractions, and memories are structured like a great architecture of mind. The rooms of the mind hold ornaments of memory, holds conceptual furniture that make every mindset a sort of work station for what the external time and place call for.

            When too much emotion floods the mind, thinking becomes delusional. The intensity of a mood itself can drive a person psychotic. Management of the passion is still the key to mental health, just as the ancient Greeks believed. The mental hygiene of balancing the passions is central to Aristotelian ethics. There is something true in Aristotle’s idea that tragedies exhausted pity and terror. The fantasy space of art fulfills us in ways that even our private fantasies cannot, for they are shared by the community, and thus are not our fault. Tragedy began as a religious performance, and yet all religions are a sort of play acting, in which people pray, give, sing, bow, and don’t mean it, shouldn’t mean it, for the more the individual fully experiences the rite, and makes it personal, the more “real,” the less “hypocritical,” the less he is part of the community, the less he belongs. Even the “holy-rollers” who shake and scream and vomit, who speak in tongues and writhe upon the floor, are still play-acting, they are doing what they see, and that is why it fulfills them, is why all groups fulfill their members, for they are all actors, they all play roles, and this alone let’s one be part of a group. By plugging into a group, and especially by not fully meaning what he says, a man can get rid of his excess emotions, and avoid personal delusions.

            An individual as well as a group requires an Assimilator. This engine, or the person who acts for this engine, takes all stories, all facts, all realities, and reduces it to the language of the group. There may remain Christians, Muslims, Freudians, Scientologists for thousands of years, if only the Assimilators know how to take the problems of history and science, the novelties of the world, and reduce it back to the terms of the group. The Assimilator, is a part of the interpretive apparatus that changes words. Just as the metaphorical mind shows how unlike things explain each other, the assimilator reduces all things to the same language, a language with a logic and grammar that allows no exceptions.

            In a nation-body, assimilation is essential for the integrity of the system. A shared childhood education, reading the same books, learning the same facts, alone can unify a nation. A shared language, a shared set of values, these alone can unify a nation. Master morality must subordinate the entire nation to one purpose: what else can unify contradictions? And so in any body, there must by the master class, the few controlling members, and the instated language system that gives them control over the others.

            Within each of us, the same apparatus works. The mind is a mansion of many rooms, full of conceptual furniture; the master room accomplishes the most work, and must be separate from the internalization of the sacred place, where the engine of God is housed and fondled in privacy. A man’s most powerful tool is not the place of the Name, but that place acts like a drain for excessive emotion. God can be fed guilt, adoration, loneliness, lust, each in their own prescribed holy manner, just as for a poet all the excess emotions can be tightly and beautifully bound into poems.

            Memories are part of this architecture. The having done something can act as an emotional outlet as well. Having slept with ten women, a man may be true to his wife, having “got it out of his system.” Those memories stand for a fact, and that fact lets the remaining lusts and desires have a new meaning. In this way, a great accomplishment not only teaches us the habits to accomplish great things, but can also relieve us from having to accomplish anything, since we’ve done our work. Thus memories become concepts and habits that redirect emotional energy.

            Achievements become abbreviated as concepts, ultimately, as a personal language, and thus it is rightly said that though language is universal (whoever learns it may speak it), it is also private, so that all words have a personal meaning as well. Thus a man may mouth that he pledges allegiance to the flag, that he loves God above all, that he loves his parents, his wife, his children, he can really say all things and anything that are expected of him, and still know “words for words! My heart loves what my heart must love, so let it be lost in translation.”

            And so what a man really loves in his life, what he really cares about, what he spends his passion doing, the language of passionate activity, this is his true religion, his true love, his true greatest thing, and the rest is a tax paid to local traditions to keep them alive.

            Meditation, prayer, charity, are often not the things themselves. A man does them in order to buy the freedom to do what he really loves. If heaven were a Sunday service drawn out forever, who would want it? If you wish the vista of what man truly wants, look upon the world as it is: we make our own reality. We want something, and we want to complain about it. We want peace and we declare war. The deepest truth a man may realize is that there are no contradictions, that everything is true when it is properly understood. Wisdom is to see the necessity behind world systems, the inevitability of them; for in realizing these inevitabilities, he is able to add to them. “When you know, you will be known,” as the Gnostics said; use the system or the system will use you.

            Zealous believers fill a function, as do the more sincere believers who make religion their highest purpose in life. They believe for us. If they didn’t exist, the passionate disbelievers would have to take their place. The social body as a whole needs them, puts them in place, uses their creative energies for this cause or that – what matters the cause, so long as creativity is used, and the world progresses? Only in the outermost and the innermost do all contradictions become unified: from the middle place of the world we live in, nothing seems certain, things seem chaotic, injustice seems common; but wise men everywhere have felt that this middle perspective is not complete in itself.

            Heretics and blasphemers exist to make the faithful more faithful. Without some external person doubting God for us – taking on the blame and criticism for us – we couldn’t be so faithful on our own. For the group body uses its parts to balance each other out. In the case of witchcraft, a fantasy problem projected on the mentally ill for centuries, backed up by honest and exacting legal procedures,  with psychology and mythology, the innocent albeit eccentric victims were even convinced themselves they had made a contract with the devil, and would honestly confess it, though in fact, there is no devil, there are no pacts, the entire thing was a fabrication of the pious from the beginning. This is how the social body balanced itself out, in light of the scriptures it held sacred.

            The ultimate tools of the mind are the most versatile. For many, religion is the ultimate work station, and the persona-of God is used for many different things. But for those who could not be fully monotheistic, they had to invent a Satan to do the things God couldn’t do: be blamed and hated. Even though only an “angel,” Satan works as the opposite of God – and we could call those who need this sort dualism, weaker of believers than those we can see only God in all things.  The Christian theologians are dualistic in that they think Satan and hell are as eternal as heaven and God, whereas we, with our Material Monism, take the universe as a growing thing, in which evils are not eternal, but can be outgrown. The idea of progress is better than the idea of segregation.

            All these mythic geographies of heaven and hell are part of the same intellectual architecture as the memories of our childhood, and the fictions from our novels and movies: the ultimate reality is the internal one. And if consciousness were to persist after the body was extinguished, perhaps such internalized realities would be our eternal abode.

 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"wisdom's path" a poem

Another poem I wrote while hanging up hundreds of hangers in the backroom of Salvation Army.

 

 

Wisdom’s Path

 

When you find the path to your wisdom

Your friends will call you lost.

When you dive to the depth of your ocean

Your family will grieve you “storm-tossed.”

 

Down the watery ladder

Seek the oyster of dark

Plant there the pearls of your musings

To trouble the mother of hearts.

 

The Breath once again must surface

Your saviors will see you accosting

They’ll ask what treasure you found there

“Better yet my friends, I have lost it!”

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"the family organism" an essay

An essay exploring further the idea of group intelligence

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The Family Organism

 

            Like all groups, the family is an organism, with a consciousness of its own independent of its members. Unlike other groups, the strength of the family unit is based on many primal mammalian instincts, and unlike other groups, the family is a small unit, when compared to the corporation, the asylum, the state, or the race.

            The family, as a world within the world, must abbreviate. Each member must stand for fifty different roles. In a large factory, a worker can be reduced to a bicep, or a knuckle, stands for a bit of automation that machines aren’t flexible enough to cover. In the same way, the worker, the businessman, the cashier, is an epithet – happy Ruth, spunky Janet, silly Jim, angry John – a sort of mask with a little wiggle room to be “in a mood today” to do the rude but somewhat forgivable act of “bringing his problems to work” and being sad when he’s supposed to be happy. The professional demeanor is to express the moods necessary to optimize the job. The man becomes a function.

            Home life is different. Since the family is made of a tight band of intimates, the many aspects of the personality are appreciated, and cannot be avoided. As intimacy is conversation in presence, the family stands for an intimate unit, and it is the unit that allows the greatest amount of affection.

            The married couple, the dynamo of the family, whose love and lovemaking not only celebrate the essential expression of life, but also generate further life, are the center of the family. They are the trope fountain for the family, they name each other, they name their children, they choose the home, they are the basis of family, and so erotic love is the basis of the strongest type of group known to man.

Duty is a word groups impose on individuals. It is the binding of Eros. The family unit becomes the unfreedom of the members – love is slavery. Only for love and love’s duties – the dried and hardened edges of love – keep parents living in one house, working and raising children, which without love would be an impossibly difficult job, but with love, hushes the lips from complaint. A duty without love is impossible. And so the upkeep of the house, the taxes, all these things, are for love – ultimately, for erotic love, which is the basis of all other loves between people.

            The house is the body of the family organism, and pulses with the movement of its spirit, the family. The communication of the family members is the thinking of the family. Even if the members experience one definite thing apiece when they talk, the Family as individual experiences another between them, and thinks between all of them as one contained mind. The peculiarity of the family is to have a mind amidst so few parts.

            The emotional energy of the individuals, as well as the emotional energy of the Family organism, are a doubling upon the same matter, but for different uses. The emotions of each member of the family feel different to the full unit who feels all of them in a different context.

            Most large groups have the freedom and obligation to exclude certain members. Perhaps the individual leaves on his own, of his own free will, but the group itself excluded him, though no member felt so. The dynamics of personalities place us in our own place, and this by Unit fiat, though we feel ourselves jostled by that one guy we don’t get along with, or are uncomfortable with a certain arbitrary policy. The inevitable politics of all groups isn’t just the selfish manipulations of the members, but the thinking of the unit as a whole.

            A family can’t exclude members in this manner, and so the pull of influence is much stronger. All the threads of violence and sex that tie all of society together, in subtle euphemized registers, in the family are loud and transparent. The stakes are higher. A family is more to its members than is a society.

            Every emotion seeks to be enacted. But since most actions require coordination, we must speak them to others. Words are to put our desires into others, but also to put our desires into circulation so that they can come back when the action is ready to be performed. The needs realize themselves as images charged with desire. Initially the desire is very strong, but thinking crystallizes this desire into more images, and speaking furthers the job by making them into words. As thoughts are the relationships between various emotions, words are the relationships between the thoughts of people, the thoughts of the greater unit. The movement of information is itself an emotion.

            The needs of each individual are felt as intense emotions, when they are not regulated. But when the are sent out into complete circuits, that come back with the gratifying object, then the person is happy and fulfilled. All the desires, all the emotions, all the personas of a man require their circuit. Many of the desires of a man require friendships and relationships, not only for love, but to extend the individual into the body of the other, so that he can be a second self to the first. Like the system of veins and arteries in the body of the person, words, gestures, and activities are the circuits for the heart of the individual who uses the group as his full body, and again, for every other individual for the group, and finally, for the group as a Unit itself.

            Each of the needs, and the emotions they create, must find the circuit of fulfillment. The immediate circuit is in the fantasy of the completed need, but this develops finally into the plan of the need, and ultimately into the words and actions of the person. Once those actions become habitual, the circuit goes on indefinitely.

            Every person we meet opens up a chamber of our own soul. And yet some unconsciously draw near because they are the needed person for us to befriend. The first friend we make determines what sort of friend we will seek next, to double him or balance him, to oppose him, to stretch you in other directions. Some relationships are imposed, in that you have joined a group and must cope with the array of its current members. Where such impositions stretch you too much, you must compensate through other friendships, or through isolation, or through some activity which releases you from it.

            The family is more intense, for there is less space to distance yourself from others. When parents or siblings make absolute demands upon you, the only way you can hold on to inner integrity, without declaring war, is to fold your mind like an origami.

            Thus the grown child’s freely chosen spouse is a reaction to years of intimacy with his parents. At least in part. Perhaps his second girlfriend has all the virtues the first girlfriend so dearly lacked. Or perhaps his group of friends pressed in too much on him and he needed a woman of this sort. Most of these maneuverings are unknown to him, but they are felt to the group body as a whole. To him, it’s love at first sight, he’s just happy with this girl, its mysterious. The fine poetry he composes to measure and meter her graces are part of a large set of parameters between group dynamics. The overwhelming aesthetic sense his soul feels in their love is part of an interplay of forces that the group unit feels as its good digestion.

            And so moods travel through a family. The sadness of the daughter is felt as the sadness in the mother. The family feels as one, and even when it feels separately, this separateness is felt too. I can’t fully be happy knowing my brother resents that happiness. As always the emotions are layered, co-occurring, and interlaced with a complex logic. To the group unit, they are all its own feelings, and the antagonism are rather anxieties and tensions within the organism.

            As the body of the family is the house, and its organs the possessions, and its nerves the words between the members, its emotions are in the movement of the family members in relation to each other.

 

Monday, September 13, 2010

"circuit boards PART 2" an essay

So I continued that essay I sent yesterday (circuit boards) because the concepts I wrote opened up many new ideas, and with the help of a conversation with a friend, I had a lot of material to work with, though as you will see it has not been fully integrated and edited. I think there might be a part three to this essay soon as well!

Daniel Christopher June

 

Circuit Boards (part 2)

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2.

And so though the immediate I of a man is felt as standing a step back from the senses, his full self extends not only to his body and senses, but his possessions, and even the influences he has upon his friends; and indeed these serve as much as an unconscious mind to him as does his personal experience.

Friends can block you from certain directions. Lacking that friend, something must block you from growing in that direction, a vice or religion, or perhaps you will give in and become that. A man therefore, is fully himself by putting bits of himself in the minds of others, and he thinks through the minds of others just as much as he thinks within his own mind. It is like the sun, which communicates through the light it sheds, to all other suns, and yet is moved and shaken by the planets which orbit him, giving him the character of a caregiver. So too are we moved and shaken by those around us, and some friends block our light from shining in this direction or that. A man does not even know himself until a friend has told it to him.

            The attitudes that others have of him, from the internalization of “the general public,” to the internalization of “those who really know me” act not only as a standard a person may identify with (I really am this way), but also as a social context (though I am this way, I must mask it from others, because they don’t understand.) The innermost self believes in its immortality, believes it has always existed, and believes it is the most important thing in the universe. This is the wisdom of the innermost, which is utterly stubborn before the world.

            The Me, as we looked at earlier, is the most basic and intimate face of the I, and yet it is not full without a me-for-others, a persona-for those around us. But the full Me, the full personality, is made up of the world, for we don’t really have others, we have our images of them, which negotiate constantly with what new information they give us to process. This is indeed intimacy, there can be nothing more intimate than that, so much so that we are the world we see. But as for the conscious I, though it comes in many layers and registers, it is forever cut off from the I of others. Nobody can think for us. This is perfect place of the internal garden.

            But even the personal space of the I, the antechamber between the senses, must find its shape from a literal space in the world, or an imaged space from art. Life is when we are doing what we love best to do – to “really be alive.” What we live for, something chosen and yet also from our nature, and thus the child of will and need, is the commanding reason why we live, and allows us to compromise on all the other duties and necessities of life. This peak experience must find a shape in a representative place, and that place becomes the shape of the mind happy.

            Care is the mind’s focus on importance. Freedom always means freedom from fears, from caring about painful things. Ultimately, we need a space to be free, a place to misbehave. The staunch philosopher must have a naughty playground somewhere. For wherever we exaggerate ourselves in one direction, we must stretch equally in the opposite direction to balance out. The heart’s garden, the mind’s study, are created from certain experiences, or from many of them blended together, to make a place we can think freely: objectively the body takes a chemical tone in its hormones, its muscles take a pose, but inwards we live in that imaginative space.

            Thus it can be said that we base beauty off our mother’s face, and base authority from our father’s tone. These become first of all symbols, or metaphors for the whole concept, and finally become the very syntax by which we base the much wider experience of beauty and power we confront in the world. Personal experiences, initially so complex, hollow out to stand for more and more similar experiences. This is akin to what we learn from etymological dictionaries, how a word initially stood for a gross sensual fact, and grew more and more spiritualized and generic, for absolute unity stands at the end of long thread of thinning out of reality.

            An environment we say has a mood, an ambience, a “sense” an atmosphere, a character. Ultimately, this derives from the personalities that choose it, alter it, and inhibit it, and the types of personalities who would choose it and could thrive there. Places range from the literal room around you, to the barest geometrical idea of “room” in your head. Between this, and situated not only in memories, but also in all abstract ideas, is a cognitive “room” or space we place it in. Ideas are not held together by webs and diagrams, as the textbooks say, but by a certain metaphorical geometry.

            Decorating internal spaces and external spaces can be gaudy, sloppy, and clumsy, or sparse, expertise, and exquisite. Each ornament should symbolize the unity of the room, trigger the moods and body stance that suit the functions within the room. Ultimately, a room, like a building, like a person, should hold together on one central name, and let all its parts radiate from that.

            We internalize spaces, therefore, as fitting environments for the roles we will have in them, and a man cannot be the same man whatever his environment, but he is already cast in the tint of a role merely by standing there. Each space grants it own freedoms and constraints.

            Events stand for ideas. Historical epochs as well as hour long events become pure language, metaphorically, and finally, literally, when nothing is left of them but stories and sometimes a single word.

            Sometimes the people who live with us lack the distance to step back and get us. They take us along with the environment, and can’t see us apart. Sometimes the deepest friendships, with the greatest insight, are between people who never meet face to face. Sometimes the greatest respect a man has for another is for an ancient writer, or a forefather.

            The rose is the West’s flower, and stand for beauty and love; the lotus is the East’s flower, and stands for enlightenment and spirituality. These ornaments suggest the metaphorical attachments, and so are able to uphold them. In the same way, an environment absorbs the personalities who come to it, and yet it chooses the persons in turn.

            This explains the logic of the living house that fascinates so many horror stories, a house that witnesses brutal murders and becomes evil. The sense of the living house is intuitive, especially to creatures who anthropomorphize all things, but perhaps there is more to this idea then the sentimentality of it would first indicate.

            Freedom to misbehave at times is the only way to maximize obedience. When an important political figure visits a university, some of them put up “free-speech zones” where the students may protest and picket, out of sight of the cameras and the politician. This is an affront to “free-speech” but in a different sense, each of us must have a space to really misbehave, break the laws, defy convention, raise hell, and this alone maximizes obedience. Without that space, to misbehave, we could not be good citizens, nor conformists. In the same way, we each need our own garden to tend, that place where we own everything and do not have to share our will with others. That private space also balances the will.

            Nomination makes One thing stand for many, and so takes our care for the many, and concentrates that importance on the one. We must merely believe that the one thing represents the class, that it is nominated, and so long as we do, that is real to us, and it becomes part of our language. Rooms, objects, and friends all become nominated in our minds, they represent a class of ideas, attitudes, and experiences. They become not only persons, and objects, but also ideas and language.

            The apogee of love resides in those moments of intense mutual care called intimacy, and this can never be bought from a psychologist, nor even expected from a friend or lover, except with an earned trust with proven fidelity, and even then, the actual moments of touching heart to heart are brief, and fulfill us in that – for sustained intimacy becomes so tender it hurts. We may say to a lover “you make me feel free,” but intimacy is the opposite of freedom, for there is no power in it. Thus though it fulfills us greatly, it does not fulfill us completely in itself. Otherwise we would be born with four legs and four hands.

            Learning how to love is a difficult process. Learning how to stop loving can be even more difficult, for so much is at stake. The private internalize world of our mind does not fulfill us fully until we plug it into object reality. Then it serves as an interface. But when the objective world ceases to cooperate, when other friends and lovers withdraw their hurt and refuse intimacy – and this can even be in the act of making love – what can we do but suffer at the shame of holding out a gift that has been rejected?

            Words are crystallized desire, which melt when we submit to them and take them to heart. We must be able to understand, and yet we cannot be perpetually open, or we will suffer foolishly, and become calloused. Intimacy is a shared metaphorical place, an imaginative place shared by two minds attuned. To bring two minds together, so that the internal environments are reciprocal and mutually open, requires a certain language, and again a magic language, where the words are fused from desires that can only be genuine.

            The request for love comes only from weakness, nor can power demand it. For at that moment we request something, request another to see our beauty and accept it, to admit that we desire it, we make ourselves vulnerable. It may take courage to do this, but in itself it is an act of weakness, a risk we must take. A recent bumper sticker gloats “love wins” but this is inaccurate. Love loses. It loses freedom. Power wins. And yet though power demands respect, and gets it, desire cannot demand love, and can only get it by opening up tender beauties. Love is the loss that fulfills us.

            The heart is full of many emotions and desire, and must find expression for all of them, often many of them at the same time and towards the same object. And yet each person, place, and thing in our life becomes more comfortable as a predictable conduit of such emotions, letting them do the most through them; though dynamic and somewhat unpredictable, the men and women and places in our life not only persist in their stereotypes, but sometimes see us looking at them in that way, and become even more aligned to our view. Of course sometimes they resist it, but not as much if they do not perceive it consciously. And once we are used to a certain set of characters and situations, it is easy enough for our unconscious mind to convert all other characters and situations into repetitions of them.

            And of course, we can stereotype our own image of ourselves, convert a few slogans about ourselves into automatic thoughts. “Well of course he doesn’t like me, I’m boring” – I’ve heard this audibly spoken by friends, and then when I pursued it, those people denied they really meant it, though they felt it, nonetheless. Like all jokes, they say something but deny responsibility for meaning it; they communicate but can’t be held responsible for having communicated it. This is the virtue and vice of jokes as well as light talk.

            And thus we come to the indirectness of love, for though love seeks direct contact, it must seek it through indirect means, and though power seeks to misdirect threats, it must do so by directly mastering them. Power is direct, but love is indirect.

            The body, being the medium of communication, and also palace of the internalize world, stands as a microcosm for the world and its relationships. The flow of emotions and the stance of the muscles evoke our many environments, and summon them through mind with a mere flex of the muscles and pinch of desire. Not only does the body communicate through its many gestures, but also in how it structures the skin and muscles, which stand again for the meeting place between needs and world. And so certain anxieties trap the expressive energy and depress its source; certain gestures substitute for the act, either to communicate to others, or to unconsciously express what we aren’t otherwise controlling.

            Gestures express emotion, and so give us peace. Love does not grant freedom, but frees us from freedom, from responsibility and duty, for love brings pleasure, and pleasure unfocuses the mind. For many people who cannot handle intimacy, they express it in so many gestures, tokens, words, and games; and this works too, to a degree. Many people can gain some touches of intimacy from the roles of life, for this is safer, and we are not touched by the real risks. If somebody rejects me, they did not reject the me-myself, but merely an aspect of me, a put on, something that I might as well reject—see?—and now I’m unscathed. But when somebody sees an intimate part of us, beautiful or ugly, and condemns us, that person we hate, and always will, whatever polite veneers we put over it.

            Gestures, small talk, politeness, it seems like so much pond water. Nobody deep can handle it; they are confused. And yet the social gliders and charismatics shine in such an environment, and can amass millions to love them. Slogans too can harness much social energy, and let those who are willing to give up freedom for formulaic intimacy pour their hearts out. Thus we have world religions, who count their numbers as an argument for them, rather than against; thus we have best-selling authors, who a tasteful reader won’t even glance at. What is deep and intimate and real, difficult, brilliant, and ingenious, requires great intimacy and yet great power – thus, great control between the two – and those who can grasp it are rare.

            For us the sensitive, the world is more real to us, and thus we prefer hidden places, and know also how to structure the mind and face to block out any unwanted touch from the world. A touch is too much for us, so we hold back, and are called introverted or eccentric, or moody, or weird. We are not the successful, but our achievements are not the achievements of roles which were given opportunities, but a self and a me that needs no opportunity. We are the heart of the world. What others won’t feel fully, we can teach them to feel in part. The divine class of poets, thinkers, teachers, and innovators, the saints of the world, are from our stock. Many of us are mad, some unhappy, and yet the innermost joy of authenticity beats in all our hearts.