Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Cramp

"Belief is a cramp, a paralysis, an atrophy of the mind in certain positions." (E.P.)

Something of a fundamental insight this morning.

Composure is the conquest of distraction. But what is distraction, really? It is what pulls us away from experience, the presence of things and people in our lives. How does this pulling-away work? Well, it draws us out of doubt and pain (which is part of life) and into moments of certainty and pleasure. That's why we let it happen.

But here's what occurred to me. Why do we come back to experience? Why do we compose ourselves? And why is this so difficult?

It is because we are drawn out of experience and into fixations on "truth" and "justice". We make a discovery and believe its truth. Or we make a decision and desire its justice. And these beliefs and desires can be so strong that we don't want to expose them to corrections by experience.

Truth and justice should always be thought of as temporary situations. But we let them hold on to us for too long. The meaning of a fact, its relative "truth", should always be determined in a corresponding act. And the passage from fact to act must always be experienced. But the meaning of an act, its relative "justice", is always determined in a corresponding act. Again, the passage is experienced.

We see that something is the case and we think, "Okay, what are we going to do about it?" Or we do something and must "see what happens".

But sometimes we experience a fact, a truth, and think there is nothing to do about it. Or we do "the only thing we could do" regardless of the consequences. We don't feed the fact or the act back through experience. We let it stand, as such.

This is how science and politics were born. They are distractions from the experience of truth and justice. They are fixations on one side or the other of the pangrammatical divide. Composure teaches us to return to experience.


Andrew Shields said...

I wonder if this is connected to the way that you talked about "interest" in your comment on Jonathan's post:

Thomas said...

I'm not sure. It's true that I have argued elsewhere that 'Academics are "non-participants in the action" essentially by definition.' I suppose that, applying this new insight, I'm now saying that there is something essentially "cramped" about the style of academic writing. But that's a consequence I'm not willing to commit to at this point.

Andrew Shields said...

One way that "academics are non-participants" is this: so many of them fill their writing with the current framing devices and jargon, thus inscribing an expiration date in their writing. That excludes their writing from participation in the long-term perspective.