Friday, August 5, 2011

"gross strucuring" a section of an essay

The section on Order marches on. Now we come to the ability  to see the big picture, the wide outlines of life, the broad angles. The ability to see the whole thing and break it down into a minimum of large units is helpful in reading and studying, both books and life in general.


Daniel Christopher June





3. Gross Structuring


            To impose order upon your full life, to plan what every decade is for, to subordinate full years to higher goals, to see the full lay of your friends as so many players in a multigenerational drama, to see how all things fit together, and again,  to see how a book fits together, how all its chapters express one basic idea, requires the ability to gross-structure.

            Gross structuring is the ability to outline and anatomize wide arrays of information. To be able to internalize broad topics requires an open, passive, observant mind, which then chews all into bits for digestion.

            The All and the One are the parameters of philosophy, the extremes – and how can we know a thing without knowing its limits? The individual and the everything are two ends of a spectrum. Everything balances, everything compensates, everything is made of the same basic stuff, everything follows the eternal laws.

            The basic structure of thought is the sentence. Each sentence gives an effect, a unique experience. Yet the paragraph is a sort of sentence, and the chapter a sort of sentence, and the entire book a single sentence, and all the books a writer composed coalesce into one sentence, and the full genre another sentence, and all books combined are variations of the same book, the self-same sentence.

            To get at the logic of a sentence, or any number of chapters, reduce them to permutations of the same perms. for instance, there is this theological blunder that goes by the name of the “Argument by Design” for God’s existence which runs like this:

When a man sees a wristwatch lying on a rock, he knows that the rock is natural, but the wristwatch is intelligently designed. Well if we study nature, we will see that it is much more complicated than a wristwatch, and therefore also needed to be intelligently designed.

            The argument cheats in this way: to rephrase the idea, it says, “Designed things such as watches are different than natural things such as rocks. Natural things are complicated, therefore they are as designed things as watches.” It is as if the argument forgets about its analogy with the rock when it goes on to say, “because watches are designed, so are rocks,” in which case, we end up with everything being designed, and therefore, nothing is not designed, and therefore, any observation about design is superfluous anyway, since we cannot find anything that lacks design. Again, it is as if it were saying that design were “unnatural” (artificially created by humans, or supernaturally created by God) and then showing that all of nature is already designed. Since humans are bits of nature, and we have creative properties, why not project those creative properties upon the universe as a whole? We at least have it! The universe is self-created, and all creativity is by the laws of the universe. In this way, our fine structures of rocks and watches are not negated by the gross structure of the universe as a whole. We can therefore see how effective a gross structuring is in how it negotiates between the part and the whole.

            The gross structure that each worldview imagines for the universe is also related implicitly to an attitude toward the gross structure of how every other worldview is wrong: every religion has a theory of the other religions. Worldviews belong to specific cultures, and any given culture holds a dozen alternative worldviews at the same time, each in relation to each other. The cults do not threaten the established religions; they reinforce them. The meta-structure, the gross-structure of Allism, is therefore between all worldviews in relation to the others. Each religion cuts up space and time with sacred places and holidays. For us Allists, our sacred place and time is in our own birthplace, our own birthday, our own relationship to all those other places and times; and what is sacred is that place in the structure where we find our own private peace. The question becomes, 'How do we structure our lives and habits in order to sacrosanct what is holy to us, how do we keep sacred our private integrity? How can we worship a god that nobody has ever heard of?' We do this by hushing about our joy, never sharing it, but overlapping it with all the others, so that the external form coincides, but the internal form is completely different. We may choose our own holidays, and also celebrate the others by our own lights.

            Every artwork, every novel, assumes a norm, and stages a deviation. The book sets up its world only in order to defy it: Winston Smith is against Big Brother, Satan just fell out of Milton’s heaven, Odin hears a prophecy of the Twilight of the Gods. Nothing can be unique unless the rest remains normal. Know how to structure your life so that you can be alone with your inner divinity, know how to spend time meditating, thinking, and talking with Ama. Structure it all, and know how to intuit structure.

            Even better than consciously, we unconsciously pick up on structures. Most of my classmates and coworkers are smarter than me in that they can pick up on expectations, requirements, and assignments quickly. I both lack imagination and lack intuition, and thus must consciously grope for what they so readily pick up. Yet we all assume structures immediately, so that without musical training, we know when music deviates from its structure, when it bends the rules, when it surprises us. The five year old knows all the rules of grammar without even knowing what the word “adverb” refers to.

            To take from these intuitive instances, to form a theory, and create an institution, allows everybody to tweak his unconscious with the unconsciousness of others, so that we breath in the group spirit, and drink in the group soul. We live together, we share this city, we start to fall into step, our rhythms flux and transfigure each others, we take on the atmosphere, imitate the weather, and slowly come to fit into our world. Soon, my world lives for me, I need only set myself within it. And so institutions crystallize our functions: my marriage loves for me, whether I feel it or not, the church believes for me, whether I believe or doubt. How the celebrities amuse us, and for this very reason. They act out our fantasies, for though each man embodies all the others, he isn’t aware of it until he sees it, so that whether he approves or disapproves of what he sees, he has done that very same thing himself by mere contemplation.

            We each come to represent some set of facts for the world, to embody some aspect of Nature’s design. A great event pushes the sensitive up, as if they were fountain heads, who then pours emotion over all the others. We are all jailed with the criminal, we are all institutionalized with the insane, we are all killed in war, we are all famous with celebrities. By merely caring we participate in their nature.

            We are individually men, and as groups we are bodies of men. The average needs of people in a given location summon the appropriate fulfillment, the way, say, an increase in traffic at a certain intersection will summon the emergence of a gas station, or a mini-mall, or whatever else, because it is collectively felt; for as the population grows, the opportunists, as ubiquitous as the spores of a fungus, immediately spring up and settle there, even though to the individual involved, it is an act of pure caprice, will, self-assertion, and unique personal expression.

            It takes wisdom and cunning to see such an opportunity, yet foolishness too has its uses. It takes the foolish man longer to learn things, and yet how wise is foolishness! Only a truly useless person has the chance to be great. Be too useful, too agreeable, too quick witted, and how quickly the group body puts you to work. But stupid, be obstinate, be unteachable, be thoroughly useless, and you will have a right to your independence. Nobody bothers yonder boulder: it is too wide to move, too ugly to break up, it isn’t worth bothering with: let it alone, let it grow wise and sublime in the face of our indifference.

            Where we stand is the best lookout point for what belongs for us to see. Nietzsche complained that Emerson lacked a disciplined study of science. The American mind is literal, as real as yours or mine, but thinks over the centuries, and thinks through you and me. No doubt Emerson is the center of it, as founding of a father as Washington or Jefferson. Our mind slowly builds on disciplines and tradition, we slowly come to accept our place as righteous, to see finally that whoever is born on American soil can never touch hell, but is instantly assured of heaven, and that our founding place is not in ancient traditions, not until we ourselves are ancient, but by right belong to the undisciplined and original minds of Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau. Our central situation is to join this place, to add our own words, better words, and thus to honor the teachers who went before. They were undisciplined because they founded disciplines. we can do more because we also have them, and they are our nation's own.

            And so, we love our place, even if we complain. Stereotyped complaints are a sort of praise, a comfort, a way of keeping things the way they are. Do we complain of our place and time? Then we must love it. But if we praised them, that is true hate, and true war, and we would invite revolution. We can make a purpose of either love of hate so long as we believe in our purpose.

            Structure your books, your studies, your friends, your life, in terms of how they energize your purpose. That thing that your life lives for, how do all your days and doings relate to that? Only when you know this can you hold any meaningful evaluation about the merits of this day or that, or this suffering or that. Every experience must both pay for itself, give an immediate result, be used instantly, and also give a long term result, a future result, the way animal life evolved eyes, with a little bit of light sensitive skin giving immediate evolutionary payoff – how else would the creature be selected to pass it on? – while yet building up over the millennia to a great pair of seers. Let every day enlighten you, and let the sum of your days enlighten you even more. You have never lost and never failed where you still have learned, and even the greatest of setbacks can open greater joys. There is no final evil in all the universe, not death, not suicide, not rape, not warfare, for your innermost is made of joy, is incorruptible, is sacrosanct, and lives forever. Any man may doubt this with his mouth, but no man, woman, or child, can doubt this with his being. When Socrates said that no man could do him harm but himself, we all intuitively sense the wisdom of this, and respect him as among the noblest of ancients. I don’t care if a man is tortured to death or what else: I may avenge him, but I will never pity him, nor the other one over there, nor least of all myself, for I know my worth, and know that there is nothing pitiable about who I really am, and nothing possible to be victimized in my true self. This God or that may die for my sins, but what I truly am can never die, can never be lost, and can never be saved. Did you sweat blood for something as superficial as my bad habits? Let me sweat my own blood, it will do me good. My own life to me is worth more than the blood of many gods, and nothing you do or give or promise could warrant ownership, possession, or even any right to influence my inner being. Worry about your own soul – you have reason to!









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