Thursday, August 09, 2012

III Manchester Talk May 31, 2012

       [NB I am delayed going home and so am using an unfamiliar PC; will add footnotes and correct typography when I get back to Oxford!]

       Today's culture has lost the sense of what unknowing signifies. It is often assumed to be anti-intellectual, a mental stopping place. In fact, it is a stopping place only for the linearity of self-conscious thinking. Unknowing requires the analytic and critical faculty of self-consciousness be used to its fullest extent. When it arrives at its limit, ideally it relinquishes its contents to be both deepened and expanded by the holographic rationality of the deep mind, an effect that might be compared to a paradox of optics.

       It is only when the self-conscious mind gets out of its own way that it can optimally receive the insights of the deep mind. The deep mind effects the process of trans-figuration: a shift in the way we figure things out, which the deep mind gladly re-submits to the self-conscious mind. We might note in passing that the words transform and transcend are distorting and misleading when applied to this ongoing process of 'love's sweet exchange and barter'* between the two epistemologies which I call the work of silence. Transform implies that one thing is changed into another; in the process under discussion, frogs do not become princes or princesses; it is rather that through our wounds we become trans-figured. Transcend implies that something is left behind, whereas the work of silence is deeply incarnational and grounded in the body. This process of transfiguration is mirrored by and entailed in the terms apophasis and kataphasis.

       The meaning of the word unknowing is further confused because modern writers tend to use the word rational when they mean linear, implying that what is not linear is not rational. In fact the deep mind is far more rational than the self-conscious mind, in part because it has six or seven different kinds of attention, whereas the self-conscious mind has only one. These two ways of knowing are as different as a tabloid newspaper to a living holograph. The self-conscious mind can only interpret through simulacra; the deep mind perceives directly: its perceptions are polyvalent, inclusive, relational, molecular, alive. This tendency to use rational when linear is meant leads both readers and writers to literalise words such as ascent and descent which are used metaphorically in many texts for more optimal or less optimal. There is no geometry in the work of silence.

*'When Diana lighteth / late her crystal lamp...' Helen Waddell's translation of 'Dum Diana vitrea' from Carmina Burana in Medieval Latin Lyrics.


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