At the risk of repeating myself … …

The purpose of this blog is to provide an account of my own interactions with Eugene Halliday’s various talks and writings.

 So… This attempt by me is not an ‘explanation’ of what I think it was that Eugene Halliday meant, when he said ‘this’, or when he wrote of ‘that’ …. It is, rather, an attempt by me to clarify – as well as I am able  – how this material influenced my efforts to arrive (if only in part) at ‘satisfactory replies’ to a series of discrete ‘inquiries’ that were of major importance to me (and might not necessarily have been of importance to anyone else)…. And, subsequently, to incorporate anything I believed could be of use to me here, into both my ‘active language’, and in the formulation of various praxes…

For the next couple of posts at least then, I will continue on from my previous post (13. ‘Feelings’) and attempt to describe my interaction(s) with these talks and writings, by considering Eugene Halliday’s material as effect, and therefore – as a direct consequence then – of its subsequent affect upon me.

… Although Eugene Halliday’s various talks and writings obviously contained ideas and information that were of varying degrees of interest and ‘importance’ (imagined or otherwise) to me; they were also productive of an emotional affect in me… However, this emotional affect was not nearly as easy for me to be as conscious of, ‘in-the-moment’, as that kaleidoscope of reactive ‘brilliant ideas’ which would invariably begin to spontaneously swirl around in my head, the moment that I began to focus my attention on what it was that I was presently listening to, or reading.

The particular ‘affects’, that were experienced by me ”in-the-moment’ here (when I made any attempt to focus on Eugene Halliday’s material, in whatever form) would, I believe, arise as a direct consequence of a number of factors here. These included : the point that I had arrived at on my ‘life-journey’ at that particular time; the earnestness which I brought to bear in my attempts to move forward with this ‘journey’ of mine at that specific time; Eugene Halliday’s actual ‘presence’, as it was experienced by me at that particular time; and the very nature of his subject material, as I perceived it at that particular time…

But I eventually came to realize that it was my attempts ‘in-the-moment’ to focus on the emotional aspect of my interaction with Eugene Halliday’s material that was crucially important for me here… As this was the catalyst that both enabled me to experience a sense of moving forward – and at the same time led me into believing that I had actually done some Work…

It was then, the satiation of a particular appetite in me – supplied by my state of understanding, and not just by the matter of my understanding – that I had to focus on  … An’ in-the-moment task’ that also served to make me even more cautious of that ever-present possibility of my being deluded… As a ‘state of delusion’ can easily bring about (and usually much more quickly and pleasurably) this satiation – but of another appetite entirely!…

I believe that there is always freedom of choice for me here, which is to either ‘just’ surrender to one of my various delusions – the usual purpose of which is to provide myself with a relatively easier route to feeling good about myself in the things that I do; or to be as honest with myself as I could, and attempt instead to satisfy my appetite for my (self-imposed) ‘love of truth’ – a much harder route, and one that, more often than not, required me to accept some thing(s) about myself that weren’t particularly wonderful … 

The decision here was (and always is) for me alone to realize. And so, in order to strengthen my resolve here, it became crucial for me to believe that grasping this emerging viewpoint of attempting to be conscious of my emotional states in-the-moment with regard to the study of Eugene Halliday’s material would actively assist in producing those changes within me that would be of significant help in moving me forward…And thus I had to somehow endow his material with authentic value, and not with just some vague, sycophantic  ‘appreciation’.. Or – to put it another way – this value that I gave it, had to be a real one for me…. Because if it wasn’t real for me, then nothing was going to happen.

It wasn’t just my reflextion in-the-moment of these emotional states only that I had to realize were important, but also how I subsequently – upon reflexion – defined the meaning of them, using – if possible – my acquired active language to-date . A language that seemed to me to be evolving spontaneously, as it involved itself in the various process(es) going on within me here….

As you have no doubt already spotted, all this is extremely difficult for me to articulate – as this process of explaining what is involved here is not at all the same thing as my merely having to describe it… (Try to explain exactly what it is that you are doing when you ‘walk’, or what it is that you do when you ‘breath’ – as opposed to, say, merely describing what walking, or breathing, ‘is’ – and you might experience something like this difficulty of mine here for yourself) … …

Cultivating a cohesive approach here then, or of even being able to ponder over this process in some constructive way, has really been the most illusive thing for me to bring into any focus… And it is also certainly the most difficult to articulate to another – although, funnily enough, if I do discuss this subject with someone who has also actually been engaged in any experientially similar activities, the attempt by me to articulate my experiences here becomes, very quickly, (relatively) easier for me….

And deciding that you are now ‘going to get to know yourself’, brings the question of your involvement here with others – your various relationships, new or old, that is – into much sharper focus. And although I would agree with the idea that it is only natural to seek the company of others who are engaged in a similar quest here, the problems created by these relationships – because they are predicated on this particular aspect of your life – are very real, and very dangerous… Indeed, in my experience, the very next thing that will happen in your life after you have decided that you are going to ‘improve yourself’ will be that some ‘thing or other’ will immediately seek to prevent you doing so (call these various oppositions that you now experience ‘Things Demonic’ if this idea serves to focus your attention on this problem, or if you prefer to view this quest of yours using somewhat traditional Western metaphors and allegories – I don’t personally label them quite like this, but it’s an allegorical perspective that I have no problem understanding, and so it certainly helps me in my discussions, vis-a-vis this problem with, and about, others here)..

A question you could ask yourself here which might get you to see this is, “Will I experience any resistance to this noble endeavor of mine to ‘move forward and get to know myself’ as some sort of excruciatingly difficult and uncomfortable test – where I’m being tortured, or I have to sweat and strain, or I suddenly see myself as some kind of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ monster … and it’s all very dramatic and overpowering … Or will it rather be the case, that every time I decide that I need to take another step, I’m overcome with this overwhelming desire to make a cup of tea or coffee, sit on the couch, open a packet of digestive biscuits,  and then watch that ‘very important’ program that I recorded last night.”…

So will it now be that you find yourself joining yet another ‘wonderful’ new group that you ‘just happen’ to have ‘discovered’ (yoga, theosophist, ‘new age’, or whatever – it doesn’t really matter) who – you find yourself now believing – know lots and lots about ‘all this’, and indeed have an ‘ancient tradition’ (usually ‘sacred’ or ‘secret’) going back thousands of years (and so they must ‘really’ know what it’s ‘all about’ then) and who are ‘in touch’ with ‘something or other’, and that you are, in future, going to ‘be doing’ this traveling of yours with  … And it’s all ‘so wonderful’, because you feel far more safe and secure (like ‘coming home’) now… (Now that you’ve been shown the ‘real path’, that is) … And – even better – that you’re now, finally, at last, ‘with like minds’ … And of course if anything screws up here, you will just tell yourself that it was probably because you’ve either misunderstood some of the ‘essential’ stuff (you just ‘missed it’ as it were) – as there does seem to an awful lot that you need to know here, and much of it uses words in ways that you’re not familiar with, or have never heard before, or are in a foreign obscure language; … or that you’ve ‘just simply’ made a mistake and joined the wrong group (again), and it was perfectly reasonable for you to have to ‘stick with it’ for some time at least, but now you’ve ‘realized’ that it wasn’t for you after-all…This was then an ‘understandable’ mistake – you believe – and, with regrets of course, you will simply now have to ‘move on’….

Well, of course, you won’t be ‘moving on’ at all – you’ll simply continue, at best, to ‘slip sideways’…  As those ‘groups’ that you join – and the consequent relationships that you form in these groups – almost certainly constitute just another, but far subtler, aspect of your very own original problem…

But …I know … in your case … “It’s different!” … Isn’t it? … …..Well…  No it (almost certainly) isn’t … At least in my experience of all this, I’m afraid …

This problem constitutes a different, and difficult, complex subject in itself –  and hopefully I will get to it in more detail in a later posting …. But before I do leave it, here’s a quote in the meantime that might help to throw further light on the subject.

Yet .. anxiety … is not the only barrier to an acceptance of new and novel circumstances. Their is also our sense of threat from our inability to comprehend them, since we are too firmly attached to the old consciousness structure. Seen from the old standpoint, the new seems suprarealistic or supernatural; and, in fact, with reference to the old consciousness structure, the new not only appears to transcend and supersede the old reality but actually does so. We are then left with what seems to us to be the only alternative; we try to adapt or assimilate the new into the old, at the expense of course of the integrity and verity of the new. It is such attempts at explaining the new on the basis of the old, using old concepts, rather than allowing the new to stand out in its originality against the old background, that give rise to the misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and objections.

From Chaper 3 of ‘The Ever Present Origin’
by Jean Gebser (trans. by Noel Barstad)
Published by Ohio University Press 1989

You might say that this problem is – in part at least – about storing new wine in old wine-skins; or of realizing that the ‘rock’ you took so much care in selecting for that foundation of yours, will inevitably – and sooner rather than later – turn to sand … Because that’s what rocks do… It’s where that sand you’re always so concerned about comes from … It in ‘the very nature of these things’ … And so it just ‘goes with the gig’ … … … As us hipsters like to say ..

…Anyway … To continue on here …

 (Lights fade-up to reveal what appears to be a small office, complete with filing cabinets etc. – circa 1960’s. He is facing us, seated behind a desk, dressed in a conventional suit complete with white shirt and tie; and is speaking into a black, old-fashioned, telephone handset, which is connected – via a thick curly lead – to the base that we can clearly see on his desk. He appears to be somewhat exasperated with his conversation, and we get the distinct impression that he is reporting to a senior, and is having some difficulty in clarifying his situation)..

Look … The way you’re seeing all this … It’s not really helping me ….. I …(He pauses to listen)

Look, I know that it’s… … Look! I know…. (He is almost shouting now)..Look! …(He lowers his voice) I know it’s obvious – at least to us it is! … But it isn’t to them… They just don’t seem to… ‘Get … it’!… At all!…

You can explain it to them, over, and over, and over, again …And sometimes you almost believe that they understand what it is you’ve just told them… They’ll even give you good feedback occasionally!…Or – what is even more baffling – appear at times to make an actual contribution!… 

But, in the end, no matter what I try… And I do appreciate your suggestions here … They still just don’t …’Get it’… …Which makes all this very difficult …

As soon as they hear something, or read something, or see something that … ‘captures’ … their attention – and ‘captures’ really is the right word here, particularly if the situation that they find themselves in strikes a numinous chord – then… ‘Off they go’!! ….

So, if they believe they’re engaged in something that is – what they like to call – ‘spiritual’ …And NO!… I don’t really know what they mean by that either! … Or ‘religious’ … which is a word that they seem to use to talk about patterns of social behavior that some of them like to indulge in; and that is supposed to demonstrate their ‘godliness’… Whatever that’s supposed to be! …Then I have to stop .. and start the dance with them – from the beginning – all over again..

And so its a case of, “Let’s rewind the music again people, and this time let’s all really try to remember not to rush.” …… Talk about ‘two left feet’! …(He pauses)

I know! .. I agree! … It IS crazy! (He is almost shouting again) … …

(He once again lowers the tone of his voice) Anyway, as I say, the minute their attention is captured in this way … ‘Down they fall’…(He takes out a handkerchief and wipes his brow with it, before replacing it in his jacket pocket)

It would never occur to them, to simply ask themselves, “What is actually going on here?” … Because they have become so completely enthralled by the way that they now ‘feel’, it has, once again, become almost impossible to reach them……(He stops, and appears to be listening closely)

Well, for instance  … If they’re attending a talk given by one of their ‘gurus’ … The question that they should so obviously all be asking themselves – “What is it that is happening now to this person while they are speaking to us?” – never even seems to occur to them! … It is always, and ever, only about themselves…  Such that, if I were to ask them immediately afterwards, “What then, is becoming here?” I don’t think they’d understand me at all!…The best I could expect is that they’d probably look down at the floor, shuffle their feet a bit, look decidedly uncomfortable and say something like, “What do you mean?”… and then mutter something about me being far too  ‘obscure’, while obviously all feeling very exposed …  Or something like that!

I keep telling them, “Just because you imagine that you have met someone who believes that they can tell you ‘the way it is down here’ … this belief of yours doesn’t mean that they can do so – because how would you know if they could? …And secondly, that even if these ‘gurus’ do ‘know’, this doesn’t mean that they are somehow different, in some fundamental way, from you… It isn’t as if they are beings who ‘know something’ or who are ‘doing something’…. else!… something ‘other’ … Something so ‘fundamentally other’ … that you couldn’t do it!… What the … Hell … use … on ‘earth‘ (He laughs quickly in a resigned manner) would that be to you?” …(His voice has dropped considerably and he now starts to sound somewhat resigned and depressed) 

Why we have been consigned to go through all this adversity with them, is beyond me…

Why don’t we just simply give them what it is that they imagine they want? …  Then things would – very rapidly – come to a head down here …..And then all of us who have found it necessary to become involved here will be done with this… At last!… (He looks up from the desk, and stares out into the audience, and just before slamming down the phone, shouts) Finally! (Fade to black)…

From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

 

NOTE: Unlike other subjects I’ve taken a profound interest in over the last 40 years or so, and that have been fairly straightforward (although they’ve all usually presented me with at least some degree of difficulty) the subject area of what I like to refer to as ‘Feelings and Emotions’, has been by far the trickiest …

Nonetheless, I would maintain that this topic underpinned everything that Eugene Halliday both spoke of, or wrote about – certainly as far as this blog is concerned.

I have found that focusing on the feeling tone of Eugene Haliday’s presentation of his material (and also of my reaction to it) to have been a particularly fruitful vantage point for me to perceive patterns in what it was that Eugene Halliday was mainly ‘on about’. This viewpoint also, of course, obviously informed me about the subject of ‘feelings and emotions’ itself  ….

But, if it seems -from what I have written in this post – that I believe this subject to have now become somehow ‘manageable’ for me, and that I’ve at last succeeded in presenting my results in a causal, linear manner – this is purely accidental… As grasping the essence of this subject – in the sense that it could be ‘nailed down’ – is, I believe, impossible … in principle..

 So understand then, that what I offer below (which I appreciate might be experienced by you as fragmented, or as ‘skipping about a bit’) is merely ‘the tip of the iceberg’ (well more like ‘a few snow-flakes’) …. But I have had to make a start here somewhere…

And as my interest, and my consequent investigations, into the subject of ‘feelings and emotions’ has – for a very long time now – constituted a significant part of my approach to both my view of the person of Eugene Halliday as a cultural phenomena, and that also informs my position vis-à-vis his researchable ‘output’, it might now be possible (after some thirteen previous postings of mine) for you to appreciate that a major focal point for me in the very early stages of this game here was, ”What was it that was happening to Eugene Halliday himself, while he was engaged in this Work of his?” … Together with the (far more selfish on my part) question, “If I come to understand this process of his, then will this understanding provide me with some sort of ‘map’ to help me with my journey?” … (As opposed to, ”What interesting stuff was he trotting out to entertain his audience with, that I can appropriate in order to trot it out myself at some future date to others; and so perhaps succeed in sounding as if I might know what’s going on here?”) …

 

My own technique for observing what it is that’s taking place in my ‘interior space’ does not make use of Eugene Halliday’s suggested mnemonics such as ‘Be Here Now’, or ‘The observer is not the observed’, as I find these phrases to be too awkward for my taste (they make me feel a bit like I’m pretending to be Christopher Lee in some film adaptation or other of a Dennis Wheatley, or Stephen King, novel).. However, as I like to believe that I understand – to some degree at least – the detailed exposition that Eugene Halliday gives regarding the use of this technique in his essay ‘Reflexive Self-Consciousness, I have, as a consequence, had no problem in formulating my own mnemonic(s) here – in my pursuit of this ability to be able to reflect (in part at least) upon my own ‘being-in-the-world-in-the-moment’, as it were…

These mnemonics of mine make a somewhat fluid use of the following related group of words – “What’s Happening Now?” … “Oh! What’s happening now.” … “Crumbs! What’s happening now.” …  “Good Heavens! What’s happening now?” ….”Crikey! What’s happening now!”… “Flipping Heck! What’s happening now?”… and so on, ‘up the scale,’ to the really difficult stuff (I’ll leave you to work out the remainder of this sequence for yourself – as my own personal set of preferred expletives might not be to your taste)…

The examination of my various emotional states then, becomes more difficult with the increasing intensity of these states, and, as a direct consequence, my attempts at ‘riding out the storm’ – when they do threaten to overwhelm me – becomes more and more desperate, until the task finally becomes impossible … Maybe someone else would claim that it’s different for them, and that they have found – in practicing this technique over the years – that all this has become somewhat easier … But telling me that wouldn’t really help me here …Would it? …  … And I wouldn’t believe them anyway…

To continue on here, I must make two things very clear. As far as I’m concerned:

1) For an emotional state to exist, there must either be someone who is experiencing it; or who has, in the past, experienced it.

2) Every emotional state is capable of being described in some form of ‘text’ (spoken; written; danced; painted; etc.) That is, there are no experienced emotional states that cannot either in-the-moment, or subsequently – potentially at least – be described, using some form of ‘text’…

And please take the trouble here to ponder for a moment on what it is that I might mean by the word ‘describe’; and so appreciate that a ‘description’ is not the same thing at all as an ‘explanation’.

An essential component of my belief system is that emotional awareness is something we all possess: a commonality that presents us with the potential to offer support to one-another, because we can appreciate – if not from our own experiences, then at least by using our imagination – what it is that might be ‘going on’ with someone else, when their life ‘takes a turn’, either for the better, or for the worse…

It’s from my observation of these emotional states in others, and an inbuilt realization that I can potentially experience these same emotional states in my own life – states of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, lust, shame, happiness, compassion, sympathy, obsession, love, etc. – that has allowed me to recognize that the overwhelming majority of us are indeed ‘all in the same boat down here’…

I don’t believe that this ability to recognize these states in others comes about merely as a consequence of some sort of cultural, or religious, ‘programming’… And thus, this natural ability then – both in my experiences of these states, and in my reflection on the experiences of them in others – I take to be an essential component of what it is that ‘I am’ … of what ‘we are’… It just ‘goes with the territory’ you might say, and forms an essential part of what it is that we all do – of what it is that makes us ‘human’….But I should also add here that this ‘inbuilt realization’, I claim here that we all possess, says nothing about any subsequent course of action which might take place as a consequence of these states… This, as I see it, would concern the ethical, or moral judgments of these states  – which is another matter entirely.

And further, when I reflect on those philosophical, theological, and cultural etc. interests that I have pursued throughout my life, I can see that – without this sharing – the contents of these various subjects would have been meaningless to me.

I believe that we are all the authors of the emotions that we experience; and that these emotional states are at the very root of these experiences… And so, if we can lay claim to anything in our lives that ‘belongs to us’, it is to these unique emotional experiences of ours, because they are – as nothing else in our lives are – ‘authentic’.

Without our emotional experiences, there would be no ground for empathy; or – via the intellect, and active imagination – any genuine ‘concern’ for the state of others. For even though you might never have shared someone else’s particular experience(s), you can still imagine what these experiences might ‘be like’, and thus, as a result, display compassion (even if you do not experience any actual degree of empathy)… A response on your part that I believe unfortunately however, may or may not be genuine – as, in my experience, this ‘compassion’ can easily be faked; whereas ‘empathy’ cannot…

This means then that I reject the idea that it is possible for some higher being to ‘just’ simply empathize with my condition, although I can allow that they might ‘just’ manifest compassion – but only in the same way that I might experience compassion when I, say, recognize the squelchy-crunchy sound of that snail’s shell I have just stepped on, on my way out to work, and that I had failed to notice  … (“Oh dear! …I am sorry…I do feel really bad about that.” … ‘Bad’, that is, for about the two seconds that it takes me to get into my car and move on … A response that I view as more of a socially programmed convention, than anything else)…

On the negative side here then, this ‘sharing of our emotional lives’ can often explain how it is possible for someone to gain power over – and consequently manipulate – others… For a quick mind can – particularly if it is one which intuits that if it intimates an understanding of another being’s emotional state, then it can gain a great deal of real power in any future relationship here … On the positive side, there might perhaps be some ‘genuine understanding’ here, but this is regrettably placed in the service of a willfully-seeking desire to control the resulting relationship, and thus of exploiting the other’s vulnerability, as it were…

Even so, whatever any particular person’s social station in life happens to be, we are – all of us, at least in principle – capable of appreciating this life we have ‘together’…. Rich man; poor man; beggar man; thief, are all capable of experiencing a performance at the theater; a movie; a music recital; a joke, etc. in very similar ways… If only for the fact that, if they couldn’t, then these events could not be promoted in the way that they are, or to the extent that they are …

As far as I’m concerned here, it is this essential fact about you – and only this – that enables you to claim that you share in the humanity of others, whatever your material, social, or intellectual etc. status, or position, happens to be. And so, to be ‘emotional’ then, is what I see that makes us all quintessentially human… But – and here’s the ‘Million Dollar Question’ – “Just what are these ‘emotions’?“

That they are seen as an ‘out-pouring’, or ‘out-moving’, of ‘feeling’ (or whatever) … is etymologically obvious … But there is all the difference in the world between ‘motion’ as ‘loco-motion’ (a movement out from your ‘feeling center’ and ‘into your body’, as it were) and a ‘motion’ that constitutes some modification or alteration of your state (from one emotional state to another)… Indeed, Aristotle had already worked that out ‘way back when’… (If you’d like to take a ‘time out’ here to do some research in this area by the way, that’s OK… Try his ‘Nicomachean Ethics’) … And the position in a belief that we are ‘moved’ or ‘propelled’ by our emotions – that is, in this simple ‘outpouring’ idea – I see largely as supportive of a mechanical, or materialistic, and thus largely deterministic, view… However, the ‘change of state’ view of emotions is, for me, a far more fruitful, interesting, and contemporary psychological viewpoint, leading me to a (version of) phenomenology that is not ‘merely mechanical’, and that, indeed, informs my own ideas on ‘freedom of choice’…. But I appreciate that, for the moment at least, this position of mine would take some justifying on my part ……

We might put this question re, “What are emotions?” another way. And that is, “When we are doing something (when we make music; draw a picture; act; talk to one another; attempt to acquire a new skill; study for an academic qualification; engage in sexual activity; etc.), what happens to us?” … Is it somehow that we ‘become’ something, by ‘identifying with’ the emotion? … And so our answer here then would seem to be, that to express our emotions is to somehow ‘give in’ to them…

Or is it that we overcome them, and so sublimate them, in order to produce something ‘from them’?

And further, if we are to view ‘what happens’ to us as having prominently to do with our ‘emotions’, then do we have these emotions – that is, are they mine – or is it rather the case that no matter how deeply they are ‘felt’, we are nonetheless firmly in the grip of them – and thus that these emotions possess us; that they ‘come in’ to us, and so inhabit us; and that we, rather, become ‘theirs’…

This latter view, by the way, would be right at home from the dawn of recorded history up until at least the Enlightenment. During which time you – as a person – would have been either home to the ‘gods’ (or ‘God’), or had been invaded by ‘demons’ (with the unfortunate social consequences that go along with this particular ‘world-view’)…. And, in this scenario then, our question re ‘emotions’ would, during that period of history at least, have been, “What does this god/demon want here with me?” and not, “What do I want here?”

NOTE: If you’re having trouble getting to grips with this idea, try reflecting on one of your dream states (the particular dream of yours that you chose here is of no importance)… Do you experience this dream state of yours as ‘being somewhere’? .. Are you – as it were – ‘still you’, but now you’re an inhabitant in this ‘dream-place’, no matter how bizarre? …That is, you experience yourself as being in a definite ‘geographical location’ (on a ship; up a mountain; in a desert) – …And do you ‘meet others here’ …. Well, this sense that you are ‘somewhere’, is what I’m trying to describe here, when I say that your emotional states ‘take you to a definite somewhere’ … All this is, of course, complicated by the fact that  the ‘quality’ of this state (happy; sad; lust; fear; etc.) very often also makes use of a ‘location’ metaphor’ (‘Fields of delight’; rivers of ecstasy; ‘clouds of depression’;  etc.)…  …

… I do hope the above note hasn’t confused you even further …. ….. Anyway….. ‘Moving quickly on’ …

We often find that we (re)act ‘in the moment’ also, because responding from our emotional states can so easily be immediate – just because it is these states that fundamentally constitute our moment-to-moment awareness…. From this perspective then, I believe that they are also the connection between my instinctive animal nature and my primary will; and that they also provide the raw material for the exercise of my ability to reflect cognitively on ‘what the hell is going on here’. … (I am making use of one of Eugene Halliday’s meanings for ‘Will’ here, “…(T)he Will should be used only for pre-initiation … Will is unconditioned.”)… unfortunately this presents me with being required to perform something of a balancing act, in that I must (almost but not quite) ‘identify’ with the emotion in question, in order to ‘view’ it. And this situation could, very easily, simply overwhelm me…

For me to adequately reflect on these matters, I found that I needed the concept of the ‘unconscious’ to explain to me why these emotions ‘get the better of me’; together with the concept of ‘consciousness’ to explain how I might enter into a dialogue with these emotions and so, subsequently, formulate them – in order to arrive at some measure of understanding here – and to consequently, perhaps, allow me some degree of control over them, and so of my ‘being’…. Because it is only through these emotions that I believe I can gain any understanding of what the world is ‘about’; that gives the world any ‘meaning’; and that makes any relationship to it possible…. Even though there is always an ever-present element of danger involved (precipitation into rage, or sublime delight, or even into ‘mental illnesses’ – such as depression, or paranoia, for instance).

But let me add here that I have no idea if there is really any such a thing as the ‘conscious’ or the ‘unconscious’…. I merely make use of these concepts (and concepts like them) to ‘move me along’ on my journey…. And when it might happen, perhaps after decades, that they no longer do so, I will have no problem in discarding them … with perhaps some measure of gratitude, but also with absolutely no regrets …

So then, cultivating techniques in order to dis-engage from the world by ‘controlling’ my emotional flow, I view as attempts to inhibit the possibility of me discovering who I am, and even more alarming, of ‘plastering over’ myself with (yet another) layer of delusion, in an attempt to present myself to another – and so then delude both of us – into believing that this marionette that I have manufactured and that you see here is, “‘The way that I really am’… Honest-to-God!”…. A ‘construct’ that consists almost entirely of those characteristics that I would like to see reflected in your perception of me, making my motive here then, narcissistic idolatry … as it is a ‘construct’ that requires I continually remember the components of its image, so that I might endlessly re-constitute it, in order to continually re-present it to the world…. An unwholesome form of ‘worship’ then… (A word that Eugene Halliday defined very nicely as ‘continual remembrance’)… So … Real problems with this for me I’m afraid…

The metaphor I use to describe the attempt at deliberately inhibiting and controlling my emotional flow is that of siting behind the steering wheel of a car, with the engine in top gear and the feet on both the accelerator and brake at the same time… There is an appearance of being motionless – in that there is no forward movement – but there is now in imminent danger of the whole thing shaking apart, or even blowing up.. A  situation of – as I like to say, “Going nowhere…Fast!”… And which is really quite dangerous…

The contents of this present post have their root in my interpretation of a number of concepts (including a significant number of Eugene Halliday’s), and constitute my observations of both myself and my objective world, when viewed from the perspective gained by me from contemplating (what I take to constitute the content of) these various concepts.

The pieces in red below consists of an edited selection from my notebooks (from the late 1970’s to date) that contain some of my thoughts on Eugene Halliday’s Work, and which are, I believe, of some relevance here.

Notes towards Working with Eugene Halliday’s concept of  a ‘System’ as,  ‘A savior for a time’.

 I have found that this myth/metaphor of ‘the journey’ seems to apply very nicely to the way in which I experience what the hell it is that I’m doing with all this stuff… And that the stages of this journey of mine (and also of those other beings that I have met on the way) form the various chapters of this personal myth of mine. 

And so I have come to realize that it is important for me to record my own ‘as-lived’ account of all this as honestly as I can then…. Because I have learned, through experience, that it is not enough for me to simply seek to acquire more knowledge, or information, of something or other here…. In practice, for this material to be of any real value to me, I must somehow actively locate it – and then fix it – in the framework of my own lived experience; in my own personal time and space, as it were… And the extent to which I have deluded myself in my efforts here can be measured by the degree to which I am able to accurately recall my authentic past (as opposed to a version of that past which I would have ‘preferred’ – and which constitutes the ‘edited’ version of it that I always recount to others)… And as any account of this ‘past’ of mine that I seek to iluminate is, primarily, a linguistic account; then this is yet another crucial reason for the acquisition of an ‘active language’ 

But it is imperative here that I bear in mind, this myth of mine – this ‘journey’ I’m attempting to describe – is not really a ‘journey’ at all… My use of those metaphors – such as ‘journey’; ‘distance’; obstacles; ‘being ‘lost”; etc. etc. – are merely extremely useful ways of assisting me in my attempts at conceptualizing, evaluating, and ‘explaining’ , to both myself, and occasionally  to others, in language – a process taking place that is ‘uniquely itself’… and is not ‘like’ anything else at all really.

A ‘myth’, for me, is a form of story-telling that – to function as it is supposed to function in the individual – must in some real way, be about that individual…. Myths then, are definitely not risqué stories about the various goings-on of ‘the gods’ or other fictional characters, that various ‘self-appointed authorities’ subsequently ‘interpret’ using the latest, fashionable, ‘New-Age’ techniques …. As in: “That’s really a ‘Hero-figure-masculine-phallic-castration-incest’ myth in contemporary guise –  and not just simply a tale involving a beaver, a bath of Mazola oil, and a stealth bomber.”; or, “That story fragment ‘really’ forms part an ‘Earth-Mother’ saga  – although the uninitiated might think that it’s simple about a bit of lark which took place just inside a storage facility on the outskirts of Maidenhead.” … etc. etc. [yawn, yawn] ……. Would it were all really that easy… But then again, we all have to make a living I suppose…

I experience this journey as one in which I am, more often than not, traversing a completely unpredictable terrain – although I do get the occasional ‘coasting’ period (But I suspect this is merely to lull me into a sense of false security).. It might then, be easy going for part of the way; there might be mountains to climb; rivers to cross; sand-dunes to clamber over; waterlogged areas to wade through; etc. etc… And, as a result, I have become less and less concerned with being too particular about what it is that I am prepared to use ‘in the moment’ that will, I believe, move me forward here… Although I find that I must be totally committed to whatever it is that I am making use of at any one particular time  … Even though I might find that I – quite suddenly – will have to completely abandon it…

Volunteers who fondly imagine that they would like to become, or who indeed insist that they in fact are, ‘Fellow Travelers’ on this journey of mine, are another thing entirely…  I like to believe that I’m very reliable when I ‘cut a deal’ with others here, and I really do strive to be as clear as possible as to what I believe the outcomes can reasonably be expected to be – at least from my end… But my actual experiences here (and perhaps it is simply because I’ve never been able to clarify my own position in all this well enough to others) has taught me that it is far more usually the case that the majority of these others – usually because they have completely misunderstood what it is that ‘I’m about’ – will end up inevitably lowering the goalpost, or moving the starting line, or unilaterally changing the rules.…

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I have had to learn the hard way (and I have to confess that I still haven’t really learnt my lesson – although my wife has been attempting to advise me about this penchant of mine for decades) that it is extremely dangerous to cut deal with ‘devils’ – however minor; and however reasonable their subsequent defense of their own behavior might seem to be… 

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Important note to myself: This is a serious game …There is no rehearsal… This is IT… I have but one ‘go’ at it, and that’s all… There is no ‘return match’ .. no ‘reincarnation’ … What I do, ‘here and now’, constitutes – in the end – all that I am ever going to do with this life of mine… And when my death inevitably arrives, I believe there will then be a moment when it will clearly be seen by me that there were absolutely no excuses at all for any of the choices that I made in my life, or for any of my behavior here … Not that believing this really helps me all that much now…

This then is the scenario in which I need my ‘system’ to function. This is my ‘real world’; the one that I experience, and that I must deal with … And so clearly, my approach here must – to some extent at the very  least – be ‘fluid’ … As Eugene Halliday has it, only ever , ‘A Savior … for a time’.

In order for me to at least believe that I know what I’m doing, from moment to moment, with my ‘System’, I have had to take a closer look at a group of these related words that I see as clustering around the word ‘theory’. A word that often seems to be applied to – what might be more accurately described as – a ‘speculation’; or a ‘notion’; or a ‘model’… Anyway, here’s my ‘take’ on these words.

 I use ‘theory’ to refer to those ideas and concepts that I relate together to form principles, which I then use to produce reasonably systematic statements about either a particular subject of interest to me, or of an experience of mine, and that serves to illuminate these somewhat …

 A ‘notion’ is like a ‘hunch’ for me…. I might intuit that there will be some connection between two experiences or ideas, but this ‘maintaining the possibility here’ is not the same as producing a theory … Although these ‘notions’ may be later incorporated into some theory or other of mine – if the end result that is arrived at as a consequence of applying these ‘notions’ coincides with the same basic principles as the theory in question, that is…

But until then, I would rather call what I am doing here ‘speculation’. And this is a situation that will remain in this state until the principles I maintain are present here can be involved in some form of praxis of mine, or can at least be examined empirically, or concretely, by me… I should also add that my ‘notions’ usually take the form of metaphors – as these usually function quite well in getting me a little deeper into a particular subject.

Here’s an example: I like to think of my various emotions as the different colored inks that are contained in something like a set of children’s felt-tipped drawing pens; then my brain is the pen itself (the physical thing); and my mind is the hand that produces those ‘texts’ (acting with ‘intentionality’). These texts can, subsequently, be presented to my consciousness as a simple awareness, all the way up to a complex mentation… This ‘notion/metaphor’ ‘doesn’t really work’ if I think about it deeply at all – but it does serve to get me ‘into the right area’, and from this it is now possible that I might come up with something really useful…. So (obviously) although it’s very scrappy, and has ‘loads of holes’ in it, none the less I can Work with it – always provided I bear in mind that I mustn’t ‘fall for it’ (identify with it) that is…

I use ‘model’, when I believe I’m someway towards constructing a theory. My model partially ‘represents’, and uses those systematic statements that I’m constructing to describe various relationships that I’m perceiving. But my ‘model’ is always incomplete by its very nature… If  I were to believe that my model had somehow become complete, then it would no longer be a model – as it would now be identical with ‘the thing itself’, and so would be indistinguishable from it – which is impossible … (By the way, the statements by me that, “I completely understand,” something – is, I believe, also impossible)…

A ‘model’ then, helps me to construct a theory, which will then tell me not only what ‘parts’ of my model are incomplete, but also the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of those parts I’ve worked on, and possibly how they inter-relate. … I then use Eugene Halliday’s concept of a ‘system’ to link various theories together … Before finally Working on them – by  attempting to complete them still further; and, more importantly, adapting them into some form of praxis.

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Where do these ‘models’ of mine (for what it is that we essentially are) come from? … I have to accept that they are formed in the main by the Zeitgeist, or ‘Aionic forces’ …The seventeenth century emphasized mechanics (Newton and Descartes), which gave rise in the nineteenth century to, for example, the view that the best way to look at the world was based on forces, fields, energy, and resistance. This model was behind the ideas of pioneers such as Freud – who used this paradigm as the scientific basis for his theory of regression (which was appropriated by Eugene Halliday, in my view, to formulate the practical basis of what he referred to as, ‘engram work’), and Henri Berson, with his conscious field; his ‘élan vital’…

But this was not the only model that was about then, by any means… That branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology, coming out of German Idealism, and that gave rise to Romanticism, and Existentialism would also produce its own (quite different) vision..

I believe that we are now moving into an era where ‘what we are’ can be modeled more completely by incorporating metaphors based upon the ‘computer model’ – with its sub-routines; feedback loops; virtual realities; ability to provide relatively simple graphic representations of complex mathematical ideas etc. etc. etc..”

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The basic problem seems to me to have always revolved around dualism and idealism. On the one hand, the world is material in nature, and if there is any mystery here then it simply a consequence of our ignorance, and that is all. But then this Zeitgeist dictates that we accept certain types of evidence over other types – with the notably recent paradigm (in the West at least) being that of the causal nature of events.

 However, it is a matter of historical record that our epistemologies do evolve. But this evolution does not solve the problem that – in any given era – we still place more reliance on certain types of evidence than upon other types.

 If these models really succeed in reflecting current, contemporary, human values, then (as a direct consequence of this success) these models are difficult to shine any light upon, because they clearly do just seem to be, ‘the way it really is’.

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As the ideas that I work with iterate and bifurcate, I find I am having to deal with more and more diverse subjects.  Thus, questions concerning the nature of ‘consciousness’, and the necessity for a ‘system’ etc., all seem to arise quite naturally from my initial investigation into – what I fondly imagined were – ‘just’ my emotions… 

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 A ‘system’ must be formulated (or re-formulated) by me, to be of any real use to me…That is, I cannot just ‘take on’ someone else’s system…

In order for the involution/evolution of this system of mine to progress, I must actively involve the primary components of my perception, (that is, input received by me via my ‘five senses’); my experience of degrees of feeling; and those aesthetic evaluations which constitute my ‘recognition’ of my emotional states…. However i still view this system of mine as being – by and large – a construct of my mentational processes…

A fancy term for this system of mine then, might be to call it a ‘Cognitive Structure’, because this label would at least highlight the fact that it is, primarily, a system of representations in language, and is therefore essentially one that I can ‘play about with’ – with a view to transforming the elements contained within it… Hence the crucial importance here then, of developing my own ‘active language’.

These systems of mine then, I view as being products of my mind… Unlike, say, the ‘system’ of control that seems to be in place to preside over the regulation of organs such as my kidneys, for example… The smooth running of which must, as a consequence then, be continually tweaked by my brain ‘alone’. As my ‘conscious mind’ is apparently not required here. ..And so ‘I don’t ever actually ‘know’ that ‘I’m’ doing it!’ … This is fine by me by the way, as I’d probably screw the whole thing up if I did try to interfere here and attempt to become involved in ‘managing’ these essential bodily functions of mine… Because, let’s face it, I am so very easily distracted, and thus any interference by ‘the real me’ here would inevitably prove to be fatal … 

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As to ‘consciousness’ itself. It’s not something that I’m really all that interested in. That is to say, its not of any real pressing importance to me what consciousness is. I happen to believe that it is phenomenologically and ontologically unique. And thus, all attempts to explain it as being ‘like’ a ‘something else’ (as something that we all ‘understand better’) are doomed from the outset. … Because I have never been able to think of anything else that consciousness is remotely similar to … 

It is interesting for me to speculate, that the position taken by the contemporary philosopher Daniel Dennett re ‘consciousness’ may have arisen simple because of the temptation on his part to deny – what I claim is – consciousness’s uniqueness… And so then, for him – because consciousness isn’t ‘like something else’ (and so cannot then in principle, be ‘explained’) – ‘consciousness’ therefore, ‘doesn’t exist’…

In my view, the position, in part at least, that Dennett takes up regarding a view of ‘consciousness’ – which is predicated on what he refers to as, ‘The Multiple-Drafts Model’ – makes use of precisely the same sort of argument… That is – that consciousness isn’t like ‘this‘; it’s like ‘that‘..

And although I am in full agreement with Dennett’s demolishing of those models of consciousness that have been presented to us in the past and that he disagrees with – because he does prove, to my satisfaction at least, that these accounts all invariably do proceed by (and so seek to find their justification in) this analogy – I see his book  (‘Consiousness Explained’ ) as rather, an extremely complex and well argued example of, what Eugene Halliday both talks of and writes about regarding, ‘(T)he limit(s) of the application of term(s)’… The ‘term’ (in Dennett’s  exploration if it) being ‘Consciousness’.

 

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970’s to date)

I believe that Eugene Halliday’s many talks can be viewed from the point of view of, what I might call here, ‘The Emotional Life’… And, if you would like to ‘have a go’ at interacting with his material yourself from this perspective then, I would suggest that, instead of simply attempting to absorb information (definitions and ideas), you try to observe what it is that is happening in you while you listen to one of his talks; or even better, what it is that you believe is happening to Eugene Halliday while he is speaking… You might be pleasantly (or even unpleasantly) surprised….

You might now also try reading the collection of short essays written by Eugene Halliday, that was first published under the title of ‘Essays On God’ (the work of his friend, David Mahlowe). I cannot give you any information as to whether or not there was any editing of this material by David – except where it concerns the last four parts of this publication – their collective title being ‘God Is Not Dead’. These were originally printed in the parish magazine of ‘St Michael and All Angels Church’ (located in Manchester, UK) between March and June of 1980, and are – as far as I am able to tell – ‘as written’ by Eugene Halliday himself..

This collection of essays is available for viewing – and also for free downloading as pdf files – from Josh Hennessy’s excellent site, which is located a mere key-click away  … …   here

 Friendship is born at the moment one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C. S. Lewis

To be continued….

Bob Hardy

May 30 2013

 

 

 

 

 

   
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