This is is stupid philosophy, not brainless.

Seriously, I  just recognized that this is a philosophy of stupid, in the sense of being without thought.  It is but not brainless, a philosophy of pre-cognition

The news today seems to suggest it is timely, particularly characteristic of this time and place – the US  July 4, 2019 – but I’m not thinking about poor thinking, illogical, cruel.  I actually experience a deep connection with the divine when I move into this space, or my own vulnerability as someone with epilepsy if it occurs as a seizure.  Whatever… that is not the point.  The point is, we live in the pre-cognition and then process it, as a thought, a brain activity of neurons firing and memories forming, and amazing smart ideas.  Yet those are all in the future when we’re actually just there, before all this thinking and perceiving occurs, and then it’s all memory.

There is our being that is not partaking in our narrative, our beginning, middle and end that is characteristic of this brain activity and cognition and history and anticipation.  Both memory and hope and even the thought of our presence we make up, surmise – we think all that and to think is to create a narrative, a build a structure.

Before we can do that we have to be here, which is not to suggest some idealist being.  We might – we certainly seem to – have a body.  I’m not disputing that this is biological, at least for us, and ontological for, say, a rock or a black hole.

Before we can think, create a mental image, plan an action or even not plan, even simply to breathe because our body tends to inhale what it needs oxygen, before we do anything or think of doing anything, or think and do nothing, we are.  And that presence that makes thinking about it, experiencing it as cognition, first of all just is; it is without thought, without knowing or even not knowing in the sense of having the capacity and not meeting it.  It simply, before and beyond the structure of time and time consciousness, is.

Then the neurons fire.  Then perception happens, as part of a process, a flow.   We perceive the flow.  We can’t perceive the present moment that constitutes a moment in the flow, though the flow is constituted by such moments.  The brilliant thoughts flow.  The present moment, our stupid self just is present.

It’s July 4th and I’m in the United States ready for fireworks and reflecting on democracy and how the present moments are all profoundly equal in the sense that all of us have a life that is really infinite apart from our place in history, of infinite value.  My infinity is no lesser or greater than yours,  no infinity measurably better or worse than another.  We value a human life, perhaps, more than an amoeba’s just because we are human, but really…. perhaps that’s just a bias.  A judgment.  Not beside the point, but beside the point I’m making here.  The flow that is constituted by a whole series of moments, before being actualized as present but past before it can be cognized, I need to turn my attention to next.  I just want to stress – that’s what is perceived.  What is lived is simply that presence with its infinite … I can’t say infinite dimension because that’s a contradiction.   It doesn’t have dimensions, which returns us to the narrative.  But I want to go there anyway, next.

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Sacred Time as Phenomena

(William Blake 1757-1827)

Just to be clear (which is to admit that I’ve not been clear on this important point), my analysis here is about our felt experience of time.  It is specifically a phenomenological analysis.

This approach is distinct from scientific approaches, those of theoretical physics, and distinct from the rest of this work that is rooted specifically in media studies.  My own starting point, as an undergrad studying with Marshall McLuhan and wise folk at the University of Toronto, no doubt informs this work.  However, a phenomenological analysis attempts to bracket theories derived from other important disciplines.  I try to bracket all that, and return later to that work with my findings, following upon a reduction to the felt-world of time, the thing itself, that I discover is an open rather than narrative structure.

In doing a rigorous phenomenological analysis, I honor that experience over the theoretical framework that might eclipse the experience.  Compare this approach to eating a good meal or sipping a fine wine.  A culinary or wine expert might better appreciate the taste, and certainly might understand why a particular meal or wine tastes delightful. However, anyone enjoying the meal might be equally delighted. The expert, sharing a meal with their child, might share the child’s simple delight.

In the last century, theoretical physics caught up with artists’ and religious leaders’ insights into the nature of time.  Albert Einstein declared, “The distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one,” while William Blake declared more than a hundred years early, “I see the past, present and future all at once before me.”

More than a millennium earlier yet, the two accounts of Muhammad’s Night Journey as either an actual transportation of his being or his dream is, in part, a debate about the quality of time.  Is it psychic or variable and physically experienced? 

The South Park artists might blaspheme in their depictions of the Prophet and the Christ, but capture in their lampoon the essential quality of sacred time as phenomena.  We get used to Kenny living in infinity, just as some accept in faith the Prophet and the Christ playing with our notion that time is just one thing after another.  It’s not.  We live in infinity time all the time.  It’s just we have organic bodies and die.

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