RED MEAT APOTHEGMS
Philosophy and Vision
Philosophy is finally about the joy of seeing, the body-filling grasp of light, spatial apperception, the Unbounded Seeing that blazes and laughs and has no edges. It is ultimately not about time. Time is a nuisance factor that makes suffering all-important. Like a video game, to be truly appreciated time must be played, again and again. Time contributes the experience of incompleteness to the spiritual journey, and offers the temporary shelter of limits and repeatability to the little self. Yes, time is needful for the self; workaday consciousness surfaces across time. But time is finally seen for what it is, open space. Yet not for a while. In the meantime, you must know that there is no unfolding of "seeing" involved in this seeing at all—it is only set forth as a concept in time, assembled for assisting the ego in its work of self-identification. The self truly has no home—it is the home, and it fills the world.
Once Attained, Never Lost
Remembrance is a great theme in Philosophy, since before Plato. This great metacognitive attainment—in which all is given in an instant—is adverted to in many symbolic forms in this world, as are all the Grand Doorways; in the lucid dream, for example. Having once awakened in a dream marks the mind forever:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
Wordsworth goes on to lament the loss of the old clear-seeing, but he doesn't forget it—this he can never do. It colors everything, even when the traces appear to be lost in the ordinary world. Loss of the form of remembrance is the shape of our suffering in this world, the source of all tears, melancholia, and the dark night of the soul. The lament of Boethius is cured by a visit from Philosophia, who assists him in remembering his true nature and estate.
Philosophy and the body
Once all my thinking was predicated on my indecision about which was primary, body or consciousness. After 61 years, it's clear. Why did it take this long? No choice necessary; the two are not a pair. But you can't tell that to a philosopher. A hint: it's not the body. The body is just a gift. Like a summer house. Where you do your best work. And the body delivers "you" with a daily supply of the unhomogenized milk of consciousness.
Philosophy is a useful art
Ramachandran’s fine aphorism that “All art is caricature” is sloppy enough to be a good fit for philosophy. Philosophy can only produce a caricature of consciousness. Or anything else, for that matter.
Learning how to read Philosophy
The real work is progressive, an arc of proposals that sound definitive, but none of them are true on their own for long. Change, reallocation of meaning, is the rule in this terrain. Your mind’s eye must move through it and stay in motion to gain anything at all—in much the same way one’s eye must keep moving to see the beauty in a Cézanne landscape. But behind it all—and behind is always where it stays—there’s a hint of patient pressure to move along, with a system of modest, temporary rewards for new understanding. Keep this guidance in mind when reading, treat all philosophic conversations in this light, and you’ll draw down the attention of the Void on your little enterprise, which is all the help you need.
The world does not need to be changed if it is a School
The School of the World is in full and effective operation. "Suffering is the fleetest animal that bears you to perfection." (Meister Eckhart Works, vol. I, p. 492). The kind of philosophy I’ve always liked is the work near the door. If there are separate schools of philosophy further inside, my focus has always been on what is common to them all, when they arrive, pass through the threshold and set up class. I keep watch on bare thinking. I have less interest in the "content" philosophies. I don't have to search for value in the philosophic work by attaching it to a field. I’m certain this work has no value, except for the attraction it has for us. The discursive elegance of the Kosmos supplies the rest. Heidegger looked into "what is called Thinking." My own inquiry has a slightly different emphasis: what the hell is thinking? I have never been able to not ask this question for long. It is a question with which I feel very much at home (a concept Heidegger took to heart.) I have nothing but the greatest regard for the work of some of the others in those later rooms. The beauty and quiet rigor of the more mathematical constructions are always an inspiration. But so, too, are the noisier and sweatier efforts of the Bodyminders, the wobbly mobiles of the Systems crowd, the moralistic Earthocrats, and the frictionless evasions of the Social Critics. The crudeness of our thinking binds us all together.
Every deep experience contains a complete cosmology
One could spend a spread of lifetimes expounding one such cosmos. That is one way of “gathering all into one;” i.e., through time. Another way involves rising upward in the interior distances and from the visual height suggestive of pure and simple looking (almost with the intensity of a virgin tourist) one allows oneself to grow wide-eyed at what the “outside” is doing, especially the body’s feelings and movements, and then, finally, the glimpse of vacancy that shelters it all. This marks a whole other beginning. This method is the timeless approach?
The architecture of thinking
We hear that the eye demands simple lines, proportion, and harmony in the mass.* If only it were so easy to express what thought itself desires! Let us try this way of speaking: a course of thought proves its worthiness when I elect to dwell there for a while, as in a home.
*From "Simplicity", p. 85 of The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner, Vol. 15.
All philosophy is local
We believe that the world we live in is the primary place, toward which all those who seriously reflect on things must also be turned. With this kind of mental preoccupation, how can we be of any service to a man or woman in their final days? If we prefer to think this way, we should be willing to find out what this place is.