30/1/2022 0 Comments
On materiality and the world
What I love about writing is how abstract it is, even when it is about the most material objects or experiences. Words are not the sounds or the letters on the page or the screen, a poem written a thousand years ago can be read today and become the thought in the mind of a completely different person. Even so the body can become involved, is necessarily involved I suppose even if it is just the synapses of the brain firing, even if the hairs on the head aren't prickling or tears coming out of the eyes. And, having loved poetry for its immateriality, having loved abstraction and lived as much as possible in my head for as long as possible, I have become interested at last in the mind-body relationship and have been working on not thinking rather than on having thoughts. I've been interested also in other forms of mind, not only other forms than human forms - I've long been interested in how cats think and how chickens experience the world - but quite different forms like the intelligence of funghi. I love the idea that the spiritual experiences people seem to have on magic mushrooms are not them accessing some greater truth through the unlocking of their own minds, or through the transcendance of mind altogether, but rather are the experience of life lived as funghi experience life, the world seen through funghal consciousness, a consciousness which is without individual identity, dispersed and without borders. And I wonder whether in the same way that medical advances have involved, in part, a separation of our understanding of the mind and the body, there might be a way in which we understand the world as essentially material, and whether there mightn't be a way in which the whole world, too, is animated in a way we no longer understand? Even theologically I think it is common now to think in terms of a division between matter and spirit, divinity and the world. I hardly know how to imagine thinking otherwise, but it could be interesting to try.
30/1/2022 1 Comment
On the timing of a life
I wonder sometimes whether to think of a life as a series of moments or a narrative and whether it makes a difference to how you think of a life when it ends. The Romans had the dispiriting idea that you might live beyond what should have been the end of your life, but I wonder also whether the timing matters not just in terms of your personal narrative, the biographical elegance of dying at a certain point in the story of your life, but in terms of the moment of history - or stretch of history - you have lived in (or will have lived in). Would you have been lucky to have died before the Trump presidency, or before the Covid epidemic? Would you have been unlucky (or lucky, perhaps, depending on your nationality and politics) to have died halfway through the second world war not knowing who would win it? Would you be luckier to live through it and find out the ending, and would you be unlucky to live through it and find out the ending supposing, for instance, it had ended differently, with a Nazi regime in power? We live in moments but also within narratives that are not just the narratives of our own lives, but we live only in one moment of them at a time. Does it matter at what point in the story we no longer follow it, in terms of how we measure the happiness of a life? Is all there is to measure just the sum total of the moments in which we have lived, or can we only make sense of a life in terms of some larger meaning, and is the meaning necessarily formal, structured in terms of a narrative in which the ending plays a definitive part? (Answers in the comments please! (Would it make a difference to the meaning of my life should I die before or after reading the answer to my question?))
These are paragraphs without essays or books to go in.