Cosmos Café: Alternate Ways of Knowing [12/12]


(Ed Mahood) #61

Obliquely referencing @Douggins’ post re: the README and our upcoming Café tomorrow, this belongs as much here as it does in the café thread. Isn’t it simply marvelous how we never get out of our own interconnections?

I’ll ‘fess up on a related front: my youngest daughter is a fairly avid follower of Harris’ podcasts. She knows how I feel, and it doesn’t deter her in the least. (I can’t begin to tell you how the feeling of pride swells in one’s chest recognizing one’s offspring as truly one’s offspring!)

All this musing and puzzling and wondering about truth and reason and math and poetry and just what the hell do they have to do with one another is a perfect prelude to what I want to talk about tomorrow. This segment serves as an insightful addition to the “Seed Questions” for our little get-together.

I don’t want to raise expectations too high, of course, because I’m not going to be able to deliver on all these notions, but I do think that that what we are going to talk about touches on, is related to, and provides a sound springboard towards addressing precisely those questions that you’re raising. In the end, EVERYTHING has to fit with and be compatible with EVERYTHING ELSE, and what I believe all of us are looking for are ways to move in that direction.

And, BTW: I get Julie Yau’s trauma-perspective. She’s right insofar as we always end up doing our own selves in, but Being is not, IMNSHO, trauma; our unpreparedness for dealing with being, however, is.

Granted, it’s a mind-bending (if not boggling) task, but, hey, we asked for it, so we shouldn’t be surprised if maybe we end up getting just what we asked for. (The 1st Great Magical Admonition)

(Marco V Morelli) #62

I might have been squeezing this formulation for some poetic effect. But I think there is an argument to be made (which I think Sloterdijk, in his oblique way, is making) that our sense of who or what we are, via relationships, only grows insofar as these interpersonal spheres decay. In other words, a broken heart drives evolution. Is there a way we can be prepared for dealing with being without first being traumatized by it, through suffering, injury, loss, etc.? I would not say Being is only trauma, but how could “waking up” not in a certain inevitable sense constitute a shock to the system?

(john davis) #63

It is King Lear who says, " When we first smell the air, we wawl and cry."

And we oscillate each day between comedy, tragedy, melodrama, romance, farce, slapstick. I tend to cycle through these different styles in an hour. It has a lot to do with the mood of those around me.

After a long day, walking in the brutal cold, I see out of the corner of my eye, a man, without a coat, trembling, on a pile of odds and ends, eating something out of a box. I am numb with cold and feel emotionally dead. I have to get my grocery shopping done and pick up a bottle of wine and head home, to my warm apartment. I dont want to feel anything for anybody. Then a woman, bends over the man, and hands him a twenty dollar bill. He looks up at her confused. She takes his hand, put the bill in his palm, and walks away. I walk past this powerful moment, my heart opens, and I say," There is goodness in the world." A knot in my chest, a tear comes to my eyes. I relax into a moment of gratitude for such goodness and then face a long line at Trader Joe’s, and come back to the narrow focus required to face this madness.

Decades ago, I visited my friend at St. Vincent’s, right before he died. There was a crucifix on the wall facing him. His eyes were rolling around in their sockets, he was deep in a morphine dream. He opened his eyes and smiled weakly at me and said," This crucifixion thing really sucks." He closed his eyes. I acknowledged what he said. I knew that I was not immune. The readiness is all.

There is a resurrection but not until after the crucifixion. No one escapes. And it is to this deep truth, that Julie points to, in her story about Wally. Compassion is produced by those who have gone through the experience of the body. And once that compassion is activated, it can move mountains.

Philosophers argue. the rest of us tell stories. I dont know what else we can do but tell the best stories we can think of, and be sure there is a dash of compassion for every one concerned.