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We Went There, There We Were, and all the While, Elsewhere too.

February 27, 2011

I’ve been a bit tardy in my self-imposed schedule of once-a-week postings here on Pax Lupo. Yes, of course there are excuses: 1. My retirement from my public radio job after 33 years has introduced some psychic disorientation. 2. My mother seems to be dying, and this also has added to the sense that there’s way too much verbiage in the human world. 3. I spent last weekend with Pauline Oliveros, and this begs for some time for reflection, or perhaps, a settling of idea-events. It is

Pauline’s music was part of a concert of modern music put on by the Florida International University music department; special hat tip to Paula Matthusen and Orlando Garcia. There were two pieces of Pauline’s, “One Hundred Meeting Places” and “Tuning Meditation” which I particularly liked. “Tuning Meditation” was quite beautiful, an enveloping bath of harmonic sound without rhythm. “One Hundred Meeting Places” was more cerebral, having to do with the juncture of neural ganglia at the top of the skull. The piece incorporated a visual (theatrical) aspect in that the ‘score’, consisting of the time fragment delineations of the piece [numbers], were projected on a screen behind the musicians. “You know,” I said to Pauline, “That piece is completely different without the visuals.” “Yes,” she said. “Completely different.”

On Sunday, we went in my car to the Keys, both Pauline and I very much needing a break from the city and the jobs and the hospitals. We talked about issues of language and mathematics and technology and evolution. And the death of our mothers. Both of us were most comfortable talking about what was easiest – technology. Pauline lamenting the “left’s” rejection of technology, not understanding that technology proceeds in a straight line (industrial time) while humanity lives in cyclical, biological time.  We are, as a species, more comfortable with stories – bedtime stories – than we are with harsh daytime calculations. Advantage Industry. I see this all the time in the delusional positions taken by my progressive friends. My comrades seem to be living a fantasy world of pleasure, the pursuit of happiness, mythic history, gourmet food trucks, cheap gas and the American Dream. [Today’s Wisconsin solidarity rallies were billed as ‘Rallies to Save the American Dream’. That pretty much says it all.]

We had an interesting mini-discussion around my now decades old postulation that “You don’t have to go there to be there.” Pauline has been conducting remote teaching and ‘tele-presence’ events for as long as any technology has enabled her to do them, and she spoke about the modalities of text, audio, video and multi-sensory remote projections. I talk about it, she does it.

But what really has lingered with me is her briefly talking about how difficult and important it is to try to write about or talk about or actually think about things that right on the edge of one’s understanding, just slightly beyond your grasp; what you are not sure about, what you can be wrong about, what you may completely misunderstand. It is this process of working with those ideas that you don’t fully understand that is the ephemeral substance of our life’s endeavor. It is consciousness trying to live.

For me, at present, it is trying to understand the disconnect between poetic (artistic) thinking and prose (calculated, or mathematic) thinking. This gulf corresponds to the chasm between what we call moral, compassionate behavior and political, economic behavior. I am of the opinion that this is an evolutionary linguistic problem, the two modes (for now) being processed in different parts of the brain and having, as yet, to come to some kind of accommodation. How can I explain what I see before me, that all people, including myself, behave both compassionately (with ambiguity) and ruthlessly (without ambiguity)? We are both humane and inhumane in a very bi-polar fashion, the two modes switching on and off very rapidly, but never occurring at the same time. Again, this seems to be cognitive and behavioral functions processed in different areas of the brain lacking an overarching connection.

But it is this study, this thinking that is right on the edge of what can be conceived and codified that is so important.

Then, it is also understanding that, once reasonably codified: “No matter how perfectly correct, or amazing the clarity, everything you think is deluded. Everything you think is deluded. Everything you think is deluded.” ~ John Giorno

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