Montréal, March 17, 2000
The images of Jim Peters, Roger Bannister and John Landy, from the British Empire Games of 1954 are deeply etched in my memory. I was thirteen then, growing up on the pacific coast just south of Vancouver. I don't know if you remember the details, of have heard of them, but Roger Bannister was the first runner to break four minutes in the mile. He did it at Oxford on May 6th, 1954, establishing the first sub-four minute mile mark at 3:59.4. Right after that, on June 21st in Turku, Finland, John Landy, an Australian, ran the second sub-four minute mile in 3:57.9.
Everyone in Vancouver, and across the day and night regions of the Empire, who could get to a television set, was watching the race between Bannister and Landy on August 7th, in front of an excited audience of 35, 000 at Empire Stadium in Vancouver.
We saw Landy make a bold early move, taking the lead in the second turn and completing the first lap in 58.2. Bannister was .6 back, running alongside Murray Halberg. Landy continued to drive hard, widening his lead and passing 880 yards in 1:58.2. Bannister was ten yards back at 1:59.4. Through the third lap Bannister slowly and patiently closed on his rival, and at the bell he was a scant three tenths of a second behind Landy, who hit a 3:58.4 split.
It seemed as if Landy was going to take it, as Bannister, three yards back, seemed unable to close the gap. Then, coming into the final straight, Landy sneaked a look over his shoulder, but Bannister was nowhere to be seen, ... he was sprinting past Landy on the other side. Bannister won by a convincing margin, 3:58.8 to 3:59.6.
It was an amazing race.
But there was another amazing race in those games, the marathon, ... and in this case, everyone who was there, or who saw it on television or film clip, knows the name of the man who didn't win it, ... Jim Peters.
An amateur from Becontree in northeast London who balanced his career as an optician with his marathon running, Peters first broke the 26-mile marathon record in 1952 with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 42.2 seconds, and that mark remained the world's best for that distance until 1958. But his mark in history was set more indelibly by his collapse in these British Empire Games. It was a hell of a hot and muggy day in Vancouver by any standard, ... and when Peters entered the stadium at the end of the marathon with an astonishing three-mile lead over the rest of the field, something didn't look quite right. After having set an unusually fast pace for the humidity and temperature conditions, 35-year-old Peters was suffering from severe dehydration and he began to stagger. Everyone watching kind of sucked in their breath and silently tried to levitate him in the right direction, towards the finishing line. He fell more than half a dozen times, and crawled on all fours as he tried to finish, ... bystanders were torn between helping him or hanging back, since to help him would be to disquality him. Peters failed to complete the last lap on the track. That was the last competitive marathon that he ever ran. He did get a medal, though, ... he received it that Christmas Eve from Prince Philip, and it was inscribed: "As a token of admiration to a most gallant marathon runner."
I don't know,... is it really 'gallant' when a stiff upper lip leads to scar tissue on the brain? The 'games' that year were heady stuff, ... the bitter and the sweet, ... the exuberant and the heart-wrenching, ... a thoroughly convoluted yin/yang mixture which, for me, left an enduring residue, like the smoke of rare incense coming off hot charcoal leaves on a black cassock.
Something changed after that; ... it was the name of the games. The word 'Empire' had become a hot potato. That same year, the games were retitled 'the British Empire & Commonwealth Games'. Then they were re-titled again in 1970 to 'British Commonwealth Games', ... and finally just 'Commonwealth Games'. The stiff upper lip was developing a distinct droop.
Managing 'multi-phrenous words' is a bag of worms. Sure, there's good and bad in everything, ... but trying to make a weave which will simultaneously present the 'best side' of 'imperialism', 'commonness' and 'wealthness' is not easy, when the social connotations of the stems are in a continual state of transformative flux.
My father, who was born and raised in London, ... 'escaped' from his bank messenger job, and a class and conformity pre-determined future, to flee to the wilds of northern Ontario when he was eighteen, ... and he didn't seem to have a problem with questions of 'Empire'. He loved 'Pomp and Circumstance', the march, that is, and the brass bands which played it, ... but he had a marked dislike for 'pomp and circumstance'. If it was a question of England and the Empire, ... for him, it was never 'one way' but always 'maybe good, maybe bad'.
I don't know how he developed a Taoist philosophy out of the combination of the streets of london and the bush of northern Ontario, ... but somehow he had, and this saved him a lot of trouble on the dialogic side, ... because when one accepts the yin/yang condition of our reality, that there is good and bad in everything, ... one does not have to be continually in yin-doctor mode, ... trying to rearrange the weave so that what is currently conceived as the 'good' side of things is on the outside, ... and that the 'bad' side is well hidden.
Since 1954, yin-doctoring has enjoyed a healthy growth, rising up to become the official artform of the western culture. Communications are not the same as they used to be. While the production of yin-doctoring support tools has exploded, the selection of yin-canvases to backdrop one's spoken and written words has substantially narrowed.
'What was it like to live in Dallas?'
'Well, ... it....'
'Just a sec, ... could you please paint your words onto this canvas I have here for you'.
'Yeah, ok, but I'm not too keen on those pictures around the border of the canvas, ... Kennedy with half his head blown off, ... and the football players gang-banging that young woman.'
'Never mind, ... there's lots of room for your word-pictures in the middle of the canvas.'
'... and then I moved up here to Montreal, and...'
'Hang on a sec, ... could you shift over to this canvas over here, now'
'Yeah, sure, ... but. .. jeez, ... the look in that Iroquois' eye as he munches on the heart of that dismembered habitant girl, on the border graphics, ... holding that big bottle of Molson's ice in his other hand, ...'
'There's still loads of space in the middle here,....'
As the saying goes in yang country, ... 'if ya don't take care of yer own yin, ... someone else will take care of it for ya', ... no, that wasn't quite it, ... it was; .... "Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of 'the doctors of yin' , we don't really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to the interests of others is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth's atmosphere to a company as a monopoly." (Marshall McLuhan, 'Understanding Media' (1965);
Yin-doctoring, like most occupations, continues to get uplift from technology. Now, when you participate in an internet discussion using a 'free' forum service, little borders appear around your words which, if you mention money, say stuff like;
"Want to send money instantly to anyone, anywhere, anytime? You can today at X.com - and we'll give you $20 to try it! Sign up today at X.com. It's quick, free, & there's no obligation!"
... or, if you mention words like 'mental', ...
"The only fruitcake at overstock.com is our manager. He's giving away a $20 coupon, plus our everyday Free Shipping.Take advantage of the savings and selection now."
A society such as ours, which believes that 'yang', the brushstrokes on the canvas, ... the 'material-causal transactions' are 'all she wrote', ... that all information can be reduced to a 'zero-and-one' binary bitstream is in deep trouble when it comes to communications, ... just ask Dr. Gabor, ... or Dr. Demento (a DJ patron of 'the blues'), and they will tell you in no uncertain terms;
... I N F O R M A T I O N . I S . C O M P L E X ! ! !
What does that mean, 'information is complex'? What it means is that information always comes immersed in a containing field, ... a containing field of context which is unbounded, .... informational brushstrokes are necessarily superimposed on some medium, ... a canvas perhaps, ... a discussion forum perhaps, ... a heavy bass beat perhaps. What's more, this context which supports and frames information delivery never stops, ... it is a swirling wormhole into unbounded space-time. It is the implicit yin backdrop to the explicit yang statement, without which, the yang statement could not exist.
That's right. A yang statement cannot exist without a contextual canvas, ... a container which 'IS' the yang statement, in the manner that the sea is the wave.
You just 'think' you're receiving yang statements on their own. What you are really receiving is yin wormholes. 'The medium IS the message' as McLuhan says. He is 'speaking' general theory of relativity here. He is speaking 'non-euclidian space' and 'inclusionary' logic (fuzzy logic). And our entire life experience, both individual and collective serves to back him up on this.
In a recent internet forum, where I tried to convey a complex systems view by means of the metaphor of a 'leaky condom', ... and a (good humoured, in my intent) spoof of a 'leaky condom award' for someone who was doing public 'Y2K mea culpas' and in the process, in my view, propagating a misleading interpretation of the complex systems processes involved, ... someone said to me;
>It is not a credit to you, Emile, that you are so flip with a leading
>colleague's sincere engagement with life during a time of crisis.
.... a very well-executed yin-canvas indeed, ... with a very small slot in the center for me to paint my words of response into, ... so I wrote small and said;
>>my response was aimed at addressing the discordancy perceived in the
>>reasoning which was encapsulated in a propagating message. i respect
>>margaret wheatley's efforts and have empathy for anyone in that state of
>>mind and feeling associated with soul-searching. nevertheless, if the
>>gloves or instruments of the operating surgeon appear to me to have the
>>potential to infuse infection, ... i will say so with everyone's interests
>>in mind, ... doctor, patient, friends relatives, ... and i will try to find
>>effective words to say so, even if they strike some as being 'flip'.
>>when the dalai lama was asked how the 'killing fields' could ever have
>>occurred amongst the (buddhist) khmer rouge in cambodia, he replied that the
>>problem emanated from 'undue respect for leaders', ... and when the
>>ayatollah khomeini said 'god is great' and by the way, let's put a bounty on
>>salman rushdie's head, ... everyone respected his authority in the matter,
>>.... extreme examples, but examples which suggest that out of respect for
>>all people, including our leaders, we should not suppress our commentary
>>where we feel its needed, even if the need for commentary emerges at an
>>again, what you interpret as 'flipness' and lack of humanity is your
>>interpretation. i do not expect to change your view, ... but would simply
>>like to point out that your remarks fail to resonate in any way with what is
>>in my head and heart.
... and what do you think he said in response to my yin-canvases?
>>>I do not know how to talk to you Emile. It saddens me, but I don't even know
>>>where to start. There is just something about having Everything Figured
>>>Out, and then using your model as a buffer to avoid being affected by what
>>>other people are seeing and saying,* that just doesn't ring true to me
>>>about how the relativistic model plays out in human affairs and cognitive
>>>modelling. I would expect that model to make one more humble, curious,
>>>compassionate and conditional in one's thinking, since unknownness would be
>>>a constant companion and teacher. And I am all thumbs in trying to talk
>>>about it. To me dialogue is shared exploration towards greater
>>>understanding, connection and possibility. I hear your lectures, very
>>>reasoned, but I'm not sure you really see me, except through the filter of
>>>your model which you deny is a filter because it is a bigger model than
>>>mine. There isn't relationship there; only observation and comment. So
>>>in the future I will harvest useful things from what you say to others, as
>>>a lurker, but not as a correspondent. I wish you well. I really do. I
>>>just don't know how to relate to you. -- Pierre
>>>*PS: A case in point is your systematic, slippery avoidance of any
>>>responsibility for the form of your communications by accusing me of
>>>advocating "suppressing commentary" and "'undue respect for leaders" --
>>>using unreasonably loaded imagery about Killing Fields and surgeons with
>>>infected gloves. All this when what I asked was that you treat her with
>>>the human decency and respect -- not deference -- she deserves, especially
>>>as a leader in your field (the new sciences and how they apply to lived
>>>realities). Everyone deserves respect, of course, but some people earn an
>>>extra due by the life energy they have poured into some area of life for
>>>the benefit of the rest of us. In my opinion, they deserve an extra
>>>thought before you "cut them down to size."
>>>Let's face it, your article was not simply commentary, just as your
>>>response isn't. It's loaded. Heavily.
>>>To then turn around and tell me that "what you interpret as 'flipness' and
>>>lack of humanity is your interpretation" -- without one word of "I see what
>>>you mean," or "Gee, yes, I could see how that could be a problem" or any
>>>sense that there was the slightest legitimacy in someone being offended by
>>>something offensive you said, makes me conclude that it is simply not safe
>>>to communicate with you. Either you don't see the impact you have, or you
>>>don't care, or you are so lost in your philosophy that you think Meg and I
>>>and the rest of us are only pimples on the curved space-time-continuum.
>>>What I see is you get juice from being an iconoclast, but would be the last
one to admit it.
Is this type of dysfunctional dialogue not the story of our western culture?
But should the yin canvases of 'leaders' deserve preferential propagation rights?, ... what about the 'commons of silence'? Because that was exactly what was going out there with the 'mea culpas', ... a yin canvas which was advertising a mechanistic view. Not intentionally, but if your wearing a microphone clip with access to the PA system, ... you've got to be doubly aware of where you're taking it. We are all, in some sense, 'surgeons of yin' who's interventions in the commons of silence will infuse material of continuing transformative or 'infectious' power.
Now my yin canvas of the killing fields, traded for his prior yin canvases apparently didn't do that much to smooth out the dialogue, ... although I was thinking that it was a strong means of painting the geometry of the trade in yin canvases which goes on in the world, ... that it would make the point that some voices are hundred pound voices, while others are featherlights, ... that the 'medium of the message' is the mother of informational content while the explicit material in the message is the child, ... a tiny child-feature on the far broader landscape of the yin-medium or 'yin-canvas'.
If Pierre really knew me, ... if he knew what yin fabric I was actually made of, ... I suspect he would have smiled at 'the leaky condom award', and not taken it so seriously.
Without trust and honesty, ... western style dialogue is doomed. It is doomed because the western culture believes in an all-yang reality where the immersing container is supposed to be, according to mainstream science, an inert, non-participating void.
But it 'ain't' a void, ... it is the mother of all information.
So what is the 'geometry' of this dysfunctional, yin-less communication, ... when one communicates as if yin didn't exist?
The geometry is like that in the story of 'brere rabbit and the tar baby', right? One strikes out at the perceived (projected) insolence of the tar baby for not announcing itself properly in our presence, and wham-bang, .. our fist is quickly into the mire. 'How dare this tar baby!', ... the insolence of this miring, inflicted so unceremoniously, is deserving of a kick in the groin, ... further miring, ... and so on. It can get very messy.
We know all about these limits to rational discussion (i.e. yang-only discussion), right? WIttgenstein told us about them and Kurt Goedel genned up a theorem which proved them. "There is no constructive procedure which will prove axiomatic theory to be consistent." In other words if all you've got is positive brush strokes and you screw up, ... it's like screwing up with no eraser, ... painting over it is not going to get you back to the canvas of truth and innocence, ... adding more noise is not going to take you back to the commons of silence. Rational propositions can be silently challenged and reconciled over time, but if they are vocally challenged by more rational propositions, it's goedellian tar-baby time.
* * *
Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said; "The flag is moving."
The other said: "The wind is moving."
The sixth patriarch happened to be passing by. He told them: "Not the wind, not the flag; mind is moving."
Wind, flag, mind moves,
The same understanding.
All are wrong.
* * *
... 'Now don't be confusing me with that Zen stuff', ... western rationalism says, .... 'the next thing you'll be telling me is that space is the greater reality and our material existence is a bloody abstraction!' And as for Heraclitus and his 'field-over-matter' blather, ... what sense can there be in weirdo statements such as;
"Of the Logos which is as I describe it men always prove to be uncomprehending, both before they have heard it and when once they have heard it. For although all things happen according to this Logos men are like people of no experience, even when they experience such words and deeds as I explain, when I distinguish each thing according to its constitution and declare how it is; but the rest of men fail to notice what they do after they wake up just as they forget what they do when asleep." ... "Therefore it is necessary to follow the [yin] common; but although the Logos is common the many live as though they had a private understanding." ... "And as the same thing there exists in us living and dead and the waking and the sleeping and young and old; for these things having changed round are those, and those having changed round are these."
Well, I suppose the sense of these statements could be that the 'same thing' induces different behaviors in opposites; e.g. a beautiful woman induces different responses from man and woman, ... that the 'same thing' incorporates opposites; e.g. the act of writing combines straight (lines) and crooked (letters), ... that the 'same thing' is made possible by its periodic or sequential opposite; e.g. health is made possible by sickness, 'right' by 'wrong', 'low note by high note', ... that the 'same thing' is simultaneously its opposite; e.g. night is, at the same time, day.
So, based on our life experience, 'things' are not always what our yang materialism definitions make them out to be, ... in fact, the general theory of relativity, and quantum physics agree with our experience in that 'things' are abstractions, ... the 'subject and object' which we put on either end of a dialogically opposing relationship are not 'us', ... and if they are not 'us', ... we're going to have to decide whether 'we', our aitherial 'niche personas' which live in unbounded space-time (according to theory) are the abstraction or 'they', these material entities are. As Schroedinger says; "For the observing mind is not a physical system, it cannot interact with any physical system."
And as Gerhard Grössing says in 'Die Information der Physik: Subjektal und Objektal',... the logic of evolution (symmetry => asymmetry => integration => meta-symmetry, gives rise to a 'circular causality', and only when we put the 'center of awareness' between the 'subject' (observational instrument) and the 'object' does quantum theory make sense, ... a vantage point from which these two components, ... 'subject' and 'object' are understood merely as 'thought-props'.
So how does this add any insight the above tar baby dialogue?
Well, we know we have the awareness to catch ourselves 'role-playing', ... the cultural habitude which everyone has which is nevertheless 'software' rather than 'hardware', ... a function of the culture we were born into and how it wants our sex and ethnicity to be 'dressed', ...and a function of who we choose to 'model after' etc. Actors have the opportunity to load some new software and males can even think and respond like females or vice versa. So when something happens in our lives which elicits a response from us, ... we go through this routine which loads our favored particulars (e.g. white adult female conservative with dry sense of humour, who is irritable today, or whatever), ... and generates the appropriate flavour of response.
But, .... we can also be aware of ourselves doing this. And when we make ourselves aware, we are now in that middle ground that Schroedinger and Grössing are talking about, ... where there is a view of both the subject (measuring instrument) and the object. Now we are playing dual roles, ... as the container in which these two opposites are interacting, and the role of measuring instrument or 'subject'.
So what's the dualist process?
Denis Gabor answered this one.
The subject extends his experience with the information supplied by the object and then 'correlates' the extended experience with itself, ... to determine how the new information 'fits in'. He does this in his imagination so the output is 'imaginary'.
So now he has two information signal components, his 'real experience' (actuality) and his 'imaginary experience' (possibility), and insofar as the new information from the object 'correlates', .. he can assimilate it and evolve his experience (i.e. 'learn').
But this situation is 'relativistic' in that he could stand disproportionately on the ladder of the 'object' and let that redefine his 'subject' or vice versa. The child whose experience is limited, if you tell him that the moon is made of green cheese and that babies are delivered to the cabbage patch by storks, or that a jolly, white-bearded man dressed in red flies down from the north pole at Christmas time, pulled by reindeer, ... he will likely assimilate that as part of his experience or 'actuality' since his experiential 'signal' is not sufficiently well developed to 'reject' spurious but coherent signal from normally reliable sources.
And if the subject is, instead, ... a jaded adult who has been conned too many times, ... he may find that the new signal from the 'object' correlates with the various patterns of spurious signal that he has accumulated in the past and mistakenly accepted as valid.
In this latter case, ... if he is science-minded, he may associate with the first of Descartes four principles in his Aristotelian "Discours de la méthode" (1637);
"Le premier était de ne concevoir jamais aucune chose pour vraie que je ne la connusse évidemment pour telle, "
"... to never accept anything as being true that you don't know for sure to be true."
While it seems reasonable to verify the authenticity of new information coming from the 'object', ... sometimes, particularly in rapid dialogue, you don't have much time, ... 'Jump for it, ... there's a speeding truck right behind you!'
So, there's a little hermeneutical cycle going on here, which your awareness sits in the middle of, ... and how much weight you want to put on your foot that's on the ladder of subjectivity, ... and how much weight you want to put on your foot that's on the ladder of objectivity, ... is up to you, ... and how you balance the two proportions will characterize you somewhere in the range of a 'bigot' and an 'innocent.'
Mathematically, Gabor put it like this, as paraphrased in the domain of human dialogue with its implicit (yin, possibility) and explicit (yang, actuality) spaces;
"Awareness is a complex informational signal with yang and yin components, ... a rotating hermeneutic vector. It derives from correlating, on a continuing basis, the subjective signal (yang experience or 'actuality') with itself and using this correlated output as its own imaginary yin-component (yin experience or 'possibility'). The function of the imaginary yin-component has a simple significance. It represents the *quadrature* (autocorrelation, kind of) of the subjective yang informational signal which, added to itself, transforms the oscillating vector (yang voyeur view of actuality) into a rotating vector (immersed yin/yang view of possibility)."
Now if you want to take everything 'literally' that the 'object' feeds you, ... and simply do a 'sum of the parts' addition to your 'knowledge', ... you will remain in the voyeur state, ... more appropriately termed 'the confused voyeur state' if the 'object' you are engaging with is dealing in 'complex signals'; i.e. if the object is an 'aware' object.
Complex awareness is developed, for example, in an aboriginal 'sharing circle' which puts the participants into a state of collective awareness by using the multidimensional correlation of the various object signals as the imaginary component to one's own yang experience of 'actuality'. This gives an implicit awareness of 'collective possibility' akin to what the skilled pool player cultivates with respect to his ensemble of balls, ... so that one's actions (one's participation in the precipitation of actuality from possibility) can be guided by an awareness of collective possibility. This equates to what might be called 'managing collective possibility' (managing collective opportunity).
Enough for the mathematical diversion, ....
Clearly, it is impossible to deal with the triadic co-dynamics of our reality (container- subject- object codynamics) in a yang-only context. We live in an 'aware' world and to deny our own awareness is to turn ourselves into machines, .. into bivalent processors of 'ones and zeros' purged of the space-time phase information which can only come through imagination and the 'immersed' perception of non-euclidian space-time.
But the serious rational yang-only tar baby dialogue, with its yin-doctoring approach, is not the only possibility for dialogue. In addition to the 'sharing circle', we also have the Irish 'blarney' method.
In the Celtic traditions of Ireland, the leprachauns of yin are ever-present and the linguistic style is referred to as the "crack". For example, in Kerry, the yin-enriched style is to try to "strike" off one another (i.e. make a point at another's expense [received in the culture, in a positive, good-humoured light]), while in Cork, the yin-style is softer, more reflective and philosophical. In both cases, the yin is not denied and left to flap in the breeze, ... yin-speak is part of the oral tradition. The epitome of excellence in Celtic communication emulates the never- beginning- never- ending celtic knot, .... when someone is speaking quickly and colourfully in a dialogue, with yourself trailing on the leader but rapidly closing in on him, ... when, quite suddenly and very smoothly, he re-appears coming towards you from the opposite direction, and passes you by going the other way.
Such traditional, complex awareness-based usage patterns are capable of carrying "ancient thoughts" and when people lose such "accents" and linguistic styles, there is a dulling of the traditional richness and sparkle, not only of expression, but also of aware thought. It seems as if, in the unbounded space-time of one's niche persona --- the awareness which lies in the rotating hermeneutic vector between subject and object, ... that the "ancient thoughts" of a culture are subtly carried on the language and are lost when the overall collective "web" of dialect is not pervasively and continuously cultivated. An intuitive understanding of the existence of this "living repository" aspect of language and dialect may explain why there is so much reluctance to abandoning one's linguistic heritage and switching to a standard actuality-grounded language base.
It has been suggested that the yin-rich dialogical tradition of Ireland, woven into the living language, did not suffer as did English, from the Roman invasion. The Romans were already in the yang-only Greek tradition, and this perhaps contributed to their intense energies directed to the control and exploitation of the Empire, as well as to their penchant for "engineering". Cleanliness (e.g. Roman Baths) and linear geometric design (straight roads) etc. were very important to the Romans. Their emphasis was heavily on yang, ... rule-based abstraction and the use of symbolic icons in place of yin-enriched contextual experience. This legacy was clearly in evidence when the British Secretary for Ireland, in 1847, put abstracted economic principles ahead of complex awareness, ... engendering a major "famine" in Ireland as the product of his yang abstraction. In this case, by standing solely on the ladder of subjectivity, he constructed an objective actuality which was in denial of complex awareness.
Today, in Western society, it is common to see economic principles take precedence over social awareness. Unlike the east where 'there is no way to happiness', since 'happiness is the way', ... in the west, still, the path to happiness is the abstract path which leads across linear time towards the pleasure dream at the end of the rainbow, --- the colorless rainbow of materialist, economic growth.
The 'elusiveness' quality of yin, ... because it is disdained in the west, is being progressively purged from society with the disinfectant of political correctness. Only the residue of a few old jokes continue to bear the faint aroma of a nostalgia of the Celtic yin-society of yore, ... as in the following exemplar;
"A Roman Legion was marching through the Welsh Borders. Up jumped a Celt, covered in woad (celtic weave tattooed on the skin), and gesticulated somewhat rudely. The Legionaire sent two of his men after the Celt into the woods. Much banging and crashing, and two minutes later, out of the woods popped the Celt. More rudeness! The Legionair sends five men down. More banging and crashing. Again, the Celt pops out and gives the finger. The Legionaire cries "Letus Getus him!", and the whole Legion pours down into the woods after the Celt. They pass one of the dying Romans, who reaches up, grabs the lead Legionaire's leg, and moans: "Don't go"....."It's a trap!......"There's two of the bastards...."
Over time, military traditions in Ireland hardened in the face of yinless controls. As Yeats intimated in speaking of Sinn Fein, they had reduced their thoughts down to simplistic abstractions from which they had then built a sterile and static worldview in place of a living flow. Yeats associated this reduction of insight to linear logic or "opinion" with yang masculinity, writing; "A stone is always stronger, more masculine than a living thing...his logic was but...the apologetics of a moment...instead of being, like living thought, an intricacy of leaf and twig'" ('The Living Stream')
On that note, ... you can see that I have got myself stuck into a tar baby in this essay, ... and it being Saint Paddy's day, an all that as well. I need to somehow extract myself from this yin-doctoring mess and get back into some good-lookin yin country.
What comes to mind is to turn the corner, not so smoothly as a Celt, perhaps, ... but turn the corner anyhow, ... and come back around on an opposite tack which is, at the same time, the same tack.
You've met the yin-doctors,... now here come the yin-masters! To have your instrument measure them in an aware sense, ... you'll have to keep one eye on content and the other on the yin-scape framing the content!
The following trilogy;
The Mediterranean Middle-Earth
Under the Himalayan Roof of the World
In the Secluded Clouded Valleys of China
... is from; James Loeb, September 1, 1912, Preface to The Life of Apollonius of Tyana , Philostratus - 220 AD"'
I originally accessed it at http://magna.com.au/~prfbrown/a_tyana0.html, though that URL is no longer valid. It was cited as part of an Introduction & Historical Preamble, Planet Earth, 520 bc, in conjunction with InterDisciplinary DEVELOPMENTS Towards a Science of Consciousness . The full preamble, part of a web publication by PRF Brown, Mountain Man Graphics, Australia, is an awareness-full read also and I append it in footnote , ... while leaving his introductory paragraph in place;
In antithesis to information presented in the next few sections of this publication [Tucson Conference publication], I have decided that the introduction to the publication should provide a subtle reminder that this quest Towards a Science of Consciousness has not in fact been restricted to the final few years of the second millennium. The following three accounts attempt to present events at three disparate locations of the terrestrial planetary surface of Earth some two thousand five hundred years ago, ... and it is hoped that these are received as contributory - rather than diversionary - to the research material [a fellow warrior in the battle against yin-deprivation , to be sure]
The mechanical and social achievements of our day must not blind our eyes to the fact that, in all that relates to man, his nature and aspirations, we have added little or nothing to what has been so finely said by the great men of old.
The Mediterranean Middle-Earth
Down from out of the sparsely inhabited foot-hills of the ancient Grecian landscape strode a lone traveller on the little worn and rocky path. The sun was already sending the golden rays of morning into the canopy of the heavens above the distant peaks yet the journeyer had already a few hours of dust upon his feet. The path lead down again, and now - beside the river, where the traveller stopped - and looked to the strongly and deeply flowing waters as they surged from mountain to sea in the pristine air of 520 BC.
One would not know this traveller to be one of a royal family - he had the look of eagles, the appearance of a seasoned journeyer. His reflection looked back up at him from the shallow pool at the river's edge. The golden pre-dawn skies backdropped the ridge-lines of the foot-hills as they ascended towards the headquarters of the silent river - silent but for its deep and resonant harmony of flow.
Heraclitus looked at his reflection and recalled his conversation, three moons ago in the small village to the north of Ephesus with that journeying sage by the name of Pythagoras. What had that man spoken of?
Heraclitus would never forget ... the nature of the world, the nature of the soul and of life. Heraclitus had sheltered in the same journeyers' way-house when the heavens had opened and the afternoon rain had descended - itself like a river from the black and savagely boiling skies. And the middle-aged man had walked out of the rain from the southern pathways and the coast. For a moment Heraclitus had thought he would walk right through the village, but at the last the man had taken his eyes from the path to the north and had seen the shelter, and had come in from the rain.
The river flowed on across the space of his heartbeats as Heraclitus recalled the afternoon's conversation with this man Pythagoras. The man had spoken of many things, had answered many of younger man's questions, had expounded upon a thing called mathematics and geometry, and had demonstrated - by means of the small musical instrument which he carried - a mastery of music. When it was concluded, discussed with Heraclitus the nature of musical harmony the ordered relationship of the harmonic scales.
Three moons ago it had been - and whatever questions that man had answered Heraclitus now knew he had three-fold more again to ask, but he knew he would not see this man again with his own masterful and question eyes, for they both had known that they travelled on separate pathways, and approached their respective logos with different experiences of heart and mind and soul. Heraclitus knew himself to be young and strong - and he knew the answers would gradually be forthcoming concerning this Great Mystery of Life.
He lifted his head to see the first sunbeams shine now directly down over the highest of the Eastern peaks. Already the day was dawning, and his journey must be resumed. Yet he lingered for a few more moments beside the deep and resonant waters of the river, and recalled the words of the man Pythagoras, as he had narrated his experiences concerning 30 years of attendance and competition at the Games of Olympus. It was not discussion of the wrestling, or of other disciplines or competitors that he remembered from that afternoon's conversation beneath the steady rain on the roof of the village way-house, it was what the man/sage Pythagoras had said about life, and about philosophy:
"Life is like a gathering at the Olympic festival, to which, having set forth from different lives and backgrounds, people flock for three motives. To compete for the glory of the crown, to buy and sell or as spectators. So in life, some enter the services of fame and others of money, but the best choice is that of these few who spend their time in the contemplation of nature, and as lovers of wisdom (that is: philosophers).
Heraclitus looked out again over the river as a fish broke the surface after a fly, the ripples moved quickly downstream and were quickly lost in the passage of a few moments flow. He recalled the three profound essentials of his vision of the logos which he had discussed with this man, and the concise summary of these three things which they had - quite surprisingly - agreed upon:
FIRSTLY, that Harmony is always a product of opposites - yes, thought Heraclitus, this he knew to be close to the truth of nature, for he had seen and experienced himself the court-life of the royal family, and his education concerning the early Milesians - Thales and his claims that the world was made of water. Yet Heraclitus had turned his back on his royal heritage and - at the age of sixteen - had set forth on many journeys about the lands and the realms beyond. Everything is made of opposites and therefore subject to internal tension. This he knew to be so - even in his few years of travel. He watched the splash of another hungry fish striving for a fly on the surface of the deep river - and watched as the ripples of lifes' conflict flowed again away.
He recalled how Pythagoras had recounted these opposites, and had arranged them in two separate columns in the clean dry dirt of the way-house floor under the constant rain. He had listed his ten principles - limit/unlimited, odd/even, one/plurality, right/left, male/female, at rest/moving, straight/crooked, light/darkness, good/bad, square/oblong. He recalled looking askance at the man when he then spoke of mathematics and number and how these were that from which all things were derived. These opposites were identical, as in a polarity in which qualities are conceived with their contraries. Heraclitus, in his education had known of Thales' prediction of the eclipse of the sun - for this was well known - but this claim that the elements of number were the elements of everything. For the ancient Thales, water was the arche and the motive element of the cosmos. For his successor Anaximandes is was apeiron - the boundless - and for his younger contemprary Anaximenes, air was the arche - the primal element in the natural cosmos. Heraclitus had seen the changed ways of thought in his royal education, but what Pythagoras was saying was another step altogether.
SECONDLY, everything is in continuous motion and change. Certainly there was an agreement here between the two men. Yet Heraclitus saw in the eyes of the older man a reserved strength, and he was momentarily saddened by the thought that they would not meet again - for despite his strange fixations with geometry and mathematics - Pythagoras was undoubtedly one of the greatest of men that he had yet met. And still Heraclitus tarried by the river in silent memory ...
'But', he thought to himself, 'you cannot step in the same river twice ... for fresh waters are flowing on. " He recalled the final agreement:
THIRDLY, the world is a living and everlasting fire. Now Heraclitus had developed this - even in his youth - as his logos and recalled having discussed this with Pythagoras, at that time in the rain ....
"The world order (kosmos), the same for all, none of the gods nor of men has made, but it was always and is and shall be: an everlasting fire, which was kindled in measure and extinguished in measure." He had expected some other reaction from the older sage in this final exposition, but Pythagoras had instantly agreed and instead immediately asked Heraclitus where he thought this eternal fire was, and whether he thought it to be guarded, seeing it was so precious.
"Why, it is all about us on the earth as the divine sparks of life in each living thing" had replied Heraclitus, but Pythagoras, although he acknowledged this principle, continued to turn the conversation back to his mathemetics and geometry:
"The earth is made from the cube, the fire from the pyramid, air from the octahedron, water from the eicosahedron, and the sphere of the whole - the Aither - is made from the dodecahedron." He had said that Thales and those who followed him stated that there was one earth, but that he knew there to be two - our own and the counter-earth - which most folk knew to be the moon, but that the location of the element fire was at the very center and that it was about this central cosmic fire - the hearth of the cosmos - that both earth's turned. Heraclitus found this difficult to comprehend.
From this point, Pythagoras had spoken of his journeys to the northern and western Chaldean civilisations, and Heraclitus fell silent, recalling that the rumours surrounding this man had placed him variously with the Magi, Chaldeans and with the person of Zaroaster. And so he sat and listened as Pythagoras spoke of the nature of the eternal soul - its cycle of births and deaths, of it being a kind of harmony itself - for harmony is a blend of contraries, and the body is compounded out of contraries, and that that the soul is yoked to the body as a punishment, and buried in it as in a tomb.
The sun had gathered strength as the young man tarried by the river bank early at dawn on that fine summer's morning, and again Heraclitus was reminded of his journey. He smiled one final time as he recalled Pythagoras telling him about the central fire. Yet is was a smile of self-knowledge and he looked again up at the sky and the sun as it fully cleared the eastern ridges. With his two feet set firmly on the river bank he knew that the earth was at the center - the rush of his blood and his youth told him so in song - and this song was a deep song which blended in to the deep harmoniy of the flowing river ... How could this primal fire be at the center of the cosmos if it was born and if it died the death of night?
How could the earth be moving? How could the fire of the sun be at the center?
And so, without a backward glace at the fresh flowing waters, with the sun on his shoulders and the cooling morning breeze at his face, Heraclitus set forth on his journey out of the foothills of the ancient lands of the Grecian MiddleEarth.
Under the Himalayan Roof of the World
At that very time, over seven thousand kilometers to the east and closer to the equator, Prasenadjit Rajah sat in the great meeting hall at Srvasti, India. It was just after midday and although the meeting hall had been thronged all morning with a great host of people, none were showing signs of moving or inattention, and all minds listened attentively as another journeyer of royal lineage sat in their midst and gave a discourse concerning the nature of the mind.
Prasenadjit Rajah had never seen so many people congregated in his local community meeting hall in all the years of his advanced life. He recognised the local priests and holy men who had instructed his village in the readings and interpretations of the ancient vedic literature which had been passed down from community to community for the last three thousand years.
Some of these people he had never seen before - only heard rumours of their dwelling in some remote mountain forest - isolated from the world for the last thirty or forty years. They had gathered to hear the words of Gotama - the Tathagata, the Buddha, the Enlightened One. From many reclusive sanctuaries of mountain and forest - in ones and in groups - travellers and locals had journeyed the congregation. He recognised the colourful garb of the mountain folk who must have journeyed down from out of the mountains - the Himals - the snow mountains - which formed the great Roof of the World.
. Gotama Buddha, seated in the midst of the congregation, had been holding discourse with Ananda concerning the nature and the location of the mind. To the satifaction of the conference it had been clearly shown that the essence of the mind was not located outside the body as a lamp, nor inside the body as a torch, nor yet buried within the senses ... and Buddha had just shown that the nature of the mind is very much related to the power of sight being fixed and unchangeable.
Prasendadjit Rajah smiled inwardly to himself in consideration of his old and changed body, and felt impelled to ask a question of this enlightened sage, and so slowly rose to his feet, and then addressed Buddha:
"Tell me, how I may attain the knowledge of the imperishable principle which you call the mind?"
Buddha replied: "Maharajah! with respect to your present body, I would ask you, Is this body of yours like the diamond, unchangeable in its appearance and ... imperishable, or is it, on the other hand, changeable and perishable"
"This body of mine without doubt, in the end, after various changes, will perish"
"You have not yet experienced this destruction of the body. How then do you know anything about it?"
The old Rajah replied "With respect to this transient changeable and perishable body, although I have not yet experienced the destruction of which I speak, I observe the case of things around me and ever reflect that all these things are changing - old things die and new things succeed, there is nothing that changes not, thus the wood that now burns will soon be converted into ashes; all things gradually exhaust themselves and die away; there is no cessation of this dying out and perishing. I may certainly know that this body of mine will finally perish ..."
Buddha looked at the Rajah for a brief moment and then replied:
"You confess that from witnessing these ceasless changes you arrive at the conviction that your body must perish. Let me ask when this time for your body to perish arrives, are you aware of anything connected to yourself that will not perish?"
The Rajah considered this question for a moment and then said: "I know of no such imperishable thing"
To which the younger and commanding mystic replied:
"I will now explain to you the character of that 'nature' which admits of neither birth or death. Maharajah: When you were a little child, how old were you when you fist saw the river Ganges?"
"When I was three years old" replied the old man without hesitation, recalling his first journey with his father and elder brother to the banks of the holy river which ran from out of the mountains of the roof of the world, and journeyed across the rich and pleasant lands of the Indian nations until it flowed into the sea.
"Let us take up your own illustration respecting your gradual alteration of appearance through every decade of your life. You say that three years of age that you saw this river. Tell me then when you were thirteen years old what sort of appearance had this river then?"
"Just the same as it had been when I was three years old;" said the old man without hesitation, "And now I am sixty two there is no alteration in its appearance"
The Tathagata looked at the proud old clansman, and then slowly about the room at the attentive congregation before he asked a further question ...
"You are now become decrepit, white-haired and wrinkled in face, and so your face has grown during succesive years, tell me then, has the sight which enable you to see the Ganges in former years become also wrinkled and increasingly so with your years?"
"No" ... came the immediate and honest response.
And Buddha continued: "Although your face has become wrinkled, yet your power of sight has in its nature altered not. But that which becomes old and decrepit is in its nature changeable, and that which does not become so, is unchangeable. That which changes is capable of destruction, but that which changes not, must be from its origin incapable of birth or death"
Prasenadjit Rajah thanked the Buddha for his explanation, and sat down again in his place. His thoughts went back to the Great River. And while the discourse continued, in his mind's eye he followed the course of the Ganges River and perceived - for the first time - this great cycle of the water from the rain on the mountains to the flow across the lands to the ocean. And there, as well as over all the lands, the nature of the sunshine would raise the waters back into the clouds of the sky Over and over the drops of rain persisted in this vast terrestrial pilgrimage, and it seemed as if the Great Mystery for a moment lay exposed free from the mists of tribulation, and the old Rajah smiled a welcoming smile.
In the Secluded Clouded Valleys of China
Many more thousands of miles to the east, Long Wing sat motionless and alone on the outcrop of rock in the front of the cave in which he had dwelt for many many moons. In the many enfolded meanders of the deep mountain valleys carved by the patient flowing of the ancient river, his cave faced the west and he watched with an inner joy the golden messages of the sunset that day - for he knew - somehow with an inner certaintly - that soon he would be visited by a searching relative, or friend of a searching relative. He did not know his age. He no longer counted the days or the moons or the seasons.
Long Wing felt the gathering darkness resist the final statement of the setting sun, felt the gathering mists begin to descend to their resting places for the night below, the languid trailing vaporous breath of wind collecting the heavier and water filled airs below him. As the stars began to shine from out of the canopy of the sky, Long Wing partook of a bowl of fresh rainwater.
And much later, as the moon rose and moved though the night sky, finally becoming visible over the top edge of the cave's rock strewn roof, Long Wing continued his vigil ...
The next morning, long after the sun had arisen in the east, and the first of the mountain clouds had climbed up out of their overnight rest in the steep valley, Long Wing saw the climbing traveller on the path far below. He had not seen another human soul for what seemed like an eternity, yet he joyfully reigned in his mounting expectations, stood and retrieved from the back of the cave the parchment upon which he had written those few scattered words so long ago. He returned to his outlook on the outcrop, and the distant figure waved - he had been seen - purposefully - he sat and read the words of his composition:
There are ways but the Way is uncharted;
There are names but not nature in words:
Nameless indeed is the source of creation
But things have a mother and she has a name.
The secret waits for the insight
Of eyes unclouded by longing;
Those who are bound by desire
See only the outward container.
These two come paired but distinct
By there names.
Of all things profound,
Say that their pairing is deepest,
The gate to the root of the world.
The journeyer was a woman. She had ascended the valley side very quickly and was approaching Long Wing's cave dwelling along the mountain track. He stood and placed the parchment in a bamboo tube, sealing it's ends with some treated cloth. By the time he had completed this task, the woman appeared at the rock platform and was watching him intently, with no sign of fear.
Long Wing motioned for the traveller to approach and held out the scroll, indicating that she was to take it from him. Without hesitation the transaction was conducted and Long Wing turned away and faced the eastern sky. His work was completed.
It was some time later that Long Wing realised that the woman was still there, standing on the path beside the rock platform with the scroll still in her hands, watching him intently. He turned slowly and, gathering a few dry twigs from within the cave, set about the making of a small fire upon which he placed a shiny metalic pot of rainwater. By the time the water had boiled and the homegrown mountain tea had drawn, the woman had come forward and taken a place beside the fire. She looked into the face of the mystic and then to the tea, and motioned to the recluse with a quick movement of the head. He acknowledged her request, and she went about the ceremony of pouring the tea into the two porcelain cups which he had left beside the fire.
It was over this cup of tea that she asked him the questions:
"How did you know that I came in search of this scroll?" she had asked him.
"Some things are to be known", he had replied, "some things are not to be known."
"He who has sent you my child, did he give you any special instruction?" he had asked after a long and protracted silence.
"The librarian Lao Tsu instructed me to journey westward along these parts of the Great Yellow Rover and to seek the man known as Long Wing on the eastern rocks of the deeper valleys. He advised me that Long Wing may or may not have a scroll to be couriered. He instructed me to seek out this Long Wing, and courier this scroll, if it was to be given to my hands. He instructed me to bring the scroll to him as soon as the winter had left the region."
The woman fell silent, and then added: "The librarian advised me to say that the scroll will enjoin with other rivers and streams and become part of the way of our entire people."
Long Wing looked away to the northern ridges where the woman's homebound path would be set. He looked carefully at the face of the agile mountain woman. She bowed her head and sipped her tea carefully, as if to consider the moment well.
He spoke to her softly: "You must also give the librarian another message from me."
He paused and she looked at his eyes which now relected the morning sun. You will tell him this:
"The valley spirit is not dead.
I say it is the mystic female.
Her gateway is, I further say,
The base of heaven and earth.
Constantly, and so forever,
use her without labour."
The old man stood gracefully after placing his empty cup beside the little flame of sticks.
"You will tell the librarian that the time has arrived for Long Wing to depart. You will convey to him the exact location of this dwelling place - for he will have need of it in his time to come. Farewell my child. Travel with the wind ... "
Later that day, as the sun began to set again down the valley, the woman looked back on the small rocky outcrop bathed in the western light. She had travelled fast and hard through the middle of the day. The immense valley was about to be lost from sight as the path turned. This would be her last vantage point on the dwelling place of Long Wing.
It occurred to her that she would not likely see the kind old mystic again. She stopped on the top of the way in the high place on the turning trail and looked back down the river valley. Carefully she looked - again searching the distant rocky outcrops half way up the steep sided river valley. The clouds were beginning to descend. In another half hour the dragons of water would travel the valleys. Almost, she imagined, she could see the figure of the mystic standing on one of those remote ledges bathed in the golden sun.
And just at that moment a beam - a flash of light - passed in front of her eyes and sourced from the distant ledge she observed. Was that the tiny figure of a man holding aloft a mirror?
The woman waited patiently, but in the space of a few moments a group of clouds had descended to obscure the intervening distance, and the woman recalled the purpose of her present journey. It would be another twenty days - possibly longer dependant upon the condition of the rough trails - until she reached the destination described to her by the librarian.
She deliberately set her first footstep down the trail, and followed it immediately with a second.
* * *
Conclusion of Intro & Historical Preamble, Planet Earth, 520 bc
Towards a Science of Consciousness
 Mcluhan's actual words, rather than 'the doctors of yin' were; "those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves", ... and rather than 'the interests of others', ... "commercial interests".
 The specifications concerning any developments towards a science of consciousness must be cognisant of, and afford working definition of terms for, that environment which is commonly known as the Inner World of Man. Until this task is faced and undertaken, there will be much unproductive and circular debate - especially in view of the inter-cultural and inter-disciplinary integrations. Such questions as "What is the mind", and "What are the Elements of Consciousness", and even the question "What is the soul" will need to be addressed in terms of environmental and ecological specifications of this Inner World of Consciousness.
INTER-DISCIPLINARY CONSIDERATIONS: Inherent in the vast complexities associated with the ever specialising disciplines of modern scientific research and development, there has been evident the gradual displacement of the traditional and insular scientific disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geology. Emergent between the cracks of the floors of these structures, where before ideas could not take root, we are finding the growth of interdisciplinary bodies such as microbiology, environmental and ecological science. Whereas these earlier monolithic disciplines served the advancement of human knowledge to the present day, we are finding it increasingly common that these newer and more specialised research areas are providing more holistic pictures of the entire scientific arena.
INTER-CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS: In order to consider this phenomena of consciousness which is manifest on a global basis, contemporary scientific methodolgy needs to address the establishment of its foundations in relation to the foundations of other methodologies which have been used to address the phenomena of consciousness in all lands and in all ages in the history of man. It may well eventuate that the developments will arise when notes are actually compared.
NATURE: The specifications of the very nature of the world itself - the "outer world" as defined by the traditional physical sciences - have been themselves part of an evolving project. Since the "dawn of history" man's concept of the world - and thus of the nature of the world - has changed, and towards the end of the second millennium, the complex details of this specification evolve at an ever-increasing rate. Despite these advances, each individual - in accordance to their environment - must deal with nature in a holistic sense. Consequently, perhaps the entire ontology of the sciences needs to be addressed in terms of an ecology of aspects of study of one thing from different physical perspectives.
In antithesis to information presented in the next few sections of this publication, I have decided that the introduction to the publication should provide a subtle reminder that this quest Towards a Science of Consciousness has not in fact been restricted to the final few years of the second millennium. The following three accounts attempt to present events at three disparate locations of the terrestrial planetary surface of Earth some two thousand five hundred years ago, and it is hoped that these are received as contributory - rather than diversionary - to the research material.
The mechanical and social achievements of our day must not blind our eyes
to the fact that, in all that relates to man, his nature and aspirations,
we have added little or nothing to what has been so finely said
by the great men of old.
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