July 27, 2016
“Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All-Too-Human.
A system is like a dream that always plays out the same way. Start to finish.
A robot would be a system. He can perform 100000000000 operations and each one is specific and bounded. And that’s all he can do, no matter how you dress him up.
There are a whole lot of two-and-three wish people in this world. A whole lot of five-and-ten wish people. Grant them their wishes and they’re done.
And that’s because they’ve made desire into a kind of system. It’s a sort of closed network. It’s tight. You walk in there and give them what they want and boom, they’re done. They’ve really got nowhere to go after that. Their energy peters out.
This is interesting—because it suggests—and you might want to chew on this for a while—that there is another version of desire that isn’t so tight and bounded…and if that is so, we are looking at desire as possibility. Not in the sense of “I see all the possibilities,” but in the sense of implication, metaphor, suggestion, open-ended X.
People tend to recoil from this. They want the Caddy with the big fins, and they want it now. They want the prettier fingernails, the new nose, the butt implants, and the island in the Pacific with the yacht.
At least that’s what they think, because they don’t have them, and they tend to define their future in those terms. So they’re yearning and longing and drooling.
But what if there is a whole other space, a whole other future that isn’t so simple? And what if its uncertain shape makes it even more attractive?
What if the poem you’ve read a hundred times, the one you never quite understood, is the one you admire the most? The one that sends your mind and imagination off in so many directions.
And what if this has something to do with what magic is really all about, and is a kind of magic that normally escapes attention? What if magic can be like this, can be a road with thousands of forks that take you into undiscovered territory you’ve never dreamed of before?
What if our programmed sense of what reality is, the precision and the definition and the thing-ness, is a diversion from what, underneath it all, we want?
What if the most subtle illusion about reality is the conviction that reality is an absolute IS separated from an absolute ISN’T?
What if that keyboard on your computer, which is so THERE on your desk, is only one KIND of there-ness? And another kind of there-ness is implication-not-fully-realized…and although you’ve always been quite sure you want the THERE of that keyboard and the yacht and the villa, you also want the implication-not-fully-realized…and you want it so much that it would fulfill the requirement of magic?
In other words, for all this time, desire has been, for you, a kind of closed system that is leak-proof and bulletproof, and that’s why it has remained unfulfilled.
Let’s say there are levels of desire. Level One is those things you obviously want. Level Two involves the exploration of undiscovered territory.
Analogy: you’re an archeologist, and all your life you’ve wanted to dig up a lost city—and then you do. There it is, all laid out in the desert. It’s what every archeologist is supposed to want. You’re supposed to feel a sense of finality. This is it. This is the realization of your prime wish. But instead…
You feel boundaries. You feel you’re inside something that has walls. You feel there must be something more.
And then you uncover, in a sealed repository, a dozen volumes of writing in a language you’ve never seen before. This language is built on mysterious connections that seem to be untranslatable.
Instead of hundreds or thousands or millions of nouns that name things; instead of verbs that show how these nouns are acting on objects; instead of that familiar pattern; you see this old civilization approached reality in a completely different way:
There are hundreds of words that refer to “flying.” Some of these words are involved with flying into other people’s consciousness and seeing the alive, electric energies that flow and move there. Some of these words mention persons having views of the earth from above and at ground level simultaneously. Some of these words refer to enormous poems that were written centuries earlier, and these poems were, for a time, ARBITRARILY frozen in mid-flight. Short selections were extracted and used to form the basis of organized religions, whose leaders were bent on control of populations—and then there were reformations and revolutions, and the original wild and free poems were sprung from their graves and brought out into the light again, and the religions fell and disappeared…
And now you, the archeologist, feel something bursting up in your own mind, a desire to explore THIS and go where it leads. You feel energized and galvanized in a way that far exceeds your experience of digging up the city and seeing it laid out end to end.
You sense implications that have no limits.
You wake up from a dream in which reality was defined and cataloged and shaped into systems.
For the first time, you understand how limited that dream was.
You realize you have been hearing the sounds of robots marching from horizon to horizon—and now those sounds are gone.
Simultaneously, you now experience a gorgeous peace and a Niagara of many unnamable cascades of desire.
The premise of limited desire is gone.
You are UNDENIABLY alive.
Finally, you see why you’ve never fit in, why you’ve never been able to accept the structures of society. Those structures are claustrophobic.
They are built to regulate and define desire.
Society expresses the average of all desires. But society also describes the numbers and types of desires that could possibly exist. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And in this program and prophecy, society comes up short. As short as any number does, when contrasted with infinity.
You have never considered these things before. But now you do.
And you discover they are more real than rocks or buildings or planets or all the things you were quite sure made up the sum of all you desire.
Now you’re out in the open sea, where you never thought you would be, where you always thought you would be.