Saturday, October 28, 2006

Seeing Through Capped Eyes: The Poor Sight of the Integral Vision

How is life lived inside the eyes of a grid? How does it feel to live with a recomposed sight? Our eyes are capped. If they ever saw the naked reality, they are no longer able to see it and they are suffering terribly from this withdrawal. Our craving eyes, enslaved by the mind leading them, are now on the lookout for a gain that is not proper to them.

Reality hides from us the more we want to peek into its dark corners. The discoveries of science, exposed as they are in the cold light of technology, render the world not in depth but in surface, and this is a source of endless frustration because if you want to confront the world in spatial terms, you have to deal with Infinity, which is the metaphysical depth of Space. In the same way, Time has been allegedly "overcome" by way of speed, but now we know that there's a limit even to speed, aside from our own limitations when it comes to reaching this limit of speed. Perhaps the "speed of light" is nothing but a metaphor illustrating our structural inability to comprehend the world in any "full" or "integral" way. We cannot see unless we allow a certain time for the light to reach our retina. This due time, of pre-perception and pre-cognition, is the space where all our illusions about the world reside.

This is why, whatever is "revealed" to us by a vision that turns our very sight into a mere instrument of seeing is only rendered visible at a cost--the unknown lets itself be be played with and unveiled, and in a way it does become known, but at the price of having the verb "to know" slightly lose its meaning. In this way, the baffling nature of Truth becomes startlingly manifest, just to deceive us once more by making any "complete" or "whole" revelation of truth worth nothing--in any case, worth not more than a ... virtual truth. Thus, truth disengages from itself, and this displacement is due to an unwarranted drive to take advantage of what is known.

It used to be--perhaps just prior to be born as a species--that humans knew the world involuntarily, from outside their will. This must have been a time when the world still gave itself to us for free. How and why have we turned the world into a currency and into an object of exchange, we may never know for sure. Fact is that Truth has been missed from the moment It was "embraced" by humankind as a moral value. The pursuit of Truth-as-purpose is the goal of civilization, and this is also what gives humanism a morbid flavor.

The caps placed over our eyes are the products of a desire to see beyond our physical ability. We see the world as a map, and we cannot think the world but in terms of mapping it. This could be counted as the way in which the map is replacing the territory itself, but it's a little more subtle than that. The territory has become nothing more than the shadow of its own map. Instead of having the map merely remind us of the territory it represents, now it's the territory that evokes the map's sovereignty over it. There is no meaning left to the territory, and no more poetry lies out in the open field. The mapping of spirit and the charting of depths aim at erasing the last traces of a territory's reality. This is to say that any contemplation of the territory becomes, in the end, an affair of map-making. As we map Reality, we live at heart with a secret desire of conquering it by making Reality stick to the abstract gridlines of our own making, which are entirely controlled by the mind that has imagined them.

"Reality" is just the name given to the coordinates of Nothingness. Contrary to what some people may think, Nothingness means not the absence of evidence, but the evidence of evidence. Nothingness is the unmistakable mark of the manifested realm, the principle behind manifestation being at all possible and actualized. But the evidence of "what is" seems to not be enough for us, as we are still trying to map this evidence, to hold it in thought a while longer than we are allowed to, until it becomes completely encapsulated in shell of coordinates, laid out as a grid built specifically to cover a certain interest. In this way, that which nobody is actually able to grasp, such as a subject's ultimate objectivity, is suddenly extorted of all its substance, and becomes available to manipulation as soon as it is aligned to the dry and precise format of some abstract framework. As a result, the gridlines defining any such effort of comprehension become at some point so oppressing, so frustrating and so insufficient to their own purpose that we seek any means to make them forgotten.

And even though it is possible to remain aware of the fact that the map is not to be confused with the actual territory it represents, the very idea of having mapped the unknown by way of inconspicuous gridlines is troublesome. We simply cannot afford to live as the hijackers of truth, as the terrorists of meaning who have seized knowledge for their personal gain. That which, once known, is being held forever--in utter disregard for the sole ground of our knowing, which is that of not knowing--comes back to take revenge on us. When knowledge is made the instrument of knowing, its final (and finite) product, forgetting that knowledge is merely the by-product of knowing (quite irrelevant for our ability to know), it no longer matters that we are able to know the world. In an effort to objectivize the world, we have no other choice but to objectivize ourselves as subjects of knowing, and this is how the world is showing us that, in contrast with what we currently believe, it is us who are being known, put on, watched and tossed.

A person's worldview (Weltanschaaung) is nothing but the sore mark left around the orbit by the eyecaps worn over time--worn so proudly, it seems, that one's worldview becomes a sort of personal brand. One is left wondering if our eye sockets have not become, by any chance, more important than even our eyes, and if our entire biology is not reduced to the status of a convenient receptacle for a mind too big for itself. It is this feeble mind, in which thought becomes obese and unable to attain a needed turgescence, that deploys itself everywhere, invasively, looking inside everyone with a rare arrogance for a vulnerable spot to occupy, so as to turn us into complacent sockets. It is this feeble-minded arrogance that backs up the myth of identity, which is essentially what makes each person a powerless socket, ready to receive input and to function only on the terms of this input. Even when we imagine that we are able to regulate the input received, we are still abiding to the same input coding, because we are addicted to a drive of compulsive tagging meant to find a strict place for just about anything around us, by fear of losing it from sight.

This is how the power grid, far from powering us, is simply a network of lines stealing our power, for the sole purpose of making it circulate according to rules that are never clear, because they magnify--at a network's scale--the fundamental uncertainty that grounds each individual's functioning. Although this net "power extraction platform" has the goal of dissipating the existential uncertainty over a large-scale project, it only manages to aggravate this uncertainty, to double it by raising its stakes up to almost unbearable limits, as an individal's access to his own metaphysical functioning is being denied by the code. As expected, people are quite eager to buy this easy, yet lethal escape, as long as they are numbed to any occurring metaphysical disturbance.

Thinking the world in terms of identity is the mark of a sad reality--that of having hurt the real world to such an extent that we begin to miss it. The more we chart our exact position into the world, the more distant and cold the world becomes. We feel this, and we suffer quietly. And because this fundamental absence of the world from deep within ourselves troubles us so much, like a silent ache undermining every purposeful effort from behind the scene, we have developed peak technologies aimed at numbing ourselves to any possible metaphysical failure in this process. We long for the Lost World within, and we try hard to draw it closer by force, while at the same time we have no choice but to increase, progressively, the daily dose of tech-painkillers. But the results are disappointing--the Lost World continues to drift away as we embrace, ever so strongly, its mere pictures, left as our only reminders of what once was real. And then, just as silent as our pain, there's the spectrum of a menace--the menace of the overdose. What's going to happen if our own technologies will fail us or, even worse, will end up defeating us? A day will come, perhaps, when the only effective dose of painkillers will equal the lethal dose.

In the end, when seen through a grid, the world does come out fragmented and parceled. But we can never be sure that, as the Integral projects would have it, the sum total of all these fragments is enough to make the world a better place, because the world simply cannot be 'more' whole than it actually is. (The above pleonasm illustrates quite well the redundancy of any effort in this direction.) It may just be that the wholeness of the world doesn't take well our repeated attempts to break it in view of a subsequent reconfiguration, which is what allows us to steal its binding energy.

Moreover, it can be argued that the present fragmentation of the world (designed by the inner grid of our eyecaps) comes right out of a decidedly goal-oriented approach to life that is so characteristic to us, humans. A goal-minded effort has the perverse effect of deepening the split (instead of healing it) with every effort to integrate and glue together perspectives that have nothing in common, aside from being entirely foreign to the person adopting them as a part of a program. After the incorporation of so many "truths" over the centuries of its existence, humanity finds itself today obesely rich, imbued with fragments of truth that mean nothing in themselves and cannot be even pieced together, given their virtual nature. As virtual truths, they are separate entities from the start, do not belong together (though they do fall in the same category--that of replicas) and cannot form a "whole" in any real sense. We have been blinded by the light of the inherent metaphysical wholeness shining, paradoxically, through each partial (and personal) view of things, which we have every interest of criticizing as incomplete, in the light of a drive-to-wholeness seeking actualization. But to integrate these spare fragments means to hold on to the very grid that is the source of this piecemeal worldview.

Our eyes want to be capped because they are afraid to see. Or perhaps it's just a matter of passive consent, but then this lack of will is itself expressing a dying need, an intoxication with the dire wants of Purpose. In a way, the fear of living is justified, but should this paralyze the will, or tame life itself? It is indeed dangerous--yet essential--to see clearly, and at times it is even frightening, because then one sees the depth of his own self-liability. We are accountable before our needs, which our wants have been trying hard, first to replicate and then to fulfill. The grid keeping our eyes in check aims at restraining the impact of metaphysics on our worldview, but this is ultimately a self-defeating endeavor. Metaphysics is our untimely nature, and this is why it can never be kept in check.

2 comments:

Shan said...

After I finished reading the text, I felt this uncanny desire to shake the mud of illusion off my skin. Yet, the anticipation of my bare soul brought about an overwhelming sense of loneliness and pain. Being convinced that essential bits of me will live on in your ideas, I, nevertheless, must tear myself away from them and sink again into my moment-to-moment nothingness. I wish I could do better than that though!
Salutari din Amsterdam

n a r k o s said...

shan~

welcome to my world! it seems that loneliness is not such a lonely place, after all... ;o)

no shaking of the mud is necessary. as far as we can tell, it is the mud that keeps us warm. but my one bit of lucidity tells me that we might have settled in a place too cold for our power to survive. subduing the world means, in the end, a way of surrendering our lives - a capitulation of sorts.

how can one live and not want to have life at his feet? that is the question, and i'm not sure why is it that us, humans, see life as our prey... perhaps just because we don't want to see ourselves as life's own prey?

oh, well! that is not illusion but delusion on our part, and it requires not mud shaking but just a tiny change of perspective. it is not the mud that keeps us warm -instead, it is us who have warmed up the mud. and we have done it so well that the mud is now starting to crack and peel off of our bodies, leaving us cold again, and surrounded by dry mud, which is of no good use to us. just dust in the wind...