Saturday, July 17, 2010

the peculiar "art" of deflection

Well...somebody's got to say it. Human beings are very odd. We live our lives in constant forms of activity, in order to subconsciously push the fact that we exist into a dark empty room. We think this is all adding up to something, to some kind of Answer. Yet we have never asked the Question.

Politics, sports...needlepoint? All forms of sublimation. Unknowing deflections. Unthought, unspoken hexes against the Conspiracy -- against the unnamed ghost of Actuality.

Think about it. Lives lived out with hardly a thought or gesture toward the implacable mystery of being-in-the-world. Astonishing. Someone might cough politely and interject: “My good man...if the mystery is implacable, then why should human beings fret at all over the unknowable?” I would reply: “Very good point.”

The only forms of activity that halfheartedly confront the Meta-Fact are some philosophy, some religion, and some of the fine arts (painting, sculpture, dance, music, literature). But only some. Very little of the some at that.

Let's save philosophy for last.

Religion occasionally brushes up against the surface of being. Usually though, it is merely another form of folding the mind into a neat and manageable pattern. Some old Hindu sages and a couple Buddhist masters took at least a glance in the direction of what-the-hell-is-going-on-under-the-surface. But soon, they deflected it. Soon, they figured out some way of incorporating and middle-managing the abyss into their let's-get-on-with-it structures of living. They turned their backs on the breathtaking Meta-Fact. Or they duped themselves into thinking it could be tamed. Could be lived with.

Then there was Meister Eckhart. He would not let freaking go. That dude went deep into the stratosphere of actuality. He ended up saying wonderfully evocative stuff in his attempt to wring sense out of there being anything at all. God was subsumed in Godhead and then Godhead teetered over into the Abyss. I suppose that's a kind of religious approach.

All other religion, with respect to being as such, is just a ritualistic, superstitious business. The mystery gets deflected into sentimental and anthropomorphic Just So stories. It's like unconsciously or symbolically taking the Meta-Fact to the woodshed for a good whupping – to beat the stubbornness and annoyance out of it. Turn it into a God and sing hosannas to it.

Some painting, sculpture, and dance are attempts at coming to terms with the sublime horror...the persistence of being that goes too far, that goes beyond mind. Some music is attuned to the Meta-Fact. The greatest composer of being as such is Mahler. His symphonies are wracks of ruin on which the perplexing soul has been beaten and thrashed. Some literature sneaks up on existence. Rarely, though. Usually such probings come at it obliquely or offhandedly. That's okay. That good. That might be the only way to do it and maintain sanity.

Philosophy. Via Heidegger, it appears old Parmenides knew something was afoot. Leibniz asked a very good question. Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche did some archeology into the numinous. Nowadays, we have analytical philosophy. *Yawn*. Pieces of the Meta-Fact get washed down the waste drain by those linguistic morticians.

Oh! I left out science. Good grief! Science is an ostensible telling what the world is made of. But World is only a deflection of Being into artificial ingredients. Science doesn't do well with abysses. It has trouble enough conjecturing about and staring down black holes. we are. Back at the beginning, which never really began. Because we are not interested in the fact that we exist. We just do it – exist. We are not even aware that we are pinioned to a canvas that has no texture, no substance, no means for traction. So we deflect the Meta-Fact into a warped ping-pong ball that was backhanded way too hard.

A great mystery is slinking behind us, yet we dance ahead into our forms of nonsense that seem sensible to us. The Meta-Fact, though, makes every moment and every event an instance of organic absurdity.

1 comment:

  1. I saw a chart once that had all the major professions listed by importance (now I've forgotten What importance) but I do remember that Philosophers were number One on the chart and Artists were number two on down to basket weaving. The chart with its subsequent positioning of professions seemed right on to me.