Monday, September 5, 2011

"mirroring and the dynamic" the essay continues

We continue with the Commitment, one of the strategies for life, by looking at the nature of mirroring and discovering the dynamic. This section introduces a complex field of thought I’ve been considering about the use of mirrors for cognitive and social purposes. If you mirror your friends or enemies, how do they react to you? And further I look at the dynamic, that part of each of our lives that is most important to us at the momemt, the place where we are going. How does identifying such a fertile place give us oppurtunities?





3. Mirroring and the Dynamic


            The ability to make things into mirrors of yourself, and yourself into a mirror of others, is a great philosophical tool. I practice it often enough, how to mirror another without compromising my independence.

            In the company of others, I am Echo, intensifying their Narcissus. Hearing our desire repeated back drives us wild. I match cadence, phrases, and words, never in caricature, never noticeably. Others think “I like him” but don’t know why. In fact, I feel a bit nervous in crowds, and need to settle into my study at the end of the day, reading and writing deep into the womb of night.

            Daily we appear before others, to interact with kindness and respect. Kindness is letting another be himself; helping another is helping him to by his own power become more himself. Mirroring another intensifies the resonance of his soul. Knowing what to reflect back upon another, intuitively, but first by practice, requires a bit of insight into the human soul in general, which requires again self-knowledge into your own soul.

            Mirroring is as useful for ideas as it is for people. Faulty logical constructions can be ruined with a little reflection. The terms of any argument can be shown to be incompatible, once you substitute words to expose inner logic. Be a mirror, and make a sentence mirror itself. For instance, the Argument from Design states that designed things have designers, and that we know a thing is designed by its complexity. A watch is complex, but a rock is simple, therefore a watch requires a designer and the rock not. Well the universe is complex too, and so it must be designed. Or in other words, because watches are more complex than rocks, rocks are therefore as designed watches. Or consider the allegory of the cave, of Plato’s Republic. In it, Socrates describes people who are chained in a cave, and see only shadows on the wall, and think that those shadows are real. One man is released and walks into the world of the sun, and sees things as they really are. What this means is that the released man is the philosopher. Or in other words: shadows are false, but the sun is real, therefore, to the philosopher, the sun also is a shadow. Like the design argument, the term of the first part is destroyed in the second, like a house that pulls up the materials from the first floor to make the second. This is the same trouble we run into with the Hindu idea of the world being Maya. Since the very terms used, such as that the world is an "illusion," are learned by showing the difference between actual and seeming, the word illusion therefore can't then go back and cover the actual without undoing itself. If all experience is illusion, than illusion isn't so bad. We still have optical illusions and deceits of others, that is, real tricks in perception, and we still have the exact observations of science. Or consider the theology of predestination in Calvin. Did God predestine Calvin to teach about predestination? And if so, and if the doctrine is central, then why did God wait so long to augment his scripture with it?

            In the same way, the contradictions in a friendship are mirrored back in order to overcome them. Shared guilt and shared shame bind a couple. Slowly, lovers blend their spirits, with the words they say. They imitate each other’s words and gestures, at first mockingly, and then sincerely. Tempo and cadence of speech, rate of speech, length of clauses, are readily mirrored. We breath together, we conspire together. So I also spend time with the American Fathers, Emerson and Whitman.

            Mirroring requires strategies. Nonresistance is one strategy, conversion of violence another. To forcefully and pleasantly convert violence to good is the business of innocent wisdom. Gasoline fires are violent, but the internal combustion engine is useful.

            When somebody gives me a dirty look and I can’t reference it, I quietly list a catalog of guilts and check them against what the person could know about me. Some people accrue gossip, they are targets of slander, they are off enough that you or I would believe anything of him, even if really he is fully innocent, but just looks amiss.

            Mind-reading is to mirror a man in context, and preferably before he focuses on your focusing. To see him thinking is to think with him. To touch the dynamic of another is to be important to him or her.

            We are all growing; the part of us that is now growing is our dynamic. It may seem like a crisis, or a pain, or a loss, or an excitement. The person who speaks to that speaks to the heart.

            To understand me, you must change me into something you can understand. But my own know me at a glance. For the few who can mirror me, perhaps they guess what I am after.

            In writing, in conversation, in life, know how to plant different centers of consciousness, different minds to balance each other. Quote a bit, tell an anecdote, internalize your opponents and friends. Be a multifaceted mirror. Know how to throw your ego high like a circular mirror, flipping like a coin and reflecting from every direction a gleam of being.

            Emotional manipulations, accusations against others, against lovers, which, to avoid, inconvenient concessions must be made -- “You hate me, you think I’m lying, nothing I do is good enough for you,” – how is the philosopher to escape such people? Through a clever bend of the mirror.

            One method I learned from my parent’s divorce is to feel superior to the one who rejects me, to call myself unworthy, the entire time knowing that it is I who rejected him – or, perhaps not knowing it, to be confused, to wonder why others leave me, blind to my hand which pushed them away. The game is simple, and open to a variety of interpretations. “Will you still love me if I do … this? How far before your love dissolves?” So I handle my sense of being different. All beings have a similar mind, we are variations of the same matter. All of us feel essentially different from others, and this feeling of difference makes us all the same.

            A relationship has reality when it is genuine. Direct truth, expressing what I really feel, that would be easier if I really knew what I thought. Why do you leave me, why do you turn your face away? What did I say? I feel I said something wrong, but what? Is it this, or the other? You won’t explain, maybe you can’t. I guess, I doubt, I come to conclusions or I don’t, but I am alone, all the same.

            We can only understand what we can first symbolize and name. It is not enough to see or experience a thing, if you can’t also say it. If the mind is a mirror, I’m Narcissus; I am also Echo, and reflect again the words that praise. All the world’s works are commentaries on me; every book is a glint of my biography. Teach as Dewey would teach, with his principle Teach them what they already know.

            Mirror your students. Internalize their context, their childhood experiences, their city and its history, their families and its history, and reflect it all back to them with the added element of the lesson you would teach, so that the student is more himself than before, deeper and richer with the native element and the foreign element conjoined. Like Buddha speaking to the fire-worshippers, his same old dhamma in the metaphor they were familiar with, in terms of fire: teach men what they already know.









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