Sunday, January 18, 2009

Unlucky Chapter 13 from 1983, again as coverup

So I started The Critical Path, by Bucky Fuller; an old love of mine. I've alternately hated and been thrilled by what he has to say. I often find his image of a technologically perfect world terribly like 1984 yet so much of what he says is brilliant and strikes truth in the heart like poetry. I was a little displeased with him this time, and a little excited. He is aware of the danger of the myth of control, but not of how deep it goes. His life has been an act of faith. He has commended his well being to the wisdom of the universe, which he is sure will care for the selfless. But he has yet to realize that science when taken for truth can be an affront to that same all-knowing universe.

Confused, I decided to get out my little pump-up sprayer, heat some water, and bathe myself. Then a simple thought started growing. I crashed about clearing up after lunch and my shower; recharging the stove. Everything was in the way. I wanted to write some more.

At least one point of Fuller's is indisputable. Science has provided us with incredible means. Aha. Of course. Some scientists would distinguish themselves from technologists. They are in search of pure truth. The scientific pursuit is a pure and idealistic one. But every responsible scientist will tell you that he is not concerned with why -- only how. There's a paradox here, because to the common man, truth is the mater of why. To the scientist, truth is concerned with how. There's something wrong with the language. The solution is not simply to distinguish between the language of the scientist, and that of the layperson. We all share the same world. Where scientists talk to other scientists, they also talk to specialists of another field. They rely quite a bit on common language for their communication, because each individual scientist has his special area within his specialty. Ideas have to be gotten across somehow. There is no pure mathematical communication.

But, in general, the scientists will agree that truth is determined by finding out how. How do things work. How are they structured. How do we know about them. But, it would seem that the popularizers of science get as confused as the layperson. They are concerned with showing why the why is inconsequential and uninteresting.

Well, that's a dangerous thing, because it would deny the truth-value of science to the layperson concerned with why. So images of beauty are introduced to show that how is beautiful with the implicit assumption that beauty is why.

Aside from the obvious danger of tautology, there is the implication that the scientist is therefore doing just what everyone else does. He finds the world beautiful and mysterious and proceeds to unfold it.

A lot depends on the relationship between the scientist and the other he is unveiling. A lot depends on whether there is trust. Is this unveiling a rape, or a seduction? Or is there love in the connection. Are we betrayers of the earth we have penetrated with our words and probing instruments. I trust there are some who will keep an open mind on the question.

The layperson does not unfold the mystery. He leaves that to the specialist. The layperson finds the world beautiful and mysterious and wants to know his relationship to it. Science changes his relationship. There's a different why in the modern world than there is in a world inhabited by spirits or gods or other meaningful-because-people-directed forces. Now the layperson wants to know his relationship to an unspirited world and naturally looks to the scientist for help. After all, he did away with the spirits, so he ought to be able to help us find out what the relationship is.

Oh, no! says the scientist. I can only tell you what is there -- nothing about its relationship to you. That's a personal matter. The trouble is that when the scientist claims to be dealing with the truth of what is there, he also assumes the truth that the relationship between self -- here -- and there is unimportant.

Oh, no! says the scientist again. We know that we effect our experiments. We know also of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. But we also know that what is there is there and that science is the means for finding out what is there -- finding out how.

But that's a bit too much of a mouthful, I think. They really know no such thing. They only believe it. They really deal with nothing like truth. They only deal with means. Science has, as I've said, given us some tremendously powerful means. These are means for dealing with the external world. And they are also means for dealing with ourselves. The trouble is that anything they have to do with that is internal becomes external. The body becomes other when it is treated as such.

And in the external world, too, the means always change the actuality. Long before ghosts were eradicated, the world was changed by the light of fire, the distance able to be covered by the wheel, the communication available through words -- these are all means. Finally we live in a world of electric light and switches and airplanes and computers and etcetera. The world has been changed through the means by which we deal with it. And of course each of these changes in means has been predicated on the pure "Truth" of science.

Now, when a scientist proposes to describe how the world is, he fiddles with the truth of why, though perhaps without knowing or intending it. If he did merely what the poet does, and described what is beautiful to him rather than what is, he would perhaps be excused from meddling. Except the poet is expected to deal with why -- and not only by way of beauty. There's a dilemma.

The poet speaks the literal truth without trying to prove anything to you. Some poets may try to seduce, but not the good poets. The true poets. They have always been the prophets. They speak the truth, and it is up to you, the reader, to find it there or not. The beauty cannot be had separately from the truth. Such acceptance is nothing but the swooning of the hateful actress-virgin before the experience of her seducer. She wants to believe, and he only wants to get her into bed. Who is the more dishonest? There is no beauty apart from truth.

Listen to the rock music on the radio. Much of it is hymns to truth. Other, older music seems to be more beautiful. The elite among us smirk at those who can appreciate only the vulgar -- the rock -- without knowing the classical. But the classical has become a seductress. An old harlot, who wants us to believe that we cannot have her except on sufferance. She lies. We cannot touch her beauty, because it has grown old. It is a different beauty, and those who make contact do so according to different rules. We cannot hear Beethoven except through modern ears. To pretend that we can is to rape the hag.

The scientists don't know what is any more than you or I. They only know ways for changing our relationship to what apparently is. And they can only do that with help. The accomplishments of science seem to give us tremendous power, but all they really give us is a different world. The why changes along with the changes in the world.

If someone comes to beat you with a stick and you're human, but don't know about sticks, you'll learn pretty quickly. If you survive, you may learn to use the stick yourself. That is, if you also learn that beating is essential.

If someone goes to the moon and tells you about it, your relationship with the moon might change. Or you may have been following the progression all along, in which case the change has been slow, and it's easy to believe the story. If you hadn't been following events, you'd probably be pretty hard to convince.

Now, if someone tells you about the way the world is, and you know that it isn't that way, you'll say 'show me'. If someone can show you effectively, your knowledge changes. But you have to want to learn. If you really want to be convinced, you can be made to believe that the world is most any way at all. But if you don't, then no proof will convince you, though you might perish in your resistance.

Many a club has been stopped in mid-swing by the magic of a word or a look, or the superior knowledge of some arcane martial art. I know we've been to the moon, but I'm not convinced we can reach the stars by the same means. No one has resolved the "twin paradox" to my satisfaction. I think they only want me to believe. And I don't think I'm being perverse. I think I know something the scientists apparently can't know about the way the world is. It involves the why of faith. It involves my relationship to the world. It involves the dissolution of the paradox that is the foundation of science. The distinction between myself and the world. I don't think there is any, other than what I put there. I know that the distinction cannot be erased without losing myself. And I know that nothing can be proved.

Nothing can ever be proved. Except to oneself. I have proved to myself something about the way the world is. I know that the essential first step is to believe -- to have faith -- that one's own existence is meaningful. Because that kind of knowledge is absolutely impossible without faith. There is no unlimited being. We are all limited by definition of self. There is no point in naming what is undivided. And I know that what I have proven to myself can be proved by anyone -- absolutely regardless of his particular capacities. Ail that is required is a leap of faith. It's a simple thing. You don't need a strong body or a strong mind. In fact, they get in the way. Ail you need do is let go.

No one can show me or anybody else alive that we can get to the stars by "physical" means. It's beyond our lifetimes. Those who would try to convince us must have a terrible need to believe in the possibility themselves. They must be either terribly lonely or wish terribly much to be alone. I am both, but I have found that the achievement of aloneness is impossible. My life seems to have a meaning that is beyond me -- other. The seeking for answers to the question why that propose only a relationship between the self and nothingness -- the self and some other that is comprehended in the self -- are perpetual evasions. The journey to the stars is an evasion. The belief in its possibility evades something too. It is willful blindness.

Not that the stars have nothing to do with me. But the containment of a changing world by the framework of metaphors appropriate to another world is explosive. The masculine, physical, power dominated vision of travel to the stars is extrapolation of beliefs already shown to be dangerous in the present. And thus it is a delusion. There are other ways to reach the stars.

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