Sunday, December 3, 2006

Bathrooms & Bach

Imagine you're sitting in a reading room of a library, buried (as they say) in a book. Then out of nowhere, here comes an impulse to urinate! But doesn't this mean you weren't so buried the book after all, because if the whole of your consciousness was “occupied with” with that reading moment, then how could you ALSO be experiencing, "Hey, I need to take a piss here"? After all, if in effect you ARE the reading moment, then that's it! There's no consciousness "left over" to choose anything else.

Here's another way to say this. Imagine there's a fire in the basement of our hypothetical library and in due course some smoke starts rising to the upper levels, e.g., the reading room. So here you are, "lost" in The Brother's Karamazov, oblivious even to street sounds outside the window, but gradually, gradually you start smelling smoke.

But wait a minute, wait a minute! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? If you are "nothing but" (at least for a little while) the Brother's Karamazov, then what consciousness is available for smoke smelling?

Part of what this is showing us is that we have basically have no clue what we mean with the "consciousness" word. For example, what's the consciousness/content relationship? Is content something consciousness is "conscious of", or is content a foci or mode OF consciousness, i.e., no content, no consciousness?

And please note that these are not neurological or psychological questions, so let's just bag the medical/scientific "authorities" for a moment, shall we? Perhaps you too are increasingly unimpressed with what religion OR science has to say about much of anything these days. So while string physicists keep floating off into metaphysical limbos and religious fundamentalists keep trying to convince everyone (especially themselves) that the This is It reality/universe is merely a salvation/damnation motel, let's just LOOK AT what’s actually happening.

It's sleeve rolling up time! And here's the first game rule. It's OK to communicate from confusion, i.e., it's OK to "grope". Confusion has always been something we've had to get down and dirty about.

So back to, "Boy, I sure need to go to the bathroom!" And remember this impulse appears while the whole of your consciousness is seemingly absorbed into the reading experience. But if that "concentration field" (a useful turn of phrase) is NOTHING BUT reading, then how does smoke smelling or the urination desire become a content of consciousness?

Clearly, what this is showing us is that the "concentration field" is NOT the whole of consciousness -- which is so important it should probably be said twice.

And here's something else. Isn't what we call the content of conscious just another way of talking about "the world of form" (which is related to the peculiar truth that you have to be someone to be anyone).

This is even related to interpreting psychosis as the disintegration of the world of form. Shoes aren't shoes anymore; and more to the point, you's aren't you's anymore. But in some respects, this is being MORE, not less, in touch with reality. Kant touched on this with his rejection of "things in themselves". That shoe of yours, whatever else it is, isn't a “bbb” (i.e., being billiard ball or unit of independent realness). bbb's are thought objects only. What's really "out there" is pure relation, not relatas.

But back to smoke smelling. The premasticated understanding of smoke smelling is that it's the going off of physicalness. No big deal, just olfactory nervous systems doing their deterministic thing, blips of quasi measurable behavior.

Oh? Gee, I thought it had something to do with WILL. What's so terrible about saying consciousness (i.e., the world of form) is manifested will?

Time to get down and dirty:

Science: No, no, you clearly don't understand what's going on here. Reality process is all quarks and causality. Smoke smelling is mere subjectivity -- the effect/appearance of physicalness, olfactory nervous systems interacting with randomness.

Religion: Whatever, since it’s all moot for us. Debate it as you like, but our eye's on the prize. While you duke it out about the small stuff, salvation/damnation is the name of our ONLY game.

Confusion: But "mere subjectivity" is discounting to consciousness. What if so-called mere subjectivity is grounded in reality process? What if nowing is the being myselfing of ultimate realness? And why does consciousness always have to be on the "outside looking in"? Look, at least be hypothetical about this. If ultimate realness is where we already are, then consciousness is all of piece with reality process.

Religion: Get thee behind me Satan! We all know God/Reality/Truth is always in the future. Nowing is meaningless except in relation to the working out of your salvation or damnation. Don't you get it? Science is examining the WALLPAPER of God's motel. Keep your eye on the prize!

Confusion: I wonder why neither of you will open to the possibility that ultimate realness is where we already are? Both are you are obsessed (just in different ways) with time and thought. Both of you are convinced you've got reality by the conceptual throat. Black cassocks think they’re reading the mind of God and white cassocks (i.e., white lab coats) think they’re deciphering the equation rule book nature uses to make its decisions by. I believe the word is spelled h-u-b-r-i-s.

Religion: Oh, oh, you said "God"! See, you're a closet religioso after all.

Confusion: God, schmod. God's just a pretty metaphor for the mystery of givenness . . . and a givenness which forever and ultimately escapes both religious AND scientific thought/forms.

Science: Hmmm, perhaps this isn't so far away from what our quantum physicists are saying.

Religion: Yes, and we've certainly got mystics to burn (no pun intended) who have said similar sorts of things over the millennia.

Science and Religion: But, we're still BOTH confused about your suggestion that consciousness and/or the world of form is manifested will . . .

Ah, join the club! Let's look at another example. The baroque composer J.S. Bach was said to be a master improviser who would sit down in front of medieval keyboards and jam his heart out. OK, here's the question. What was the origin of Bach's improvising? Was it the mere going off of physicalness? Surely we can do better than such a bugs eye view of the Himalayas.

For example, why not say Bach was "playing it by feel" or expressing his feelings or acting out passion? Behaviorism is meaningless and vulgar here. Consciousness MUST be taken seriously. Yes, it's always possible to discount Bach's passion as the mere (that word again!) by product of glandular secretions, but there are radically different ways of looking at this and one of them is to see Bach's improvisations as "growing" DIRECTLY FROM his passion.

But this would mean consciousness and reality process are one and the same! The alternative is to keep trivializing consciousness into "epiphenomenal" cartoon bubbles. Seen thus, Bach's gifts to the world are the coming into form of abyssal creativity (i.e., manifested will). So isn't it about time we stop beating this two headed dead horse of randomness vs. determinism, if SPONTANEITY turns out to be the true dynamic of things?

Let's face it, nowing equals realitying equals consciousness, and however much theologians and ultra theoretical physicists intellectualize about what's allegedly going on "behind the scenes", consciousness is no more limited to "talking to ourselves inside our heads" than the sun is limited to its myriad’s of reflected moonbeams