The logical ballerinas: “Religion”.

 

 

In the photograph you can see the Hoggar mountain range (Algeria). Many years ago I went there on my motorcycle. And suddenly, one afternoon, while the sky was slowly being filled with silent white fires, I felt something extraordinary: everything around me (sky, mountains, rocks, desert, wind) was transformed into “someone”: “Someone” with a superhuman and truly unbearable beauty -almost lethal- that was looking at me, and lets say loving me.  The whole cosmos became presence… of “someone”. I say “someone” because I felt that “that” was aware of himself. And aware of me too.

I felt something similar again two years later in Lyon (France), just walking, alone, prosaically, around the airport. Once again, suddenly, everything was “someone”. A presence exploded into my consciousness, an unbearable presence that, now, I can only qualify as sacred. Why sacred? Because it emanated omnipotence, feeling, closeness, attention, magic, sublimity… and love.

Now, almost thirty years later, and I do not know how many dozens of books read since then, I think I can say that those two phenomena were religious. And they were so because I felt a bond, a religation, with something great, infinitely bigger and more beautiful than me and than any imaginable thing.

By the way: That “thing” told me nothing. “It” just was there, sublimating the whole reality, and my whole existence.

“Religion”. Another logical ballerina. Lets see how does she dance.

There are two etymological interpretations of the word “religion”. The first is based on the Latin verb religare: to tie, to bind, to link.

Link with what? Do those links really happen? Why? Can they be artificially propitiated? Can they be socially institutionalized, regulated, theorized?

The second etymological interpretation comes from the Latin word “religiosus, synonymous with “religens”, which would be the opposite of “negligens”. José Ferrater Mora says in his beautiful  Dictionary of Philosophy that in this second interpretation “being religious is equivalent to being scrupulous, that is, scrupulous in the fulfillment of the duties that are imposed on the citizen in the cult of the gods of the State-City.”

I suggest the following readings in order to approach the logical ballerina “Religion”. Just three powerful books:

1.- Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling. Here we find the radical recommendation of jumping into the lethal, inhuman abyss of God. A lethal, annihilating link.

2.- William James [See here still in Spanish]: The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. This is a classic study on the radical human experience of God´s presence, of God´s sudden apparition. 

3.- Michel Hulin [See here still in Spanish]: La mystique sauvage, PUF, Paris 1993. This is a work that deserves to be read. It studies the non-civilizational, radically private and free religious experience. It should be translated into English. Any volunteer? 

And I share some philosophical reflections now, caused in my mind by the logical ballerina “Religion”:

1.- Considering a cosmos not as the totality of the existent things but as the totality of things (lets say values, relationships, structures, models of life and death and after death, possibilities) we have been told that are real (in summary, considering a cosmos as a story, as a legend we take as real and in which we believe we exist), I see too kinds of religious links: intra-cosmic and extra-cosmic: free thinking versus enslaved thinking, free love versus robotized, narrowed, civilizationally focused love.  The intra-cosmic religions might foster an auto-confinement in a dogma, in a logical/civilizational product: that link offers certainty and successfully harmonizes individual lives within human societies. It can also become a way of making money. This religiosity can be very useful, also also healthy, but only if it is not assumed too seriously: it can easily degenerate into fanaticism (stupidity, hatred). It truly provides certainty and can even help to channel superavits of fear and envy and frustration, but it always presuppose blindness, and smallness. The extra-cosmic religious link, though, might connect us with the abyss, with the infinity, with something that expands our eyes and hearts, that pushes us to love more, to study more, to question more, to create more too. Surprisingly, we can also find this kind of open religiosity in the most powerful religions of our civilization. For instance, in Christianity we find a philosopher like Gianni Vattimo [See here still in Spanish], the creator of the “weak thought”, who affirms that to be a real Christian implies to be “a bad Cristian”. In Islam we find Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Averroes, Avicena… In Hinduism we have the Upanishads, which point out the absurdity of the sacred texts in which they are included (the Vedas) and also of any rite or ceremony. In Marxism we find Horkheimer [See here in Spanish]. In Judaism we have the jewel of Levinas [See here still in Spanish]. Within the religion of Science we can find a man like Stephen Hawking thinking that, when we try to understand the origen of the universe, the ideas of Saint Augustine of Hippo have the same epistemological value as the ones of the Big Bang theory. We find this shocking “confession” in his book The grand design (Bantam Books, New York 2010), written together with Leonard Modlinov:

“Model-dependent realism can provide a framework to discuss questions such as: If the world was created a finite time ago, what happened before that? An early Christian philosopher, St.Augustine (354–430), said that the answer was not that God was preparing hell for people who ask such questions, but that time was a property of the world that God created and that time did not exist before the creation, which he believed had occurred not that long ago. That is one possible model, which is favored by those who maintain that the account given in Genesis is literally true even though the world contains fossil and other evidence that makes it look much older. (Were they put there to fool us?) One can also have a different model, in which time continues back 13.7 billion years to the big bang. The model that explains the most about our present observations, including the historical and geological evidence, is the best representation we have of the past. The second model can explain the fossil and radioactive records and the fact that we receive light from galaxies millions of light-years from us, and so this model—the big bang theory—is more useful than the first. Still, neither model can be said to be more real than the other”.

2.- We could also speak of purely logical religious-links versus pure silent religious-links: religiosities derived from the spells of the goddess Vak. Here would be theism, atheism, etc. Just wars of names (or wars of Gods): “Nature”, “Life”, “Universe”, “Knowledge”, “Science”, “Human rights and dignity”, etc. All of them require the installation and updating of symbolic constructs: books, sermons, indoctrinations.

3.- The religious bond, if fully successful, fosters an irruption of energy: it is as if the “connected human being”, suddenly, received an energy that was not available to him until that moment. There are various energizing cosmos, various energizing religions essentially incompatible with each other in many cases. How is that possible? Perhaps it could be argued that certainty, and the end of doubts and fears, and also the feeling of being part of a closed and protected community, might give strength and peace, which altogether might trigger exceptional flows of energy inside human body and mind and whatever. Are energy and peace and certainty the ultimate goals of human existence 

4.- Philosophy, when you try to practice it seriously, must be radically empiricist: we should not be tempted to eliminate “facts” or “sensations” even though they do not fit into some of the paradigms that struggle to be the home of the whole in the whole of our mind. The religious feeling is something very serious. Very big. Too big maybe. Philosophy can nor ignore it.

5.- We also should be able to accept the possibility of the existence of a very serious, very close and loving bond with some minor god, as Salvador Paniker seems to yearn in that refreshing work that is entitled Asimetrías (Debate, Barcelona 2008). I made a book review that can be read [here].

6.- If we, with Schopenhauer [See here in German], endure the thought -and the feeling- that we are the secret directors of the theatre play of our lives, it must be possible to affirm that the religious bond would be something like a communication, a vibrating cable, set between our creative self – natura naturans, the Great Wizard-  and our created self (natura naturata).

7.- We should consider the existence of  a prodigious dreamer who, conscious and omnipotent inside his dream, inside his created dream, could love an individual person, a concrete picture, dreamed-drawn by him. Dreamed-drawn so prodigiously that the picture could also love back its dreamer, its draftsman; even if that “picture”, that creation, could not see his creator, not even successfully think or speak about him. 

Inside the created world it might only be possible to feel him (I mean the Dreamer/Draftsman), and even to feel his feelings, occasionally, like I maybe did almost thirty years ago, in the mountains of Algeria.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Progress”.

 

 

“Progress”.

In the image that flies over these phrases you see a centaur born inside the imagination of the painter John La Farge. A female centaur, actually. It is very likely that some day we will see those beings galloping and chatting and thinking and kissing in our parks, and on the streets; and it will also be very likely that someone will yawn watching them (the human being has a shocking  capacity to routinize prodigies) [See “Human being”]. I also imagine someone yawning, bored, devoured by the prosaic, in a glass house built in a ring of Saturn.

Progress. An almost mechanical mental association leads us to think about “technological” or “scientific” progress. How far can that Baconian magic go? I mean the so-called “Science”. What new essences -in an Aristotelian sense- are we going to be able to create with the matter that is given to us, that constitutes us? [See “Matter”].

Another type of progress: that of human societies (developed/non-developed countries). How can that be measured? Is a senior Google executive more developed than a Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer? Why?  What are we going for?

And another: “personal progress”. Where, in which realm, should the human being progress in order to reach his fullness? Is it possible personal progress in a society without progress?

It is assumed that believing in progress means believing that the number of happy people in Humanity can increase -progressively- and also the depth and “quality” of that happiness. But, is happiness so good? Is it the ultimate goal of our existence? Or is there something better, higher, than happiness? Maybe yes: freedom, creativity, admiration, creative suffering, love (even suffering love)…

But, in any case: What is exactly what is supposed to be progressing within human progress (in anticipation that at some point of time we can no longer sustain the universal “human”)? Can we talk about progress within God? Yes. Escoto Erígena, among many other thinkers, figured out – perhaps he felt- the possibility that God would go through a kind of metaphysical odyssey until it reached its own fullness.

Is it possible not to progress? Is there an option to return to models of society and morality as, for example, those that seem to offer the classical texts of Ancient Greece? I refer specifically to the supposed Socrates’ proposals that we find in Plato’s Crito: respect for laws, and the constant effort to improve but never, ever, break them: to configure them at the level of the human being. How high is that level?

I offer now some sketches of my ideas on what seems to be inside the flesh of the logical ballerina “Progress”:

1.- The big question might be whether or not the human being can intervene in the causal chains that, according to the materialists, move everything (societies included). If there is no freedom, the most we can yearn is that these deterministic chains provide moments of increasing happiness for a growing number of people (the basic presupposition of human progress).

2.- Both the parishioners of progressivism (the past was worse and all new -all “modern”- is good in itself) and those who long for restoration, or conservation, of past ideals (as it would be the case Leo Strauss) move, or are moved, towards something. There is an idea that magnetizes their action and their heart. They are lured, dragged, by something. And that something might be described as a poetic construct [See “Poetry” still in Spanish]. Political disputes are poetic disputes. The politician that offers more possibilities of dreaming and materializes those dreams will win those disputes. But always temporarily.

3.- We will progress or not towards something: towards an idea of ​​man and society -of cosmos eventually: an idea previously embodied in our mind by the magic work of some powerful word (human or non-human). It could be said -with Plato- that everything moves triggered by love towards an idea. To progress might mean to reconfigure the real in order to bring it closer to the ideal (to a myth, to a poetic construct in need of matter, of reality).

4.- Progress presupposes time. If, with Kant, and not only with him, we deny the existence of time beyond that which is the human psyche, we are forced to talk about something like progress in the contents of our consciousness: in our own mental secretions, if you want to put it that way. Thus, society, the entire cosmos indeed, would progress within us, because of our inner work. What a prodigious place we are! Or we have… Even if we do not really know what we are…

5.- Progress also presupposes a previous lack; this is: the description and acceptation of a state of pre-fulfillment. Which is the heaven of the Science-dream?  (By the way: heaven, like hell, is a place where there is no hope anymore). What heaven is supposed to be achieved with the scientific magic of Francis Bacon, that magic that is said it really works? Suddenly I imagine something like a network of magicians without conditioned matter (natura naturata), creating, being what they want to be in any possible universe. And impossible. Happy, if you want. Or unhappy. Is that an absolutely technological and free society? Is not that what is already happening behind the veil of the phenomenal?

6.- What if no more Progress were possible, if we had already achieve the limits of perfection (Spinoza)? Can any future, any progress, offer us more than what we already feel (and are) in a state of deep meditation? Maybe yes: Art; and love, love towards “the other” (even if that “other” is a Maya spell, an illusion). Love to children, to Nature … to the bodies and hearts of other human beings, and also of other non-human beings. Ultimately, to love Life, and also to love Death: to love Maya and its creators, with all its terrible shadows and dazzling lights. At whatever price, as Nietzsche would say.

7. – Recovering from the metaphilosophical abyss of Mysticism, already with the feet set on the solid land of Maya, one could ask about the type of society, about the idea of ​​social beauty, to which we should aim (the very idea we should plant in the precious garden of the soul of our children). Aristotle thought that the human being is actualized  -it reaches its essential fullness- when he philosophizes. So we should create a society of philosophers.

8.- Perhaps we could measure the progress of a society by the brightness of the eyes of its members. I have seen a very special brightness -really sublime- in the eyes of people who practice Philosophy; radical Philosophy: the one that dares to look and think – and even love- the mysterious immensity that we are and that surrounds us. I also see that shine in children. Not in all of them, unfortunately. Embarrassingly.  There is no possible progress that does not consider the laughter and illusion of children a priority. The extreme sacredness of children.

(Almost) in summary, I think we have to create a society of philosophers: big, ever expanding minds, and also hearts…. ready to open the (even legal) possibility of self-configuring of the human body -his visible part- and, thus, why not?, becoming a centaur: a centaur-philosopher able to gallop, with its eyes dazzling of Metaphysics, in an infinite meadow.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Human being”.

 

 

What appears in the image is supposed to be a portrait of a being who, in 1758, called himself (and all those who resembled him, according to him) Homo sapiens. As an individual he called himself Carlos Linneo. It has been said he was indeed a great Swedish poet dedicated to Biology. Rousseau and Goethe venerated him. It was not God who named the animals. Not even the human animal, who seems to have named itself.

Homo sapiens. Human being. Are we before logical dancers, pure symbols, “nothings” that want to be something in a living consciousness? Are consciousnesses always “human”? Is it me, the one who now writes, a human being? Are you also that being? What is exactly a human being?

Before exposing what happens in my mind when the dancer “Human Being” dances in it, I suggest to take a look at the following ideas, questions and perspectives:

1.- The scientist-naturalist-evolutionist story: the matter [See here “Matter”] in which that story believes  that story (its universe), suddenly, at a specific point of its temporal unfolding, produces something prodigious: the so called “human being”. It is also said that that being is the “place” where the entire universe contemplates itself. Current state of that narration: in the first version of this article (2013) that narration affirmed that the first modern human being (with body and behaviour equal to ours) would have appeared in the current Ethiopia 195,000 year ago. They are the so-called men of Kibish, discovered in 1967 by Richard Leakey. But, apparently, since 2017 there is another place on the planet (in the known universe) that now has the honor of being our first cradle, our very first outbreak: Jebel Irhoud, in Morocco (315,000 years).

2.- The human being as a genetic sequence. “The human genome”. When exactly does matter begin to be a “human being”? When does it stop being? Is the genetic code the essence of the human? What limits of difference, of deformity, of distancing from the basic model of “human genome”, are admissible in order to continue talking about “human being”?

3. Models of human body. Hatha Yoga: the body as a spiritual shuttle. The Platonic model: body/ bad versus soul/good). The human body and its tension with society. I suggest reading this work: Peter Brown: Body and Society, Columbia University Press, London 1988.

4.- Shakespeare (The Tempest): “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”. We? What is that?

5.- Bible. Corinthians 3, 16-17: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple”.

6.- Kant. We are citizens of two worlds. One of them is knowable by human beings. The other one is not. And we are destined to fly towards infinity. Towards Philosophy. We can not help it.

7.- Another reading that I consider unavoidable: Max Scheler: Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos [The Human Place in the Cosmos]. There is an English translation by Manfred Frings (Northwestern University Press, Evanston 2009).

8.- French structuralists. The end of the human being. Everything is a meta-human structure. [See Levy-Strauss still in Spanish].

9.- Political humanism. Construction and custody of political systems based on the sacralization of the individual human being. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But what happens if a human being is no longer clearly identifiable? I suggest reading this book by Francis Fukuyama [See here still in Spanish]: Our posthuman future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2002.

10.- I also consider worth reading these two books of Yuval Noah Harari: 1.- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. 2.- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

I share some personal reflections now:

1.- Michel Foucault said [See here still in Spanish] that it is not men who make speeches, but speeches that make men. The goddess Vak said something similar – more than three thousand years ago – in the Rig Veda hymn that inspires my logical ballerinas.

2.- “Human being” is a word. We are not human beings. Poetry [see] -the group of logical dancers who have managed to survive in “our” mind- makes us see ourselves as human beings. Or not. One thing is our essential self (“metalogical”) and another our “logical” self: what we see of ourselves through the linguistic-poetical filter. From what unnameable abyss comes that Poetry that configures, that  bewitches, our look, that Poetry that makes us see ourselves as “human beings”?

3.- As I stated in “Progress” [See here], I believe that the “human being” does not demand a concrete form -not even a specific genome. Human beings might be philosophers capable to love (and dream and make others dream), no matter if adopting the form of centaurs, or of purple clouds, or of a small, never visited lake in Segovia full of magical living beings. This is not a definition of what we are. It is a suggestion of creativity, of poetization, of identification. That what we essentially might be, beyond Poetry, is ineffable. And, lets say it again, Poetry is not “human”: “human” is an outcome of Poetry.

4.- We might say, from the metaphors, always from the metaphors, that we are a shadow, or a “magical nothingness”: something unnamable, unthinkable, imperceptible that (creatively) dreams worlds: that creates/dreams human beings and is able to identify with them. And also to religate to them [See “Religion” here still in Spanish]. Or do not religate. The Samkya system: to know that one is not the phenomenal (we are not the “matter” and its forms).

5.- We are not the products of our imagination. But maybe it’s more fascinating to believe we are. 

I do anyway madly love human beings, those mysterious creations. And I cannot help it.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Meditation”.

 

 

These are, more or less, the thoughts that occur in my mind when I let the logical ballerina “meditation” dance inside it:

1.- “Meditation” is another word, another logical dancer, and, as such, is constructed from dream-logical, unsayable tissues. According to my own experience, in meditation state you can hear and smell the primeval silence of the dance hall where all the logical dancers yearn to dance.

2.- Meditation allows us to deactivate “temporarily” our entire cosmos. That cosmos hibernates while meditating. Every meditating individual being will return to his sacred dream (his life if you want) and place (interpret) the experience of meditation on the logical shelves that this dream offers: his personal choreography of logical dancers, if you want to put it this way.

3.- Meditation does not last ten minutes, nor an hour. It does not have “duration”. It is a meta-temporal experience because it implies, one might say, a deactivation of that time-constructing psychic machinery described by Kant; among others. Although, truly, meditation is neither an “experience” nor “human”, nor is it, therefore, “meditation” (as an activity that presupposes a subject).

4.- The return. Something that I have been observing for years in me and in other people who have meditated with me is that “the return” amplifies and sublimates the cosmos in which it is experienced, no matter which cosmos. Perhaps because any cosmos is a transparent bubble that, in silence, allows us to see the prodigy within it hovers. After the “return”, anyway, the world (our cosmos) would recover its clean, primeval smell: the smell of dawn on the sleeping land. Simone Weil [See here still in Spanish] put it this way: “Only dis-creating myself can I participate in Creation.” [See “Concept”]. Meditation could perhaps be defined as a process of dying and being reborn in the cosmos in which we died; feeling thus the smell of the first illusion, of the first dream of love.

5.- In “Machine” [See here still in Spanish] I suggest that the human being does not manufacture machines, but lives instead in a machine -a sacred machine- that manufactures machines through him. Everything is artificial. And everything is natural. In meditation state we feel that the force that is directed and controlled by such titanic multi-cosmical machinery is our own, but also that  we are not really “human beings”. There is an “inner” switch to “temporary” deactivate that cosmos-machine in which we live: Meditation. The “exterior switch” would be “Grace” [See here still in Spanish].

6. Kant made an enormous effort in his Critique of Pure Reason in order to mark the limits of human knowledge (of any knowledge indeed). And he drew a kind of island – the island of the knowable- surrounded by a tempestuous ocean, inaccessible to reason but also irresistible to it. It could be said that in meditation state we toss our consciousness into that ocean from the last cliff of our insular mind (and heart). And we return wet. Of water? No. Of ourselves: we are that overwhelming ocean that Kant considered unknowable. And the island might be our own work, made with our own metaphysical entrails.

7.- I think it is also useful to affirm from this cosmos that now spells us (the cosmos from which I write and you read) that the human being does not meditate. In meditation the universal “human being”, that noun, that concept [See], that self-spell is deactivated. In meditation state one is not “a human being” [See “Human being”], nor a “citizen”, nor a “worker”, nor an “entrepreneur”, nor a “liberated woman”, nor a “son of God”, nor a “result of evolution”,  nor “a spot where the universe knows itself “. We might talk about an irruption of what has no essence (omnipotent nothingness) in one of its infinite creations. This last sentence is the most I can say within this dream; within this linguistic machinery. In meditation state you are no longer a “human being” but you have “the feeling” (if you can talk like that) of having finally returned to yourself: of having never been so much yourself.

8.- From a materialist-panmatematist perspective the state of meditation would be a necessary consequence of the interaction of the laws of nature on the Matter of our brain. If so, we should sacralize Mathematics and its capacity for reconfiguration of Matter [See “Matter”]. But meditation implies a deactivation of speeches, of seemingly legalized dreams: and the scientist-materialist discourse is a dream. A very useful dream. All dreams are useful. A clash between discourses on meditation is shown in the following broadcast of the Sternstunde Philosophie program on Swiss television (the presenter is Barbara Bleisch and she interviews Richard Davidson and Theodore Zeldin):

“Alle meditieren. Wer verändert die Welt?” [They all meditate. Who changes the world?]

9.- When dealing with the word “Light” [See here still in Spanish] I share the old feeling and idea that the source of all light (including the source of light that describes the current Physics) is an absolute darkness: there you can not see nor think. It could be said that to meditate means to climb “light up” until the darkness of the first spring. And, once there, to stop being -to be annihilated- in the sacred nothingness that transcends the existence/non-existence dualism. “After” (an “after” without time) we might return to the stream, and flow in it, knowing its source and its ending.

10.- Thanks to meditation we can love our mind: that place of wonders, that wizard’s workshop, that dance room always available for my dear logical dancers. But in order to love our mind we must be able to contemplate it as the one who looks at his sleeping son.

I took the picture that occupies the sky of this text in Gredos mountain range, after meditating.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Concept”.

 

 

 

“Concept”.

Genesis 2.16-17: 

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die”.

Why? Which relationship can be established between knowledge and death?

“Concept”. Knowledge is supposed to be the incorporation of -correct- concepts into the mind of the knower. How can that possibly kill?

In order to convey what happens in my mind when the logical ballerina, the word, “concept” dances inside it I will use its equivalent in the German language: “Begriff“. This noun is related to the verb “begreiffen“, which is synonymous of “umfassen“. Some of the meanings of this last word are, translated into English: “catch”, or “grip”. I think that concepts are captures. Actually it is the concept (tree, or sea, or God, or state, or whatever) what captures the mind; and not the mind, through the concept, what captures reality. And not only does the concept capture the mind, but it shapes it, creates it… Actually “mind” is a concept … and a word (“concept” is also a simple word … as it is, on the other hand, the word “word”).

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of wisdom, they lost paradise. They lost it because their eyes were taken/captured by concepts (knowledge … in-formation).

Within the current materialistic-brain-paradigm we could say that the brains of Adam and Eve, after ingesting the fruit of the tree of science, lost plasticity: that their neural paths were set according to standardized, robotic ways; and that, since then, they might only be able to see what their psychic-conceptual machinery allowed them to see.

I allow myself to suggest the reading of the critic I made of an interesting work by Jesús Mosterín entitled Human culture [See here in Spanish]. I reproduce here, however, some paragraphs that can be useful to show what I intend to convey (the quotation marks indicate that I am reproducing the phrases of Jesús Mosterín):

“The anatomical and functional structure of the brain is determined by genes in all their general features and details, but a large part of the neural connections of the brain are formed throughout our lives, as a result of our perceptions and other interactions with our environment, including those that occur with other congeners, especially with our mother and other relatives during our early childhood. This ability to establish new neural connections is called cerebral plasticity. The cerebral plasticity is maximum during our childhood and decreases from puberty. The brain of the adult is more consolidated and is less plastic than the one of the child.”

And memory, in that of fixing a culture in our brain, will apparently play a decisive roll. Let’s continue listening to Jesús Mosterin:

“The consolidation of information in the operating memory leads to the establishment of permanent neuronal circuits by strengthening the synapses between the neurons that compose them. This is carried out through the activation of certain genes and the synthesis of new proteins such as actin, which induce permanent structural changes in the morphology of the neuron and its cytoskeleton, especially the enlargement of dendritic spines present on the creation of new spines. When stimulated by learning, small spines enlarge, which in turn makes them lose plasticity and makes them the lasting structural support of long-term memory […] Culture is part of the information retained in long term memory.”

We have just been told that the more culture in the brain (that is: more in-formation retained in the long term), the less brain plasticity: the lesser capacity to establish new neuronal connections.

Vivekananda made lucid contributions to the second Yoga-sutra of Patanjali; the one that says: “Yoga is the control of the mind (chitta) so that it does not adopt forms (writtis).” Writtis are universes, convulsions of the lake of our mind that avert seeing its mighty, sacred bottom.

Let’s go back to the biblical paradise. How can we return to paradise? How to get rid of our knowledge? Of which knowledge specifically? How to access non-knowledge?

There would be, at least, one form to achieve that meta-logical (paradisiac) state: meditation (which, by the way, sometimes breaks out involuntarily). [See “Meditation”].

But what can we see then without our virtual-reality glasses of our concepts?

A likely answer (limited by the language that unites us) might be: we see ourselves. And we see us as a magic nothing. And that image overcomes any possible configuration of any mind (any universe) … because it encompasses them all. It includes all the beauties, all the magical ballerinas, which are indeed concepts, possibilities of form, that yearn to live, that yearn to dance, in the immensity of our mind.

One – just one – of those dancers is the one that jumped from the Tree of Science to the brains of Adam and Eve. I imagine white the matter [See Matter] of that tree of Eden, white, identical to the colour  of the stars, white as it appears in the photo that shines in the sky of this text (of this tissue of words/concepts).

Concept. Comprehension. Many salvation-products focus one the comprehension. They use to say: ”When you comprehend…” I suspect that “comprehension” literally means “compression”.

Following somehow Novalis’ and Gilles Deleuze’s [See here in Spanish] visions, the core philosophical challenge might be to create concepts, virtual-reality glasses, fascinating enough so as to trigger in human beings an unlimited and unstoppable love towards the existence, the existence beyond that sacred nothingness which is their real being. But also to urge them not to forget that real being. Two simultaneous tasks.

Now I would like to suggest the possibility of looking at “that” what we look and reduce with the concept “sea” or “tree” in another way, in a free way: in cosmical silence. Believe me: if you do it, it shows its  transparent, unsayable flesh, it shines more than any possible concept. 

But we need concepts and we will always do. They are magic! And life is nothing but magic.  So: Is there anybody there who dares to create a new concept  for that “thing” we now see and think and feel as “sea”? He might also create, or deeply modify, the cosmological structure (the structure of concepts and relationships among them, the cosmical Lego) that make posible the very existence of the see or the tree. We should, anyway, never forget that “concept” is also a concept, a logical ballerina that somehow forces us to dance with her.

Lastly: Is it worth changing the magic of the tree or the sea, even though we know they are artificial forms? Well, I wouldn’t change those two concepts. I truly love what I see though them.

David López

 

 

The logical ballerinas: “Matter”.

 


 

“Matter”.

Another logical ballerina. Just a word. “Matter” is only -only?- a word.

And that word comes from the Greek hyle: a symbol that allows us to transmit a model of mind, a concept: something like the one we feel with the symbol “cut wood” or, also, “raw material with which to do anything”. In Latin the symbol is materia, and the concept associated with it would be something like “wood for any type of construction”.

And what is built with matter? The world? The whole reality? Can the matter itself be constructed with something even more esencial? Is the world a sum of material bodies (molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks…) that are enslaved to some eternal, never changing physical laws?

What is a dream made of? I mean, for example, a kiss on the lips of a beloved woman, a kiss wanted, desired, dreamt years ago. Is that kiss – and the hearts and fantasies in it intertwined – constituted by dead atoms subjected to physical laws as implacable and dead as numbers written with chalk on a blackboard?

Why do most models of reality feel dread towards freedom and creativity? Well, some of them do only consider possible the freedom and the creativity of human beings.

What is the matter of our dreams made of?

Some years ago I had this dream: I was walking down the staircase of the apartment building where  I lived until I was nine years old. On that staircase there was a window from which a garden could be seen. Suddenly I knew that I was actually dreaming, that I was inside my own artificial reality and that, therefore, I could build whatever I wanted within the unlimited matter of my mind.

I just wanted to fly. And, flying, I was able to reach the branches of one of the trees. Once there I spent a good while touching with my irreal fingers the dreamlike surface of that vegetable/dreamed entity that was being softly moved by a very real and mysterious  breeze.

The point is that I was able to touch the matter of dreams. It was one of the most extreme and sublime experiences I can remember from this level of consciousness. The matter of dreams/the matter of the real universe. Is there a difference? Shakespeare wrote what follows in the first scene of the fourth act of The Tempest:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

One may ask: Who -or What- sleeps in that sleep that envelops all lives? And, above all, is that dreamer a creator? Are dreams outcomes of a conscious creative effort?  Is it possible to freely configure matter or is it eternally subject to unconscious, but also omnipotent laws that determine all possible configurations of matter?

“Matter”. Before presenting my ideas / sensations, I would like to suggest the study of the following subjects:

1.- The Arche in ancient Greek Philosophy: What is everything made of? Hylozoism: Thales of Miletus (matter is alive; and all is full of gods).

2.- Matter in Aristotle: that out of which something is made.

3.- Neoplatonist philosophers (Plotinus, Proclus, Simplicius of Cilicia and Iamblichus): matter as pure receptacle without qualities or measure. I recommend once again the Philosophy Dictionary of José Ferrater Mora, now specifically his article “Materia”. It is written in Spanish, and, unfortunately,  not yet translated into English.

4.- Matter according to scientist thinking and to magical thinking (enslaved matter versus free matter).

5.- Dualists. Matter is Evil. Matter in Samkya metaphysics: suffering and slavery derive from identifying with the psychic-mental experience (prakriti or matter).The Charvakas of ancient India: matter is the only reality; and its great. Descartes´ dualism: body and mind as different realities.

6.- Matter in current Physics. The definition of Matter by CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire): “All ordinary matter in today’s universe is made up of atoms. Each atom contains a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons (except hydrogen, which has no neutrons), surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made of quarks bound together by other particles called gluons. No quark has ever been observed in isolation: the quarks, as well as the gluons, seem to be bound permanently together and confined inside composite particles, such as protons and neutrons”. The quark-gluon plasma. A.L.I.C.E.

I proceed now to share some personal philosophical sketches caused by the dance in my mind of the logical ballerina “Matter”:

1 .- First of all I think it might be useful to differentiate between matter as formless “mass” with potential to adopt any form (something that for the Neoplatonists was a receptacle without measures or qualities) and matter as “what fills the space”, or “set of physical bodies” , or “density variations in a unified field”, etc. The first conception of “matter” suggests a kind of “nothing” able, and ready, to be anything. The second is a legalized, enslaved something. I see more life (more truth) in the first concept of matter.

2.- If matter is such in-formable mass, we could imagine a prodigious “mass” that might had, at the same time, infinite potentiality (infinite capacity to adopt forms, to be a natura naturata) and infinite creative power (natura naturans). That prodigious “mass” may be called “God” (the metalogical God: being essentially formless) because it might be able to build any world (any form) with and within  Himself.

3.- I believe that the terms Matter, Maya and Magic might share the same ontological meaning: they name the essence of the show that is presented before our consciousness. And in that show our thoughts and our own psychical and optical self (what appears on the mirrors, what we see in the photos, the parts of our body we can see from the position of our eyes…) should be included. I agree with Schopenhauer that we are the secret directors of the theatre plays of our lives.

4.- According to the above I consider myself a materialist. Why not? I love the matter. A lot. I love the texture -sometimes fierce, terrible- of this prodigious dream. My rejection of materialism, let’s say, dualist materialism (the one that distinguishes between matter and spirit) derives from its contempt for the worlds and, over, for its contempt for the real, “imperfect” human beings.

5.- In a meditative state we can experience something that I would like to call “pure matter”. In such state, the experienced “nothing” [See “Nothing” still in Spanish] seems to be able of configuring itself in any imagined world: any Creation might occur in such prodigious Nothingness.

I return now to that dream in which I could touch the branches of a, lets say metaphysical, tree. What did I really feel while caressing that dreamlike vegetable, while breathing the air and light of “my” own imagination?

I felt astounded and amazed: feelings that -very powerfully- trigger Philosophy.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Kabbalah”.

 

 

Kabbalah. This word, this logical ballerina, is said to mean “tradition”: successive delivery of a great secret that is supposed to have been incorporated by God in his own Creation in order to be used by human beings.

We are contemplating a Hebrew ballerina with a penetrating gaze. A dancer whose eyes, always half open, always half closed, are painted with lands of many worlds.

In the sky of these phrases appears the mountain where it is said that Moses was contacted by God; and where it is said that he received, from that omnipotence, from that omnicreativity, decisive information. Some call it Mount Sinai. Others call it Gebel Musa (Mount Moses). I find it, anyway, surprisingly beautiful and wild. 

We could visualize that mountain as the inner part of an USB, a plug, a port of entry used by God to introduce data, instruction manuals, in its Creation (in its prodigious program, or in its prodigious spell if you like).

Let’s read Exodus 3.1-6:

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Why was he afraid of looking at God? It is not illogical the possibility of lets say “dying” because of an excess of beauty. Remember feeling shocked, taken out of the world, by something extremely beautiful. What might happen if the intensity of that beauty were multiplied by one million, or one billion? 

The fact is that Moses received instructions to save the people of Israel, who were enslaved in Egypt. And he obeyed. And he returned with the people (saved at least politically) at the foot of that “open” mountain, at the foot of that kind of black hole with the shape of a mountain through which God entered his Creation.

But he climbed alone, because his God commanded him, maybe on the grounds that only Moses was designed to endure a direct conversation with the radical omnipotence (Exodus 19, 21):

and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish.

Shortly after Moses received the Law (the Torah). According to the Rabbinical tradition, God would have transmitted to Moses a double Torah: the written one (which would be exoterically accessible to all the people by the simple reading of the sacred scriptures) and the oral one (the secret Torah, only transmissible from master to disciple). From this oral tradition, eventually, might have emerge the Talmud, the fundamental text of Rabbinic Judaism.

We are facing what is known as “Jewish esoterism”. Some people also talk about Jewish magic.

I have entered Kabbalah thanks to my admired friend Álvaro Calle Gliugueri. I owe him a brief but luminous introduction of something that, for many years, mobilizes his generous intelligence and spacious heart.

For the moment, I am mainly interested in drawing the model of totality from which Kabbalah operates: how does that tradition see the “Total Box”, where do those wise people think they are, what is the ultimate goal of their wisdom.

I recommend reading Pico de la Mirandola: Mystical and cabalistic conclusions. And also the works of Gershom Scholem, Ben Shimon Halevi and Gerald Schroeder… This last author has made an attempt to legitimize the literal narration of Genesis with the data offered by what, according to him, is current Science. I have not yet made a study of his proposal, but I am going to offer some reflections on this attempt to merge two systems of truths (this logical-cosmic hybridism). This is the webpage of Schroeder: http://www.geraldschroeder.com. He is a surprising thinker.

A beautiful book about the Kabbalah that fell some time ago in my hands is this: Mario Satz: Árbol Vebal, Altalena, Madrid 1983. I received this book from a dear student whose name is Paloma Marugán. In this work there are phrases like this: “The writing is the footprint of the centipede of the spirit on the rock of the centuries” (p.9). And like this: “The power over language was the goal of every zoharic kabalist, this power was not translated, it should not be translated into a domain over the other, but over oneself”.

What follows are some thoughts that the logical ballerina “Kabbalah” has caused in me:

1.- Transparency. Transparencies. The model of Being (the model of totality) from which the Kabbalist seems to think and feel is constructed with transparencies. Everything that appears before human beings -included texts- would be transparent: it would be an epidermis that might be transmitting a magma of messages. Everything might be speaking through transparencies: any fact, any relation between things, would have meaning, if we are attentive enough to pierce its epidermis: its veil. Think of a simple billboard on the road. Suddenly, we read in it a sentence that contains a crucial message for our life.

2.- The New Testament. According to some Kabbalistic schools in that text God might have condensed all the Truth (in capital letters), and also all the small truths (lower case), including the laws of Physics and Politics. Thus, it would suffice to remove the logical veils that cover the New Testament to be wise, or at least as much wise as human beings can be, which I guess is not too much. Actually it must be limited: there are levels of wisdom that might incinerate our mind in the bonfire of the infinite.

3 .- If we consider the conclusions to which I am coming with the logical ballerina “Logos” [See here in Spanish], it could be said that the cabalistic wise might trespass the inner flesh of his cosmos (of his “mind” if you will, if you consider Kant) and might visualize the structure of ideas with which that cosmos has been constructed: he might see the program, the logical architecture, that sustains his world: and that architecture might be presented at any point to which his gaze would accede, at least his “intellectual” or “intellectual” gaze  (which is taken by a Logos, by a “discourse of totality” if you like). Gerald Schroeder, for example, would live in a cosmos built, at least, with two systems of ideas (those that offer their sacred texts and those offered by what we call “Science”). Schroeder, when he searches, when he calculates, he will always find that hybrid cosmos. He is trying to legitimize the literal narration of Genesis in the Bible with the literal narration of some scientific hypotheses (hypotheses that are always threatened of being, within a few years, a tribal, but “real” dream).

4.- The Kabbalist would handle a kind of logical x-ray machinery that would allow him to see the structure of the cosmos that, precisely, models his look. Every look is blind because it is intracosmic; that is to say: “intra-logical”. Every look is dreamlike.

5.- Two fundamental pillars of Kabbalah are monotheism (there is an omnipotent God and creator) and “the tree of life”: a drawing that represents something like God´s process of self-estrangement and return to Itself. That symbolic tree, so essential in the Cabala, has been explained in many different ways. There are those who see in him a model of the different states of consciousness that we can access until we reach the top of our human condition. That upper limit is called Keter, the crown. Or, said the other way round, in a descending way: the tree of life of the Kabbalists shows the different levels of consciousness to which God can come down: it would mark the maximum limit of what that Being is capable of moving away from Itself .

6.- Now I would like to share here a vertigo, an extreme window of my mind: What if the sacred texts were truly sacred? What if they were living membranes, permanently watered with the omnipotent blood of the God who sets them in his Creation? I want to say: What if the text, any text, had a metaphysical dimension that escapes us? What if he who read a sacred text such as the Bible, or any other, sacred or not, were in contact with a metaphysically membranous tissue? The Kabbalist would see through it, as if it were the cell walls of his cosmos: the sacred texts would be places of entry, and of use, for what is not thinkable from here inside.

7.- The tree of life, from the perspective of the Kabbalah, might be something like the footprint that God would leave in his passage through finitude. Or, perhaps better explained: a predesigned system -a radical legality- that might allow “that” what is infinite and metamorphic to live, to live in a world: to doubt, to play, to suffer, to endure bitter shadows, to love: to be a human being.

Finally, it could be said from the Kabbalistic monotheism that the tree of life is the tree of God’s life. And that each man would be a new opportunity of life for God himself. Hence his sacredness. I mena the sacredness of human beings. And that’s why we can never lose respect to any human being.

The man, each man, in his different levels of consciousness, would be a metaphysical tree: the tree where God gets access to the full life, that imposing storm of lights and shadows.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Art”.

 

 

Art.

What appears in the sky of this phrase is a photograph (a copy; How many copies are possible?) of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci called Salvator Mundi.  An avatar of God mirrored by an artist who has been divinized by the History of our civilization. It is said that somebody has paid for this object 450 million dollars. Perhaps we are facing the most expensive bulk of matter in the universe. A painting. An outcome of something that we call “Art”: Matter transformed by the human hand, by the human heart: mutated matter willing to produce exceptional states of consciousness to those who observe it. [See “Matter”].

Art. My purpose is to approach this logical ballerina from two perspectives: metaphysical (philosophical) and physical.

From Metaphysics [See “Metaphysics” in Spanish] arise, at least, these questions: What is Art, what function does it have within the great dynamics of the whole? Is it possible to draw a model of totality big enough to grasp the phenomenon of Art? Is Art a crucial phenomenon, a privileged experience, to undertake a really deep and unfettered Physics, or Anthropology, or Biology, or even Theology, not limited by the rules of the current models that make their task easier and more communicable?

From the current (ever changing) models of Physics arise fascinating questions [See here “Physics” in Spanish]: How to visualize, from a radically physical, or materialist point of view, the phenomenon of Art: inspiration, creation, communication of the created, alteration of the state of consciousness of the recipient of the work? What is, purely physically, molecularly, even quantumly if you want, a work of Art such as Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da Vinci? How to visualize, simultaneously, how to introduce in a single system, the creator of that work, the work itself -vibrant, bewitching,  being not exactly from this world- and its receiver, me for example? Or, to put it more bluntly: What happens to matter, to my matter (the matter of my brain and of my skin if you want) when I am taken, physically, by that artificial being created by Leonardo da Vinci?

At this point, I would like to recommend some readings:

1.- Plato. I recommend reading all his works as many times as possible, even if you don’t share his ideas (actually I do not share many of them). The rejection of Art. According to Plato, the Demiurge (the creator of this world) is a failed craftsman. Human artists in the world are even worse than the Demiurge: they provide copies of copies of the eternal ideas, only accesible if we get out of the world, of the cavern, of the ignorance.

2.- Novalis. Read Novalis Werke. Gerhard Schulz (edit.). Munich 2013 (In German). In English I recommend: Mahoney, M.: Novalis. Philosophical Writings. Albany 1997. It is also a great pleasure to read this book of Rüdiger Safranski: Romantik. Eine deutsche Affäre [Romanticism. A German affair], Frankfurt am Main 2010. And you can read my post in Spanish about Safranski [here].

3.- Hegel. It is a surprising pleasure to read his work Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik (Lectures on Aesthetics). Don’t miss it.

4.- Schopenhauer [See here in German]. The artist copies ideas better than Nature; and offers to the human being moments in which he no longer suffers the torture of desire. Music as a copy of the heart of the world. The musician is the best philosopher because he can really communicate de essence of the reality.

5.- Nietzsche. Read The Birth of Tragedy. Do it.

6.- Simone Weil [See here in Spanish]. “The beauty of the world is the tender smile of Christ towards us through matter”. Read La Pesanteur et la grâce.

7.- Deleuze/Félix Guattari. The Philosophy as creation of concepts. Read What’s Philosophy? And you can read my post in Spanish about Deleuze [here].

And this is what happens in my mind if I let the logical ballerina  “Art” dance inside it:

1.- The fundamental problem of the artistic phenomenon is that of creativity and, therefore, that of freedom. If individual freedom is logically unsustainable [See “Freedom” in Spanish], we can only think of a primordial artist, an omnipotence without essence (“God”, “Nothing”, whatever you want) acting through the hands and through the neurons and through the hearts of all possible human and non human artists. In the History of Art there are no absolutely creative and innovative moments: what is presented to us is a kind of millimetric evolution of aesthetic species, interpenetrating and fecundating themselves ubiquitously. Each artist is nourished by the environment, he adds small modifications to what others did, always within paradigms in which he can not help but drink… and be drunk by others, with the garden of his mind and his soul overpopulated with seeds which are brought by, lets say, not yet studied (or even considered) winds. It is difficult, or perhaps impossible, to see pure multi-individual creation. Leonardo da Vinci did not innovate. I was subjected to influences that could be visualized from a deterministic perspective. But there is, however, surprisingly, the phenomenon of inspiration, of sudden possession, which Hegel describes with mastery. It is a phenomenon beyond human control: it can not be started; it can not be stopped. We could talk about something like “Grace”.

2.- Leonardo da Vinci´s picture is, from a purely “physical” point of view, a bulk of Matter. Thus, the buyer of that  sublimated bulk knows that he possesses, retains, a unique portion of the solid of the universe: a concrete trimming of that great fabric of atoms that, according to a simplistic but useful perspective, constitutes the cosmos. But we are told by the physicians that such solidity is only apparent, or “exterior” (it is something like a veil). Salvator Mundi might be boiling in that “nothing” that, just barely, tries to mathematise the current Physics. Salvator Mundi might be open inside, open to a physical dimension where you do not know very well if you can go on talking about “the physical” (the objective) or the “psychical” (subjective … human? Divine? … We get lost there). It may be accepted nowadays that the subatomic entities that constitute Salvator Mundi appear and disappear, change, exist and don’t exist… But, surprisingly, the picture of Leonardo da Vinci seems to remain the same, as if its matter, it’s physical flesh, didn’t change. But it does. Permanently.

3.- The previous thoughts oblige us to consider that a work of Art is an idea, in a Platonic sense (an archetype, an instruction to mold matter). The work of Art would be an idea, in principle immutable and inmaterial, that needs matter to exist. To live. We could say, in part from Schopenhauer, that the work of Art is a living being (permanence of form with permanent change of matter). This perspective is more evident in the case of music. The musical genius creates a way (an idea, instructions if you want) to modify the natural vibration of the acoustic environment surrounding the perceiver. The musical work is not the score, but an idea (inmaterial, not yet belonging to this world) expressed in such score. And every time that idea is fulfilled, every time the matter is taken by the idea of the creator, the work of Art takes life, flesh: it finally becomes existence in the phenomenal world. It could be said that the ideas created by a creative musician can even transform the neuronal matter of a human being and, there, reach its plenitude.

4.- Art. Its very possibility poses a purely metaphysical question: Why does it exist at all? What ontological status does it have in the totality of the real? It could be said that there is something that supplies itself contents of consciousness from its infinite points. Such “self-supply” of artistic realities could explain the very fact of the existence of a world. Art, the work of Art, when it achieves its objective, generates plenitudes, moments in which an absolute yes, a yes more affirmative than Nietzsche’s own yes, echoes through all corners of the whole Being.

5.- From the deterministic materialism the phenomenon of Art appears like something really fabulous: a group of organized atoms (that of the artist) generates a law, or algorithm, able to modify the structure of their environment (think again about a musical work, or even of painting, which can be copied infinite times). And there is another group of atoms (the viewer of the work of Art) that perceives these programmed alterations of his environment, which in turn alters their own being (think of the rises in heart rate, the rapture, the loss of the ego-consciousness because of the excessive beauty of a painting, the quasi-lethal awe that can produce a poetic work or a song or a sculpture). Therefore matter, according to materialism, generates from itself forms of modification of itself, thus producing the glorious shudder of Art. It is undoubtedly matter (that divinity to which the materialists worship) a fascinating divinity. And it is also something utterly impossible to understand. I mean seriously understand.

6.- It is likely that we, human beings, when we die, we die of beauty. The less “ego-consciousness“ in the world, the more beauty surrounding (and being) the perceiver of that world.

7.- It is therefore necessary to make an equivalence between the rapture produced by the work of Art and death itself. The Stendhal syndrome would perhaps be a convulsion caused by an excess of Creation: something like if God, the Creator, had gone too far with his Creation. In fact, the Creation can be only for himself. It is logically impossible to overcome radical metaphysical monism.

8.- Some years ago I taught in Madrid a course entitled “Masterpieces of philosophical Art” because I thought we could contemplate the great philosophical systems as works of Art, not only poetic, but also architectural: great buildings of concepts and words that (fortunately always unsuccessfully) claim to mirror the totality. Some of them, nevertheless, not only offer huge logical and grammatical beauty, but also windows, huge windows, and even vertiginous spaceships, to approach and somehow feel the unsayable. Those philosophical systems are true unlimited jewels whose mere contemplation (study) offers one of the most sublime human experiences. 

Schopenhauer offered one of those huge systematic jewels; and he affirmed that music, the music of genius, expresses directly the essence of the world: what moves everything that moves inside the world (its intimate heart, so to speak). In the video that I offer below you can see, therefore, the open heart of the world, like if it were lying on a surgery table. In that video we can also see a master piece of Music embodied, taking the matter of a group of human beings, yearning to be, to have, life in their flesh. I suggest to contemplate the video keeping in mind the Schopenhauerian idea that in alive beings takes place a constant change of matter with maintenance of the form. I would like you to see that living being that is Bach’s St Matthew Passion taking the matter of a coordinated group of human beings: moving the muscles of their faces, of their hands, drawing predetermined neuronal connections in the immensity of their brains… You may have a wonderful and terrifying vision at the same time: a living being (created, not on freedom, by Bach) living inside another: a cathedral, which is another work of Art, another bulk of matter taken by the idea of ​​an artist (remember that a cathedral is being permanently restored following a model, an arquitectural idea created by a human artist).

I beg you to contemplate simultaneously those two living beings that were created (not on freedom) by artistic human beings. One inside another: a master piece of music existing for a while inside a master piece of architecture. And all that, inside many other (invisible) artistic structures that form the whole Creation, or the whole Reality if you want, which is, anyway, something glorious. The recording belongs to the Brandenburg Consort.

 

 

The logical ballerinas: “apara vidya”.

 

 

 

apara vidya

I found this logical ballerina of the old Indian Philosophy while walking though this beautiful book: The Upanishads [introduction and translation of Swami Nikilanada], Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York 1949.

And this is the forest glade where I saw her dancing, for the fist time in my life  (Op. cit. vol. I, p. 78):

“We have already spoken of the two aspects of Brahman: Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna Brahman is characterized by an absence of all attributes. It is Pure Consciousness and the immutable foundation of the universe. Again, in association with maya, Brahman appears as Saguna Brahman, which, from the standpoint of the Absolute, is mutable and impermanent. The knowledge of the former is called the Higher Knowledge, and that of the later, the lower knowledge. The Higher Knowledge brings about immediate Liberation, resulting in the utter cessation of all suffering and the attainment of supreme Bliss. The lower knowledge leads to the realization of the position of Brahma and thus paves the way for ultimate Liberation. It offers the highest happiness in the material world. But still it is not Immortality. The attainment of the Higher Knowledge, or Para Vidya, is the goal of the spiritual life. But the lower knowledge, or apara vidya, is not to be neglected or despicted. As long as man is conscious of the ego and the outside worlds, and as long as he takes these for real, so long must he cultivate this knowledge. The Bhagavad Gita says that if a man who is identified with the body follows the way of the Unmanifest, he only courts misery. The Mundaka Upanishad exhorts the pupil to cultivate both the Higher Knowledge and the lower knowledge.”

My intention in this text is to figure out the metaphysical-systemic meaning of the very fact of the existence  of that alleged “inferior wisdom”: the very fact that there is something – life, world, or whatever you want to call it – where, if you have certain very precious knowledge, you can be happy. How and why was our world designed in that challenging way? Is it a moral, mighty video-game? Or was the world not designed that way (there is no design at all) and are we now dealing with false philosophical problems?

Anyway, since we are now not supposed to be in that Vedantic “superior wisdom” (actually if we were there, there would not be an “I” that writes and another “I” that reads), we can contemplate and enjoy the awesome intellectual storm of increasing and unresolved doubts. Let’s start asking. Lets fully open and peek out every conceivable windows of our mind and of any mind. Let’s start loving, yearning, what we don’t know, “that” whose mere existence we can not imagine. Let’s start enjoying the sublime (and harsh) pleasure of Philosophy.

But do we really want to resolve all doubts? Do we really want the absolute cessation of all suffering? Do we want immortality? Do we yearn, like Schopenhauer, an eternal, beatific nothing?

Apara vidya is the wisdom for those who don’t want to escape from life, for those who do not mind to go on loving the world (the whole reality if you want) without really understanding it. It could also be called “wisdom of life.” Or wisdom “of the dream”, if we see our life as a dream (it is, in fact, a dream: a sacred dream). But who/what dreams?

And, especially: How is it possible the very existence of ignorance within the Being? Is not the ignorance a miracle?

More questions: Can we be more or less happy in our life depending on the knowledge that can be achieved in it? Is it worth being wise here inside? Is the wise happier? Are we free inside this world to decide and achieve the scope of our wisdom and happiness? How much knowledge and happiness are available?

Do we have – the “human beings” – power enough to transform our life (Our mind? Our consciousness?) into a work of art, into something wonderful… according to our own model of what is and what is not wonderful?

Is it worth our effort, our daily struggle, our telephone call this very morning to that person whom one day we decided to hate forever, or the daily care and respect for our body, or our unconfessed prayers to… we do not know very well what omnipotences, or our sleeplessness caused by our financial problems, or our trembling fight against our darkest shadows? Is it worthwhile to educate our children, to manage our economy with diligence, to vote good governments?

In summary: Is it worth this very world, this life, even if it is a dream, even if it is an ephemeral ripple of the mind of Something unnameable?

Yes, it is. Sorry Schopenhauer.

But what am I referring to, specifically, with the expression “this life”? And where lives my life?

Schopenhauer [See in German], subjugated by some models of the Mystic tradition, and tortured by his own psychological and familiar hell, proposed a radical abandonment of the world (his world). Nietzsche (who was radically loved by his parents) even though he suffered much more than Schopenhauer,  proposed just the opposite: a radical and passionate permanence in the world, in that world in which we so much doubt, tremble and suffer (and enjoy) and die: heroic permanence, with all the senses activated, exposed (not drugged), introducing our hands and thoughts in all the muds and in all the tears and in all the possible and impossible stars so as transform our life into a great work of art. The goal would not be happiness, but art (bewitching, designed, artificial contents of consciousness).

For what then the superior wisdom, the Para Vidya? Why then to escape from this unsayable prodigy that we call life? Are we going to escape from it only on the grounds of stopping our suffering? And do we not endure the idea of dying? Why not? Is not the idea of finitude (death) as fascinating and unthinkable as the infinitude?

Last question: Is it possible to make use of the Higher Knowledge and (refusing the advise of the Bhagavad Gita) put it at the service of life?

Some of my ideas (of my feelings):

1.- I suspect, I verify almost every day, that we have an overwhelming influence in the unfolding of what we call “our life”.

2.- I believe that, if we become aware of what we are, of the power that we have, we can see the world in the palm of our hands, ready to be our Creation. Thus, the Para Vidya (the superior knowledge, the one that allows us to know that we are the bottom of all the worlds and of all the gods) allows us to love life (the Creation, what presents itself inside our consciousness) with the feeling of being its creators. I am referring to an infinite love, but also to an infinite distance, regarding the dance of reality. From that infinite love and distance we can contemplate (and sublimate, and sacralize) our apparent individual self (the one which has a name): a creature (an avatar) that we can love -and care for- without completely confusing ourselves with it.

3.- Our huge efforts are worth it. We can make amazing alchemies: we can transform any hell (exterior and interior) into a paradise. Surprising levels of beauty around us can be unfold. We are extremely powerful.

4.- But before the existence of any transformable hell, or any desirable type of light, a cosmos (order, structures, ideas) must have been installed in our consciousness. When we fight for the beauty of our world, we always do it fully spellbound by ideas. The idea of ​​love, of son, of friend, of old man who can be taken to heaven with a single smile, of idyllic nature, of economic growth, of whatever. And we will kill a cockroach, or a bacterium, or we will put a criminal in jail, or we will scold a child, or we will expropriate a bank, if with that we believe that it can be sustained, in the metamorphic immensity of the Being, our beloved world according to “our” ideas of beauty. We constantly strive to materialize ideas of beauty. Thats the only thing we really do.

5. Para Vidya. Superior wisdom. At least as proposed by the Vedanta, it would allow us to know what we really are. It would allow us to live inside a dream knowing that we are the creators of that dream. The dreamed person, the consciousness that has been finitized, individualized there, knows that its being is not confined there, in that precious, deliquescent, ontologically vacuous mask (the person). Higher knowledge offers an awakening, within the dream, without deactivating the dream.

6 .- The history of human thought and feeling offers us a huge catalog of inferior wisdom (apara vidya). One of the most outstanding offers of lower wisdom (wisdom of life) is offered by Hatha Yoga. There stands out the (Aristotelian) idea that we can only be happy and virtuous at the same time. The world, the reality of our life, is connected to our mind, but also to our whole body. A simple bowel cleansing influences the intensity of the blue of the sky and diminishes the apparent badness of a neighbour. A gesture of affection for those who for years have embittered our life embellishes the streets and purifies our viscera. Mind, body, consciousness, world… everything merges into a prodigious machine where true magic can be made: a prodigious machine that allows to feel -and be- the sacred.

7.- Another feeling: The worlds love those who love them. It is impressive to see how sensitive the Thing is. It could be said that “the matter” (What is that?) that surrounds us and constitutes us, at least at this level of consciousness, is raw, lets say as sensitive as human, living flesh… without skin. The virtuous human being discovers that everything is known in all corners of the Whole, that matter reads his thoughts, that “the other” – the other human being – is himself: another one of his avatars, another one of his masks.

8.- From the precious jail of the language it is possible to try something like this: There is Something, omnipotent, free, of infinite fertility, that is capable of self-diffraction in infinite worlds and in infinite levels and forms of consciousness. In each of them that sacred monster knows what he needs to know, what he wants to know and the happiness or suffering he wants to feel. We should not be surprised. Is not all this, and infinitely more, possible for an omnipotent being?

9.- All knowledge is always inferior. Also the one that the Upanishads calls “superior”. All knowledge is ignorance, because the final destiny of all wisdom is to discover that “knowledge” is a spell, that it is essentially false. The basic presupposition of all knowledge (that of the existence of a subject and an object) is falsehood (a sacred falsehood). “Advaita”: with this Vedantic symbol it is intended to be said that the Whole Thing can become aware of its being in one of it created forest glades (for instance a human mind). Heidegger spoke of advent [See in Spanish]. In Christianity there are those who speak of Grace. Master Eckhart affirmed that the divinity reveals itself when it wants … within itself. What other place can there be?

10.- Is there nothing to do then from here, from inside an individual life? Quite the opposite. I see it every day. Paracelsus believed that magic does not like slackers. I know people who have fought fiercely, and quietly, to keep clean, like jewels, the invisible conduits that united the members of their family. And they have achieved it. Keys that these people have given to me (they are two old women who do not know each other): avoid slander, do not gossip, do give example, never stop loving, do not complain, be very strong (very resistant to suffering and hope), pray… The two old women believe that life (other´s life mainly) are very worthwhile. They believe that life can be very beautiful or very ugly depending on how we take care of it, and depending on our level of virtue, lets say the level of beauty of our deeds and thoughts.  Both old women, by the way, love gardening.

11.- We seem to be involved in very profound and mysterious information flows. We are in something much bigger and more prodigious than any wisdom can ever know. We read and learn what we need.

12.- Matrix: From the model of totality that emerged from our logical dancer (apara vidya) we could say that we are, at the same time, the slaves of the Matrix and the architects of the worlds that are inoculated in those enslaved minds. To know it would be superior knowledge. To know it would mean to assume absolute creativity, and a huge responsibility.

13.- I feel more and more surprised by the plasticity of life. I love this life. I love this dream because there are beings in it who I love without limit. Beings -not just humans— that, to me, justify any effort that I had to make so that this dream, this Maya, does not dissolve in the enormous bonfire of the infinite. Two of these beings appear in the image that floats over these phrases. In it you can see my brother Alfonso teaching a Yoga class, and also my son Nicolás, listening.

14.- I perceive, from the most radical empiricism that can be practiced -William James [See in Spanish]– that something/someone assists us from out there to fight for this dream. And, in silence (only in silence), that huge Thing, apparently external to our self and our universe, tells us how to turn our life into a wonderful spectacle. We just have to be quiet -radically silent- and listen attentive. We are not alone. Nothing is alone.

Well, this is what occurs in the dancehall of my mind if I let the logical ballerina “apara vida” dance freely, naked, wild, inside it.

David López

August 22, 2018.

The logical ballerinas. Introduction.

 

 

 

I proceed to translate into English the 59 logical ballerinas that are now dancing (in Spanish) inside this website and maybe beyond. I hope to pour their philosophical mystery in this vibrant, powerful  language: in this grammatical flesh.

In the Rig Veda there is a hymn (10.125) that has been laughing and dazzling for more than three thousand years. In that hymn the word itself (a bewitching, almighty Goddess named Vak) speaks of itself and of every conceivable reality. In fact “reality” is a word, and “word” is another word. Lets listen to the Goddess Vak in a translation from the Sanskrit made by Wendy Donniger O´Flaherty (The Rig Veda, New York 1981):

“The one who eats food, who really sees, who breathes, who hears what is said, does so through me. Though they do not realize it, they dwell in me”.

Michel Foucault said millennia later:

“It is not men who make speeches, but speeches who make men” [See Michel Foucault in Spanish].

This mutant dictionary is called “The logical ballerinas”. And all its words/dancers are united by “hands” or “superstrings” that, to my surprise, are weaving, slowly, passionately, a growing organism whose future dimensions and mutations I can not foresee now.

All the texts in this dictionary demand and will always demand a new wording. They are provisional, and they will always be. I do not want any wording -any grammatical image of the fertile, inaccesible inner infinity of each word and world- to ever be definitive (finite, final, dead). I love life, even though I don’t understand it. I love the always changing, unmeasurable ,  challenging, ineffable life (maybe even more than Nietzsche himself), and I also love the artificial life of those powerful creatures that I have called “logical ballerinas”.

I hope to be able to share with you my amazement at the great dance show, at the metaphysical and bewitching dance offered by the words chosen in this dictionary. My intention is to let them dance in the unlimited dancehall of our mind ( Is it ours? Are we hers? What is exactly a mind beyond what it can think about itself? Is not “mind” a simple but very bewitching word?). And I also want to let them dance, as free and wild and naked as possible, in the unlimited dancehall of our heart, and just contemplate, quietly, their bodies, their beauty, their shuddering power, their amazing capacity to create artificial worlds in our consciousness. Eventually every  world, every reality, is artificial.

And, perhaps, in some transparent nooks of the dancing flesh of the logical ballerinas there may be a glimpse of the sacred nothingness that shines on the bottom of every reality.

I see that shine in the photograph of the ballerina Wilfride Piollet that flies in the sky of this text. No real beauty is possible without huge effort, without very intense creative suffering, of a conscious individual being. And beauty is the ultimate reason of everything.

I will publish the first logical ballerina (the one named “apara aidya”) very soon. And I will follow their alphabetical order.

David López