Monday, January 14, 2008


I thought I was going to write about Jessica but then thought, no, it would bore you and be too labyrinthine a task in any case. Suffice it to say she was never my girlfriend. But of all those women who have, by the power of imagination, projection, fantasy, if not downright delusion, meant a very great deal to me over the years, she, without doubt, towers over the others in significance. My baptizing her, according to the whims and extravagances of my sometimes mytho-poetic mind, The Queen of Light (see ‘The Battle of Evermore’ by Led Zeppelin) suggests the degree of my engagement with her as what one friend termed an ‘icon of the mind’. I have not seen her in seventeen years, not spoken to her in fifteen, and am unsure whether her response to my name would be one of indifference or distaste. I absolutely wish her the very best and have only a vague idea of what she is up to. Probably we will never meet again, or be in contact again but you never know.

Life moves in stages, on different levels; the stages are temporal disjunctions, the levels spatial, relating to layers of consciousness. In all kinds of unclassifiable ways these stages and levels interpenetrate and interconnect. Life moves forward, and backwards, in spirals and whirlpools, in sudden, vivid epiphanies, along opaque corridors of forgetfulness. At moments we return to ourselves. We wonder where we had been; at others we bunker down in focused attention on whatever particular room of the mansion of our lives we happen to be currently alighting in, fragmented and happily, or unhappily, bereft of a larger view.

If we were God or if God does not exist we were nonetheless God, we could see and reflect on our lives from the outside, as if on stories in a novel. It might be thought, beyond the reach of proof to confirm or deny, that our lives are already in the process of being reflected upon by a consciousness normally inaccessible to us. Possibly this consciousness itself is us; a larger, truer, timeless self dipping into life in each of our incarnations, which knows itself as someone venturing into lives as an adventurer to explore new lands, receive new experiences, before returning to itself between lives to recoup and assess, to re-gather its poise. Or, if reincarnation is not true, this consciousness would not be us. It would be a larger ocean of a shared universal life that sees the incidences of specific human life as additions to its developing, expanding experience. I wouldn’t be surprised, the universe being paradoxical as it is, if the truth comprised both of these these models.

What seems clear to me is that life is not only linear; that the linearity it obviously possesses, though real, is only a part of the picture. Eternity takes up residence in time, infinity inhabits the finite. The way they do this defies scientifically verifiable empirical observation. In consequence, the possibility that they might do this, that eternity and infinity might live amidst and alongside us, becomes an irrelevant proposition to the scientists, whose criterion of the value of a purported ‘thing’, as a hypothesis, is that it be locatable to a lense, the lense of the reductive, dissecting intellect.

That the human mind should in this way presume itself sovereign over the universe, such as to be entitled to decide what is and is not real, is to me suggestive of a very funny arrogance. Funny and also tragic, funny and also invalid.

The eye can only see what the eye can see, the ear can only hear what the ear can hear. Does this mean that what the eye can see determines all that potentially might be seen? That what the ear can hear legislates all that potentially might be heard. Only, surely, if we believe our eyes and ears are all that any eye or any ear could be, that no richer, broader perceptual faculty might potentially exist?

That our eyes and ears area as good as they get seems to be what science presumes as a working basis for its empirical, sense based discoveries.

It is not that what science has discovered about the world is wrong. Rather this discovery is related only to a particular level and style of perception; it is related to a mind configured in a particular way. If the mind were different, the level and style of perception that the mind animated and discharged, sent out into the world, would be different; the eyes and the ears would be different, and so in consequence would the world they’d encounter.

As I see things, what lies behind the senses is the mind, and that what lies behind the mind is the….well….

Blake talks of how if the human senses were ‘cleansed’ we would see all things as they are, ‘infinite’. This implies that we see things as they are, finite, because our senses are ‘dirty’. That sounds a little derogatory and dismissive, but you get the point.

Is there then something wrong with our senses? Well, perhaps it depends on what we think the senses are for. Are they intended to understand the world as it presents itself to the senses, or to understand the world as it could, as it might, present itself to the senses?

Is the world that externally, objectively surrounds us a fixed final authority and are we the merely passive, inert taxonomists of it? If this is the case, if our interaction with the world is not essential to the final reality of what the world is, then it behooves us to be internally sterile, to rid ourselves of any potentially distorting influences of nuance, subjective, existential nuances that would render our senses other than entirely collative.

This, it seems to me, is a presumptive, initial stance and outlook that Newtonian mechanistic science has always rooted itself in. Why it decided to take up this vantage point – that we are external to and uninvolved in the world we describe - is a matter of intellectual history. But that it has done so seems clear to me. It was a choice it made, and this choice was just one choice that it might have made.

That choice imposed a default setting of interpretation on the cognitive potentiality of the mind as it reached out through the senses to perceive and understand the world. That choice configured the mind of the scientist to be the mind that it is.

To me, what Blake meant by implying that the sense are ‘dirty’ is that they are obscured and misty, such that the world they perceive is then necessarily opaque. That opaqueness constitutes the absence of the perception of a vivid, unitive, translucent, shared animation lying within the heart of all phenomena. The world is perceived as a collection of discrete, separated entities, each foundationally alienated from every other, all unrelated to one another, unless they be related through the processes which we understand to be ‘cause and effect’. The background, the presupposition, is void. The event that is life is the interaction of the essentially distinct in moments of collision.

The world that is perceived is a reflection of the mind. This mind, through the senses, is brought to the world. Ironically, while the scientists thought they were bringing the world to the mind, in fact they did the reverse. Projecting its own lifelessness and cold, hard clinicism onto externality, is it any wonder that what the mind, in the world, discovered was cold, hard and clinical.

The irony was that the scientists were trying to reverse the insult they felt had already been wrought on the world before them by centuries of another, very particular, kind of projection, namely superstition, allied to the father of lies, religion. The mind was accused and convicted of having ‘made shit up’ about the world. In reaction to this, motivated by whatever it was motivated by, the mind then determined to reverse this insult; and so it did so, and so denied everything that had formerly been believed (ok, in stages, fearing inquisitors) and proceeded to make up, amusingly, a different kind of shit about the world (excuse my French), most essentially that it is the reflection of the desertlands of the heart.

To me, God, in so far as God ‘exists’ - whatever ‘exists’ means in terms of that which is uncreated, outside time and outside space - is a point of contact in the human soul that lies behind the heart, that lies behind the mind, that lies behind the senses, wherein the infinite and the eternal take on life and breathe. No, I am not saying God is ‘only’ found in this soul beneath the heart. God also enjoys himself in distant galaxies and playing fields of joy far, far from our tawdry, low existences. But in so far as God is relevant and real to us, this is where he meets us.

But God, surprisingly or not, is a gentleman. He does not force himself upon us. That said, some of his purported representatives, have at times maintained he does and that a gentleman is what he is not. God, I maintain, has a very particular kind of business to pursue with these deceivers (though its ok, they need not fear overmuch, though shutting up might be a good idea). As for the rest of us, all that is wondered by God, I am supposing, is whether we might like to wake up to him, to her, to it, to that which is God, and to perceive a universe as wondrous and as joyful as he is. Or she or it, if you insist.

It would at least, if nothing else, make a change, which can’t be all bad, I would suggest.


May said...

So, the post isn't about Jessica, after all.

Jonathan said...

Haha..well, I suppose it isn't, you're right.

Still, as The Queen of Light I have inclined to understand her as a celestial representative of the 'Sacred feminine' and so in crucial ways associated her with such metaphysical dimensions...despite, if not indeed in affirmation of, her arresting physical beauty.

Indeed, unless I dreamed this (this may be possible), it was she, not I, who said over coffee in a cafe called Vennels that we were 'astral lovers', by which she meant whatever she meant. I can only speculate.

Since Jessica is a real person (though of course Jessica is not her real name) I feel some undertainties about writing about her in this pseudo-public space, especially since I think it more likely than not that we are not on the best of terms (from her side).

What do you think? I couldn't really fictionalise things. Not my way.

Anonymous said...

Why is it called 'Jessica'? Confusing. Good post, however. Check out Bryan Appleyard's 'Understanding the Present' book, i picked up a good hardback copy for £3 on abebooks so you can probably get one fairly cheap.