Another 2 day post…seems to be the rhythm of this…
All objects are historical. Every object has a momentary history and the history of every object is a memory….
The idea that objects and events are mind-dependent takes us closer to understanding the relationship between structure and process as between history and the present. Events, rates and points in time are creations of the mind. Whiteheads remark “the process is itself the actuality” points to the primacy of change, not phenomenal entitles into which it is broken. . . the elimination of the difference through an act of intuition collapses the process to a single transformation and expose the underlying unity of historic, life-span, and momentary structure.
Growth is the reconfiguration of the present takes on.
Comment: The notion that change or growth is the evanescent movement of information across the field of awareness resonates with my own observations of experience. This notion that structure is the phenomenological fixity of the deeper process just seems fitting. There are those who believe that reality is punctuated and that there are quantized experience delivered to perception (this seems very alive and certain Buddhist traditions). From the perspective of Advaita, these streams seem more continuous and process like. Certainly structures can be frozen from this process but those distinctions seem brittle and artificial from my own personal experience. Perhaps it has to do with training and attention and predilection.
Change is configurational, not chaotic. A rock…is “a raging mass of activity” But the activity is organized into a rock, at least in our perception. The activity of the rock is patterned. Mind is also an object with a pattern. A mind is distinct from other minds because of this pattern….
Comment: I get him up until the point that he drives distinctions from pattern with respect to mind. The lines between patterns seem largely arbitrary and the question, much like mathematical fractals, is where one chooses to put one’s attention to demarcate the pattern. This is where Wilber’s conception of holons as being woven into higher and the lower orders of being, and being mostly indistinguishable from their own embeddedness (in the sense that they are not thing like) is valuable. With all of that said to talk meaningfully about the world requires that one talk about patterns as though they were discrete. I begin to balk when he suggests that minds are distinct from other minds. (Again a healthy dose of the inter-subjective would be salutary.) While there is grounds for this notion of privacy that he goes on about, I have a deep suspicion of the lines he seems to be drawing here. We have a sense of privacy, but it seems to break down rather quickly on examination.
Memory is the static element in process
Comment: Yikes! Isn’t the creation of a still point in the middle of process a bit of a cheat? I noticed in myself the memory is in constant flux flowing change. Perhaps I am not getting at all what he means by memory here.
Structure and process are different ways of looking at the same phenomena. Structure disappears when process takes the fore….but structure and process are not equivalent depending on the point of view. Process does not influence or flow from structure. Structure is a process slowed down. Structure is uncommitted and essentially formless. [Emphasis added.]
Comment: I love the notion of structure as “uncommitted”.
Chapter 4: Mental States and Perceptual Experience
The surface of mind, the terminus of the mental state, is filled with developing objects, not just the images of private space anticipating those objects, but the rich abundance of forms that makeup the perceptible world. This world, the surface of mind as the skin is the surface of the body, changes instantly according to what is perceived….But acts and objects and the memories and mental images that preceded them are not part of an outer and an inner world, but points a continuum of transformation; they are not projected into the world, but built up and articulated in the world as part of the representational space of mind.
Comment: Very, very nice. This notion of mind as a surface is evocative. The entanglement of objective and subjective (as space) is useful as are the notions of private space anticipating the objective (though I still am finding this notion of private problematic). It is interesting asking about some of these distinctions. I like that he points to the outer and inner world being points on continuii of transformation – it seems to soften some of the linguistic boundaries he is otherwise erecting.
A mental state is not a piece of a mind or a slice that can be demarcated by a structure that is active over time [that develops in layers and stages]….The content of a stage that is transformed is not lost in the progression to a later stage but embedded in the final representation.
On this view, consciousness and its objects are the expanding rim of an outward flowing mind. Like a river pouring into its tributaries, mind is constantly resurrected, the nature of the state of each movement reflecting the degree to which the revival is successful. Each of the potential minds submerged with the surface has a share of the self….The compete series of traversed and realized configurations constitutes a dynamic vertical envelope within which life is played out. Successive waves flowing from the core guarantee that each state falls in the same self. The continuity of mind, the perception of self over time and over gaps in awareness, owes to the generation of surface content out of the core.”
Comment: Interesting reversal in the metaphor of rivers and tributaries – wondering how intentional that was and what it might mean. There is lots to be said about the numbers of potential minds – again this evokes and calls to the reader to contemplate the particularity of this mind that exists now. His notions of core seem promising and I am looking forward to his deeper exploration.
the unity of experience is guaranteed by the commonality of the core across different surface contents….Conscious content is a product that serially exhausts a single deep concept embracing multiple surface representations.
Comment: This core as an exhaustive adhesion of multiple surface representations strikes me as apt. I am curious about this in connection with gaps in awareness and consciousness he mentions elsewhere and how the core itself moves in process (it cannot be immune, can it?). I recognize that this core is beneath such gaps and doesn’t shift so much, but it also seems inaccessible in any phenomenological sense in his formulation. My own sense is that it can be “seen” quite clearly in meditative states that aren’t all that deep.
The focus, therefore, is not on a rapid exchange across objects in consciousness but on the slow drift from one subsurface frame to another. Since the transition from one court to the next persists through sleep… the integrity of the mental life is maintained…. Conversely, the present moment, the now instant, it is past history even as it appears, for the moment that follows is already underway…. Deep levels undergo slow transformation– gradual movement from one conceptual frame to another– a change of scared by the evanescent shifts at the surface. Attention is like a moving stream, the unseen depths of which run slowly. Waking objects are brief snapshots that dance over the glacial drifts of the core.
Comment: Yes..yes…yes…so skillfully put.
Chapter 5: Consciousness and the Self
Self-awareness or introspection is not awareness of the self that is self-aware of objects; the condition of being conscious one is perceiving an object…. The self is conscious in the context of a perception…. Consciousness takes as its object and external percept or an internal image. Introspection (awareness of images) and extereoception (awareness of objects) are different aspects the same process.
Comment: This makes perfect sense. The notion that consciousness exists in connection with content seems obvious to one who has spent any appreciable time in meditative practices. The notions that awareness is fundamentally the same dynamic whether the object is self (images) or other is again, pretty straightforward. I do marvel at how succinct and clear he is in describing these things.
The achievement of an ostensibly real-world distinct from mind accompanies the possibility of a self looking on and distant from the world. One domain entails the other. The world exists in confrontation with mind; mind exists when there is a world itself is conscious of. The world itself here as separate physical and mental modes of existence but their boundary is a gradual transition. The self arises in this transition as the object develops from mental space to a location in externality. The self arises out of phase and the forming object prior to the resolution of clear mental images, since the self is more than anyone image type. In the expansion of mind outward the self looks on as emerging configurations transformed through a fringe of dependent objects to those that are fully categorized.’
Comment: This makes perfect sense. One of the interesting pieces in reading Brown is understanding his descriptions from the point of Adviata. Much of what Brown points to are observations that seem quite obvious from a deep meditative practice and one peels back the operations of mind and witnesses the arising of thought from void to objectivity.
It also generates a feeling of capacity in relation to the developing objects that complements the action development, ensuring that objects will be apprehended as external and independent. The feeling of possibility can be examined over a continuum of object development. Objects draw away from the self as actions go out to meet them. The deception of an object as a goal is elaborated in parallel with the deception that actions make a difference.
The self is left behind in the outward migration of objects.
Comment: These deceptions seem significant. Much of what Brown is speaking of here (and throughout) seems to be focus on a kind of sensory illusion (imagination) of “reality” both internal and external as it engages in a sense of the gossamer self.
“Pure” disorders of the self, so as in psychotic cases, are not confined to changes in the self-concept but still and perceptual fluctuations.”
The self, preliminary object embracing all the objects and images into which it develops, struggles toward understanding. The drive we all share to articulate the self or to “no one self” reflects the precedence of meaning in the forming object. The self is meaning without content, shape without internal topography. The self arises in cognitive renewal were meanings latent in fully developed objects predominate. In perception, the self is a pre-figural conceptual gestalt. In language the self leads to a semantic representation prior to phonological realization.
Comment: I love this notion of self as meaning without content and shape and without topography. My own experience is that “self” is mostly a kind of space that entertains object in the world of form. What I personally find in this examination, and seems contradictory to what Brown later posits, is that the self is at one level agentic. In Brown’s own work, choices and assemblage is happening at early points of the limbic process (which seems to reside in a pre-self and pre-conscious “structure”). My experience is that the Witness is not passive, but extremely active in pretty much precisely the ways Brown is pointing to in these deep processes of assemblage. Whether I am hallucinating this or observing it is a good question – but there is a firm felt sense of this progression in my experience.
Beneath the introspective self lies a world of the subconscious; beyond a world shared with others. Some conscious content is given up in the formation of the self of the self is drawn out and lost in the world of perception.
The inner bond between self object and mode of consciousness is so lawful it can only mean that they are not separate functions but manifestations of a common process. Self as object (or image) are points in the unfolding of a single representation, consciousness the relation between them.
The deception that objects exist independent of fonts, but the self acts on objects, even at the self is independent of its own mental content, is essential if the individual is struggle and survive. Objects have to matter; life depends on this. The self also has to matter. If the self lacks the conviction that it can will an action to pass, if actions are apprehended as enacted through rather than by itself, its existence is a dream, and there is no drive to overcome in life cannot be sustained.
Comment: This living in the world in full recognition of the deceptions in play is an interesting game. I personally find myself navigating this constantly – often without much success for precisely the reasons Brown articulates here.
Some Overall Comments: I am finding Brown is speaking very, very clearly to an architecture of inner experience that comports deeply with my own felt and observed sense of things. These insights are not seismic shifts for me, but he is bringing a great deal of clarity to the land I traverse daily and advancing a set of conceptual frames that deepen and enrich the landscape. I am also disappointed at my own responses – I want to dive into this material more deeply and feel that I am only skimming the surface of what is available. I went back and fixed some stuff above…wishing to truly give this real thought beyond impressions and finding myself too pressed to do so.