Veils of Reality
I. Introduction: Where our Thinking Stops
This is a message in bottle, written into the contemporary no-man’s-land between what makes people money, and what provides some form of gratification, right now. You could say its the long way, where the problems of the world is otherwise a discussion we make over our shoulder as the patterns of necessity and convenience lead us deeper into them.
It may be something of a mystery then to say this book is for everyone, a mystery that will only be resolved gradually as the gap between what this seems and where its going is filled in.
If the following writings were Einstein’s long lost social commentary, people would pour over them, and rapidly arrive at the big picture. As things are, however, I have yet to earn that kind of close reading, that effort to see what I really mean, and all Einstein has left us on the matter, for all I know, is the quote about the impossibility of solving problems with the same thinking that created them.
Which is funny, considering.
To approach a work with the expectation of finding genius is like opening the ceiling of the house of our mind, where ordinarily we only walk through the doors. The difference, that is, in what we find in the endless library of ideas, often depends on what allowance we make for a work to reveal its full dimensions.
In that sense, that this is not the product of any special genius, and lacks a stamp of authority, makes this challenging for both of us. Why you are here anyway is that this book, necessarily challenging and counterintuitive, is addressed to the dilemma Einstein described and has oft been quoted regarding. He was referring–if he had any brains–to thinking not in the terms of what we think, but in a paradigmatic sense, how thought is structured on a societal or civilizational scale.
This is what is tricky about trying to solve chronic problems, trying to change the world. We do not see the role how we see plays in the problems of the world. Furthermore, we cannot see outside of how we see, in a more fundamental sense, until we see how we see, from somewhere else, from the contrast of a fundamentally different set of considerations.
I was talking to a very rationally-minded person once who said the scientific perspective on destiny is that: if you live in a bad way, you get sick. Or something like that. The one thing I can say, about my otherwise non-genius self, is that I do have vision, not as a natural quality, but as a result of, basically, ways. Other ways of interpreting experiences. And through them then, scientifically speaking, an other destiny.
One of these ways was observing, over the years, the occasions and under what conditions people’s thinking stopped, they decided, they resolved, they threw up their hands, but the implications, like ripples in the air, kept going.
This book is intended to create a fundamentally different view looking out over the landscape of human conflict and suffering. When I say that I have vision, that is to create a certain expectation, so you will look up, beyond the box of things as they are, or appear to be.
It doesn’t take talent or brilliance to extend our imagination beyond the immediate shape of things, to leave the big picture open-ended. I’m calling it now, this is a way, that will figure prominently in our destiny.
The beginnings of this work were in inspiring circumstances, interactions, experiences, that were stopped, in their spread, at the doors of preconception. Remembering something that someone else had yet to see, I became fascinated by what would get in the way, what, in their mind, a person would react to, that was different than what, around a corner they hadn’t turned, was there.
These were dynamics I witnessed, among people I knew, lived with, loved, with the same overarching goals and values.
Years ago, I imagined a project to detail the mental routines that function to conceal, from ourselves, expressions of the world we wanted. It was not addressed to disagreements about strategies, which one was right, it was about patterns of thinking that kept us in place, while we wished for the world to be different.
I had a chain of experiences that collectively altered an underlying premise. Since then I’ve been watching the ripples in the air, of former truths, where and how they meet the human story.
Looking up, from where many other people’s perspective had solidified–self-assured or defeated, I noticed alternatives, a wider field of variables that presented me a more ambitious picture of what is possible.
The first premise of this project is that: our inability to escape cycles of violence, deprivation, depression, and destruction, even with all we know, is a consequence, fundamentally, of how our culture sees. Not what people think, but how, the common epistemological terrain that crosses all apparent divisions. The second premise is that these cycles are not inevitable.
Because ordinarily we can’t see how we see, we just think we are seeing reality, facts, falsehoods, good and bad, it is easy to interpret our wildly diverging policies and points of view as, the other side being, at best, wrong, and at worst, just plain shitty people.
Our attempts to solve social, political, environmental problems is like an equation where, after hundreds of years, we keep getting the wrong answer. But our math is correct! How we see, how we think, is the hidden variable, throwing off our results. All this time we have been looking outward, with others to blame. This is looking outward, not in to good or bad types of people, but into unconscious, automatic, psychological processes. Processes we have no control over, that appear as simply: us, until we begin to notice them.
This is an intervention. It wont always be comfortable, but the point is to open a new sense, on a grand scale, of what is possible. It comes from developing relationships to a wider field of variables, specifically ego dynamics. What this project is attempting to make more salient, is a choice.
This process isn’t a recourse to a long lost superior culture. This is the result of searching, of going against, and at times into great discomfort, some of our ordinary tendencies. It ends in some familiar places but it is the journey that makes the confirmation of ancient truths meaningful, accessible.
One of the casualties of this process is the idea of human nature, which as was noted in Ismael, people derive evidence for by looking at their own culture. What we don’t realize is across how many societies certain routines extend, and–what proves they are culture rather than human nature–where they stop.
That was a book that gave a lot of people a cause. This attempts to highlight some of the unseen barriers to fulfilling it. The environment isn’t the focus here, though it is a collateral objective, something addressed by the size of what we are exploring.
We are not always aware of what it is we are doing, what layer of human possibility our mind is working for. We are not always aware of our effects, what we miss, that becomes a ripple in the world.
Humans have lived in many ways. Science, advertised as the end of superstition, the sense that we are finally seeing the world how it is, has coincided with a hardening of assumptions. Some of the ideas we are living on cannot be read for their results because they have settled into the truth layer of our minds. Our scope of cause and effect, this is arguing, even in an age of supposed objectivity, is too narrow.
It requires contrast to really understand the strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly the potential for fulfilment, in how we see. There is evidence of something beyond human destiny as it appears.
This will be an attempt to point in that direction.