You, Me, and Infinity

TheDevineoutoftheCornerofyourEye

Writing is an interesting phenomena. Think of what it means to you, think about Learning to write. Did you learn to type before you could write letters with a pen, or the other way around? When did you figure out that a blank space is what separates words.

But when you are writing — which is equally yet not interchangeably the act of hitting keys on a keyboard, or dragging a leaky tube of pigment across a dried pulp sheet, or whatever other way to inscribe graphemes for future reference — You’re not thinking about how you learned to write. Ideally, you are comfortably oblivious to the basest details of the physical writing process. There is a higher order thought process going on from which a flow of thoughts come. Conjoined to this thought, is also a monitor function. A listener. A separate but sympathetic voice which sees, feels, swims with the flow of thoughts, but can add an articulation. It takes a completely personal, instantaneous experience of a sensual moment, and picks a social matrix to voice a comment about that moment. And a word appears, to a phrase, to a sentence. The mechanisms of the actual writing puts it down, and in fact the pace of the writing will have an influence on the stream of thought that is tossing off the words, like sparks from a fire.

If you throw out the details, you get something like, a person starts with a blank page, and writes something which other people may be able to understand.

Now, reading is much more complicated I’m talking about the challenge one faces, just trying to write down any notes on that stream of energy we call life.

The opportunity to step back from the moment we are in and create an internal world of imagination is remarkable enough. This is the Infinity, getting stuck for a moment in just one number on the roulette wheel, and it does so in some mark on the permanent record. A word, a paragraph, and an article is inscribed.

But the writing. What can we say about where it comes from? Like a sprinkler that taps a stream of water to send a spash of drops flying, our writer, our listener and commenter on our internal stream of wordless mind moments picks a few words out of matrix of social experience, and once words are picked, other words erupt out of the stream, and the physical writing sets a pace. There is a feedback loop of ideas, feelings, and the voice of the idealized or specific reader the writer is trying to appeal to, to create a certain state of mind in that other person.

What could be coming out of that host before the sprinkler spits out a few drops? That would be anything. And ideally? Ultimately? There is a stillness. A thought which is not a thought at all, but the protothought. That which makes thinking possible. The common origin of thought, each moment.

The writer will always seek, but never get, the protothought. It is the stem cell of our consiousness, but in this case, we have to remember that we are born each moment. Oh yes, and we die there too. It is a mental breath. A cycle. Energy flows through us, and part of what that does is drive this Energy Engine we call a our consciousness.

The Protothought is all the existence, without any of the specifics. It is devoid of the pesky details of memory. It is the source of the flood of energy that is always streaming in, around, and through us that we experience as our body, our life, our things, our times, our stories. But the Protothought is before all these things. It makes them possible, makes any thought possible, but it is a thought which, while it can be described, cannot be understood without a reader’s personal experience with their own particular flavor of the Protothought. The protothought has no attributes, other than the structure of the consciousness in which it is the unitary member, the atomic unit.

The Protothought could even be thought of as an emptying of the mind, in preparation for a new moment, a new set of sensations, a new social context into which the moment becomes specifically meaningful enough to be summarizedm characterized, and written. None of that is possible without a refreshing of the mind, that happens roughly ten times a second. Then at the next level, it happens about every 20 seconds. Next, there’s something that happens after about 2 minutes. There are songs that are only 2 minutes long that can feel like they go on forever.

I’m emphasizing the Protothought, because relative to writing, and infinity, the protothought is both formative, and unformable. Formative because everything in the mind comes out of the undifferentiated existence itself to make being as an activity possible. It is also unencompassable in writing, because the listener, the writer’s voice cannot separate itself enough to give a description, which generally and necessarily excludes far more than it includes as far as objects.

But there is one person who has complete and unfettered access to the protothought, and that is the being who does not seek to differentiate. Who sinks and relaxes into a union of commenter and commenting.

The person who fancies themselves a writer who can write down every detail about any real subject is setting themselves up for a fall. See the careers of Alfred North Whitehead and Kurt Godel. Whitehead (And Bertrand Russell among others) offered a cash prize to anyone who could finish the book of logic, that is write down the rules to determine the truth or falsehood of any statement.

Godel did the opposite of what Whitehead would have wanted. He proved that any symbolic system complex enough to include arithmetic is either inconsistent, or incomplete. This means at least that there will be meaningful statements which cannot be determined to be either true or false.

We are energy beings. Writers seek to catch sparks, and freeze them, bind them, somehow hold them somewhere slightly more permament than an allogorical spark in a cavern of a mind. We could see ourselves as newborn beings that are bursting from the protothought, into a child (the sense impression of the moment) to an adolescent (the immediate reaction to the sense map) and the writer (reflections on the senses, and the bodies visceral reaction). But first and formost, for better or worse, we are energy beings. Our lives generate a flow of energy, and it is up to us to maintain the flow. We do that by doing what we know we need to do.

It is the protothought that is the pool of infinity. It is the singularity, from which our next moment’s truth springs. This is not a verbal truth, it is not a written truth. It is not a logical truth. It is not even a differentiated truth, meaning there is nothing false which could be considered its opposites. It is the answer to all questions, and the question to all answers…but only before any specifics can be uttered.

The best a teacher, especially a spiritual teacher, can do for a student, is show them the map they used to find themselves. But the student can only take even the best map so far. They can take it to the edge of words, maybe a little further to the edge of music, maybe a little further to the edge of dance, but there is no question that the student will end up on a path that is not on that map.

Eventually, the map, the memory of the map, the misconceptions of the map, the need for the map…they dissipate, and what is left if an experience of mapping all as now as none as infinite possibilities.

My mission is to help people find their own words, and to stop leaching their own power away because they don’t think they understand things.

We each have to unwind civilization out of our minds before we can see where we really started, without ancient or modern commentaries. Most of what anyone has to tell you about your own spiritual development is a distraction from that development. Their words will always be relative. Your conscious existence, that protothought.

 

[Posted as Facebook Note Friday, March 6, 2009 at 1:05am ]

A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, for Life Coaches and More

Silent CircleLife Coaches are now important professional advisors for many of the most influential executives and entrepreneurs. Most life coaches schedule regular voice calls with their clients. The relationship between coach and client can grow to be a close one. Client coach relationships often last for years, and often come to include many personal and professional details which help to ground the coach’s understanding of the client’s circumstances, preferences, and habits of mind.

There was a time when most telephone calls afforded what is legally referred to as a “Reasonable expectation of privacy.” A precedence-setting case was heard by the US Supreme Court in 1967, (See https://ssd.eff.org/your-computer/govt/privacy ) where stepping into a phone booth and closing the door gave a person just such an expectation of privacy. If law enforcement, for example, wanted to eavesdrop on that phone call, they would need to show probable cause that there was some crime likely being perpetrated or discussed, and a warrant would have to be issued for a wire tap. While the legal system in the United States still operates under the same constitution, the technological and legal factors have changed enormously. To have that same “reasonable expectation of privacy” from surveillance now requires far more consideration.

This is not to say that Life Coaches are bringing up or discussing illegal activity. As technology has made communication easier from everywhere, it has also made eavesdropping easier for anyone who is interested in hearing the private business of  powerful and influential individuals. Life Coaches may be discussing sensitive business plans, private weaknesses, or future public strategies which if leaked prematurely could cause at least embarrassment, and potentially grave harm.  For the client, such a leak could be a career-ending event. For the coach, such a blunder could be the end of their clients’ trust, and even leave them open to legal repercussions. Beyond Life Coaches, there are many circumstances which would benefit from secure communication. Lawyers, doctors, and therapists for example are obligated to offer their clients the best available technologies to keep communications confidential.

Technological considerations to ensure that a conversation is not compromised by industrial espionage, rogue operatives, opportunistic hackers, or any number of secretive assailants are not trivial. They may include computer viruses which could be accessing the microphone and webcam of any computer. There are remote surveillance devices which can use a laser striking a window to hear any sound in a room clear enough to be recorded. Smartphones themselves can be compromised by viruses.  Listening devices can be implanted in homes, offices, and cars.

Even after eliminating all of these threats with adequate security protection and secured locations, there is still the remote communication itself. Ubiquitous surveillance has been revealed in wide ranges of communications. The native encryption in cell phones has been cracked, and tools to hijack and record calls is now widely available in the grey and black markets. Many governments around the world have been documented assisting private national interests, and underground and illicit organizations are not above espionage for hire, or extortion. (For one example: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/opinion/corporate-espionage-american-style.html?_r=0 )

There are now several apps which promise secure communications from iPhone and Android, both for text messages, voice, and video calls. after considering the options, I found that Silent Circle (http://silentcircle.com ) has the most trustworthy executive team and most complete set of communication products. It is a premium service at $20/month. For that investment, you are getting the personal assurance of their president, Phil Zimmermann {Internet Hall of Fame inductee: http://www.internethalloffame.org/inductees/philip-zimmermann ) that your communications are being conveyed to their destination without interception, and without any back doors.

After considering the options, I decided to become a representative of the Silent Circle products. It is an unusually commercial step on my part, which I took both because I was impressed with their services, and feel that our society could only benefit from people exercising their political right to communicate with some security. I know the integrity of the technology they are using and trust lead technical people in the organization.

I am available for further consultation for your technical or security needs. I invite you to investigate independently, and when you decide to use the Silent Circle suite of products, you can use the discount code “TemNoon”. You may email me at tem@temnoon.com. I am also available by telephone or text through the Silent Circle services, as user “temnoon”

 

Reading Glasses, and Discourse

IMG_6665I have five pairs of reading glasses scattered around me. Two are actually bifocal sunglasses, I bought the second after losing the first, then found it. The others I’ve mostly stolen from my father (well, he knows I do that. so maybe taken is better. He gets them 3 for $1, and they break easily). My favorite pair I paid $20 for once, because they were tinted for computers or other screens. The nose pads fell off long ago, but I make little beeswax pads, which fall off, but can be fixed. I had a rule about not taking them out of the house in Vermont, but recently decided to take them to NY. I broke them at the Museum of Natural History, one of the ear-holders came off. (what do you call that? It must have a name…) It was a great day, but that was a tinge of sadness They were too delicate to be loose in my pocket. I learned a lesson, just too late for the glasses. Thank you, world, for the lesson. I am using those glasses now, with the side piece held together with athletic tape, Not pretty, but the “Not Leave The House” rule is back in effect. Such are my rules to myself.

It was maybe seven years ago I started to notice I wasn’t as interested in reading anymore. Then I tried a pair of reading glasses, and was shocked to notice that there WERE really words there. Eyes get old, even ones that never needed glasses before. Reading glasses changed my perspective and attitude to reading. I became interested in books and magazines, because it was no longer something of a struggle to decipher what they were saying. And I hadn’t really noticed I was struggling.

Now they are a necessary nuisance. I can’t use the computer without them, and there are few things I can read without them. I can still see at any distance without anything noticeably blurring, it just gets smaller till it disappears. But the only thing I can reliably read without glasses on my iphone is the huge clock numbers. I can’t read ingredient labels at the store without it, so I won’t go shopping without a pair.

I let the right glasses ones find their way to my nose, putting one on, taking it off (they have somewhat different strengths, some are more smudged or scratched than others) and finally settle. I wouldn’t call it a “decision” because that sounds like logic was involved. Mostly I was thinking about other things, and my hands and eyes were having their own conversation that had more to do with geometry (which are close to my hands, which I see) and feelings (like how it felt on my nose). It’s rare that there’s really much conscious thought about this whole glasses thing, but it occurred to me that glasses are a nice metaphor, for the relationship between Consciousness, Narrative, and Discourse.

 

Consciousness, Narrative and the Lens of Discourse

We become aware of narrative through our senses. I’m using “Narrative” for any language-based expression. It may be spoken, it may be written, it may be internal thought, but in all cases the majority of the meaning is being conveyed in the words. I grant that there are cases where spoken language can be an adjunct to more important direct communications. Still, in most typical social situations, words are expressed to embody the intention of the narrative.

In order to understand the narrative, consciousness requires a context to understand the string of words. Words must already be known by consciousness to indicate anything. Further, consciousness needs to have an idea of where those words are coming from. whether it is a spoken or written communication, the consciousness immediately has some understanding about where the words are coming from, and brings all the previous communication with that person (or more abstract subject) to mind. This is what I mean as a discourse. This discourse is the lens of narrative. They are the reading glasses which make accessible the code contained between the words and the present context. Individuals that I have known from my childhood and who I meet after many years often bring to mind the discourse of our youth. This is my conscious memories, and also implicit memories of times that we spent together, things that we said and did, along with how I felt about it. We pick up where we left off. This is not to imply that the discourses are completely isolated from other factors of life and the world. Everything we experience has the potential of nuancing the context of our understanding of the world. Whatever this may be is brought into any discourse that becomes present to consciousness.

When I speak or write I am seeing through the same discourse. I think of the structure of discourse as consisting of two characters. There is the person who I have consciously identified as the subject, the one I remember previous dialogues with and who I have some intention to communicate with, to some intended end. That intention, aimed at the subject, comes from a self. Not a single monolithic self, identical to itself through all dealings with the world, but a specific self, matched to the memories and past intentions, expectations, and desires related to this particular person, subject of the communication.

Children who grow up, for example, with parents who speak different languages are not confused by this. They pick up both languages, and understand implicitly how to talk to each parent. There is an innate realization that each person expresses meaning in distinct but individual contexts. They change the lens, the discourse, automatically. This is a clear illustration of what I am talking about, I see this as an insight into all people’s interactions.

The discourse is then a psychological lens. Though we are seeing through the lens, we are not always aware how much we see is in the subject we are looking as, and how much is a smudge on the lens, an aspect of the discourse. The “Smudge on the lens” metaphor maps well to that image we have of a self, a specific self in the context of a specific other. We see through the self image, which sets expectations of the other, sets desires of the other, sets fears of the other. It is the discourse that adds emotional weight to the words. The words are a means to act on the other, and receive the action offered from the other. The discourse connects us to the other, even as it separates.

Most importantly perhaps, the discourse is not a shared structure. It is a psychological structure. My discourse with you must always be distinct from your discourse with me. Even if we both remember the same events, the same shared experiences, the same discussions, arguments, notes and messages, your image of who you think I am will never be the same as my image of myself. My image of who I think you are will never be the same as your image of yourself. In this way, every discussion even between two people who have known each other all their lives is really between four characters. There is who I think I am, and who I think I’m talking to, in addition to who you think you are, and who you think you’re talking to. This is the best a modern language can do.

Can we take off the lens of the discourse, as I can take off my reading glasses? I can notice my glasses are smudged and try to clean them. I can find they will no longer stay on my face, or maybe they are hurting my nose because they have become broken. Maybe they are giving me a headache because they are too strong, or too weak. Often with discourses, it is not always obvious that I am acting as a different person in conversation with different people, because that self-image is part of the lens I am looking through. I am acting out a character created with this other person in mind. In intimate relationships, it is often the feeling of who I am in relation to this other person that makes me feel good, or bad about myself. In such a relationship, every communication could change how I feel about myself. A part of myself is always on the line as we communicate through discourses. The more intimate the relation, the deeper the impact.

So, where is the self without the discourse? Without the words? It is not the inner landscape of narrative. Words form in our talkative consciousness for several reasons, but still all in the context of discourses. I find myself trying out narratives, thinking of people who I want to say something to, or want something from, or are afraid of, or circumstances that I will have to explain to someone. I try sentences out, often over and over again. Then there is picturing myself talking to myself. I take the role of the other, and create a discourse between characters which are all aspects of myself. There is the pleasure-seeking self. The spirit-seeking self. The attention-seeking self. The punishment-seeking self. There is the selfish self, and the altruistic self. The proud self and the humble self. The self my mother knows, and the shameful self I take pains to keep anyone from knowing. Implicit selves, explicit selves. Selves I “know” and selves I have no name for, or actual knowledge of. I am awash with words, in a fluid space reconciling the many selves who have so much to say, even when no one is around.

This does not mean there is no inner, quiet self. A self who is above, below, and beyond any narrative, outside of the context of a discourse. All discourses are rooted in the social world, in the external play of subjects and objects. Of people, their needs, their desires, their comedy, their tragedy. Even if I cannot take off the inner glasses of expectation, supposition, and tradition, I can close my inner eye. Moments still come and go. Mind breathes an inner landscape of far more than language. Awareness makes discourse and social identity possible, discourse does not create awareness. It is a life’s work to peel away and examine the conversations which have brought is through many paths to be where we are. And here we are. Every conscious moment, even as it is steeped in the discourses which has given us a world of social significance, it leaves us empty, and ready to start again, right now.

Reading The Most Important Page Ever Printed.

Why is Page 27 [English Translation by Gayatri Spivak ISBN 0-8018-1879-6] of Jacques Derrida’s “Of Grammatology” the most important page in any book ever printed?

Of Grammatology by Jacques Derrida, English Translation by Gayatri Spivak

As a writer, there is a bit of a magic act that has to go on. Between me and myself. I have to arrive at the blank slate as if the text I envision already exists. I have an idea, I know what they whole idea feels like, now I need to transfer it to another person, but I can’t reach them directly, so I create a little prayer they can say which will recreate this idea in their head. A blessing. A script. A map. A story.

Think of consciousness as a function, like a wave equation. The function of my experience right now, not a probability wave so much as the equation of motion of whatever makes some overall experience which I know as my mind. It includes something which my intellect would call an “idea.” I cannot manifest the equation, because I AM that mind function, the hypothetical equation is the concept of me as states of mind which control my body and are aware of my surroundings. I can encapsulate the idea into a mental symbolic form (A “first derivative” of that original mind function) which is distinct from my overall mental conscious experience (over some small amount of conscious duration, the “delta time”). This separates my own conscious idea of myself from the idea I wish to convey. This way, I can think about the idea over a period of days, while I am also doing other things. I have also bracketed the problem and separated it from an impossible task, capturing my complete mental state at an instant. Further, I have a mental and physical coordination facility which allows me to create a set of traces which I have managed to bracket in such a way that their essence can be abstracted and differentiated into a set of words. Words which I can speak or write. WIth some craftsmanship, I hope most readers will recreate the idea I am trying to convey. Of course, since we see it is a second derivative of the actual experience as lived, the reader must integrate, twice. That trace, at best, is a second derivative of the original equation of mind. If you don’t like math, then pretend I was talking about music. You can’t write the sheet music if all your attention is singing and playing all the instruments. You have to first notice that there is a song, separate from you singing, which can be distinguished and recalled. Then you can play it on an instrument, or sing it, or write out music notation of any sort. And teach others. Again, there are two degrees of separation by necessity of time.

I’m going to explain why this page of Derrida’s is the most important page of text printed, and in a significant way, it is the most important page which could possibly theoretically be printed in the english language, or a language into which this text could be translated and still be meaningful.

Read, I will explain where I am coming from with this exercise, after the fold.

(Translation from French by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak) :

The concept of writing should define the field of a science. But can it be determined by scholars outside of all the historico-metaphysical predeterminations that we have just situated so clinically? What can a science of writing begin to signify, if it is granted:

1. that the very idea of science was born in a certain epoch of writing;

2. that it was thought and formulated, as task, idea, project, in a language implying a certain kind of structurally and axiologically determined relationship between speech and writing;

3. that, to that extent, it was first related to the concept and the adventure of phonetic writing, valorized as the telos of all writing, even though what was always the exemplary model of scientificity — mathematics — constantly moved away from that goal;

4. that the strictest notion of a general science of writing was born, for non-fortuitous reasons, during a certain period of the world’s history (beginning around the eighteenth century) and within a certain determined system of relationships between “living” speech and inscription;

5. that writing is not only an auxiliary means in the service of science and possibly its object — but first, as Husserl in particular pointed out in The Origin of Geometry, the condition of the possibility of ideal objects and therefore of scientific objectivity. Before being its object, writing is the condition of the epistémè.

6. that historicity itself is tied to the possibility of writing; to the possibility of writing in general, beyond those particular forms of writing in the name of which we have long spoken of peoples without writing and without history. Before being the object of a history — of an historical science — writing opens the field of history — of historical becoming. And the former (Historie in German) presupposes the latter (Geschichte).

The science of writing should therefore look for its object at the roots of scientificity, the history of writing should turn back toward the origin of historicity. A science of the possibility of science? A science of science which would no longer have the form of logic but that of grammatics? A history of the possibility of history which would no longer be an archaeology, a philosophy of history or a history of philosophy?

The positive and the classical sciences of writing are obliged to repress this sort of question. Up to a certain point, such repression is even necessary to the progress of positive investigation. Beside the fact that it would still be held within a philosophizing logic, the onto-phenomenological question of essence, that is to say of the origin of writing, could, by itself, only paralyse or sterilize the typological or historical research of facts.

———————————  Jacques Derrida – Of Grammatology page 27 (trans. GC Spivak)

 

 

That is as much as I thought I could get away with, in audio scattered through “StreetBuddhism, the album”, with some comic relief in that a computer voice is reading. Why I would put this on my album is left without saying, at least in the album. In context, it could be viewed as a nonsequitor. The name of the album would imply some sort of Buddhist connection, which Derrida would not have intended or implied. The nice thing about music is not having to explain, the tracks are simply presented. Presenting is still my intention. The deliberate and slow reading being another perspective on “simply presenting.”

With apologies at this point, I would like to move right into the reading, but there are a number of specifics which have not yet been made clear, and these should be brought out and before a “deep reading”, now a re-reading for all of us, can begin.

Text is a tease. It promises more than it can deliver, then swears it didn’t promise any such thing. To describe a reading must include the interactions between the reader and the world. Wherever the book is, a published volume, a magazine, a physical piece of paper, or some sort of display device. The device in the world presents a text, and some conscious time must be taken to recognize the words on the page, and enunciate them clearly back to a mind, pretending to be the author.

This can sound too obvious to state, but I counter that it cannot be overstated how important this is. In order to read, we must pretend we are someone else. We are then in this sense volunteering to lie to ourselves in order to pretend we hear someone tell us the information on the page. We cannot go into this reading with an assumption that there is meaning or information simply in the traces on a page. That would miss the point of what Derrida staked his career, and indeed his life on. It would also prejudice the investigation which we are about to commence.

For every tool we gain, we lose a skill. I’ve found this a useful yardstick in measuring the usefulness of any tool. All tools represent a choice, but the poles of that choice are not always so obvious. There are no tools which do not carry some cost. If the tool is useful enough to change behavior, then it will change skills, and what others are doing competing for the same resources determines what abilities become a priority. The tool of writing itself cannot be detangled from the behaviors which it makes possible. This includes behaviors in mind which thinking in a written language makes possible. Can we ask, has anyone ever asked the question, what is the cost of writing to our quality of mind, thereby our quality of life? Not of writing this or that, but just the fact of Writing’s existence. What are the consequences to moment by moment experience of us, those whose minds are wired with a written language? Without questioning it, any information maintained by it and through it might be irreparably biased in an unpredictable way. Unpredictable, at least because no one has thought seriously about or entertained an alternative. There is 100% certainty that our species lived most of its evolution without such a thing as writing, and therefore without a mind that thinks in a written language. We do not know, cannot know culturally, and cannot remember personally to a time before writing. We know there must have been a time in our lives when we indeed did NOT think in a language like English, which is built on a written form with an external index larger than any living person can fully know. Enculturation renders those memories of infancy outside of intellectual importance.

As we move into this reading, you will note I have a very cautious eye to text. I read it carefully, and note that it is trying to trick me. Have your eyes open, and your mind open, just not so open that your brain falls out (with thanks to Robert Heinlein).

 

So now, Derrida’s Text.

“The concept of writing should define the field of a science.”

To begin, we are not first talking about simply writing. We are talking about the CONCEPT of writing. The concept of writing, the possibility and the conceptual necessities which would create the possibility of writing as we know it. This “should define the field of a science” So we are here examining the possibility of a science of the concept of writing.

When we pull that apart as above, we only have to think about what a science is, and there is a paradox. A science is, by definition a series of texts which describe a field of knowledge. For the field of knowledge which is the concept of writing, to already be using text to record what has not yet been investigated rigorously seems to fail a fundamental tenant of the science, which is to say, using a tool without validation. This may at first blush be a tautology, writing as a phenomena to be investigated, as well as a tool necessary for any science, as understood in the institutional sense, the canonic science of peer reviewed and accepted tenants and models. As the reader here, this is what I am interested in, fascinated by, frustrated by. As a reader, I am paying close attention to what is being written about writing and science.

Moving on, “But can it be determined by scholars outside of all the historico-metaphysical predeterminations that we have just situated so clinically?” This science of the concept of writing then, in order to have some standing of authenticity, would need to avoid the problem pointed out. Derrida is suggesting, it seems, that scholars studying this science, or by implication any science, do so within the context of an ‘historico-metaphysical predetermination’. The “just situated so clinically” refers to the previous chapter, but is conveniently summarized and encapsulated in that first little sentence. The “Historico-metaphysical predetermination” could use some picking apart.

The concept of ‘metaphysics’ as a philosophical discipline is the context that this page needs to be approached in. To be clear, there is no indication of “supernatural” at all. Metaphysics is the philosophical underpinnings which make anything like physics possible. To talk about the historical evolution of metaphysics is referring to a crucial line of reasoning stretching back at least to the ancient greeks. Up until modern times, scientific investigation was matched with philosophical investigations. Investigation into the origin and structure of human knowledge and understanding, epistemology. The investigation into what fundamentally makes possible the origin and structures of the world is the field of metaphysics. Derrida follows this to something of an end in the philosophy of Heidegger. The important point in this sentence is that metaphysics, epistemology, and all of the philosophical questions are contained within the ‘historico-metaphysical predeterminations’ Outside of this history, outside of the presumptions of one metaphysical system or another, is it possible to determine a science of the concept of writing? That is Derrida’s question, the gauntlet he is throwing down here.

 

“What can a science of writing begin to signify, if it is granted:” Asking now about what a science of writing can ‘signify’, here picking apart what makes writing writing. Writing is the tracing (creating some imprint on a physical medium which may then be read) of a signifier. The creation of a trace. The meaning of language is the looking at that word and seeing the signified in place of the signifier, in our mind where words become the world we know. Here, we are to explore what a science of writing may be like, what it may mean, what it may do for our understanding of writing and through that what anything which uses writing may mean. The list which is now to come, the list which makes up the bulk of this page of text, is all what must be granted. Derrida is suggesting in something of a backhand or offhand way that any one of these coming points may be enough to derail the entire enterprise he is setting to embark upon, the defining of a science of the concept of writing. Therein lies Derrida’s one point, which is all points. Writing is Deconstructing. Deconstructing could refer to something a writer is trying to engage in, but that is not Derrida’s point. Deconstructing is something that has been going on within text. It is as essential to text as is the myth that the text is the same wherever and however written. This illusion of repeatability, and the inherent and inevitable reversal of its meaning in its very existence, are manifestations of deconstruction. Derrida will go on to make his case for other reasons, what to him were the most compelling and damning of Text’s lies. But I am fascinated and quite content to look a little deeper into these six points which he throws off as some exercise to the interested student to explore, he hadn’t the time.

 

“1. that the very idea of science was born in a certain epoch of writing;”

We are trying to ‘bracket’, to set apart for examination, the concept of writing … yet if writing had not existed, the investigation would never have been conceived. One must have a mind which knows of writing to conceive of a science of writing. Someone has an idea to write something down, someone else reads what they have to say, and thus a peer-reviewed scientific canon may be created, science as well as religion, governments, universities, guilds and unions can be created. All of this, right back to having the idea to write it down, presumes writing or something equivalent to it, not just for the fact of writing it down, but the way a written language focuses the mind. I won’t admit that there is evidence that the mind produces consciousness, which may be a universal constant like pi, but as a consciousness amplifier and pattern recognition engine, written language as a mental tool is extremely powerful.

Any symbolic system runs the risk of distorting That which it is trying to represent. In certain ways Derrida’s observations about natural language text are in accord with Godël’s incompleteness theorem. No symbolic system complex enough to represent arithmetic is both complete and consistent. I would put it also alongside Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. There is a limit to precision, specifically when trying to determine both time and space, particle position and momentum. If you expect to be scientific, you must know that the means you are using to produce the corpus, the body of science has not yet been examined. If what you mean by science is this institution of institutions, which ordains certain papers to be “accepted canon”, then you have to back up and question the foundations of such basic tools as logic, mathematics, kinematics, and thermodynamics, at least, from which all of science and engineering are built.

I think it is interesting that even experts in their field are not experts in general knowledge, fitting together all the other fields. Writing facilitates specialization, and the more specialized, the more writing is generated. There is a trust, in a scientificity through specialization. Writing is the DNA making all institutions possible. Any given scientist must rely on the judgement of many other scientists, meeting certain standards of rigor, then translating observations into standard representations, and communicating them effectively to collegues qualified in the specialty. Communication and protocol can be, and is, checked far more thoroughly than any truth-value (matched against a sensory world by individual readers). Further, science has been carefully and specifically (historically) separated from religion, or in a certain sense anything directly involved in a person’s life. Because “Science” as a category has been institutionalized, as have most other categorically distinct areas of human knowledge, those who are not ordained specialists are discouraged from thinking about these questions seriously. They are encouraged to “watch a show” or “read a passage” which “explains” the accepted theory on the question. And this is generally the end of it. Not very different from knowing a religious story.

A question which I have is different than the one Derrida is proposing. I wonder about a science without writing. And I see a known prehistoric model. The model of a canonical science is not the only useful human model of science. Each human alive in the time of prehistory, were scientists. They certainly communicated with their family, their associates, but mostly they observed the world. They knew about the phases of the moon and the position of the stars, because if they didn’t they would get lost and die. They knew how to make a fire for the same reason. What to eat, what not to eat, how to find water. They didn’t expect anything other than their lives depending on understanding how the world works. What I see is that writing and thinking in a written language has diverged human attention from  understanding how the world works, into believing this or that story about this or that tidbit of information. Noting that the idea of a science of writing has come about in an epoch of writing does provide for me a way of stepping back, and noting the necessary seed of science within each individual was there, common, and unsaid in an epoch before writing. I want to open up and bring to mind in stark relief against this page of Derrida’s this way of being science where I am directly responsible for knowing everything about the world around me. A deep wordless whole-mind paradygm, spiritual in scope, scientific in rigor. That is the deeper science in each of us, which is wholly personal, but no less scientific. The scientificity, as I see it, is not in the canon and review process. Like Husserl, I see Science as first and foremost a wordless phenomena, in which we touch the infinite. And it is an identical infinite inside, which the paleolithic scientist had access to. He had no reason to doubt what he saw. Writing cannot point us back inward, it only distracts us outward to other people’s words. We can see the power of writing, in relief against the depth of what we have lost by using that power.

 

“2. that it was thought and formulated, as task, idea, project, in a language implying a certain kind of structurally and axiologically determined relationship between speech and writing;”

So not just writing as a general concept, but the specifics of our cultural writing. Writing and activities of writing specific to our history, and its relationship with human language in general combined to create the idea of science. So the conception of science, the idea of science, was a part, a product of a culture within which writing was an intrinsic and specific part. So are there specific biases built into our writing? How do we know it has not gone from our writing to our thinking? And we cannot rule out intrinsic, systemic defects. Inherent broad flaws in the intentionality assumed and demanded by the means of communication, which also by the time of science also the means of ego identity.

 

“3. that, to that extent, it was first related to the concept and the adventure of phonetic writing, valorized as the telos of all writing, even though what was always the exemplary model of scientificity — mathematics — constantly moved away from that goal;”

Derrida makes much of the voice. He is showing ways in which speech lends the author’s credibility to the text and allows writing to be its agent. Here, he is showing there is also an unacknowledged tension between an historical preference for phonetic writing (a European ethnocentrism) and the non phonetic and even non-linear mathematical notations. Mathematical notation have a different object than phonetic sentences. They are appealing to a different, more visual and spacial model of possibilities. The existence of mathematical notations shows a creative drive in the mind to explore non-verbal forms. They are still symbolic in a way, but a line and a coordinate system can say something in a few short strokes that a paragraph could not as precisely describe. Derrida’s point is that, even knowing this, there was never any doubt that there was essentially no limit to the truth collecting potential of text. Text somehow has been assumed to be perfect as a cultural storehouse of wisdom. Perfect in the sense that a clear pane of class is perfectly clear.

These are part of the unwritten, unspoken, assumed power of the concept of writing.

 

“4. that the strictest notion of a general science of writing was born, for non-fortuitous reasons, during a certain period of the world’s history (beginning around the eighteenth century) and within a certain determined system of relationships between “living” speech and inscription;”

Here he is noting that a general scientific analysis of writing began, along with a scientific attitude being defined, was not the sort of science which Derrida is embarking on. A science of writing defining itself by staking out territory no other scientific discipline was interested in (typology, archeology of ancient scripts to disambiguate ancient cultures, etc) is not what Derrida is interested in. Rather, he is looking for something foundational. A science which would include writing, along with anything and everything which derives from the attributes of writing, the abilities of writing. And he goes on to make much of the primacy given to speech, and its strange relationship with ‘inscription’, which is to say any text.

 

“5. that writing is not only an auxiliary means in the service of science and possibly its object — but first, as Husserl in particular pointed out in The Origin of Geometry, the condition of the possibility of ideal objects and therefore of scientific objectivity. Before being its object, writing is the condition of the epistémè.”

Husserl is Edmund Husserl, a German philosopher who made it his life’s work to define and expound a foundation for science. That is, any and all sciences need to be proved to be scientific in its foundations, or whatever comes after cannot hope to be. He called his system “transcendental phenomenology”. He began as a mathematics student, and in pursuit of the foundations of arithmetic, he discovered that mathematics, even simple arithmetic, could not be separated from foundational postulates, based on simply an idea. Without presumptions creating an artificial intellectual model, traditional math and therefore all of the traditional sciences, could not be said to be well founded, even if they proceed to build themselves into useful predictive tools.

Husserl worked for some 40 years developing his system, which he also referred to as a “Science of Sciences”. At the time there were several mainstream approaches to “finish mathematics”. One of the major efforts was Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell writing “Principia Mathematica”, a book which they then solicited mathematicians to prove that they had achieved their goal of a consistent and complete description of basic mathematics and logic. Instead in 1931 Gödel proved with his incompleteness theorems the opposite, that one cannot define a system which is complex enough to include arithmetic of the natural numbers, and be both complete, and provably consistent from its own axioms.

Husserl’s work was different. A different approach, and a different goal. He understood that any postulates or axioms stand in the way of an understanding of the natural world. These presumptions allow progress, but the system under study is removed from the natural world, with each postulate, axiom, or presupposition. In a sense, Derrida’s work in “Of Grammatology” as well as his books specifically on Husserl, closes the door on Husserl, and shows that his approach, as original and far reaching as it may have been, was still bound and gagged by the properties of text. Still, in this passage, Derrida is here showing that Husserl noticed that the idea of science, the scientific method itself would not have existed without writing. Ideal objects were central to Husserl’s understanding of science, mathematics itself being made up of ideal objects which can be signified in the world, with numbers, equations, and descriptions, but their existence is separate from the signs. The final phrase in this passage is my favorite in the whole page. “Writing is the condition of the epistémè (with which Derrida is referring to “knowledge”). Without writing, there would be no “knowledge” in the sense of a science. Or at least no access for us humans into a place of immortal and universal truth. That is the strange truth of mathematics. I would say the epistémè is the key to understanding a lot about why this passage is so important to me. Of all the phrases in this page, this is the one that rings out to me over and over. Epistémè is essentially epistemology. Epistemology is the study of knowledge, the structure of human thinking. As part of my reading Derrida, this part of the writing leads me to Wikipedia, just to check that I am in agreement with the wiki at large about what this word means. While the article as a whole is interesting, the first paragraph (as with most wikipedia articles) is the most useful, and least controversial:

from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology Sat March 19th 2011

“Epistemology (from Greek ἐπιστήμη – epistēmē, “knowledge, science” + λόγος, “logos”) or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions: What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.”

This is the epistémè Derrida was talking about. And let’s play my favorite phrase again. “Writing is the condition of the epistémè.” There may have been thoughts in people’s heads, but until there was someone somewhere writing it down, then there is no knowledge. Epistémè makes possible the building of a “body” of knowledge. That is how we refer to it. Interestingly enough, there is no body, except the body of the reader reading the work, embodying it in spending time reading it. The text has no body. The paper even is not the body of the text. The ink, only pigment. They are both hardware. The text is software. This is in itself strangely embodied, really disembodied, through the use of computers. The text has not really become detached from the necessity of a physical trace, but it is possible to make that trace smaller and smaller. It is also possible to transmit that trace farther and wider. When you have a page of text, for example, on a typical server, that server can have thousands of requests for the same page in seconds. The text of a typical web page occupies far less physical space in the memory or disk of a computer than the dot in these “i’s.”

Epistémè means knowledge and science, as the Greek root. Whatever the specifics are, Derrida following the lead by Husserl, makes clear that knowledge and science themselves would not exist without a means to abstract the knowledge such that two individuals can agree that the idea is indeed the same. Even if we can imagine a pre-literate conversation deriving natural numbers and addition, there is a line that is not crossed without creating a static trace. A limit to the repercussions on the use of shared information. Not having a form of writing available to the hand or to the mind changes the ways these individuals can discuss these ideal objects, and the individuals could only conceive of suggesting the discussion if the idea of abstracted meaning was relevant in their relationship.

It seems from my perspective unlikely to come up, but it is less likely that I really have the slightest clue as to the lives and thoughts of pre-literate, paleolithic homo sapiens. What I am trying to suggest is that we could learn a lot about ourselves by considering that there was a preliterate scientist, the “Paleolithic scientist” who’s life depended on an ability to be a scientist and engineer. Understanding correlations and seeing patterns directly in the nature of the world around them is how any scientist builds a model of that world in their minds. That’s what they were doing. That’s what each of us can do. One which is still a derivative of the world we live in, the undifferentiated experienced consciousness. There is no lack of information. No belief that anyone else knows any better, viscerally living how the world works. Living means being life, and you live according to that. No time or reason to second guess what was done, always full attention on the next moment, the next challenge, potentially to the death. What do I eat? Where am I? Where is my family? Where is water? Will anything attack us? The paleolithic scientist lacks no knowledge, and so is far more expert than any canonic scientist. Only our belief in limiting stories has changed. There is a paleolithic scientist in each of us.

 

“6. that historicity itself is tied to the possibility of writing; to the possibility of writing in general, beyond those particular forms of writing in the name of which we have long spoken of peoples without writing and without history.”

This is self evident. writing and history must come together, and they come together with a conception of a prehistory. A memory of a people who were different, because they did not have the book which we have now. But as writing presents it to us, it is not a real memory. Certainly not the memory of an individual. More the story written by someone who remembered a story told to them from someone who also was remembering a previous conversation. Or it was wholesale made up by someone. We don’t know. The historicity of text allows another property of text, especially text about historic events. It is a lens. It focuses and refracts attention. And the time itself can magnify the importance of events seen through a text that stays deceptively the same. Text is often viewed as a clear lens, but as often it is anything but clear and unbiased. And as we’ve been seeing, the issue is not simply the text and what the text seems to say, but the consciousness and the quality of life and mind of people who read and see through history and through their lives in the lens of text. The believed text which one may never have read, but which we know is there, out there, everywhere else, making history without us, and making our time and existence barely meaningful. Names for this and that don’t matter so much if this is the structure of your experience, of your mind using its intellect to propose a place in the relevant social hierarchy for the meaning of your life’s story.

“Before being the object of a history — of an historical science — writing opens the field of history — of historical becoming. And the former (Historie in German) presupposes the latter (Geschichte).”

What becomes is the story of who we are. Who our heroes are. Who we think about. What we think is important. So here we’re faced with trying to create a historical account of what would be necessary to take a count. Which would have to be conceived in order to make literary conception possible. We are writing about the possibility of writing with pens already always writing. An examination of the beginning of writing as if from the child of pen and paper. The text, as we’ve observed earlier, is in neither the paper, or the pigment. It takes the movement of a hand, and the reading of an eye with an internal voice. A voice who is willing to lie, and pretend they are someone who they are not. That voice will pretend they are the person who wrote the page. And they have a chance to say anything, until that voice loses interest, and no longer feels compelled by the text to be an agent of the text. The conscious time spent reading the text is conjuring some spirit of that text. Some essence of the text. A revivifying the thought behind the text. There are plenty of texts that are not worthy of our time. Like gods in an old science fiction trope, reading text is a prayer to that text, which gives it life in you. All life is subjective, and time is all we have. It turns out our lives are all text has too.

Have I run off the rails? In this reading I mean. As a reader of the text, and as a father, telling a bedtime story to his bewildered five year old, sometimes you just try to plant some seeds that will grow into questions later. If you’re lucky, the questions will turn inward, because the outward ones need tending, and you know you can’t catch all of them. There are plenty of people who sound like they have the answers. The dangerous ones will actually say they have the answer, but those will rarely explain exactly what the question was. In my experience. The inward questions end up in the Buddha’s territory. All the questions have inward answers, that may well reframe the question. As the child grows, you just pray they follow that inner light, rather than the compelling sparkly things.

I an trying to suggest believing no one. Understand as much of you can from your own surroundings. Never take someone else’s word for what something DOESN’T mean. Understand cause and effect, and understand that time is what you are making. That is the part of you that is real. The rest is a story you’re making up, and spending a lot of time believing, defending, or being devastated by. Present company included, I am not immune to personal devastation, and incomprehensible behavior. I like to take life as it comes, and I’m better equipped for reality than I was a few months ago, for what it’s worth. But that’s my story. You’re here, you should be interested, because there is a nugget of insight somewhere in this article that may jiggle something loose in that intellect of yours. Reading is my humanness approaching a text, and breathing life into it, enacting it in my mind, reading it to myself and pretending I am the writing, as if I am Derrida, telling me something with his voice. His voice which contains his years, his experience, his wisdom. Yet here we are, being as explicit as we can be that there is no other. There is no presence of a writer. I am reading, meaning looking at words and having emotional experiences as my intellect understands, or chooses to react to for me. I pretend I am my imperfect, incomplete image of a man I never met, who was more comfortable in a language I cannot understand. Yet I see his image in my mind when I read his words, and hear his voice as if his ghost was inside me.

I am almost done with this reading, just a couple of concluding paragraphs. And I pause to consider my choices. I could not finish, never go further. Or I can read the last couple of paragraphs, comment on them, some concluding remarks (mostly already written just not edited). I so want to finish. I have set myself up to expect to finish, and so I shall. But there is something comforting to know that I don’t have to. That there is a force of will. A push against the inertia of doing nothing, being pushed by events rather than pushing. If I have something to offer the world of the future, it starts with this reading of this page.

 

“The science of writing should therefore look for its object at the roots of scientificity, the history of writing should turn back toward the origin of historicity.”

We know this because scientificity is to say science to which historical development is possible because writing is available. Derrida is honing in on the special meaning of the writing which directly made science possible. Knowing scientific correlations from personal observation was possible before. But written language is a powerful advantage, first through physical writing and the organizational advantages of large groups. Then even more so with the capabilities that written structures makes available to the intellect and the thinking mind. In essence, the intellect which seems like a simple device driver which simply translates ultimately is empowered by the power of the language through which it is a gateway.

 

“A science of the possibility of science?”

Here we are finally getting to the matter. A science of the possibility of science. As a civilization we have been putting the cart before the horse, in order to get the fruits of science, but with a deferral of actual responsibility as to the consequences of what we have imprecisely labeled “science”. All of western technological progress accelerated quickly after the trial of Galileo. Science was inadvertently institutionally ethically and grammatically freed from any religious consequence. Scientists had to in a certain way bias their perspective away from religious or (in Heidegger’s vocabulary) Ontological questions. Scientific professionals, who are the designated gatekeepers of what is culturally “accepted” as scientific, act in their professional capacities as agents of text, watching that accepted texts are “scientific” enough, but it turns out to be scientific in word is easier to ensure. In deed is not so easy to require or detect. Texts define procedures, regulations, capital, tools, tools to construct tools, committee minutes, GPS readings, budgets. But there is no religious, and in some sense no ethical compass attached directly to their field. That is someone else’s job, which as much as anything else shows the power and the price of text. Of being able to compartmentalize our world, our language, and our minds.

None of this activity of science adds to the scientificity of the endeavor, by which I mean a historical thread that seeks to make the activities and the theories more scientific in a rigorous way. This may have something to do with more and more precise measurement of things, but I would like you to think of the ramifications of “pre-mature categorization”. That is not the most important bias that gets built into any scientific model, but it is common and easy to understand. More and more precision measuring something which ultimately is a derivative and not a fundamental  parameter is not as helpful as stepping back and seeing the whole process as a single integrated cycle. I have for my own satisfaction released the assumption that it can be written into text. But I do see text as an important scaffold, with which each person must climb, construct and integrate the scientific stories they hear into a reasonable personal science of the world. The same can be said for all of those stories, which in the fully integrated lived mind, there are no categories. All words in the intellect amount to scaffolding, merging into the larger wordless infinite-inside Mind. Buddhism, such wisdom as in the Four Noble Truths is an extremely useful tool to see this, but more on that another time.

In Canonic science, one may wonder where the science is really happening. Is the science happening inside the electron gun? Is it the screen the data ia displayed on? Or is it the grad student typing in the professor’s notes for the final paper? We see how writing makes science possible. What we are asking now, seeing what we are calling “science”, is what are we really believing in, when we believe in something we hear attributed to “science.” This is what a science of the possibility of science could clear up. What is it that makes science possible? Is it really a written record of a category of human knowledge which we refer to as “science” that has in it a bunch of useful principles for dealing with issues that come up in space and time? In a casual way, that’s about what we mean, but there is an implicit understanding in each person who knows science to be such, that there is something REAL about the theories and laws of science. It is not a “truth”, it is not part of the explicit theatre of modern science, selling its own story for creation over some traditional camp. In this way, it is not fundamentally different than religious, spiritual, or for that matter atheist canon. We note physical laws and relationships giving “us” as a species predictive abilities, and great power. With all of that, we’re still not seeing the science out in the open. It is not taught really. An essentially scientific attentiveness which was at the fingertips and tongue of every human being for most of our history has been inadvertently taken from us, in the name of progress.

It is easy to emotionally point to the science as the wonder. Beyond knowing, beyond knowing there is any separation between you all that is within your conscious frame to witness. That is Phenomenology. The phenomena is both the event and the witness and all and everything in between. An instant and a universe at once and forever. That is what Husserl tried to describe. Transcendental Phenomenology exists in the certainty that all that is real and measurable is the subjective. Intersubjective does not make the transcendental, however. It discovers what cannot be created or destroyed, for it simply is. It is all but identical to Buddhist Mindfulness meditation. Derrida corrected the deep biases in Husserl that leaned too heavily on the empty promises of text and writing. I bring them all together with the words of the Bodhisatva Mahasatva Avalokitishvara in the Heart Sutra, “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form.” I see it as possible to first show a path down which people can build their own neo-paleolithic science based on expecting themselves to get it, and from there use writing and its offspring as understood and bounded tools, rather than disembodied historical characters and emotional principles. And then you understand that the wisdom of the Heart Sutra is all that is needed. Put in another way, the only thing that is real is “Emptiness”, and everything else just looks like stuff. And where is the emptiness? All behind your eyes, when you’re seeing it. More on that another time.

 

“A science of science which would no longer have the form of logic but that of grammatics?”

What is the difference between a science in the form of logic (and by extension mathematics) and one of grammatics? Where mathematical facts and grammatical statements have equal rigor in their tests and assertions.

But is that what Derrida is suggesting? I would say partially, but in so suggesting, also allowing us to see the futility there too. Because we can note things about grammer, used in casual speech, or in precise scientific contexts, does not mean they are the dominant, or even formative factors in actual scientific observation and insight. The grammatical rules, formalisms, informalisms, seem a strange place to create a foundation of scientificity. The story scientists know about logic is a few basic rules that are then universal, and are baked into many layers to allow vast complexity based on simple rules and presumptions. To dismantle a logic based science for a new one, even if better founded science, would obviously be a non-starter without some assurance that the outcome would be in some measurable and productive way “better” than before. Derrida would certainly make no promises, in my best estimation.

 

“A history of the possibility of history which would no longer be an archaeology, a philosophy of history or a history of philosophy?”

An archeology is a story of how some fact came to be. A philosophy of history being a perspective on how to create historical categories which allow for a reasonable understanding as to the progress and unfolding of history, and a history of philosophy. Stories. Stories on how this or that came to be this or that way. A science of the possibility of writing? Yes, it can navigate around these problems, these distractions…A science of science which is a personal science first.

 

“The positive and the classical sciences of writing are obliged to repress this sort of question.”

Of course the status quo would not like new divisions, a science of science which includes all sciences is threatening. The classical sciences, sciences of a divided epistemology, survives on maintaining its identity, so it knows what it is studying, and what it is not studying.

 

“Up to a certain point, such repression is even necessary to the progress of positive investigation.”

The repression is necessary for the traditional sciences, for the limited and categorized fields of knowledge. But by opening up a science of writing, a science of the concept of writing, then we must see the categories before they were categories. Like science, the “paleolithic scientist” concept is a context for science far before science could have been conceived, but this should make it no less precise. We cannot go back to a pre-literate way of being from where we are, but we (meaning each of us for ourselves) can create a full-mind paleolithic-like state of seeing the world, and use Buddhist principles to set internal priorities of myself and the world. The intellect cannot be abandoned, it just must be founded in the larger mind, rather than the other way around. Derrida in this sentence is allowing text to play its role of limiting scope, which is surely what is necessary to make progress in any scientific investigation. Text facilitates limiting of scope. He is also echoing the deep problems, the vast gap between what text is assumed and supposed to be doing, versus what may actually be going on in the readings.

 

“Beside the fact that it would still be held within a philosophizing logic, the onto-phenomenological question of essence, that is to say of the origin of writing, could, by itself, only paralyse or sterilize the typological or historical research of facts.”

In this sentence of the passage, I see Derrida reluctant to start the process. Text is for those who use it and depend on it to be an unassailable tool. An invisible tool which is simply a means to the seemingly simple task of moving information from one place to another, and a means for many people to agree on something like a shared “truth”. Yet, it is all but invisible. It is all but unbiased. It’s structures are not pure, but historically conglomerated. It’s implications are not necessarily logical, but more likely grammatical. To start the scientific examination of writing implies that everything that came before is founded on a non-scientific ground. It is instead an artificial ground.

But we’re not afraid, we’re done. I’ve finished reading what I wanted to read, I made my points. My original point I leave to you, with a reminder of what I proposed. I said this is the most important page of text ever printed, or that even could be printed. I stand by that, now that we see the case that it makes. Without reading this page, one would not understand the limits of writing. The very nature of writing which misleads. One would not understand that aside from the implications for the many fields which are based on textual categories, that science in particular can clearly never arrive at both the precision and eloquence in explaining how the world works in a general way, in a set of texts, bequeathed to future generations. Rather, the Science that I seek to understand and disseminate is a science that first lives in the whole of my mind, and which inspires people to find their own science, in their mind’s own language. The point is not to find a book that is “True” or “Truer”. First, your truth must come from within.

- Tem Noon  28 March 2011 (Minor grammatical edits 30 Mar 2011)

Tem Noon’s Guide to Consciousness

Consciousness is the lens through which we encounter the world, encounter ourselves, and on occasion encounter our own consciousness. I strive to be clear and give you the benefit of my experience in exploring consciousness, but these can be at best suggestions. You are acquainted with the details of your own consciousness in ways that will always be beyond my words, and even beyond your own words. Further, deep encounters with your own consciousness will include insights into the foundations of the physical world, and the nature of existence. We will also have to look at the whole range of issues that come up around the questions of “Identity”, and the strange case of narrative that runs through our lives.

Consciousness is the experience of Awareness in One Mind, NowGlowTem

To be clear, by consciousness, I am talking about your immediate awareness of any and all of your senses, plus whatever experiences are recalled or anticipated in some kind of contemplation or extrapolation of those senses. In any given day, we go through many different modes of consciousness, many of which correspond to actions. The more we act in specific modes, the less we notice moving into and out of those states or modes of mind, and the easier it is to have another mode of consciousness working in parallel. Walking is a mode of consciousness which coordinates our whole body’s motion. Eating is a mode of consciousness, which also coordinates a host of activities of the body, which is so automatic that we hardly think about it … until we bite our tongue or cheek in a momentary consciousness gaff. Sleeping and dreaming are modes of consciousness, even if you don’t remember your dream, the consciousness of the dream is just as appropriately called consciousness as your waking self, it is simply aware of a dream environment, rather than revealed through the senses of the body.

I’d also like to be specific, that I am talking about “Software” of the mind, not “The brain” as an organ. All of my references to mind and consciousness are references to how I am experiencing consciousness, not a description from an external observer over my mental biology.

When we are talking about human consciousness, it exists in one person at a time; an experiencer, an observer. We are focusing on real experiences, real patterns and the content of lived experience. Groups of people are groups of consciousnesses, a group is not one larger consciousness. Ever. In any context. Computer artificial intelligence, as of this writing, is not and cannot be consciousness, any more than a car is conscious. It is interesting that the driver becomes the consciousness of the car, and the car becomes the body of the driver. Still one consciousness, supplied by a flesh-and-blood human. You also can’t have half a consciousness. Even children, even babies, are complete consciousnesses. Experience is what we call life happening to an aware consciousness. Awareness is the quanta of consciousness. It is the definition of a being, one that is aware. I am talking about the flavor of consciousness which we, as humans are familiar with, by definition human consciousness. Each of us has a whole human being’s experience every moment. In this way, we have as complete a view of the universe as anyone, and are equipped with cognitive capacity and impetus to watch, remember, and understand the world.

We know ourselves to be a being, and we recognize beings in our field of sense and experience. Each of them we understand based on an understanding of ourself. Even without a specific means of communication, our consciousness resonantes with all beings we see. We can tell a lot about another being watching, because of our own model of our world, based on a life lived.

We may imagine humans, before writing, were ‘thinking out loud’. People never had to learn a language in the same way we think of today, when language is formal and externally defined. The voice was expressed in the context of facial expressions, gestures, body movement, and perhaps song. It was not a language of external meaning or an external authority. The vocalizations were just one part of the social glue, along with sharing food, sharing the protection of fire, and many other social activities. What the vocalizations likely did not do was fill out a person’s understanding of the world. The constraints of the physical world on a person’s life were severe, and depended on knowing what to do in a wide range of circumstances. They had to be able to handle themselves in warm climates and extremely cold environments. They had to be able to make tools and make fire. They had to be able to track game, they needed to anticipate weather and recover from severe events. They had to know what they could eat, and what was poison. The communication with others was never as precise as what they could see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. Science before writing was a personal matter, and the way every person learned was in the many details to which the “Paleolithic Scientists” had to pay attention, because otherwise they would die.

At a certain point, coinciding with the climate becoming stable enough to be seasonably reliable, A specialization was developed by humans, the tool of written language. It may have taken 1000 years to move from simple scratches on bone to count to a vocabulary that included all vocal expressions in use at the time, codified as a language with a specific vocabulary. By that time, it had changed everything.

With every tool that is gained, there is a skill lost. The more powerful the tool, the more profound the loss. This is a self-evident principle, because a tool useful enough to be worth obtaining and using will replace some other activity. The facilities of the tool user will shift to activities which involve the tool. This is true for an individual, it is true over many generations, though the fact that there once was a choice easily gets lost in history, when there is no one alive who remembers a different way to do things. Tools also have side effects, they never do exactly the same thing as the activity which it replaces. In our modern world, we evaluate all kinds of things in all kinds of ways, but the foundation of written language is often seen as the foundation on which we know things, judge things, plan things. A way of life without written language consciousness has been practically lost. At the same time, this text consciousness has come to dominate the modern world, hiding in plane sight as a mode of consciousness that has no alternative.

Text Consciousness

“Text Consciousness” is what I refer to as the intellect, the facility in the mind which translates any words encountered into the emotional, internal meaning as it relates to the reader’s world. Spoken language is evaluated in the same framework, there is little difference today between what is spoken and what is written. The particulars of how text consciousness is experienced is the key human tool which sets people apart from animals. It sets history apart from pre-history. This section describes how it works, from a functional point of view.

It is the part of the mind which deals with all kinds of symbolic, written, and spoken narratives. Text Consciousness could not have existed in this intellectual form without external writing. Estimates of when writing started range from about 6000 years ago to maybe 13,000 years ago. Even if it was double that, Homo Sapiens as a species have existed ten times longer than that, over 200,000 years of being practically identical to the modern population of the world. It doesn’t matter exactly how long, or how the intellect came to be. How was human consciousness structured and experienced before there was written language? Text consciousness facilitates describing and constructing complex systems in the world, yet at the same time Text Consciousness biases and obscures important aspects of the natural world due to essential structures which make the text consciousness functional.

Traces are the forms seen in the world which are recognized and repeated in the mind as text. They are not naturally occurring in the world, they have been written down by a person. Traces are not, in my usage, “Text” in itself. I will use the term “Trace” for what is on paper, or on the screen of a computer, or the words spoken. In order to become what I call “Text”, which is to say meaningful text, it must be read by a person who understands it, and reacts in their consciousness as a word. To read is to repeat the word in the mind, and in that repetition, see the meaning through the word. Text Consciousness is the mode of consciousness which recognizes text, repeats it, and incorporates the meaning of that text into the mind’s model of the world.

Modes of consciousness such as eating, walking, driving a car, or riding a bicycle, all operate in the present moment of the body. Text Consciousness is the mode of consciousness which recognizes speech or traces as what they mean. You could say that text consciousness sees through the text as the retina sees through the lens of the eye and uses what was observed as an update to our “model of the world”.

This model of the world is not a story, it is the sum of all we know. Our consciousness and through it our body is poised to react based on what we know to be the way the world “is”. We see meaning as we recognize any changes each moment. The model is the sum of our understanding of the geometric, social, and physical state of our overall world of concern. This is our personal model of the world, and it is contributed to every meaningful thing that happens, moment to moment. Everything we know is incorporated into this model. Every time we notice anything about anything, our noticing is echoed through our model of the world, and our model of the world is updated. We react to what we just learned, then move on in the knowledge of what the “new” world is like.

When reading, we are typically not memorizing words, we are remembering the new state of the world as told by the text. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, we are incorporating the new information into a mental structure full of images, operations, and objects which correspond to what the text is telling us. It is rare, and for most people difficult, to memorize exact words. Typically people understand it, and as they read the last page, last paragraph, last sentence, last word, they say they “understand” the book. It is not really the book that is “understood”, but rather the reader’s impression of the structures the book induced. This seems like the same thing, but there is an important distinction. To say that the book has a single meaning and readers get measurably close or far away from the ‘real’ meaning is only possible if the words have a particular, fixed meaning. I don’t think it can rigorously be determined, ever, what such a meaning “really” was, if it did actually exist. It is, at the very least, an unphysical idea. The intention of the writer has been distilled into just the trace, which is at best like a powdered drink. The trace is like the dry powder. The context of your life, your time and space, is the water. Without the water, you can’t drink the powder. It is a “second derivative” at best from the idea that the writer wanted to express. The means the reader must integrate twice the trace, to reconstitute the meaningful text.

We need to understand more specifically how words have meaning. Many words, the most common words in a given language are useful, and refer to everyday objects and actions in such a way that there is only slight differences in what people mean by those words. However, this attribute of modern language hides an important feature that more properly explains how words are meaningful in our minds, and the mechanisms we employ when understanding specific words that move through our text consciousness into the content of our world model.

Discourse

Text Consciousness is one of the modes of consciousness which contributes to building the model of the world. We can also be more specific about how text is meaningful, by noting the structure of text interactions. Text is always understood in the context of a discourse.

The structure which gives specific meaning to the traces is the discourse between myself, and the ‘other’. Anytime I read a trace, and it appears to my consciousness as Text, the specific significance is coordinated around an ongoing interactive exchange between that writer or speaker, and myself. Both my idea of who wrote it, and the idea of myself, are present in this intellectual bridge structure of discourse. This is the same as understanding the plot in a fictional story. The meaning of words in the story are understood because the unfolding of the plot reveals the characters in the story.

Discourse is used as a term for an exposition by an individual to an audience, or an ongoing discussion between people who know each other. In these cases, we are talking about a structure of the intellectual mind, the text consciousness of an individual. So although we are talking about that individual’s relationship with another specific person or audience, it is important to remember that the discourse is always encountered from one consciousness. While a discourse observed between two people is comprehensible in an abstract way, the discourse is a psychological structure. It is specifically how a human mind converts language into meaning. Each of those individuals is acting within a distinct discourse from their perspective.

In my mind, Even if I encounter words that lack an identifiable source, I will assume one. Whether the source is a particular individual I know well, an individual I don’t know at all, or a category, like a newspaper, a relative, a politician, an advertisement, a scientist, and many others. The meaning of their words is nuanced by my presumptions and expectations based on my history of previous communications with the source. Further, there is a particular self image that is associated with that particular character that I am talking to. The meaning of what I’m hearing is not a detached, or objective meaning of words, but rather an involved, visceral, subjective meaning, as it relates to my specific relationship with the source character. In this way, each discourse consists of at least two characters, and the memory of communication between them, as held in the personal world model.

Writing takes place in the context of this same discourse. As I think of what I want to say to someone, or a wider specific audience, it is my experience with them that informs the process of choosing words. Whatever general communicable idea I am trying to convey, I project it (metaphorically) through the lens of the appropriate discourse, and out come the words, directed in speech, writing, or possibly in some artistic expression at my specific target audience.

For a word to be meaningful in a discourse, we must have encountered it before. The words are not containing meaning, they are an index into our text consciousness, and through the reference found specific to the relevant discourse, a meaning is induced. The meaning is evoked from the model of the discourse, that subset of the model of the world.

Understanding this basic structure of communication and discourse, it is easy to see why there are misunderstandings. It is appropriate to note that in any conversation there are really at least four characters. The discourse in my mind is between the character I think I am talking to, and the character I think I am. The discourse in the mind of the other is the character they think they are talking to, and the character they think they are. There is no way that the character they think they are talking to is identical to the person I think I am. This is a built-in feature of all language communication.

The Personal World Model

It is likely that we started building our model of the world even before we were born. Sounds of the world, and voices at least are clearly recognized, before there is any awareness of the meaning of specific words. The way babies listen to voices is tuned to quickly start to distinguish words and phrases, and they see in such a way that faces are quickly recognized, and that recognition evokes emotional responses, making clear that the baby is remembering the world, and begins to know themselves and their own reactions as a mirror of their surroundings.

This personal world model, once started, continues to be the central repository for everything we know about everything. The world model is the filter which knows what to do. When we see something, hear something, read something, what we “see” is not simply what is coming in through our senses, but we see what it means, as it is filtered through this model. The model is distinct from memory, in that we may not remember why we react this way to a particular event. Memory is accessed through this world model, but it is possible to be more specific in noticing the distinct features of the model. The world model binds together the things we know, and how we feel Now, what we notice Now. And like the discourse, it is not a neutral world model, but “my” world model. As I know the world, I also know myself. In this case, in this model, this is not an ego knowing, not a story of a character I know as me … this is more the unity of the body, the emotional and vibrational core of biological being. Note a bit of irony here. I am saying that my deepest understanding of the world as a whole, everything I expect and understand about everything in the world, is also my core experience of myself, each moment. The text consciousness acts in the domain of short term memory, about a twenty second window that the text consciousness takes to listen to a sentence, maybe a short paragraph, and turn it into the meaning which can be reconciled with the world model. The world model itself reacts at a moment if it recognizes something. It reacts directly with the emotional charge to act, before the text consciousness can put together meaning from words.

The “Default” Meaning of Text

Without awareness of the structure of discourse, it is easy, even expected in the default world to see meaning in the words printed, displayed on screens, and enunciated in speech. Human consciousness has no need to understand human consciousness as described above. The social pressure to learn, understand, and use language as if there is one standard meaning to words and narratives is the foundation of our social fabric and language structure. We all keep track of the words and meaning we know, and and remember the stories as part of our personal world model. It creates an impression that there are objective meanings, but only because people interact as if this is so. It is expected that people understand as accurate and complete the narrative representations of the physical world. You could say they “believe” it, but it is not necessarily an explicit belief, it is a perspective that has no alternative. It is a belief that few know they believe.

One consequence of our understanding in this way is maintaining ideas about all kinds of things we don’t know. There are many facts and figures about the world as a whole, and every subset of the world. We know some of it, but we also know that we don’t know many things. At the same time, we assume there is someone else who does know these things. This follows from the preconception that knowledge is external, that we absorb information from words, as if words contained knowledge. There is an overriding assumption that someone “out there” knows most things about the world. They know it, or they are figuring it out. This goes for science, and all kinds of other specific fields. It goes for the physics of the very small, and it goes for the universe as a whole. Someone probably knows. This pervasive idea that “someone knows” removes a great deal of responsibility from everyone else. Even though we don’t know who knows, nor do we know what they know, we know that we don’t have to know. There is a feeling that facts are real, that knowledge can be written down, and contained in the narrative, so one person knowing something is almost like everyone being able to know, we just look it up on Google when we must.

Belief is encoded into this model of the world. As we grow up, we learn the stories of science as well as the stories of religion. We learn the stories of our country, of our state, of our gender, of our family. We learn that some stories are believed, others are known and disbelieved. All of this is incorporated into our overall emotional connection and assumptions about the world, how it is, and how other people believe it to be. It is in this context that we mature into an emotional grasp of the world, and with it, the emotional grasp of ourself and the place we occupy in the larger world. This world view assumes knowledge can be contained in words, and more and more of the entire historical text of the human species is accessible on the Internet, it is as if everyone has access to the complete knowledge of all relevant history.

A problem with believing in an external, objective meaning to words is that it implies an objective consciousness which maintains an objective model of the world.

Our gestalt connection to the world is triggered any moment by the appropriate circumstance. We could not be so responsive if we needed to parse text and understand even a short narrative. There are cases where even though we are saying words, for example reciting a poem, or singing a song, we may not at all be thinking of the meaning of those words. The poem is something we have memorized and recited often, so our mind could go on and be thinking about something else. During a song, one might be thinking more about the guitar cords, knowing the words and the melody well enough not to think of them. But words could be a major factor in setting up those reactions, building responses to particular questions. Being ready to make a standard response when we hear a particular phrase, hear a particular song, see a particular logo.

We read involuntarily. If we can read, and we see traces, we repeat the word in our mind, it is difficult to not see what we recognize and react to it with text. And we help the author as much as we can, giving them credit for the thoughts that are in our head after reading their words. As best we can, the default mindset of text is that when I am reading, I am hearing someone else’s thoughts as direct as possible, so the narrative I understanding and the modifications it imposes on our model of the world I don’t take credit for, but feel I am re-creating something which was already prepared by someone else. This is at least misleading (as we’ve reviewed above) and the structures which are constructed in most cases can’t be checked at a level deeper than the granularity of the vocabulary and categories. In most cases those structures, my way of understanding a subject, can well be very different, even if built from the same papers, books, videos. We still have a personal perspective. This doesn’t mean reading books isn’t useful. Certainly it is useful to encounter these expressions of narrative, but it is important to put the operations of reading and writing in perspective, rather than staying simply in the field of knowledge which restricts itself to the imaginary objective and authoritative.

There is no objective view. One could make a case for mathematics. Mathematics and logic are rigorously rule based, such that mathematical representations can be “proved” to have certain properties under specific circumstances. Equations are symbolic representation, but they are not narratives in the same way, because they can represent elaborate, specific, and very general relationships between mathematical ideal objects. They still must be experienced in consciousness one person at a time. It is still necessary to bring to consciousness any equation, any proof to have a lived meaning. The traces on paper are still just meaningless scratches without a consciousness to recognize it. The congruences between the behavior of mathematicians imply that the mathematical ideas are similar, but still each mathematician has their own internal inexpressible bridge between their model of the world, their mental model of the math they are visualizing, and the tools they have available to express it.

There is a fundamental assumed epistemology in the reading of text as external meaning. That is the point that has completely turned human consciousness on its head from where it was when written language began. It does that same over turning with each child who learns english, or any modern language. It places the meaning of words outside of the mind, and outside of the control of the mind. The narration of my life, the identity which I am constantly mulling over and “discussing with myself” is the sum total of all of the story I know of as me. It is as if “I” am a character in a story that is based on a much larger, much wider book that I will never be able to read fully, and within which my own story will be a tiny appendix. To have an identity, it seems I must have it against the horizon of all of those other people, sharing the cultural external and “real” meaning.

The Personal Narrator

The structure of discourse, that what a text means is specific to a particular discourse between characters, is crucial to understanding the modern mind. It is in discourse that the structure of identity is created, in our relation to the people we converse with. There is a special discourse which is also responsible for our inner discourses. This is our internal narrator. This is like the story we tell ourself about ourself, every twenty seconds. Whatever else we are talking about, there is a subtext of who we are, what our place is in the world right now, and what we should do.

I want to resist labeling it “The Ego”, but it is closely related to what is generally categorized as the Ego. To consider whether it is a good term or not is an appropriate illustration of the position of words in our consciousness. In this case, “Ego” has a formal definition, as put forward by Freud. It is a type of psychological jargon. Personally, I don’t know if I am that familiar with the formal definition. I have used the term to describe “the story we tell ourself about ourself”. But I find it not necessarily what others may mean by Ego. It is as if the Ego is an object in our head, without really explaining any mechanism, order, or structure. It is as if the three freudian components of personality, Id, Ego, and Super Ego, were irreducible and distinct. It is a division by vocabulary, which makes it easy for us to talk about certain things, but at the same time it limits us to understanding the mechanisms of consciousness by removing from our notice the ways in which the divisions are not so clear, not so well defined, not appropriate.

A great loss which text consciousness imposes on human consciousness is the stripping of ambiguity through categorization. As above, categories are a powerful tool, and categorization is not in itself inappropriate, since we do see distinctions and boundaries in the natural world, starting with our own body. However, there are subtle limits to categories, which exhibit themselves as paradox and irony. If fully understood, every sentence is ironic, every statement a paradox.

My observations about the narrator, just as my personal model of the world and the other examples I am giving here, at best should be understood as metaphors. It is important to note that I am not saying that mind structures conform to definitions which can be learned. My own exploration into my intuition follows my mind’s operations as best I can, and draws upon what examples I have available to use as guides and metaphors. At best, this is an invitation for you to explore yourself. The words and proposed structures I offer as helpful tools, but I encourage you to abandon them, see past the distinctions you assumed which I may or may not have intended. Everyone who reads this will understand the words in a different way, and further, the structures you investigate in your own mind will have variations which I couldn’t anticipate, and so the words could not prepare you completely. The basic methodology is still sound. It comes down to a self-exploration, which sheds words as it approaches the fundamental structure of the narrator, the source of the string of words we hear, and interact with in our consciousness.

We expect a lot from language. Wherever words come to us, from books, people we meet, television, or computers, the words come into our minds to be repeated by our narrator. As we recognize words, we are repeating them as we understand what they mean, and in so doing release the words, and retain the structure of meaning which the words are building.

The narrator is the proverbial point of the pen for text consciousness. This narrator is the note taker, recognizing the text in the trace as seen through the context of discourse, and creating its interpretation of what it means into a subset, of the world model. There is also a reaction, a narrative which either literally speaks back, or contemplates in words the meaning understood. In this way the narrator is a two way street of text, which then feeds back into the text consciousness structures, reacting as if there was someone else talking, and as if there was someone else listening.

It is remarkable yet true that your life could change forever based on an internal dialogue. Just talking through a problem with no one else around, no external tools can reveal some of the most significant thoughts a person can have. It is in this self-discourse, in this internal conscious contemplation that we can look deeper, beyond the text consciousness, and into the mode of consciousness which makes this possible.

It is the consciousness of the paleolithic scientist, the scientist who rather than use categories to separate the world into components before observing, first observed, and remembered without making any categorical assumptions.

The next section will introduce Vortext, (exactly everything which is not Text), and Vortext Consciousness. Vortext can be read like text, and this was how the Paleolithic Scientist understood the world. Next time.

Text Consciousness and the Field of Text

Although text consciousness exists in what I described as a “twenty second thick slice” of short term memory, it has access to a lifetime’s experience worth of words. As it reads specific words it finds, reacts to them with words of an internal narrator, and expresses itself with a vocabulary gained and remembered in the world model. Text could be thought of as having a backing store of images and voice memories which are converted to text efficiently, even if they are not exactly text in memory. In this way Text Consciousness creates in it’s imagination a field of meaning. This field of meaning is not the actual world of continuity (which we will refer to below through an understanding of Vortext) but a field of abstract objects, which are intellectually distinct from one another.

In this text field, all words are objects, even when the meaning of those words might be actions or correlations, or any number of distinctions which words can mane. The word is an object of meaning. The Field of text is the space in which the text consciousness is aware. The Field of Text is the moment as it is presented to the Awareness in Text Consciousness, and text consciousness reacts to it when that field is projected through the appropriate discourse. The field of text is the sum of all text present in the working memory of text consciousness, from words read, words someone may have said, and the words present in any internal dialogue, with at least some auxiliary other input from other modes of consciousness which may be going on simultaneously.

It is inherently socially expected that we accept the identity which is constructed through our Text consciousness. That identity could be understood at the most fundamental level as an example of a Being in the Field. In the natural world, the Being in the Field (of Beings) is always you, the observer. The Being in the Field metaphor can be used for both real beings (as we will see below), as well as abstract being. Being in the field is a self-repeating pattern, where every being is built of a Field of smaller beings. Further, the pattern is repeated externally and internally. The Being is present in an external field through which it sees other beings. The Being also maintains an image of the field internally, storing the states of all known other beings.

At the level of subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules, there is a perfect balance which is maintained, but it is the tiny amount of difference between the being and the field which allows the next level to create even larger differences, and eventually new levels.

The Text Consciousness is an abstract being, alive and meaningful in the abstract field of other text consciousnesses, but it is crucial to remember that this field is an internal, personal field of meaning. The narrative which is understood through the text consciousness reads the world through a discourse, and the meaning is evoked from their internal field of text, in consideration of the people they think they are in discourse with.

I mentioned earlier this feature of discourse, the field gives more insight into the situation. Because the Text consciousness is imagination, and Text field is abstract, then the people that a given person “thinks about” are not the real person out there in the world, but rather a character which is for me everything I know, expect, and remember, about that other person. A character in the story which I am telling myself about myself.

Vortext: Exactly everything which is not Text

I do not create a new term lightly. I have considered existing terms and phrases which amount to the same meaning in my own understanding of the subject. However, my main criticism of many existing explanations and detailed examinations of consciousness is that they are not clear enough, not broad enough in certain ways, and not specific enough in others. On the point of “thinking” and “narrative” I find them as a group to be ambiguous at exactly the point where they need to be very very specific. It is for this reason that I feel it is useful to create this term, to create a category with a precise edge at a crucial distinction. Written language changed everything about the human experience of consciousness. Most likely not right away, I expect it took a few generations, but the children were eventually learning language so early, they had no memory of what a language was like which was not defined and bound to words that could be literally written in stone. The mode of Text consciousness is not the intended effect of Text, it is not what the pioneers of written language were intending to do, necessarily. They were focused on things like counting, identifying, and communicating. Text consciousness was a side-effect.

“Vortext is not what I do, it’s what does me.”

This is one of my guiding principles, so that I am reminded to be clear about what Vortext is, and what it is not. Because my consciousness is not text, then that consciousness itself is Vortext. The mind and the world are not joined, yet not separated. There are distinctions between objects, yet there is the entanglement necessary to see changes in energy in the world. Each photon represents a link, Observing the photon is observing a change which is balancing the change which was relayed by the photon. A photon is a balancing operation. Vortext is first and formost the non-dualness of everything. We read distinctions in the world, reading Vortext like text for survival information, we do so without actually losing our focus on the underlying connection. The necessity of continuity, even in the face of the quantization.

In Vortext, there is always a paradox, because it is complete enough to cancel itself out.

The Paleolithic Scientist did not have to struggle with Vortext as a dilema, because the implicit assumptions of Text were not there. Life was a dance through the wonder of seeing so much, and remembering it not because they knew what it was, but because they didn’t know, and after seeing it, they would spend their life implicitly looking for clues. In a moment they might recognize Vortext that answered some question that had been in the back of their mind for years. Any mistakes could precipitate disasters. Science was a personal responsibility, and the model of the world was not created out of narratives that could be shared, but from an individual’s direct relationship with the world of their senses, the Vortext Consciousness.

Text, meaningful Text, exists when a reader recognizes words through a discourse, and understands them based on the changes which they imply in the state of the reader’s world model. Text never exists in the world, it is a construct of the imagination, and is not meaningful until it is understood through the Text consciousness, its evoked meaning updating the reader’s model of the world.

Vortext I define as exactly everything which is not Text. Vortext is physicality. Everything which appears as an object, as energy, anything which can be noticed by any of the senses, is Vortext. The Body, as something with extension and duration in the physical world is Vortext. Nearly everything that happens in the mind, in the field of Consciousness, is Vortext. The only thing that is not Vortext is that content of Text consciousness.

Reading Vortext

Vortext, in many cases, can be read as if it were text. What I mean by this is that even though Vortext is not deliberately created to convey information, the actual way natural shapes form does contain quite a bit of information about the world. Vortext is not symbolic. Is is not a sign indicating a signified. It is self-signifying. It is a form which itself is the embodiment of its specificity. Energy leaves a trail of change wherever it goes. Every change is recorded, Vortext is the product of every change.

Take tree rings, as an example. They contain several pieces of information about the life of the tree, a record of climate in that area. With chemical analysis, it could give precisely dated information about the atmosphere. Crystal growth and composition, stone erosion, sand shapes, waves on the ocean. All have information to give, if you know how to read it.

Vortext Consciousness is what I would call the thinking mode of the Paleolithic mind, before there was writing. What modern people would do with their text consciousness and internal narrator, the paleolithic scientist had Vortext consciousness. Before there was an external authority, each person knew innately that they had to watch, learn, and remember. This was how they knew how world around them worked. The cost of not paying attention could well be death in many ways, and they understood innately. They didn’t understand it as a story, they understood as a lived imperative. The underlying model of the world, the trigger for emotions, is Vortext itself. The mechanisms of how we model the world match the mechanisms of the world itself, because we are the Being in question. We are a direct and natural outgrowth of the Vortext, in a way that our technology is not. Vortext Consciousness is our Vortext receptor. It can remember and associate sensations Now with meaningful events in the past. The content of those events will be what the Awareness of the Vortext consciousness is focused on.

As the Text Consciousness sees narratives through the lens of discourse, Vortext Consciousness sees Scenarios through a lens of empathy. The discourse orients us in the relations between characters of the Text narrative. This meaning is relative to the world model. Vortext Empathy is the energetic induction of care from an inner recognition of the observer Being, and the observed Being. The underlying means of information transfer, what comes down to photons, is another sort of lens. The meaning of the scenario is about all the other Beings involved. Other humans would have been particularly meaningful of course, but everything maintains its Beingness. Animals, plants and planets could be understood through an empathy as well. Knowing the feelings within the practical details and distinctions of nature.

Text consciousness is possible because Vortext consciousness created sufficient complexity to support the sophisticated indirect relationships between objects of the senses, and objects which can be intuited from indications from reading Vortext carefully. Hunters must first see traces of an animal in the tracks, in nests, in droppings. Everything is meaningful, though they are likely not reduced to mere words. It was the way paleolithic people used their minds that laid the groundwork for Text consciousness.

In Vortext consciousness, even if there are rudimentary parts of one’s insights into the world that are communicated to others, the majority of the model of the world is built from personal experience, and personal intuition. Consciousness for the Paleolithic scientist was a Within the personal intuition, Vortext, being defined as broadly as it is, has a paradoxically simple structure. The paleolithic scientist was surely aware of relations between beings in Vortext in a subtle yet pervasive way. Balance is everywhere evident in what is real. Animals, plants, regular movements of day and night, migrations of herds. All things are seeking to maintain balance. Every being lives through an innate embodiment of balance. Balance is a dynamic universal. Vortext is exactly everything which is not text. Vortext is not imaginary. Vortext is real.

Analogies and distinctions between Text Consciousness and Vortext Consciousness

Text Consciousness is the social intelligence which represents your body in the Text Field which is the field of concern through which people communicate with one another regarding mostly the abstract objects seen in the field of Text. Because of its social authority, Text Consciousness often does not acknowledge non text knowledge. If an idea is not expressible in words, it is difficult to retain, if Text Consciousness has no incentive to maintain it.

Text Consciousness is experienced by an individual through specific communications which are rendered meaningful through discourses. Each communication adds to depth of that discourse. The discourse is the relationship between a specific “Other” character, and a “Self” character. There is a self character in all discourses, a distinct self character, with nuances and references that may only be meaningful within that discourse.

Vortext Consciousness is an awareness of the world of connection and flow. Vortext Consciousness is in touch with the moment, Vortext Consciousness remembers and guides the body through the puzzle of survival.

Vortext Consciousness does not require external authority. It does not require other’s input, so its insights do not need to be expressible. The paleolithic scientist did not need detailed information, they needed to be prepared to watch carefully, and act knowing that they knew everything they needed to know. There is nothing missing in Vortext Consciousness. And what is seen is not separated from its surroundings. Vortext is a flow of varying densities and constant changes, but it is still undifferentiated, or at least the act of seeing it does not assume an underlying division between an identified region of specificity and the rest of the Vortext in which it is situated.

Text Consciousness is always missing most of the text that gives it meaning. experience of Text Consciousness is one of a user of someone else’s language. One which we will never know all of, expressing information what we could only have seen a fraction of. The emotional effect this has on the outlook of people living with an identity built of this text consciousness is extreme. The emotional relationship with one’s self which is constantly running narratives comparing the self to all the other selve’s in the world is an alienated one. It is a body looking to be fulfilled, but trying to do so where the foundation of knowing puts the most respected “reality” mostly somewhere else.

Learning Without Information

We are used to thinking about learning things that someone else knows. This is the assumed mode of writing. Person A figures something out, they write it down so everyone can know it. Like a recipe.

There is another way to know something. To discover it. To find it in your time in Vortext consciousness, living in the flow of the real, of the Vortext. It may be something so subtle it is hard to explain in a linear narrative. What I hope to open up for readers of this paper is the possibility that there is much more to your conscious abilities than just the commentary you can easily sum up as text.

There is also a very simple underlying principle which in one way or another every living thing, and even the fundamental forces of nature naturally adhere to. It is the ultimate paradox, and an old Buddhist principle from the Heart Sutra, “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form”. In terms of Vortext Consciousness, what is not clear from coincidences and synchronicities is informed by looking at the world, and seeing where the balance is. What is the Form? How is it conserving Emptiness? What is Emptiness? How is it making any given form possible?

The world is never a static place, but some cycles are very slow. Indeed, in Vortext, most beings follow “orbits” which figuratively or literally bring them back where they came. People live one place, travel to work, school, shopping, whatever, and return home. Electrons cloud around a nucleus, planets revolve in their orbits. One could say that all beings follow a law of orbits in the field.

Heart Sutra Science

The Text – Vortext Dialectic was an idea for making clear the role and pitfalls of language consciousness on the content of any investigation. It was intended to be an introduction to what I’ve really been interested in, how the world works.

Understanding the insights in the Heart Sutra, even just the simplest statement, “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form” is contemplation worthy of a lifetime of self-reflection, just for the psychological insights. I found that it could be taken further. It an be made the foundation of a new science. But a new science of books that have answers is not the answer, not what I’m looking for, and what I want to avoid creating. This is about creating tools for individuals to learn to derive their own science.

Introduction to Text and Vortext – Tem Noon’s Burning Man Talk

Sunrise Soundscapes

Audio Introduction to Tem Noon – Fractal Core and More

Banjo and Tabla Improv in the Heart of Kansas

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