Intelligence

Tossing the Die

One thing coming into view is that intelligence is not….

I began to write in earnest when I discovered – not that what I had to say was hard to say – but that I needed to work at….

For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else.

Jeanette Winterson

Incoherence

When we begin to write we discover our incoherence. IF we continue to write, we confront our incoherence, and so, we come into a relationship with intelligence.

We escape the enclosure of our minds* when we recognize that intelligence resides in attending. We leave the prison of knowledge and technique and enter into a subtle interplay. The implicit explicates. The tacit becomes explicit.

Trapped within an expectation that knowledge accumulates; that it is stored in the brain; that this cataloging of maps and techniques arms us in some useful way with tools to engage reality; we do not recognize the true roles attention, recognition, tacit understanding, and the fluid interaction with what-is that participate to makes up intelligence.

Preoccupied with accumulation, establishing and maintaining authority – a social power, a simulacra of the strength we might otherwise cultivate by interacting with intelligence – we fail to even recognize attention. The fog closes in and over our incoherence. We churn, trapped in futility, and perpetuating and spreading suffering unaware that our striving has displaced any possibility of meeting existence with intelligence. Our capacity to attend deteriorates as we misinterpret subtlety as complication. The fact of attention itself is lost to sight as we strive to impose some new or old contrived “order.”

*  *  *

The Question of Quality

Economics purports to be the study of value but it gives us nothing to bring to bear regarding the question of quality. The incoherence inherent in this failing has left us floundering in confusion, chasing “metrics” while ignoring the underlying question of quality.

This fault goes right to the heart of a world-view that appreciates – worships – the abstract power of economics while remaining oblivious to value and meaning and the subtle nature of any true form of quality.

We have lived on borrowed time feeding off scraps and remnants of a legacy of quality. A legacy from ages when our current preoccupations were intrusions into a different norm instead of a spreading mono-culture of unapologetic greed. A legacy that we increasingly misunderstand and risk losing the capacity to recognize or appreciate what once was, what has been lost, what is at stake.

The clever of our day have no frame of reference. They can neither recognize or appreciate quality. In their fervor to chase after chimeras of technological perfection and the fulfillment of every adolescent – and therefore immature – fantasy, they reject the existence of quality outright even as their ability to survive is buoyed upon the remnants of a living world, a world of quality, they seek to destroy.

*  *  *

Recognition

We keep returning to the centrality of something that may be best described as recognition. It has its roots in perception, in the way we can only make sense of a sensory perception if we have some terms available to us that allow us to recognize what we perceive. This falls apart in optical illusions, in sleight-of-hand magic, and more importantly in the way we either misinterpret or completely fail to see that which comes into view if it is strange enough and unexpected enough. There have been experiments to show how a busy crowd negotiating a bustling lobby, getting in and out of elevators, will just fail to notice a man in a gorilla suit passing through their field of vision without making any contact with their preoccupied attention. Talk about the “gorilla in the room!”

If we take the centrality of recognition seriously we find that the path to any sort of coherence – coherence taken to mean a connection between what we experience and what we think we are dealing with – must pass through this question of recognition.

Awareness is a result of recognition. Failed awareness is a failure of recognition. We cannot, cannot, see what we are unaware of, and we are likely to miss what we cannot recognize. This is the heart of the issue of incoherence and its resultant suffering. It is pernicious. We tend to call this failing, “Human Nature” if we notice it at all and in this way slough it off.

There is so little that we do notice and attend to as we float through our days trapped in preoccupations. We rarely, if ever, even notice the gap. It’s as seamless as the blind-spot on our retinas unless we attend to a practice that widens our attention and helps us discover ways to recognize the unfamiliar.

You see, Everything is in everything.

We can recognize anything IF, we are able to find a way in which the unfamiliar rhymes with something we already recognize. The infinite potential of creativity lies in the collision of these two facts. We can discover the rhymes, and everything is in everything. In this way everything is available and open to our attention.

This is where intelligence resides.

* The enclosure of our minds: This term arose in a recent conversation with Jeppe Graugaard. It relates to the depth of the colonization of our very spirits by the mania of enclosure.

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4 thoughts on “Intelligence

  1. Was reminded just earlier of Friere – looking again at Pedagogy of Hope – this post reminds me of his discussion around exile. Incoherence is a bit like being in exile. Here’s a selection:
    “Indeed, one of the serious problems of the man or the woman in exile is how to wrestle, tooth and nail, with feelings, desire, reason, recall, accumulated knowledge, worldviews, with the tension between a today being lived in a reality on loan and a yesterday, in their context of origin, whose fundamental marks they come here charged with. At bottom, the problem is how to preserve one’s identity in the relationship between an indispensible *occupation* in the new context, and a *preoccupation* in which the original context has to be reconstituted.”
    Something here about how we change when we learn, and must let go of that piece of ourselves that was incoherent – letting go of anything is difficult, even if it is not good for us.

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    1. Thank you Cricket.

      Yes, incoherence is related to exile, as you point out. Exile, the sense that we have no place, is also addressed as a question of enclosure. So, as the land, and then our minds, were closed off, then, we are left exiled.

      Interesting to point to occupation as well as preoccupation. And, reconstituted in this context does relate to recognition….

      One distinction I’ve tried to make is between the kind of striving after change where change appears difficult – it is under these circumstances since it is undertaken as a form of violence, a coercion – and the other kind of change that just happens when we have internalized an insight. This is an example of the simulacra of intelligence when we are stuck with a conception of “knowing” that is removed from the total immersion in a fact that is presented to us by intelligence. Something that is not under “rational” control, has nothing to do with negotiation or coercion or manipulation.

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