Writing isn’t about writing! It’s about imagining who we are, and what kind of world we live in from physical, emotional and intellectual perspectives; it’s a search for the drama and meaning of our lives, so we can share experiences in compelling narratives. So writing is about living from a certain perspective. Mine emphasizes the intellectual. Below is an evolving Table of Contents for an exploration in progress, titled Out of Bounds: A Fictional Philosophy. It maps the neural network that takes me to strange and wondrous places, and sometimes dead-ends in the horror of it all. I don’t want to go it alone: Join me…
The Necessary Illusion
I Am – This abbreviation of the fundamental Cartesian statement is the beginning of philosophy, art, indeed all experience. It is my point of departure, recalibrated every second of every day.
On Purpose – When we ask the question ‘Why?’, we are trying to sink a foundation to bedrock, we are looking for ‘the meaning of life’, and are not satisfied with contingent or self-defined answers. Finite beings, seeking infinite knowledge, we are destined to always be questing for unattainable truth. Our insistence on certainty has led to magnificent discoveries and unspeakable horrors.
Existential Influences – I use the word ‘existential’ in two modes: it refers to the Existentialist movement, particularly as it evolved in France in the mid-20th Century; and to the adjective that denotes thoughts ‘of or related to existence’.
Pure Sense – The raw material of our world is sensory data. To understand the constructs that emerge from this primal stream of consciousness, we have to go back to the very beginnings of sensory perception. This is my understanding of the Phenomenological process called epoché. The amalgam of sight, sound, touch, scent and taste, all associated with pleasure and pain, is the stuff of experience.
Common Sense – Patterns and form are discerned in the primal stream of consciousness. Our worlds emerge layer upon interpenetrating layer as we become adept at and coached in the mercurial process of interpreting the sense data that continuously stimulates and activates latent being. Ultimately, this process draws us into overlapping world-views and modes of communicating. Our ‘situations’ lead to accepted, common-sense beliefs that are ever more complex, wondrous and dangerous.
EsSense – Jean Paul Sartre famously proclaimed ‘experience precedes essence.’ His rigid, antagonistic vision of human nature is flawed. Experience activates essence – or what I think of as ‘latent being’ – and neither is possible in any meaningful way without the other. Essence emerges over our lifetimes, in ‘tropic’ relation to our experiences.
Past, Present, Future – The past no longer exists, the future does not yet exist, all we know is the here-and-now of this precise moment, which is recreated, or ‘refreshed’ in the experiencing of every instant of every day.
We are alone – There is no dissolving of the soliptic divide; ego is founded on illusion. Like a convincing movie, the overwhelming evidence of our senses reacting with latent, yearning being convinces us that our experiences are accurate representations of ‘reality,’ and because we crave certainty, we don’t question the stability of our given ‘world views.’ But really, our naive ‘belief’ in the world as we imagine it is almost always a continuously renewed and reinforced act of unreflective faith. It’s only when we question and reshape our visions of the world, through strenuous reflection and logic, that we begin to discover deeper patterns and possibilities. In response to the stimuli of experience we each imagine an entire universe, but remain isolated in our separate worlds, alone in our illusions – except for the messages we are able to filter like holograms through the soliptic divide. (See: The Contradiction that is Life.)
Love and Hate – In its most intense blossoming, love penetrates the soliptic divide as the ultimate expression of faith in one-another, or of one for another. Love is the only state of mind that incites one being to willingly sacrifice his life for another. It is the source of true bravery and genuine morality. Hatred, ultimately, is the attempt to bridge the soliptic divide by destroying the other. In its most malicious form, hatred desires to prolong the existence of the other so more pain can be inflicted. It is the source of true evil. Heaven and Hell are representations of love and hate externalized and given meaning beyond the finite scope of human endurance.
The Life Urge – What is often called spirit, I call the Life Urge. It is simple, latent and always bound up with energy and matter. Like gravity, or light, it is a fundamental force; unlike gravity and light, it has not been detected or measured by scientific methods or instruments, nor – it is my belief – can it be. It can only be posited and felt. Consciousness cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it exist unbound with energy and matter – there is no God, who created our universe ex machina, only a life urge manifesting in all beings. Our fundamental ‘purpose’ is to ‘experience and express’ our versions of consciousness in the universe for the brief blossoming of our own lifetimes – to make real the possibilities of ‘free will,’ in thinking, feeling matter manifest in the world. It doesn’t make any difference at all whether you believe or don’t believe in the life urge; it is you, and you are it. (See: The Contradiction that is Life.)
The Contradiction that is Life – We are real, but really an illusion – a state of being I call ‘The Necessary Illusion’. Embodied consciousness, we must manifest as individual egos and have a point of view. Our ‘purpose’ is to experience and express unique, overlapping world views and collectively be the consciousness of the universe – consciousness that cannot exist unless it crystallizes into individuality. The cycle of being has no beginning or end; for the universe to exist, it must be experienced; experience must always be ‘of’ something; so for ‘me’ to exist, there must be something outside of me; and for something outside of me to exist (be held in consciousness) ‘I’ must exist. But the unique manifestations of consciousness that give rise to ego are ultimately illusion. Spiritualism is the momentous enlightenment that dawns when the visions of self-centered ego become expansive and inclusive – when ‘I’ and fulfilled, and ego sees through its own tentative, illusory nature and accepts its impermanence and finiteness, giving way to the underlying unity of all life.
Four Aspects of Human Consciousness – The tetrahedron is the first geometric configuration capable of representing three dimensions. It is also a form that symbolizes for me the four essential aspects of human consciousness, the: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual and Spiritual. Although they are listed in an order that suggests the increasing scope and complexity of consciousness as we grow and develop (a pattern which echoes the stages of conscious development through eons of biological evolution) it is wrong to rank the aspects of consciousness in a hierarchy. They are all fundamental, all essential.
Physical Consciousness – In physcial mode, I react to the pleasurable and painful stimuli of my world. My primal-self craves sensations, and will risk everything to satisfy the provoking pains and pangs of hunger, cold, sexual drive and release, and so on. To not satisfy those cravings gives rise to misery and want: either acute as in the case of hunger and shivering; or somatic, as in the case of unmet sexual urges. Then, of course, there’s the more sudden and urgent promptings of physical injury, which demand immediate action to avoid or limit bodily harm. In one form or another, pleasure and pain are the motivations of my primal-self. An aesthetic develops around these impulses. Over time we learn to associate sense patterns with ‘things’ and ‘situations’, and it is out of repeated sensory events that we put together our concepts of an external world. For an initial description of the Physical-Self see Bare Metal Consciousness.
Emotional Consciousness – In emotional mode, I shout or reach out to a world that I want to respond to my needs; or whose needs I want to meet. I believe our emotions are derivatives of love and hate, but questions abound. How direct is the correlation of love and hate to the physical sensations of pleasure and pain? When do we first reach out or recoil based on an emotional, rather than a purely physical response? In my view, emotions are triggered by entities we believe will respond to our yearnings, expressed in the form of looks, gestures, cries, and – as we become more sophisticated (entering the realm of intelligence) – words. When we transfer emotional responses onto inert ‘things’, we have unconsciously anthropomorphized objects in the hopes of giving our voices the same power over them as they might have over sentient beings. There is a large element of instict underlying our emotions, especially when they are expressed in response to our earliest primal sensations: a mother’s face, being breast fed, the sensation of a loving hand stroking our hair. These are natural occurrences we respond to without being taught; as we mature, our emotional responses become more complex and calculating, informed by our cultural and social milieus and emerging intellectual consciousness.
Intellectual Consciousness – In intellectual mode I want to understand the world and how it works so I can effect lasting change. We are entering the realm of abstract and consistent paradigms as the intellectual aspect begins to shape consciousness. When I say the word ‘chair’ in reference to the concatonation of wood and fabric in front of me, I am not only referencing the object my companions and I see at that moment, I am talking about all chairs, anywhere, at any time. I know the properties of a chair, its possible uses, and what type of surroundings I expect to find specific sorts of chairs in. The definition of a chair is shared with billions of other people; but, though my particular version overlaps for the most part, it is still a distinct element of my own unique world-view and its furniture. The purest forms of abstraction – logic and mathematics for example – are prefectly consistent across all consciousnesses because reality has been stripped away. The postulates and laws of abstract thinking do not exist outside the mind – one could go so far as to say the universial matrixes of time and space cannot exist without a consciousness to perceive them, and that intellectual consciousness itself is meaningless without those contextualizing parameters. What does a worm know of time and space?
Spiritual Consciousness – In spirit-mode I become transparent, and recognize that individuated reality is a necessary illusion for the manifestation of consciousness. I begin to see the ‘nothingness’ before my emergence and after my mergence of individuated being as unknowable but inevitable. With that awareness, I come to understand that for my life to have meaning, I have to let go my instinctive and rational clinging to individuated being, and give my entire self – and my own world – over to the world beyond. I have to make my love of others and desire to perpetuate surviving spirit my entire meaning. Very few of us achieve this level of spirituality, certainly not beyond an intellectualized ideal. But it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the striving to get there. Transparency does not mean we become unaware of ourselves as physical, emotional and intellectual entities; rather, it means we devote those capabilities and direct our joy to those who will survive us and a ‘reality’ that will endure after we are no more.
A Fictional Philosophy In Action
Inalienable Natural Rights – We cannot relinquish our Natural Rights. We can set them aside by considered contract or citizenship; be forced to yield to others through acts of coercion or torture; forget they exist, or deny them because we crave the certainty and security of others telling us what to do, without the guilt of knowing we are being less than authentic. But at any time we can reassert our natural rights without warning or explanation. Some would call this a manifesto for anarchy; I say it’s the basis of true, awakening freedom.
Unavoidable Responsibility – Along with inalienable natural rights, comes unavoidable responsibility for all our acts. This relates to the Existentialist dictum about living ‘authentically’.
The Enabling Limitations of Choice – (Annotation to come.)
Anticipation, Appreciation, Articulation – (Annotation to come.)
Literary Aesthetics – (Annotation to come.)
Imagine fearlessly, intensely – (Annotation to come.)