Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Naked theatre

Theatre is naked. Actors wear the personae and costumes of characters. Yet the thing that they cannot hide is their own truth. The stage gives them an excuse and a necessity for revealing it. When actors do take their clothes off on stage, it seems curiously redundant.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The biological explanation

Whenever journalistic articles on current issues quote some scientist explaining away our social or sexual behavior on the basis of what primitive man once did, they always revert to the biological imperative (women choose men based on which one will give her the healthiest children, thus insuring the survival of the species, etc. etc.) I don't find such ethnobiological explanations persuasive or illuminating. They give an illusion of explaining something essentially mysterious. They replace instinct with rational motives, if not man's, then nature's, but nature may have reasons our minds know nothing of. The biological explanation reduces emotions such as love to chemistry. It seeks a lowest common denominator explanation for age-old questions, but it is no more than a spasm of the mind.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

There's no there there

How many sentences begin with the words "There is"? And they all assume that we know where there is. They don't bother to specify. They assume that because there is there, it denotes a simple truth. Whatever follows those words just has to be factual. You fill in the blank. It can be whatever is in the headlines of your daily newspaper. Here's one I just took at random off of Yahoo: "There is complete unanimity of views between China and Pakistan on the issue of terrorism." How much more authoritative that sounds than saying, "China and Pakistan agree completely about terrorism." That I might question. I might say, wait a minute, that sounds a little bit unlikely, a little too pat. But stick a "there is" in there and I am lulled to sleep by the passive construction and accept that yes, indeed, whatever follows those words simply is. But hey, there's no there there unless you say where there is. There. Even I can do it.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Am I an optimist?

Despite some distaste for the idea of optimism, I have to confess that I am an optimist. I think I would rather be a pessimist, but it seems hard to stay consistent in this mode. If I truly believe that everything is going downhill, at some point I will get to the bottom of the hill and find myself starting to go up again, even against my fervent wish. Whereas things that go up have an unlimited potential on the upside. It’s like how being a bear in the stock market is tricky--you can get burnt by going short all the time. Furthermore, if I posit that things are in perpetual decline, I will soon decline myself out of existence, and then I will no longer be able to adhere to my pessimistic philosophy. Pessimism is no better than a short-term strategy, and I need to invest for the long term. Therefore, I am sadly resigned to optimism as a way of life.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Gone today

Be here now? Get real. Nobody is really here. We’re all in Frontierland dreaming of Tomorrowland. We’re always thinking about the next thing, what we want to do next. It is very rare for any of us to even notice the present moment. But while our mind is in the future, dreaming of what is not, our bodies are living in the log cabins of the past. Where’s the present? It is very confusing to try to ascertain exactly when “now” is. My environment is bombarding me with millions of different nows every moment. Light is traveling from my computer screen, from the tree outside my window, and from the sun itself to show me several things that are happening at different moments in time (all in the past). They may be assembled in my mind to give the impression of that they are all happening together, but this is an illusion. Reality is discontinuous, discrete, made up of millions of bits of information coming from different times and places, projecting a movie on the screen of our minds. The universe that we’re constructing is not the real one. We’re gone today, here tomorrow. What’s happening now has already happened and the only thing that’s real is in the future. But by the time tomorrow rolls around, we’ll be gone again. So it goes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Incompleteness theorem

How frustratingly incomplete life is. Even the occasional moment of perfection soon gives way to the hunger for more, and one has to in effect start over to fill in the empty places. We are like painters for whom new expanses of canvas continually reveal themselves in order to be covered by our creative capacity. And we instantly use the brush of our minds to cover them in thought-forms and perceptions so as to convert them into our world. Sometimes new worlds get created but in time they begin to look a lot like the old world. We are consumers of the fresh bread of pure potentiality, compelled to ingest it at every turn, converting it to form. We are stars trying to burn ourselves out by grasping the void all around and wrapping ourselves in the cloak of darkness. But it feeds us in the process and our universe expands further. There is no end.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Satan for president

Now there's a PR challenge. How do you convince people that it's in their interest to elect the incarnation of evil? You don't do it overnight. It takes years of preparation: putting chemicals in their food and water and frying their brains with electronic transmissions so that they really can't think clearly and spoon-feeding them belief systems through schools and the media that will make them good citizens. You carefully condition people to believe that they live in a democracy, and that the pursuit of happiness (in the consumerist mode) is more to be valued than actually being happy. Once the electorate has been effectively dumbed down, they will cheerfully vote for the man who smiles and talks just like them and doesn't act like he knows more than they do, and they never see his horns, and they never complain as the satanic mills grind their bones into dust. One small step for marketing. One giant leap for demonkind.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Letter from God #2

The thing that all the interviewers have been asking me lately is who I want to win the U.S. Presidency. You’d think that if you had the opportunity to ask God a question, you’d ask about enlightenment or where you go after you die or how the universe was created or some really cosmic thing. But no, they want to know who’s going to win the election, Bush or Kerry. Let’s get one thing straight here. The Supreme Court decides who the President is. It’s in the Constitution, right? It’s the Court. Not the people. Not God. Especially not God. I don’t even have a vote, unless I want to go to the trouble of incarnating again, and after catching Mel Gibson’s movie, I’ve really lost my motivation to do that anymore. I don’t even want to see the flick again. Once was more than enough. You too? But anyway, given the way the Bushies have the Court stacked, they probably have a lock on it again. Well, that’s my $.02, as they say. Next time, ask me about something important, or where at least I know the answer.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I blog therefore I am

I really don't think anybody is reading this. Maybe one person out there somewhere will read this. Or not. I think in some sense I don't exist until one person reads this blog. This blogging is an attempt to come into being. Why do I think my existence is dependent on someone else's perception? I don't think these blogs are mere ramblings in the dark...I think they are like messages we send out into space to see if there's intelligent life in the universe, and that is something that we really need to know. We all want to be met on some level, recognized, and brought into existence through that recognition. "I think, therefore I am" does not quite do it. Descartes was onto some truth about existence as derived from consciousness, although his mistake was thinking that thinking had something to do with consciousness! (Just like French films think that talk has something to do with truth.) Je blog, tu lis, donc je suis.

Friday, June 18, 2004

It's everywhere

In Philip K. Dick's Ubik, God comes in a spray can labelled Ubik. And whatever gets sprayed, the seemingly irresistible forces of entropy and decay get countered. The idea is that there is an intelligence trying to break through into our universe and it will put itself into our way through the commonest devices. When I was a kid I wanted two cans of magic for Christmas. My parents ended up giving me a World Book Encyclopedia instead and in it my father wrote that the greatest magic lay in the hearts of men and women. He died 30 years ago but I know he was right. Every day I see more and more evidence of the greatest intelligence manifesting itself through the little acts of kindness coming spontaneously through the heart. We all have that spray can of Ubik. And boy, do we need it now.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

True blue

Blue is not blue. In A's reality, blue is blue. In B's reality, blue is green. In C's reality, blue is red. Question: which blue is true? Well, it's simple. Given, that nothing is what it is. Corollary, nothing is what it seems. Inference, everything is the opposite of what you think it is. Deduction: since green has some blue in it, the answer is C.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

It's over

It’s really, finally, over. We knew it couldn’t last forever, and yet it seemed just to go on and on anyway. No more. The clock has ticked its last tick. It’s over, people. Deal with it. You doubt me? Go ahead. I’ll be dancing on your grave. It’s just freaking over. All of it. We’re going down. Down, down, down. And that’s a good thing. Because it’s time. I mean, did you see that movie, The Day After Tomorrow? Consider it a metaphor. I don’t know how we’re going down, I don’t know if it’ll be tidal waves or tornadoes or even a collapse of our individual reality construct, but it’s happening. How many ways can you spell “over”? I mean, we’re toast. We’re crispy critters. We’re history. We’re not even here anymore. Get used to it. It’s already happened. We’re just stone outa here.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Time is not an illusion

There is an assumption nowadays that time is merely an illusion. We know how subjective the time sense is; furthermore, with the theory of relativity it is clear that time itself slows down with respect to an object that is speeding up. So it really would not be politically correct to say that my time is better than your time; it’s just different. This sort of thing demotes time to being a variable function derived from what is going on; it is not even kind of a passive Newtonian background for physical action; it is nothing at all. However, what if time were regarded as an active shaper, a causative force, indeed a conscious being, rather than as a mere dimension? How might that change our physics, our philosophy, our psychology? Rather drastically, I think, for there is nothing more fundamental to our perceptual framework than our understanding of time.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Pope redux

Alexander Pope said, “Whatever is, is right” (An Essay on Man) If whatever is, is right, then whatever was, was right. But might be wrong now. Except if it still is, it has to be right. But if it changed, it was right and now is right differently. Which means right changed. Which means that yesterday’s right could be today’s wrong. But we know that just as many wrongs don’t make a right, many rights don’t make a wrong. In any case: if whatever is, is right, you don’t need to worry about what’s wrong because nothing’s wrong. But if “whatever is, is right” is wrong, then that could explain why things very often seem like they’re wrong. It could even be true that whatever is is wrong, and then we’re in a real mess. Hey, we are in a real mess. Which means Pope was wrong. But we know a Pope can never be wrong. So forget what I just said.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Letter from God #1

I need to clue in all you humans to an important thing I just found out. I did not create the Universe. Now, I know this will come as a shock to you. It did to me. I thought I created it; I told you I did, and you had no reason to disbelieve someone of my exalted status. Well, believe me now: I didn’t do it! How could I have been mistaken about such an elementary fact? It’s a little hard to explain, but at the time it seemed as if I were causing the creation to happen. I recently found out that this was an illusion. I didn't make anything, including you. I am being completely honest now in telling you I have no clue about why and how the Universe got here, and how you and I got here. So would you please quit trashing me for the perceived faults and injustices in the order of creation? I’m not responsible. Don’t hassle me about this anymore. Just grow up. I have.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Transcendence and immanence

The first time I encountered the juxtaposition of the concepts of transcendence and immanence was in a sixties book with a wild psychedelic cover called The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God, by William Braden. (You can actually read it online.) Braden was concerned with reconciling what was then the “New Theology” with psychedelic experience, and he did this by picking up on the assertion that the transcendent God of ancient times has become immanent through the Incarnation into human form. And the psychedelic voyageurs were the latest manifestation of that trend. I think that both of these terms are useful, mainly for pointing to the direction that you are noticing IT right now. Whether “God” is a useful term anymore is debatable; it reinforces the transcendent dimension, but makes it pretty unapproachable.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Exstasie trip

Your reality and my reality are mutually exclusive. They have their own separate integrity and indeed their own objects and their own laws. How do they interact? How do people, in fact, ever really communicate? Through their eyes, silently, not through words. In “The Exstasie” John Donne talked about how the lovers went out on the double string of their eye-beams while their bodies went into a state of suspended animation. That kind of communion is the only true intercourse between the mutually exclusive universes we carry around in awareness. Of course, Donne implies the bodies are going to be doing a lot more than lying there motionless. That’s okay too. But seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and then all things will be added unto you.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Multifocal solipsism

Solipsism gets a bad rap. Anything so universally disparaged has to have something going for it. In this case, how about the truth? Let’s define. It’s the belief that only oneself and one’s own experiences are real; everything else is just an object of consciousness. I just don’t see what is wrong with that. As I have been saying over and over in this blog, our world is in us, our world is us. That’s all we know and all we can know. I see solipsism as different from subjective idealism, which holds that the world is a product of my subjective consciousness. What I am talking about, which I will call “multifocal solipsism,” posits an experiential matrix in which all points of view are equally privileged by virtue of their ultimate centrality within their own quantum reality construct. Consciousness does not cause the matrix template but does weave it while it wears it.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Bubble people

We’re all bubble people, bubble boys and girls, living inside our bubbles. These bubbles can get very big, as far as the eye can see. We can travel around the world and see just how far our bubble extends. And everybody we meet is inside our bubble. We can look out in space and imagine galaxies and immense distances. And we can think of God, beyond even the boundaries of time and space. Guess what—even God is contained inside our bubble. And the more omnipotent and omnipresent God becomes, the bigger the bubble gets. Because it does continuously grow as our understanding grows. But when all is said and done, you are still inside your bubble and I’m inside mine. Is there more? Maybe. But we'll never know it. Because our bubble is us.

Friday, June 04, 2004

You will find what you are looking for

Good news. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it. If you are looking for the love of your life, she or he will manifest. If you are looking for the laws of the natural or supernatural universe, you will find them. If you are looking for God, you will find Him, Her, It, or Them in whatever form you desire. If you are looking for wealth, you will find it. If you are looking for poverty, you will find it. What you seek will be exactly what you find. In fact, it wasn't there before you found it, but at the moment you find it, it pops into existence. Not that you created it by some force of will or imagination. More likely it re-creates you in the moment of perception. As William Blake said, we become what we behold.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Prove that you exist

You say that you exist? Prove it! You say that you think, therefore you exist? Well, the fact that thoughts are coursing through your brain does not mean that "you" are really there. I accept that you think you are. However, that does not equate to reality in my book. You thought you were you yesterday. How do I know that the you that you said you were then and the you that you say you are today aren't different? How can you even prove it to yourself? You have no reference point other than your memory, and that memory could have been transplanted from another self without your knowledge. We can do it with computers easily enough. So pardon my skepticism, but I just don't think you are who you say you are, and I don't think you can prove it!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The objectivity myth

If by denying a consistent objective reality I seem to be rejecting the value of science, that is not at all the case. Science simply has to evolve beyond the naïve materialist philosophical model that forms its underpinnings in the West for hundreds of years. And with quantum physics and all the mind-bending cosmologies of superstrings and loop quantum gravity it is doing so. Simply by exposing oneself to these viral concepts, they will implant their radical vision of reality into your mind, twisting it into topological forms reminiscent of an Escher picture. See this link for reading suggestions. And good luck.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The story of consciousness

To separate oneself from one’s "story" and know oneself as consciousness—is to create another story. In the shift of identity from that of a conditioned being, lost in the objects of perception, to that of an unconditioned infinite fount of pure consciousness—your new unbounded identity is nothing more (or less) than the main character in a new story—the story of consciousness. Consciousness would not have come into being if there had not been an event of consciousness first, where there was a knower, a process of knowing, and an object known. Get beyond even that primal event, experience the original condition of being, and know your identity as pure consciousness as a story.