Avoid the Blue Sleeping Pill (12.20.10)
But if we reverse-ungineer the mind and imargin what it would be like without sleep and forgetting, we couldn't function in the human sense. We don't stop thinking at night when we are asleep in our dark forgettery. Rather, all sorts of vital, pitch-blacktivity is going on -- sorting, connecting, rejecting, strengthening, categorizing, synthesizing. This is why "sleeping on a problem" is often so beneficial. Oddly, we can't see or know what our mind is doing with the problem, any more than we can see what Rosie O'Donnell's stomach does with an extra large pizza. We are privy only to the visible and risible effect of the pizza.
I know that this is how I conduct my forensic work. When I evaluate a case, I obtain a mass of information from the patient and from the medical file. Often there is so much data that I cannot draw any conclusions right away. I always let it marinate over night, and by morning time, everything is always more clear. All of the pieces come together in a harmonious way that my conscious mind never could have accomplished, at least not so seamlessly and effortlessly. It is then much easier to compose the report, because my thoughts emanate from the "whole," so to speak. It's an entirely different experience on those few occasions that I must attempt to find and impose order while dictating. Then it becomes work, a word from which this Raccoon recoils.
Tomberg writes that "when the to-and-fro of forgetting and remembering is disturbed, i.e. when one cannot forget, or is unable to call something back into memory, then it is a matter of an abnormal state." He likens the former situation (the "fixed idea") to Ahasuerus, the mythical "wandering Jew" who must eternally walk the earth and cannot die, the latter ("partial amnesia") to Orpheus, who cannot bring Eurydice back from Hades. Likewise, insomnia is the state of being unable to forget and ultimately fall into the embrace of death, while amnesia is analogous to narcolepsy, i.e., being unable to stay awake.
Now, it is human beings who draw these sharp distinctions between asleep vs. awake and conscious vs. unconscious. In reality, they are on a single continuum and are a function of each other. For example, there is actually no bright line -- or any line at all -- between the conscious and unconscious mind. Rather, the whole idea of the "unconscious" is really just a heuristic device, a way to "think about thinking," which is otherwise invisible and inaccessible.
If we take our model too seriously -- i.e., if we begin to confuse the abstraction with the reality -- then we end up in the situation of Al Gore, who is hysterical over some speculative weather models that are stuck in his head. It would be like me obsessing over an "id" that has lodged itself in the human unconscious. I must write a book and make a film, warning human beings about this violent and impulsive id, for this idconvenient truth is the source of so much human misery!
But there is no actual separation between id and ego and conscious and unconscious. In fact, we can never see or know the unconscious directly, only insofar as our conscious thoughts, feelings, and acts are imbued with unconsciousness. In other words, it is more accurate to think of our thoughts as analagous to a... whatever you call those things -- you know, the little pictures which, when turned slightly, produce a different picture. This is essentially what a therapist does: "Al, let's look at your concern about these meteorological models from another angle. Who does this stormy and unpredictable weather remind you of?"
There is a reason why I can only do these posts first thing in the morning. They could never be produced in the wideawake and cutandry consciousness of the day. It is said that "dawn is the friend of the muses," the reason being that we are still close to the night time forgettery of death, where ideas go to die and be resurrected in a new form. At least I hypnot. How about you?
Tomberg notes that we all routinely have the experience of going to sleep in one state of mind, only to awaken in another. A change has taken place, a process of consciousness "whose results and fruits one finds upon awakening." For example, one may go to sleep in a state of depression, or doubt, or uncertainty, but awaken with lightness, or conviction, or certainty. Not only has the night womb "given birth," but something has been "extinguished" -- or at least transformed -- in the process.
What can any of this tell us about death? People routinely say that we cannot know anything of the post-mortem state, since no one has come back to tell us about it. First of all, that's not quite true. Secondly, as indicated by my example about the unconscious, we routinely employ analogies and models in order to deepen our understanding of realms and dimensions that are strictly beyond our ken, thy wilber done, for example.
In fact, we analogize in this way so often that we don't even know we are doing it. There are a number of fundamental "limit cases" that our human consciousness cannot understand at all -- human consciousness being one of them. No one has any idea what consciousness actually is; rather, there are only models and theories which are a product of consciousness.
Likewise, no physicist knows what Energy is, no biologist knows what Life itself is, and no historian knows what History is. History is only known by the telling of it, but the telling is not the thing in itself. It's just a magical abstracadabran. Nevertheless, we must insist that history exists, unless we have swallowed the blue state pill of deconstruction and relativism. Raccoons pound red pills like candy. Some people even say that Toots and Herman invented the red pill in Toots' tool shed, but that's another story. If it were true, Petey says I can't talk about it anyway.
Now, all religions agree that human beings possess something like an immortal soul. Before we dismiss such assertions out of hand as primitive mythology or wishful thinking, let's first stop to coonsider how much preternatural wisdom is embedded in scripture and revelation. I'm now coming up on, what, some 600 posts, probably 75% of which deal with timeless wisdom that was somehow -- we know not how -- possessed and encoded by peoples that were quite primitive by our standards. "How did they know so much?" is a question I often ask mybobself. "How does scripture know so much more about us than we can know about it?" is another. Therefore, if scripture provides a model of death, or a fruitful way to think "beyond the horizon of life," who am I to reject it outright? Let's hear it.
Alternatively, what can the modern philosophies of materialism, or positivism, or empiricism, or scientism, or existentialism, tell us about the subject? Precisely nothing, for they admit this up front. Each of these closed-minded pseudo-philosophies dresses up assumptions as conclusions, thus becoming a graveyard of dead answers rather than a garden of fruitful questions. They are analogous to a behaviorist who spuriously eliminates the unconscious by affirming that only behavior is real, or a feminist who makes her own uncomfortable sexuality go away by insisting that there is only culturally conditioned "gender," or a leftist who magically eliminates human evil by chanting "war is not the answer" while desecrating a Raccoon tail. Blue pill poppers one and all.
Well, I have a long day ahead. Plus, I'm startling to wake, so the naught time is reseeding from my fingertips. As Joyce said, "bleakfrost chills the ravery." Better stop for now, but leave you with some vertical red pill raving by Van Morrison:
Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools
Rave on, down through the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age
Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors
Rave on words on printed page
Rave on, you left us infinity
And well pressed pages torn to fade
Drive on with wild abandon
Uptempo, frenzied heels
Rave on, Walt Whitman, nose down in wet grass
Rave on fill the senses
On nature's bright green shady path
Rave on Omar Khayyam, Rave on Kahlil Gibran
Oh, what sweet wine we drinketh
The celebration will be held
We will partake the wine and break the Holy bread
Rave on let a man come out of Ireland
Rave on on Mr. Yeats,
Rave on down through the Holy Rosey Cross
Rave on down through theosophy, and the Golden Dawn
Rave on through the writing of "A Vision"
Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on
These boots were made for bloggin':