The World, or the world…
by Antonio Dias
I’ve attempted to carve out distinctions and definitions on a regular basis here. Then I’ve backslid and muddied the waters again and again by letting ambiguity and habit blur these distinctions. Maintaining a vocabulary requires the patience of an archeologist, wiping away the dust of the millennia as a current erupting volcano sifts down a fresh accumulation of ash. What I’ve managed to do is clear off a few words here and there, and then lose them again in fresh layers of ash while accidentally knocking over my dust-bin onto the work.
The World, or the world. I’ve set up a distinction between the way-of-the-world’s meaning, with its civilization-centric perspective that claims seriousness and well, worldliness, is a counter to naiveté; and The World, as the phenomenological construct of all that we perceive, the “place” where we are, as we perceive it, as we are embodied in it, and as we are embedded in this matrix of sensation, unable to transcend its limits. To put it simply, in the world the Earth circles the Sun. In The World the Sun rises in the East. I owe David Abram for his profound meditations on this distinction. Maintaining a scrupulous usage that might actually influence how others use these terms is beyond me. I’ll forget which is which by the time I’m done here. Though I hope some vestige of the difference comes through in the contexts of my usage.
Taking up the slack on this difference, I’ve completely dropped the ball on steering clear of the language of intention and striving. So it goes. If this were easy…
I’ve recently been reminded of the gaps between these two views and the difficulties we have in keeping them in their place. Crudely put, I would say that the worldly world is the fundamental perspective underlying civilization, while The World of immersion, as we now see it, is a remnant of pre-civilized Being wrapped in some of what I consider the most profound insights of the Twentieth Century. Again, to be brief, Let’s put the Bohm/Krishnamurti Synthesis in to stand for what I mean by that. – I’m continually astounded by how little I see or hear about their work, how long it took me to find them, coupled with how powerful and clear and accessible their insights have been to me. They seem to be hiding in plain sight.
“The Hippies versus the Geeks!” This is how the gulf between these world views is often characterized, especially by those who want to have their cake and eat it too. The “Future Industry” seems to have become the refuge for those who’ve seen through the glaring faults and failures of previous attempts to remake the world – in this case both worlds, although mostly by manipulating the worldly world. – It’s the last stand of the Promethean bargain.
My friend Dougald Hine introduced me to the concept of Epimethius, the brother/antithesis of Prometheus. His ideas on the coming of an Epimethean Age as a re-balancing of the extremes of the current one have been compelling. Looking backward as a way to move forward, if done with a certain nuance and a dose of clarity – I’ve resisted using terms like practicality or pragmatism for a reason, they are buzzwords of a Promethean mindset I’ve taken a fair trouble here in the past to expose.
The trouble comes when we expect to strive at finding Epimethean answers to our problems. We take a headlong rush and then fall flat on our faces back into a completely Promethean framework. A compulsion to “fix’ the “Future” by striving, trapped under an overwhelming sense of urgency to find answers overwhelms any value of our quest, or results we might actually attain. – More likely it will keep us mired in the old mindset, continuing to pull back on the stick as we wish to pull out of our crash-dive by sheer force-of-will.
We are what we spend our time on. We hit what we’re aiming at. We cannot find the stillness and the quiet haven any truly framework-changing insight requires/hides within, unless we empty ourselves of the rush to counter known futility by pressing even harder with all the same old tools.
Dialogue, as Bohm and Krishnamurti characterize the activity, establishes a space in which – like a pair, or small band of mountaineers tied together and living in a bond of mutual trust – we can work at evolving our consciousness. – This language will lead a Futurist to see red!
Bohm comes to his position at the top of the most revolutionary insights of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Specifically, Relativity and Quantum Physics, where he was a top practitioner, not a spaced-out New Age-er wowed by scraps of a language he didn’t understand. But also significantly Darwin and the concept of Evolution.
Prometheans may wish to claim Darwin and Einstein for their own, but I don’t think they can. Einstein reached his insights through a precocious envisioning that made tangible that which had been hidden. This was an act of looking at what could not be seen as if it were within The World of perception, not through a distancing and reductivist view based on breaking down and analyzing experience in its scattered bits. Darwin spent decades mulling over and doubting the kernels of insight he received as if by an osmosis from direct and naive experiences as a young amateur naturalist. Neither of these paths fit the Promethean narrative of hard work pushing through to achieve Progress.
Evolution. We’ve been digesting that one for over a century. What does it have to say about our current moment?
If The World evolves, then we should be at least stepping out of the way of that process if we consider the present course to be disastrous! Continuing to throw weight, light, and heat behind notions of striving, controlling, making a “Future;” is to impede that evolution whether we do so “in-the-name-of” breaking free of the old world view or if we are defending the old ways and striving to keep them in place.
Evolution happens whether we “choose” to involve ourselves or even acknowledge it! What difference could it make whether we do?
Only to us. Resisting only builds up the depth and severity of the inevitable correction. It also keeps us off-balance and misdirected in how we live the only life we have. In the end, this last bit is perhaps the only one that really “matters.” – If I can use the terminology of “Means-and-Ends” against itself to say that there are no ends, only an evolving string of Now.
Existentialism posited our need to recognize our radical vulnerability as sentient creatures in a world – a combination of the two worlds – beyond our control. Then they proceeded to “freak out” and got lost in clouds of tobacco smoke, playing Macho games, and hiding in alcoholism.
Bohm/Krishnamurti posit that there is something we can do, and that is to create – to participate in Creation – and to enter into Dialogue. These won’t guarantee any particular outcome, but they will give us the only chance we have of engaging in a life outside the bonds of futility and allow us the chance to fulfill our existence as conscious Beings that not only grapple with an external world, but actually create The World we inhabit by the shape of our perceptions.
This is caricatured as “dreaming up a new reality that will somehow save us.” That is again a Promethean response. No one said anything about salvation or safety. No one even said “reality.”
I don’t know what to “do” about the struggle to “change minds” in this. Except perhaps to take the hint in my second to last post and remain aloof.
The trouble with Movements is this insistence to focus on a body-count of adherents. The worst thing about this seems to me to be the way it keeps us from focusing on a more pressing need. Instead of crafting a plan, a position, a platform; and then fighting for followers, backers, comrades, and fellow-travelers; what would happen if we built-up our resistance to the Spectacle – in all its forms – and let ourselves feel our lack of, and the profound need, we have for participating in Creation and for entering into Dialogue?