It could be the size of the Cosmos or I might hold it in my palm. No context for dimension, nothing to detract from its riveting power and intention; this block of zinc, or it looked like zinc. It was The Stone of men like Geber and Albertus Magnus. And it contained every thought alive ever in the world, all concepts, all statements, true or false. It was omniscience materialized and it resolved infinite contradictions including the one that said that the realization of The Stone itself was radically imminent and absolutely impossible. It was alive and radiating profound gravitational power.
I awoke already in full kundalini rapture, which rose no doubt even in my sleep.
(What happened was the guy watching my electroencephalogram down the hall woke me by intercom when he saw the squiggle that indicated I was in the deepest part of the sleep cycle. The Stone came in what long-dead gurus thought was “deep, dreamless sleep,” though I still hear that phrase earnestly offered around the Integral Province.)
The rapture was nothing abnormal for me. I had been a totally materialistic mystic for a decade before that event, which occurred in February 1970, my 26th year. Of course I have never forgotten it. It is one of a handful of dreams I can remember out of possibly thousands. The almost paralyzing ecstasy was one of a handful of such remembered out of perhaps a hundred or more. And I have had dreams afterwards that evoked fundamental bliss, but this one was different. None of the others, blissful or not, changed the course of my life. And thus I continue to examine that dream through the decades like Goethe examined buttercups through the growing season. The buttercups changed. The Stone never has. That is what I respect about it; the only thing I have ever seen that never changed, so contrary, so against the law.
To bring this up to date and embed it language-wise in this site—I think I had been on to it since I was 16, but The Stone that night fused in my body (this mereologiclly nihilist entity that contains my non-reducible psyche) the certainty that the world could never be anything but Whole. It compelled me to be an integrelite long before Mr. Wilber borrowed the Integral trademark from Thompson or Chaudhuri or whoever, and to spread that knowledge to the world. At first my problem was to find a vehicle for the lesson. It is the kind of lesson that demands a vehicle. One cannot just express it as a concept, or at least I didn’t want to because my sensibilities said that concepts were just variably and marginally entertaining puffs of blue smoke. If one cannot peg the thing into the chaotic dirt with a solid story then it is worthless for being too well-kept, fragile and transitory; vapid.
For example, I envisioned then media which in my mind’s eye interlaced a thousand multi-colored strands of radical, investigative journalism into a growing cube of woven, elegant, muck-raked knowledge where every word could be cross referenced in three different dimension; so conceptual, too tidy, so practically impossible. I outlined plans for novels a la Durrell, all dense with allegorical allusions to wholeness. I began to have ecstatic dreams picturing cubes of magic substances gravitating together from the cardinal directions, interpenetrating and then reemerging into bonded quaternities a la Jung. I had dreams cast with quartets of archetypal characters a la Fowles. I think I was obsessed. Then in time I was commission to write a book, based on previous magazine articles, about the remarkable law and the battered history and illegal stifling of Native American Water Rights. (I’m writing this post from just across the river from the rez. If I was back on the rez, back on the ranch; three miles up river from this house and on the other side, I could write “Indian” and get away with it. PC airs don’t go very far over there.) So I provisionally made that my vehicle. I fantasized that I could infuse that book with Stone energy and transmit it like Shaktipat into the readers because it was a book about The Law and everyone everywhere has to deal with The Law, one side or the other. It informs all of human life, water law especially, which goes back as far as the Code of Hammurabi and maybe back behind that. I speculated that if one could find wholeness and perfect consistency in the law that rules the liquid of life, I could find wholeness in behavior and thus wholeness in evolution and back and back to the Big Bang. It humiliates me to say now that it was a structuralist approach, but it does not pain me at all to say I failed.
Some people have said I might have succeeded if I had chosen Spirit as the vehicle for spreading the vision and wisdom of that dream because it was obviously a spiritual experience. I do not know, however, what that is all about. I have studied spiritual stuff, even intensely, now and again, but always concluded that it is the venue for people whose lives are different than mine; people who probably don’t privilege as I privilege right now above all else, one beautiful woman, adrenaline, rich food, strong drink, raw life and wondrous loving. I think the essence is blood. So the spiritual business doesn’t really work for me as a vehicle. But then I don’t think anything does because over the period of five years every trail I chose to reveal the wholeness of the world through prose and fine rhetoric ended in mundanity. My vision kept betraying me. It would offer a route to a perfect exposition on wholeness and a perfect niche where I could store the Stone’s shakti, and then reveal it as mundane, a “so what” and a “whatever.”
I don’t know what cleared up the entire situation. It could have been inhaling over the course of five years or so everything that Carl Jung ever wrote, or maybe it was the NDE from a rather unforgiving entheogin, but I finally realized that what I had thought was a dream-given vision of the embodied Whole Quaternion of the Cosmos was just a picture of my psyche. As we say in SA, “Que alivio.” What a relief. I never again had to try to be a preacher of the Four Square Gospel. I no longer had to try to inflate my Self into a universal assumptioon and preach about it and try to defend an overextended dream. The position from then on out would have been too pretentious, assuming the identity of a pandit, if you can follow the logic there. I have seen that vision thus inflated by others and I could not help but notice: how mundane.
I do not care any longer if the world is whole or not. Most often I can look around and I don’t see any seams and everything fits like water in the flow. But that might be just a projection of something more immediate and closer to the core. But the dream is still alive and it keeps me always looking.
Epilogue as it relates to the Magellan Courses—
The next week in the sleep lab back in 1970, I was shouted awake and again I was in full ecstatic trance beholding an object made of blue plastic Again it was omniscience, thus omnipotence, realized. In the alchemical literature there is a prima materia that is sky blue, it can be solid or liquid and it is the most divine and most vulgar of substances. In this case it was a solid casting of an ocean going tug boat. Fore and aft of that vessel is a story:
We were floating the Rio Grande through the Taos Box in a battered old raft called “The Charlie Allnut”: Michael the disillusioned lawyer, his lady Mahaba, my river-runner-groupie neighbor Marie, her sidekick, Sid the Shrink, from the Pen who was also the skinniest man in Santa Fe, and me. I was at the oars. We were kicking back through the placid middle stretches in the heat of late morning. Someone might have mentioned Alan Watts’s notion of the Tao as the “watercourse way.” In the light of this I mentioned how as I child, maybe three, could have been four, I learned that of the Tao from Scuffy the Tugboat, a Little Golden Book about a toy boat, tired of the confines of the bathtub, who makes his break for liberty when his little boy owner takes him for a field trip in the nearby brook. At large and alone Scuffy runs the brook that becomes a creek, that becomes a stream, that becomes a river; its breadth grows wide and its banks steep. Days and nights float past. Creek-side villages turn into towns, towns become cities. The fish that bump and splash at the brave little tug are growing pretty big, row boats give way to barges. Scuffy, though, pushes on through all that is a river’s evolution. He’s there to illustrate the principles of geography, but does he know his deeper teachings? Scuffy soon enough reaches the bay and heads to sea. And just as he passes the last pier he is scooped up by the father of the little boy who owned him way back at the headwaters. The two have been chasing after him all this way. They think they have saved him so it is home to the bathtub for Scuffy. We little ones were assured he was happy to be back.
The hearty crew of “The Charlie Allnut” was pleased with the story. I told them that Scuffy had been my favorite book for the longest time. But, there is that but…
“I never liked the ending,” I told them, “even when I was a little kid I knew it was a fucked up, sell-out, formula ending.”
“You wanted him to go to sea? You crazy?”
“He wouldn’t have lasted an hour.”
“Maybe not,” I said, “but think of the glory.”
Sid turned to the rest of the crew and asked, “Is this the man we want driving our boat?”
I have concluded that Goethe was born too soon. True, he made it into the Romantic Era and that’s good or else he might have been writing classical poetry, writing poetry like Mozart wrote music that stultifies the brain with 18th Century cultural plaque within 15 minutes of the overture (or the preface if it was Goethe’s bad luck to be born too soon). But he made it past that nonsense far enough to give Faust a good Hollywood ending that makes us all feel better in the face of our endless despair.
But he did not make it to the Industrial Age. The Zoetrope was invented the year after Goethe died. He could have used one. It would have served him well as proof to his ingenious contention that “Nature leaves no gaps.” One cannot prove that in writing. One cannot, in any language imaginable, demonstrate that Nature leaves no gaps. One cannot do it with time-lapse sketches of poke salat leaves. But it can be demonstrated with a Zoetrope. (A little tertiary “Eureka!” to interject here: The concept of levels, the concept of boundaries between the levels, boundaries between interior and exterior, singular and plural, between the hierarchically holonic nested Russian dolls—you’ll get the picture if you’re half bright—makes the existence of gaps explicit. We could say that Goethe could say that AQAL is unnatural—an unnatural enactment—thus my pre-boomer demographic status gives me license to list it as a perversion.)
I think Glistening posted this from Goethe, but it can stand to be repeated:
“The Germans have a word for the complex of existence presented by a physical organism: Gestalt. With this expression they exclude what is changeable and assume that an interrelated whole is identified, defined, and fixed in its character.
“But if we look at all these Gestalten, especially the organic ones, we will discover that nothing in them is permanent, nothing is at rest or defined everything is in a flux of continual motion. This is why German frequently and fittingly makes use of the word Bildung (formation, development) to describe the end product and what is in the process of production as well.”
I have some issues here—in process there are no end products—but the point is “nothing is at rest or defined…” Let me write that again, “nothing is…defined.” Nothing is defined.
I want to put this in the process context of Jeff Bellsey’s fb request for Whitehead texts, and the previous to last Goethe concall with its language patterns as exemplified by Jim Davis’s exclamation “It’s the abyss!”
What brings Whitehead into this mix of course is Goethe’s observation of the obvious: “everything is in a flux of continual motion…” When Goethe is aligned with Whitehead in the realm of process two distinct arise, the distinctions between a metaphysician and a scientist. Whitehead focuses on the idea of process, Goethe looks at the evidence of it. Whitehead makes process primary, Goethe just mentions it in passing. Whitehead makes process the law, so to speak. Goethe gathers the facts. I mention this because law is an abstraction that is culled from the past in a feckless attempt to regulate a future. It would be totally inconsequential save for the perplexing civilian habit of imagining a well dressed emperor. On the other hand facts are just facts—this is a leaf and a leaf is a leaf is a leaf. Among trial lawyers it is well known that the side with the facts has the high ground and that is all that has to be argued. In the absence of facts, a lawyer has to develop a theory of the case and argue the aerial law. It is a poor position to try to hold.
I like this on the subject of process that Goethe wrote in his gathering of the facts:
“If I look at the created object, inquire into its creation, and follow this process back as far as I can, I will find a series of steps. Since these are not actually seen together before me, I must visualize them in my memory so that they form a certain ideal whole. At first I will tend to think in terms of steps, yet nature leaves no gaps, and thus, in the end, I will have to see this progression of uninterrupted activity as a whole. I can do so by dissolving the particular without destroying the impression itself.”
“All the effects, of whatever kind, that we note in experience cohere in the most persistent way, pass over from one into another; they undulate from first to last. That one separates and opposes them; that one conflates them is unavoidable. Yet this had to give rise to boundless opposition within the sciences. Sclerotic, divisive pendantry and mystical transports both bring evil in train. But those activities, from the basest to the highest; from the tile that crashes down from the roof to the luminous spiritual insight which rises up in you and which you communicate all these join themselves into a continuous series. We shall attempt to express it: accidental, mechanical, physical, chemical, organic, psychic, ethical, religious, genial.”
What I find strange in Goethe’s practice of science, in his time lapse drawings, and in his focus on the metamorphosis of observed and observer is his concern with the phenomenon as a noun, a piece of evidence that would contribute to the Ur-phenomenon of that noun. He seems to take the verb “to process” or the present participle, “processing,” for granted. It is the given. How much did the noun privileging Indo-European languages in which he wrote and spoke condition his thought? It is obvious that they conditioned his writing because that is the nature of the language, especially in its written form. But thinking and writing are not the same thing. I wonder if the metamorphosis of the observer was not an attempted end-run around the language to get the scientists in his wake to comprehend what he was really studying—process. Ah, there but for fortune and a zoetrope go we.
I wonder if Goethe was ever tempted to go behind the phenomenon as noun to get some kind of self-transformational grasp on the Ur-Phenomenon of the engine, the magical engine that spread the profuse panoply of everyday growth, and development and even the never ending evolutionary transmutation before him like an infinite banquet, the legendary pitcher that would never run dry. From what they dealt out to us in the book and in the Janus Head Mag, it did not appear that he went after that particular Ur-. Maybe he though it was metaphysics and he was a scientist, above such nonsense; maybe he thought he would have to deal with the abstract, the siren’s call illusion of significance, cheap demi-thrills and self-congratulatory entertainment.
Goethe was not born in an advantageous time. He was too late and he was too soon. He was too soon for Darwin and Maxwell and Boltzman and Schrödinger, men who made clear the Ur-phenomenon of process. It is not abstract, it is wonderfully material and it is contained linguistically in a verb phrase: “generating entropy.” You can read all about it here.
Chapter Two was productive of two fun free-associations in one quote and one footnote—which is not to say that it wasn’t also productive of knowledge, but not all of it was juicy enough off which to fake a little wisdom.
“The aim is to cultivate as many “modes of representation” as possible, or better, to cultivate the mode of representation that the phenomena themselves demand.”
That’s the quote.
Karl Marx claimed famously to be “…not a Marxist,” in part because he was not a close adherent of the then conventional form of Marxist Analysis that had, fairly early in his career, become dogma. He thought facts should determine the form of their own analysis rather than be shoe-horned into a scheme, which too often is used not to generate truth but to provide a crutch for the analyst.
In the days when I was a non-Marxist Marxist prima donna magazine journalist I found that was the only way to operate. It cut off short the necessity of having to think very much because thinking has always been a problem for me. I would just throw my reportage notes into hodge-podge files and put my mind elsewhere until something like a sentence by Hanna Arendt or an essay by Lionel Trilling read at 11:30 p.m. would flash a spotlight on the Ur-phenomenon of my piece and tell me how to write the first paragraph. That paragraph would foreshadow the concluding one, which I would write next. Then I’d forge a reasonable sounding chain of facts from the files so I could hook those two graphs together. All my prima donna journalist friends worked variations on that same system. Prima donna magazine writers tend toward anarchy, concentrate on their prima donna rhetoric while letting the facts do their thinking for them.
And regarding Anarchy; the footnote is #2, (a product of the first paragraph) that you can read at your leisure because it is just a little beside my point save for the fact that it features Paul Feyerabend. In the context of the Goethe Way tract, everything one needs to know about Feyerabend can be found right here. Feyerabend appreciated Goethe, but went way beyond him.
Why don’t we all?
Bonnie wrote this in a comment over on another post about predator magic.
“Would love to talk with you about various capacities for seeing the “invisible traces” — by staying close to that phenomena…”
—like tracking a fish.
I am not sure if this category is the place for this post so I have no problem if our gracious management puts it elsewhere. Still it is about Goethe-like phenomenology, close observation in “nature.” (I need to say this at least once in this context: I have a quarrel with the designation “nature” simply because I never have discovered the boundary where nature ends and I begin.)
I lifted the two paragraphs in the first post on predator magic from an essay I have long had in progress about shamanism. And there is another story in the draft that might work to broaden the view. (Bear in mind this is written by one whose suspicions tend in the direction of pure materialism.) The setting is a December day in the Sangre de Christo Mountains, on the side of Osha Peak east of Taos, NM. Please excuse the length, but stories, unlike abstractions, need a critical mass, so to speak, to be effective. Like Goethe, I try to steer clear of abstraction; too long a hard-core and contentious journalist, I know the effective incommunicability of abstractions and by extension the tacit exclusivist cast this liability of theirs can settle upon a text.
I found the track before sunrise. An elk or a deer had just made it, but there was no way to determine which because the thigh-deep snow was dry, pure power, airy fluff like slick, old-time soap flakes, that filled in all the details and tumbled over all signs as soon as the animal had grooved through it. But that did not matter for I planned to stay with it promiscuously until a more attractive one showed up. All trails, attractive or plain, are fundamentally the same, the prey is creating the front end of it and somewhere back is the predator.The two choreograph a dance with one another that is synchronized by something unknown and different from sight and sound. I play the game as if it were a form of physically generated energy, which, until a gauge is invented to make it secular, I’ll call magic or medicine, predator magic or prey medicine.
I stepped into the trough of that track and joined the dance. It lasted for hours. The sun rose high, but the sky was too clear and the world there remained frozen and the snow remained deep and dry. Nothing sounded but the critiques of gray jays and ravens. As a predator I had to concentrate on keeping as much of myself as possible behind me. Predators can’t advance their presence in geography or time, they can’t grow energetic or pretend to be big. Predators can’t be anything except open. Good prey medicine, on the other hand, is much more complex and variable and permitting of deception and being fast is good.
Being predatorily open is real ecstasy for it is well outside of the everyday state. It is a condition produced from severely limited dimensions because, ironically, it takes a tight little trance to be so open. In this state I find myself becoming compact and dense with an electrified serenity that is difficult to contain but impossible to spill. A rhythm of some easy origin and cadence takes up a position on the verge of consciousness. After a while thoughts stop and the senses become vacuums. And from holding myself behind me for such a time all my progress seems to halt so the landscape passes by as if the world was my treadmill.
And then suddenly it comes apart.
Suddenly on the edge of a clearing I stopped; stilled for no conscious reason. Nothing at all had changed except I was instantly awash with an adrenaline rapture that signaled I had found the prey. By and by, or so it seemed, the largest buck mule deer I had ever seen rose up from shelter behind a huge, downed ponderosa 25 feet away. He paused a few seconds to account for me and then left on a slow, swaggering kind of bound through the snow that was up to his belly, no hurry at all. He held his head gracefully aslant to keep me in view.
The magic had worked again.
I had a rifle, but I didn’t use it for I was hunting elk. But that is beside the point, which is that the technique of that magic had brought me so close to the prey and so disarmed the prey of fear, that if it’s species had been different, a spear and atlatl would have worked just as well.
A little about prey medicine:
I am out in the badlands west of my home near Nambé, NM. Two dogs who are living with me are along for the walk. An hour and a half away from the house we pause for water and I lean back against a low sandstone ledge. A quarter of a mile away, across a very wide arroyo, I can see a coyote family moving down the knife-edge of a steep ridge; coyote-like, slow trot, single file, 45–foot space between each one. There are five. The two dogs with me don’t notice, too far away to see, too downwind to smell. The first one stops on a wide, flat clearing. They all stop, scattered around. Some sit, some lay. I look away and then look back and they are gone.
We turn for home and in 20 minutes climb into a wide little valley with rolling hillocks and a few crisscrossing jeep trails. For no apparent reason I am suddenly swept with a barely noticeable adrenaline wash that settles into my stomach so that it feels like a little bit of fear and tells me the three of us are not alone in this valley. I had seen mountain bike tracks around and my intuition for five minutes or so was that one would soon pop over the next hillock. But then from somewhere close behind and unseen a coyote barks once and howls. They know how to stab one in the back with just a sound. Of course, they had spotted us from their ridge, and I suppose a delegation had come over, predator-like, to turn us into prey, just for coyote kicks. I knew they were there, but only put the wrong face on them.
Bonnie used the phrase “below threshold.” It is not hard to get below the threshold of human consciousness. (On that point read Tor Norretranders’s The User Illusion: Cutting Consicousness Down to Size.) In my story in the original post I have to assume that the energy from the sensory input was translated by the unconscious mind (good god, you have to love the unconscious mind) into sight manifestations. And I think the dedicated willfulness of my search potentized whatever information was being transmitted. And in the two scenes above whatever information was coming in under the radar went straight to the adrenals. (No surprise, I’ve been addicted to their medicine since before I was born.)
I’ve raved on long enough. Thank you for your attention if you made it this far.
So the Word of the Day is “entelechy.”
Good God, look at the span of Goethe’s life; he was one year and a couple of months old when Johannes S. Bach died, and he hadn’t been dead a year when Richard Wagner completed his first theatrical composition. He outlived Mozart and Beethoven, breathing along from the end of Baroque to the first hint of modern opera. From the tone of Goethe’s poetry I would suspect he would find Mozart boring or maybe I’m just projecting because I do. I wonder which he would have preferred, Fidelio or the 14th Quartet, op 131, Beethoven’s favorite of all his work? And the point of this riff is that the mythical given of entelechy was all up into all those notes of all those men like a virus. It was the perfect time of entelechy.
Here’s a quote that gets to the point:
“The human being was, in Goethe’s estimation, certainly no animal, for incarnate in its uniquely balanced anatomy was the high principle of the entelechy. The animal nature must rise to this principle: ‘In man the animal nature has been intensified (gesteigert) for higher purposes and put in the shade as it were, for the eye as well as the mind.’”
And here’s another for consideration:
“Thus, Goethe valued the rational as well as the empirical dimension of science. He sought to bring the rational element consciously into science, but not as an autonomous activity operating upon observation. Rather, he endeavored to imbue seeing itself with the rational.”
The alternative Word of the Day is “seeing.”
And here’s a story about both of those words; the invalidity of entelechy and the value of seeing through the eyes will.
There is an energy that can be named Predator Magic.
I discovered Predator Magic when I was 11 years old. It set itself upon me (or so it seemed at the time) while I was hunting a man, a friend of mine, through the thick tangle of brush and rocks and ledges along the river that cut through my family’s ranch which lay hard against the eastern ramparts of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. Time was running, but I was running faster in a flight to see this man do his work. It was a little past sundown, a January evening in the middle of a five-year drought. The ground was frozen solid. There was no snow. I’d come home from school to find his pickup in front of the house. My mother told me he had gone up the river and I took off after him, but he had left no discernable track in a mile. Still I could tell exactly where he had just walked. I could see the print of his boot on the moss of a rock, though on close inspection that moss looked no different than the moss on the nearby rock on which he had not stepped. And I could see that the willow and juniper branches he had shouldered through had a just barely visible glow, an aura that faded when I viewed them close up. Plus the air through which he had walked felt different from the air I sensed when I was off his trail. I didn’t have time to think at all about this. I just needed to find the man before it got really dark.
And I was not surprised when I did. He was though. I heard him first, crept up past a couple of willows and saw him in the dying light, squatting on the water’s edge washing his scent from a mink trap he had just set. When I casually walked up and said “Hi,” he asked how I had found him. I said I had followed his trail. He said that was impossible, that he had left no tracks on the frozen ground. I wasn’t going to tell him what I had seen, so I just told him where he had set two other traps. He said I must have better eyes than his and made me a partner in his trap line then and there.
I never talked about that experience to others because I took it for granted that it was something anyone could do and most people around the countryside had probably already done. But I was wrong on that point. I chalked it up to instinct, which was a feature of the hundreds of animals, the cattle and the half-wild horses that surrounded my life, that I held in very high regard. And I have yet to find anything anywhere that would make me change my mind on that. It has brought me too much meat and too much money and too much joy for me to deny its workings.
It is strange but not surprising how the myth of a given, a holding to an entelechy, can set up the dead-end intellectual structure, the voodoo chalk circle. Gurdjieff wrote (I think in Meetings with Remarkable Men) how once in the Caucasus he witnessed two little boys trap a third in a chalk circle they drew around him. And for all his fury that little boy would not let his belief in mythical powers sink low enough for him to step over the chalk.
Sophisticated thinkers, like Goethe, in the western world probably were not disabused of this entelechy business until about the close of that insanity called WW I. That whole mythical scheme falls apart before such fact of life on the ground (except for people like Gebser and those who wander around in his wake).
I just thought I would throw that into the mix, a little more methodology to add to this Goethe Science madness. And then too, I wonder a lot about Goethe. I wonder what he would have found if he gotten down and dirty and crazy willful looking at nature. Maybe he could have found that a little the animal nature that he believed the glorious race of man had transcended would have gotten him further down the road than raptures on the Ur-phenomenon (which I think are figments of his blessed imagination).
CONTEXT: I’ve never done a science project before. The last time I studied a hard science was chemistry in secondary school. And I have never practiced a hard science. I took one year of soft science at university; psychology. And in light of that I have practiced psychology, psychotherapy, for money and without a license during the time I was a contract oracle on several psychic hot lines. I read Nordic Runes.
BACKGROUND: Based on this extensive experience, I am undertaking a psychologically oriented project: Dreams. (In profound opposition to my style at any other time at all, the previous sentence was slightly conditioned by a little irony and so I apologize if it threw any of the readers off.) The truth of the matter is that in 1977, I started a dream journal which continues to this day. But the energy that used to source two or three “big dreams” (C. Jung’s terminology) a week has waned to the point where each morning while Marianthi, my wife, sips the coffee I made two hours before and I cook up some kind of catch-all breakfast stew in a black cast iron skillet and we’re talking dreams from the night before, I’m beginning to feel a little left out because Marianthi is contributing at least 80% of the raw material for our discussions. For someone whose life was fundamentally changed by a dream in 1969, this is humiliating.
So, I will be trying to see if the project can reawaken some of that source energy. But there will be a difference. I will be looking at dreams as pure phenomena and not (or at least at first) how they effect me, or sign to me in any psychological or emotional way. In essence, I guess, I will not be observing Dreams so much as Dreaming and the morphology of a dream over subsequent reflections.
When I have a coherent format for cataloging these events, I will start to post observations.
…a little free association that is not totally incommensurate with the material.
“Goethe emphasized that perhaps the greatest danger in the transition from seeing to interpreting is the tendency of the mind to impose an intellectual structure that is not really present in the thing itself: ‘How difficult it is . . . to refrain from replacing the thing with its sign, to keep the object alive before us instead of killing it with the word.’”
This alone is justification for my boundless admiration for the man. Imposing the intellectual structure; drawing the voodoo chalk circle to ward off the lure of the abyss and dam the delightful flood of contingencies…
But then Goethe wrote:
“It is a calamity that the use of experiment has severed nature from man, so that he is content to understand nature merely through what artificial instruments reveal and by so doing even restricts her achievements. . . . Microscopes and telescopes, in actual fact, confuse man’s innate clarity of mind.”
We’re even more solid on this one. I don’t do science or engineering, I am, in occupation, a blacksmith and the only one of the many I know who isn’t a Tool Guy. I figure most tools are slightly cheesy stand-ins for talent and imagination. Tools cost and have to be cleaned and take up otherwise open space when not being used, when not being lost. Talent and imagination are free of those liabilities. Some say I just make things difficult for myself, but that’s one of the best ways I know to stay highly entertained.
Goethe slipped a little though when he wrote:
“Pure experience should lie at the root of all physical sciences. . . .”
It could be a sophism since pure experience lies at the root of all, but then maybe his definition of “experience” differed from mine, which is, to paraphrase Derrida, there is nothing outside of the experience.
David Seamon, the guy who did the preface, was truly wise when he wrote:
“On the other hand, some existential phenomenologists may feel much less comfortable with Goethe’s ontological and metaphysical conclusions, which suggest an interlinkage and harmony among all things of nature, including humankind.”
Now aside from the fact that the phrase “including humankind” is redundant in this context, he raises an issue that has entertained me from time to time for years. What I find most curious about those “e. p.’s” is that they have apparently not considered process. I wonder what Goethe thought of Heraclitus. I wonder what he would have thought of Whitehead. I am perfectly comfortable with the interlinkage and harmony though I don’t see them based in ontology or metaphysics. They are just there before our eyes. Years ago I was briefly famous among The Integralites for having written this:
There is a stretch through the Grand Canyon where the river has sliced deepest into earth and running flat pushes swiftly through sheared strata that are a bazillion years old and have names like Vishnu Schist, solid, straight up, uncracked rock. There are no sand bars, no falls or rapids, or beaches, no gravel, no boulders and nothing sharp to slice the water so it sucks up air and turns white. The surface is flat and dark; from a distance it looks placid. These vertical walls narrow the channel so the passage of the river is like forcing a fifteen-amp charge through a ten-amp wire; things get fritzy inside. The river has scoured and sanded the rock into polished deep undulations, tunnels, pockets, caves, ramps and corners that shape and push the water into too many conflicting directions; it tangles the flow for miles into a turbulent, multi-skeined knot of insane subsurface hydraulics: roils, eddies, backwashes, under tows, whirlpools and cross currents heaving against cross-current, against the walls and boats, boiling to the surface and sucking downward, forcing past each other with enough velocity to shear a wooden oar in two if it is caught between. Shallow fissures suddenly snap open between the currents, hiss across the surface like snakes and then as instantly disappear. It is a welter of over wrought, omni-dimensional ripples, reverberating at the power of 10. This simple landscape of dark flat water and black vertical rock is called The Inner Canyon.
Looking at the phenomena from either the position of alchemy or shamanism it does not take long to realize, apprehend visually, the finely wrought, omni-directional, eternally reverberating, multi-skeined knot of turbulent energy and information that is the Whole of It engulfing Ourselves, the universal Inner Canyon, where ambiguity resonates to the 10th power. Nowhere can one take a core sample or cut a cross-section that will dependably tell one anything except how that specific location used to look, nowhere is there solid predictability, nowhere is there anything that can be made discreetly identifiable as one’s own, nowhere is there knowledge or experience or their feeble, schizoid cousin, memory, that isn’t constantly mutated beyond the recognition of the day before. Anything other than the liberating reconciliation to the omnipresent hegemony of ambiguity is a fantasy.
More on that maybe later.
One last thing. I would suggest that for a little side reading, y’all might want to take a look or three at the first act of Faust up until the entry of Wagner. (It can be found here) Except for some stultifying incidental concerns about methodology, I think it says pretty much everything about Goethe and his science and it is so highly entertaining…read it aloud to your lover. It is after all a “closet” drama, written only to be read. The late Rorty once wrote an essay in which he proposed that Science and Philosophy were merely ways of writing about the world, genres so to speak. Reading what Faust says in the opening speeches I wonder if Goethe didn’t consider the two to be something like tools in the forge of Literature; somewhat cheesy stand-ins for talent and imagination