THE LOGIC of LAUGHTER -or, The Sustenance of the Absurd
This book suggests there is a coherent explanation as to why laughter feels as it does. It also hopes to show that while laughter is generally considered a psycho-logical phenomenon, it is – through this explanation – simply logical. Not only laughter, however – but the feelings of loss, frustration, love, ecstasy, serenity, the stress of obligations, fear, and panic may actually reflect much deeper conditions of our physical existence. The logic of laughter would explain why, above all things, our emotions seem so real, overcoming all other considerations of time or objective reality. And it would explain why both common sense and formal logic are often at the mercy of forces of analysis which do not allow agreement between otherwise “objective” and “rational” human beings – totally logical forces, in fact.
Speaking of these brings us to the books’ subtitle – for these forces are what is behind the sustenance of the absurd.
The philosophy underlying the logic of laughter suggests that some very rigorous conditions for determining the truth might just allow for many opposing truths; at the same time, these conditions may be quite sufficient for holding our world together, and perhaps (I say, ‘perhaps’) the only way that our world could hold together.
The term “absurd” is very important here, since a world in which many supposed “truths” are battling to sustain themselves can support some extremely absurd variations of reality. It goes without saying that both the words “true” and “reality” will have a slightly altered meaning, where “the truth” refers to ideals which can be thought of and pointed to – and become real thoughts and pictures, but never made actual as ideals. People end up being contortionists – stretching and bending and warping and cutting things away to make them work according to their ideal picture of things…. And in its most obvious form, this is one of the forces that sustains the absurd.
As I said the conditions for determining the truth are not about a single particular truth, nor the correctness of anyone’s claims to truth. The conditions are fairly rigorous, and allow you to compare various claims to the truth relative to the logic – but at the same time this is not about relative truths --- the logic of laughter is about relative realities. Bringing us to one of the oldest conundrums in philosophy:
Something must be absolute out there. I have to be able to believe in what I see and hear and feel with my senses as being real, don’t I? If I put my hand in the fire it burns. I know it’s there and real. If I jump off this bridge I will smash myself up and maybe die, and that’s real. How can we share different realities? The reality of that fire and the bridge will be the same for everyone.
Now I happen to believe in an absolute basis for determining a workable truth. For example, there is a reason that some metaphors work and others do not. There is also a good procedure to follow to tell if a chemical is inert. These procedures utilize ideals, which are about universal relationships between things. The ideals are the tools that help us establish rules – and given a particular framework, someone can always arrive at the same ideal relationships. Mathematics is frame-specific, but within the same frame it will always yield the same relationships. The logic of laughter is an attempt at just such a set of ideals – i.e. logical relationships, or conceptual tools - which allow the coexistence of the several prevalent frameworks through which we frame our human world.
Arriving at this book came somewhat as a surprise to me. I began writing a letter to my daughter Hilary, an erstwhile philosophy major in college who decided that after graduating she was going to go into astrology. She was interested in astrology because of what it had to say about human differences – that is, why a Sagittarius is so different from a Libra or a Virgo. In my letter I thought I would set her straight about human differences, but the letter sort of got away from me and ended up with this book.
First off, I wrote my daughter that about thirty-five years ago – when I was her age - I embarked on a study of respect codes in other cultures. My first “aha” concerning respect was about laughter, and the phenomenon of dis-respect, where laughing at someone (or being laughed at) has similar meanings across cultures. This tied to a study of laugh-like phenomena in both humans and animals, where laughs functioned as signals.
Briefly, I ended up viewing laughter – with its dual role as both response and a signal - as a model of the workings of all the emotions. How this happens to be, and its significance for us is, of course, one of the more important premises of this book
Laughter is both more pivotal and “neutral” than fear or anger or love or longing, and is a very approachable subject for nearly anyone.
Soon after this, I was out of school and free to throw away all the term papers and class projects I ever wrote. I took on a job in the world of big industry. The job was in industrial training – helping young engineers add new skills and technical structures to their mental vocabulary, and helping older ones give up years of technical preferences to grow into project managers and nurturers of young talent.
Engineers can be very resistant. I spent a lot of time thinking about learning and habits, as well as the issues of growing and development. Which naturally brought me back to the world of emotion – of feelings and emotional representations of them.
My interests shifted to questions about our personal perception of sensory events, a subject directly relevant to learning theory and the ways in which we define our personal boundaries, sometimes stretching them to help us realize our potential.
My conclusions on this matter came very close to my earlier work on laughter. It all had to do with the differentiation of recognizable patterns from the helter skelter around us, from what is otherwise “hidden” from our perception The idea of pattern recognition is hardly special, though I have assigned some new terminology that helps integrate it with the theory of our emotional life.
The next piece of the puzzle which has been fit into the Logic of Laughter came from some practical work associated with my job.
Our engineers were wasting many highly-billed hours searching videotapes they had taken during their inspection of factories and powerplants and bridges for repairs and modifications. Now they wanted to share their observations with specialists, and it was taking forever to find shots which their memory could pinpoint quite accurately – but they just couldn’t find on the tape.
I was the keeper of the video equipment being used to waste their otherwise productive time, and I set out to develop a technique to assign database keywords (index-points) to videotapes. This was back when video WAS on magnetic tape rather than recorded in random-access digital formats. It is not as straightforward a problem as it sounds, and I went back to school for a degree that let me study multi-media database design…which was hardly in its infancy at the time.
I eventually derived a theory of event frames, and this became a central notion which I was able to use in describing our emotions.
Once you start thinking about it, you will easily guess that defining the “reality” or “truth” of events is a highly fluid art practiced by all of us to varying degrees. It is in the line of jurisprudence and science, as well as journalism and historical research: the problems of event analysis take us smack dab into a fondness for putting a stamp on “truth.”
Stories are tough to get your hands around, even the most predictable situation comedies … yet we are so familiar with them we take their existence for granted. ‘Events’ are simply the more general category. Consider a touchdown pass in football. Does it include the hike? Does it include the defensive plays of the opposing team? These are, in fact, very important details in the video documentation problem (what key-words do we need to find an event, and how do we place different start-times and end-times in the video record when we don’t know how the future viewer will want to access the sequence?) From our more personal standpoint, events share the components of stories– stories which branch and re-connect, spawning new events, and recalling earlier ones. Events have a lot to say about our perception of experience, and if for that reason and nothing else, events are key to understanding emotions – for our emotions are generally about our processing of (and ultimately perception of) events.
So thus far in this second section of the Introduction I have suggested that emotions are signals of a processing event – that is, the perception of an event taken as an event itself, a sense-processing event.
I have also replayed the “aha” that connected laughter to a wide range of emotions acting this way, and suggested that emotional sensing might be connected to learning theory in its reliance on pattern recognition and differentiations. Well, perhaps I didn’t make that point before, but I’m making it now.
What was left to show my daughter was that the vast differences between human beings was indeed vast, but whether it was due to the stage of growth of the fetus’ brain during the different seasons or not (for undoubtedly, the womb is a seasonal event, and the mother’s heartbeat in counter-rhythm to the baby’s is a mighty overwhelming environment to be weaned from) it was the vast differences in personalities which was of most interest. There is hardly a doubt in the fact that we are vastly different – despite the fact that our parents and teachers are constantly telling us that all of us are born equal. And in fact, it is tying down the commonalities which is the hardest problem to bridge the incredibly different personalities of Virgotarriuses, Leocorns, and Aquorpios.
At the very early age of twelve I had begun to look at my need for what is commonly known as “stroking.” This is not the stroking most common to puberty, but rather the desire of good little children to get the approval of adults. ‘Pats on the back,’ so to speak.
I began at that age to question the need for approval, or confirmation of the self, and tried to reject it altogether. But I had always been a good boy, and was not extremely successful in this venture. Nevertheless, I saw that even were I to reject approvals from one quarter (i.e. my parents), I should seek them out in another. And what counted for an approval was, in fact, any type of success – whether anyone beyond myself saw it or not: anything that proved that I “got reality right.”
This turned into my very first experimental philosophical structure – a view of human beings attempting to confirm their picture of reality, and modify that picture when appropriate, if it could assure more self-confirmations. “Self-confirmations” were about checking oneself and one’s world, and to do this relied on techniques for testing identity – that is, equivalences between what one experienced and what one believed.
This turns out to be a difficult problem. The solution has to do with projecting analogues, or “representations” of the self in its many guises. One can see one’s peers as analogues to one’self, and continually compare yourself to this representation of what you might be. For most of us, we come up short, and it is not especially confirming. I will not elucidate further, as the techniques of social self-representation are endless, and the confusions between the mind and the body as subjects of representation are endless as well.
However, what we are left with is a common process by which a Sagittarius and a Leo might be compared. It is also a process reminiscent of the problem we mentioned earlier in regards to tying down an event…. a process which I suggested was quite important in terms of what our emotions do for us.
And so I will leave you with enough to chew on in figuring out what the Logic of Laughter might really be about.
I have concluded that laughter always has to do with some type of separation or juxtaposition of circumstances or meaning. This covers puns and farce, jokes and the laughter of pleasure, when new circumstances and meaning are overtaking us.
The key to understanding laughter is not with the belly laugh, the guffaw or the giggle, but rather the evil laugh of Count Dracula. It is a laugh that represents the separation of the laugher from that which is laughed at. This is a laugh which many have concluded is about superiority and control, but which I have decided simply implies superiority – implying that the laugher is participating in something which the subject being laughed at is excluded from. A devil’s laugh is an assertion of participation in a world we don’t have access to – one to which the devil is connected, whether he is the top dog in that world or not. It is a signal about separation. What caused the guy to laugh at us is our grotesque situation of separation …from his world. To Dracula or the devil, our fate is ironic; to cause our growing discomfort is his fun, and watching the process unfold is ‘funny’ – to them.
I recently watched a middle-aged fellow with a little backpack afflicted with a hormone condition that made him extremely obese. Determinedly making his way to the other side of a busy intersection, he had to stop every few steps for a breath, his gigantic legs and butt bulging out of his trunks. Behind him on the corner was a gaggle of 12-year old boys, giggling at the spectacle. My first thought was self-righteous – these kids were mean and cruel; the second thought was that their response might have been innocent enough, for they really didn’t know what to make of this cartoon-like spectacle. Their laughter was normal.
Interestingly, this realization found me in tears, realizing the courage this fellow had to muster to simply walk outside. In his physical exhaustion and efforts I saw a reflection of his psychological efforts and exhaustion. And It must have found a reflection in me to have moved me so deeply, because the reaction entirely took me by surprise.
The uncommon sight of this grotesquely obese man created two typical class of emotional response. It should be noted that the boys in the group might not all have been initially affected in the same way; however, they all ended up giggling together in the same way, affirming each other’s perception in a common shared viewpoint. Laughing with is a signal of commonality and inclusion; for this it is extremely important part of making and keeping friendships. It is a signal, because we take laughter to be spontaneous – a direct and audible sign of our own feelings. It can be forced, of coure, but it can also be allowed - by simply adjusting one’s premises.
The person being laughed at interprets the laugh signal in much the same way – “I am not like them,” or “he seems to know something that I don’t know.” Unless one is a clown, or willing for a moment to play the comedian, being the object of laughter can set off a chain of extremely violent emotions, running the gamut from shame to suicidal anguish, of from violent anger to mortal fear.
Some comedians rely on getting laughs from the foolishness of others. They are playing with our need for group affirmations – where the object of laughter is not intended to be a member of the group. The comedian that makes him or herself the butt of their own jokes is usually suggesting that “if I can laugh at myself, and I let you laugh at me – then you can put yourself in my place. You are laughing at yourself as well.”
As far as an analysis of what causes laughter – we might try this simple answer: “anything which is suddenly juxtaposed on itself and found to be different than expected.”
This is close, but doesn’t explain laughing gas, or a fit of tickling giggles, or a pair of college kids who are so high that a jar of tomato sauce sends them reeling with hilarity. It also doesn’t explain why, once you have first let yourself laugh at a dumb film, every stupid gag or idiotic line after that point keeps you in stitches. Or why someone may find themselves laughing inappropriately – at the news of a death, or being told by one’s fiancée that they are leaving you. These boundary problems are very relevant– even more interesting, similar boundary problems apply to any emotional response you might choose.
It has been suggested that laughter in humans is related to the “baring of teeth” in chimps, and to a number of similar open-mouth displays in other mammals. Nearly all animals have fight-or-flight postures with which they signal to an aggressor their willingness to defend themselves – as they prepare to hightail it into the wilderness. Most appropriately for our purposes, we should see that as soon as an animal senses an unfamiliar situation, they tense up and ready themselves for assuming that posture. As soon as the situation intensifies there is a recognition of a fight-or-flight situation and their next actions will be determined within exactly that framework. They are going to fight or flee.
The animal or human who is the subject of this response, the fight-or-flight stance is easily recognized and interpreted as a signal: teeth are meant to bite, low growls are rumbling prior to an explosion, muscles are tensed and back is arched in readiness to leap.
Now for an animal, most of us wouldn’t care to argue that they consciously recognize the new premise of a possible aggressor – they simply sense it and shift gears – then take up their stance. After all, everything might be automatic with them – there is no interpretation of whether this decrepit old human lady means any harm and whether she should be attacked. How could an animal make such a conscious and thoughtful determination?
Well, if the conjectures of this book are on-target, it should be clear that an animal would probably make the determination in much the same way as we do – and that it is not a matter of “conscious and thoughtful determination” at all, but a logical determination using the “logic of laughter.”
Laughter is a key to understanding the processing of sensory feelings into emotions. Emotions function as a kind of private representation of sensory signals. Raw ‘feelings’ - whether they are consciously felt or not – are brought to consciousness as emotions. Emotions are a kind of “private representation,” and when expressed outwardly serve as public representations of these same feelings. This is easy enough to grasp. But of course, emotions can be ‘put on’ or faked – many of us have learned to be actors when the need arises to “share” our intimate relationships between ourselves and our environment.
The most important aspect of this logic, however, is the fact that it suggests that the common everyday world which is most available to us, and easily accessible is in fact, parallel with (one could say “isomorphic with) laws which are much more general in nature. Just how general I hesitate to state – except to remind you that it is our emotions which sometimes give us the impression that we are all that matters in this world. Of course, if your emotions don’t happen to be so ego-centric, I am quite sure you can point to a few people who do often think , feel, or act as if this is the case. I have run across some who believe they even have a rational proof of the fact – but as we shall see, even rational thought is subject to the frameworks of emotional logic, e.g. the logic of laughter.
The logic of laughter actually suggests that even such unbearable egomaniacs are not that far off from the truth of things – for the human being can indeed be considered a microcosm of more universal conditions, and the emotions, in particular, seem to act as a window on rather deep cosmic structures.
Sexuality as well as our deepest and richest feelings of love have often evoked a sense of the cosmic – especially in the works of some of our greatest artists. And so it is, that emotional life provides us with a direct window into the nature of existence. The representations of fear, love, anger, angst, curiosity, hatred, lust, etc. are in fact representations of structures of reality. Our perception of them– or re-creation of them -through our feelings is “direct access” to existence.
By suggesting that the emotions might be representations of actual structures of existence, it can be said they are also ‘instances’ (or instantiations) of those structures within us. This is what allows them to be so overpowering. Yet, for all that, the connection between the emotion and what created the emotion in us is almost irrelevant. The object of one’s love may be the cause of the deepest and truest of emotions, taking on a cosmic and existential importance for us. Their death can truly become the end of the world… for what they gave us was, in fact, an instance of something vast and universal. And yet, while something or someone may be the source of a universal truth, they are not that universal – nor are they the truth. It is this kind of dichotomy that is governed by the logic of laughter. And of course, it is this kind of dichotomy that has been the source of so much stress and grief in this world.
We are accustomed to consider anything which might go by the name of ‘cosmic structures” as the realm of physics – in Einstein’s world. Yet our own personal worlds are juxtaposed with some very esoteric phenomena, such as a little wrinkle to reality which I posit concerning equivalences.
When we say 4=4 or 17+6=23 we are using a representation of unity or equivalence which allows us to define units; these can then be grouped into quantities and measured– a process which we all take for granted. In my book, units come into play through an ability “to be substituted” for a certain objective or end product. One might substitute a few apples for oranges at an orange juice factory, but not in the kitchen. One cannot substitute any oranges for apples at an apple juice plant; but apples, oranges, grapes, mangos and bananas can all be considered equal units in a fruit juice plant.
The logic of laughter is based on the premise that there are in fact many different types of substitution pointing to different classes of equivalence relationships – and on this foundation we construct innumerable working associations, relations, and meanings.
Now the Greeks studied the many classes of relations between things as part of their theory or Rhetoric. The relationship categories were called the “tropes.” The terms ‘metaphor’ and ‘analogy’ belong to the theory of Rhetoric, and are clearly central to any discussion of representation theory.
Now “representation theory” might be the furthest thing from your mind, but if I suggest we discuss the difference between simulation games and reality you should see the relevance. Indeed, in many ways the simulation game affects us more emotionally than reality, and can even “feel” more real to us. The simulation is equal to reality in its ability to substitute for certain needs and life requirements, but clearly is not equal in all ways.
Every representational system will be held together with tropes – for the discussion of tropes is about different types of substitutions – and what “works” under different circumstances. This includes potential substitutions, comparisons, and juxtapositions down to the vaguest suggestion of association used in “the fuzzy arts” of music and dance, to which we will add thoughts and emotion. And of course this allows the tropes to exist anywhere. The Logic of Laughter should outline how to identify them when they occur outside of language.
What allows the emotions to become our personal instances of universals is a deeper structure, which would itself lay claim to being a structure of universals – otherwise known as a “metaphysics.”.
It is a metaphysics about “closures,” which, as you will see, is a perspective from which quantity and quality are substitutable for each other – like apples and oranges in fruitjuice. What ‘closures” actually are is the problem for which the metaphysics was created.
For the time being, I will be content with saying that closures are what make “frames” work – that is, closures are about “frameworks,” which are about making things “real,” which could be said to be about the realization of things ---- which indeed, brings us back to emotions.
Aside from technical jargon, however, a metaphysics underlying the life of emotion should be stated in simple enough terms for a regular teenager to absorb and rephrase it in their own inimitable, if wrong, way. It is a framework with its own set of constants; for “constants” you may substitute the word “ideals.” The ideals underlying the logic of laughter don’t exist per se, but rather are statements of the “spirit” of a framework – they underlie the language as if they carried an all-pervasive meaning.
You should take this with a grain of salt however, for I have designed this metaphysics to help us understand sex as well as laughter in order to make it quite popular with teenagers.
If you were to condense the entire philosophy – that is, the metaphysics - down to three words they would be these: Squeeze, Bind, and Twist. It is due to these three constraints on how we define frameworks that any ideals (‘universal truths’ as we tend to call them) cannot ever be fully “true” or “absolute” (that is, any closer than these constraints are meant to be universal or absolute).
I will describe these three constraints here.
“The Squeeze” is the strange constraint on life in that we tend to perceive things in terms of ‘stories’ or events, ‘the squeeze’ being that events can be represented to have beginnings and ends and there really never is. There are always side-stories, and preceding stories, and follow-ups by which a story made simple is never the whole of it.
‘The Squeeze’ perceived from the standpoint of our emotional world is that emotions themselves seem to be the way our bodies break off the continuous whole of time into events – even if we do not necessarily feel the emotion as having to do with events, and our emotions do not on the surface of them seem to be the way we perceive or separate time – this is what the Logic of Laughter would suggest.
Irrespective of time, ‘the Squeeze’ perceived as a philosophical or metaphysical universal is the simple fact that new events are continually being spawned out of the interaction of other events – and that totally unrelated events can without prior notice or reason, suddenly become related….which you might recognize to be the case with emotions as well.
“The Bind” is rather a neutral sort of universal. It is called ‘the Bind” because in colloquial English a “bind” is a kind of problem you can’t get out of, yet most of us would not get very upset about a paradox which suggests why boundaries are very tough, if not impossible, to draw for any more than an instant. The Bind is that everything has an imperceptible twist in it which separates its local definition from its global definition, creating at least two distinct “definitions” or “boundary definitions” of anything.
“The Twist,” however, is a very positive universal concept – for it is also where local and the global meet, and where things feel right and true. Finding the twist is key to the logic of laughter… for indeed, there is always a twist just outside of where we are looking, and very often –if just for an instant – we can find ourselves on the Twist.
The emotions are all examples of finding ourselves on, or very near to the Twist – in them we realize both the Squeeze and the Bind to different degrees.
Laughter is, perhaps, the first and most obvious example of our reaction to paradox and cross-purposes which make this world work in the way it does. Laughter makes the Twist immediate – and as a ‘gut’ emotional response to existence, it hits the nail on the head: paradox and cross-purposes are all too real and part of nature. To allow them into our frame of reference ties us to that reality – and depending on which side of the Twist we are on, it can make us ‘feel good’ by feeling in touch with our nature, or quite miserable and out of touch with existence.
Here ends the Proper Introduction.
The audience for this book was initially intended for a small group of readers, small readers, who are capable of wondering about great things in this universe, and have therefore a tendency to think great thoughts about life’s potential.
This is to say, the audience for this book s meant to be kids, smart kids, who want tools more than answers. It is written for my alter-ego as a kid, and hopefully, for my daughter. If this kind of kid wants answers they will find enough of them here. In this case I hope they are tools for meeting many of life’s objections, dejections and disappointments. In the end, the book is meant to explain why their ideal of truth may be shattered at every turn by a world which begins to look quite cynical – and why growing kids should overcome a natural penchant for cynicism and bitterness by realizing it is simply a very strong mechanism by which the absurd sustains itself.
We are absurd – and often laughably so. But the horrendous conflicts and stress caused in our efforts to sustain our absurdities are enough to get very emotional about.
A logic is not something which most people would pick up in the bookstore or read In the hotel lounge during a business trip. To give it a little pizzazz and many more pages, I realized it should be illustrated. The illustrations should actually give most readers more to hold onto than the words – though they are not illustrations in the sense that you would find in a biology text.
As to presenting a real logic (that is, a formal logic), I have appended some early attempts at constructing a “Risiology” (‘logic of laughter’ in Greek). It is a very dry and formal appendix which may well turn out to be meaningless. Therefore I have included a famous comic strip on each of the facing pages, and serrated the pages so they can be ripped out and the comics can posted on cubicle walls. And this is an even better reason to buy this book.
H. Alan Tansson, age 56
undifferentiated meaninglessness. An inchoate blurring of all things (both inside and outside of experience)
The process of differentiating. In our case, muddling differentiates experience into relationships and action. For an individual, consider the word “thought” and add actions performed without thinking.
In the definitions given below – ‘muddling’ actually differentiates the muddle into the first two terms: Frameworks and Frames. The Muddle is experienced by us through The Bind (non-boundariness) and The Squeeze (reflexivity of non-bounded discretes). The underlying metaphysics– that is, an explanation of why it holds together as a coherent or meaningful whole, is handled by the conjoint terms “The Kernel” and “Coincidence.”
A final set of terms: “congruence” and “pointing,” address what we do with the mess, once we are faced with frames, frameworks, coincidences, kernels and binds or squeezes.
Finally, if you are to ask me the meaning of it all, I would suggest you go down to the next set of terms, which include words we are all used to. It would be up to you to choose your favorite duality or set of related terms – for myself, I am in favor of the distinction made between the concepts ‘Holy’ and ‘Magic.’
the realization of the muddle into relationships which have a structure and can be expected to interact in a predictable fashion when framed. First consider the term “system” and add all the undifferentiated boundaries and components which are used to predict it, as with the weather. Add to the concept of ‘system’ the term “dimension” as if reality might someday be mapped into an infinite number of structural relationships, each of which might be considered a dimension beyond the commonly understood “3 (Euclidean) dimensions.” A “framework” is then understood as the workings of a dimension of reality. As with complex systems, frameworks may be differentiated into component frameworks – unlike some systems, however, no framework can ever be considered “closed.” Note that our only ability to point to a framework is through a frame, or framing relation (see ‘frame’ below). Currently, when I look at a winter field bordered with trees I begin thinking of frameworks, as if instead of leaves, each twig were to have a skein of multi-colored threads stretching to many hundreds of other twigs at different parts of the framework of branches. We are all that complex, and we are all specialists in ourelves. If you are a specialist in anything, it will always be that complex.
For a framework to exist ‘of itself’ – that is, to be definable, and considered discrete , it must realize the relationship of its boundary with the Muddle. This interface (see ‘bind,’ below) is what separates a framework from the Muddle; one or more interface definitions (binds) exist for the framework as participating in the Muddle. The definition of every framework must carry a kernel of its interface within itself – this kernel is discrete and separate from the framework itself. The kernel cannot be generated from the definition, and bears no realizable or mappable relationship to it. Consider the term “random” as a displaying a discrete and non-predictable association with something (for example, a single random throw is non-predictable, and not to be confused with “statistically predictable” within a larger frame). The kernel is this discrete point which makes all definition possible. For a more esoteric picture, consider a seed of all things, a meaningful point – the point which is all. Consider the coincidental behavior of all electrons as instances of one single electron. This is the “pointless point” which the cynic crudely misinterprets as ‘the meaningless point’ because he or she cannot fathom down to its meaning.
– the primal mode or realization of the Kernel is a relationship of all discrete differentiations to have both a ‘local’ definition discrete from the global definition, and a ‘global’ definition - the boundary terms defining the muddle from which the local definition is differentiated. Every interface – the basis of any relational definition- is bound by ‘The Bind.’ A characteristic of all boundaries. Picture any location on a moebius strip as locally defining both two surfaces and two edges – but globally resolving into a single edge and a single surface. As a trope of the kernel, this could be considered the primal ‘shape,’ projected on a plane this shape is rather like a sea-shell; projected onto a z-axis might well resemble a spiral. As a trope of experience, conceptually, it is a common squeeze of experience to alternate between global and local interpretations which are seemingly quite different. While a moebius strip is easily constructed and felt in 3-dimensions, its paradox is where does one delineate global from local on the thing itself – it is only in the tactile handling that the distinction can be made. I may be wrong in using the moebius strip as an example, the Bind is simply “Moebius-like.”
– the mapping of a framework or any part of a framework into phases or ‘events’ with a beginning, an end, or both a beginning and end.
Frames (like events) can be nested within each other, with many overlapping starts or defining themselves only in the act of finishing. Similarly, some frameworks may emerge only through closure of their mapping through a frame, i.e. frameworks of reality which are defined “after” the fact. Frames do not require time as we know it A frame may simply map cycles and relationships of cycles to each other, and does not need a stopwatch or Greenwich Mean Time to reference it. The lapping of waves on a beach can be said to define their own time. The technique of classifying various modes of framing does not yet exist as far as I can tell. There is no symbol system for mapping the emergence of events as there is a symbol system for mapping music, for example.
Frames as pointers to the definition (mapping) of frameworks are still rather nebulous in my mind – but clearly required. In the human universe, we participate in acts of framing every time we try to tell a story – a comparison which clearly illustrates how fluid or muddled a framework really might be. I attacked the problem once in a formalism called “the Risiology,” and again in a protocol for mapping events for video databases which I called “thrumming.” Mapping bounded events is a non-trivial problem – as illustrated in the enormous number of seemingly causal links we find in any story-telling experience. In the simplest case of classifying an event, try separating all the components in a third-base hit from the pitch that allowed it to happen. Because frames essentially call out frameworks, and are emergent (in what we consider time), they become central to the phenomenological world as we know it.
- in its common use, ‘coincidence’ is a coming together through a relationship of time and place. “Coming together” is a mutual (two-way) association through something shared or common. Any relationship is a class of an association – yet every association is ideally coincident in all ways, differentiated only by the metaphysics of the muddle: the above concepts relating to differentiation of the muddle. In its strongest sense, coincidence of ALL things is the word realized (for some) as ‘God.’ Before wincing at either my materialist or spiritual presumptions in making this last statement, see the related terms, ‘Holy,’ ‘Prayer,’ and ‘Faith,’ below.
It is the dichotomy of the coincidence of all things along with the uniqueness of all things (through the Kernel) that creates the infinite palette of congruences (and relationships) which we experience as the muddle.
- The Squeeze is the reflexive differentiation of muddling upon itself framing frameworks discrete from each other in the sense that there are no predictive or causal relations between them.
Frameworks, as they are realized in frames are meaninglessly at cross-purposes. Frameworks of the Muddle do not work together – it is the nature of the Muddle to be undifferentiated and not meaningfully related. Life as we experience it is continually framed in new ways and in accordance with frameworks which we were not previously aware – impinging on life as we meaningfully know it.
This is our squeeze. It is the world of time and space which makes itself incessantly real to us, and we must doubt the metaphysical. Frames, in and of themselves as the realizations or mapping of frameworks are key to our experience of the muddle. It is the ongoing framing of the muddle into frameworks at cross-purposes which we project into experience as necessary closures, ineluctable change, the inescapable driving forces around and within us. This is the onrush and overwhelming nature of ‘karma’ as some would describe it. For others, it is the inevitability of the material world dominating the spiritual world – and the true struggle of faith.
To human experience, The Squeeze is the first differentiation between the physical and the meta-physical as we muddle it. In terms of the priority of concepts, the Squeeze comes immediately after the Muddle described as a process – for it is simply the name given to muddling the process of muddling. It can be crudely conceived in human terms as the kernel process which requires frames, or events in time.
– this is a central term for our experience of phenomena, albeit experiencing the tactile nature of the flux (which we are calling ‘The Muddle’). While I do not fully understand congruence, I can point to its necessity, since there are so many phenomena based around some metric or measurement of “adequacy,” and along with pointing, some form of counting.
“Congruence” is what allows a pointing or frame to be judged “coincident” with its framework; it will also be the term supporting any discussion of “predictability,” as used in the definition of a framework. It relates to both adequacy of closure (the squeeze, or the framing of a frame) as well as the Platonic ideal of a mapping of a framework of pure concept. The notion of Congruence is fundamental to a logic of equivalence classes.
Self-congruence is another way to represent the squeeze. Congruence testing is the principle technique of muddling – allowing the representation of a mechanic as an ideal.
Congruence is checked by comparing the modes of related frameworks, a special case of checking self-congruence through self-displacement or projection (see ‘Trope’, below). All congruence checking shares this technique with the adequacy checking between metaphors.
– in experience, an activity through which a concept is made “real” to others. As an abstraction, the logic of Pointing is the human technique by which we identify frames. Pointing (ostension) points either to both the figure and the ground (which resolves to a simple figure), the ground alone, or to the act of pointing at nothing. Any of these ostensions has a one-way resolution to a new complex of figure/ground/ostension possibilities – that is, a form of identifying something to be bounded or counted. I believe something of this sort supports a logical perspective put forward by G.Manly Brown in the 1950’s underlying the concept of number – but I am not that bright a logician and it is only a hunch. The importance of a logic of pointing, however, IS called for by the other terms, intrinsically tied to the notion of congruence.
– a method of mapping frameworks – consider the term “represent” but add a concept of pragmatic equivalence checking, where equivalences may be adequate for one framework and not another.
Where a Framework is the workings of a particular set of structural relationships in the real world, a Technique is the ability to represent it, predict its workings, and make it do work.
– a set of criteria placed on relationships. Consider the term ‘filter’ as in a light-filter. A mode dis-allows certain types of relationships within a framework – so that a single framework can have many modes – each which share the common creative definition, but do not share all the relationships defined in the framework. Consider a piano keyboard as a framework representing the primary harmonics of the diatonic scale – supporting the various ‘modes’ in which different musical forms are created.
H. Alan Tansson, age 56
The Philosophy of the Blah would seem a rather sad name for a philosophy of life, but it provides me with enough explanatory coherence to help understand why we must forever slog through the phenomenological shit of the day to day. Again, I must make it clear that while it would be a fine thing for us to have a set of philosophical specs to help us usher in the Age of Aquarius …. it doesn’t make living easier for each one of us.
Many people in this life have been faced with a life of wealth, ease, and comfort, and still had a very hard time adjusting. In fact, as products of suburbia, both myself and my daughter are examples of the problems faced by those living in a relative utopia. The Philosophy of the Blah, in fact, is for those of us whose interactions with the vicissitudes of Nature are limited to battling our own human nature, or to such stresses as endured by going without underarm deodorant or hair conditioner. In a world of plenty we find that life is not altogether what we might have thought when humankind dreamed of a utopia. Philosophy may look different if we are struggling to find food or safe shelter, or a haven from the plague.
From the perspective of us regular people, there are thousands of people who implicitly know the philosophy that follows. You might look to someone with common sense wisdom who has been saying these same things for years, and so I am only repeating what you have already heard and implicitly know. As I said, and as any of those with common sense could tell you, you shouldn’t expect all of life to change around us, even if we were all to discover the Holy Grail of Life’s Meaning…. For indeed it is most assured that many have found it --- and it is abundantly clear that there will always be the task of living up to it, and living it day to day to day.
– any attempts to represent universals. Terms for universal properties or structures of reality which must be made understandable to experience are probably about as inchoate as a dog barking or a truck driver cursing – even though they are caused by, and point to, something very real. Many of my terms are clumsily defined, overly self-referent, but hopefully not misleadingly recursive.
- In its common use, ‘disintegration’ is considered a breaking up into indistinguishable parts. With regards to the Muddle, ‘disintegration’ is the disappearance of relationships and structure distinguishing something from the Muddle.
- in its common use, ‘integration’ is considered a joining or coming together of separate things into something shared or common, i.e. a relationship or structure. In regards to the Muddle, ‘integration’ is the maintenance of an existing differentiation while adding additional definition through the new relationship. Integration increases the differentiation from the Muddle by adding meaning, it is experienced through tropic relationships – that is, where different frameworks are suddenly linked through a realization of commonality of modes. Integration of any kind is tropic to coincidence of all things, i.e. an experience of participating in Nature. This is the same as ‘adding meaning.'
- as experienced by us humans, is primarily muddling through the Muddle (experienced as the blah) alternating with periods of muddling through coincidence (experienced as very emotionally meaningful). Life seems to be defined for as an emotional journey trying to overcome the stresses of the Bind.
the act of Muddling. Experience takes place in time and place through a particular framework (a multiplicity of frameworks experienced through many modes) which we know of as our physical sensory structure.
Death – Perceived (as distinguished from the standpoint of life) as a final disintegration. More than likely it shares qualities of both integration and disintegration, and can be experienced as either or both – where the integration felt is both with the ‘physical shell’ with the kernel of the self, and the Coincidence of All.
SPIRITUAL TERMS which those interested in finding a philosophy are most often concerned with. Please take special note: neither the metaphysics or the philosophy attempt to define ‘religion.’ To make this clear I have added an epilogue of sorts, called “Give Me a Break.”
Holy - the realization of things, as we know them or otherwise. The Holy derives directly from the Kernel. The regular concept of the word “holy” can be loosely tied to whatever key is at the basis of all relationships and associations. This is the key which also underlies meaning. In the world of probability (as perceived by Congruence testing) the Holy nearly always gives way to the Muddle. It is in the world beyond time and place, e.g. in the metaphysical world I am attempting to describe in the most mumbling way – that the Muddle always gives way to the Holy.
For someone with religion and great faith this does not need to be said – but for people without that faith, those caught in the workings of the Muddle, or living in the midst of Blah – a metaphysics such as the one supporting this philosophy can help.
-Any realization pointing (or obligating experience) to the priority of the Muddle over Faith in the Holy. In its relative sense, ‘evil’ is the word used for the disintegration of any structure. In its strongest or absolute sense, Evil imputes the coincidence of all things with the Muddle. Any presumption of the priorities of frames (claiming authority of the Holy, Truth, or rationale of ineluctability or ‘the powerlessness to stop’) is essentially ignoring the kernel and claiming priority of the squeeze – disrespectful of the fact that the squeeze is as it is only because of the nature of the bind. By framing local existence this way, evil reduces the kernel to the meaningless point. Evil is in this sense the opposite of Holy. As important as it maysometimes seem in our experiencing of the Squeeze, the dichotomy between Holy and Evil is not at the core of all things. Those who would make it so are simply realizing the dichotomy during an epiphany, when it looks like the eternal play of forces between integration and disintegration, or between the kernel and the blah or muddle. These different representations of the Metaphysics are just as important modes of universals in play as between good and evil, yin and yang, black and white, or right and wrong.
- A muddling relationship between our physical sensory structure and the meta-physical coincidence of all things. In its weakest sense, ‘faith’ is a word pointing to a simple experience of the holy. In its most perverted or problematic sense, ‘faith’ is an experience of the holy which confuses the self with an instance of the Coincidence of All Things –e.g. experiencing the self as being at the root of the holy. In its strongest sense, faith is about serenity - an acceptance of the dichotomy between the Muddle and the Holy.
-the kernel of a thing. The Kernel in a thing.
Of course, according to Native Americans, an inanimate object such as a particular rock or crossroads might have a spirit. I would not overtly object. Us living things could not be that different… what separates my own behavior from that of an insect is not always that apparent. Who is to say that if I can attribute a spirit to a common slug that I shouldn’t also let a slower-moving rock have the same? I am all for the reality of childrens’ books. A thing’s kernel is its spirit – our kernel is felt by us to be special and unique, as indeed it is.
-the unique definition of a living thing through its kernel. The integration, or coincidence of a unique life with the Coincidence of All Things can be briefly realized as differentiation from the Bind and the Squeeze. Described this way, ‘soul’ is brought about by muddling out of the first forms apart from chaos – the absolute uniqueness of each of us. In ecclesiastical terminology this is defined as our ‘soul.’ It is indeed perhaps the most key aspect in conceiving of The Kernel – for differentiation of existence (the Muddle) into uniques precludes any pure equivalences, only allowing a mathematics (albeit a mumbled math) of equivalence classes. Because of the Bind and the Squeeze, “A” can never equal “A”, but only a mode of itself. Self-equivalence is only tropic, and shares the qualities of coincidence with a metaphor – which is why metaphors can seem as real as the real thing. Considered this way, your soul is the mode of existence through which you are framed distinct in and of the universe – no one can touch it but the Author of all things, and of course - you.
Active participation in one’s spirit. Prayer is the concentration or integration of experience with one’s soul. It takes place by searching out modes of the kernel in everyday life – which includes attempting to frame the Bind and the Squeeze as they are emerging around and through us. Because of something which I can only mumble about as “The Magic,” the very act of prayer allows one to participate in the coincidence of all things. Most trivially explained this is a mode of existence where number and probability and commonly experienced structures break down – here is where great coincidences can be made to take place…. They are otherwise known as ‘miracles.’
Note that prayer is not a techniques for causing such coincidences, it is an act of faith in its highest sense. Were it a technique, we should clump it together with having special powers or “magic;” easily confusing it with faith in its most perverted sense.
A technique of framing or participating in framework and modes of framework to achieve predictable results. The earliest magic was no more than humankind’s first engineering – a technique of participating with the Muddle. It persists as shamanism, and is neutral with regards to faith. The shaman must struggle with the performance as each of us struggles with life, performing and balancing his magic with, in the shaman’s case, the most intense modes of respect. Acknowledging how spiritually perilous such techniques are, magic lies at a razor’s edge from one’s soul. Where the self performing magic assumes participation with the Coincidence of All Things (described above as the most problematic form of faith), magic is commonly represented to be the height of evil.
IMPORTANT CONCEPTUAL TERMS (in alphabetical order)
the act of framing all of global existence into a mumbled local act. A dog excitedly barking is pointing at very specific things or relationships, but provides a mumbled signal of this pointing through an expletive. An expletive is a trope of emotional representation, being itself a signal to the actor as well as the framing of a relationship with the thing or person acted upon.
It is the person with few techniques for framing experience and life who is impoverished. This is a comparative notion derived through associating number (pointing to) with metaphoric relations of the terms “meaning” and “value.” Someone with little attributed economic value is often mistakenly called impoverished, which for the Philosophy of the Blah, is not the fact. Our emotional life can be impoverished if we insist on representing it (pointing to it, making it real for us) through only a small number of words or tokens. Read the word lists in Bacon, or Burton, or Hume – or Roget’s original Thesaurus - for a less impoverished vocabulary of the emotions. Add to this a wide variety of musical forms to associate with this wider range of word-pointers, allowing a less impoverished set of emotions to make up experience.
“a question” is the realization of a riddle of framing. It is answered by defining the framework, or by finding a technique for illustrating or working with it. “THE question,” regarding “THE Truth” is always framework- and frame-dependent.
- a special case of a trope in which the criteria of a mode in one framework is associated (coincides) with the mode criteria of another unrelated framework.
– the act of framing a mechanic (i.e. defining or realizing it ‘as reality’) through its closure or ending state definition
- a class of tokens used for conceptual differentiations. Numbers point to structural relationships; there are as many structures of number as there are classes of relationships. Numbers within a given number structure, as opposed to physical structures, act on one another in an obligatory fashion.
– at the core of the metaphysics of the muddle is the notion that paradox has many faces – and that it is at the center of the experience of the human universe. The bind and the squeeze are no more than different modes, or realizations of the kernel, which attempts to state the central paradox. Any attempt to cover up or ignore the nature of paradox in our existence is to force hypocracies – where we must ignore or falsify many seemingly contradictory behaviors as we change from local to global interpretations of our living world. What suggests that paradox cannot exist is the fact that we use techniques to work with frameworks – that is, frames can have beginnings and ends, redefining the frameworks that are acted on. Techniques are based on the concept of closures – closures give the BBBBBBBBBBBBB
- a differentiation - making real by assigning a token in the form of an experiential association - a “memory address.”
- a pointing at, or focusing on a moment of experience - providing a particular differentiation of the muddle.
– realization of a coincidence between entities – i.e. defining any part of them as sharing a framework. See trope and congruence
- Riddles are answers for which we seek the proper question. The answer is given – just as life is a given. Muddling through experience can be considered a process of discovering the pertinent questions to frame it.
- relations made real by being physically represented in space and acting on one another in a predictable fashion.
– “the best” only exists through the prioritization by association of number to components of a framework. Because we can only mumble our descriptions of universals there is no superlative which can be attributed to the muddle. Obviously, ‘God’ would come to mind as the first candidate for a ‘Superlative of All,’ but with all due respect, there is no way to say this without assuming we can do more than mumble – which we cannot.
– A relationship consisting of the sharing or partial sharing of mode classes in two distinct and unrelated frameworks. The term is from the poetic ‘tropes’ which define all potential structural relationships between concepts realized in words, or spoken tags.
– a realization of the empty at the cusp of the sublime. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but it is the tug of the empty at the boundaries of every framework which continually force it to play at its own definition – attempting to approach its potential by realizing boundaries of its different modes.
Having presented these few core concepts, I have pointed the direction towards a more expansive “philosophy” which every reader might try regenerating on their own. Given any collection of these terms, one could probably write a self-help book to help sort experience into parts of a greater whole -and build another mansion or words showing how to live life to its fullest. I also would leave it up to the reader to better prioritize these terms to suit their own feelings of things. For example, as my own life experience is hanging in the balance these days, I chose to put terms such as prayer, soul, and spirit in my philosophical priority list. You might prefer putting terms such as ‘representation,’ ‘number,’ ‘paradox’ up in the priority section. Others of you would definitely make terms such as ‘evil’, ‘art,’ or ‘happiness’ the key to your perception of life. You can be sure it changes depending on which side of the bed we get up on each day.
For a better grasp on our everyday experience of the Blah, I continue with a relatively short list of everyday terms which are consistent with my outlook on things. In each case, you should simply consider a qualification to the term as you already understand it; for these are not new definitions but additions to the dictionary definition in the context of this philosophy. As these are terms being used to muddle out a philosophy, some of them may appear unnecessarily abstract. My hubris notwithstanding, each of the following terms is worth more than a chapter of simple prose -each has undoubtedly been the subject of hundreds of books each century.
- any mistaken realization of our personal happiness with the magic of our life - i.e. to confuse our self or a portion of ourselves with a token of happiness.
- A technique for the integration of frameworks through tropes, creating new meanings and heightening the experience of muddling out of/through the muddle. Art is a respectful approach to the techniques of bringing on an epiphany, in counter-distinction to prayer, which is a more perilous approach.
- Frustration - an experience of participation in the stress between words, i.e. the experience of a relation in the face of their lack of perceived relation
- Thoughts which take place in sleep. This would include daydreams (which are the best approximation of the self’s experience of muddling). Dreams as ambitions or hopes are metaphoric to this definition.
– the technique of falsifying respect to obtain a predictable end.
– cross of pain with epiphany
- The realization of tropes in and through personal experience providing a feeling of extreme emotion, which cannot be differentiated from happiness, sadness, experiencing the pain and jubilation of the universe… a feeling of approaching the Holy. Epiphanies are sometimes confused with the coincidence of the self with the coincidence of all things, e.g. God.
– a state caused by play at the boundary of the senses – giving a partial realization of coincidence with one’s boundaries and a mode of one’s potential definition. To feel oneself nearing the cusp of the sublime and the empty.
– a technique of modal thought. Thought represents the muddle to the self, yet it does so in modes, or in various modalities – where modes act as a set of filters constraining particular relationships in a framework. Fantasy is a mode of a fully-representative universe which has been highly constrained to leave out major frameworks of lived experience.
– the disintegration of frames and modes in the technique for mapping a framework. While the framework remains essentially the same, the inability to differentiate the system of relationships (i.e. map it) inhibits its predictability and control, essentially breaking down the technique, but also altering the realization of the framework’s boundaries and definition.
– Realization of an obligation to disintegrate a particular framework, or framing of a framework through which experience takes place
- the experience of realization, making the differentiations of muddling “real.”
– being discrete from a framework, framing relationship, or technique of representing a frame. ‘Freedom,’ like ‘Love’ is a word which (in English) we seek to apply to all modes of interacting with the experiential squeeze or bind we find ourselves in. The boundary between the personal self and the social self is the common usage, which alternates on the pulpit with the boundary between the physical self and the spiritual self. For every definition of freedom you choose, I could probably find a counter-definition, simply by expanding the framework and boundary being pointed to.
– the integration of frames and modes within a framework of self. The self as a framework is built to sleep, ‘think’ or muddle, defecate, dream, etc. These are not ‘habits’ in the normal sense of the word, but rather, the framework(s) we know of as ‘homo sapiens.’ ‘Habit’ is, for the Philosophy of the Blah, exactly as we normally consider it – but the metaphysic integrates it into a more palpable (workable) structure.
- to experience a partial coincidence with the meaning and structure of existence - i.e. a partial experience of the magic of things. Happiness is an experience in which the self is a realization of a metaphor of life --- a coincidence of modes of self-definition with experience (the modes being metaphor and simile but not all defining tropes, such as irony, metonomy, onomatopoeia, etc.)
– the act of framing performed by social frameworks about themselves. The “history of humankind” is not humankind, and the “participation in history” by performing memorable acts which will be included in a social framing activity is nothing more than that. There is no global referent when speaking of the human universe beyond the local references which we ourselves take part in. The closest we might come to a global referent for our actions will always be bounded by something resembling these technical specifications for the human universe – which in the end, resolve themselves to some kind of meaningfulness as described in the terms for prayer, faith, and holy. There are no true countables in these specifications, but only the basis for techniques we use for pointing and working with our world.
- to experience feelings of obligation concerning the framework of the self and experience.
– the appearance of duplicity which may in fact frame itself as duplicitous. It is generally an unintended technique of life which confuses relationships in distinct multiple framework as being part of the same mechanic. Politicians often look duplicitous by mixing their metaphors, and confusing the electorate into thinking that their feelings on one thing are the same as a vote on another. In effect, the politician has often confused themselves because politics is at the cusp of the bind between the self and the social worlds. It is intrinsically hypocritical. Someone entering politics must cultivate respect to the greatest degree to maintain their integrity from hypocrisy – for activities at this cusp can bind them to real duplicity quite easily.
- where less and less take on the characteristics of more and more. A state of muddling which approaches disintegration as a means to achieve closure – whether that closure be dimly perceived as epiphany or serenity.
- an experiential token for the paradoxical. Laughter signals to both the laugher and to others that muddling is differentiating a paradox
– a single word (in English at least) trying to cover tropic relationships of all modes of self with another self, object, or life process. Substitute any definition which you have of “love,” and I will give you another. It is very important to life, and may be very close to the spirit. It may also find itself quite in league with bad faith, obsession, arrogance, curiosity, hatred, confusion, and other emotional states of being which we would generally consider ‘lower on the totem pole.’ Read Shakespeare.
- the coincidence of realizations with experience, pointing to further differentiations and thus ‘felt’ as an experience through the framework of our sensory structure.
- an experience of the coincidence of all things through a partial counter-statistical coincidence of events in time and place.
– A special case of art which has a high coincidence with the modes and frames of human emotion. Music, as a trope of the act of framing through rhythm, phrasing definition, and cycles AS WELL AS through tonal interrelations – seems to be as close to a metaphor of human emotional modes as possible. Add word tags to this, and music has a great potential for realizing meaning for the self.
- an imputed coincidence in time between an experience as it is today and as it will be at some future time, implying a realization of movement and change. In the spatial /physical dimension an ‘obligation’ is a predictable cause-effect relationship. In the conceptual dimension, an obligation represents a formal correspondence - an obligatory relationship.
- a mistaken relationship between experience, meaning, and obligation. My personal obsession, for example, is to disintegrate the self into a form of sleep, obliging fantasy life to take over experience.
– the localization of evil, an experience tending to the disintegration of a framework, or frame of a framework, i.e. its realization or instantiation in reality. The re-framing of a framework through a mode of that framework is a metaphor of what happens when a part of our body insists the struggle of its definition onto us, and our own self-mapping becomes continuous or coincident with the mapping of that particular mode of ourselves.
- play at the boundaries of the self, assimilating what is outside one’s boundaries as a means of accommodating to it – participation includes acting upon one’s environment to accomplish work.
– a technique of re-assigning frames such that they are defined by beginnings rather than closure or endings.
- a conceptual structure. The relation of physical structures is the reason we give for the way they interact as they do. The common use of the term ‘reason’ as applied to thought, is supposedly a non-modal technique for representing experience – opposed to fantasy. “Subjective” thought is self-related, i.e. through the modalities of emotion. It is not so much a technique as a poor habit of intended ‘objective, rational’ thought – e.g. reason.
– an emotional trope of the kernel relationship between the self and its lived environment. Respect is a realization of both the Bind and the Squeeze in regards to the dichotomy between good faith and perverted faith… the latter being a frame for the framework often regarded as good and evil. Respect is the basis of ‘serenity’ or ‘peace’ (the original meaning of ‘salaam’ and ‘shalom’ in the anarchic world of nomadic tribes)– which allows for continual working out of the Squeeze – and the resolution and balancing of many locally-perceived ‘evils’ through mutual trust in mutual respect.
- Experience integrated into a felt definition, e.g. the making real of life through meaningful experience.
– lack of a need for coincidence as the end product of muddling. The feeling of serenity is most often achieved after an epiphany or closure – after an exhiliarating ride, the peace after the storm. This is a limited realization of serenity, since it is defined by, and dependent on its precursor frame. A true serenity (or a longed-for peace) should only be possible as a realization of faith in the face of the continual activities at cross-purposes requiring closures which make up the muddle.
– [derivative of the definition of beauty, adding curiosity and requirements for some kind of closure, i.e. sneeze]
- a class of muddling which may be disintegrated from experience of the self. It is the closest experience of participation in the Muddle. It can be the closest experience of participation in the Coincidence of all things.
– full participation in the limitations of muddling. A sober thought includes the tacit acknowledgement that the purpose of work is never the achievement of full closure, but rather participation in a larger framework of activity.
– a sense of brilliance experienced with the perception of the potential of the coincidence of all things (e.g. the coincidence of all things cannot be perceived or experienced otherwise)
- a partial realization of the muddle into a differentiated relationships, as it is integrated into an experience .
- a token given to the experience of any relationship to the coincidence of all things. As such, every experience of the Coincidence might be assigned as a token of “truth,” i.e. as true. The closest approximation to a structure of truth that we can point to, however, are the structures of number, which act on one another in an obligatory fashion. But because there are as many structures of numbers as classes of relationships, the association or attribution of a particular number structure to experience can only be realized, made real and useful but not made obligatory and absolute.
– a token or symbol attached to a pointing activity which can substitute for the pointing.
- framing the muddle into frameworks with some type of predictability) with our world.
….concerning the use of language, potential religious claims, and pseudo-science. It is the best I can do at my age and with my brains. I figured I couldn’t improve by waiting any.
First of all, the claim that these are “technical specifications” could be misleading. It is a metaphor of what we might want if there were to be such a thing. Then again, the dream that the elect go to heaven and play harps is also misleading – the celestial music which the angels are busy playing is really the ongoing creation of the real technical specs – little did the prophets know what the ultimate in word-processors would look like: harps. There is a big team of them, and the need is always growing to recruit newhires.
When I write real technical specs I have what is called an “SME,” or a “subject matter expert” to tell me the names of equipment, electrical buss tie-ins, chemical mixes and oven times. I have no such experts in this particular endeavor, but must walk into the plant and try to write down what I see. The root definitions of terms, equipment emplacements and their interaction is bound to be sloppy and often self-referent. I will frequently be forced to define things through terms that have previously been stated, and then, in a vague way, besides.
I am trusting in our long expherience with human literature, and that anything which has some value will promote discussion and tightening by others (especially anal-retentive scholars) who insist on less vagueness than I have provided. I have walked into many operating plants whose existing specifications were equally vague, and it was up to me to tighten them up. I this sort of case, I am truly not a bad writer. So give me a break.
Secondly, I need to throw out the challenge (which I know is coming) that I intend this to be the basis of a religion. I would hope to do this in my book Antidisestablishmentarianistically Speaking which I may not live long enough to accomplish. Therefore, I must try to quickly do it here.
First of all, a religion provides a protocol for living life. A protocol is generally built upon specifications, but “tech-specs do not a procedure make.” We need religions as disciplines helping us fit into the human story, and teaching us modes of spiritual prayer. They provide human meaning that cannot be created in a day, nor by any one individual in their lifetime. We all need outside help.
I can easily foresee someone coming to an epiphany as the interconnectedness of these specs hits home. Conceptual epiphanies are no more than that, even if they have drastic impacts on our thought and our personal approach to life. “Epiphanies do not a religion make,” although frequently the power of an epiphany can make the subject believe they are speaking with the Author of All – and they go out and profess a new creed. Thus, these specs could be used to support a religious viewpoint, and this deserves many many many words of caution… because they ain’t. Should anyone have their first epiphany as a result of reading these specs, remember that it is a very important moment in your life – for you have just had your first conceptual/spiritual orgasm. Everyone doesn’t get these, and you are now on a new road. Do not believe it is a substitute for religion – for a religion is a social edifice bringing people together in their expression of faith. Go back to the religion of your parents with a stronger spirit, and do what you can to help it muddle its way into the future.
Long ago, a scribe named Mani thought he might unify the many warring religions through an earlier specification somewhat like this – he failed, except to unify all the religions in a war against him, and the crude sound-bytes they attributed to his vision. I have a feeling that Manichaeism was not really meant to be what it is made out to, but appeared in religious splinter sects for a few millennia. I see the danger which these specifications can have for established ecclesiastical thought, since they could lead to many earnest questionings of the interpretation of the human universe of their respective ecclesiastical authorities. There is little I can do about this, but must take the flak of those authorities. This is how things have worked and will continue to work as we muddle out where we stand. As I see it, however, there is nothing which would exclude these specs from supporting almost any religious position – since the structure of social framework are so vast, you can cut them almost any way you want.
Which brings me to my last mea culpa. I am quite aware of the charge of quasi pseudo-science which should be laid against these pages. They were developed with almost no reference to the existing body of scientific, psychological, or philosophical literature. It is not that I didn’t spend years reading standards, as well as weekly issues of Science to challenge whatever portion of the philosophy I was then concerned with. However, I fully intended to build something which I might have also built in 1740 or 1568, or 502 BC were I able to escape my cultural and historical biases. Aside from the mention of Moebius strips, which are pretty primitive but needed to be discovered nevertheless, there is no reference to genetic coding or relativity or the latest findings about neurons. I write this as if notions of electricity were just coming into vogue and the Periodic Table hadn’t yet been filled out. I also know that when you write as vaguely as Hegel and as grossly as Marx, any adherent can make your work support anything they want. Unless we can project a falsification condition, a theory is no more than a mumble. I will work very hard to develop repeatable experiments which could prove how sorry I am, since I do not believe any of the metaphysics will ever bear experiment. It may, however, lead people to hunches about causal relationships which had heretofore not bee considered, leading to real experiments which allow others to qualify how this type of metaphysics might just hold together, and the type of words which we would need to help others dream bigger and better thoughts about the curious and miraculous coincidence we know of through our human universe.
Begun on Easter Day, 2005 (committed to disk when we had to stay home to wait for the plumber, for the matter had backed up in the utility sink). Completed during the days when the beluga whale came to Trenton.
Continued between termite inspections in the public libraries of Middlesex County NJ – in Carteret, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Avenel, Iselin, Woodbridge and Fords.… but whenever possible in the eating shack and lending library of Toothless Tommy’s Hot Dogs in Carteret, where I sit by a plastic bas relief of drinking monks.
Last edited 6/13/05 11:41 PM
Which will, somehow be incorporated, piece by piece into the preceding work.
1. I believe that to talk of injustices and inequities is like picking up rocks or bits of gravel in the vast quarry of human suffering… dug, blasted, and ground down throughout history to build the world for those in power at any place and any time. Whoever looks around and believes their corner of this vast chasm is the biggest hole or most important escarpment in the quarry can only scramble and blast somewhere else in their attempt at getting out. And the empty space in that great hole is filled with the souls and screams of long-forgotten peoples who no longer have any of the wall to call their own. But we all share the empty space – and the broken walls are of little use but in gaining a brief foothold on who we are. And this is why I don’t believe it is any use to speak of injustice – but rather, of our longing for true justice – which has nothing to do with quarrying or blasting or grinding anything or anyone down.
2. I believe that feelings of being at one with Nature are both the source of either serenity or happiness and that these feelings are accessible to all humans, no matter their physical condition – for even those in pain or suffering can achieve serenity. But I also believe that the confusion of such feelings with the truth is a major source of human arrogance and suffering. – for the feeling of being at one with Nature is not the actuality of being one with Nature or being able to account for all of Nature, it is simply a feeling.
3. I believe that each individual struggles with much the same thing – and while we often confuse the struggle for happiness and serenity with our greatest goal, we usually experience the struggle through our attempts to alleviate our own suffering (whether pain, or fear, or stress, or impatience, or ennuie) or the suffering of those around us – which we feel as our own. And this struggle is experienced existentially in our need to find or create justice in life and to understand what is timeless; it is the struggle to make this understanding real for ourselves which is at the source of all of our personal meaning.
4. I believe that justice is a term for something that occurs in Nature like light – it is made from a spectrum of colors which we cannot otherwise interpret except rarely, as seen in a rainbow; and to imitate these colors our only recourse is to paint. Those who wish to combine all the colors and claim they have imitated Nature’s rainbow produce things very murky, but if they are very skilled at it: absolute black --causing quite the opposite of justice.
5. I believe that to understand justice and to attempt to mold our lives as in Nature or from God, is perhaps our highest personal and social ambition. And yet to reach for it means understanding ourselves and our story – individually as humans, socially as cultures and peoples, and historically as a species on this earth. Ach of these understandings are simply shades of different colors of justice. I do not believe that justice can be reduced to questions of distribution or retribution, nor can it be argued through a price on life, through claims on land, or guilt, or obligations.
6. I believe that the dawn of history was simply when humans began recording history, but that this only happened when they thought about their purpose on this earth – and that this only happened after they had an answer for why personal suffering should exist, and this all came together only when they had religion to explain suffering and their purpose on this earth. And that is what I believe about both history and religion which have a big part to play in digging the present quarry of broken lives and much injustice.
7. And I believe that we will experience an end to this kind of history when we come to recognize our purpose as separate from the issue of justice – and can accept the blindness of Nature in distributing the resources for happiness in quite an unequal fashion – even in such simple things as when a twelve year old child contracts leukemia, or a family at a summer picnic is killed by a bolt of lightening. For I believe that the feeling of being at one with Nature can also be achieved through serenity, which is available to anyone no matter their circumstance or physical condition, or even in the process of death.
8. I believe that my reality is both physical and emotional, and that I seek to learn tools to help me govern what I cannot fully control. I believe that rationality is one of the most obvious of those tools, but to confuse it or its products with what is either timeless, unchanging, or true is one of our greatest sources of arrogance and suffering.
9. I believe in pure science as the uncovering of relationships which are timeless; yet, I believe that what we can really know of the timeless is no more than a tool to help us deal with the everchanging. It is also the confusion of our tools with truth that is a source of arrogance and suffering.
10. I believe in a power beyond my physical and emotional self that binds me to the coincidence of all things and all time; this is my spiritual self, and its power is made real in me as “conscience” and “dignity.” To many this power is understood and known as “God” who is the coincidence of all things and all time, and is also the pure white light of justice which we cannot understand nor claim to fully know or apply.
11. I also believe that whatever binds me to the world beyond myself can be made real in me as “dignity,” and easily confused with the source of my spiritual self. Thus it is that patriotism and religious and cultural fanaticism become very real components of this world; similarly, a person’s association with work or one’s job or company or team can provide a pride which is easily confused with one’s spiritual self, and that anything which strips a person of his or her dignity is felt as a great evil and fought with self-righteousness and confidence – and is worth giving up one’s life for.
12. I believe in the reality of evil, and that it is not relative, but absolute in both a physical and emotional sense; also that evil cannot be entirely avoided, but must be respected as one respects a narrow path along a high cliff. I believe that only with the full respect due to evil can it be overcome, for wherever it is approached with self-righteousness and surety, it is arrogance, which evil engorges itself on, to bring on more suffering. At least, this is what I believe.
13. I believe that the future of economics and social law is in learning to engineer the human world in its own uncountable numbers of families, cultures, and social structures – to be sustainable on our earth, insofar as our physical and emotional existence can be changing over time and yet changeless in its substance, meaning, and the potential for human dignity.
14. I believe that we are in a social and spiritual winter and that it will only take a small change in climate for millions upon millions of individuals to burst open with energy and hope, no matter what their faith, no matter their physical or mental capacities. And if you say it would take a miracle, isn’t it a miracle for a barren hillside and a cold windswept forest to become green – and isn’t it a shame that we forget what the winter looked like when the green is all around, feeling as if it always was this way; for today, in the bleakness of a spiritual winter we are confident that spring and summer don’t exist for us anymore. But please remember what I think is the source of my spirit, and do not confuse it with what binds you to the coincidence of all things and all times – for that would simply be arrogance. And it will be a miracle when all those who consider themselves “spiritual” remember this.
15. I believe in miracles, because a miracle is no more than a selective glimpse of the greatest coincidence – so why should we understand it? And I also believe in prayer –for one should expect quite a lot going on between us humans and the coincidence of all things and all time– remembering that any connection between prayers and miracles is strictly coincidental.
I believe that human dignity must always be respected, and that it will not be respected so long as we believe the terms of justice are in our hands, for our own justice – claiming to be pure justice - will always end in stripping someone of their source of spirit, and be thus, evil. It is in learning to differentiate our dream of pure justice from the many colors of justice that will help us develop lasting human and social relationships that will bear fruit in new types of social exchange and sustainable economics, and that dignity and human differences represent greatest source of capital in the future of the human family.
I believe that to confuse our attempts to establish human society in accordance with laws of natural relations, concepts of respect, of promises kept, maintenance of human dignity and the sustainable equilibria of our social ecology is just that – the different colors of natural relations of humans in their common world, both shared with Nature and as husband to Nature.
 The criteria for determining truth is, of course, the essence of every old-time philosophy there ever was, as well as any new-time philosophy of science you will ever run across as well.
 If you are curious and insist on a single sound-byte, you may call it a “logic of tropes,” sorting experience in terms of different classes of equivalence relations.
 The story is roughly in four parts. We start with a focus on laughter as a paradigm emotional structure. Second came the focus on percepts, and traditional skill-based learning. Third came an independent analysis of events. Prior to it all, however, was a long period of conjectures about the adequacy criteria used in testing for identity – specifically, self-identity.
 My daughter is currently off to Copenhagen to study Kjerkegaard –the philosopher ‘par excellence’ to have taken the emotions quite seriously for their role in understanding life. He is considered the father of the Existentialists – a breed of philosophers I could never quite take to, but who had a massive influence on the last century’s culture. Kjerkegaard’s predecessor in this vein is a bitter old fellow named Schoepenhaur, who spent his latter life being angry at Hegel for getting a Napoleon’s share of the press and stealing all his students. Schoepenhauer’s book is translated into English as “The World as Will and Representation.” I find myself saying things of a very similar nature, and it would probably benefit me to eventually read him to clarify our differences. For me, the human world is the world of emotional events within which rational logic (representing things in terms of static relationships verifiable through different truth criteria) plays a very important, if confusing, role.