Monday, April 25, 2011

Conscious Language I - Redux

[Gurdjieff] - In my opinion, what will be troublesome for you in all this is chiefly that in childhood there was implanted in you - and has now become perfectly harmonized with your general psyche - an excellently working authomatism for perceiving all kinds of new impressions, thanks to which "blessing" you have now, during your responsible life, no need to make any individual effort whatsoever. To speak frankly, I personally see the central point of my confession not in my lack of experience in the rules and procedures of writers, but in my ignorance of what I have called "bon ton literary language" required in contemporary life not only of authors but even of all ordinary mortals.


It must also be said that owing to all kinds of conditions accidentally, or perhaps not accidentally, formed in my youth, I have had to learn, very seriously and of course always with self-compulsion, to speak, read, and write a great many languages, and to such a degree of fluency that if in following this profession unexpectedly forced on me by fate I decided not to take advantage of the "automatism" acquired by practice, I could perhaps write in any one of them....if I take advantage of the mentioned automatism acquired by me through long practice, it will of course be very good for me personally, but according to this saying it will be just the opposite; and what the opposite of good is, even every nonpossesor of hemorrhoids can easily understand....In order to assuage the bitterness of my inner hurt owing to this, I must say that in my early youth, when I became interested in philological questions and was deeply absorbed in them, I preferred the Armenian language to all the others I then spoke, even including my native tongue (Greek).

In any case I repeat, and repeat so that you may remember it well - not as you are in the habit of "remembering" other things, and on the basis of which you are accustomed to keeping your word of honor to others or to yourself - that no matter what language I use, I shall always and in
everything avoid what I have called "bon ton literary language."

With regard to this it is an extremely curious fact, perhaps more worthy of your love of knowledge than you may suppose, that from my earliest childhood, that is to say, ever since the birth in me of the need to rob birds nests and to tease my friend's sisters, there arose in my "planetary body", as the ancient theosophists (Egyptians) called it, and moreover - why I don't know - chiefly in the right half, an involuntary instinctive sensation that up to the period of my life when I became a "teacher of dancing" was gradually formed into a definite feeling; and later when thanks to this profession of mine I came in contact with people of many different types the conviction also began to arise in what is called my "mind" that these languages, or rather their "grammers" are composed by people who with respect to knowledge of language are exactly like those biped animals whom the esteemed Mullah Nasr Eddin characterizes thus: "All they can do is wrangle with pigs about the quality of oranges."

People of this kind, who, due to rotten heredity and nauseating upbringing, on reaching a certain age have been turned into "voracious moths" destroying the good prepared and left for us by our ancestors and by time, have not the slightest notion and have never even heard of the blatantly obvious fact that during preparatory age there is acquired in the brain functioning of every creature, and thus of man also, a definite property whose automatic manifestations proceed according to a certain law that the ancient Korkolans called the "law of associations," and that the process of mentation of every creature, especially man, flows exclusively in accordance with this law.

Since I have happened to touch upon a question that has recently become almost an "obsession" of mine, namely, the process of human mentation, I consider it possible, without waiting for the place in my writings I had designated for the elucidation of this question, to speak at least a little in this first chapter about some information that accidentally became known to me. According to this information, it was customary in long-past centuries on Earth for every man bold enough to aspire to the right to be considered by others and to consider himself a "conscious thinker" to be instructed, while still in the early years of his responsible existence, that man has two kinds of mentation: one kind, mentation by thought, expressed by words always possessing a relative meaning; and another kind, proper to all animals as well as to man, which I would call "mentation by form."

The second kind of mentation, that is "mentation by form" - through which, by the way, the exact meaning of all writing should be perceived and then assimilated after conscious confrontation with information previously acquired - is determined in people by the conditions of geographical locality, climate, time, and in general the whole environment in which they have arisen and in which their existence has flowed up to adulthood.....That my language, or rather the form of my mentation, can produce such an effect I am, thanks to repeated past experiences, as much convinced with my whole being as a "thoroughbred donkey" is convinced of the rightness and justice of his obstinacy. [Beelzebub]

[Aor] - To cultivate oneself to be simple and to see simply is the first task of anyone wishing to approach the sacred symbolic of ancient Egypt. This is difficult because the obvious blinds us. ....Instead of starting from an imaginary construction, instead of relying on intellectual speculation, ancient Egypt shows us the path of an infallible recognition of the forces and laws that rule the Universe....., pharaonic Egypt is essentially practical. One can study the symbolic of any time and any people. If I prefer Ancient Egypt to India, China, Babylon, or Greece, it is because it is more accessible to us by dint of the authentic "testimonies" it has left us, and because its entire culture is founded on a symbolic form of writing....Any manner of writing formed by means of a conventional alphabetical, arbitrary system can, over time, be lost and become incomprehensible. On the other hand, the use of images as signs for the _expression of thought leaves the meaning of this writing, five or six thousand years old, as clear and accessible as it was the day it was carved in the stone, for a chair, a falcon, a vulture, a piece of cloth, a
placenta, a leg, a human posture, etc..., will not change as long as there are men on earth. This concerns hieroglyphic writing.

This simplicity here relates to the fact of "being simple" and of "seeing simply" not to "simple ideas". Seeing simply comprises two stages (1) observing, (2) accepting - observing without prejudice, what the symbol is, and accepting what it has to say just as it is said, adding to it neither supposition or imagination. [R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz]
[Jaynes] - Introspect on when you last went swimming: I suspect you have an image of a seashore, lake, or pool which is largely a retrospection, but when it comes to yourself swimming, lo! like Nijinsky in his dance, you are seeing yourself swim, something you have never observed at all! There is precious little of the actual sensations of swimming, the particular waterline across your face, the feel of the water against your skin, or to what extent your eyes were underwater as your turned your head to breathe(self remembering)....you tend not to see, hear, or feel things as you actually experienced them, but rather to recreate them in objective (narrative, subjective, lying ) terms, seeing yourself in the setting as if you were somebody else. Looking back into memory, then, is a great deal invention (lying, false personality) seeing yourself as others see you. Memory is the medium of the must-have-been. Though I have no doubt that in any of these instances you could by inference invent a subjective view of the experience, even with the conviction that it was the actual memory. [Julian Jaynes]
Yesterday morning I asked my four year old daughter to recount for me her last experience of swimming. When we got past the "bon ton" about sharks and other narratized occurences, she described in boundless detail the sensations in her arms, her breathing, how cold the water was, etc..., after some dubious narrative "yadda, yadda" her recollections became REAL.
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you,Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. [Mark 10]
In Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, in the chapter entitled The Arousing of Thought, Gurdjieff wrote the following explicit and very illuminating comments about language, mentality, reality and the possibility for development;
"....during preparatory age there is acquired in the brain functioning of every creature, and thus of man also, a definite property whose automatic manifestations proceed according to a certain law that the ancient Korkolans called the "law of associations," and that the process of mentation of every creature, especially man, flows exclusively in accordance with this law.

Since I have happened to touch upon a question that has recently become almost an "obsession" of mine, namely, the process of human mentation, I consider it possible, without waiting for the place in my writings I had designated for the elucidation of this question, to speak at least a little in this first chapter about some information that accidentally became known to me. According to this information, it was customary in long-past centuries on Earth for every man bold enough to aspire to the right to be considered by others and to consider himself a "conscious thinker" to be instructed, while still in the early years of his responsible existence, that man has two kinds of mentation: one kind, mentation by thought, expressed by words always possessing a relative meaning; and another kind, proper to all animals as well as to man, which I would call "mentation by form."

The second kind of mentation, that is "mentation by form" - through which, by the way, the exact meaning of all writing should be perceived and then assimilated after conscious confrontation with information previously acquired - is determined in people by the conditions of geographical locality, climate, time, and in general the whole environment in which they have arisen and in which their existence has flowed up to adulthood.....That my language, or rather the form of my mentation, can produce such an effect I am, thanks to repeated past experiences, as much convinced with my whole being as a "thoroughbred donkey" is convinced of the rightness and justice of his obstinacy."
Addressing precisely the same theme - in the concluding chapter of Symbol and the Symbolic R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz wrote;

To cultivate oneself to be simple and to see simply is the first task of anyone wishing to approach the sacred symbolic of ancient Egypt. This is difficult because the obvious blinds us. ....Instead of starting from an imaginary construction, instead of relying on intellectual speculation, ancient Egypt shows us the path of an infallible recognition of the forces and laws that rule the Universe....., pharaonic Egypt is essentially practical. One can study the symbolic of any time and any people. If I prefer Ancient Egypt to India, China, Babylon, or Greece, it is because it is more accessible to us by dint of the authentic "testimonies" it has left us, and because its entire culture is founded on a symbolic form of writing....Any manner of writing formed by means of a conventional alphabetical, arbitrary system can, over time, be lost and become incomprehensible. On the other hand, the use of images as signs for the _expression of thought leaves the meaning of this writing, five or six thousand years old, as clear and accessible as it was the day it was carved in the stone, for a chair, a falcon, a vulture, a piece of cloth, a placenta, a leg, a human posture, etc..., will not change as long as there are men on earth. This concerns hieroglyphic writing.

This simplicity here relates to the fact of "being simple" and of "seeing simply" not to "simple ideas". Seeing simply comprises two stages (1) observing, (2) accepting - observing without prejudice, what the symbol is, and accepting what it has to say just as it is said, adding to it neither supposition or imagination."

Finally, in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind in the chapter Consciousness Julian Jaynes writes;
"Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics....Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository....If consciousness is this invention of an analog world even as the world of mathematics parallels the world of quantities of things, what then can we say about its origin?

Consciousness come after language! The implications of such a position are extremely serious."
If there are any others who are not identified with the spectacle of those "who with respect to knowledge of language are exactly like those biped animals whom the esteemed Mullah Nasr Eddin characterizes thus: All they can do is wrangle with pigs about the quality of oranges." please respond to this esoteric question.

If, as I am persuaded to believe, subjective consciousness is an analog of behaviour in the physical world - and that by the work we can imbue this analogical "construct" (central nervous system state) with a more permanent physical substrate - of what is this more permanent substrate comprised?