Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Your Inside is Out when Your Outside is In

It seems to me that the world is a landscape of psychopneumatic attractors. I mean this literally, because this is literally how we experience the world. Things grab us, right? Unless you're kind of braindead, in which case maybe only journalism and other bodily functions grab you.

So, different things grab different people -- it takes all kinds to make a world, and vice versa. What is indeed so surprising is how specific the attractors can be. It is by no means obvious why the world should be built in this way. But it is strictly impossible to understand this absolutely vital phenomenon within the standard scientific paradigm.

And when I say "absolutely vital," I'm again being literal, because in a certain way, this attraction is our whole life. This thing moves us. That thing leaves us cold. This person excites. That person bores. This writer expands. That one contracts. Etc.

For example, when I think of the four great "B"s of large scale orchestral music -- Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Barry -- I have to say, I truly only "get" Barry. The others are too vulgar for me. More generally -- as you all know by now -- everything Bob does has got to be funky. Obvious when you think about it, but why?

Alexander gives the example of a particular painting. The painting attracts us. Thus, there is a relatedness that occurs between you and the painting. What is the nature of this mysterious "between?"

In the past I have discussed this in terms of "links" -- e.g., of love (L), or hate (H), or knowledge (K) -- but what are the links made of? And how did they get here?

Let's say we're particularly attracted to the blue hill in the painting. Alexander suggests that we "do not, I think, experience the bit of blue as if it were your self."

Rather, "you experience something stretching between yourself and the blue hill, something that seems to mobilize your self, stretch it out toward the bit of blue, connect with it."

Again, it's a relationship, in which the painting reaches out to us, and vice versa: "stretching between you and the blue hill, something comes into existence."

And it's not just our everyday, mundane self that is tickled. Rather, "It is as if the eternal you, the eternal part of you, your eternal self, is somehow being mobilized..."

Whatever the case may be, that's exactly what it feels like. And no theory that ignores such a central feature of our existence can be adequate. Several aphorisms come to mind:

Any theory is false that seeks to characterize as delusion what one day affected us nobly.

There is evidence that disappears along with those who deserve to perceive it.

We have reached such an extreme of ineptitude that we only believe to be real what would persist if the arts were abolished.

Each of these aphorisms goes to the idea that our (constant) experience not only doesn't deceive us, but mirrors the very structure of reality.

Yesterday we spoke of how experiences within this space -- which Winnicott called the "transitional space" -- incarnate or potentiate the substance of our being, as we assimilate them. From the article:

"Winnicott related the concept of transitional object to a more general one, transitional phenomena, which he considered to be the basis of science, religion and all of culture. Transitional objects and phenomena, he said, are neither subjective nor objective but partake of both" (emphasis mine).

Here is how Grotstein describes it: "Where Winnicott truly surpasses is in his delineation of potential or transitional space, the domain of the intermediate, the area sacred to [ortho]paradox." It "seems to correspond to the metaphor of a post-natal umbilicus, the imaginary yet concrete experienced connection between mother and infant..."

"One can picture this connection as a Moebius Strip of connected disconnectedness or of a 'Siamese twinship' in which there are two heads connected to one body. In one perspective they are invisibly connected; in another they are separate."

In the past I have in fact used the Moebius Strip or the Klein Bottle as models of reality. Why is that? Because in each case the object conveys the paradoxical idea that the inside is the outside, and the outside is the inside. This way one can preserve unity -- each object has only one side -- and yet duality -- each has two sides.

It seems to me that it is the same with the cosmos, which is why the subject is in the object, and vice versa. Yes, the Klein Bottle is a metaphor, but it is only a metaphor because metaphor is possible. And metaphor is only possible because the Cosmos is something like a Klein Bottle, in which interior and exterior, subject and object, are reflections of the same underlying reality. (BTW, it also explains why parables not only work but may be unsurpassed in their ability to link worlds.)

Posts will be shorter and shallower until this remodel business is over.... "

15 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

...the idea that our (constant) experience not only doesn't deceive us, but mirrors the very structure of reality ...

It's seems so obvious that everything from science to art to religion to the economy works because of that. The Raccoons are not the ones arguing against it. Even the YE creationists believe the world ought to make sense.

4/02/2013 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The other thing -- and this may be off on a tangent -- is this idea that only experts or specialists or the highly-educated can grasp something. It's a problem I've always had with theologians and preachers. Most of the Bible was written by shepherds, farmers and fishermen. Moses and Paul were probably the best-educated in terms of being more cosmopolitan -- and both had to go off into the desert until they unlearned some of what they knew. Some of the writers were priests, but that was a fairly narrow specialty.

You're equipped because you're human. Wolves are born and built to pursue caribou. Man is born and built to pursue truth.

4/02/2013 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Same with the Constitution.

As they say, the professions are a conspiracy against the laity.

4/02/2013 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Alexander suggests that we "do not, I think, experience the bit of blue as if it were your self." Rather, "you experience something stretching between yourself and the blue hill, something that seems to mobilize your self, stretch it out toward the bit of blue, connect with it." Again, it's a relationship, in which the painting reaches out to us, and vice versa: "stretching between you and the blue hill, something comes into existence." And it's not just our everyday, mundane self that is tickled. Rather, "It is as if the eternal you, the eternal part of you, your eternal self, is somehow being mobilized..."

Aye! beauty, truth and goodness, by there very nature, inspire those who are receptive to it.

Of course there's a faux inspiration goin' on with ptrversions of truth, beauty and goodness as well.
We saw that in the last election and, frankly speaking it's depressing to realize that most folks no longer want the Amweican dream.

But the remnant remains. And hope is still here.

4/02/2013 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm probably stepping in a minefield here, but I'm pretty sure the Barry White piece is made of 100% polyester. NTTAWWT.

Which isn't to say I don't like it, though I think I prefer it when he sings. Oddly, though, hearing it makes me suddenly yearn for the days of hot pants, rollerskates, way too much brown everywhere, and (since architecture is on topic) a plague of really ugly buildings and artwork. But it seems like it was also one of the last times when it was artistically and culturally acceptable to produce something unabashedly cheerful.

4/02/2013 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, Ace notes that language is being abused yet again in the name of political correctness:

Which just means that "moron" may replace "idiot" and then itself be replaced by "retard," but each word newly adopted in the euphemistic treadmill march will itself become "associated with negative connotations," because the word itself connotes something negative (at least something people wouldn't want to be themselves).

The trouble with PC language is that it always seeks to disguise the essence of something, usually something perceived as unpleasant, which can in truth never be hidden. The essence always makes itself known, and the verbal mask most always ends up conforming itself to the reality instead of the other way 'round.

4/02/2013 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Back when I was a liberal, that particular phenomenon was one of the first things that made me go hmmm about liberalism. Took me awhile to fully understand that when words lose their meaning, men lose their freedom. Or in other words, the dictionary is a law book. Which is just one of the horrors of a state-imposed redefinition of marriage.

4/02/2013 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Barry White should have been president.

Back in the '60s, I was in Algebra I as a freshman with a girl who was a junior. She was the cutest little redhead and all freckles and, fortunately for me, not too good at math. So we were friends. She had nice legs and liked to wear what were called scooter-skirts up until the school banned hot-pants. Scooter-skirts were included in the ban because the principal said, "They're just hot-pants with a flap."

I can probably trace my hatred of socialists and fascists to that day.

4/02/2013 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Ally McBeal show always made judicious use ofThe Maestro.

4/02/2013 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Then there's the classic.

4/02/2013 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's hilariously demented.

***

The cheerfulness thing has got me thinking. I wonder what happened, exactly, that shifted things to such a degree that unironic public happiness has become so rare? It occurs to me that the mania for public awareness campaigns might be a part of it - the constant hectoring to remember all the terrible things happening in or to the world, about which nothing can or will be done (by anyone being made "aware," anyway) except "spreading awareness," the purpose of which mainly seems to be to make the newly "aware" feel guilty or sad, but in a completely impotent way. And of course, if we are at all "aware," then being unabashedly happy implies that we don't care about whatever it is that we are supposed to be aware of at any given moment.

That's not the primary reason, of course, but it's hard to imagine how a populace can avoid being depressed when every moment of pleasure becomes dogged by undeserved and unresolvable guilt.

4/02/2013 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - going back to "Small World" mode, Sipp is way ahead of us on Alexander...

4/02/2013 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I think there was something called 'The Soul of Man under Socialism' - I don't know if it was Wilde or who... but anyway, under socialism man is confronted with unquenchable suffering, and it causes him to despair (If I remember the argument correctly.)

I don't know if speculation is made for the reason - if it is inherent to the generally impoverishing effects of forced redistribution, if it causes the have-nots to make a more public showing, dunno.

I'd propose an idea that true public cheerfulness is not possible under socialism. National military parades and things like that excluded, of course. (Though I guess they're mostly grim and not joyful?)

4/03/2013 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger Christina M said...

Julie, this is so true: "It occurs to me that the mania for public awareness campaigns might be a part of it - the constant hectoring to remember all the terrible things happening in or to the world, about which nothing can or will be done (by anyone being made "aware," anyway) except "spreading awareness," the purpose of which mainly seems to be to make the newly "aware" feel guilty or sad, but in a completely impotent way. And of course, if we are at all "aware," then being unabashedly happy implies that we don't care about whatever it is that we are supposed to be aware of at any given moment."

My response these days to people who direct my attention to outrageous news is, "Okay. I already knew this or now I do know about it. What do you want me to do about it?" In most cases there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Except feel bad. And then I miss out on all the good things in my life. They've stolen my joy. I'm trying very hard these days, to not steal other people's joy. The bad news stops with me.

4/03/2013 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "Took me awhile to fully understand that when words lose their meaning, men lose their freedom."

Sorry for the time travel here, but not only is that very true, this is brilliant:

"Or in other words, the dictionary is a law book."

, and terrifying to consider.

4/09/2013 07:16:00 AM  

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