an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

. . . . . .


Del Rio, Bird Cord Grill


from the comments below:

'For me it's not so much of question of whether (just to use the example here) "God is in the flowers" or "the flowers are in God." Or whether one wants to call it "the divine" or "the ineffable" (putting aside for a moment the more specific questions of "God" as such).

I don't really find a distinction between one and the other. I guess this is because, for me, mystical experience (for lack of another word) *is* essentially human experience. The question of whether something supernatural actually exists seems less important to me. It's real enough as a human experience, and lives as such in the world. (I know this is encompassing a lot with broad strokes.)

There exists, if only psychologically or emotionally, a fundamental tension between -- on the one hand -- asking questions about the *why* and the *if* of it, why we are here, why everything is here, if we and it are in fact here, or somewhere, and -- on the other hand -- not ever (at least during mortal life as we understand it) really *knowing*, whatever we may believe or think or speculate. The most fundamental dialectic, I suppose, in human consciousness.
I believe that the most profound creative impulses grow out of moments of contact with the not-knowing, the essential nothing or emptiness or unknown (or vacuum, to use a slightly scientific term). The confrontation (not necessarily in an aggressive or hostile sense, just the facing with intent) between the not-knowing and the passionate desire to know.'


But that's just it. That "if" is the supposition of "not ever really *knowing*"--and I am worn out and wary of this dialectic between the "why" and the "if." And if after clinging to the skepticism of "if" ("if we and it are in fact here, or somewhere,") as a way of asserting what seems most reasonable to me in a lifelong suspension of judgment, who can blame me for never quite seeing that the question of "if" isn't first about "we and it" nor about "here, or somewhere," but about "are," "is," being as such?

And I did hold this position, this suspension in "if," most of my life. But there is no articulation of "we and it" nor of "here, or somewhere" without the articulation of being, "are," as the verb implies. And if I am worn out and wary, it is because to respond skeptically to the question of "if" on the level of being--to assert that nothing exists, that nothing is sustained in existence--requires too much of me. It requires that I accept the dialectic on its own terms, putting aside "why," until I have demystified "if." Yet my skeptical suspension in "if" does not bring me to the brink of nothingness and invite me to fill it up with myself or something meaningful; rather, it explains that purpose, motive, love, work, art, identity, and community are ultimately meaningless, given there can be no "therefore," no "why" that can follow. So it is, my skepticism insists, "why" should succumb to the death of meaning, to the suspension of "if," rationally.

Which simply isn't the case. We operate on "why," everyday. But we only theorize about "if." To subject "why" to "if" in this way, as I did, is to so readily conflate skepticism with reason (mistaking one for the other) that the absurdity of annihilating "why" by way of "if" occurred to me only in the form of mourning. "Your life is what you make of it," a work of art, like everything else: sorry, but that's boring and lonely and meaningless as hell. I'm not that interesting on my own.

In exposition, it is easy to suggest that the barriers between knowledge and being are too great to counter, that questions of ontology are unproductive, but in the end, I'm not interested in an epistemology. In the end, my "passionate desire to know" and my confrontation with the "not-knowing" is a plea for my life, and for all the people in it, into the service of which I would place my epistemology.

And again, I'd say that to enter the discussion at all is to encounter the assumptions of dialectal thought all over the place, my own included, which makes for a minefield of inquiry. It is latent in binaries, oppositions, polarizations, expressions of "or." --I am not convinced, for example, that "natural" versus "supernatural" holds up on the level of experience. As you say, "mystical experience (for lack of another word) *is* essentially human experience," precisely because it is experienced. But at the same time, experience is, for me, rooted in the greater mystery of being, in the source of somethingness, so that human experience on the level of existence is arguably nothing less than "super-natural" because being itself lies beyond experience as well as within it. This is not an argument for the existence of God, but an attempt to demonstrate that dialectical thinking tends to fold on itself. It is designed towards synthesis, but is divisive from the start. Where I am tempted towards oppositions, towards prioritizing the exclusivity of "or," I might be better off prioritizing the inclusivity of "and."


"... water in water," yes, which implies an "and."


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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