When I play Grand Theft Auto, I project myself onto the avatar who seems to be running around in a vast fictional world. If I were to describe my understanding of my activity as I appear to simply sit on the couch twiddling my thumbs, I would say things like “I’m stealing a car, climbing a hill, jumping, cycling, falling, oh damn, I died.” The terms used do not make it clear that this is a fictional universe, and in some sense, I am telling nothing but the truth.

When I use similar terms to describe my activity at any other time, similar concerns arise. The words used do not distinguish between a projection and anything real. The indubitable reality of my lived experience is not approached, described, or contacted by my words, which simply draw pictures, tell stories.

Add to this realization, the non-singularity of my experience, such that your experience and my experience are continuous, reciprocal, mutually entwined, and we have a right pickle. Words can only tell stories (in P). We are here (H).

I have notes everywhere. I leave very many trails in my pmwiki pages, in this blog, in thousands of whiteboards, and in many other locations (including publications). If one were to trawl them forensically (Lord forbid!) I doubt a coherent picture would emerge. But in re-reading many bits myself, I find I have to understand them in the context of a specific progression of ideas.

About 2005, I became fixated on the concept of the P-world, which was that which was present to an individual at any given moment. My attempts to articulate this ran foul of obviousness and unoriginality, and it must have seemed that I was trying to describe the contents of consciousness, or the like. I suppose I was, but I was trying to tie it to the notion of the present. However I was trapped in an individualistic framework. (more…)

Perhaps we could democratise not the jobs of authority (let them be done by competent people), but the selection of the sacred texts and objects.  I want to vote for the the Ghent Altar.  Media and screens as channels of engagement with the objects of veneration could become the sacred objects.  People might develop variants of potter’s nod, which would look remarkably like the bobbing found in prayer.  Let everyone’s world be real, might be our slogan.

On the outer panels of the altar, there are four figures in one row: the flanks are the patrons, all fleshy, very very real and present.  The middle two are saints and they are paintings of statues.  Representations of representations.  Because they are above mere humans in the neo-Platonic hierarchy, you cannot see them, which would be to be in their presence.  You must content yourself thus with a representation.

In this quote from the second of his 2012 Gifford Lectures, Bruno Latour laments the notion that one might recognise only a single kind of truth, and a single kind of veridication.

The various creeds of the Christian faiths appear to be confused with respect to the subject.  In some traditions, the text is “We believe”, in some it is “I believe”.  This does not seem to be a bone of significant contention (for once!), as very closely aligned traditions may differ in this small detail. It seems to make sense, though, as the Credo is professed together, in public, and the distinction between “I” and “We” is largely eradicated.

I have suggested the image of a square soap bubble to help in understanding how one can appear to be discrete, autonomous, separate, and yet be part of all that exists, unified with world and all that happens within it.  I find it helpful. The bubble is discrete, separate, has a distinct identity, yet at the same time, no part of it has an independent existence.

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Here is Maturana on a similar theme:

Systems as composite entities have a dual existence, namely, they exist as singularities that operate as simple unities in the domain in which they arise as totalities, and at the same time they exist as composite entities in the domain of the operation of their components.  The relation between these two domains is not causal; these two domains do not intersect, nor do the phenomena which pertain to one occur in the other” (2002, Cybernetics & Human Knowing, 9:5–34)

 

587 years before the Gutenberg Bible was printed, the Dunhuang scroll was printed using an already mature woodblock technique.  The text printed was the Diamond Sutra.  In a surprisingly contemporary manner, the text comes with this attempt to be available:

Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [11 May 868].

Perhaps a text such as this would make a good discussion point.