Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Tell Your Friends from the Zombies

A little sidetrip from the main road, being that I don't have that much time anyway. Still, a critically important topic, especially if one wants to be happy and adjusted to cosmic reality.

Reader Magister commented that "Feminists seem to be perpetually at war with their own bodies." However, this resentment is projected into men and into babies, as if it's our fault that their bodies are so sexually alluring, or the baby's fault that they have a such nice cozy womb just perfect for perpetuating the species. It's almost as if the female body has a purpose or something.

However, feminists reject the sufficient reason of their body -- for readers living in Rio Linda or laboring under the delusions of gender theory, that means the reason why your body exists. I mean, everything has a reason, right? Can we at least agree on that? Or do feminists now regard logic as an abusive form of mansplaining?

No? I see. It's a form of rape. Besides, that's not funny!

Did you know that 90% of workplace deaths occur to men? So, why isn't everyone freaking out about MORTALITY INEQUALITY!

In my response to Magister's comment, I wrote that, "Speaking of cosmic rights, the baby certainly has a legitimate right to the mother's body, which is why, you know, breasts. (Which are to be distinguished from boobs, which is what breasts look like to a man.)

"More generally, as we've discussed in the past, not only are our minds intrinsically intersubjective, but our bodies are too. Man and woman point beyond themselves and 'refer' to one another. So to say that we 'own' our bodies and that's that is a little simplistic, to say the least, and certainly not humanistic."

The reason it is not humanistic is that a) human beings could not have evolved from such a static situation, and b) no existing human being lives as an isolated body, cut off from the rest of mankind. Rather, a living body is an open system at every level, biologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. Or supposed to be, rather.

Now, in order for language, or information, or meaning, to exist, one thing must be capable of standing for another thing. This is an extremely simple and basic concept, so simple that everyone has it as a background assumption without ever thinking about how it got here and what it implies. There is no reason to take meaning, because everything is always giving it away.

Of note, this feature is woven into the very fabric of existence, and was here long before human beings hit the cosmic stage. Consider DNA, for example, through which a gene, or combination of genes, stands for -- one might even say "symbolizes" -- this or that trait.

But even prior to that, we know that the world is always susceptible to intelligible abstraction, which is why, for example, we can talk about a "big bang." We can talk about a big bang because of background radiation that encodes information referring to that primordial event -- just as light striking your retina can tell you that a star existed a billion years ago, or however long it took the light to get herenow in spacetime.

This means that at the moment of luminous impact, our present and the star's past, or the star's past and future, are thoroughly entangled in this moment of knowing. When the star gave out that light a billion years ago, little did it know that it would someday arrive at the back of the eye of a lifeform that didn't yet exist. But stars were bigger back then. It's the cosmos that's gotten smaller.

Now, the one Big Idea I have retained from the Christopher Alexander books, and has been haunting me (in a good way) ever since, is that Life Itself is latent or implicate everywhere in the cosmos, but becomes manifest or explicate under certain circumstances.

This is an extremely handy idea for discerning the Living from the Dead at every level of the cosmos. But it is really helpful in sorting between the humans and the zombies, because the language of the latter is dead. There is something wrong with their whole encoding system. They radiate Death from every pore.

Let's see if I can auto-plagiarize some stuff from those old bobservations. "Recognizing this life in things is equivalent to saying, 'The universe is made of person-stuff. I always thought it was made of machine-stuff, but now I see that it is not'" (Christopher Alexander).

Yes, exactly. Person-stuff. Among other things, this means that human beings -- better, Persons -- are not late arrivals to the cosmic manifestivus, but its whole basis; or rather, its quintessential expression, only made explicate and local.

This is why everything makes so much sense, but it also explains when and why it doesn't, because things are supposed to make sense. Absurdity is the exception, not the rule -- just as most things in the world -- unspoiled nature, that is -- are oddly beautiful. Why? What's with all this useless beauty? Indeed, what's with all this useless truth? And Life. More generally, could Absurdity be the ultimate ground and source of all this life, love, logoi, and laughter?

From an old post:

For example, this is why language is even possible, because the person-stuff of the universe is interiorly related and therefore capable of encoding and transmission from one body or region to another. Our ability to see the beauty or apprehend the deep structure of the world represents one cidence of of the same coin-. It is to receive the Memo and be in the Loop.

For this reason, we now understand how and why scientists are guided by feeling and artists by science. In other words, a scientist wouldn't even know what to investigate in the absence of a feeling that reduces the infinite field of phenomena to something 'interesting,' something that attracts his attention.

More good stuff in those old posts on Alexander, but the main principle I have retained is the idea that when something is Living, there is a complex interplay of elements echoing and referring to one another. I would say that this is why Genesis is so "alive" with inexhaustible meaning, just as it is why one senses so much life in one of them big ol' cathedrals. Indeed, the Geometry of Love is anterior to the love of geometry, otherwise the latter couldn't exist.

Back to our original question, which we might formulate as What is the Message of the Human Body? As it so happens, Schuon has an essay on just this subject in one of his best books (most of which go to ten, this one to eleven). But I'm just about out of time, so we'll have to reserve that subject for another sidetrip in the cosmic rambler.


Rick said...

Marvelous post.

One thing:
"Consider DNA, for example, through which a gene, or combination of genes, stands for -- one might even say "symbolizes" -- this or that trait."

Berlinski may disagree with me as he says DNA is not LIKE a code, but IS a code.
I think it is at least a code, but that there is much much more going on there (or not there) than calling it a code suggests. The "symbol", like mathematics, is what we bring to the mystery. The fact that the system is reliably predictable is beneficial to us; and "intelligibility" is meant to be communicated, no doubt.
But I think saying it is a code makes closed (in a way) what is an open system; and I think what we know so far about DNA is equivalent to merely touching "the hem of His garment".

I don't think they're selfish genes, but they're definitely up to something.

julie said...

What's with all this useless beauty? Indeed, what's with all this useless truth? And Life. More generally, could Absurdity be the ultimate ground and source of all this life, love, logoi, and laughter?

The other day, as I was picking up after the dog, I discovered a scarab beetle making use of the available resources. I find it to be yet more proof that god has quite a sense of humor: nature's janitor, cloaked in some of the most beautiful finery to be found in the animal kingdom, awkwardly trying to move a ball of poop around my backyard.

Rick, that part got me to thinking as well: what a mystery that anything so tiny and compartmentalized as a strand of DNA hiding within the core of a single cell could dictate anything outside of the scope of that single cell, much less something so significant as the color of the hair on a person's head! If the Darwinists are right, the genes know a lot more than they let on...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

We won't rest until there is equal mortality for all!

Gagdad Bob said...

Krugman abused. Excellent.

julie said...

Beautiful. I almost feel like I should be smoking a cigarette after that.

Gagdad Bob said...

So rare to get a Clean Kill. Must savor.

mushroom said...

Great post. And Krugman. Ha!