Saturday, September 8, 2018

Reuniting Nouns and Verbs: An Insoluble Problem and the Dream that Solved It

This post is a combination of two Facebook posts: one from yesterday, where I articulated a problem that's been plaguing me for a long time, and one from this morning, where I recounted a dream I had last night and explained how it solved that problem for me. This is a milestone for me, and it is not only because it is objectively a milestone, but also because I will *make* it more and more of a milestone by the act of subjectively taking up the belief that it is a milestone.

Post 1:

A huge, pervasive problem I see no one talking about:

As far as I can tell, most people assume that to be right is desirable and to be wrong is undesirable. Moreover, if that's the case, and if someone asserts a point of view that contradicts mine, to retain the desirable state of being right, I have to assert (either privately to myself or to them) that they're wrong. But this is to deny them the desirable state of being right (either in my consideration of them or as a possibility in their consideration of themselves) and is, therefore, something I do to benefit myself at the expense of other people. To declare either privately or publicly that I'm right and you're wrong seems to be selfish, unsocial, and immoral. In short, I can't see how you can have a) the peace and existential security of knowing you're right and b) allow other people who think differently that same peace.

I, for one, have always subliminally chosen b) over a). In arguments with people, I tend to (generally only privately) assume that they must know something I don't if they disagree with me, even if (to be honest) in the vast majority of the cases what *they* don't know vastly outweighs what I don't know. I choose to let them have the existential security of being right and deny it to myself; that, to me, is the only virtuous thing. But it wrecks my psyche. I am torn apart by people whom I respect and trust who disagree with each other. And respect everyone. It has made me mentally unstable at times. I need to find a solution to stay sane or even alive. This has driven my intellectual pursuits for the past few years.

A few potential solutions:

1) I could let you have your opinion and let me have mine. This seems doubtful and inconsistent. To posit a is to posit that not a is false. So even if I merely declare an opinion to myself, I'm asserting to myself that you are wrong and, therefore, in an undesirable state.

2) I could not tell x person that they're wrong and spare then the pain of lacking that desirable state. This is good for them but not good for me; there is a microcosm of them in me that suffers whenever I call them out even privately. This is another way of stating my "morality."

3) Have peace at the expense of virtue. No. I can't and I won't.

4) Change my idea of virtue. I can't. My "morality" is, really, the primeval togetherness of people where you are a part of me and I am a part of you. To be honest, this isn't a conscious choice but part of my tendencies as someone on the spectrum. I could maybe change that, and I'm trying, but it won't be easy. This doesn't mean, however, that I don't think it's *objectively* immoral to posit my opinion over yours. I do.

5) Avoid confrontation. A version of 3. I really want to, but I can't. I have too much to say, to many people to help, to privilege my own we'll being over others. Not only that, but avoiding places where there *might* be confrontation generally leaves me mentally understimulated.

6) Care more about what is the case than who's saying what is the case. A version of 4). This is valid in certain ways: if I don't know what's right, I could lack information that could help me later. That's fair. But this perspective also ignores that truth, as a correct representation of being, does not exist apart from a specific representation of being. The table over there is real, yes. Is it true? That's meaningless. "Objective" truth is as nonsensical an idea as a book that includes everything, including (somehow) itself and the media/conditions for the representation it is. There is no true representation or conception, or one that claims to be true, without someone to posit it. And as such it falls prey to the problems I've delimited here. Of course, there is the problem of information that doesn't fit my model and whether or not I ignore that information, whether it comes from others or from the world. I agree with Jordan Peterson on this point, who says that this act is the origin of evil. However, I wonder if to "posit" itself, as a representation, in a certain sense is to ignore what doesn't fit that representation. People seldom say "x, but x could be wrong," especially since this means to say "x" and then "not x." There's something fishy here.

7) Figure out a way to expose denotative language, logic, and the idea of positing "what is the case" as a fraud. This is my best, desperate bet, methinks. It's what I've been trying to make clear to myself at BYU. I suspect that "positing" is nothing more than a selfish, arrogant, left-hemisphere language game used to justify control, patriarchy, and conflict in rent way I've described here. Language doesn't have to posit; it can gesture.

Just figured out how to say this. Thank God. It's been slumbering subliminally for a while. Tell me what you think.

Post 2:

A (big, in the technical sense) dream I had last night that subliminally represents and solves the problem I articulated with yesterday's post:

I am at the theater, and a woman gives me (as Shrek) the grace of pushing me out of the boundaries of the theater before the theater and everyone in it is sucked into another world and goes beyond reach, beyond what can ever come back again. This is what is depicted in Avengers Infinity War: half goes away. I make it by the skin of my teeth. The worlds created by the split become split off and develop in parallel ways. In the original world, there is great mourning and sadness. This sadness is Terrence Mckenna's death. I am with a group of people who study Christian ideas under Terrence McKenna's model. In a dark passageway that *is* the Internet and the search for knowledge, I encounter him saying that the split in Avengers Infinity War was cosmically foreseen in the Bible; it is the split of Revelation, the "Rapture." In this group, I write (on a yellow sheet of notepad paper) my model for the world, the way I conceive of this tragedy, the way I process it, poetically. I wrote a lot (a lot of it was in an earlier medium and didn't survive, but I summarized it), and the arbiter there, Terrence Mckenna's friend and the head of it not only after he died but before he died as well (this bridges over his death), isn't too much of a fan of the bulk of it, a long rambling poem, but really likes the beginning summary even though I didn't see it at first, and even if I did, I didn't register its significance. The world that left inhabits a previously uninhabited world, one that starts over from the beginning, a green world, a world where a new civilization develops, a world dominated (sadly) by Trump and his cronies. This world itself is divided into two parts: a privileged class and an unprivileged class. The privileged class is constituted by those who inhabited "the head" of the theater during the split; the unprivileged happened to inhabit other, lower parts of its "body." This is arbitrary and totally unjust, but it is law. There is a kind of intelligent metal, one that grows and develops in adaptive, intelligent ways, that produces amazing things for the privileged class. It is barely used for the unprivileged class. The metal is a microcosm of cities, a city-ing, an adaptive, generative, intelligent producer of structure and order. There is the hint of an idea that we will overthrow the order. I pop into this world by free choice. I am met my brother's boss, a Trump, but a good Trump. I am here to overthrow order; I wouldn't have come otherwise. It's not clear I will succeed. at one point (I'm not sure when), the boy king/prince of this world speaks to his mother, who is immortal even if he isn't (she transcends the split between the worlds), and asks her what it's like to be a "Valkyrie." She says that it's like living 80, 180 (something like that ) years (almost to the end of the boy king's life) and still being the same age. There's something unnatural about it. This is related to Trump, the arbitrariness and absurdity of this split, of this world. This second world is brighter, greener, somehow. It is a new beginning, but one with a perverse streak. At one point, the part of me that inhabits the second world tries to go back to the first, an *impossibility*, but I manage it. I go back to the world that had cast us out. And there, Captain Hook, a version of Donald Trump that's only (if anything) "prior," inhabits this world alone to revel in himself. He is totally, perversely evil. This is the house, and it is empty, empty except for Tre, who is nearing the end of his life and is being trained by Hook for his purposes (including watching out for intruders). I go to Mom's bedroom, where Hook had remained, and I find his phone. My sisters are here with me; they came too. We look through his phone, find the state of the world we had left behind. But then he comes back, and I, in rage for the catastrophic split he inflicted for his own selfish, self-indulgent reasons, seize him. I want to dismember him, tear his head off, crush it, tear his limbs off, and I see the malevolence in his face, and I realize that, yes, he is pure, unadulterated evil, but if anything, that makes me realize that to kill him would perpetuate his evil. So I stop, and to prevent him from ever leaving, I condemn him to 600 years (I.e. a long, purgative time) of torture, after which he can be freed. Then I realize that, wait, it wasn't just Hook; the half of the world that remained is still here. I catch up on everything that happened on social media in the hundreds of years since Hook split the worlds. I see the Mutual matches I had missed while they weren't sure if I had been raptured. I see the other half of the Tinder announcement grieving this "Rapture," a parallel of what had developed on the other side. I see Instagram, Facebook, everything that I had missed. I/we are the first to cross back over. We will heal the split. 

This dream depicts a catastrophic cosmic event, an event that occurs in what ontologically precedes history, that is, what occurs perpetually, what repeats, in each of our lives in a way that we are totally helpless to and have forgotten. The dream, aided by my logical articulation yesterday, is an *imaginative* articulation of the same problem.

The "theater" (i.e. my folks' place) is, obviously, a stage, a place of representation, a place where representation is married to the things that represent it, where representation is plastic to the world that transcends representation, where the stage is permeable. The theater's "rapture" is what occurs when representation is severed from what transcends and updates representation. This splits the world into two: the world seen only as representation, as something fixed, something that can be updated, even if we're unsure how something that "updates" representation can exist at all if it's not represented, and the ("empty") world that lives in the act of representation, that is "representative." The world that leaves is the world of represented things; the world that is left is the world of representing things. The world that leaves is the left hemisphere of the brain; the world that is left is the right hemisphere of the brain. The world that leaves is the world seen as a collection of things, of nouns; the world that is left is the world as process, as verb. You can leave from the representative to the represented, go "downstream" (we do it all the time), but it's *so* rare to go from the represented to the representative, to go *upstream.* This is why you can leave one world and go to the other but (apparently) not vice versa.

What causes this split? The dream provides an answer: Captain Hook, i.e., the embittered old man, the act of refusing to update perceptions or, in other words, the fear of death. To consider representations merely as *represented* and not *representative*, then, is to refuse to update what is represented by the *representing* factor that precedes, transcends, updates, and unifies representations. It is an act of, by definition, evil. The dream also suggests that Donald Trump's evil is the *represented* effect of what the *representative* act of ignoring the act of representation (as a gerund) itself. He is the effect of what Captain Hook is the generative cause. Hook is upstream, damming the flow; Trump is downstream.

Other cool things:

Terrence Mckenna (i.e. the guy who teaches these ideas in his own way, the guy who wants to return to the primordial togetherness of nature with culture) dies as the theater raptures away. They are the same event. I.e. the world of Eden, where plants give life and where we are one with nature and what lies within and behind nature, dies when we distinguish the representative from the represented.
The represented world, the left-hemisphere world, the world of *effects*, is completely arbitrary in the sense that the things and people who populate it are grouped only by *already-made* distinctions, only by distinctions that were given by an act of distinguishing that's either unconscious, inherited, or done by someone else. We have forgotten that distinction isn't only something given but, actually and with more ontological priority, also something *done." We have failed to realize that distinguishing is something which precedes what it distinguishes, and so we are at the mercy of unconscious, arbitrary acts of demarcation. This is what is being described with the "classes" in the fallen world, the world that left.

The intelligent metal is interesting. It was entirely benevolent, in the dream, not unlike McKenna's machine elves, and it seemed like something both dangerous and awe-inspiring. It seems to me that this metal is something like the unconscious generative capacities that come about when we create in ways that are uninhibited by material limitations, i.e. the Internet. The nternet is an image of the spiritual world that occurs purely because a) we lack material limitations and can do whatever we want, and b) because the structure of what we want is the structure of mental state, and the structure of mental state *is* the spiritual world.

I'm sure you'll notice parallels to various cultural artifacts. Avengers Infinity War was a huge formative factor in the dream. Thanos' "final solution" is, in essence, the act of severing the world from itself by privileging ideology, intellect, and the effect of intellectual judgment over the *act* of intellectual judgment, of demarcation, of *action* itself. It kills half the world, though (as we all suspect) they're safe in some kind of cosmic hard drive. On that note, this also strongly parallels recent seasons of Doctor Who, which includes an episode (Heaven Sent) that has affected me very deeply as a mythical, affective description of my life. I am trapped in the Underworld (notice that I am cast out of the theater and that, when I return to the empty world, my dog stands guard there like Cerberus), a common theme in *many* of my dreams, and my job is to open a door. This is a theme you also saw in my play, if you know what happens. I (not just as "me" but as the totality of people nowadays who fill the same spiritual, affective role) am meant to open the door to the hidden remnant on Gallifrey, to the souls who have died by Thanos' hand, and rejoin the living with the dead. There are also, of course, lots of parallels with recent events in my daily life.

If you think this is an arbitrary and meaningless reading, it isn't. I wrote this interpretive essay when the continuous, unfolding, representative factor in the dream was still fresh, when it was still able to continue. This "continuation" wrote the essay. Also notice that the symbols in it cohere around a definite, very evident structure: an upstream world is split from a downstream world by malevolence. This essay is just an elaboration of that evident structure. I could have said a lot more, but the point is not what I say but the generative centers of meaning-creation that organize what I say. Not all such generative centers are created equal. To equate meaning with what is *generated* is what the dream equates with evil.

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