Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's tough to be conscious.

One of Simone Weil's teachers warned her, "Whatever is misanthropic is false."
I'm not sure I agree it's necessarily false, but it's often cheap and easy and fruitless.

Whenever I get feeling snippy with my species, like, why aren't we all innovators like Dante or Gertrude Stein? it helps me to remember just how insanely complex being conscious is.
It helps me to remember:
“We live in strange times.

“We also live in strange places: each in a universe of our own. The people with whom we populate our universes are the shadows of whole other universes intersecting with our own. Being able to glance out into this bewildering complexity of infinite recursion and say things like, ‘Oh, hi, Ed! Nice tan. How’s Carol?’ involves a great deal of filtering skill for which all conscious entities have eventually to develop a capacity in order to protect themselves from the contemplation of the chaos through which they seethe and tumble.
So give your kid a break, okay?”
--Extract from the fictional book Practical Parenting in a Fractally Demented Universe in the real book Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams


Anonymous said...

Hey! At 7:50 a. m. TODAY, while I agree wholeheartedly with this D. A. fictional quote within a quote, I find his wordiness and tone f-ing annoying and pedantic. (of course, I could/many around me, including my now grown-up kids say the same thing about me--(or not!)--on occasion. these frustrations inspire art, among other things. and, no wonder silence--(when it's not complicity in immoral acts and hatreds)--is considered golden!
we're all just bumbling along through the noise, trying to figure out what the veriword "facrom"'s goin' on...

In solidarity and perplexity,


Fresca said...

Oh, yes, Douglas Adams can be an annoyingly deflective sock monkey, all right.
I like him, but a little of his relentless cleverness goes a long way.

Still, I think this quote is saying what you say:
"we're all just bumbling along through the noise"...
and it's that amused and tolerant view of humanity I find comforting and helpful.

It IS perplexing!
I was just thinking about silence too---how rare it is. We seem to *need* to talk.
My question; how to talk well, kindly--how, as Buddhists say, to practice avoiding using our words as weapons?

Anonymous said...

Meant to say this how many posts ago, now...on the sock monkey theme: Clowncar can attest to the artistic/therapeutic effects of making/receiving sock monkeys as gifts and of snuggling them or using them as characters in imaginative play. This isn't really addressing the ideas you brought about about sock monkey-land/behavior, Fresca, it's just a riff. Yeah, "relentless cleverness" as you so succinctly termed it, tends to be great defense/other survival tactic against the tides of poop and bewilderment we deal with daily. Sharp wit, kind words, cursing/questioning supreme beings and ancestors, not to mention family members and employers...all a part of the sampler of communications. What shines a light into our souls and builds healing common ground can be noisy, bawdy, profane and righteous, zinging with lifeforce. It's not always kind or quiet. You know that. anyway. A wondering: if we all went around quietly and meditatively and being kind all the time, would there still be art? Or is art born out of pain and suffering, or at least questioning and discomfort. Chicken 'n' egg and sock monkey stuff makes me think some more...

Margaret said...


(Now my head hurts literally as well as figuratively.)

When you mention quiet communication, I think of "co-exist", (outside of it's context as a statement on religious tolerance).
Animal communication, I imagine, is the sort of basic understanding that comes from co-existing in the same space and time, (which is stacking up a lot of odds; I mean, the old lady across the street and I share the same slot of history/land/etc; a lot of little Black Swan events had to meet for this to happen; the improbability of me "knowing" you ((in this very "lopsided" blog way)), for instance, is remarkable. I might've been born in 1467, or you in 2048; I might've been Jamaican, or you Russian; I might've been obsessed with Elvis Presley instead of Bill Shatner, all in which cases I never would've visited LookAtHis, and never subsequently stopped by here. History doesn't repeat itself unless in a very general way; it can't!)

Anyway, verbal communication is problematic right off the bat because it's a conversion. Saying what you think is doable because we think, at least partially, in words, (how do babies think?), but saying what you feel is like trying to taste what you see. We get creative with our words out of necessity! We write poetry out of necessity! For conscious creatures, the self-filtration of the world through art is necessary.

And what's the ultimate aim of communication? I mean, obviously understanding and being understood is where we're going with this, but if we could communicate perfectly, what would that look like? A complete loss of self? Without self, you have no art.

And now, in the process of thought to word conversion, I've confused myself immensely.

I attach "MAYBE" to all of the above.

ArtSparker said...

The word "conscious" in the first part of the post led me to thinking along the lines of the Adams quote before i got there - that is, at any given moment, how conscious are we able to be in the midst of the overwhelm?

Anonymous said...

One more riff from moi. reading all this now, what comes to heart/mind is universal multiplicity as in consciousness/perception/reality/expression/creation. "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me. In the jingle-jangle mornin', I'll come followin' you."



Fresca said...

SPARKY: Yeah. Teh Overwhelm!

STEF: OH dear. You mentioned "Mr. Tambourine Man" to a Shatner fan. You've probably never suffered through his excruciating rendition of the song, but
it really delivers consciousness a whack upside the head.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Is this rendition something you've posted? I'll have to look for it tomorrow cuz I'm too tired now. Hey! does he recite any TSE? Hey-Heh!