OLD NOTEBOOKS: East Anglia: [post written in New Delhi] A group arrives at the mall coffee shop sorts out the chairs, a few remarks, laughter; look at the menu the waitress comes over. Give their order, then there’s nothing left to say. Silence. Each one pulls out a mobile device, phone or iPad, stares at screens whose reflected glow illuminates the face of the user. Heads tucked in to examine the picture, body crouched over in fetal position; hypnotized, fascinated with the object, unlearned, never thinking of the question ‘WHY?”
Dominated by thoughts of, who am I? How do I relate to everybody else: you, he, she or it – we, you they? “Me’ as an individual doesn’t seem to be anything more than just a member of a particular socio-economic group. From this way of thinking, I can see (my) self situated favorably – or it could be unfavorably if I’m caught in being the victim; subject to the karma of former circumstances – product marketing gently nudging at the elbow. I need to be thinking about the next option – expectations, responsibilities, things I ought to be doing. Thoughts thinking thoughts, thinking more thoughts and thinking about things to the extent that it all becomes habitual – embedded in the self-construct I recognize as ‘me,’ subject to causes, conditions in the world, which is also a construct, I am some kind of imaginary character in a fictional landscape.
There is so much that we cannot know, limitations of the senses, including the cognitive sense. But everything arises due to thought, the duration between one thought and another is non existent – thought knows nothing of it because thought only knows an object; all objects appear only in thought – no object, no thought. STOP THINKING and there’s the enigma… the empty space where that thought used to be. Nothing there now, if it is just ‘nothing’, I’d need to have ‘something’ there to confirm it is nothing. I can’t find the ‘something’. So it’s not ‘anything’, it’s ‘not something’ – it’s a feeling of no-thingness. But then I’m thinking about it again… it’s an easing-away from that heaviness of thought, that which built the construct; buildings, welded metal, concrete, brick and iron embedded in stone. All of it can be demolished in a day. It all just fades away. ‘Melted into thin air… the baseless fabric of this vision… we are such stuff as dreams are made on…’
“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small-complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” [Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805-1859]
I like these reflections about thought and us as a fictional character. It is so hard to put it into words. But you expressed it very well.
Thanks Karin, I’ve been focused on thought and no-thought quite often these days. Most of it is about idleness, basic needs and wants, happiness/unhappiness, it doesn’t seem to matter. Thanks for your comment I find it quite encouraging…
Thanks for the de Tocqueville quote.
It sort of ties in with my notion that institutions (nations, economies, religions, corporations, families …) are organic meta-beings of which we are the cells.
I think it would be a mistake to imagine that they dictate all our interactions with each other though. They only influence them within the dimensions in which they manifest.
Perhaps a bigger mistake would be to imagine that any one dimension is superior to or more ‘real’ than the others. That way lies fundamentalism.
I don’t want to get totally parenoid about this either so okay, they don’t exactly dictate all our interactions with each other but there are a few educationalists who’d have a lot to say about schooling. So let’s not get into this, you don’t have to watch television news, and I’d guess the majority of the population are ‘believers’ – allows the new UK government for example to quietly focus on surveillance, it bothers me where this going….