Sunday, April 29, 2007
surface structure, deep whatever
Days go by.... We live with a world dominated by surface structure, novelty, or “whatever,” among those who can barely explore constructively where surface ends and depth begins, where “It's all about me” can barely think about life and Time realistically. Of course, an Appeal's always a matter of degree, giving way according to some interpretive interest that never comprehends totality.
—supposing you’re alive to have interest given, still giving. You wake from dreamless sleep to only then know you’ve been asleep. Had you not awakened, you’d be none the wiser about anything. Now, you may remember the nothingness of dreamless sleep only as recognition of no longer being asleep.
Life is strange, then you die—never to know that no dreamless sleeping is anymore alive. Death is to the living, nothing for the dead never knowing they're no longer “here.”
A distracted bicycler smashes into my windshield, then dies, and my hand-wringing grief flows into days, weeks of chronic stress still living.
“Car bomb kills 60 near Iraqi Shi'ite shrine.” Just another item of news, so far away. Psychopath kills 32 at a U.S. college, and a nation mourns the novelty of it all (surely not mourning all the strangers killed, as who cares about a homeless person at one’s feet, looking dead on the city sidewalk?).
Massive degrees of preventable death by accident and cancer stay largely uncounted because they aren’t news, they're too incomprehensibly ordinary; so too any right to life for diseased or starving children in Africa. We live against a background that’s a dissociative daze about the scale of reality, the complexity of it all, the common stupidity of our primate condition, the random horror of physical nature for intelligent life.
Words become background noise. Today, you're still alive to read, and I'm still alive to write. Many persons—too many—are like the speeding teen who believes the light won't turn red because he wishes it so—or what feels “reasonable” is so: The doctor only thinks she knows how much time you have to change, as time belongs to one’s power to create, as if God’s immanence is life favoring you because it feels so nice. But reality doesn't care about the strength of your convition. Your self-esteeming confidence about what's what may have wagered well, insightfully, intelligently, maybe not. In any case, reality isn't a function of self-confidence. Nature takes its course, regardless.
OK, so all manner of pragmatics can be explicated, all kinds of discursive appeal can be integrated, where constructive engagement may journey through large and difficult fields, landscapes—phenomenologies of topography educing topologies?
Surface (or proximality) can likely be discerned indisputably, e.g., behavioral design and phenomenology—or decline of carbon sinks for global warming.
Depth (or primordiality) is likely imputed as well as discerned, e.g., meaningfulness and “ontology”—or some futurity of Earth—in accord with some cohering hybridity ([a]/[b]) of “discernment”: [a] emergence, validly discernible (e.g., adaptation) and [b] construction, validly imputable (e.g., instituted design) that altogether is disputable (in direct proportion to complexity of the cohering).
[Does semantic compression at the surface portend discursive promise, or does it portend mere idiosyncrasy?]
Surface structure, deep whatever.... One chooses a path which may eventually fork like a river delta of pathmaking choices—the whole game of chess—facing a horizon ever receding, whatever the choices made for ongoing days’ instillations of remaining life.
Choices are made, like Jasper Johns’ policy toward art: “Do something. Now, do something else” (or was that Rauschenberg?). The artist makes lemonade. Another’s death teaches.
Who is one to others? The apparent selfhood, the “personality” so named, is borne from a life-historicality that is ultimately beyond all comprehension. (Philosophers fail to agree about what consciousness is, let alone the life-historical selfhood that may be narrated over hundreds of pages, let alone entwining oneself in conceptual issues of narratability.)
A personal identity (surface character apparent to others) is far more than emergent, expressing a scale of deliberate time beyond some unwitting result of going with the flow of growing up, because life flourishes with choice about next moves, paths taken, images enowned, whom one is to be, so named.
Personal identity may become especially, in middle age, largely self-instituted (cf. C. G. Jung’s sense of individuation that’s only available in later decades of life), as if life genuinely may be a Goffmanian theater of dramaturgical engagement, in which the self/personal difference plays very artfully, in accord with your presence.
Anyway, only ”I” lived the depth of time given to become who “I” is to others (strange as this reads); so, selfhood is ultimately unavailable to others—especially inasmuch as there’s been high-scaled deliberateness, i.e., depth, to self formation, thus to expressed presence of oneself, so named to others.
Self-understanding is always potentially beyond one’s presence, even to oneself, as learning’s potential neverendingness (until death) applies as well to horizons of reflection. Self formation is a pathmaking belonging only to the self, no matter how intimate others’ belonging in one’s life influences.
Knowing “my” self can be a slippery venture of reflective discernibility and ongoing design of a life led by an individuation in endless learning, according to degree of engagement in leading (thus having led) “my” ownmost life.
We remain both intimately known and ultimately unknowable, proximally distinguished from kindredness (family and friends) as our intimately ownmost life, yet also maybe flowering within intimacy some deeply self-differentiating capacity for mysteries, say, some artistry loved in its unknowability, some capacity to find diffuse constellations in mind's sky portending pointillistically rich landscapes—an autopoietic ”regioning of that which regions” (Heidegger) bearing mental light, reason to live carefully and well and thankfully.
-- 12:02 PM