This statement demands clarification. Coherence it is not a synonym for reason, reasoned, reasonable.
Neither is incoherence: unreason, unreasonable, unreasoned.
The key to understanding coherence lies at the root of these distinctions.
I’ve found this talk given by Anthony McCann valuable in illuminating this distinction. Anthony uses language centered around what he calls Gentleness. His approach, tangential to the one I’ve been following, opens us to wider insights than might be found by just remaining in a Krishnamurti/Bohmian perspective.
Please take the time and listen to what he has to say. In short, what I’d like to bring to focus here, is the way he provides a simple clue to discerning when we are entering into an incoherent reaction.
Incoherence equates with violence. To persist in incoherence is to maintain violence, to advance it. Anthony says that we can tell when we are furthering violence by looking for a desire-for-certainty.
Whenever we are violent there is an aspect of this insistence on certainty at work.
Certainty is incoherent. It does not persist in nature. The desire for certainty is then the desire to perpetuate an illusion.
Anthony uses a good test for this, something we can easily perceive with a little practice. When we are insisting on certainty we increase our intensity.
He is talking about how we may increase our mental/emotional proprioception. How all of our willful interventions play on a gamut of unperceived emotional reactions that are taken as independent, external triggers demanding action. Triggered to respond with an insistence on maintaining certainty we lash out violently.
This is another way to look at the dynamics of anger. Anger is an intense reaction to something disturbing our sense of certainty. We cover this with all sorts of justifications, but if we follow it back this is where we end up.
Rationalism asks us to refer to and conform to ideals.
Rationalism assumes that there are abstract ideals – originals – of whatever we encounter through perception, existing “out there.” By approaching these ideals while stripping our flawed perceptions of any particularities that do not conform to our ideals Reason asserts that we will arrive at certainty. Perception is confused. Idealization provides certainty. The ambit of our existence is narrowed down to just this one dimension, a gradient from confusion to certainty that can only be climbed by dint of repressing anything outside “The Plan.”
Coherence has a very different form. Perception is enchained with multiple points of contact with illusion. It does not, cannot, provide certainty. This part is in rough agreement with the rationalist view.
Coherence shows us that certainty cannot be arrived at through idealization. Positing ideals, the basis of the rationalist strategy, does nothing to eliminate the potential for illusion. It increases this potential for illusion. It guarantees delusion by stripping perception of its particularity and therefore removing the lived experience from life, replacing it with an enforced projection of an ideal that only exists in thought.
Rationalism attempts to defeat complexity by imposing simplicity. Not actual simplicity – something more accurately referred to as clarity. It promotes an illusion of simplicity through a program of radical reduction of what can be taken seriously. Tossing away any method of approaching the subtlety of being. This reductive approach, a profound misunderstanding of metaphor – taking “like” to mean, “Just exactly the same as and only this.” Holds us in a particular form of uncertainty. Uncertainty obscured from view behind an illusion of certainty. This guarantees unintended consequences. This is a recipe for disaster.
Coherence as an attitude begins with a joyful response to complexity. Rationalism’s frustration is easy to understand. Its reactions to complexity always bring about more suffering. It is difficult, while caught within nightmares of reason, to believe that complexity could trigger joy.
In the broad arc of the current expression of the religious impulse centered around a striving after salvation, a rejection of lived experience in favor of an ideal to be arrived at nowhere: In utopia. Our current breed of post Enlightenment Rationalists have been building on the same impulse its followers tend to think they are reacting against. An Anti-Religionist Materialism that is a civic-religion, continuing on the basic assumptions behind the salvation religions by turning them on their heads. Neither anti-religion – this is a religion – nor materialist. Any true materialist would not recognize the vaporware of this consumer-culture where the image – a form of worship of an ideal – is more important than the object itself.
This is the fate of any reactionary stance. Coupling our selves to what we resist. Blinding our selves to any and all other possibility. These can have no other possible result. While creativity opens us to the infinite implicit in the tacit. The eternal implicit in the now. Reductivism binds us to more of the same failure. Within the depths of this frustration we look for salvation through any means.
From this comes our obsession with leaders, with followers. With every and any form of separation. We are exhausted. We are frustrated by the failures of all of our attempts to break out, “Somebody’s got to do something!”
This is why it is essential to begin by locating whatever coherence we can access. Use whatever compassion we might muster. To heal from these traumas. Trapped in stress response we are unable to do anything but continue to react – badly.
Depression is a sign of the organism finding itself in extremis with no possibility of survival. A mercy in the midst of a quick attack by a predator, or in a deadly accident. A giving-in to the inevitability of death. A shutting-down of an ability to feel, what may only at this point be pain anyway.
Our ignorance of proprioception, our imprisonment in incoherence, turns what evolved as a mercy into a life-long sentence confined to an unDead existence.
Suffering is not pain. We conflate the two. Pain is a Lion’s bite. Suffering is a lifetime of depression. Pain can be avoided, for a time at least, a span, a duration that holds a life, a lifetime. However long or short.
Suffering is a tragedy because it is avoidable and we treat it as if it were not.
There is so much held in that statement. It appears to offer the impossible.
This attitude, that suffering is inevitable, is tragic.
And, it can be found in the way Reason has deceived us. Left us open to its nightmares as we strive to bring forth its monsters.
Coherence is not reasonable. Thank God….
It is also not opaque. It’s not a difficult concept. Does not require any particular form of expertize.
Coherence is a form of hygiene.
Funny how we mostly react to that word as meaning something “They will do for our well-being.” They being doctors, experts, scientists. Things to be done by whoever currently presides over the reigning priesthood at the time.
Hygiene has another, more fundamental meaning.
Watch a cat sitting in the sun. Fish gathering at a “Cleansing station.” It seems most any creature knows how to take care of itself.
Taking care of the self is a good working definition of maintaining proprioception. Aware of what is involved in maintaining our fundamental soundness, we act on that basis. No fuss.
Again, it is no surprise that this is so hard for us to grasp. Trauma, for generations, for Ages….
Revolution joins resurrection as an ideal. We want to “start over” so we “turn it over.” We start again.
The trouble is that in revolution we are just turning it upside down. What didn’t work right-side up is not likely to work any better upside down. Is it?
What is needed is an end. An end to suffering.
An “unreasonable request.”
Approaching coherence ends suffering.
Aligning action with coherence removes the constraints we force onto what is possible.
Coherence will not “save you.”
Without acting in relation to coherence we are doomed to suffering.
Attending to coherence opens us to Joy and to the full range of what is possible.
Practicing coherence is a matter of hygiene.
Learning and acting to take care of ourselves. Recognizing that no strategy of separation can do anything but harm the whole of Being.
Coherence holds reason within it.
Coherence is not reasonable.
4 thoughts on “Coherence is not reasonable.”
This post reminded me of a quote from Paul Rudolph about Modern Architecture:
“…All problems can never be solved. . . . Indeed it is a characteristic of the twentieth century that architects are highly selective in determining which problems they want to solve.
Mies, for instance, makes wonderful buildings only because he ignores many aspects of a building. If he solved more problems, his buildings would be far less potent…”
It’s a pretty ambivalent quote, isn’t it? Complexity doesn’t work with an ideal, crystralline purity, so we half shut our eyes and half block our ears till we get an answer we like. But the focus on ‘solving problems’, is problematic, too.
I love Rudolph’s choice of the word “potency”. It has… overtones.
Best wishes, Jack.
Great to hear from you, as always.
Yes, potency. Potencia, power.
But it’s an illusion. Its the depth and breadth of what has been, is, ignored…. How little out of so much effort, for so long, that was not lost on unintended consequences. Consequences that were then “monetized.” Like prisons and “pollution credits.” Like pharma/agra.
Coherence is linked with clarity. Clarity can show us “what not to do” as much as point at what to do.
The key seems to be connected with the difference between suffering and pain. The justification has always been centered around mitigating suffering. This can only be done through acts of mental/emotional hygiene. No external act has any possibility of eliminating suffering. They increase suffering while adding to the weight of pain as the possibilities of life are constrained further and further. This points to a way to decouple….