Saturday, November 7, 2009

Unfinished IAPC

I entered Gallatin with the goal of becoming the best defense anyone could ever get, and I maintain that intention.

As a loyal member of the sect of absurdity, I, like many gallatin students, feel a slight disconnect with anyone who insists they have mastered reality. More so, I am ashamed to admit a slight scorn for positivist statements; anyone who contents that things should be, and thus are, this way or that.

It has always been very clear to me that people's viewpoints much differ on the subject of what happened, what is happening, and even what will happen, the latter being particularly strange since one wonders how there could ever be so much conflict about events yet unknown.

The best part is, that not only do people have massively different experiences, but they also happen to be subjective and active agents in determining their own narrative.'The mind is, at best, a thing that makes up stories about itself'.

One thing that has always terrified me is my ability to empathize with another person's views, while at the same time understanding that the complete opposite can be true as well.

How can I begin to get any sense of reality, when my existence permits seemingly contradicting narratives to be true? How can I judge what is real when it is all a question of perspective? And lastly- and perhaps of greatest concern- how do I know if I what I am seeing has a stable substance to it (reality, per say) or if perhaps is only my innate conception of it?

If that isn't enough insecurity, when other relate their experience to me, can I trust it to have any relevance to my own? When I come across an unfamiliar perspective, do I dismiss it as nonsense or consider it another angle on the reality before me? Do you put more weight onto what you know, or onto an authority? Do you believe everything you hear? Do you believe a majority of it? Do you believe so much as is comfortably viewed from your place in the world, that doesn't force you to scurry constantly shifting your view?

So, when someone tells you about an object, how do you if the information they are giving you is true? Maybe it is. How do you know if someone is lying to you? Is in inconsistency, through contradiction, can you just see it in someone's eyes? Is there a difference between presenting a different perspective, lying or simply being wrong?

The copious amounts of doubt I feel upon the intake of any information surely stems from my own admitted ability to make things up. Er, twist the facts. Shed new light on them.

In the same way one might understand their own ability to steal or be misunderstood or excluded, understanding one's own capacity to lie opens up a world of vulnerability. One begins to doubt even the most banal of statements, and question the motivation behind even the slightest assertion.

Understandably, this makes human interaction incredibly difficult. Not only does one feel an incredible sense of alienation from the murky, unpredictable figures around oneself, but it becomes difficult if not impossible to enter into any extended course of action with anyone. This includes interpersonal relationships of any sort, small business, sex, study and sitting next to someone on the bus.

At some point in my time at Gallatin, it occurred to me that I could mitigate the discomfort of this murky world, and tone down this alarming state of being simply by resolving to not question my own perception and to never mislabel my statements.

That is, not to lie to myself.

And since there's really no way to lie to others without lying to oneself, I suppose there is necessity to avoid that pitfall as well.

This is more difficult than it would seem, because upon careful examination it seems as if the world is full of people who are just begging for you to confirm their contradicting claims. And even someone just asking you to explain your own perspective can be stressful.

(launching into an explanation oftentimes requires one to pause, parse and parcel their experience and transform it into a narrative work).

Nonetheless, I have resolved not to lie to myself. Not of whim or religious observance, but a logical conclusion supported by philosophical play and scientific research.

In my rationale, I will be presenting two different ways of thinking, all reasonable in my book, though each field of thought often scorned by the other; philosophical and physical.

By physical, I mean to say all that lovely scientific thinking such as physiology and by philosophical, I mean to say all that concerns itself with meaning. I understand that this is rather hazy terminology, but would you expect more accuracy from one who thinks the two disciplines may as well be merged?

In my time at Gallatin, I spent a lot of time examining what different fields think is truth. And though what I've found seems to be grossly contradictory, there have been patterns, ways of being that are strikingly similar and praised throughout the ages.

That ties into the theory of complexity- an approach that branches multiple disciplines, which states that seemingly complex and different systems can have underlying self-serving order, patterns that prevail.

But before these disciplines merge into a flexible way of being, allow me to recall and consider each of the different paths I've taken academically:

At one point of time in my Gallatin career, one summer while not actually in school and looking over some Sartre, I encountered the passage in Being and Nothingness where Sartre describes the relationship between the self and the infinite.

A person is essentially nothing, argues Sartre, but the product of their own actions and thus their own God. If man is made in God's image than anything that man does, God becomes. And anything God does, man is divined to do as well. Thus, if you smile at someone while walking down the street, it becomes so that God would smile while walking down the street, and so that everyone would smile while walking down the street.

I need a far smoother transition into this paragraph, but we could just take a small conceptual leap here (just as if one was writing a mathematical proof, it is not necessary to state all the corollaries of a fact, just the relevant ones). For the past year or two of my life, I've taken up Sartre on his grand been experiment. Hypothesis: What if I'm God? If this is so, then anything I say and do reverberates infinitely and becomes an absolutely truth. Not to you, perhaps. But to me, yes. Very much so.

Anything action I do, I can rest assured in my mind that the rest of humanity would do as well. And as I find exceptions, I mark them as such- exceptions to a grand rule of, overall, people are such. I can even dumb down exceptions as misunderstandings, and let them go as such.

Actions are simple enough, but what about words. What to make of the harsh, simplifying covers we throw over things in order to make them more useful, convenient and commercial? If anything I say becomes an absolute truth onto myself, then there are several things I ought to watch out for.

1. In honor of synchrony, my thoughts, which play in my head, and mix in with each perception I note, should - if not of the most pleasant sort possible- then perhaps the quietest will do just as well.
2. In spite of dissonance, I should avoid interference in my mind as much as possible. It is impossible in my mind to believe entirely in two contradictory things. Or rather, it is possible, but extremely uncomfortable and riddled with conflict. It sounds something like white noise, a painful din.
3. Mirroring the desperate struggle for peace for things outside of myself, I should, in all things and at all times, try not to lie to myself and cast a false rhythm amidst the sounds of my daily life.


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