Saturday, December 09, 2006

The fiction of a thinkable world - Michael Steinberg

I've just started reading this wonderful book, and it's joining many dots for me and feels like a culmination for me of a time spent processing certain intimations, which I didn't have (but have been acquiring, slowly) the apparatus to sort out and describe (memories of scribbling things about "no subject and object divide" years ago!)

I've scribbled down the following in condensation and interpretation of some of the ideas (which I may be mistransmitting so take w/ a pinch of salt)-

Instead of a subject-object divide, they are in a sense one. The borders between beings, and between them and the world is porous and subject to a process of continual mutual evolution and creation. our bodies are records of experience manifest in the world they belong to and which belongs to them; there is no thinking, conscious subject apart, in the interior recesses of the mind, which is us, which perceives and controls the rest. Our body moves before we have the conscious experience of deciding to move.

This situates us as a subject grounded in the universe; the universe forms the substance of our body, as well as encompassing it; our consciousness perceives their interactions, yet is not favourised within the relationship. The body moves, the universe moves in synch, the conscious mind perceives the adjustment; from here its attachments are equalised; we use reason to do the best we can (effective instrumentality; clever use of feedback loops of intentionality in order to best further the being to and through constructive experiences).

So we are returned to our true possibilities as mutual creators, in every new second; within equalised-out constraints of certain continuity of our bodies and of the circumstances, attended also by discontinuity, by change and evolution, and the results of feedback loops.

So consciousness does not encompass all our experience, nor all our choosing, nor all our thinking. Instead it is an alert arbiter and calculator assisting and adjusting. Neither do "we" confront the world as subject-object, input-output, perception-action choosers; despite that this is the prevalent experience put about by capitalism (and hence, Steinberg notes, a reason for latter's success - it doesn't propagate an ideology, but an experience). The latter leads to the iniquities we know about. Instead we have the joined-up continuum of being and creating; of movement and response in parallax play; a treasure to be recouped (and which remains in modern life perhaps only in the experience of falling in love).

In relation to this, then, capitalism is a simple endless dry cycle of commodities, power of market over life (free rein for wealthy to enrich selves), compartmentalised and isolated "user experiences";

In relation to this, spiritual training is another refinder of this experience of the primacy of the welling being within us, which is us. And it's a bath of experience feedback which allows us to know the parallax of mutual self-determination with the universe, which leaves the conscious mind again as arbiter, from an equalised-out position of dynamic truth participation.

Given our access to this experience, and to the reality it conveys; and the understanding of its usefulness and acute relevance in confronting the system/situation which substantively opposes it and which is hegemonic today, ruinously so; and also our understanding of the brittleness of the constraints which oppose me, subjectively, acting, as a micro individual, as a collection of circumstances, implanted into a material-political superstructure; in other words knowing latter are contingent and also prone to effective manipulation and moulding, by understanding how intentionality works in this context (a positive feedback); and also how perception works (self-fulfilling, in a positive feedback loop) - given this, we have an apparatus (joining our motivation) by which to work fruitfully, directedly, positively, for change.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Subjective feelings, world realities

The subjective feeling for so many: - stretched on the rack of endless labour in capitalism, with no prospect of self-determination, expression, stability, fruitfulness, respite. despair, crushedness, powerlessness; endless and worsening ills; no security; no saviour.

While at the other extreme, a minority "enjoys" individualistic, necessarily materialistic and reality-contradicted solipsistic superficial elations or satisfactions (a happiness that must be so - must be solipsistic and contradicted - because of global situations, which by definition affect all of us and all our descendents).

A blinkered, shallow, brittle state, which cannot countenance the reality in the world, for the horror - above all existential - that it presents: that there is no "big other" guarantor of security and well-being, nor of the validity and meaning of our lives; and indeed our alcoves of temporary stability and security and comfort are guaranteed at the expense of these attributes, for others now, and for us all in the future. Our corporate-created consumer ego-armoured separated refuge-seeking individualities cannot truly face this or do so in yawing moments of clarity which might send us scuttling to conservatism or liberalism, unless chains of experience or a plank of empathy don't let us.

The means by which we might combat the ills of the real world situation - socialisation, socialism, community, communism, cooperation, democracy, are also the ones which offer the salve to the brittle, painful, isolated, ego individuality; by reconnecting us with our neighbours, and our talents, which revalorises our innate propensities, our selves (not understood in an imaginary individualistic sense). They're the ones we can least contemplate for we cannot or do not wish to do away with the narcotics, pacifiers and screens which let us not face the world situation - air-conditioned offices, advertising-coated walls, job satisfaction, consumerism, coffee, superficial contact etc;

Mixed up in it all and overdetermined by capitalism are shards of humanity, real social relationships, experiences of nature (bird song in a suburban dawn), which keep us going, but which are simply coopted to favour and favour the reality of ongoing imperial capital accumulation and subjugation of other peoples, life and the future of the human race to this objective.

For a decreasing minority to have an increasingly unviable life of enhanced material well-being, security, mobility and accumulation prospects, the increasing majority is denied self-determination, denied their livelihoods and their lives.

For illusory image shrouds, for status symbols, for the ego experiences of western consumerism, people everywhere are denied real human contact and growth and warmth.

In our social relations people find respite; in and through and despite and in deliberate ignorance or neglectfulness of the reality of social relations, we accept ephemera, accept images and hollow cracked surface.

For this civilisation, we choke the planet; we suffocate peoples' lives, without their choice; we've done this throughout, from the first colonisers onwards, through slavery, through indigenous holocausts, through imperialism, and continue to, through debt chains and wars for geopolitical control.

All capital accumulation's moments, presented and acquiesced to and carried by people, are hollow and ruinous; stories of business takeovers, of political interference by the imperium, the products we buy each day from supermarkets, the tasks in the work we do, are the shells of this actual relation.

An authentic spiritual feeling confronts this and experiences it as an offense, as a distance, as an imperative to revalue it;

We're all coopted into reproducing this logic, this linear motion, which irrupts into contexts; this mode of working, which is linear, which converts nature and earth goods into commodities, and thence into capital. to which living rainforest is fodder; and the people who cultivate it an obstruction. this drive which knows no end, and which cannot be reasonable; irrupting into modes far wiser and richer, and overpowering them. How that must feel; the terrible merciless pulsing of an alien force.

And we are its living vectors, people at the centre; alive, anesthetised and comatose in a time of unimaginable drama. To be alive, let alone relatively young, relatively healthy, to have time to contribute, to have anthropophile energy to enact. To have integrity to practise. What a gift in spite of it all. The price of a reflex ego insurance is greater than people imagine; may the latter crack and run bankrupt, painfully so, ever.

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