Expression

“In culture, any culture, we are bound to that which is deemed possible. In the comparative imagination that can relate consciousness to culture and culture to consciousness, we begin to free ourselves for the impossible.”

Language

Language can be seen as one mode of expressing aspects of the unseen. Through definition we divide and separate the world into things. Words, however combined and multiplied, cannot express the true essence of the things they refer to. But words, as referents to the essence of things, serve as portals to what is currently unknown, or impossible, to a future in which the impossible becomes possible.

Erfurt in the 19th century1820 paintings. Letters in art. Trompe l’oeil in Germany

Language not only divides, but conjoins. It’s use becomes a sexy, reproductive participant in creation. Language reveals layers of meaning, expanding awareness through metaphor, imagination and suggestion. Writing becomes an art of being authored, or written, in which we in turn are authoring, or writing the impossible into being. The once impossible becomes possible, not only in the sense of the creation of tools, technology and artifact, but through the discovery of other realms and beings at one time invisible to us. If this sounds far-fetched, think only of dreams and all that you encounter there. But if you write or read as a creative practice, you probably have experienced the power of language, ideas and symbols to expand your awareness.

Cosmology

People in every culture have expressed a cosmological belief of some kind. From stories of the gods and creation myths, down to our modern language of mathematics and physics, cosmology can be seen as culturally dependent expressions of current states of consciousness, or perhaps, expressions as what the cosmos itself is aware of.

Our current understanding of a theory of evolution that believes we are the result of a series of mutations of life forms through a force called natural selection, would disagree that the cosmos is “aware” of anything. The belief that Intelligence or consciousness of any kind is a participant in the creative process is suspect, and so, called anthropomorphic. Consciousness and intelligence are here understood as mere by-products of a neurological brain.

“Krao”, the “missing link” : a living proof of Darwin’s theory of the descent of man : special lectures, 2.30, 5.30 & 9.30… : all should see her : [jungle illustration].
The theory of evolution is also an expression of a culture that believes in a Cartesian duality; seeing with a mind split from the body. If consciousness is a by-product of evolutionary processes, it could not have been a participant in anything prior to its existence, so the story goes.

It is curious to me that there is no current recognition of evolutionary mutations beyond us humans, except allowing for the possibility of alien life forms. If we can’t see it, touch it and measure it, it doesn’t exist. Consciousness as something generated by matter has implications for how we understand ourselves and the nature of reality. But, if consciousness is experienced as an expression of a primary intelligence of the cosmos, than we are also participants in the evolution of a reality that intends to expand the limits of our current awareness.

Expression

The sense of separation that we experience may be what helps to bring into being the impossible into the possible. The suffering of separation and division through thought and language, perhaps seeds the cosmos through a dialectic between what is possible and impossible. We are perhaps then, the cosmos creating itself into powers and realms not yet known, or perhaps, not yet existing. This can only be possible when we admit the possibility that consciousness is not a by-product of matter, but a primary aspect of the cosmos.

Jeffrey Kripal suggests that somewhere in the beginning of the 20th century, modern culture began to disdain any notion of metaphysical aspects to reality. His book, Authors of the Impossible, recalls a multitude of modern accounts and stories of people’s adventures in other realms, which we now call dreams, OBE’s, NDE’s, UFO abductions. He says:

“We are magicians all. But as whole cultures extended through centuries of time, we are much more than a collection of knowing and unknowing magicians stumbling about with their consensual spells called Language, Belief, and Custom. We are veritable wizards endowed with almost unbelievable powers to shape new worlds of experience and realize different aspects of the real.”

In closing, I must add that the ideas, except as noted, are my own take on the ideas in Kripal’s book. Although in so many ways, I remain indebted to the ideas of others and those discussed in his book, Authors of the Impossible.

“To author one’s world, however, whether literally or metaphorically, implies the use of language, which is a left-brain capacity. So an author of the impossible is not someone who has shut down the left brain with all its critical and linguistic powers and tender sense of individual identity. I do not mean to be so simply dualistic . Rather, an author of the impossible is someone who has ceased to live, think, and imagine only in the left brain, who has worked hard and long to synchronize the two forms of consciousness and identity and bring them both online together. Finally, an author of the impossible is someone who has gone beyond all of these dualisms of right and left, mystical and rational, faith and reason, self and other, mind and matter, consciousness and energy, and so on. An author of the impossible is someone who knows that the Human is Two and One.”

All quotes: Kripal, Jeffrey J. (2011-09-16). Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred. University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.

She Blinded Me With Science

I am always looking for better, clearer ways to articulate the modern, and somewhat magical implications surrounding the idea of randomness, especially its specific use in the field of evolutionary biology and how that particular use has persuaded many moderns to embrace a mechanistic view of not only biology but all things human. Randomness is what’s left when we can’t see a pattern or find meaning or purpose, or perhaps are hungry for a good mystery, or simply drawn to courting meaninglessness itself. It remains a very human notion evoked when we have nothing else to say, and no way to connect human action to events.

In the modern language of genetics and evolution, too often what is left out of the discussion are the mechanisms of what keeps sameness in play and how important continuity is for reproduction. We are bombarded with talk of change; mutations, adaptations, while the mechanisms for genetic stability, or what keeps organisms continuing to reproduce with amazing sameness, go largely under valued. Life depends much more upon consistency, while change is frequently an aberration. Evolutionary change is hard won, over very long periods of time, which is why it is so hard to see let alone completely understand. This is not an argument against evolution, but more an argument for seeing purposefulness in evolution and noting our under-appreciation for meaning and purpose which are so important to matters of the heart. The concern here is for the power of ideas that underlie our assumptions and filter our world view.

Evolution does not have to be meaningless and without a purpose to be true.

Science can be soulful too. And perhaps science would be a lot more useful if a certain amount of soulfulness were retained and valued instead of avoided as a threat to the hard facts of numbers and equations.

I would argue too, that the problem of studying “the nature of nature” lies in our inability to get outside of the very nature in which we view, study and understand the world. We can’t see beyond the limits imposed by the physical senses of our own human nature; the mechanisms of our consciousness and sensory organs. As Alan Watts and the Zen masters taught, who can see the eye with which we are seeing?

Our being in the world is the best part of life, the part that can never be valued enough. Tossing around the idea of randomness to depersonalize an act or event is at the very least a misunderstanding of the part we can’t help but play. The bumper sticker sentiment calling us to perform random acts of kindness, while well-meaning, depreciates the choices we make, even when they are made with little forethought.

Example: you’re in a queue and seemingly out of nowhere decide to pay for your friends coffee/dinner/beer, random you think? Well, no, as long as you are a free agent exercising your will,  the length of time that has passed between your decision to act and the act itself does not take away from the purposefulness of your choice. No matter the distance between your act and your decision, you still made a choice, nothing  random about your act of kindness. Your personhood causes love to happen, every time you choose love. Being aware of your actions and choices helps you choose consciously, next time. Love remains one of the few powers that we truly possess, never failing us or those we love.

Here is a great article in the New Atlantis that nails the shortcomings of the idea of randomness within the context of evolution.

“In any case, it is startling to realize that the entire brief for demoting human beings, and organisms in general, to meaningless scraps of molecular machinery — a demotion that fuels the long-running science-religion wars and that, as “shocking” revelation, supposedly stands on a par with Copernicus’s heliocentric proposal — rests on the vague conjunction of two scarcely creditable concepts: the randomness of mutations and the fitness of organisms. And, strangely, this shocking revelation has been sold to us in the context of a descriptive biological literature that, from the molecular level on up, remains almost nothing but a documentation of the meaningfully organized, goal-directed stories of living creatures.”