Sunday, June 11, 2006

Squaring off against reductionism

Following is an essay I made about intricacy and romantic love.


Layo told me how, when she was younger, she was seeing tremendous things in people that she later described as being ridiculous.

My response: Those things were there all right. They were just not part - or not completely part - of the people's conscious makeup. You weren't being delusional; you were just seeing things that were not normally talked about or understood or owned up to. A ballerina has many beautiful physical qualities, and many more encoded through art in her emotional structure, even if she is consciously not able to understand the significance of the work that she performs.

Here is a question that's worthy of being posed. What's more impressive: Person the creature, or contents of person's conscious mind? I pose this question quite seriously and not being facetious. Is what's inside any living being's - any living being's - conscious mind anywhere nearly as complicated, as calibrated, as brilliant, as compact, as intelligent, as is the intelligence encoded in the organism itself, the emotional structure included? I pose this question also because there are plenty of people whose conscious minds contain very interesting and sometimes brilliant and even wise things. But is any man's conscious mind as impressive as the hardware on which it resides? Or the talents, or the emotional fractals, or all else contained within?

Indeed it is a question that cuts to the core of the matter. I've seen even teenagers (when I was a teenager) have tremendous talent and even emotional richness and intellect - while being also capable of extreme stupidity. The same indeed can be spoken about adults. Here's the problem with the reductionistic perspective: It sees the stupidity and uses it to reduce the rest of the being to the level of stupidity, while claiming the intelligence and the talent and the beauty encoded in the organism to be invalid by that token. It's not invalid; it's still there, it just exists at a more subtle level. The person may be able to see it and own up to it, or else they may not. But it still is there, at one or another level, and that makes it a reality.

So it is possible to put a bullet through someone's chest. Does that mean that the man is as cheap as a bullet? Does being able to destroy something make one able to create (or even to fathom) something of commensurate complexity? Does the ballerina's inability to articulate the themes of her artwork make her movements less elegant? Socrates said that the poets were not wise because their works were based on inspiration instead of analysis. But that does not refute the inspiration or what underlies it or what it comes from, now does it? Or the quality of their work?

Based on this use of reductionism therefore, the worst in the world seek to claim the perspective of someone who sees such things to be pathological. No it is not; it is rather just the matter of what you had suspected originally: A matter of more profound and cultivated sight that reaches to the underlying potentiality. The women in whom I saw incredible qualities all have them. And that is the case, whether they are consciously aware of them or not; whether they are able to own up to them or not; and especially whether or not others see in them such qualities.

You can kill a tiger; but can you create a tiger from scratch? How much more so a human being? Indeed it has been my observation that the most interesting people with most of beauty and inspiration and wisdom and goodness to offer are ones that are most intricate in their structure. That was the case for all the women with whom I had relationships, Layo included. And it was my goal in all such cases to let the magnificence blossom, rather than cutting them down as would someone acting from reductionistic perspective or from position of conquest or from position of self-sufficiency or any other such foolishness shoved down people's throats by the malevolent.

It is not everyone's job to haul loads. A world in which everyone does such things is not any kind of a world that I would seek to inhabit. Some are more sturdy; others are more delicate. And the best world is created by having everyone do the same job, but by people doing the tasks that are for them most natural. Which means having a civilization in which the Layos and Julias of the world are appreciated and being given a way to do what they do best: Create magnificent works and impart to the world of their beauty. And in so doing take human experience to a higher level.

Many of the most interesting things in the world are indeed the most intricate. Which requires not breaking them but allowing them to unfold. At which point the intricate thing can indeed impart of its riches. And the world is made better for it.

Now that, is an attitude with which one can become a teacher.


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