Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Piper's Calling You to Join Him On the Stairway to Help

No time to change the road I'm on. A heavy muddle of a post from one year back....

There is the external world, there are nervous systems, and there is the space in between. That’s it.

That ladder transitional space is where everything happens and where everything evolves (i.e., where evolution can know of and thereby transcend itself). Other animals do not live in this space, or barely so. Rather, they more or less live in their nervous systems, which are “designed” only to notice certain aspects of the environment -- those necessary for immediate survival (and survival of the physical graffiti of the genes).

The more primitive the animal, the more there tends to be a deterministic, one-to-one relationship between information and environment. This is pretty much to be a rock and not to roll, at least on one's own power. Lower animals obviously possess will, but not free will. Only man possesses will + intelligence, which is to say, freedom -- which marks the infinite distance between a potted Plant and a written Page.

With Homo sapiens, a sub-universe or microcosmos somehow opened up in the gap between world and neurology, which became the new virtual environment for humanness to take root. Here, for the first time, the forest echoes with laughter. Ho!

To a certain extent, the emergence of psychological space is analogous to the sudden appearance of biological life some 3.85 billion years ago, when the levee of cosmic evolution truly broke, and it had somewhere to go. Prior to that -- for the first 10 billion years or so -- the cosmos simply was what it was -- a single level reality apparently consisting only of exterior, material processes. There was nothing there to witness the meaningless pageant, no voices of those who stand looking, just a dark night populated by black dogs. There was quite literally no there there, since there was no particular point of view through which to look. There were only all places at once, even though there weren't actually any places. We can only know of the many things and places in hindsight. But there they were. And here they are. But how did I get here?

Prior to the emergence of life, there weren’t any qualities either, since every quality is in relation to a subject. As I noted in the Wholly Coonifesto, the cosmos obviously didn’t “look” like anything, since vision is a property of eyes. Physicists say it was very hot, but not really. Only in relationship to the cool and ironic physicists of the present day.

Nor was it large or small. It was just... a truly inconceivable nothing, for as Big Al Whitehead wrote, “apart from the experience of subjects, there is nothing, bare nothingness.” It almost makes one feel a bit dazed and confused, for however we think about or visualize this nothing, it’s just us projecting our ideas and images about it within the above-referenced transitional space. It is only within this transitional space that the cosmos can know itself, explore its qualities, and contemplate its own birth and even death. Without us, the stores would all be closed and we could never get what we came for. And yet, it makes me wonder...

The point is that, with the sudden emergence of life, the cosmos now had the makings of an inside, an entirely novel ontological category that cannot be accounted for by physics. Science can account for a lot of things, but one thing for which it can never account is the shocking presence of an inside, of a cosmic withinness, of an interior presence in the midst of what had only been an “exterior” up to the emergence of life.

Prior to that, the song had remained the same for billions of years -- the universe had no freedom, no destiny, no meaning beyond itself. But the appearance of life represents the dawn of all those modalities, the unimaginable opening of a window on the world and a stairway to heaven -- which, if you are not all but rendered insensate by scientolatry, should cause a little bustle in your hedgerow, to say the least.

We are all beneficiaries of that tiny window that cracked open almost four billion years ago, when some small part of the cosmos, instead of entropically dissipating into blind nothingness, wrapped around itself, bound up time and space, declared its independence, and went on being. In order to achieve this outrageous act, these whirling little dynamos -- cosmic heroes each and every one -- had to establish a continuous exchange with the “outside” in order to maintain their dancing days on the edge of nonbeing.

Of course, we don’t like to think about it, but for all of us, life is always that same little traveling catastrophe on the invisible border between being and nonbeing. We do what we can to tilt our spinning joyroscape toward the being side, but we can’t really resolve the tension, any more than we can slow down the rotation of the earth by digging in our heels. In order to be at all, we can only be in that fragile space between being and nonbeing, and hope that the piper will lead us to reason.

Or so it seems on first consideration, based only upon our natural reason. But surely you know that sometimes words have two meanings, and we have already established the fact that our natural reason can only go so far in explaining ourselves to oursophs. That is, we only pretend to understand what it means for the cosmos to have an inside that comprehends logic, just as we only pretend to understand what Life actually is.

A living inside. What could that mean? Isn’t that what we really want to know? What is this transitional space, this living inside that we all inhabit? In through this out door flows music, poetry, paintings, mathematical equations, jokes, dreams, and a whole lotta love -- and then it closes. But does the space disappear with it? Or is it somehow anterior to our entrance into it?

Perhaps that is the question. In one sense, there are some provocative signs on the wall, but we want to be sure. What is the nature of this space that we are privileged to enter and inhabit during our human journey from nothing to nowhere and back again? Because curiously, from the scientific (actually, scientistic) standpoint, this space shouldn’t contain any objective reality. At most, it can only be a fleeting secondary or derivative reality, like rings of smoke through the trees wafting up from the primary reality -- which is purely material. But if that were the case, how is it that the mental space we inhabit is in fact a realm of universal truths and values?

Let’s start with something basic, say the handful of mathematical equations that govern the character and evolution of the cosmos. Where are these equations, and where were they before there was even a cosmos for them to operate on? In short, where does mathematical truth reside? Maybe that’s too easy a question.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Hold it right there, Tom -- don’t even go beyond that. When you say that these truths are self-evident, how do you know that? What an preposterous thing to say. What is the nature of the entity that supposedly knows, and what is the nature of the truth it alleggedly apprehends?

And yet, we know it. The uncorrupted intellect knows because it sees, not with eyes that evolved to transduce light waves into visual images, but with a transpersonal eye that was created to see primordial and Absolute truth. We can know these moral or artistic or scriptural truths just as clearly and absolutely as we can know any scientific truth. “Thou shall not murder” or “All men are created equal” are as clear to the transrational moral eye as 2 + 2 = 4 or "never throw a 3 and 2 curveball to the pitcher" are to the rational eye. In each of the above cases, the mind -- which by all rights should be subjective and conditioned -- is able to peer into the absolute and partake of its qualities.

The gulf between human beings and other animals is virtually infinite because of our ability to conceive of the absolute and to know eternal truth in light of it. In this regard, we truly are made in the image of the absolute and infinite One -- the Interior of the interior and its Houses of the Holy: the Truth of truth, Beauty of beauty, Being of being, Life of All, A Love Supreme, Om, now I remurmur! The cosmos is in the Self, not vice versa, for that is truly a truth that can notnot be, or we couldn't ether.

For

There are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
there's still time to change the road you're on


and

If you listen very hard
the tune will come to you at last
when all are one and one is all


12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great re-post riff Bob

Speaking of intelligence in animals.
Wish I could do the linky-thing bec. on youtube there is a 8-ish min. long videoclip on elephant painting a self-portrait which I find fascinating.
If interested type in the search window "original elephant painitng self-portrait"

Theofilia

7/09/2009 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger SippicanCottage said...

Awesome.

I've always been partial to Stairway to Gilligan's Island, myself.

7/09/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

"Science can account for a lot of things, but one thing for which it can never account is the shocking presence of an inside, of a cosmic withinness, of an interior presence in the midst of what had only been an “exterior” up to the emergence of life."

Been reading "The Cell's Design" by Fazale Rana, a ID tract about the amazing level of complexity found in the living cell; the author is a biochemist and explains life process after process, which by itself leaves me admiring the faith of those who actually believe that this whole show is the result of random mutation and natural selection. The cumulative weight of the evidence is convincing, at least to those who are willing to look at the evidence.
The author does detract somewhat (I think) from this effect by interjecting every few pages, "See, that proves there has to be a designer." The work is a convincing demonstration of the absurdity of Darwinian hunca munca claiming to be a complete explanation of life with no help needed from Upstairs.
Maybe the point that has been hovering in the background and brought to the fore by this post is that Darwinism, and in fact biology, has no 'splanation, Lucy, for the origin of life; Darwinism requires that life already be there but has nothing to say about how it got there; biology is all description and just throws away the question of 'why life.' (Rupert Sheldrake once said that the first step in studying life was to kill it.)
Your post is definitely not a muddle; it touches pretty nicely on those two golden oldies, astonishing blasts from the past: the emergence of life and the emergence of consciousness, Jacob's ladder.

7/09/2009 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

So that's what my bandmates were doing, listening to Zep and staring at the walls.

blink.

Nahhh... they were stoned, that much was sophevident.

;-)

7/09/2009 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Prior to the emergence of life, there weren’t any qualities either, since every quality is in relation to a subject. As I noted in the Wholly Coonifesto, the cosmos obviously didn’t “look” like anything, since vision is a property of eyes. Physicists say it was very hot, but not really. Only in relationship to the cool and ironic physicists of the present day."

Absolutely. And strange as it might seem, in considering that, you are ineveateappleably to the realization that,

"The point is that, with the sudden emergence of life, the cosmos now had the makings of an inside, an entirely novel ontological category that cannot be accounted for by physics. Science can account for a lot of things, but one thing for which it can never account is the shocking presence of an inside, of a cosmic withinness, of an interior presence in the midst of what had only been an “exterior” up to the emergence of life."

Which again, is what our A.I. ninnies miss... the task they face isn't to create artificial intelligence, it is to create artificial space within the without... and artificial space doesn't leave much room for a storefront... those stores aren't even closed.

wv:quandu
airy

7/09/2009 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

The ignoble pissant just makes you so proud, doesn't he?

What Jacques said.

7/09/2009 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

HA! I finally had a chance to listen to the "Beatnix" Beatleize 'Stairway to Heaven'... I don't think I've ever enjoyed that song so much!

;-)

wv:mishun
From Gahd

7/09/2009 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Oh, wait! we had it ALL wrong... looks like the A.I. people are right after all! Look, here's proof Robot Teaches Itself to Smile, it sorta squishes its latex up to look like real smilling, and even angry, sad and surprised... so it must be smiiilling (someone cue Satchmo).

" The group says its studious robot may even improve our understanding of how infants and children learn to make facial expressions.

“The idea is to try to understand some of the computational principles behind learning,” Bartlett said. “Here the computational principle is reinforcement learning and active exploration, which may also be behind learning motor movements in an infant.


The next step is to get the Einstein robot to start socializing. Once the robot can mimic facial expressions in a social context, the researchers plan to use him in an “automatic tutoring” experiment."

(Is it safe to allow that kind of stupid out on the streets? Yeah, no. Lock the doors, they're out there.)

7/09/2009 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Van-

And everyone thought Skynet was gonna be run by the machines.

7/10/2009 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Bob!

Yet another (re)post that is far better than the whispering winds (or is that Skully's farts?).
Wait, that didn't come out right...

7/10/2009 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

That's what the beginning means when it says, "And the Earth was formless and void."

7/10/2009 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Olson said...

You mention here a "gulf" that is "virtually infinite" between Man, on the one hand, and the animate and inanimate cosmos on the other.

Albert Einstein also noticed this gulf and described it as "logically unbridgeable". He said, "We have the habit of combining certain concepts and conceptual relations (propositions) so definitely with certain sense experiences that we do not become conscious of the gulf—logically unbridgeable—which separates the world of sensory experiences from the world of concepts and propositions..."

He said this while remarking on Bertrand Russell's Theory of Knowledge.

What we are all about here, is the very essence of being what "I am". What we are. Who we are.

And that in itself is a key to our "identity" - that we can be described not only as a "what" but also as a "who".

Who are we, and who is our father? What absolute and atomic manifestation of "I Am"-ishness are we patterned after? Is the primary reality "purely material"? Or is it not only a "what" but a "who" as well?

Indeed, it was written "In him we live and move and have our being" and "we are his children" by the old, mystical Greeks.

And through it all: Words. We speak, we listen, we propose, we theorize... we even listen to people who tell us that the self is an "illusion" of the material... who never are considering "who" it is that "they" are trying to convince of such a thought.

We did not create ourselves. We did not somehow arrive here on our own. We were put here, and that not of our own will.

We "were not"... And now, "we are". Welcome to today. Are we ready for tomorrow? It is coming as surely as this day did - and we will all be there to see it.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
(Joh 1:1-5)

7/10/2009 08:52:00 PM  

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