Meaning-Making in Living Systems, or, 15,000 Things

subatomic

is a phrase and a theory I have queried, contemplated, spelunked and pursued for the past few decades of my “living.”  Since (apparently) before I can remember, I’ve been addicted to a kind of figuring-out – some offspring of “understanding,” any concept / idea / or belief-faith – that might elucidate to me my (experienced) compulsion to “meaning” or “significance” – to matter as matter-in-relation.

I’ve encountered many gurus (preachers, priests, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, mathematicians and artists, farmers and engineers, poets = “people”) along the way who have sent, directed, swerved, commanded, troubled, commended, interrogated, suggested and questioned this impulse of mine.  From sarcasm to scholarship I’ve been told I will not find that which I seek.  Or recommended resolutions that don’t withstand my particular scrutiny and skepticism.

It is sunny and light, Spring-y and gentle in Kansas today.  I took my lunch, after a walk, at a table among trees.  Birds were active, dogs ambling by, flowers in bloom, and a breeze.

For the most part I “eat” cause I’ve believed that otherwise I would fail (as a being) and die.  I like to enjoy food, but most often it’s presumed “preparation” falls to me, and therefore becomes a complication of time I would prefer not to.

So I sat and I drank (so much easier).  Water & coffee & other things to my pleasure.  And “pondered,” I guess – what I do, when (apparently) no one requires immediate need of me.

I was alone, in a way.

And thinking of “meaning-making,” and “knowledge,” “belief” and “desire” – human shit.  (It’s what I do – that compulsion).

*** As I was contesting people’s behaviors and language recently in my home, my unanticipated fortune of something like a life-partner offered the response “there are 15,000 things it could be.”  Which struck hold and has become something of a cliché in short order in our home.  Imponderables, indefinables, indescribabilities.  For any action any thing might perform – there are nigh infinite possible “reasons” (most likely irrational) – these courses are taken.  “Personal knowledge” is not something we have.  Systems do what they do – what is done is what’s done – and the likelihood of our assessments being correct is near null.*** [that’s all an aside]

I can be critical.

And quite gracious and kind.

“Depending.”

On what?

15,000 things.

I am rambling.  And have decided to do so.  Readers, you must know, I don’t write because I have something to say.  (15,000 things).  I have drives to express (inexplicably) – and most often what I write is precisely a declaration of what I don’t know.

“The more we know, the more exposed we are to our ignorance, and the more we know to ask”

– Marcelo Gleiser, The Island of Knowledge

Well that’s a positivist view.

When I write, I expose all my ignorance.  Compose hunches and urges, fascinations and fears.  Ache to pull my ineffables toward tongues.  Talking’s the same.  I don’t know what I’m saying – just hoping experience finds text.  Immaterial materializing.  We might get “something to work with.”  I don’t understand any of it.

Sitting then, in the sweet Kansas day, 20/30 years of my life gained a traction.  “Meaning-making,” to make meaning, was obscuring infinite unknowns.  Underlying such a contention – that meaning is made – swum its absence = there’s no meaning “there.”

“Person-hood” aptly decreed – “person” a “hood” that we wear.  “Person-ality” – some ability we possess to appear as in situations.  “Meaning” – a something we might craft to suit our unaccountable occurrences.  I don’t mean anything, significance is made.  If I’m lucky the people around me choose to do so with my existence.  Otherwise it’s matter of course.  We’re Matter…of course.  But who knows?  Also the problem of “knowledge” – the only “knowledge” we have is our own and some idiosyncratic communal bastardization of what our Species has MADE.

Not quite nihilism.  Just meaninglessness.

I like the idea of “meaning-making” – finding it in the relation of atoms, of stars, of humans and beasts.  Of dreams and delusions, of science.  I like “knowledge” – created cultural artifacts and residue, flotsam & jetsam, structures and practical theories.  AND it would seem it obscures what surrounds.  For every academic discipline that drills its way into a world we experience (as humans) and stacks up hypotheses and –pedias…there’s still the wide world there from every other perspective and experience – the ant, paramecium, subatomic particle, sky.  Your spouse or your child, parent or friend, or the foreign, the stranger, the Other, the “them.”

Myopia.  Perception.  The experience of meaning.  Attribution of significance.  What matters in matter to ME.  IF matter – for even matter’s a human contribution to what seems to be.

Perhaps it comes down to particularized –“hoods” and “-abilities” – “each one’s” momentary personhood and personality – whether experience is an occasion to “make meaning” or glide on in its unnecessary meaninglessness.  I don’t know.

What remains is my deranged and crazy compulsion – my “hood” I guess, and ability.

So many words come to mind.

It is Still with Me

Last night Holly and I viewed Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life, having no preparation or knowledge about subject or style.  One of those films you throw in the bag at the library so you have a variety to select from should the time offer itself.

The Tree of Life (2011) Poster

turns out as a meditation, the oscillatory experiences of nature/grace; faith/doubt; hope/cynicism; mother/father…

and so on.

A kind of imaging of dialectics.

Aside from the choice of personal pronouns relating to “ultimate questions” it has stayed with me.

Ruminatively.

The oddities of learning development for the human organism; the broader context our lives happen within; contexts and networks, systems from family-to-universe, from cell-to-individual.

The developments of guilt and shame.  The nostalgia for innocence, the wonder of betterment, of choice.

What experiences “stick” and become paradigms to fit new experiences within.

The music was glorious and suited expertly to the images and tone.

I guess I recommend it.

It is a worthwhile experience to add to your complex and idiosyncratic mix.

In the arena of my recommendation that humans watch Synechdoche, New York by Charlie Kaufmann at least once every six months, to retain self-awareness and humility…