The Pawning of Western Consciousness

Montreal, 6/9/99

Francoise Roux, artiste et peintre, is one of nineteen sisters and brothers who grew up in an old house, ... a converted hotel, on the rive sud of the Saint Laurent river where it flows around the island of Montreal. Her art is highly esteemed by a small minority and is disliked by most, and sometimes even ridiculed, and it is a struggle for her to pay for canvas and paint and put food on the table at the same time. To me her art is 'formidable' in the most positive sense of the word, and in her art, somehow, is my work as well. Last night something happened, ... a grain of sand fell onto my historical accumulation of experience, ... accumulated experience whose conic slopes stood at critical angle of repose, eager in their awaiting of orgasmic rebirth by avalanche.

An 'avalanche' of insight, ... a 'self-swallowing' metamorphing descent into my own 'valley' of inquiry, ... enfolding my mogular into my intermogular, ... started last night and the rumble was still active in my awakening this morning. The virtual keystrokes being scanned by your eyes at this moment are the seismographic record of the continuing after-shocks.

Francoise 'works' the issue of 'space' and 'volume' with paint and canvas, and I work these same issues in the domain of nonlinear science. She is repulsed by a society gone awry at the same time as she is attracted by visions of a more natural and soulful community, ... moi aussi. That's why I asked her if she might sketch for me, the 'affect' of thinking in the different terms of 'implicit knowledge over explicit knowledge' versus 'explicit knowledge over implicit knowledge' for the Saint Hubert Y2K meeting we were both going to attend. Her sketch, ... far more expressive than anything I could have managed, and our post-meeting discussion, suggested, ... no, ... 'convinced' me that what I have been implicitly 'saying', put into explicit terms, is that our choice of representational 'method' determines our state of spatial 'mobility', ... determines whether we are frozen in equilibrium or liberated in evolution.

Francoise' paintings invite you to walk inside of them, ... to enter into their soulful story and let their center move into your insides, ... just as aboriginal myth attempts to pull you inside of it so that it can share its innately 'experiential' (i.e. 'implicit') message within an englobing 'true life volume' which inflates around you as you enter into it.

Who would deny that the experience of being an active constituent-participant in an evolving space-time volume is radically different from a voyeur-viewing of that space-time volume. When we dream, we are in that volume, ... the center of the volume is 'in-here', not 'out-there', and it is not at all like movie picture images where information is presented in the form of multiple flatspace frames, ... we can go back inside the living volume in our minds and re-explore it with respect to new questions, ... with 'active imagination'.

Mainstream science would tend to say that volumetric space is an 'abstraction in itself', ... and so would mainstream art. They hear but don't hear Picasso's words; "La peinture est plus forte que moi ... elle me fait faire ce qu'elle veut." ("The painting is stronger than me, it makes me do whatever it wants to do").

Neither science nor art seem to question their own subjectivity, ... the abstraction of three-dimensional volumetric space is regarded as being THE reference in its own right, whether we are looking out into it, voyeur style, or whether we are experiencing it in 'immersed participant' style. But those who study 'representation', like Donald Kunze, say, ... 'wait just a minute!', ... there is a big difference between these two 'states' which have been explored by art and architecture over the centuries. A perspective 'out there' has an implied 'center' and when one is experiencing 'living volume', the center is 'in here', rather than 'out there', .... that is, 'perspective' is innately limited and incomplete because the experiencing of volume allows every coordinate in space to be its own 'center', ... 'space' itself becomes 'alive' in the sense that each point can be a new center of evolution, part of a metamorphosis of whole-and-part.

As for my work and the scientific view, ... it has been clear that when we are in the 'perspective' or voyeur state, ... viewing logical representations of things where the 'explicit' is in a primacy over the 'implicit', ... we cannot at the same time be 'experiencing living volume'. Goedel's theorem and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle are both 'proofs' of this. In order to 'experience volume', we must use 'imagination' and be able to be 'aware' of where we are, and we do this by incorporating time and memories in a connected manner into our experience; ... we remember what is behind, below and above us even when we cannot see it in front of us, ... and there is no limit to the depth and extent of the englobing space-time we can pull into connection in our minds to constitute this 'living volume' experience, ... this is an 'inclusionary' mode of perception where our space is shared with our parents, friends, families, and ancestors who lend their flavoring to our experiencing.

When we put the explicit in the primacy, ... when we are looking at the literal three-dimensional 'perspective' representations in front of us, we are in 'exclusionary' mode and the objects of our perception are 'frozen'. Sure, we can allow them to 'animate' in time-sequential space-frame progressions as on movie films, but the objects in our viewfield are still reduced to 'explicit things', current states of things in their own right, detached from their 'mother-space'. The man who is in his logical state, ... his 'explicit-over-implicit' state, ... is in a 'control' mode and he sees the objects around him as 'things' to be dealt with, ... pleasant things or challenging things, or barriers, perhaps, ... but as 'things' which 'he must deal with'. His representations in this mode are not seen as 'more powerful than himself', but as things to be 'tamed', 'possessed', 'exploited', 'eliminated' or otherwise 'managed' by himself.

This 'explicit-over-implicit' mode is not the 'experiencing of living volume' we are capable of and spend most of our childhood in. In our childhood, we assume our natural constituent-participant role within an immersing, living volume, and we allow this 'mother-volume' to participate with us in a shared 'co-evolutionary' dynamic which shapes us as we shape the englobing 'other'. This is the true and natural experiencing of volume which liberates us from our fixed subjectivity and allows us to evolve harmoniously with our englobing space.

This is the quality in Francoise Roux's paintings which caused one cynical reviewer to say that her work brought him to the point of vomiting, from the internal disorientation it induced in him. This same quality seems to permeate my own work which has brought charges of 'techno-babble', and the smoking and sparking of 'fritzing' circuit boards from those who persist in their rational-over-intuitive viewing mode.

How can this be, ... how can the mere sight of a painting or listening to reasoned discussion bring on such emotional reaction, ... not from the content per se, but from the manner of presentation and the implied meaning of it, ... an inductive gut-stirring?

To enter into the living volume is to 'let go' of one's subjectivity and allow it to 'float' and co-evolve with it's englobing environment, ... it is to be in 'learning' mode where one's subjectivity can evolve in a 'creative' and therefore 'unpredictable' manner. Entering into this innately unpredictable 'cognitive rebirthing' state is no problem to the innocent, naive and trusting child, ... but it becomes a problem if and where suspicion and dishonesty infect our environment. After one is 'burned' by dishonesty in the system many times, ... one prefers to stick to one's present subjectivity. Even the opening up and letting-go involved in an exchange of smiles amongst unacquainted pedestrians becomes an exposure to be avoided.

And what about the workplace? For me, in the early days of my employment, I was as a naive child in the safety of the family home, ... I was able to 'let go' and absent-mindedly dance along the boulevard of my own thoughts into the 'living volume', to creatively co-evolve in the embrace of my englobing space. But as time went by, the system changed, and I changed, and I began to see it in a different and darker light, more because of what was happening to 'other parts' of 'our most important asset base' than to myself, ... like a jungle expedition into 'enemy territory', ... so-called 'stragglers' began disappearing as smiling faces at the head of the expedition kept re-assuring everyone that these losses were in the best interests of 'our most important asset base'. But this in itself underlined the artificiality of separating 'other parts' from 'myself', .... if one spoke of 'teams', such distinctions were a question of attitude, ... and it was dishonesty, if not madness, to continue to promote the notion of team unity whilst hacking off and eliminating pieces of the team 'for its own benefit'. Such a behavior represented a deification of the abstract notion of 'team' out of the context of life and human beings and common-sense experience. I was never 'into' the deification of the abstract, the stuff that underpinned religious and ethnic wars, and I can't imagine that I ever will be.

So this 'experiencing of living volume', an inclusionary space-time of the 'implicit-over-explicit' flow polarity, ... not only depends on 'imagination' (to be able to see ourselves immersed within our own viewfield), ... but it depends on 'trust' because who wants to open themselves up to 'co-evolution with their englobing space' when one is surrounded by charlatans and exploiters? One wants to be within a 'safe' englobing and co-evolutionary space when one goes into this 'living volume' state, and science doesn't say much about 'safety' in the sense of 'trust and honesty' as woven into the continuously threading tapestry of life. In fact, traditional science is built upon the deification of the abstract-explicit, as Bishop Berkeley of Cloyne pointed out in Newton's day, and as Prigogine points out in the modern day.

We should keep believing in the 'team' as bits of the team are 'sold down the river' to purportedly 'keep the team healthy?' The 'team' is bigger than its 'humanity'? What is this thing we call 'logic' which is so dear to our culture that we would kill other humans to keep our logical abstractions inviolate? Now, I have no problems with the 'imaginary', the 'implicit', the 'virtual' where such things reinforce my common sense understanding of life. I can easily empathize with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in their Celtic myth, where they see 'the team' as being a virtual entity bigger than the sum of its parts, as Arthur says;

"That is the very heart of Camelot. Not these stones, timber, towers, palaces, burn them all! and Camelot lives on because it lives in us. It is a belief that we hold in our hearts." ... "By serving others, we become free"

Clearly, this type of virtual continuity , which puts the 'implicit' in the primacy over the 'explicit' characterizes all of nature, ... the notion of 'team' in this case is the imaginary 'soul' of the community, our implicit aspirations and desires for fulfillment, our openness and honesty our feelings of wholeness and connectness.

But this is a far cry from the 'explicit-over-implicit' notion of a team which is an abstraction based on generalized 'things in themselves' wherein people are seen as 'headcount', where if you have six 'heads', you have a team, and where you determine the 'quality' of a team by measuring its explicit, material output. If, when you 'knock off a few heads', the explicit output is sustained or rises, ... one says that the 'team has improved'. When this occurs, it's time to remind yourself and Toto, that you are no longer in Camelot, ... that you are instead in an inverted culture which gives everyone equal opportunity in the sense of 'by exploiting others, we become slaves'.

Implicit meaning is the soul of the explicit, the soul of the team is the 'belief that we hold in our hearts' that lives on because it lives within us, not 'out there'. There is not one explicit word or fact in our language which does not 'live' by virtue of an englobing implicit, ... the explicit statement 'The king of France is bald' cannot convey 'explicit' meaning without such meaning being given by the englobing cloud of implicit imagined experience, ... experience of what is a king, of what is France. As Vygotsky says, the explicit "... relates to consciousness as a living cell relates to a whole organism, as an atom relates to the universe." ... ".. the historical nature of human consciousness ... is reflected in a word as the sun in a drop of water."

What is this science and culture which seeks to see things solely in terms of 'the explicit', in terms of 'things in their own right', ... stripped of the context of the englobing cloud of the implicit which gives meaning and 'soul' to the explicit, without which it could not exist in any meaningful way? An explicit thing in its own right whose 'being' can be eliminated mechanically or by burning-at-the-stake. What demonic accountant dreamed up such abstractions wherein the value of implicit assets, the 'legacy' of teams is 'zero'? If our culture pays only for explicit output and not for implicit legacies, ... what does this mean with respect to 'the historical nature of human consciousness, ... the rich implicit flavorings of our and our ancestors experience which englobes the explicit and gives it meaning?

It seems that our quest for 'individuality' has gone so far as to seek to liberate our 'explicit being' from its ontogenetic and ancestral experience which gives our explicit being its essential meaning, ... a liberation which is leading us towards a 'Lord of the Flies' pre-civilizational rebirth. On today's employment front, the neon signs say; "Check your ontogeny at the door. ... We pay hard cash for explicit headcount and explicit results, ... no legacy-leaving requirements or other strings attached to this offer, ... what you see is what you get". Can you imagine it?

"That bald-headed guy over there is the King of France."

"How do you know?"

"I just know. This is an explicit fact, ... those 'things' that our reality is built upon."

"I didn't meant 'know' in the sense of belief or acceptance, I was asking where the meaning of the statement was coming from, as implied in 'a fact simply marks the spot where our investigations cease."

"Our investigations cease with the fact because there is nothing more to be said about it, ... it is final and complete in its own right, it 'speaks for itself', .. what you see is what you get."

"But is it not the historical nature of consciousness which is the mother of the explicit fact? ... how could it exist without being delivered from the aura of the implicit which englobes it, .. the notions of a King and court, palaces and knights, and the notions of country, ... broad landscapes featuring mountains, trees and rivers and bounded by sea, ... a kingdom on earth, ... a spherical earth which participates in a most amazing system of sun and planets which seems to exist by virtue of its very history, it's 'soul' as Kepler has described it, "not only does light go out from the sun into the whole world, as from the focus or eye of the world, as life and heat from the heart, as every movement from the King and mover, but conversely also by royal law these returns, so to speak, of every lovely harmony are collected in the sun from every province in the world, nay, the forms of movements by twos flow together and are bound into one harmony by the work of some mind, and are as it were coined money from silver and gold bullion;", ... and is not matter the precipitate of the electromagnetic field, an implicit and historically evolved englobing condition? .... in other words, is it not the case that the explicit material and explicit fact upon which our culture constructs its realities, less substantial than the englobing evolutionary history which gives the 'explicit' its cognitive existence? ... in other words, doesn't all meaning which emanates from the explicit derive from the implicit?

"Stop, ... I think I am going to vomit."

"Yes, enough of these confusing words, ... I know of an art exhibition nearby, ... the works of Francoise Roux, ... let me take you to it."

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Children don't have the worries about 'letting go' that adults have because their foundation is 'co-evolutionary experience' itself, ... an 'implicit' and relativistic platform. Our culture, with its 'explicit-over-implicit' cognitive tradition, encourages us to replace that 'relativistic' base with a fixed base of explicit facts. When we operate from a fixed base of explicit facts, ... we cannot be in the state of experiencing 'living volume' at the same time, ... this is what Goedel's theorem says; i.e. that a reality constructed by a finite assemblage of explicit propositions (facts) is innately incomplete, and in particular, it is incomplete in the sense that it cannot look down upon itself as it interacts with other constituent-participants in its shared 'living volume'. That is, when we are in the limited consciousness 'explicit-over-implicit' perceptual mode whereby we construct our reality from a matrix of explicit facts, we cannot get into the 'aware' and 'fully conscious', co-evolutionary mode. Feyman's formulation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says the same thing in different terms, ... i.e. we cannot perceive reality in terms of the explicit behaviors of explicit things at the same time as we experience reality in terms of implicit relational interference, since the belief in the implicit collapses with the belief in the explicit.

Call this pairing geometry what you like, 'intuitive intellection' versus 'rational intellection', ... 'right lobe perception' versus 'left lobe perception', 'implicit pattern' versus 'explicit fact', 'voyeur perspective' versus 'immersed experience' etc. etc. The point is that in all of these cases, the former of the opposing partnerships is the 'mother' of the latter, ... i.e. the former 'contains' the latter as a special, lower dimensional case where space and time are split apart, separating out the 'explicit' from its evolutionary history and its beckoning future, an implicit englobing cocoon or 'soul' which sources the meaning of the englobed 'explicit entity' or 'fact'. Understanding this sphere-englobing-sphere topological parentage, wherein an 'implicit-space-time-history-and future' englobes and gives meaning to an explicit euclidian-space-frame 'thing' or 'fact', is the key to understanding the difference between the 'Camelot team' and the 'headcount team', and between the 'aware and co-evolving' observer and the 'out-there-focused, fixed subjectivity' observer.

The expanding breadth and intensification of 'explicit-over-implicit' mode in organisational control hierarchies, formal or informal (i.e. 'professional disciplinary structures' are powerful yet informal global control hierarchies) is shifting us away from our natural or ecological 'implicit-over-explicit' co-evolutionary mode, and keeping us locked in that unaware state where we are executing rational procedures and thus in a perceptual mode wherein we cannot 'see ourselves' in our act of engaging and non-engaging, in a direct sense, with our englobing environmental dynamics. In this frozen-subjectivity, environment-desensitized state, we proxy our natural harmonizing and evolutionary abilities out to planning committees and analytical braintrusts who update strategies on the basis of incomplete non-local environmental knowledge and send us back our revised marching orders. Not only are the bombs we drop on a defenseless Yugoslavian populace wrapped in these blank checks or 'consciousness proxies' we have signed, but so are the school reports marked 'failure' received in good faith by children born worthy and beautiful, and the employment termination notices received by our Camelot teammates in corporate downsizing operations.

We are into the soul-denying abstractions of the explicit-over-implicit up to our necks and sinking deeper. As we continue to 'build' more complex structure on top of a foundation of abstraction, it becomes harder and harder for us to see the incompleteness of the base we started from, and in this soul-purging wasteland, there are fewer and fewer reminders of the soulful creatures we once were. We delight in songs of a return to the innocence and honesty of childhood, even as we intensify their purging by the manner in which we raise the money for the equipment to listen to them.

We may talk and sing about returning to the co-evolutional innocence and trust of childhood, but we are shocked when someone begins to unravel the neat and tidy packaging of 'facts' we call reality in the west, or when we look at a painting which puts space and time back together again, ... which invites us back inside of the living, evolving volume of nature as an immersed participating constituent, ... where our toes can no longer feel the explicit ground beneath our feet, and it is indeed unsettling at the gut level. Such spiritual vertigo can be the harbinger of either a vomiting session or orgasmic fulfillment, ... depending on the polarity of one's abstractions.

It's getting very late, but it can never be too late, to reclaim our own consciousness from the pawnshop of western abstraction and rejoin the volume of the living.

The 'message' in this essay is and is not conveyed in terms of its explicit content, ... the medium of the explicit is too 'small', too low dimensional to carry the full implicit meaning. If we lived in the medieval age and the culture insisted that the world was flat, the mere speaking of the words 'around the world' does not give us the experience of being on the surface of a revolutionary sphere, this requires bringing into connection in our minds a multitude of real and imaginary experience. Similarly, the essential message in this essay is implicit and comes from the common-sense relating of our life experience. The message comes along with a queasiness as things come into connection, like a hologram printed on a flat page taking on its three dimensional aspect as the historical relationships (space-time phase relationships) begin to give higher dimensional meaning to the explicit, flatspace facts. Which is more 'real', an image which comes from looking at explicit 'right now' thing or fact? ... or an image which incorporates an implicit relational space-time history surrounding the thing or fact? Are todays explicit 'objects' enriched by their history and ancestry or not?

Since the 'message' in this essay is implicit, ... i.e. that our society is spending more and more time in an 'unaware' 'explicit-over-implicit' perceptual mode and less and less in an 'aware' 'implicit-over-explicit' perceptual mode, the message has no impact at all in its explicit expression. So unless something happens to bring things back into a relational-historical space-time connection again, ... you will not see or feel this message. But if you answered the question at the end of the last paragraph 'yes', you may be able to tease the implicit imagery/queasiness back out again (think orgasm rather than vomit) by asking some questions which bring the issues back into space-time relationship;

Is the implicit civilizational value you bring to your job worth anything? .... is the ongoing civilizational legacy you cultivate worth anything? Does your employer nurture consciousness or not? Do the employers you invest in with your patronage nurture consciousness or not? Are your investments being progressively highgraded in favour of consciousness or not? Does your community put the amplification of the personal ontogeny (personal development history) of its youth in the primacy over the explicit structural development of it's youth. Is the time you allocate to conscious co-evolution with immediate environmental dynamics at home and at the office growing or declining? Is the time your community leaders and administrators are allocating to co-evolve with their immediate environmental dynamics growing or declining? In other words, are we as a society putting the amplification of our own ontogeny, our community (at all levels) development history, into the primacy over explicit structural development?

What's counterintuitive here is that there is nothing 'explicit' you can do to amplify your current effective awareness contribution, ... no speeches, writings or arguments in explicit mode (in themselves) are going to do it, ... all implicit impact comes out of relational effects. The way to amplify contribution to community consciousness is therefore to tickle your thoughts until the queasiness starts to come back, and then to interact with others when you are in that state, ... the explicit aspects of your statements and actions won't be what matters, it will be the cocoon of implicit meaning which enfolds them which will be the contributor to an amplified consciousness. This may sound like mysticism, but then as discussed, what's in an explicit name?, ... the unbounded implicitness spoken about here is firmly rooted in relativity and quantum physics, ... or rather, relativity and quantum physics are firmly rooted in the implicit.

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