Tuesday, 15 January 2019

No Sugar, No Trail

A further note on Katha Up. II.iii.13 continuing on from my previous post.

There are two key analogies in Vedanta. The best known one is the confusion analogy or taking the coiled rope for a snake. The other is taken from the Chandogya Up. VI.i.4 and is based on material identity. Earthenware vessels in all their shapes and sizes are fundamentally clay.

 “O good looking one, as by knowing a lump of earth, all things made of earth become known: All transformation has speech as its basis, and it is name only. Earth as such is its reality.

In Sankara’s commentary on Ka: II.iii.13 he writes ‘All modification is mere name, being supported by speech -- earth alone is real." Applying the purport of this analogy we can know the Self by its effects i.e. the saturation of all states of consciousness with self-awareness. The Self can only be known by its effects because it is the knower and therefore knowing it would lead to infinite regress. The Self therefore is different from both the known and the unknown and is described as non-different from the states of consciousness which it pervades. We infer the existence of the Self but we can’t know it in a quasi-objective manner in the way we are conscious of our states of mind, perceptions etc.

How though does “the Self that has been known, as merely existing, become favourably disposed (for self-revelation)”? Self realisation is not a state that can be achieved, it is already here. We then are enjoined to achieve a detached ego-less awareness. We are to seek without seeking and not identify with any particular state of mind including samadhi/super-conscious bliss.

There is nothing in it for you.

Friday, 11 January 2019

The Tenth Man and the Sugar Bag

The Self is (first) to be realised as existing, and (then) as It really is. Of these two (aspects), the real nature of the Self that has been known as merely existing, becomes favourably disposed (for self-revelation).
(Ka.Up. II.13)

Two parables of the Self come to mind. The Tenth Man relates how a party of 10 travellers were crossing a dangerous river. Having got over the leader of the group counted them to see if everybody was safely over. He counted nine and began to bewail the missing one until a passer by reminded him - ‘you have forgotten to count yourself, you are the tenth man’. Applying that inclusion to the population of the mind it is evident that while all the elements of the stream of consciousness iare counted in the Humean way the counter is not counted.

What is salient is the shock that presents the existence of the Self. You must have the Coleridgean deep thinking as deep feeling experience which is entirely different from the sureties of vapid prattle. We recognise that all mental events, thoughts, perceptions, experiences etc. are saturated with ‘self-ness’ but yet the self is not them. It persists, they pass.

Another koan like parable is the torn sugar bag of John Perry. He relates:

"I once followed a trail of sugar on a supermarket floor, pushing my cart down the aisle on one side of a tall counter and back the aisle on the other, seeking the shopper with the torn sack to tell him he was making a mess. With each trip around the counter, the trail became thicker. But I seemed unable to catch up. Finally it dawned on me. I was the shopper I was trying to catch.

The trail becoming thicker seems to me like the building up of duration in Bergson’s sense. All the previous meditations on the series of conscious states gain a critical mass and evoke an insight into the self as an existent.

Follow the sugar.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Not on our watch Oxford students vow

For their safe spaces and to drive upsetting thoughts from their heads those Oxford students who have signed a petition against Professor John Finnis on the grounds that he’s a terrible person

should know that there are Snowflake colouring books available on Amazon:

colouring books

A snowflake is like a mandala whereby you can enter into the glory of your own personal universe free from discordant views and feel the calm and peace of utter unanimity.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Bricolage and the Noumenal

John Waters’ daddy was a champion bricoleur or a man who could fix things by using whatever materials were to hand. John tells the story of how when he was on the road making deliveries in his van the drive shaft broke. ‘Wait a minute lads’ and off he goes into a field and comes back with a stout ash plant and a length of bull wire which he used as a splint on the shaft. With a light foot they made their way home.

Claude Levi-Strauss in The Savage Mind speaks of myths assembled out of odds and ends already existing in the culture i.e. bricolage. The ancient great grandfather religions are like that. You may find anything in them. Think of the ancient oddities in the Pentateuch and the Vedas. As time goes on these elements are subtilised and turn into theology and metaphysics. The primary thing is the ecstasy and then ‘tents’ are built that try to keep that mysterium tremendum et fascinans close to hand. ( I refer to the transfiguration of Jesus.Mt 17, Lk.9)

The noumenal is one with our consciousness even when most of the time we are alienated from it. Coleridge in Biographia Litteraria writes:

The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.

Opposed to the Primary Imagination is the normal state of mind or the dope tropes that we inhabit:

 Fancy, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with, but fixities and definites. The Fancy is indeed no other than a mode of Memory emancipated from the order of time and space; while it is blended with, and modified by that empirical phenomenon of the will, which we express by the word CHOICE. But equally with the ordinary memory the Fancy must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association.

It is ‘fanciful’, pace Coleridge, to say that religions confound each other. “Truth is one, the wise call it by various names" said the Vedic sage. We confuse the containers with the contained but, you know, use whatever is handy.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Shop Boys rule O.K.

Now that the Xmas is over and the high point of the book buying year has passed it is safe to allow Give us Back the Bad Roads by John Waters back on the shelves of Easons and Dubrays where they were unavailable prior to Xmas. Where there were none there are now stacks.

We don’t need official censorship in Ireland, we can do it for ourselves.


Monday, 31 December 2018

Modern Identity

I got a second hand copy of Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self; The Making of the Modern Identity ; €10 if you want to know. It’s a massive survey which includes history or the history of history. I jumped forward to the Victorian era and read that chapter. It establishes that doing good just for its own sake was not what motivated the anti-slavery movement nor was it a utilitarian calculation.

Gen: 1.27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

You can’t work everything in so from the literary point of view he leaves out the Gissing - Orwell line of the atomised individual. Possibly an argument could be made for the William Godwin - Shelley - Byron nexus of individualistic anarchy fetching up in the present confusion of gender as a choice or an imposition. That would be post the 1989 publication of the book. How fast that moved.

The universal exercise of private judgement is a doctrine so unspeakably beautiful that the true politician will certainly feel infinite reluctance in admitting the idea of interfering with it. A principal object in the subsequent stages of enquiry will be to discuss the emergency of the cases that may be thought to demand this interference.
(from Political Justice by Godwin)

Losing votes perhaps?

Friday, 28 December 2018

Bosthoon Strangler

I remember the cartoon in the Dublin Opinion satirical magazine which ran from 1922 - 1968. It shows a large priest in a cassock bisected by a wide leather belt with a cane tucked into it. He is being addressed by a man in a pin striped suit. By his side is a small cowering boy. Caption: I want you to make a bosthoon out of my boy.
A bosthoon (Irish) is a churlish ignorant fellow.

In Ireland the bosthoon/sleeveen (sly, unctous individual) cross has become a smooth urbanite with bien pensant views on everything who regrets the necessity to de-platform those that are deemed scabrous. As I have written recently John Waters and his book Bring Back the Bad Roads have been getting this treatment. Now that state papers from 1938 have been entering the public domain John may be savouring the acid drop irony of Patrick Kavanagh’s tussle with Irish booksellers who he felt were not displaying his newly published The Green Fool in the windows of their shops. Favouring direct action he threatened to wreck the joint if this wasn’t rectified.
journal report

The Green Fool was pulled from Fred Hanna’s because of anti-Catholic sentiment and a possible libel against Oliver St John Gogarty (Buck Mulligan) which actually transpired. Other booksellers had placed the book within the shop but due to the urging of the Monaghan native gave him window space. Move over ‘Michelle’.

Napper Tandy observes: ‘Tis in the body of the jail, Waters would be if he tried that today. Keep the plus ca change baby.’