Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The whereness of here

Why are we here? There are several possible answers to that question. The first is simply, "I don't know." That is honest but not very satisfying. The second is, "We aren't." In other words, denying that we are really here. That is satisfying to some of the people some of the time, but not to all of the people all of the time. And it is not totally honest, as it contradicts bodily intuition about our experience. It can take the form of the noblest kind of transcendental vision, but it involves denial of life, usually by some form of spiritual reductionism.

The third answer to "why are we here?" is: "to figure out why we are here!" To me, that is the most honest and satisfying answer. Because any formulation such as "to help other people," "to glorify God," "to express our creativity fully," and so on, is a bit too restrictive on the radical individuality of the quantum self, if we are being precise. Anyway, it becomes very difficult to define those expressions in any meaningful way. Each of these golden ideals becomes fodder for the ego.

No, we have to figure out for ourselves why we are here, each and every one of us, and nobody's answer will be the same. Maybe we will live eighty years without knowing our purpose, let alone fulfilling it, and then a day will come—and it will come—that we are galvanized into action that teaches us the meaning of meaning, and the light that was trapped in our well-defended hearts will shine out and the bars will melt away and we will be liberated.

So let us start asking not only why we are here, but where here is. That may give us a clue.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

On not having read Proust

Recently it occurred to me that I could die without having read Proust. Not that I am that old, but that Proust is that long. So I resolved to set about it. Having now purchased the first three volumes of the world's longest novel in a well-reviewed new translation, I have read all of fifty pages, hardly enough to be able to say I have even begun to read Proust. The question is, when I have finished all million words or so, will I then be able to say I have read him? By that point, won't I have forgotten almost everything I read, and have to start over?

Although I like long, slow novels (and movies) where nothing happens, this is perhaps the ultimate slow read. Proust is not inordinately fond of paragraphs and so he uses very few of them. The net effect is to elongate the normal time span in which one might expect to wade through even a miniscule piece of the novel (significantly titled In Search of Lost Time). I have to say, though, that thus far I am enjoying my Proustian journey, and that is fortunate, for by all indications, I shall wear out several pairs of reading boots while walking that "way."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Implicit hyperlinks

There are two types of hyperlinks: explicit and implicit. If I mention Shakespeare, my explicit link may take you to Wikipedia to see who Shakespeare is. Except if you already know who Shakespeare is, the implicit hyperlink will take you down the corridors of your own mind to remember plays read, performances seen, and innumerable references to Shakespeare in the culture. Obviously, implicit hyperlinks have the potential to be far richer.

But what if you know nothing of Shakespeare? Then you are at the mercy of my explicit hyperlinks. You will go where and when I tell you. You will understand what I want you to understand. And best of all, you will think you have learned a piece of the truth in so doing.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Discovery of the Dylan particle

When gas stations more or less unanimously switched from full-service to self-service in the 1970s, that was also the time when objective reality became more of a self-service phenomenon; postmodernism was coming in, putting the culture in relativistic hyperdrive. It became okay to dismiss consensual reality as a socially-imposed tyranny. Reality was DIY. The most famous articulation of this has come down to us in recent times in the form of the movie What the Bleep Do We Know, which posited that we create our own reality. This, of course, is a concept that the majority of people does not buy into. Which by definition means that it has a lot to recommend it. However, New Orleans changes everything.

Now, with the inundation of this city, which has occupied a such unique and crucial place in the cultural landscape of this country, we are entering a phase whereby nature is wiping the slate clean from both the arrogant suppositions of materialist science and the solipsistic excesses of postmodernism. It turns out that 9/11 was a mere warmup for apocalyptic scenarios that we will become more and more accustomed to in the upcoming years. Like the foundations of rotting buildings submerged in flood waters, the conceptual underpinnings of modern life are crumbling. The bipolar philosophical stance of subjectivism vs. objectivism, which requires dualism to sustain itself, is being swept away in the new imperatives of change.

What we need is a freewheeling quantum cosmosophy which privileges the awakened individual perceptual module as the reality unit, insofar as it is possible to discover reality. I call this unit a dylano (after Bob Dylan) to indicate that conscious unit within each of us that is attempting to come into its full conscious creative capacity. The dynamic release of the dylano particle in the human ecosystem will help the psychology and sociology of the evolving infrastructure to come into balance with the cosmic tidal forces sweeping away the old structures. We will have no choice but to become like rolling stones.