Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Bergson Thing

So this Bergson thing, isn't it all a bit esoteric, the province of Levinas and Deleuze, those masters of obfuscation? That would be an error because with Bergson you always know what it is that you don't understand or rather it hovers there on the tip of your mind. You feel yourself in a physical state of unease as the consciousness attempts to enter you by neural pathways that have yet to be set up, pathways that would make you ready for a perception or a reaction.

If this experience is as commonplace as Bergson maintains and shown by him to be manifest in the searching for the right word, or putting a name to the face then such strategies as we deploy in these cases ought to be universal. Hatha Yoga has many techniques one of which is pranayama or breath control. It was noticed early by yogis that states of ecstatic consciousness and oceanic feeling were accompanied by a suspension of breathing. Could a replication of such breathing lead to a facilitation of a like consciousness? Yes so it seems and even for a beginner some pranayama leads to a quieting of the neural traffic that facilitates meditation.

The materialist will claim that this merely proves his point. What point? That we evoke in the brain we know not what, in an area we know not where, an incommunicable awareness that has no adaptive advantage. When an explanation is more complex and contains more imponderable elements than the explanandum you can be sure that you are a lost puppy. It's worse than dormitive, it's, it's, I know not what. Oh, yeah, it's continental or even orientalist. It's Buddhist monks with electrodes. What do these deep meditation experiments show? In the words of the title of M.R. James's story Whistle and I'll Come to You.

No comments: