March 10, 2011

Houses of Being

Because I can intend to imagine a space or time or experience differently than what I observe or register daily, the exercise of imagination is not inherently liberating.

And it strikes me too that to create a new known (to imagine a world in the mind's eye) with the goal of deeply knowing that place and returning to it whenever one desires is a form of... serious conformity. Which is why Inception was such a drag. The outcome of this type of imagining is that the grooves of thought are dug in, and as a result I can re-enter a space I have built in my imagining whenever I choose and so re-encounter the same emotional state that "comes with" that imagined space. The movie playing in Donald Rumsfeld's mind, of his imagined Iraq-war world, is a great example.

But to me, the exercise of imagining an object or place (or, frankly, re-imagining my own history) is actually the exercise of creating an imagined self.

This imagined self is made in a space just beyond the gorges of the mind (those really deep grooves which are carved from rivers of repeated, maintaining thoughts) and beyond the tracks of the normative, regulated, constrained, social. The intention in this kind of imagining is never to make it familiar and known, not to cut the groove too deep, but simply to experience this other self, or moments of non-selfness. Simply to experience unboundedness.

I think this is why creative types tend to not have fixed imaginative spaces but rather push forward to create new spaces (new selves) all the time; we are constantly cutting new grooves. The desire is always for more. We find no real comfort dwelling in the known knowns. And I am, even as I gain in age and experience, still mystified by those who do find such comfort.

Martin Heidegger once wrote that "Language is the house of Being. In its home man dwells. Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home." (A very self-serving point of view, for a philosopher.) Heidegger was identifying what was in his perception the core of being -- language use as a sort of universal proof of conscious thought, of aliveness. The function of this seems to be to ratify a static sense of purpose. To ratify that being is about doing the thing that makes one feel as if one is in one's true home, or is protecting one's true home. One could insert any number of things into that quote (faith, sex, money, a political affiliation) and it would be equally self-serving.

But what if being a guardian of one house is a prescription for mental atrophy? What of being, aliveness, and consciousness and endeavors into the wordless? What if, because we perpetually think, the houses of being are infinite?