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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Net of Indra

I have always found it near impossible to narrow my interest to anything close to a specific field or pursuit. I have been a lover of science, for instance….a scientiaphile?...for as long as I can remember…Why, then, did I not become a Scientist? To become a Scientist in late 20th Century America, one must choose a “Field”, which would not be so bad….But,then, one must narrow down one’s focus to something within that Field…then narrow down further, to some aspect of the specific. From early on, I noticed connections and patterns…across Fields. There were no Fences. When I started looking at College, all I found was Specificity…Specialisation.

Consider….describe the Chair you’re sitting in.

Then stand back. Describe the Chair, and the Room around it, and their Interconnections. Now, go across the street.

Across the Country.

To the Moon.

Further back one goes, in Perspective, the more data there is, regarding that Specific Thing one is looking at, attempting to Understand. To Truly Understand one’s Chair, one must Understand the Universe in which it sits.

Of course no one has such a God’s Eye View…but, due to this fact, which is scary, Science has gone all the way in the other direction…to Specificity.

Cartesian Dualism, and all that. (Subject/Object(Observed/Observer))

Reckon this looks like a form of Extremism.

I feel a deep, abiding need for a more Whole-istic, Comprehensive View.

This was pretty much ignored in the Scientific World, as far as I knew then. In reality, but unknown to me, this Generalism was , indeed, quietly growing. There was no “Degree Plan” for this, however. Colleges, at least the State colleges I looked at, would teach you how to Specialise, with Generalisation , if any, relegated to a chapter or two, here and there.

Luckily, I was really into Philosophy….where there is at least Room for such ideas.

No one, as I’ve elaborated elsewhere, was keen on me Majoring in Philosophy.(even though I had been studying Philosophy since I was 8-10)

It has, in fact, taken 20 years of Self Directed Study to even articulate this concept.

And now, Generalisation in Science is just now hitting the “Mainstream”.

In Geopolitics, too…relatively few Thinkers broke out of even such kind of broad subdivisions as “Economics”, “Political Philosophy”, and whatnot. Zbignew, Kissenger, and the like, come to mind. C.Wright Mills.

History, too…I prefer Toynbee, Barzun and even Durant. I’m not interested in Minutae…on this date, the Archduke was slain in Sarajevo. I want the context. People are slain every day, after all. Context is what makes this particular death interesting.

It’s hard to do, sometimes….pull back far enough to have a comprehensive understanding, yet still maintain sufficient Granularity, that it makes sense.

It’s like the difference between Dune, or LOTR…and Clarke’s 9 billion names of god…the latter is good, in it’s own right…but it doesn’t hold a candle to the breadth and depth of the former two.

This is why I like Jung, rather than Freud, or Skinner or Piaget, etc.

Jung developed a comprehensive system…a Framework…on which he could then hang various Specifics, and then stand across the street, regarding the Whole.

As I grew older, the more I found this focus on the Specific to be lacking…

When I was “encouraged” to take on RTF…there it was, this lack.

Context. How do we, budding Broadcasters, hope to fit in to the Whole?

There was nothing about the “Industry”, and where it was going….nothing about how what we were training for would soon be Obsolete.

Lack of Whole-ism, Context, the General…is really a big problem in the world, today.

A glance at Climate Science is instructive. To understand it, one has to plug in Economics, Politics, Geology, Space Science, Chemistry, Biology,….on and on. Ya hafta be a Generalist to understand something so complex. Looking at a thunderstorm will not suffice.

Or Biotech…the Corporate Lab(I forget who) that was about to release a GM Organism that would have sterilized the world…until a grad student said…”Whoa…slow down…think”. The Bug would have been awesome at making Ethanol from Biomass…and that’s as far as the thinking went. No one, but for this single Grad Student, considered the possible unintended consequences…if this Bug had been set loose. With nothing to stop it, it could have turned whole continent’s worth of topsoil into Alcohol.

I think that whole scenario (which really happened) is Scary as Hell…and it is due, for the most part, to a focus on the Specific….and an almost Total Disregard of the General.

I approach the Spiritual in the same way…indeed, I find it difficult, and sort of counterintuitive, to separate Spirituality(at least as I see it…experience it) from the Empirical Universe of the Observed. Cartesian Duality is very useful in looking at the Specific…but when one ventures across the street, to the Moon, and turns around…One is still a Part of what one Beholds. As above, so below.

One of my favorite things to think about is Indra’s Net….this is a perspective on the Universe, wherein all of Reality is conceived of as a vast, limitless spider’s web, and where every Node, where two or more strands meet, is a Diamond….and all of those Diamonds are Reflecting each other. In this context, plug in the information that (in the Hippie Trope) “we are Stardust…”…all matter was generated in stars, that exploded millions, billions of years ago, sending more complex elements out , into Universe…some of which constitutes my body. The water in the Llano River was generated from simpler stuff in a star, somewhere, sometime…and was delivered hence by Comets.

The Science that discounts such considerations as Mysticism, is correct, of course….but when that Scientific, Cartesian Mind, then discounts such considerations as irrelevant…I reckon that as Dogmatic. This is part of what Rosenstock-Huessy was on about…that Cartesian Dualism tends towards Dogmatism…again, that Universalism that the Enlightenment inherited from Pre-Enlightenment Darkness.

It may have been a necessary phase, this universalism…but perhaps it has outlived it’s usefulness. Perhaps we are at a stage where it is necessary to Broaden our conceptions…

RH specifically(lol) picked on the application of Cartesianism to Psychology…how can one separate oneself, as an Observer, in such a situation as the Psychoanalyst, Observing the Patient? There is a back and forth, a Dialog…between the two…necessarily…and to discount that relationship, beyond the learning of psychological concepts and techniques, is ,I suspect, counterintuitive.Subjects observing Subjects.

The same sort of thing is operable in so called Quantum Physics…Uncertainty, the dead cat…the Observer Created Universe.

It’s closer to Rumi, than to Einstein.

There is no Spoon…

I find great satisfaction is such musings…especially at the River…and especially on a weekday, when the highway is quiet…and the only sounds are those of Nature…

Park the canoe(with NCC-1701, in orange, on the bow,lol) next to a cliff, made of billion year old rock…covered with myriad types of lichen, and ferns in the cracks, the water lapping at the base…cast off exoskeletons of dragonflies, still clinging to the crust of dead dried algae.All this, and more to my right…and to my left, an expansive view of the Texas Hill Country…

…and I think about how much We still do not know…and the Bubble of Our Awareness(as a Species), in five dimensions, expanding in all directions, as We gain further Understanding.(the 3 dimensions of space, plus time, and then the fifth, inner and outer. )

There is still much to learn.

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