wed 21 apr 1993 00:01:00 salem, ma
belief in dichotomy of matter & spirit
today i ran into john hanzl taking the greenline. on his way to a class on art appreciation he took time to talk to me about religion on the trolley, he being an electrical engineering student of course.
i thought to myself that it might befit me to write a treatise of twenty or so important things to remember about the nature of the universe.
then later on i came home and saw d and paul and paula at the hawthorne hotel bar for a hamburger. we traded seats so i could sit next to paula and talk about the sorts of things she and i talk about. she finally got it about why i don't want to have children. [...]
why i resist grownupness and family life and even why i am relatively ambivalent about the usual trappings of marriage itself (jealousy and greed usw): because i am still trying to achieve adolescence. i am still trying to do those things that i "should" have outgrown by now.
religion: the desire for a global morality that would be independent of scale and which would be "the same for all observers" — to do the same for morality that einstein did for the electrodynamics of moving bodies (beweglicher körper). maybe my thing should be called "the electrodynamics of moving souls."
one of the things that came up with hanzl was the idea that articulation is the main vector here, that there should be an underlying singularity from which all diversity springs, and which accounts for the theory of god.
in my last week's conversations with my brother i also reached the conclusion that religion fails as soon as it coalesces. that truth is a tent and not a brick house. the personal relationship with god is polluted by "organization." he zelf suggested that this was the case and that all true spiritiual experience involves surprise — the discovery that i didn't have it all figured out after all.
and yet here i am trying to quantize and capture it in english.
this irony relates to why we want scripture. why do we want to chronicle our quest? why do we want to record? why do i find it so tragic or so poignant that so many brilliant people have lived in the last five or ten thousand years who have never written a diary of their daily thoughts and experiences? maybe what's about to happen, at considerable risk of cheapening the overall value of communication and scripture per se, is that people are going to feel a greater liberty and a greater compulsion to chronicle not just the comings and goings of kings but also the fleeting thoughts that cross their minds — that is what they were just scratching the surface of with all the historical and spiritual chronicling that has gone before, from the old testament to the anglosaxon chronicle.
that this will become about the recording of mentation. what i work in now, the media with which i make my living and which i think are so sophisticated, may be just the first twinklings of a new kind of medium in which people will be able to record the whole experience. and they will take 200 years to learn how to really use it after it becomes available. it took thousands of years for us to learn how to use the written word. 200 years is not that long a time.
just two days ago there was a fire in waco, which makes it a little queer for me to talk about religion. the cult leaders are what i most fear, and yet i find that these talks i have begin to take on a queerly charismatic nature, that they wouldn't be happening if i wasn't there. this unconstitutional quality frightens me but perhaps it is essential to a truly personal trip. still i am afraid of any morality which is not based simply on common sense. that it should end up with guns and fbi and teargas is a bit silly. it should not be about that.
there are a few points of today's coversations which i have forgotten. the point about being stuck in between being an animal and being a god, which realization i find rather liberating. the schizophrenia. recognizing that this being stuck in between is essential to our nature as human beings gives me the power to forgive myself for my own failings, which (naturally) compells me to forgive the transgressions of the guy next to me.
the problem is simply that i have a lot of thoughts i want to record which i have neither the technology nor the physiology to record.
i need some sort of augmentation. or a professional mnemonist. then i need an editor to save me from my mnemonist. [...]
it's the failure to notice the similarities which causes us to believe too strongly in the constructs of our language. that such a thing as "the lumber industry" has any independent meaning. or that education and commerce are two separate things. how could we believe such absurdities unless we had become too dependent on words and lost our belief in the reality?
is this part of the same phenomenon by which we came to believe in the dichotomy of matter and spirit?
one of the occupational hazards of being a creature in a universe which is proliferating and getting more and more complicated is that you begin to mistake the articulation for the essence. you begin to believe that the english word for a thing is the concept itself instead of just a very thin branch of an articulation of a much more primitive concept which has been subdivided. the other thing i remembered today riding the subway with john hanzl was that i believe (or at least i strongly suspect) that it is the very vaccuum created by the expansion of the universe which causes the proliferation. in other words if the universe were not expanding then the universe would not need to get more and more complicated. and that because it is getting more complicated at a faster rate than the rate of our discovery, there will always be mystery. it is possible that we may never truly contain and explain unity, because of the interposition of the necessity to become more complicated which is indeed part of our own makeup and purpose for living.
why would there be a need for art, or for john, or for linda, if alone one of us would have sufficed?
why would there be need for grass if the ground alone were sufficient?