Trusting the Mind

Okay, here’s a heady entry.  Let’s just say it’s needed at this moment.

Personally, the deepest injury postmodernism inflicts on the unsuspecting is the severing of the basic trust between the mind and the self.  What I mean is simple:  if we are locked inside our own perspective, our own  cultural influences, and we can’t shake it off to see the world in any “true” sense, one logical leap to make (it’s not the only one) is that we cannot trust the thoughts we think.  Who is to say that one thought of mine is any better than another?  Perhaps the process of logic itself is flawed, a silly Greek invention to be thrown off if reality is to be apprehended.   The process of thinking itself, bringing images and ideas before the mind for analysis (ahhh!-there it is again, cultural bias! Oh, no!) or experience…maybe the whole thing is bogus, a never-ending circle cycling back on itself until thankfully death releases us from the cruel illusion that humanity has even the slightest shred of dignity.  Perhaps we live in a madhouse, idiots every one, unable to do nothing close to what we have called independent thinking, little more than siphons sucking in whatever anyone says, helpless but to pretend that we are actually choosing, creating, making, inventing, contributing to something as mundane and impossible as the good of humanity, as if there was such a thing among asylum inmates.

Sorry for the rant.

But once you give up the notion that you can trust your thought life to any appreciable degree, you are lost.   Truly.

Some will accuse me of advocating that strange idea that we control things with our thought.  No, no, no.  But in the end, what do we have but the ability and responsibility to interact with experience with the totality of our thought-life, our mind, our felt experience of consciousness.  Every word that comes in, every sound, every nuance of color and light and touch, every image that embeds itself in memory and fantasy, every idea that hangs around in the gray matter looking for an antecedent to give it a place to anchor-this is our mind.  God help us, it’s all we’ve got, and history, scripture, and practical living tell us quite plainly that some ways of utilizing it are far better than others.  And constantly, constantly, streams of ideas, images, and emotions are coming at us, hoping to impact us, influence us, tempt us, encourage us, foisting any number of other energies, working, working to make us into this or that.

As an artist, I think of all the input of life as material.   We must pick and choose, shape and mold, think and rethink, and apply the heart of human energy as the potter applies pressure to the clay.  I know, you Bible folks, that that image belongs to God, and that we are the clay, but the image is no less applicable to the material that is life as we sit at our own mini potter’s wheel.   God throws us, and we throw the world…as least our part of it.

To sit at the wheel in hesitancy is to watch the clay spin in chaos and drop off the wheel in mere splats.  Just think, we could have been making vessels to hold living water.

For what it’s worth…

3 Comments

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  1. I do love this post and I love how it’s sifting and threshing it is…or how sifting they are in general. I’m reminded that…..that which is — “IS” whether one percieves it or not. For me the problem lies in that much of what is, (in the western world) “is” artifice or construct.

    The super affluent western world is able to live in complete artifice — completely virtual. From the economy on down everything is awash in individual fiat and whim.

    There is not a “God” Standard (or gold standard) holding anyone accountable to anything. People argue that the economy should not be regulated and then when things get ugly, cry aloud for a king, cry aloud for someone to step in and regulate.

    I find interesting the derision coming now to “hipsters”

    That someone by the artifice of individual fiat can decree that, “I ‘Joel’ decree that I love this particular kind of thing, and how dare you deride my individual decree as being silly?!?”

    Or that “I Suzy by individual decree say that my body is telling me that I desire this particular thing!” And how dare you tell me that my decree is false, a silly artifice? The idea that I’m entitled to make things that serve my every whim?

    So what do we have now, six billion individual decrees and whims mainly rotating around the need to eat, sleep and procreate and defecate and feel valued or secure?

    This is an interesting conversation, because one is limited by one’s perception.

    I’m reminded of the amazing discovery that the world was no longer “flat”. I’m facinated by that because I like to think how whether it was “flat” or “round”, did that knowledge (which is in itself an artifice of sorts relative to one’s specific place on the planet things are indeed experienced as being relatively “flat”)….greatly change the circumstance for all of humanity at the time?

    I’d say no, it did not. So what, round or flat. Big deal. At the moment of discovery it probably changed very little. It wasn’t as if everyone had been living in darkness, and then all of a sudden, light was discovered. I find it fascinating the “status” that is given to so many things…

    Yet now because of the artifice…. it’s almost impossible to percieve that which is.

    No one knows, relatively speaking that Americans only make up 5 percent of the entire worlds population. Based on behavior, most Americans live as though they make up 99.99 percent of the worlds population.

    Most westerner’s live almost constantly in climate controlled boxes. These boxes contain, more boxes, and those boxes imprint images upon everyones minds ALL THE TIME. Entire cities have been built completely upon artifice. Las Vegas wouldn’t exist except for the artifice of the Hoover Dam, and freight and rail. That’s the only way Las Vegas can exist. By that kind of fiat, by that kind of decree. The audacity of humankind knows no bounds.

    Upon the “my kid could paint that post”. I had the following thoughts.

    That post resonated deeply with me. It reminded me of systems engineers that understand that quality must be “engineered” into production. That how and why something is made, deeply effects the final product, the final outcome.

    That the directions for the latte may be the same, but it’s the non-summative whole that is the particular cup, the particular barrista, the specific machine, the specific location, the particular batch of beans that inexplicably with wonder create something special.

    Quite sobering that post also reminded me of (as told to me) the story in the book “Freakonomics” that perhaps there’s something to even the way humans are made. The book posited the idea that the decrease in crime in the ’90’s in NYC had nothing to do with Rudy G and his agressive policing, but rather that, — that generation was a wanted generation— that R v. W. had prevented unwanted humans being born and then discarded by illiberal parents to a life of injustice and crime. That… that generation was an embraced and loved generation relative to the one preceding it.

    So with salvation, if it came as easy as a child splattering paint on a canvas, would humanity value it?

    Which is for me why many do not embrace the Jesus story because it has lost it’s meaning, not because of the story itself. But rather because i’ve yet to see anyone portray that story accurately on film.

    Why is it that Jesus is always on “auto-pilot” from the time he’s betrayed until the end. No one cares to be saved that way.

    Is salvation just some artifice of God? just some whim, as easily made out of Legos as it was y2k years ago?

    So what’s the recipe? For humanity, what’s the way? Does the western world need a calamity, a disaster to severe it’s dependance upon the artifice of itself and personal whim?

    That would be a very horrible thing.

    What are the ways in which “art” which is itself an artifice at times… what are the ways it may severe the world from artifice?

    Is it possible? Music played out of tune, a false note here, an out of tune string there…. loses it’s “truth”.

    It reaches a point where it ceases to be music. Latte’s cease to be Lattes, Humans cease to be human….

    There is a point where the thing itself becomes not itself.

    I’m reminded of systems theory…. how a woman percieved as senile and insane by her family, being forced into assited living…. becomes unbearable to deal with.

    How that artice…. (assisted living) didn’t engage her best parts, her sane parts. How when that woman was given a project that set her free from that artifice…. A project that engaged her in a liberal fashion to interacting in an empowered way with other humans….

    How amazingly she was no longer percieved as insane or crazy, but beautiful, noble and kind. A valued member of humanity. Fully human.

    (bah… I’m out of words mon ami, I also must play some gee-tar hopefully sooner rather than later)

  2. “To sit at the wheel in hesitancy is to watch the clay spin in chaos and drop off the wheel in mere splats. Just think, we could have been making vessels to hold living water.”

    Thank you – how good to be reminded that our work, our art – is our force with which to shape, to change, to influence…that we have been given power and strength as creators by the first Creator. It is so easy to talk yourself out of that, to back away to the fringes, to become…hesitant.

    I’m going to hang on to this one for awhile.

  3. “Personally, the deepest injury postmodernism inflicts on the unsuspecting is the severing of the basic trust between the mind and the self”

    forgive me while I have to think out loud on your blog on occasion and stumble through my own thoughts. This is more of a working out of thought than a refining of it for final consumption of one’s mind.

    I’m really being sifted by that statement. I really am. I know that there is a disconnect between body and mind. It’s as if the last frontier is the mind.

    The architecture has changed. It could be said that the mind in the super-affluent west may be the only frontier. Perhaps this is why America is so violent. People are bouncing around like crazy inside their own heads. What better place to do this than the land of freedom and entitlement? In other words would it be possible elsewhere. It’s why I like cycling. I don’t want to be in my mind. It’s why I loathe bars. I hate sitting around folks swimming around in nothing but their own egos. But maybe they do that because they are tired of their egos. The liquor and the sensory overload drowns out the ego and the inability for some to escape ill-chosen decisions. (I do love pubs tho), and while it’s easily argued that the only thing any knows is their own experience. What’s the architecture for that experience? Chemicals bouncing around, neurons, synapses?

    Forgive the old arguments. I don’t think postmodernism is an “injury”. I think it’s a symptom of a far larger wound.

    Not only is one’s mind now fully severed from it’s body, it’s also severed from everyone elses mind.

    But for all of that listed above, this is why I adore cycling. Not only does it reconnect one’s self with their body, It reconnects one with an architecture that is arbitrary, defined by a *god* if you will (The UCI)…. a template that provides the architecture for a shared experience of goodness. It is a template that under goes a shared refinement of understanding, but nonetheless a template.

    The architecture for being human was never solely the arbitrary whims of the mind. It has been arbitrarily refined by a physical world that has been largely transcended, relative to earlier epochs.

    Sexuality, faith, religion, politics, were all formed in the crucible of a physical world which fierce and cruel at times, at least provided a common template for being relative to what is now.

    This is not to disdain the current fetish for *diversity*, but to question the value of a template for being that not only inhibits a shared experience and therefore understanding. I feel that it’s wrongly assumed that just because some thing “IS”, that it’s therefore “GOOD”. While *BEING* alone and of itself is indeed *GOOD*, it is not the sole qualifier or metric for *GOODNESS* or the shared understanding thereof.

    Before I leave Jeff, a quick aside. There is a burgeoning field of economics called *hedonics* it focus on the dilema that depression misery and dissatisfaction are highest in the super affluent west which is largely defined by the whims of ego. I brings into sharp relief the production and consumption of so much waste too feed these arbitrary whims and nuances is largely very unsatisfying. It seems to be seeking combine several bodies of knowledge to find indeed, what is the best most satisfying way to be human.

    Which I believe ultimately will show like cycling that to be fully human is to have the right amount necessary suffering that may provide joy. Not to justify unecessary suffering alone in one’s mind. But to set it free to tasks that while they may be painful will be as deeply enriching as a 100 mile bike ride, or a crucifixtion with meaning.

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