I went on one of my habitually isolated late-pandemic afternoon walks today, just soaking up an ambient not-quite-optimistic Spring mood of renewal with which to soothe my sense of wistfully-idiomatic rebirth amid the decay of winter’s persistent, yet currently overgrown, detritus. Defocussing attention on any one experience or sensation, we open the doors of perception to many more of them; the heady chemical soup and compound waft of mixed-perfume flower scents and lush vegetation, the hum and roar of intermittent passing traffic, overgrown lawns requiring tending but singing wild songs of uncontainment, blue skies and birdsong just being, somewhere a distant conversation not bearing enough information to manifest meaning of any kind, the dull hum of the city that usually only ever strikes us in early mornings as both we and it awaken, a distant ringing in my ears which might be tinnitus or perhaps is just the resonant mischief of life itself, ringing and resonant on so many simultaneously interdependent and interwoven harmonic patterns.
All of these things – and much more besides – they just hang together in quite a natural and unforced way. Even where and when they are dissonant – a slamming house door, a faraway screech of car brakes, a barking dog or a crying child – they all quite naturally just dovetail into each other, effortlessly. It never ceases to amaze me that all of these events and interdependent phenomena are unified in a total flow of resonant presence that has absolutely nothing to do with my cognitive reflex or subjective need to divide it up into categories, entities, causal chains or reasons and meanings, values or judgements. It is at times almost as though this whole maelstrom of confusion and effervescent chaos that exists – pre-cognitively and well outside of language (or logic) – as a vibrant dance of energy and information does so in ways which which quite naturally acquire a sense of life or living before we attempt to isolate it in the bodies, things, mechanisms or systems that our minds are more comfortable with.
We are entranced by the threads and tapestries of meaning or narrative and patterned abstraction we inhabit and being that these are the natural flow and form of our own experience and orientation towards information replication as communication, we assume that these are natural properties of all things. Finding ourselves inhabiting a matrix of grammar, of words and complex cognitive or extended cultural and behavioural self-replication, we extrapolate and quite unwittingly assert these upon our world – assuming that as both we and our languages derive from this world, we must represent or reflect some deep truth and essence about it. The truth, or at least the superficial truth, here is that language and logic are first and foremost the primary methods for the sustainably continuous self-replication of language and logic themselves; both of the world but not structurally or causally responsible for any other world than the interior surface and composite introspection of their own functional and operational self-replication.
The totality of my experience, of all of our experiences, it is much more like that mystifying, unifying presence that differentiates a living tree (or any other identifiably “alive” entity) from blind physical process or random event. There is a sense in which a living thing is of a global property, an undefined and plausibly undefinable essence and counter-intuitive absence that we might already understand as an unassailable paradox of self-containment but that in aspiring to understand by breaking into parts (as language and logic always does), we only ever drive it further from comprehension as an asymptote or ever-receding horizon.
We are of this world, but our natural predisposition towards assuming that our language and logic quite naturally follows from this world in ways which provide a privileged access to it’s inner function is something of an optical illusion, a trick of the light. This is why we are such poor custodians of this living beauty we inhabit – our hubris is such that we consider it to be encapsulated by our quite modest cognition and capacity for effective or sustained and meaningful, non-destructive communication. The blue skies and birdsong just are, they just exist and if we were ever to comprehend the actual underlying pattern and flow of this (not that it is not worth aspiring to, mind you) – we would quite probably cease to exist; not, that is – to die but quite the opposite to finally come to actually and fully be alive.
That self by and through which language and logic are inflated with purpose and an implicit teleology is also the central blind-spot to ever successfully understanding the life and integrated totality of systems and interdependent facts within which we swim. This is also why all of our human hierarchies and complicated organisational systems and aspirations towards sustained Global peace always fall short – the only kind of peace and happiness that is realisable is one in which we do not exist, or at least do not exist as we currently aspire to.
All of the boundaries and limitations that drag us (and a whole biosphere with us) down into accelerated senescence are quite substantively between our ears, not in or necessarily of the world itself, and this is the problem that few people are even willing to concede actually exists. As I walk, the stifling flavours and smells of newly-grown vegetation reach into my throat and ever so slightly suffocate me, making breathing difficult and speech even harder. Sometimes I wonder if all of this nature could (or would) just stop us speaking, stop us thinking in mere words as the imprisoned subjects of language that we are, we might actually and mysteriously find ourselves (all) set free.