Terrific collection of attempts at languaging mystery around incarnate language: https://maney.us/blog/2014/12/28/meditations-on-the-incarnation-from-select-church-fathers-and-doctors/
Kurt Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems
Everything Trying: Practical Philosophy
I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend about a kind of “credo,” or some sort of explicatory description regarding foundational experiencing that informs my perspective on being / world / living. I.e., what have I experienced in 45 years of surviving as a human organism – as a bookseller, musician, philosopher, father, academic librarian, various conventional-cultural-relationally-roled son / spouse / sibling / friend / coworker / writer; student of multiple disciplines – that comes so close to a similarity or repetition, a near-consistency, that it evinces as near as I can imagine to a belief or pattern, a compiling evidence or seeming-steadiness, structuring a framework for my perception and navigation of being a living thing.
As a bookseller, librarian, and philosopher (“professionally” for nearly two decades) – I find I operate with a kind of conviction (yet to be foiled) – that ANYthing ANYone can concoct or intuit as a query, theory, illusion or idea, dream / hope / fantasy or wondering, can be uncovered pre-existing SOMEwhere in the recorded history of homo sapiens. I interpret this as indicating boundaries and borders of our specific kind of organism – albeit changing, adapting, extending and diminishing over and throughout time – limits or inherent finitude to our capacities, contextual whelmings, procedural experiencings of being human kind.
Conceptual development, creative expression, technological or theoretical “advance” or novel efforts or elucidations, all seem to come about as recombinations, complex reformulations, convergences or collaborative emergences and collusions of ever-present conundrums. The sphere of human being bubbles at mysteries and limits, “realities” intrinsic to our kind of existing. We seem to design and develop varieties of “tools” with which to supposedly plumb and plunder the ever-expanding cosmos of unknowing, but also seem to be simply drilling differing holes into an amorphous void – conjuring observations and explanations, combining fanciful analyses and results – constrained and directed by our “tools” of inquiry (whether conceptual hypotheses, technological apparatus, socio-political experiments, mythico-religious imaginings, practical experiences, and so on).
We are limited beings, with (to our aspect) unlimited potential. Over millennia, this would not seem to be the ‘case” of the world. We are limited at every angle and turn – another being alongside many other sorts of beings and organisms, each restrained by our compositions and abilities, our frailties and affordances.
(Apparently) potentially endlessly individuated differings and nuances of activity-in-the-world / also (apparently) insuperably restricted frontiers to our possible activities-with-the-world. Like any other species (given our “ways-of-inquiry” or “points-of-view/sensing”) we arise or arrive via incredibly (and genuinely unknown) complex processes and will likely desist and depart via incredibly (and genuinely unknown) complex processes.
Given the limitations of our kind of being – with ALL things composing our surround and withins – it would appear:
- There is an inherent IRREDUCIBILITY to our existing and its conditions
- There is an apparent INEXHAUSTIBILITY to its potential recombinations, convergences, deformations and in-formations, and
- These things are essentially UNSAYABLE / INEFFABLE – non-computable, sayable, expressible, conceivable – to the kinds of being we happen to occur as.
Principles we only (it seems to me) slightly comprehend – incompleteness, complexity, irreducibility, relativity, and so forth – whatever these ideas’ standing might be in relation to anything we might posit as “reality” – (only ever from our miniscule, or relatively very limited sphere-of-experiencing) – combine to intimate that:
- We are “of the stuff” that any/every-thing else is, and therefore (in the conjectural “scheme-of-things”) are likely to appear and vanish in similar fashion…with any consistency / repetition (or “universal”) occurring as something we might term CHANGE, and…
- We are faced with options on a scale of AFFIRMATION / MEANING / SIGNIFICATION or PASSIVISM / NIHILISM / SURVIVALISM / ENDURANCE in regard to our occurrence and election/selection of guiding behaviors, traditions, emotions, sensations, intentions and interpretations of existing.
Innately, as it were, we elect/select these recursions and available gamut-of-human-existing ideas, processes, habits and practices (beliefs, behaviors, relations, stances) – all funded and founded on arbitrary groundings in individuated recombinations and experiencings suited to an effort at survival, that might be characterized (scalarly) on a wave-patterned range of “living” – each variable individuating occurrence (“self”) may characterize from “more-thriving” to “more-surviving” – or roughly resembling individuated differentiations of what we might interpret as experiencings of “pleasure” or “pain” and ever-changing self-selecting imaginings of ends or goals (telos).
For some of us, the very play and experimentation of extending and investigating limits and grounds, via the widest variety of human endeavor and activities we can surmise or imagine (currently) is a sort of curious “thriving” in itself. I would call this something along the general web of “philosophizing” – but finds its application and practice in ANY human capability. Whether adventurers, scientists, artists, inventors, warriors, parents, killers, children or politicians – ANY human might be experimenting and investigating, attempting to extend and elucidate (for their particularized occurring) their limits and grounds… what distinguishes what we might think of as philosophy or conceptual-knowledge involves a notable self-illusion-conviction of “reflection” or “recursive inquiry” (something variously nominated “awareness,” “thought,” “wisdom,” “faith,” or “fantasy”).
With the caveat (doubling as a confession of faith) – that the “whole ball of wax” as we are able to conjecture it – is ALWAYS BECOMING – with never a moment of stasis or rest. There is never a moment to pin down or set grounds or fundamentals on – multi-relational interactive complexities never cease BECOMING other. So even this “credo” is in flux…and will alter without notice. Exactly as the living…
Compulsion, I suppose…
par example: https://creativisticphilosophy.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/formalizability-in-the-english-language/
On “waking depressed,” or, Human Clear-sightedness
We say that we “wake up depressed” wonder why and conjure up reasons. What is this “hollow” or “indentation” in relation to? Depression versus delusion?
Squirming up out of dream or slumber into wakefulness, awareness – illusions and solipsism scattered by light of day, by alertness – what would be the “norm” ‘depression’ dips under?
Say we consider “normal” as the state or condition of being aligned with what is. The only certain trajectory of living is dying. Dying the condition of life. The only permanent outcome of breathing, saying, doing, being…are their cessation. In confirmation or conformation to this “reality” – what should be the normal living response? Depression, I should say, full awareness and wakeful understanding that my promise, potential, outcome and fortune are to end.
Decay, departure and death are the certain “norms” ruling human existence. What occurs, forgets; what merges, diverges; what events, unravels; what happens, undoes; what is made, erodes. Assuredly, they are strange loops, ambiguous and temporal – more wave/particled than 0/1 – and yet as “fate” or “doom” would have it (definite futures) we know of no other.
Therefore it should seem “depression” would be the normal human state of life, and all forms of happiness or joy come about due to some compromise or delusion – an abnormality – some neuroses or failure to accord or conform to what is. How might we have come to classify conformity to what is as a “disorder” or diagnosable swerve?
“Certifiable depression” is marked as a disability, a failure to thrive, a condition incapacitating function. Yet does that not most assuredly accord with the certitude of demise, destitution, eradication? To terminate activity, halt health, conclude creativity, finish folly and destroy delight would all seem to indisputably align with the necessary phenomenon of obliteration.
Thoroughgoing comprehension of what is – that birth has a single objective – that all roads lead to one – that all effort leads to naught – that entropy – is not lunatic, demented, deranged or unhinged – but rather most enlightened and balanced, intelligent and lucid, perspicacious and well-advised.
Being pressed down, a lowering of quality, vigour or amount, feelings of severe despondency and dejection are surely the most accurately normal experiences – regulated, coordinated and adjusted to what is versus what is imagined or desired – indications of astute apprehension and capacities of apperception to the real.
Do not be flummoxed by “waking depressed” – do not seek for treatments or reasonings ‘why’! – do not be baffled that a heaviness descends, or a ‘pressing down’ is felt or occurs – we emerge into life and descend into matter…the cradle and grave a continuous process.
Let me get this out of your way
The way they occupy space
If it were a point
if form and object were combined
You know there was a particular kind of sorrow that came with confusion, or a certain feeling of being flustered.
She said: Between Point A and Point B is epic poetry, the pathways of taxis, the flights of birds and bees…the shortest distance…follows the molecule
She was surprised by what she saw, she said, I remember.
I don’t remember how to make stories, or ever tell what happens. I hardly remember the words.
Someone said they’d like to write like that, like me, that they would feel good about it. Maybe so. I don’t remember. I just place the words hoping one way or another they might end up meaning.
Something needs to shake, shake up, quiver and tremble.
I need to be rolled dice.
I am troubled (at times) by the absence of narrative. My impatience. Describe what you want, embellish the action and details, characters and plots – I’ll be reading for the meaning, watching for it to happen – we rarely need the bells and whistles.
Like a good poem might be – line after line – meaning.
Facts are of little use unless we doubt them. Without gaps we’ve nowhere to move.
I don’t know what to tell you, I want to write, and my brain rattles like a busted engine.
What if there were desire – if I wanted something, faced conflict, suffered,
instead – what? I want to want.
The Idea of Maturity (continued) – “Have a ‘good enough’ day”
“Since early years I have been cursed or blessed with a habit of mind – a character defect it may be – that likes to turn over problems that have no solution, or at least no solution that can be provided outside of thought itself (if there).”
– John Deely, Four Ages of Understanding –
This concept of “maturity” as I encountered it in John Armstrong’s Conditions of Love is caught like a burl in my system. Maturity as “not the idea, but the actual reduction of expectation.” Maturity is reductive. Is that so? Is the process of human living a progress of delimitation, scoping the range of experience to our actual organismic potentials? Process, progress, growth not expansive, extending operations, but boundarying and restraining limitations to our hopes?
I take my “problems” to my therapist. They always come back to me changed. “And what are the sources of expectation?” he asked. “Expectation is sourced in the past / oriented toward the future,” he answered. “If you reduce it – “YOU. ARE. HERE.”
Whenever I “get” something like that, I noticed I want to take off with it. Like a skipping stone, I feel inspired and start leaping the surface of things – making connections with this concept and that image, this thinker and that artist, that idea and this experience… activating PATTERNS from my past and projecting POSSIBILITIES toward the future… LEAVING THE PRESENT.
My therapist/guru(?) has been investigating the neuroscience of enlightenment – or being awake to reality / the actual…
…and working with the brain and body to (perhaps) soak or sink there
rather than skip along the surface from PAST toward FUTURE
My helpmeet described this as an interesting and fascinating capacity of brains excited by the ineffable to apply TOP-DOWN (or metacognitive, reflective, intentional attention, interpretive) strategies to BOTTOM-UP (automatic, subconscious, pattern-oriented, limbic or reactionary, survival-based) strategies in order to, in a way, burl them – mesh them – unite them with WHAT IS – the Umwelt – our actual EXPERIENCE of BEING a living organism PRESENTLY.
We NEED both strategies to survive, and thrive. Much of our life-world is uncertain and unknown to us – much we will never KNOW in any sense like “understand” or “comprehend.” Life constantly HAPPENS. We are quite limited, reduced, in our capacity to TAKE-IN, ABSORB, “com-prehend” (apprehend-with) all that our life-bubbles afford us and confront us with each moment… We NEED the emotive, reactive, pattern-based knee-jerk reactions to navigate much that could be life threatening (thought not much IS these days – WHAT IF something IS?)…no time to reflect or discourse or meta-cognize it if a car or snake or fire is about to strike you… but we also NEED the reflective, metacognitive capacities to distinguish between what is ACTUALLY life-threatening and what is ONGOING EXPERIENCE – opportunity – potential to comprehend, learn, understand, adapt, adjust, in-corporate, BE WITH.
That middle-point : tension-place : meeting-space (“like the appropriate tension of a string on a violin” he said) is perhaps where Armstrong’s maturity IS. Reduced to the present, what’s happening, our actualizing experience – NOT skipping the surface of automated connections drawn from past experience and projected toward possible futures…
In other words (again, in his words)
On Change, Perception and the Idea of Maturity
John Armstrong’s The Conditions of Love is obviously far from through with me, and I with it. My encounter with this writing has challenged me in so many ways. Principally, I think, in querying my bases of knowledge in neuroscience, literature, philosophy, psychology and art – and struggling what is known (or supposed, or observed) in these disciplines toward our lived experience of love, of loss, of change, of survival. Our brains, our stories, our bodies are all so very highly attuned to patterns in our world, perception, experience…how does that work itself out in our lives of loving and losing, changing and adapting? What is difficult, what is beautiful in such behavior and practice? What do domain-specific, developed human disciplines offer us in our mind/body organismic goings-on?
Enormous changes…you could say…REQUIRE all sorts of perspectival changes.
If only, simply, to adapt to the new WORLDS initiated by the universe-altering adjustments that major life changes (positive, negative, or, usually, BOTH) introduce: couplings and separations / relocations / employment, vocation, education / grief, loss, birth, reduction, addition / success and failure and so on…
Our experiential/perceptual “worlds” have been aptly described and ascribed as Umwelten (see also – Paul Bains, Primacy of Semiosis). In drastically simplified form: the concept that we are (each sort of organism) evolved in such a way as to perceive and engage with that in our environments that pertains to our survival and flourishing, our continuance of existence. Those elements or that structuring and interacting with what we select out of our replete environments and surroundings – including ourselves – constitutes our Umwelt – our little “life-world” – species-specific bubble of “reality” (what is real to us, for us).
The sorts of change(s) that provoke potential for maturity tend (I think) to be changes that evince larger (or larger-scaled) patterns of experience and events (although all the minute alterations ever occurring – to the attentive and aware – also constitute mature adaptations for the human – the meditator recognizes the flux in each moment and works to adapt to this flux with openness and acceptance) – in other words, such things as by their very occurrence create/disrupt/introduce significant and substantial structural alterations – profoundly unavoidable – changes to the content AND context of the individual organisms perceptual/experiential SURROUND.
Changes (like those listed above) that, if NOT adapted or adjusted to, evidence a socially recognizable UNreality – a person clearly maladapted to the realities of their situations. An example would be CHANGE or DIE; ADAPT or FAIL in some socially undeniable sense.
ADAPTING – in a “to-obvious-Umwelt-alteration-sense” is what I comprehend as an instance of maturity (a la Armstrong).
The loss of a child or spouse or health or limb. New employment, habitat, geography. Freshly developed abilities, knowledge, or lost capacities or income. New love, memory, trauma – and so on – all represent an altered human Umwelt – adaptation to the ever-changing “reality” would be an instance of maturity – while maladaptation/denial/resistance would be a kind of instantiation of insanity – dis- or mis-alignment/-integration/-accordance to the altered Umwelt/environment/world-circumstance/perceivable “reality.”
Maturity then is our relatively accurate adjustment and adaptation to – our expectations and perceptions – to the “realities” of our ALWAYS-changing life-world.
I think Armstrong is right that we have a love/hate relationship to maturity. It is something I (we?) HATE and HOPE for – the changes in our personal and public worlds so mostly beyond our control – air quality, abandonment, accident, reward, attention, ignor-ance, and so on. As he puts it: “maturity is not the idea but the actual reduction of expectation. That is why we fear as well as desire maturity.” I question whether the adaptation is always “reductive” – in some cases, where we tend to be ruled by “patterns” (our past, our available information, our individual perceptions, our nature/culture development, etc.) maturity would constitute expanding, extending and opening our perceptions to the wider, complex and dynamic possibilities of an ever-changing life-world (I think).
For myself: I HATE it (the death and loss implied in honest, authentic reductive maturity – mapping my individuality to my actual surroundings and situations) – I often resent and resist the ongoing change – erosion and eruptions – of the world I’m embedded in. AND I WELCOME it – the reality-check of it, the alteration, breath, fresh potentials of “new worlding” that constant change instigates and offers.
As if our “realities” were 1000 plateaus – layered, indistinct, overlapping, vague and enmeshed. As if “reality” were only (for me) what is perceivable (to me) and a dramatically altered Umwelt STRIKES into me whole new wild conceptions of what the world might be. Reduction / Expansion. Every change offers this. The death (amputation, loss, etc.) and birth (regeneration, appendices, new growth). Every vacancy corresponds with potential and unknown occupancy and vice-versa…
Or so I’m thinking…at this moment in this circumstance…
“Questioning places us in relation with what evades every question and exceeds all power of questioning…it seems that we question more than we are able to question”
…and so it goes…