Still Waiting, Waiting Still, Stilling Wait, Still Waiting… Distilling Waiting! Henri Bergson as a Product of His Time

**Alternate Title: still waiting, still waiting, still waiting: Bergson Unstirred by his Sugar Cube Self-fulfilling Prophecy**

As gleaned from a lecture on the subject, Henri Bergson uses the approachable everyday example of sitting and waiting for a cube of sugar to dissolve in water, and springboards his reader to drastic conclusions about the ontology of temporality. The suppositions he believes are entailed by the experience of waiting in agony for the cube of sugar to dissolve are the following: that time is ontologically independent (i.e. it is going to continue to move forward whether we like it or not) and thus oppressive, subduing any sense of will we thought we had over time’s pace; and that time contains durations, i.e. extensions and extensionabilities, which Bergson believes are inextricably bound to what life is and how the whole universe moves forward. Perhaps Bergson would balk at this summary of his cube of sugar example, calling it erroneous to what he was really driving at, but it is no matter and bears no effect either way; this commentary is going to offer an alternative viewpoint as to what the experience of waiting really is. Sorry if this preluding has made you feel impatient, disparaged, helpless… though you may have skipped ahead already.

The experience of waiting lends evidence to our lack of control over a particular space, not some inevitable dull march of time. It is that we feel we have no or little control to fast forward (as in quickly move) spatial configurations that are displeasing to us that time may seem to lengthen to uncomfortable and oppressive dimensions. If we are stuck in a boring lecture hall, we tell ourselves that we just have to endure it and there is nothing else for it, and that time will heal the externally wounding space, but on this time we are dependent, begging mercifully to; we tell ourselves time will dissolve the sugar cube. Such colloquial thinking lends evidence that an austere and severe oppression exists in our contemporary worlds and worldviews that has our imaginations chained when our bodies themselves have the answer. We forget that we have legs to jump up on to the professor’s table, to make the time more worthwhile—legs to walk right out the door and enjoy the outside eco-system where we have a real role to spatially interact; we forget that we have hands to grab and shake the water and sugar, to stir a spoon around to speed up the unfriendly space. When we create the motion in space, there is less of a need to intellectually search for other causative or background forces such as ontologically extended time. Perhaps during Bergson’s time the populace was used to waiting for things to happen (such as the “inevitable” Great War) rather than making other things happen in lieu of inevitability. Such a society indeed would induce a great deal of passivity so that one’s lack of contributive motion would be viewed as proof that contribution was impossible (or limited outside of space, for Bergson has tried to carve out such a freedom ontology). Bergson’s ontology is in a sense very politically correct; it is far less a product of a large time, and more a product of his own particular time.

Bergson’s view that space is dead (sans time), and thus requires a temporally backwards extended vitality to explain free life, is problematic to the view that space itself already contains everything it needs. The science that was blitzing forward in Bergson’s time—largely similar to the science we have now—had as a general trait the tendency to approach both space and time as dividable units that can then be measured. Upon seeing this method of conquest, it is my estimation that Bergson decided to bail out on space which he pessimistically severed as the place for scientific exploitation, and decided to capitalize on the space that “little t” (i.e. time) afforded him to endow with the power of his beloved vital force—time was for him the defensible refuge for life and creativity. To the point, some scientific thinking of our time has even considered getting rid of the t variable as unnecessary, something perhaps Bergson anticipated. Bergson asserted that unity was not a spatial entity, but something that comes from a deeper holistic individuality that is made in temporality; duration over time is essentially what it is to be unifed, and that unity in time is brought to bear on any particular spatial milieu (Bergson would say that as we look deeper backward in time up our cones and up all converging cones, we would see more and more unity and overlapping). However, an essential feature of space is overlooked when reality is parceled in to the separate entities of space and time, namely that space already has both divisibility and unity within it. Bergson saw space being scrutinized, analyzed down to crude matter, and jumped to the conclusion that space was truly such; he didn’t factor in that there had to first be a high degree of unity pre-existing the divisive scientific methods that had to be then chiseled down. He failed to see how barbaric his time was, and how vitality was being lost as the unity in space was being destroyed. He tried to transcend his specific time and this, just like Kant, left him in part to be a product of it; he was a great thinker that unnecessarily went and hid his ideas in the metaphysical. He was too busy defending against science that he forgot to be a Kuhn-before-Kuhn and rightly offend it!

Such a refuge for freedom in a false sense of extended time leads to immanent paradoxes such as the day happens to us (deterministic), rather than our happening to the day. Ironically (or oxymoronically), one of our most used idioms, “hold on [for some time]” seems like a request to do something commanding when really it is a command to do nothing that holds on to, or holds the tongue of, the person being told. Surely there are countless other perversions of a language distorted by misappreciations of spatiality, some that will only occur to me in some future time, but trust that these will continue to be used so long as humans are herded forward by their imaginary chains and fences of convention.

Time needn’t be invoked as the deep unifier—spatiality has space enough for this task so long as we fully confront its divisions with an appreciation of its harmonics, and we cease to metaphysically escape. When we alienate ourselves from the external spatial environment, we are by our own definition out of harmony with that space, which explains the fascist impulse to try to (falsely) unify with the whole through subservience to the oppressive whole—we destroy ourselves for the sake of not being dissonant! We ought not to mute ourselves in such a way, nor to isolate ourselves to a milieu of space that isn’t availing itself to us, but rather to replenish the external spatiality so that it connects to us in the original ecological way, sans scientifically informed violence damaged it so.

Tangential Daydreams and Remembering

It’s during those times of enduring boredom that we turn fully to our inner world and usually daydream of being somewhere where we are more connected with the space, or that we imagine ourselves having more control over that uninteractive space. Enduring dead space, space that is so vibrationally bereft, so in to itself…

“Memory” and “history” are spatial entities stored inside and outside a human, respectively, that are mere ligaments left over (not yet decomposed) from the past that haven’t been destroyed. They are very manipulable just as all of space is open to manipulation; history is a very shallow form of an external (to a human body) and encoded residue of the past, but is just as manipulable as the highly dynamic human brain/body where memories do shift, have gaps that widen or bend with each subsequent accessing. The act of remembering something is quite idiotic, in the old sense of the word, because of the way in which a person most isolate themselves from all present and active space to go to retrieve a deep memory. They are becoming “deadened” space in a large way, becoming all about themselves, reminiscing, so that they may have to say to others in a very anti-social way: “Shut up! I’m trying to remember something…” Though the focus is usually on not interrupting another’s remembering, in truth their act of remembering is terribly interrupting to the social harmony that might have been existing. Often the person has to remove themselves and go in to isolation (a quieted space) to entertain fragments of their previous life instead of engaging in their current life. Thinking of time is a waste of space! Remembering is also, in a very real sense, quite materialistic and against a creative impetus. They turn into an explorer, searching for some possession, some object, a supposed treasure that has been eroding and that is misplaced in their mind. Misplaced for good reason—it is about the past and it would erode and block the present. The more active present is negated for some ossified two dimensionality that possibly only exists at all because they didn’t fully live through it the first time, didn’t squeeze the pulp of the present fully enough, so there’s some dripping rotting juice festering for the attention to be squeezed a bit more.

Memories are very piecemeal instead of the whole all-at-once-ness of the present. As memories return to us, there’s usually “… and _____, oh, and ______, and, and, oh, and _____ …”. These are all additional little factoids, ossified dimensional memories adding on to the original one. That these pieces have to be added on in a mismanaged sequentialism weakens any merit that memories are somehow comparable to actually being fully engaged in the present.

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Becoming Out of Line: The Misalignment of Straightness

Matter composed into straight lines—or even more appropriately a three dimensional object with straight surfaces—is very rare in our world, if you exclude what humans have artificially pounded into existence. Nature offers a myriad of phenomena of almost straight continuous things that one could say tend towards straightness, such as icicles. However, one of a different mind could say icicles are essentially tending away from straightness, not towards it. Nature seems to abhor straight things, because of an obvious violence and simplification of what is so beautiful and complex. Regardless of this, lines have come to imply continuousness, with the concomitant inverse inference that if something is not linear, it is somehow less whole or less connected.

This notion of curvature—and any change in direction for this matter—as somehow being a break in continuity of the phenomena, is ingrained in young minds receiving a standard education across the United States, and probably in other Western and Westernizing states. A student draws a hexagon and he is praised, another student draws herself an image resembling a contour map and the paper is thrown in the garbage. Though both the students’ lines are contrived abstractions from something that may actually relate to the tangible world, the curvy terrain lines are scaled down versions of continuous lines in nature. Any man made straightness in the world is going to be unmade by forces greater than our efforts into something that isn’t so straight… something that has sporadic spatial changes… something that is alive! Yet we with our incessant maintenance efforts keep trying to impose hexagons, impose squares, impose closed loop circularity into the landscape, out of the landscape, and into our offspring.

We fail to sense the desires of our children (including that within us) to be non-linear, to be “out of order”, to be untameably free, and instead insist, in a rather neurotic way, that they line up straight, that they not experiment with their voices but use them as precise tools of communication (and occasionally as regimented tonal singers). What curves in nature, continues on—both in the spatial sense but also in the chronological sense of surviving; curving is much more internally continuous/harmonized than what fragmented-ness occurs when something is forced into straightness. That fragmented-ness is made visible when roads start to fall apart, when windows on skyscrapers break, when supposedly rational human beings become artistic, when dementia increases in likeliness (this is a loaded, nuanced topic that perhaps I will give opinions on later).

Anyways, this is the first post I am not going to go back and excessively (and obsessively) edit and impose my own twisted logic upon, and apologize for (philosophically speaking). Also, this is one of many contributory thoughts building up to a post on the ontology of violence (contrasted with the epistemology of violence) that I have been gathering towards.

Go Foucault Yourself

I think we all might feel better and treat others better if we go Foucault ourselves, and so here are over 2 hours* of lectures about his project(s) in case you can’t afford that intimate time to spend with his books:

Foucault History of Madness

Foucault Words And Things, Archaeology Of Knowledge

*soundcloud has a 3 hour upload limit, or else I would have made available nigh on 6 hours

Meditations Vis-à-vis Modernity

Note: I originally wrote this as part of the previous posting, but thought it had strayed sufficiently into a new topic, so here it is!

Being in the moment

We shouldn’t blame only ourselves for being particularly terrible at meditation, and needing a large amount of practice to become adequate and efficient at it. Why is this so? The eastern healing and philosophy traditions speak of the peace from being-in/accepting the moment, and though this might be historically true, it is by no means necessarily true in the wrecked environments of today that only humans dare live in—for some of these environments, even the versatile bacteria avoid them or are killed off swiftly by them, and keeping canaries close by became too depressing a prospect as they would flounder and flop, by neglect if not other evils; (would canaries last long enough through the dystopian supply chain tunnels and holding stations to arrive at your freshly fuming residence?) Most vital things are put on the back burner these days—think about the dried up plants forgotten in some corner—in favor of our spending our time with neatly organized rectangles made up of silicon, copper, glass, and plastics, like I’m doing as I type this.

The question still stands, why are we so terrible at meditating? I think there is something of a survival instinct to not sit and just be in so toxic a place, but to panic a bit and go through the motions of a disturbing yet purposeful, motivating anxiety phase. A meditation session in a common metropolis might go something like this: “focus on the sounds” echoing through the drywall; “breath in deep” the air fuming with wood varnish and furniture fire retardants; “sense your body” sitting in a chair that is bad for your posture; “place your hands on your inhaling belly” malnourished by the sugary yogurt bar; “imagine a solitary place” like being in your car with your windows up. Being in the moment is difficult when it isn’t a moment that deserves any closer attention—escape out of the moment is often the lesser of two evils for the human animal.

The moment that we crave is the one that is constantly changing because we are moving through a subtly evolving context that the total of our human selves were evolved to expect and appreciate (not just a limited portion of our cerebrums). The contextual evolution that we are adapted for has been marred by civilization efforts—artificial balancing techniques that really degrade the whole into segregated islands, treating everything as its own entity, and then seeking to weigh and balance these separate things at the hands of a cold calculating insurer or actuary. We have become normalized to stationary “being” as opposed to migratory “becoming”, and our bodies are rightfully inflamed and will continue to revolt symptomatically, by “catching” diseases like lupus, diabetes, arthritis, until we get up and do something about our not doing something about anything.

If The Overman Is Singular, Then The undermen Are Going To Be Very Plural

I wonder if the opposite order might be more true in terms of cause and effect (though I don’t believe the above statement is a cause and effect statement, merely a synchronic bird’s eye observation of what to expect when you see a single strong individual leading).

So, if the undermen are very plural, than there will likely be a singular or few overmen. Blame should not be placed on the overmen for ontological weakenings, that is for the undermen to figure out internally to build themselves stronger at their own behest, not dependent on the actions of others.

Allegory Of The Carve

A man is living in a cave, when a number of people enter from the opening. “We are all one family,” one of them beckons to the man, encouraging him to join them.

“No, you are just seven people,” replies the man, seated.

Most of the people exit the cave, but one remains, and declares, “I am one person, and I am here to take you home.”

The man rises and quickly pulls out his hunting knife and slits the man’s throat. He proceeds to carve out all his organs, as he would an elk. At last he speaks to the decapitated corpse laying before him, “you are fourteen organs, and twelve hunks of meat, by the knife’s count.”

The man starts to sit down, when a chill overcomes him.

Look into the mirror” a voice echoes in the cave. The man cleans the blood off his knife and looks at the reflection. “What do you see?” asks the voice.

Nothing,” the man replies.

Zero?” the voice asks.

Yes…” the man replied, as if waking from a daze, “zero.”

Then you count correctly, at last,” said the voice.

At last…” the man said, falling onto his knife. The last thing he heard, as he lay dying next to his father’s body, was the voice:

Too much light, just like too much dark, can make it difficult to see; in this cave you have been pulled apart by both extremes…”

**Alternative Titles: Encountering the Polymyth, and A void multiplicity

Philosophy is a mental pathology overlooked because of normalization; religion is a far graver epidemic, usually only cured by death

Why are these disease states? Think about what the human animal is actually doing (and not doing) when consumed by these pursuits…

Unlucky Number One

When a new student enters a class of twelve, the assumption is that s/he is the thirteenth student. But perhaps they are now the first student, the one the instructor is most cognizant of, and all the other students are pushed back by one, with former number twelve losing any luck to become the new number thirteen. Is the thirteen indicative of all now having bad luck, or is it centered on a single individual, with the other twelve in the clear? One of the odd things about the way it’s never said “unlucky thirteenth”, but always “unlucky thirteen”, but many times what is meant is unlucky thirteenth.

Is the one doing the counting to be counted—i.e., what about the instructor? Is not there now actually a change from 13 to 14 students. A lucky change, then, when a new one comes and disorders the order.

*In economic/food transactions, getting 13 of something probably means you paid for a dozen and got the 13th free, so that is definitely a valuable 13th!

Non Existence

There could have been nothing, forever—no existence, no matter, no universe, no music, no time, no darkness to be dark… absolutely nothing for ever and always. Say this to yourself enough until you feel the absolute horror of it, and you will shiver. Then, once you have felt it, realize that you do exist, and shiver more, for these glimpses of actualizing your existence can not be challenged. You are here to experience, and that is the most beautiful and fundamental core to being alive.

Kant’s Phenomenal and Noumenal As Reification and Motion

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Description: for motion essay, distinction between phenomenal/noumenal as analogy

2009-07-01

To take Kant’s distinction between the 2 basic reality spheres of phenomenal and noumenal realms, of what appears to be there and what is actual – it appears that there are things, we have become accustomed to seeing/saying things, but really all there are are motions, variations between motions. The real, the noumenal is all motions. Its because of a lack of harmonization that “things” appear. If there was full on harmonization, where there were no borders between “things”, between one harmonization and another, there would be just totality and no possibility for lingual thingification (reification); for pointing and saying—there would just be purely variable directions in the same energized (thus harmonized) motions.

Calculus can never see motion, it just infers it, but it says something about the limits of the analytic methods humans have devised to study the world.