Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Res non entia

  So, we must gallop on, while there are still horses left.  Brother Jago de Haviland, who fancies himself as a beacon of the Enlightenment, has branded you, sethren, as a bus queue.  The man has, what do we say nowadays? the man has issues.  To do with health.  And what we used to call the mind.
  But can no longer.
  For, sethren, there is no such thing as the mind.  Not any more.  And for a very clear reason.  The reason being that it does not exist.
  Ask anybody what the mind is, then examine their answer.  It will be a res non entia, or at least a vapid circularity.  A bit like “meaning is what something means”.  Bollocks, to you and me.  What is the mind?  It is the place where I think.  The place where you think?  Does that mean there are other places just like the mind where you don’t think?  And what do you do in those places.  Sleep, you say.  So what is the name of the place where you sleep?  A bed, you say.  So is the mind a place like a bed?  No, you say, it is the place where where me is, where I am.  Bollocks, sether, and there’s no need to shout.  You are playing with grammar.  What you are referring to is the brain and the processes of the brain.  The brain is certainly a place, we know exactly where to look for it.  But the processes of the brain, vision, hearing, touch, self-awareness, consciousness, are continuous with the world and with the universe.  They are dispositions of energy, they are not a place.  So if the mind is not a place, what is it?  Ah, sether Pritchard-Achebe-Wajda (a recurrent identity, there goes you bus queue theory, “Fra” Jago), it is “our name for the things which go on in our heads”.
  Not bad, sether, not bad.  But it reeks of privilege still, the privilege which we organisms, Homo sapiens we call ourselves, adduce to ourselves.  It is a clumsy relic of immortality, of the delusion of a member of H sap as being something that was conceived as a discrete entity in the bosom of Jehovah or in the Essential Fire of the Universe or wherever the fuck, and once conceived kept that immutable integrity for all time, as if I Brother Jero was planned by God as Brother Jero, entered my poor mother’s womb as Brother Jero, was thence ejected nine months later as the same Brother Jero, walked the world as Brother Jero, and if I now sauntered out in front of that local construction waggon piloted at twenty or so miles an hour above the statutory speed limit by a Sun-reading and drug crazed zombie, would leave this earthly clay as Brother Jero, and journey, my existence still discrete, the integrity of my identity unbreached, to whatever further destinations a religion of your choice has marked out for me.  Whereas a study of my remains would quickly convince you that nothing but them, and maybe a few brief memories in a few fading hearts, was all of brother Jero that existed, and had ever existed, more likely to end up in MadamMeMe’sMagicMeatyBits than in heaven.  What would be left of my “Mind”?  Fuck all, sethren, absolutely fuck all.
  “Our name for the things which go on in our heads”.  Things certainly do go on in our heads.  We remember, we calculate, we dream; and even when not much seems to be happening in there at all, it is.  A million connections are being made and unmade, things are being linked that were not linked before.  Deliberate thought is a minute part of it.  You go to sleep with a problem, you wake up with the problem solved.  But when we are not asleep, what goes on is not in our heads, as if our heads were a sealed chamber.  What goes on in our heads is absolutely continuous with the universe of matter and energy, there is not a gap between our brains and the rest of universe bigger than a quark.  If that were not so, what would your “mind” be?  Without light, without sound, without touch or smell, without a nervous system, without anything.  A nothing.
  Whereas, sethren, the brain, connected to all these things, is a very lively place indeed.  A place where those loci of irreducible meaning can fly in from the world, those demons in their billions, can play, and reproduce, and mutate, and fly out again, as words, or in great companies as things, as the phone in your hand (for me?  How thoughtful), as the dinner you may be about to eat, as anything, anything at all, and everything, everything that is.
  And how can that be? I fail to hear you cry.  You shamble off.  The belly is as much part of the universe as the most distant galaxy, and they are both, among other things, demons.  Tomorrow, sethren.

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