Monday, July 4, 2011

"Metaphor Mind" a short essay

Greetings Students of Life!—


Here is the next section from the part of my essay “Strategies for the Game” on creativity. After this, I look briefly at madness and its relationship to creativity, and then look at how to establish a creative space. Here I introduce what I talk of at length in another essay: the part of the mind that makes metaphors to understand the world. Here I establish its centrality to creativity. Later I will explore elaborate personal myths and rituals which use this capacity.


Take care, caretakers!


Daniel Christopher June



4. Metaphor Mind


art - spirit_flight.jpg

            Genius is a high capacity for analogy. Metaphor alone, and the metaphor mind, mark distinct the higher intellect. We all have a metaphorical mind which gets a sense of the form of things, and matches like to like. The sciences and arts are both inspired by metaphors, one testing them with experiments, the other with aesthetic effect. William James identified Plato and Shakespeare as the ultimate synthesis of the poetic and the scientific analogical approaches.

            We ought to transform all instances of experience into the one form of our personal project in life. The serious writer should make an academic study of, say, the symphonies of Beethoven or Tchaikovsky. Each poem is many poems; all language can be broken into rhythm charts, vowel patterns, clause lengths, topic variation, and such other such things. Studying pure music complicates a writing style.

            Necessity creates the basic shape of what we need. What better saying is there than “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”? Genius is the father. We invent the concepts we need. And to study any and every philosopher, merely identify his terms and ask what personal crisis led him to that particular formulation. We assume ideas from personal experience, shape them into mental furniture, adorn the mansion of our thinking habits with them, equip each moment with its own tool box, a set of concepts to address every object and situation.

            A thing is more meaningful, important, and significant the more it expresses certain clichés, stereotypes, regularities, combined with their own self overcoming: these comprise the basic myths. Wrap the mirror back on itself. A concept can be stretched in two directions: to its extreme reach, and back on itself.

            The writer is akin to every artist, and every man, in that the stuff of his art can structurally parallel or complicate what it refers to. A sentences is a structural unit of logical relationships. Likewise, all of reality breaks into units of identity. Every being contains parts which are also beings, down the to the infinite energy of the smallest part, which makes everything else possible, which makes possible even the mind of consciousness. The perfect writer knows how to make the form of the sentence imitate the form of his whole, to trouble the logic of his clauses with the structure of their interrelationship. We establish a few forms and strategies as the mental toolbox. Some men are square structured and practical, other are unstable and flowing.

            Form is compulsion. The mere structure of a form, once internalized, demands profligation. Beautiful forms demand expression; having consciously internalized a form, we need speak it, repeat it. We internalize all sorts of forms, and combine them into concepts. The entire universe can be viewed as an arrangement of energies taking on different forms, and our own emotions as energies awaiting the correct expressible form.

            What we say the most, what we do the most, becomes a typeset for all other things. The everyday common things are not denied or judged by the exceptional moments, but shed off those few exceptional moments like a skin to hold the normal and unexceptional in place. How do you structure your experience, and what new experience will improve this?

            We can’t help but express the forms we internalize, but we can alter and master the forms we comprehend. Understanding is the ability to put something in your own words. Comprehension is the ability to abbreviate and summarize. “Every man’s condition is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put.” To be able to summarize our lives into stories, parables, and cautionary tales lets us educate our future self, lets us educate our friends and family.

            To contemplate a form is to hold the shape of that form even when it is gone, is to fold the sphere of consciousness into its contours, so the mind is that form. When we are accustomed to it, we take the grasp of it as normal. For instance, a cutter working all day with diamonds handles his other problems as if they were little bits of gem. The surgeon puts the scalpel even to his marital problems. The hunter patiently awaits his opportunity to shoot.

            Trauma implants form. Significant experiences redefine all other experiences, like food color working through dough. A molested child seldom has only one assault. Having experienced the sexual situation, she becomes more vulnerable to it happening again, even in an unrelated instance. Every experience both puts a twist on the previous ones, sculpting our memories, and changes the lenses by which we take in new experiences.

            A thing is not itself until it becomes something else. An experience is not useful until it has been transfigured into a concept. When a story becomes a parable, it approaches becoming a universal idea. When we take a form out of a thing, that form becomes language, a stamp we may imprint up on the clay of all things. The pessimist lives in a different world than the optimist. Neither world is right or correct, both serve needs, both must be respected.

            Forms reproduce themselves through system. The center of the system holds the allform, the DNA, the informer and conformer. The language of the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, “the Gettysburg address,” the Federalist Papers, are at the center of the American mind, work throughout our system, conform the full stature of the States to one Nation. They are a sort of DNA to our Republic. A worldview is a language. The language of importance is the tone and terms we adopt when addressing The Importance. Scripts, routines, and rituals implant these forms into the minds of youth. That is all they are for. Every worldview is a lifestyle. It is important that we all conform to a few shared values, but also seek our own personal values as well. The former is necessary for the group self, the latter necessary to the personal self: two layers of many within the full self of me in the universe.

            Some forms get smoothed over with such desire that the information they contain no longer fascinates. It no longer snags the mind, it is easy. The mind uses the form unthinkingly, which is handy and good. Many of us don’t question our religion, the nature of Civil Law, the fitness of marriage, the structure of our furniture, or any other everyday taken-for-granted object. For to ponder all things always is to stun our ability to decide. The world is strange, confusing, bizarre, imposing, but we don’t know it, because we take it as normal. The hard edges of wire have been covered over with smooth clay. Nevertheless, wisdom is the ability to see the ordinary in the extraordinary, and the extraordinary in the ordinary. By taking in foreign forms – perhaps reading the Tao Te Jing or the Koran, or looking at a Zen garden, or whatever else is distant from you – you break apart the everyday forms. Our daily language, our clichés and every day sayings, are deeply rich when deeply understood. But sometimes we need to take the tools of a foreign tool box to break them apart, to see the metaphors buried within them, to liberate the energy in each form which holds it together, just as food energizes us only when we chew it to pieces. We can decongest everyday life when we no longer take the normal as unworthy of study.

            Ideas are so many lenses and mirrors, reflecting the light of experience into consciousness. It is as if all deep concepts were glass, transparent in themselves, but bending reality into a special focus. The name of a thing is a powerful lens. An essay, a symphony, a person, is almost defined by the title, name-nickname, or reputation that has congealed around its head like a halo. Our attitude about a man determines what facial expressions and stances will appear before our mind when we hear his name.

            Transposing forms reveals hidden essences. Metaphors, titles, nicknames, and jokes reveal the hidden pith of a soul, the tone and tenure of the soul’s blood. Every man is transfigured, every man has his moment. I am most fully Daniel in a few instances, when the layers of politeness and conformity peal away like unnecessary garments, and my divinity stands nude.

            What gives a form identity? What makes it itself? How is my inner self structured, so that I am ultimately me? For if all reality is made of matter, and matter is eternal, then form is the ultimate reality. Forms change – is this not an objection against eternity? Yet we have a sense of the wholes and parts, and the idea of a whole may be its entire reality. If a car is repaired part by part, at what point is the car no longer the original? Perhaps the mere idea of that car is projected onto it. For an idea is an energy made large through brain structures. Merely the idea that a thing is itself, that the mind is the same mind throughout our lifetime, even if you suffer brain injury, maybe even if you die, is all the eternity you need. Not God, but Mind, offers the promise of eternal life.

            For most people, forms and structures are known and usable, but only unconsciously. We can do a lot because we absorb the forms of our environment at the job we figure out how to talk, what to do, we absorb what is expected of us and take the role of worker readily. Most people learn quickly, take the forms and subtle cues from their environment. The philosopher plays the game differently. He gives the forms names, shapes them into concepts, makes them consciously thinkable, verbally speakable. The philosopher alone can say what he knows, though the others are neither able to nor need to. But the philosopher also has the powers to invent new forms, to analyze the old, to extract the gold from any ore, for his conceptual tools let him play a more subtle game. He knows best that each private life, no matter how normal and everyday, is a goldmine of ideas. Life is fractal. My full book also resides in each sentence, each paragraph, which are like veins and arteries to carry the blood of my soul, and like blood, all things are mixed together, for as blood moves oxygen, nutrients, antibodies, hormones, and wastes, all to their correct place, so my style – I call it the allistic style – conveys all things at the same time in the same place. The genre is language, but then all art is language. Grammar codifies beings, becomings, and logical relationships: the noun, the verb, the preposition. So much of language is mere framing, mere set up, for the one or two moments of true intimacy. Perhaps a whole drama is mere set up and alibi for the true moment. Perhaps that true moment isn’t known, but felt deep down.

            The job of learning, of knowing, of realizing forms, is the scholar’s payment in this life. Suffering is superficial. Life is about growing in power and love, is about mastering forms. The way to play the Game is to be able to hold metaphors as handles on reality. Each mood is like a room in the mental mansion. Each room has its own furniture, its own tools. Some concepts work like microscopes, getting at subtle, small, intricate facts; other tools work as telescopes, getting at the remote.

            Mastering verbal form is like mastering music. Beethoven’s symphonies often transition by radical leaps between disparate keys, with a small but perfect phrase which knows how to bring you there. In writing, you can gracefully get from an X to any Y, with the ingenuity of a transition. Consider the structure of the whole against the microstructure of the parts. The microscopic structure of style can hold the clue to transferring ideas. In the same way, life is made up of what we think of all day. To be able to focus intently on each part requires a metaphorical grasp of what we are looking at, to segment it off as This Fully Now. We must learn how to revere intent focus.

            To have a sacred, personal or public, you must know how to adore. To be able to set a given thing as personally sacred for you, utterly important, an image of Importance, is the ability to become a priest and bestow blessings. No religion is necessary, but merely taking the conceptual tool which religion worked out for centuries of setting a thing apart. Your language will protect it. Know how to revere, protect, hide, and glorify a thing. If writing is your blessing on the world, love it, honor it, never denigrate it. If dancing is it, or whatever else, then do the same.

            As the incarnation of Allism, as the representative of it, in accordance with Ama, the face of Mother All, I seek especially to put my roots down in the nation of my birth, not to recommend that all men love America, but that they love their own birthplace, glorify the details of their own becoming, to celebrate most what they are, without denying the glory of the planet and the whole universe as well. The music of the spheres is in loving a thing for what it is, loving myself as myself, my family as my family, my city as my city, my nation as my nation, mankind as mankind, life as life, the universe as universe, honor to the honorable, love to the lovely, respect to the respectable.

            And so I internalize American forms, sinking the roots of my World Tree deep beneath the soil of my very feet, drinking in the forms which the ancient ideas assume passing through our minds, reading Emerson daily, studying Whitman in the outdoors every season, analyzing William James, figuring out the music of Charles Ives, admiring and emulating the structuralism of the architecture of Wright, and balancing them all against the foreign ideas of Nietzsche, the Gospel of Thomas, the Tao Te Jing, the Norse Eddas.

            There are many layers of form in every meaning, as if each concept were a geological column in which different fossilized critters had solidified in the layers of rock. Except they are alive, and vital, and merely await identification to add life to what I use them for.

            All of life is creative, and the creative life is the liveliest of all. To ever create, to make your own birthday cards, your own birthday cakes; to study law, imposing new systems and tables over it; to sing in the morning, dance at noon, the meditate at night; to beautify all you touch, to recreate all forms and experiences into your own; to copyright the universe; this is the life of glory, the divine life, the life of an incarnated god.









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