The logical ballerinas: “Tapas” (Creative suffering)

 

 

Tapas. It is a word, a concept, that triggers inside my mind a paramount philosophical fascination. It comes from Sanskrit. This language was written in Devanagari (“the writing of the gods”). The beauty of its calligraphy can be enjoyed in the text that flies over these phrases. It is the beginning of the famous Creation Hymn (10.129) of the Rig Veda. You can find it on this generous website: 

www.sacred-texts.com.

Tapas… We are going to philosophize about a specific type of suffering: the creative suffering.

Nietzsche raised the -of course unwilling- suffering to the highest realms of human nature and sacralized who were able to cry a heroic yes to life, with all its suffering. The philosopher of the hammer worshiped a heroic artistic effort whose goal would be to enhance the bewitching aesthetic power of life, of the sole, immanent reality. Schopenhauer, on the contrary, uttered a radical no to life, to this world, and also proclaimed not only the urgency of its complete annihilation, but also the possibility of the Creation of another world, of another whole reality, unthinkable, even unimaginable, from this one. [See my paper, still in German, on the place of magic in the  philosophical system of Schopenhauer].

Pain. Suffering. Creation of reality. Tapas

We are facing a Sanskrit noun related to the verb tap (to heat). I recommend, to those who still do not know it, this powerful resource:

Cologne Digital Sanskrit DictionariesThere we find these meanings for Tapas: “heat”, “the five fires to which the devotee is subjected in the hot season”, “pain”, “suffering”, “religious austerity”, “mortification of the body”, “the sacred learning of the Brahmins”, “giving the soul to the Brahmins”, “service”, “feeding with roots and herbs”…

The point is that Maurice Blomfield went far beyond and, in his edition of the Atharva Veda, translated Tapas as “creative fervor” (Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 42). You can access this work from here: 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe42/index.htm

Such conception of the Tapas can also be found in the aforementioned Creation Hymn of the Rig Veda, whose third verse sings:

“Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat”.

I have quoted from the translation and editing of part of the hymns of the Rig Veda made by Wendy Donniger (Penguin, London 1981). This translator includes a note in the word “heat” that says the following:

Tapas designates heat, in particular the heat generated by ritual activity and by physical mortification of the body.”

But it turns out that we are facing a hymn that wants to explain the mystery that there is something instead of nothing: something, in addition, that arises out of nothing: the Creation. And the key seems to be in a certain type of suffering; or, rather, in a creative channeling of suffering.

This creative power of the ascetic sacrifice -the “heat” of asceticism- shows up in another famous hymn of the Rig Veda, the Purusa-Sukta (10.90), which describes Creation as the result of a violent dismemberment of a primordial man. Let’s  read its ninth verse:

“From that sacrifice in which everything was offered, the verses and the chants were born, the meters were born from it, and from it the formulas were born”.

It would seem that the huge suffering of that ‘proto-human’ who was dismembered by creative gods would be the fundamental energy of all creation -including the primeval Word [See the introduction of this philosophical dictionary]. 

I now proceed to convey some personal thoughts on the mystery of suffering (I have lived long enough to have experienced it, several times, in its amazing fullness):

1.- The reality of suffering, even of extreme suffering, is undoubtedly one of the core elements of our existence. Furthermore, it could also be said that the intensity that such feeling can reach is one of the most astonishing experiences of our lives. 

2. I see two basic types of suffering: ‘protective’ and ‘creative’.

  1. The protective suffering. This one serves to protect, to sustain our world, our current model of existence (for example, the pain that prevents us from performing acts that may threaten the integrity of our physical body, or the stability of our financial dimension, or the survival of our family-archetype, or the purity of our model of sexuality, or the alleged sacrality of our nation’s flag). The worlds and their bewitched inhabitants are protected by a dualistic pleasure/suffering system. Anything that threatens or breaks our cosmos causes suffering. Let’s think about the suffering (‘logical suffering’ could be called) caused by the discourses that derive from political ideas radically different from those that structure, that sustain, the political /ideological comfort of the listener.
  1. The creative suffering. This one would propitiate the need to flee from one unbearable world and create another, and even to take some essential jewels of the first and bring them in the new one. I mean something like a metaphysical emigration that carries what is unrenounceable (a son, for instance) in its harsh, but also creative travel. This type of Creation/Migration requieres extreme, unbearable suffering. It reminds me of Marx’s idea of ​​using the extreme suffering of the working masses to completely dynamite that which he considered as a capitalist (and therefore anti-human, evil) system. In fact that extreme suffering, when it exceeds certain thresholds, works like a plow (and also as a magical wand) in the infinite garden of our conscience. That extreme suffering can even break the containment dykes that separates us from ‘the other’. Anyway, if, as Buddha or Schopenhauer say, life is extreme suffering, we could affirm that life is Creativity (with capital letters). Ubiquitous and permanent Creativity. Creativity that also presupposes (needs) destruction, pain. I am talking about an involuntary personal hell that, at the same time, is the factory of any heaven, and not only of our private heaven, but also a heaven that might be shared with others.

3.- Many of us can remember this: to be suffering intensely inside a dream, and, suddenly, to be conscious -from a mysterious, radical lucidity- that we could escape from that torturous dream at any moment. Only willing to do it. And we do it. We actually did it, because otherwise we would not be reading this text.

4.- It could be said that all the worlds are open. It is possible to leave, to scape to another Maya, or to the ‘nothing’ from which they sprout and to which all the worlds return. Can we create worlds? Yes. And not only that: we can re-create ourselves. And it seems that the decisive force for such huge project is a previous, unbearable suffering: a prodigious emotional catapult. A catapult that you have to handle wisely if you want it to cause the desired effects. Paradoxically, extreme suffering may be an opportunity to perform allegedly impossible miracles inside the world that was protected by the non-extreme suffering. Extreme (not voluntary, let’s insist) suffering might be considered pure magic. That seems to indicate the hymns to the Creation of the Rig Veda to which I have referred before.

Next, I offer a link in which you can see a fragment of All the Mornings of the World, a film directed by Alain Corneau. It tells the astonishing story of Saint Colombe, a seventeenth-century musician who channeled his extreme suffering (and his extreme self-discipline) to create a music capable of summoning and also shaking his dead wife. That music is interpreted for the film by Jordi Savall. Enjoy in fullness this supreme fruit of creative suffering:

 



La bailarinas lógicas “Tapas” (Sufrimiento creativo)

[:es]

 

Tapas. Una palabra, un concepto, que desencadena dentro de mi mente una excepcional fascinación filosófica. Viene de sánscrito. Este lenguaje fue escrito en Devanagari (“la escritura de los dioses”). La belleza de su caligrafía se puede ver aquí:

नासदासीन नो सदासीत तदानीं नासीद रजो नो वयोमापरो यत |
किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद गहनं गभीरम ||

Es el comienzo del famoso Himno a la Creación (10.129) del Rig Veda. Se puede encontrar en este generosa página web:

www.sacred-texts.com

Sufrimiento. Creación. Nietzsche elevó el sufrimiento (por supuesto el sufrimiento no deseado, no buscado) a los más altos niveles de la naturaleza humana, y sacralizó a quien diera un  heroico “sí” a la vida, con todo su sufrimiento. El filósofo del martillo rindió culto a un sufriente esfuerzo artístico cuyo fin sería aumentar la potencia del hechizo estético de la vida, de la realidad única, de lo inmanente. Schopenhauer, por el contrario, dio un “no” radical a la vida, a este mundo, a este sueño/hechizo que tanto dolor nos causa; y proclamó no solo la urgencia de su completa aniquilación, sino también la posibilidad de la Creación de otro mundo, de otra realidad completa, impensable, incluso inimaginable, desde éste. [Véase aquí mi articulo sobre la metafísica de Schopenhauer, todavía en alemán].

Dolor. Sufrimiento. Creación de la realidad. Tapas

Estamos frente a un sustantivo sánscrito relacionado con el verbo tap (calentar). Recomiendo, a quienes aún no lo conozcan, este recurso de la universidad de Colonia:

https://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de

Ahí encontramos estos significados para Tapas: “calor”, “los cinco fuegos a los que el devoto está sometido en la estación cálida”, “dolor”, “sufrimiento”, “austeridad religiosa”, “mortificación del cuerpo”, “el aprendizaje sagrado de los brahmanes “, “dar el alma a los brahmanes”, “servicio”, “alimentarse solo con raíces y hierbas”…

Pero un estudioso como Maurice Blomfield fue mucho más allá y, en su edición del Atharva Veda (el Veda de la magia), tradujo Tapas como “fervor creativo” (Libros Sagrados del Este, Vol. 42). Se puede acceder a este trabajo desde aquí: 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe42/index.htm

Esta concepción de Tapas también se puede encontrar en el antes mencionado Himno de la Creación del Rig Veda, cuyo tercer verso canta así:

“La oscuridad estaba oculta por la oscuridad al principio; sin distinción, todo esto fue agua. La fuerza de vida que estaba cubierta de vacío, esa surgió a través del poder del calor.”

Para la cita anterior he utilizado la traducción y edición de parte de los himnos del Rig Veda de Wendy Donniger (Penguin, Londres, 1981). Esta traductora incluye una nota en la palabra “calor” que dice lo siguiente:

“Tapas designa calor, en particular el calor generado por la actividad ritual y por la mortificación física del cuerpo” (La traducción del inglés al español es mía).

Pero resulta que nos enfrentamos a un himno que quiere explicar el misterio de que haya algo en lugar de nada: algo, además, que surge de la nada: la Creación. Y la clave parece estar en un cierto tipo de sufrimiento; o, mejor dicho, en una canalización creativa del sufrimiento extremo.

Este poder creativo del sacrificio ascético, el “calor” del ascetismo, también se muestra en otro famoso himno del Rig Veda, el Purusa-Sukta (10.90), que describe la Creación como el resultado de un violento desmembramiento del hombre primordial. Leamos su noveno verso:

“De ese sacrificio en el que se ofreció todo, nacieron los versos y los cantos, nacieron de él los metros, y de él nacieron las fórmulas”.

Parecería que el enorme sufrimiento de ese “proto-humano” que fue desmembrado sería la energía fundamental de toda la Creación, incluida la palabra primigenia [Véase la introducción de este diccionario filosófico].

Ahora procedo a transmitir algunos pensamientos personales sobre el misterio del sufrimiento (He vivido lo suficiente como para haberlo experimentado plenamente, varias veces, en su asombrosa plenitud):

1.- La realidad del sufrimiento, incluso del sufrimiento extremo, es sin duda uno de los elementos centrales de nuestra existencia. Por otro lado, cabría afirmar que la intensidad que puede alcanzar ese ‘dolor del alma’ es una de las experiencias más sorprendentes, más desconcertantes, de nuestra vida.

2.- Buena parte de los sistemas religiosos, e incluso filosóficos, son gigantescas farmacéuticas que ofrecen todo tipo de remedios contra el sufrimiento (‘el dolor del alma’). Y, en muchos casos, se medirá su ‘nivel de verdad’  en función de la eficacia que dichos sistemas tengan a la hora de diseñar sus productos (los cuales además suelen estar fabricados solo con palabras).

3. Veo dos tipos básicos de sufrimiento: el ‘protector’ y el ‘creativo’.

El ‘sufrimiento protector’ sirve para proteger, para sostener, nuestro mundo, nuestro modelo actual de existencia (por ejemplo, el dolor que nos impide realizar actos que puedan amenazar la integridad de nuestro cuerpo físico, o la estabilidad de nuestra dimensión financiera, o la supervivencia de nuestro arquetipo de familia, o la pureza de nuestro modelo de sexualidad, o la supuesta sacralidad de la bandera de nuestra nación). Los mundos y sus hechizados habitantes están protegidos por un sistema dual de placer/sufrimiento. Cualquier cosa que amenace o rompa nuestro cosmos causa sufrimiento. Pensemos en el sufrimiento (“sufrimiento lógico” podría llamarse) causado por los discursos que derivan de ideas políticas radicalmente diferentes de aquellas que estructuran, que sostienen, la comodidad político-ideológica del oyente.

El ‘sufrimiento creativo’, por el contrario, propiciaría la necesidad de huir de un mundo ya insoportable y crear otro, e incluso tomar algunas joyas esenciales del primero y llevarlas al nuevo. Me refiero a algo así como una emigración metafísica (no necesariamente física, o territorial) que, en su duro viaje, transporta lo que no es renunciable: un hijo, por ejemplo, o ciertos valores éticos. Este tipo de creación/migración requiere sufrimiento extremo. Pensemos en la idea de Marx de utilizar el sufrimiento extremo de las masas trabajadoras para dinamitar completamente lo que él consideraba como un sistema capitalista (y, por lo tanto, anti-humano, maligno). De hecho, el sufrimiento extremo, cuando supera ciertos umbrales, funciona como un arado (y también como una barita mágica) en el jardín infinito de nuestra conciencia. Ese sufrimiento extremo puede incluso romper los diques de contención que nos separa de “lo otro”. De todos modos, si, como dicen Buda o Schopenhauer, la vida es un sufrimiento extremo, podríamos afirmar que la vida es Creatividad (con mayúsculas). Creatividad ubicua y permanente. Creatividad que también presupone (necesita) destrucción, dolor. Estoy hablando de un infierno personal involuntario que, al mismo tiempo, es la fábrica de cualquier cielo, y no solo de nuestro cielo privado, sino también de un cielo que podría ser compartido.

4.- Muchos de nosotros podemos recordar esto: sufrir intensamente dentro de un sueño y, de repente, ser conscientes, desde una misteriosa y radical lucidez, de que podemos escapar de ese torturante sueño en cualquier momento. Solo con quererlo. Y de hecho lo hacemos. En realidad lo ya lo hicimos, porque de lo contrario no estaríamos leyendo este texto.

5.- Se podría decir que todos los mundos están abiertos. Es posible salir, escapar a otro maya, o a la “Nada” de la que brotan y a la que regresan todos los mundos. ¿Podemos crear mundos? Sí. Y no solo eso: podemos re-crearnos a nosotros mismos. Y parece que la fuerza decisiva para ello es un sufrimiento anterior, insoportable: una prodigiosa catapulta emocional. Una catapulta que hay que manejar con cuidado si se quiere que cause los efectos deseados. Paradójicamente, el sufrimiento extremo puede ser una oportunidad para realizar milagros supuestamente imposibles dentro del mundo que estaba protegido por el sufrimiento no extremo. El sufrimiento extremo (no voluntario, insistamos) puede considerarse magia pura. Eso parecen indicar los himnos a la Creación del Rig Veda a los que me he referido anteriormente.

A continuación ofrezco un enlace en el que se puede ver un fragmento de Todas las mañanas del mundo, una película dirigida por Alain Corneau. Cuenta la asombrosa historia de Saint Colombe, un músico del siglo XVII que canalizó su sufrimiento extremo (y su autodisciplina extrema) para crear una música capaz de convocar, y también de estremecer, a su esposa muerta. La música es interpretada para la película por Jordi Savall. Disfrutad en plenitud de este sublime fruto del sufrimiento creativo:

 

https://youtu.be/pnriefsHKsQ

¿Cuánto sufrimiento estará ocurriendo en el corazón del universo creado?

[:en]

El próximo lunes 18 de marzo a las 20.00 horas (hora de Madrid), impartiré una conferencia on-line basada en este artículo. [Más información]

Tapas. Una palabra, un concepto, que desencadena dentro de mi mente una excepcional fascinación filosófica. Viene de sánscrito. Este lenguaje fue escrito en Devanagari (“la escritura de los dioses”). La belleza de su caligrafía se puede ver aquí:

नासदासीन नो सदासीत तदानीं नासीद रजो नो वयोमापरो यत |
किमावरीवः कुह कस्य शर्मन्नम्भः किमासीद गहनं गभीरम ||

Es el comienzo del famoso Himno a la Creación (10.129) del Rig Veda. Se puede encontrar en este generosa página web:

www.sacred-texts.com

Sufrimiento. Creación. Nietzsche elevó el sufrimiento (por supuesto el sufrimiento no deseado, no buscado) a los más altos niveles de la naturaleza humana, y sacralizó a quien diera un  heroico “sí” a la vida, con todo su sufrimiento. El filósofo del martillo rindió culto a un sufriente esfuerzo artístico cuyo fin sería aumentar la potencia del hechizo estético de la vida, de la realidad única, de lo inmanente. Schopenhauer, por el contrario, dio un “no” radical a la vida, a este mundo, a este sueño/hechizo que tanto dolor nos causa; y proclamó no solo la urgencia de su completa aniquilación, sino también la posibilidad de la Creación de otro mundo, de otra realidad completa, impensable, incluso inimaginable, desde éste. [Véase aquí mi articulo sobre la metafísica de Schopenhauer, todavía en alemán].

Dolor. Sufrimiento. Creación de la realidad. Tapas

Estamos frente a un sustantivo sánscrito relacionado con el verbo tap (calentar). Recomiendo, a quienes aún no lo conozcan, este recurso de la universidad de Colonia:

https://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de

Ahí encontramos estos significados para Tapas: “calor”, “los cinco fuegos a los que el devoto está sometido en la estación cálida”, “dolor”, “sufrimiento”, “austeridad religiosa”, “mortificación del cuerpo”, “el aprendizaje sagrado de los brahmanes “, “dar el alma a los brahmanes”, “servicio”, “alimentarse solo con raíces y hierbas”…

Pero un estudioso como Maurice Blomfield fue mucho más allá y, en su edición del Atharva Veda (el Veda de la magia), tradujo Tapas como “fervor creativo” (Libros Sagrados del Este, Vol. 42). Se puede acceder a este trabajo desde aquí: 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe42/index.htm

Esta concepción de Tapas también se puede encontrar en el antes mencionado Himno de la Creación del Rig Veda, cuyo tercer verso canta así:

“La oscuridad estaba oculta por la oscuridad al principio; sin distinción, todo esto fue agua. La fuerza de vida que estaba cubierta de vacío, esa surgió a través del poder del calor.”

Para la cita anterior he utilizado la traducción y edición de parte de los himnos del Rig Veda de Wendy Donniger (Penguin, Londres, 1981). Esta traductora incluye una nota en la palabra “calor” que dice lo siguiente:

“Tapas designa calor, en particular el calor generado por la actividad ritual y por la mortificación física del cuerpo” (La traducción del inglés al español es mía).

Pero resulta que nos enfrentamos a un himno que quiere explicar el misterio de que haya algo en lugar de nada: algo, además, que surge de la nada: la Creación. Y la clave parece estar en un cierto tipo de sufrimiento; o, mejor dicho, en una canalización creativa del sufrimiento extremo.

Este poder creativo del sacrificio ascético, el “calor” del ascetismo, también se muestra en otro famoso himno del Rig Veda, el Purusa-Sukta (10.90), que describe la Creación como el resultado de un violento desmembramiento del hombre primordial. Leamos su noveno verso:

“De ese sacrificio en el que se ofreció todo, nacieron los versos y los cantos, nacieron de él los metros, y de él nacieron las fórmulas”.

Parecería que el enorme sufrimiento de ese “proto-humano” que fue desmembrado sería la energía fundamental de toda la Creación, incluida la palabra primigenia [Véase la introducción de este diccionario filosófico].

Ahora procedo a transmitir algunos pensamientos personales sobre el misterio del sufrimiento (He vivido lo suficiente como para haberlo experimentado plenamente, varias veces, en su asombrosa plenitud):

1.- La realidad del sufrimiento, incluso del sufrimiento extremo, es sin duda uno de los elementos centrales de nuestra existencia. Por otro lado, cabría afirmar que la intensidad que puede alcanzar ese ‘dolor del alma’ es una de las experiencias más sorprendentes, más desconcertantes, de nuestra vida.

2.- Buena parte de los sistemas religiosos, e incluso filosóficos, son gigantescas farmacéuticas que ofrecen todo tipo de remedios contra el sufrimiento (‘el dolor del alma’). Y, en muchos casos, se medirá su ‘nivel de verdad’  en función de la eficacia que dichos sistemas tengan a la hora de diseñar sus productos (los cuales además suelen estar fabricados solo con palabras).

3. Veo dos tipos básicos de sufrimiento: el ‘protector’ y el ‘creativo’.

El ‘sufrimiento protector’ sirve para proteger, para sostener, nuestro mundo, nuestro modelo actual de existencia (por ejemplo, el dolor que nos impide realizar actos que puedan amenazar la integridad de nuestro cuerpo físico, o la estabilidad de nuestra dimensión financiera, o la supervivencia de nuestro arquetipo de familia, o la pureza de nuestro modelo de sexualidad, o la supuesta sacralidad de la bandera de nuestra nación). Los mundos y sus hechizados habitantes están protegidos por un sistema dual de placer/sufrimiento. Cualquier cosa que amenace o rompa nuestro cosmos causa sufrimiento. Pensemos en el sufrimiento (“sufrimiento lógico” podría llamarse) causado por los discursos que derivan de ideas políticas radicalmente diferentes de aquellas que estructuran, que sostienen, la comodidad político-ideológica del oyente.

El ‘sufrimiento creativo’, por el contrario, propiciaría la necesidad de huir de un mundo ya insoportable y crear otro, e incluso tomar algunas joyas esenciales del primero y llevarlas al nuevo. Me refiero a algo así como una emigración metafísica (no necesariamente física, o territorial) que, en su duro viaje, transporta lo que no es renunciable: un hijo, por ejemplo, o ciertos valores éticos. Este tipo de creación/migración requiere sufrimiento extremo. Pensemos en la idea de Marx de utilizar el sufrimiento extremo de las masas trabajadoras para dinamitar completamente lo que él consideraba como un sistema capitalista (y, por lo tanto, anti-humano, maligno). De hecho, el sufrimiento extremo, cuando supera ciertos umbrales, funciona como un arado (y también como una barita mágica) en el jardín infinito de nuestra conciencia. Ese sufrimiento extremo puede incluso romper los diques de contención que nos separa de “lo otro”. De todos modos, si, como dicen Buda o Schopenhauer, la vida es un sufrimiento extremo, podríamos afirmar que la vida es Creatividad (con mayúsculas). Creatividad ubicua y permanente. Creatividad que también presupone (necesita) destrucción, dolor. Estoy hablando de un infierno personal involuntario que, al mismo tiempo, es la fábrica de cualquier cielo, y no solo de nuestro cielo privado, sino también de un cielo que podría ser compartido.

4.- Muchos de nosotros podemos recordar esto: sufrir intensamente dentro de un sueño y, de repente, ser conscientes, desde una misteriosa y radical lucidez, de que podemos escapar de ese torturante sueño en cualquier momento. Solo con quererlo. Y de hecho lo hacemos. En realidad lo ya lo hicimos, porque de lo contrario no estaríamos leyendo este texto.

5.- Se podría decir que todos los mundos están abiertos. Es posible salir, escapar a otro maya, o a la “Nada” de la que brotan y a la que regresan todos los mundos. ¿Podemos crear mundos? Sí. Y no solo eso: podemos re-crearnos a nosotros mismos. Y parece que la fuerza decisiva para ello es un sufrimiento anterior, insoportable: una prodigiosa catapulta emocional. Una catapulta que hay que manejar con cuidado si se quiere que cause los efectos deseados. Paradójicamente, el sufrimiento extremo puede ser una oportunidad para realizar milagros supuestamente imposibles dentro del mundo que estaba protegido por el sufrimiento no extremo. El sufrimiento extremo (no voluntario, insistamos) puede considerarse magia pura. Eso parecen indicar los himnos a la Creación del Rig Veda a los que me he referido anteriormente.

A continuación ofrezco un enlace en el que se puede ver un fragmento de Todas las mañanas del mundo, una película dirigida por Alain Corneau. Cuenta la asombrosa historia de Saint Colombe, un músico del siglo XVII que canalizó su sufrimiento extremo (y su autodisciplina extrema) para crear una música capaz de convocar, y también de estremecer, a su esposa muerta. La música es interpretada para la película por Jordi Savall. Disfrutad en plenitud de este sublime fruto del sufrimiento creativo:

¿Cuánto sufrimiento estará ocurriendo en el corazón del universo creado?

[:]

The logical ballerinas: “Machine”

At Christmas 2009 I went to London with my daughter Lucía. There I took the first notes for a future essay on the metaphysics of machines. My quest was, and still is, to visualize, and to lay out, the model of totality implicit in the very fact that we speak of “machines”.

I believe that we need a new Logos regarding what is now presented as man/machine (and also nature/machine) dualisms. We need new Logos (new spells, new logical ballerinas) in the service of illusion and life, no matter under which forms, no matter within which artificial cosmos.

London. The city of Francis Bacon, who dreamed a technological Eden for human beings. It is a eighteen-year-old Francis Bacon who appears in the sky of this text.

That winter London was almost completely white. Serene. Extremely beautiful. So was my dear thirteen-year-old daughter, who did not stop taking pictures in rusty corners of the subway, or in medieval dark frozen walls where the artificial moss of truly talented graffiti dazzled like if they were new metaphysical essences created inside the Baconian Eden, by Baconian human beings: Scientists creating new essences, new machines. Together. The perfect human society.

We entered the Royal Academy of Arts in London. There was an exhibition of sculptures by Epsein. We contemplated the “Tripod” for a long time: an anthropomorphic machine gun that triggered fascinated horror in our minds.

That night, in the house of some friends, we witnessed a display of interactive techno-magic delivered by the Apple-wizards: kind, gentle artefacts, all of them capable of coordinating with each other in order to offer us almost infinite contents of “artificial” consciousness: music, pictures, movies… It seemed as if any conceivable reality could appear on a huge screen that, surprisingly, also reflected the London buildings at night. Nothing to do with Epsein’s tripod. Nothing to do with the hostile machines of the “Matrix” trilogy.

“Machine”. I find particularly interesting and accurate the first definition that the Royal Spanish Academy gives to this word (in Spanish “Máquina”):

“Machine (from lat. Machĭna, and this from doric gr μαχανά).”

“1. f. Artefact to take advantage of, direct or regulate the action of a force”.

Some years ago I taught some Philosophy courses based on the “Matrix” trilogy. I think that in those courses we could feel that the very idea of “machine” trembled pathetically, in the same way as all my logical ballerinas do. In the Matrix movie Morpheo tells Neo: “Free your mind”. Free your mind from machines?

I suggest to take into consideration the following authors (the first of them is the one who governs in the sky of this text):

1.- Francis Bacon. New Atlantis. The human being, grouped in scientific societies, liberated from false mental-idols, can create a brand (artificial) new world. A world of machines in the service of human beings.

2.- Heidegger [See here still in Spanish]. The question Concerning Technology. The technician does not really do anything. It is the Being which operates through him. The erroneous metaphysical dualism would reduce nature to “object”, to “rex extensa”, to something there, dead indeed, ready to be invaded and used by an “external” human being.

3.- Nishitani. Religion and Nothingness. Effects of the materialistic-Cartesian dualism implicit in the modern scientific vision of technology: objectivization of human beings and of nature as a whole. Alienation, nihilism, isolation, solitude.

4.- Juan David García Bacca. This philosopher wrote a work whose title is Elogio a la Técnica [Praise the Technology]. García Bacca was in fact a lover of technology. And of Poetry. Maybe because a master work of Poetry is also a machine, something able of channeling forces in order to trigger calculated effects. The works of García Bacca should be translated into English to widen their scope, their influence. This is the link of his foundation: http://fundaciongarciabacca.com/, which is located in Caracas (Venezuela).

I offer now my thoughts in a more orderly way:

1.- According to current Physics [See “Physics” still in Spanish] everything moves, orderly, mechanically, obediently to immutable natural laws. The entire universe might be a huge machine, actually the only one: a machine of machines, a machine that might have already coded, inside itself, any possible future “artificial” machine, because in fact the human brain (the alleged origen of the “artificial” machines) might be a machine: also coded, enslaved, subjected to the “big-universe-machine”. But such model does not seem to grasp the possibility that this total-machine could be modified, as if by magic. Actually, by whom? By what? What could have that mighty, unthinkable power of radical transformation of physical laws? In case those laws could change according to eternal laws of modification of laws, then we could not speak of real change (of metaphysical freedom) but of a huge enslaved solitary-God/robot.  

2.- It can also be said that we live in a grammar machine. Vak -the Vedic goddess of the Word- would be the commanding voice of that prodigious machine we call cosmos, or universe, or world. Is she free? Is she coded? Is indeed that goddess just another huge, prodigious machine?

3.- The entire universe, and any universe (any cosmos dancing any ideological music), may be machines in the free hands of something that vedanta might call Brahman: the great dreamer: the great builder of Maya/machines. Every world would be the artificial (lets say even “poetical”) channeling of a love. The love of God if you legitimate this word, this concept [See “Concept”]. It is said that God made the world out of love.

4.- There is a type of machine that fascinates me especially. It is a kind of human exo-skeleton (even exo-soul) that we call “cars”. I use to visit many cars-websites. Many. What subjugates me mostly is the aesthetic struggle, effort, that takes place in the car industry: that huge work focused on achieving the perfect design in order to trigger an unstoppable desire of owning such machines, as if some sort of “evolution of species” were taking place. It is remarkable that such meta-biological evolution does not stop.

5.- Other machines that fascinate me are the so-called “computers”, the big ones, and the very small ones, like those we still call “mobile phones” even tough they actually are small, portable super-computers and super-cameras and super-cinemas and super-universities and many other magical/prodigious things (of course also dangerous things). Many people are worried about those machines, I mean the so-called “smart mobile-phones”. It seems as if somebody looking at them while waiting the bus might be mentally kidnapped, because he is supposed to be watching or “consuming” stupid contents. Few people take into consideration that one person might be reading Kant or Francis Bacon on his “phone” and another one reading truly stupid things on a book. Paper-pages are sacralized simply because they are old, because they have history.  New materials (like the ones used to make the so called “screens”) are waiting for that sacralization. Its a question of time. I truly love paper pages (specially their smell, and their silence): I have spent some of the best moments of my life watching them, utterly fascinated, but I do also love the cold/crystal screen of the computer I am using now to write this text, the computer that makes possible that you (a likely reader living thousands of kilometres away from me) can read it. First time I saw one of my sentences taking existence on the screen of a computer, expanding its length, changing, emerging or disappearing in a mysterious white dimension, I felt I had entered a brand new, delicious world. And I felt deeply moved. We need a new concept, a new word (a new logical ballerina) to honour that what we still call “computers” or “mobile phones” or even “the internet”. Lets work on that.

6.- We should consider the possibility of thinking, and feeling, all our “machines” as changeable, non essential, parts of our biological dimension, in the same way as we think the wings of a butterfly or our legs (we can live without legs). We seem to exist in a poly-morphic physical structure. And it can be said that a car is as biological as the wings of a dragonfly or the heart of a dolphin. But cars (those exo-bodies) are extremely transitory, subdued to extremely cruel laws of survival of the fittest: the fittest for the human being, whatever that might be [See “Human being”].

7.- The portrait of Francis Bacon (the machines-world prophet) I have chosen for this text is surrounded by an inscription that reads: “Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem”. In English: “If one could but paint his mind”. I think we should not paint our mind. The oil might eventually dry it, kill it. The challenge is to transform our mind into a sacred, crystal-transparent machine. And I consider that the best way of building, carving, such prodigious machine is just to clean (to polish) its windows, and to make them as big as possible: as big as the very mind: no wall without windows.

8.- We should transform, elevate (sublimate) our mind into an attentive and thoughtful diamond-machine, a prodigious machine capable of channeling any force (no matter how dark, frustrating or poisoned) in the service of love and beauty: in the service of the core of reality. Of the pure truth. In fact, the more you study and know any reality (cockroaches included), the more you love it, and the more you find beauty in it, even though no reality has reachable bottom: it can infinitely be deeper studied and known.

9.- A huge diamond with an inner dancing room, lets say a stage big enough for the dance of the logical ballerinas: they represent no ultimate reality, but they are beautiful, and necessary. We need them as temporary bewitching models of the prodigious immensity that surrounds and compounds us. We need them to go on loving the world which we take as real. And the bigger and cleaner the diamond walls of our mind, the more beautiful the logical ballerinas that will enter, and dance, inside it. And, from time to time, we should politely, affectionally ask the logical ballerinas (no mater how beautiful they are) to be quiet, and we should just look though the windows of our mind, without models or ideas.

Our mind: our most powerful machine. 

David López

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… 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. Religion as 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, and even 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 still 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 [See here still in Spanish] 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, triggers an irruption of energy: it is as if the ‘connected human being’, suddenly, received an energy that was not available to him until ‘the connection’. 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?

[membership]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[/membership]

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The logical ballerinas: “Human being”

What appears in the image is supposed to be a sculpture of a being who, in 1758, called himself  Homo sapiens. Well, actually, Carlos Linneo did it. That famous namesgiver was  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”]. 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] 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 “Concept”], 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”). [See “Concept”].

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