Monday, November 21, 2011

Living The Myth: A Black Hole In Our Center

Image Mikebp
By James Curcio

Some thoughts on the nature of the ego while sipping on a really excellent mocha at La Columbe yesterday in center city philly, with Occupy people sitting about me in the cafe debating politics. The whole scenes--quiet but fervent political discussion, a beautiful tiny girl with tattoos all over her body discussing the history of surrealism just a table or two down--felt very Parisian, somehow.

These were the notes I got down longhand in my notebook while the caffeine buzz lasted.

If we grant the ego--at once the inner voice thinking "I" and hearing it--any existence at all, paradox and infinite regress abounds. Removing it from the equation, on the other hand, seems unsatisfying. The ground of being is shrouded in uncertainty. When we act, suddenly that ground is far more solid. Maybe this shows a linkage between immanence and the act rather than the reflection or abstraction; but immanence seems to reach out to enfold the numinous as well. Can it grasp it? Embody it?

Our inner perception, the inner awareness that says "I" or is aware of the images, words etc in our heads as well as what is presented to us by our senses is not a thing in the world. I'm making the distinction because that awareness isn't contained within those senses, impressions, thoughts etc. It appears to give existence to them by being aware of them without being of them (grounded in them.)

We have an existence as a form of being, or we'd like to think we do, but that ego (or whatever you want to call it), only expresses itself in its effects upon the outside world--in action. Though existentialism is kind of a bunk term, it still represents a fundamental shift in awareness that leads right into postmodernism: that the internal "I" is--contrary to the thinking of most pre WWII philosophy--an illusion of some kind, or at least unknowable because it has no actual presence in the world. It is "Nothing."



Where most existential and post-modern thinking seem to parts ways is in the former thinking the solution is to define one's self through acts, and the other is more a methodology of critique.

The zero point of death, on the other hand, provides an interesting counterpoint to the ego itself. It nullifies the meaning of time. From the vantage point of the end of our history, it matters little if we die tomorrow or in one hundred years. Time is reduced to an n-dimensional space, like a black hole. Or at least that will suffice as a metaphor.

From the vantage point of the present, and from the perspective of our immersion in narratives, it matters very much if we die in one hundred years or tomorrow.

And from the outside, all that survives and bridges the gap between life and death is the myth.

To die for the myth is to live only for the Other; there's an oddly selfless element to the end-point of a suicide like Mishima's. To live for one's self is the real paradox in which we must live our myth and balance that with the unembodied interior life that is a reflection of pure experience--ego. The ego itself could also best be represented by a black hole, an aberration that is only known by the way it distorts all that wanders too near to its event horizon. Though in the case of ego the force at work is myth, not gravity. Of the interior of the ego and the zero point of death we must by all necessity be stricken deaf and dumb. Nothing can escape this paradox--a voice crying out that is only heard when we, its double, mimic that ephemeral gesture.

Hope you are looking forward to the release of The Apocalyptic Imaginary. It's going to be great.



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