Seeing the Eye which Looks

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
– Robin Williams

On a different tangent, Mark Twain says somewhere that life with people is easier to bear once it’s realized that we’re all rather mad.  My perception is more that we are all faintly (or not so faintly) ridiculous: our illusions, our pretensions, our concern with the surfaces of things, our sense of what’s important, our strife.  This is more apparent to me with women — the distance across the gender gap gives clarity — but it’s the same for us men.

Our egos, our identities are a form of blindness.  That which we call and accept as ourselves and through which we perceive the world is the same agent that keeps us from an unfiltered open clarity.  That blindness is integral to us as long as we are us — as long as I am the me I know and expect, that looks out, on the most subconscious level, to find what I anticipate, what I have some idea of.

The only conceivable antidote to this condition, if one should want one, is to have a sense of this, a hint of awareness about it, that may cause its dissolving into a wider view.  But that remains inconclusive.

There is fear of that which is us — pure awareness or presence? — and yet not our personality…

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5 Comments on “Seeing the Eye which Looks”

  1. smokey Says:

    Hi Fencer,
    I was interested to see (in BlogLily’s Writing entry) that you apparently have had a long interest in consciousness and was wondering if you would care to say what you have been reading after starting sometime ago with Koestler’s Ghost in the Machine, which I have never read. I just started to read this area a year ago and am discussing it with a former physics colleague who dabbles in writing neural net programs. So far, I’ve read through the popular, easy to read books by Searle (Mind), Susan Blakemore (Conversations on Consciousness and Intro to Consciousness), Shannon Moffett (3-Pound Enigma–great chapter on Mining the Mind with Crick and Koch), Jeff Hawkins (On Intelligence), and Michael O’Shea (The Brain, A very short introduction), and Descartes ( his little book on Meditations). All this seems to be a fairly good way to catch up on the field in terms of easy reading. Crick’s Atonishing Hypothesis looks like required reading. At the moment I find it all fascinating and also depressing not to be able to get much of anywhere in understanding how the heck the brain does its stuff. especially “seeing” in the mind. Crick and Koch have some consoling words about that in Moffett’s book, as well as a good framework for attacking the problem I am starting to try and write a little article that would recast the Hard and Easy Problems (Chalmers) of consciousness into two pairs of problems. which I think would define the issues better. In working on this I feel very naive and adrift. But I haven’t read anything that helps me feel like anything else.
    So are you still interested in this topic and do have you had any ephiphanies about it?
    When I was telling Lily (BlogLily) in our writing class about my depression and frustration with it, she coined the word, depiphanies. So now the search is on for anti-depiphanies.

    Another note, another topic. I’m passing your list of writing aids in your last post on to my wife, who is writing a novel about ancient Iraq–Sumer and Akkade. She used Dramatica Pro rather happily and successfully for a couple years, and recently took Robert McKee’s 3-day seminar on Story, based on his book of same name. After that workshop she is zooming. McKee was truly an epiphany for her. I think you have to see him in action, but the book is also apparently very good.
    Best,
    George, ggstaehle@aol.com

  2. smokey Says:

    Also been reading Stephen Pinker’s How the Mind Works, which has a fascinating section on how autostereograms work, among other things. But it doesn’t actually deliver on its title to my satisfaction. But no book does as far as offering a theory on how the brain/mind “sees” anything or is aware of anything. Crick and Koch’s 10-point framework for research on the brain seems to be the best step forward.

  3. fencer Says:

    Hi George,

    Thanks for your comments… The neuroscience and consciousness area is one I tried to read a lot in years ago, but definitely haven’t kept up with. It sounds you’re reading quite widely in it. One author you might find of interest is Francisco Varela (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Varela). I’ve read about him rather than read his work directly. Books I have read and got something out of include The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, by Melvin Konner; Mind and Nature by Gregory Bateson; and more “out there”: Trialogues at the Edge of the West by Abraham, McKenna, and Sheldrake and The Presence of the Past by Rupert Sheldrake. My orientation these days is more buddhist than intellectual. Have you read any Krishnamurti? He had a series of discussions with physicist David Bohm in The Wholeness of Life that I still like to read.

    I will look into several of the books you mentioned that I’m not familiar with…

    I will also look for that book by Robert McKee. That’s sounds like a very interesting novel your wife is working on. And thanks for “anti-depiphanies”!

    Regards
    Mike

  4. smokey Says:

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your response to my searching thoughts about consciousness. I will definitely check the authors you mentioned, some of which I’m familiar with, but haven’t read. I can understand anyone not continuing to struggle with the consciousness puzzle, especially since the current gurus say that they can’t figure it out without more data on actual processes in the brain. I’m inclined to give it about a year of reading and discussion and trying to ask experts what their ideas are.
    If I write or think of anything that seems interesting, I’ll pass it on.
    Best.
    George

  5. fencer Says:

    George, please do let me know where your exploration takes you.

    Regards
    Mike


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