05-03-10

The Elder Statesman - Act One

"CHARLES: Your words seem to come
From very far away. Yet very near. You are changing me
And I am changing you.

MONICA: Already
How much of me is you?

CHARLES: And how much of me is you?
I'm not the same person as a moment ago.
What do the word mean now - I and you?"

T.S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman, Faber and Faber, 1969, p. 13 ;-)


Yes, I love my wife too.

People want to understand. We want to capture the meaning and then vivisect it - & trace each and every detail until it is well and truly known. Until it can be recited and reproduced ad infinitum. The preference is for natural numbers over rational ones & for rational numbers of real ones. The real numbers may not outnumber but clearly outperform the complex numbers as regards the popular vote. The same is with the discrete versus the continuous. If we can split in two halves we will; but anything will be preferred over the messy reality of there being an infinite number of ways for us to look at a single thing. And we prefer the linear over the non-linear as well; things come in well identifiable singles, if at all possible, we will go to the most extreme of extremes to avoid having to consider what happens as a whole that can't be reduced to constituent parts.

The 'whole' is for our everyday understanding a big, glaring hole.

I hate that.

I like to say that what takes effort is probably not worth the effort.

My bad, I guess. My loss as well. If you count in number of hits, at least.

The worst of it you'll get if one questions the identity of people's personality and the hard and fast truth of being born as an atomic spirit into a growing body. If we do it, we get stared at: "For sure, you don't imply that this I is something, continuously in flux & merely a function of its environment (more specifically its linguistic context)!" It is precisely what I imply, what Eliot implies, what Pirandello implies and what can't but be the consequence of what can't but be right in contemporary philosophy.

"But what about guilt? If the person is no longer a trustable unit of accountability, it is impossible to attribute guilt." It would be impossible and it is impossible to 'guilt' somebody in the absolute way that people want to make other people guilty (and - which is the same - themselves potentially innocent). Sin is impossible but workable as a concept within the limits of the over-all fogginess of all other concepts,'person' included. Original sin is definitely out. Original sin would apply to those just born, & to those not capable of language. It doesn't apply - because it cannot hold. Before feeling yourself as a self there was no self and no guilt, original or otherwise.

One should not underestimate the power that religions have in presenting a linear & a discrete & a natural picture of atomic spirits that can be wrong or right, that can be saved or doomed. This is serious business even if, by nature, somewhat fuzzy. This cannot be. The most you can do is have your you influence another I - thát is what we get as an after-life: not even so much as 'being remembered' but merely having caused something for the good of what comes after. This is also enough for Kant's sense of morality because it is enough to want to cause something good.

I am sorry to have focused on the negative, with a quote that so clearly opens doors to the positive. But the easy way out of that is to tell you to reread the quote - and I hope you have somebody like that - and if you haven't, it is the easiest thing to get (because it may be very difficult to get many friends, or to become popular but it's a matter of the smallest difficulty to talk to somebody, & be transformed, & transform at the same time - just let go of your own individuality - and in any case the merest fact of you feeling like an individual is only the consequence of others having talked to you and breathed life in you - you were created not by God but by everybody that has taken the time to nurture you).

I will never ever get softer than that ;-)


Whilst writing this I was listening to BOENOX, 'STUDIO' (will be a hard one to find but one well worth the effort)

19:52 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: t s eliot, identity, optimism, tones, learning |  Facebook |

11-02-10

The Auguries of Science

"The very notion of truth is a culturally given direction, a part of the pervasive nostalgia for an earlier certainty. The very idea of a universal stability, an eternal firmness of principle out there that can be sought for through the world as might an Arthurian knight for the Grail, is, in the morphology of history, a direct outgrowth of the search for lost gods in the first two millennia after the decline of the bicameral mind." Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind., Mariner Books, 1990, p. 446.


There you have it in one quote: all of the beauty and most of the folly of one of the most original thinkers of the XXth century - a scientist that mistook his philosopizing for hypothesis. A thinker lost in the Quine-Duhem-Davidson triangle of changing too much concepts at the same time to be taken seriously by anybody because - in the end - everybody has one concept that is so near & dear to her or his heart that it's a little bit too holy to be touched.

One example being: the naïve concept of truth. The type of truth that settles things, once and for all. The kind of truth that discovers essentialia, in what for some is just a depressingly absurd sequence of events otherwise.

His bold conjecture was this. Consciousness evolved slowly and after man genetically was already a long time more or less the homo sapiens it still is today. Before those conscious times humans that were genetically quasi-identical to us roamed around - in blissful ignorance of the fact they existed. First these people evolved language, & in that language they heard what they denoted as 'the voice of God' giving, literally, commands. Not merely more or less as a schizophrenic would hear voices giving her commands. No, exactly like a schizophrenic would hear voices giving him commands.

Jaynes held that for the majority of the history of the species our predecessors were roaming the world whilst all of them in a never-ending psychotic episode in which God personally told them what to do. What they were hearing in fact were verbally coded and transmitted traditions making up their culture and connecting the lessons learnt by the forefathers with the survival strategies of the group to which they belonged.

This conjecture is of an originality and a beauty that receives better than the scorn it got (up to a point that the original friends, like Dennett, dare no longer speak "that" name again). Nevermind that scientifically he overreached, stumbling upon hilarious self-defeating 'truths'. Nevermind that he failed to appreciate what philosophers had only appreciated in the 2nd half of the XXth century: the relativity of relativity, and a final destruction of the absolutes of even falsifiability.

Nevermind all that and think about it.

Think about how giving up certainties opens up possibilities - the possibility of all of us having developed consciousness up to the level of almost being all of the time in a state of collective neurosis. And the possibility of also overcoming this by evolving into a better state of collective consciousness. A state where we give up on mutual & mutually incompatible Holy Grails. A state where we just live life knowing the past is: as good as it could have been. Knowing that the future will be: better.

Even ridicule will not be able to destroy originality of thought.


Whislt writing this I was listening to Bill Frisell, Disfarmer, Nonesuch.

21:44 Gepost door Guido Nius in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (15) | Tags: jaynes, scientism, language, mind-mind dualism, optimism |  Facebook |

24-01-10

It was full of phonies

"It was full of phonies. And mean guys. You never saw so many mean guys in your life. For instande, if you were having a bull session in somebody's room, and somebody wanted to come in, nobody'd let them in if they were some dopey, pimply guy. Everybody was always locking their door whens somebody wanted to come in." J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, p. 174, Penguin Books, 1958.

"(..) And besides (..)"

"How would you know you weren't being a phoney? The trouble is, you wouldn't." ibid. p. 179.


Digression!

I'm too old for it now. I guess I grew out of it. Or thought I grew out of it. But did I? Apparently not or I wouldn't be quoting it. No, ít grew out of me maybe. Forgot it, or suppressed it. Maybe I was a phoney all along and these quotes the kind of thing a phoney sympathizes with. In order to shield himself in his own thoughts: from being a phoney. Yeah, maybe I forgot it - moved on without the need to look back on the times where people were constantly locking their doors. Cliques. Moved on to locking my doors. People are awful. My clique is small. Is there a small too small for it to be a clique? My clique doesn't include awful people - Is my opinion. I don't lock my door so much as I disincentivize awful people to come in.

No, I'm not a phoney. I may be dopey. Or pimply. Or unintelligible. Or inaudible but not phoney. My clique isn't a clique. Everybody can come in. Nobody wants to though it being so unexclusive and all.

The thing is: you do kinda know. You know because you're not saving lives. At least you are not thinking you're saving lives. Just running around trying to mind your own business. Better: trying not to make to much business out of your own business. Not out of humility or anything either. Just so strange people are not attracted to makin' it into some kind of club. No you're not a phoney if you don't like clubs and if you're able to ask yourself the question: "How do I know I really don't like clubs?"

The other thing is: it's easy to become a phoney. Dopey people become phoneys all the time. Pimply people too. & People that are told they can't be understood. It's so easy to become a phoney. 'Cause you always wanted to get in that bloody door. And that's why they kept on locking it on ya. Coz you always wanted to come in uninvited & all. You see: that kinda seals it as so very depressing. I always wanted to come in and I still want to get in. Even if I know I'm uninvited. Not welcome and that nobody, really nobody, wants to listen to me.

It's easy to become a phoney. More than half of the internet is dedicated to creating a second chance for dopey people to become phonies. It's called social networking & it's dedicated to creating the opportunity to lock virtual doors. People are really good as it too - especially those that were phonies to start with. They really rock at all this social networking stuff. They really do. They can let you know their doors are locked; even if you didn't much care to come in ;-) 

But I still like people. I do. I'm a cultural optimist. Always was. Even with all of these phonies and all, people are likeable if given a chance. Even the phonies. It's just we don't give a lot of chances. We can't really - not enough time to socially network with all of them. So we have to pick our phonies and our dopeys and stuff. We're getting better at it. Lots better. The internet helps. Makes it easier to find our own room, to have a bull session in or something. Easier also to go from one room to the next, & not carrying the label of the rooms you've been in. That certainly helps a lot. Maybe as an optimist one could say: maybe it helps enough to get rid of labels alltogether (at least in the non-amusing sense of cliques and clubs).


Whilst writing this I was listening to Richard Galliano, Luz Negra.

 

15:11 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: identity, salinger, optimism, friendship, competition |  Facebook |