Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Last night I physically felt my mind change.  I cannot recall another such episode of such a swift,  radical and pervasive shift in the way I understand the world which was not precipitated by a major crisis of some sort.

What did it feel like?  Well, actually, my sinuses popped - you know, where your hearing suddenly gets louder like when you're descending a steep hill in a car or coming in to land on an aeroplane.  As well as that, the sensation was at first noticeable in my head, the brain region, as a vague sensation of uplifting, like the top plates of my skull were gently being pulled up counter to gravity, and as I consciously noticed that, I imagined I felt some very subtle but pervasive thrill of having a teeny, tiny, indeed sub-microscopic switch thrown in every cell of my body, cascading outwords from my centre-line (or chakras, if you prefer) in a matter of no more than 60 seconds or so.  Slightly crackly-electric, with the minutest snaps of spark imaginable.  Then, I had the thought 'out loud' as it were.  I thought "Wow, my mind has just totally changed".

Waking up this morning the afterglow remains.

Is this something that happens to us all the time and we just don't notice, or is it an instance of something truly rare and noteworthy?  That's probably not something we can ever answer, philosophy and the Mind being what it is, but it's a relevant-seeming question nonetheless.  I'm not going to try answering right now though.

So what happened exactly? It was a confluence of stimuli that set this momentous sensory and nomos-disrupting event off. I can roughly enough point to a conversation 24 hours prior about firestick farming and the various ecologies extant in Australia before white settlement, the arrival and enjoyment of a couple of inspiring and entertaining manifestos by Seth Godin and a documentary TV program that touched upon, among other things, systems theory and the notion of 'ecosystem' as a thing.

I'm not sure I actually got much - if any - new information of earth-shattering importance in all this, I suspect it was more a case of a whole tranche of closely-related puzzle pieces falling before me in a certain, pleasing pattern and resonating with some inner sense of 'truth' I seem so fond of.  Which is ironic, when you see what I mean.

The more I think about it, the less sure I am that I'll be able to explain anyway. Still, I'll try, since I obviously care enough to want to write here about it. (breathes deeply)

We don't often spend much time questioning the deeper assumptions behind our thinking and worldview, but last night I saw just to what extent so much of my expectation of How Things Are was bound up with the idea that natural systems tend towards a point of equilibrium. The thing is, I know that this idea is not some immutable law of nature, because I know there are so many examples and evidences to the contrary.  I have spoken of the mysteries surrounding this idea in different ways before. But it's a really pervasive idea, this underlying-system assumption.  Learning a little more about the historical background behind our theories of ecosystems, feedback loops and computer science (from the documentary) poked me stumbling into a wall of all the assumptions I still rely on in probably half my daily doings that I knew were erroneous but was too lacking in conscious integrity to even see, let alone change. 

And prior to that I had just felt like I'd totally agreed with Seth Godin that We Are All Weird; that essentially the whole cultural and societal move towards 'mass', in the sense of 'mass marketing' or 'mass transit', as has been the case this last many decades in every sphere and facet of society has well and truly had its day.  That a situation where 'normal' used to be an increasingly centralised notion and besides, a desirable state, is no longer at all the case.   More and more, in large part enabled by a fabulous wealth of choice in all things and the speed and reach of communications tech, we are choosing to find our own personal definitions of 'normal', so increasingly we are all becoming outliers on the bell curve.  Fattening the normal curve, if you like.  Now we CAN meet and hang out with people that share our own peculiar foibles and preferences, via this thing you're looking at now for example, so this new tribalism, albeit a really fluid one, is the new normal.  We are all weird now.  And the great freedom of that is that we're getting so much better at respecting others' weirdness.

There was an auric, tingly static hiss as these two things came into each others' proximity in my environs.

I think that might have been the snap, crackle pop bit. For once you bring that light of clear mindful awareness to bear on the murky quantum bubblefoam of unquestioned, hackneyed determinants of perception that we all carry round and wear like dirty spectacles in order to navigate the world, the sudden increase of energy agitates the foam and just like your bowl of rice bubbles, a series of rapid gas explosions occurs. A chain reaction of fizzing, bubble-forming-bursting activity ripples through our reality catchment filter destroying all the dried-out, rusted-on synapse connections made of outdated beliefs and wrong knowledge, until eventually deceleration becomes noticeable and things settle anew, to a new ecosystem of mind. Minus all the gas.

Which is a neat segue, back to where this point started. Ecosystems – indeed any systems with feedback loops in them, tend not necessarily towards some point of equilibrium, nor necessarily straight down the vortex of entropy. It is not always the case that order emerges from chaos, or vice versa. It is that these two things can happen, and so can anything else.  Anything at all.

This whole overlay of certainty about things like the inherent stability of natural systems – an environmental notion I've long said is outdated first and foremost because the planet is changing so quickly lately as to be beyond return to any 'pristine' state anyway – is simply fallacious.  Things can indeed just fall apart, and there is pretty much no firm bet that any new order will fill the vacuum.  More chaos can ensue. Order may not give way ultimately to chaos either. Order can breed more order.  Fractal geometry is pretty and it occurs in nature, but not all nature is fractal.  This samadhi applies to Everything.

Now I see how pervasively I have taken on this one little seemingly natural law, that there would be some underlying pattern if we could just see 'small' enough; a hope I harboured subconsciously, hidden away from conscious reason. How I'd just taken it in faith like gravity or the laws of thermodynamics, and how sneakily we can employ really bad reasoning subconsciously to make ourselves feel comfortable.  I took a circle and made it for me a square, and then decided that since I thought I had gotten rid of this worldview mistake (by doing so consciously) that my sight was clear.  Now I doubt pretty much everything I see or think about in a new light.  Everything.  This is the simplest way to describe what's happened in my head: a piece of enlightening reason, falling under the category heading of You Can Never Know Anything Anyway, has rattled, slipped, ground and at last perfectly meshed itself down from the ground of my intellectual appreciation and wonderment into my very deeply felt subconscious.  My Interface With Real Stuff level. Not only do I Get It, but it now sits as me, sans internal unexamined conflict.

Truly, I feel broken open, and it actually hurts a bit in the chest and abdomen today.  Vulnerable, unsure of myself, and sublimely, newly, unexpectedly free.  The weight of that limitation, the circumscription of a notion that there even might probably be a certain pattern I could perceive here or there, that is somehow useful or good for me to do, as a reassurance of the explicability of the world, has been lifted.  And all along I thought that the first notion; that this idea of a trope towards stability was freeing.  It was like a faith-in-god thought, really, in that it was there as some comfort in the face of a terrible mystery.  Of something too large and unfathomable.  Nope; it was just a defense against the immensity and an attempt to support my ego; my separateness from the Big.  Now, I can relax a whole new stratum of me, one I didn't even realise was so tight.  Ahh.  Or was it just a hot flush?

Hope I get a rest before we barbecue through to the next oniony layer.  ;-)

Thanks for letting me share.  Hope it made some sense, somehow.  This is definitely one of those posts I'm not re-reading just now.  I have to just go with it.  Enjoy!

EDIT: OK, so I re-read it and fixed a couple of lines for grammar and extra readability.  I don't dislike this post.  But I'm glad it's over now.  If I am blessed with another, say, year on the planet, I'll enjoy looking back at this one, I'm sure.

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