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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Here there be... Something Else

In any widespread debate among human beings, there tends to be a portrayal of the situation as a binary conflict. As an example, let's take "democrat vs. republican" - not that the content matters here, but it's a common example that most of you will be familiar with. But this translates to gender, religion, sexuality, and many other human "dialogues" (note the already implicit binary)...
Most of the time it's portrayed something like this:
binary spectrum

Depending on who is portraying the situation, the left circle might be bigger or the right or the middle more or less overlapping, but it's still a binary venn diagram of some sort. Of course what is missing from the picture is what makes this post worth posting... the Excluded Other, the Damned Thing as Robert Anton Wilson put it, the thing that is semiotically made invisible by those who fear it. In reality, though this is also an over-simplification, the venn diagram should look more like this:
reality covered

Of course, it would be more accurate to portray a vast multidimensional grid of interlocking rings in all directions, but for the purpose of this post, this will suffice...

The excluded other has to fight just to get acknowledgement of its own existence, it is not debated or even scorned (except to say 'oh, that's crazy talk!') because it is not known of/acknowledged by most. It has been buried and forgotten, so that the powers that be (in whichever sphere happens to be 'in dialogue') can keep the minds of people on their two favored options. This binary portrayal may just be a function of the human brain or it may be an ontological condition of those who attempt to control debate, that it is always in their interest to keep things in a dialogue rather than a true analysis.

In the works of many whom I would consider 'in this thing of ours', there is an attempt to re-awaken an awareness of the Something Else, to remind us that there are "more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy"...
This is perhaps the primary thing that draws us together - as a different kind of revolution, a semiotic revolution, a disinhibitory stimulus to reawaken the authority/judgement/reason/awareness within us, that the false rulers of our minds don't want us to reclaim for ourselves.

There are two basic understandings that buddhism (at least of the zen or chan variety), daoism and existentialism share:
1. Desire can be a trap.
2. Whatever you say it is, it is precisely not that.

In existentialism the way 2 is explained is that we are always at least one step ahead of ourselves, that to enclose the totality of our understanding, we must be larger than that totality... this totality is re-totalizing in every moment...
Thus we are always incomplete, a work in progress, which leads back to 1.
Where daoism and existentialism perhaps branch off from buddhism is in seeing this incompleteness as necessary for existence. We cannot complete ourselves. In the moment we are complete, we are no longer "here" except as an object to be used by those still incomplete.
But what we 'are' is trapped within the time span of our incompleteness. So make the most of it.

Where desire fails is when we actually strive for completion through any incomplete means. To be a 'true believer', and thus to seek this binary in which all things can be understood and collected.


Blogger jomama said...


8:19 AM  

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