The Fetal Attraction of the Unborn Self
Meister Eckhart ran into some of the same problems, except in his case, it nearly got him killed. The best introduction to his work is The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing, although The Spiritual Ascent probably uses more passages by Eckhart than any other source.
I feel a great kinship with Eckhart in more ways than none, in part because he had such a sophisticated, post-postmodern understanding of language, even though he wasn't even modern (died c. 1327). He employed language in such a way as to jolt the hearer out of his habitual cognitive grooves, and into another, deeper understanding of what I call the "divine attractor." In other words, as I might have mentioned in the book, the mind may be thought of a hyperdimensional phase space, or a sort of complex subjective landscape that may appear random, but actually conforms to certain invisible patterns.
Basically, phase space refers to a type of "map" used to describe all the possible movements and changes of a dynamic system, say, of traffic patterns or weather systems. In the case of the latter, it is obviously not a linear or deterministic system, and yet, despite countless variables, you could create a map showing that the springtime temperature in my area is always within a phase space between, say, 54 and 95 degrees.
The phase space of a simple system, such as a pendulum -- which can move only in a straight line at varying speed -- would appear as a circular pattern, and any possible location and speed of the pendulum will correspond to a point within this gridded circle. A more complicated system, such as a guided missile -- which can move in any one of three dimensions with varying speed -- will require a phase space of six dimension to map it. Each dimension in phase space corresponds to a degree of freedom within the system.
An attractor refers to an area in phase space that -- as the name implies -- seems to "draw" or lure the system toward it, almost like a nonlocal platonic form. Referring again to the pendulum, without periodic mechanical intervention, it will ultimately wind down to a fixed point at the center of its back-and-forth trajectory, which corresponds to a point at the center of its circular phase space. This is the simplest type of attractor, called a "point attractor."
But as you can well imagine, increasingly complicated systems may require extraordinarily complex phase spaces. Indeed, this is one of the problems with the climate change fraudsters, in that they have no idea how many variables there actually are or exactly how they interact; it's basically a problem of mapping a complex system with phase spaces that are too primitive. Imagine, for example, Aborigines trying to map one of Mozart's piano concertos. The best they could do is beat out a rhythmic phase space, but they would have no means to map its harmonic and melodic complexity, much less how the various tonal colors of the instruments interact and blend.
I didn't intend to venture down this didactic byway, but I suppose it's necessary, so bear with me (by the way, I'm obviously not a mathematician, so if there are any experts out there, feel free to calibrate my definitions). At any rate, modern high-speed computers make it possible to map the phase space of dynamic systems in the midst of chaos, when a system's stable attractor disappears and is replaced by a "strange attractor."
Strange attractors occupy a fractal (i.e., self-similar at any scale) phase space which is both bounded and yet infinite; this seems like a paradox, but it isn't, for both the mind and the cosmos itself are bounded infinitudes. To cite one commonly used example, you would think that a coastline is a finite boundary, but if you were to actually try to draw the coastline in all its detail, you would discover that it was infinite. After all, you would have to map every grain of sand, every water molecule, every subatomic particle, all the antimatter; you get the idea. (This infinitude is an inverse analogy of God's.)
Chaos theorists believe that wherever there is the appearance of chaos, we are seeing a system governed by a strange attractor; once thought to be random, it now appears that these chaotic processes are "constrained" and that their disorder is "channeled," so to speak, through these invisible fractal templates that seem to fill the natural world.
Now, I don't know about the natural world, but I do know that they fill the transnatural world of the human mind. For example, just yesterday I was watching Peter Pan with Future Leader. The first line of the story is: This has all happened before; it will all happen again. This is a tip that we are not dealing with the linear phase space of profane time, but a deeper sort of archetypal time in which events are simultaneously "unique" but nevertheless patterned and constrained by various attractors, both high and low (i.e., celestial and terrestrial, or vertically supraconscious and unconscious).
In fact, if you are familiar with the story, the axial character is not actually Peter but Wendy, who is on the very cusp of childhood and adulthood, two very different phase spaces, the former filled with the archetypal dream logic of her stories of Peter Pan, the latter represented by her "practical," impatient, no-nonsense father. The movie takes place on what is to be Wendy's last night in the nursery, which is none other than the hyperdense imaginal space of childhood.
On that night -- for all journeys into the unconscious take place by night, since the harsh light of day blots out the nocturnal attractors, just as the sun renders the stars invisible. That was an incomplete sentence. In any event, Wendy and her siblings take flight toward "the second star to the right" -- which is located right in the right brain. Here are the lyrics to the song, which may seem saccharine, but are actually quote splenda'd, as they communicate some sweet and low psychospiritual truths about those nocturnal attractors that have always been symbolized by the stars:
The second star to the right / Shines in the night for you / To tell you that the dreams you plan / Really can come true / The second star to the right / Shines with a light that's rare / And if it's Never Land you need / Its light will lead you there / Twinkle, twinkle little star / So I'll know where you are / Gleaming in the skies above / Lead me to the one who loves me / And when you bring him my way / Each time we say "Goodnight" / We'll thank the little star that shines / The second from the right
Now, let's bring this goodnight logic down a couple of buenos noches. I believe the self exists in a type of complex phase space, which includes various attractors that exert their pull and allow us to explore realms of being that are simultaneously familiar and yet alien (similar to the world itself), as they preexist us, even though we need to experience them in order to give them "flesh and bones."
The problem with mind parasites is that they ultimately function as attractors that pull our self into a "false" phase space, one that prevents us from exploring and articulating our own deepest self. Again, we are paradoxically born with a unique self, but we must nevertheless find the circumstances to articulate and live out this interior potential. As Christopher Bollas has written, at birth we are "equipped with a unique idiom of psychic organization that constitutes the core of our self." However, various contingencies in development mean that only parts of this core will be potentiated, which leaves "a substantial part of our self known (profoundly us) and yet unthought."
So where are these "unborns" or "lost boys" before they have been experienced? Again, they exist in a complex topology of various unlived parts of ourselves, like nighttime stars in the constellation of our own being. (You might remember that the "lost boys" of Peter Pan live inside the hangman's tree, or "within" what amounts to the psychic "death" of developmental arrest.)
In fact, Bollas uses the term "psychic genera" for both kinds of attractor, good and bad. As for the bad kind, he observes that early trauma may "nucleate into an increasingly sophisticated internal complex," where later situations that resemble the original trauma are "pulled in," like light into a black hole. I see this all the time in patients who were abused as children and go on to marry a symbolic stand-in for their abuser. They cannot "escape" this early attractor, which keeps "pulling them in."
This post is getting of hand. I had originally intended to show how Eckhart and other spiritual geniuses again use language to vault us out of our habitual phase space, and into the biggest Attractor of them all, the alphOmega. But I suppose this will have to wait until tomorrow. But you can see something similar in genuine creativity, in which the person struggles to apprehend an attractor that is just over the subjective horizon, but not quite yet coalesced into its local meaning: "One would feel this as a kind of familiar force of psychic gravity attracting ideas, questions, and play-work" (Bollas).
In fact, that is precisely how this post ended up being "hijacked." I simply started exploring a certain subjective byway, but was soon enough drawn into these other attractors that pulled me off -- or on -- course, depending on how you feel about it. Anyway, thank you little star. The sun's out and my father is calling.
To be continued.....