We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Consider the reality of our experience. We live in the imagination. For us, humans, no action or event is ever just itself. It is always a component in mental representations of the natural and social order, extending over time. All our actions take place within imaginative structures that include our vision of the world and our place in the world—our internal conflicts and concerns, our relations to other people, our relations to nature, and our relations to whatever spiritual forces we imagine might exist. We live in communities that consist not just of the people with whom we come directly into contact but with memories of the dead, traditions of our ancestors, our sense of connection with generations yet unborn, and with every person, living or dead, who joins with us in imaginative structures—social, ideological, religious, or philosophical—that subordinate our individual selves to some collective body. Our sense of our selves derives from our myths and artistic traditions, from the stories we tell, the songs we sing, and the visual images that surround us.
Fascinating and thoughtful essay on a complex topic. Humankind's hypertrophied cortex is a blessing and a curse.
The leap from the genetics of adaptation to the arts is too large a leap for my pay grade, but the fact that humans exist in their imaginations is entirely clear to me. It's clear to my imagination too.
Two for two today BD. This I'll put on hold until I can sit and read the whole thing. I spend time talkin' with the youngins (18 & 17) on a regular basis and, as timing happens, last night #1 son initiated a thought concerning 'how humans perceive themselves in the universe'. I think that he segued himself into an introduction, at least, to Joe Carroll's piece. I think he'll enjoy it. Maybe "Uncle Theo" will be next on the list!!
Einstein said the arrow of time flies in only one direction. Faulkner, being from Mississippi, understood the matter differently. He said the past is never dead; it’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long ago before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose provenance dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequences echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of images and events, but some of us feel it always.
And who among us, offered the chance, would not relive the day or hour in which we first knew love, or ecstasy, or made a choice that forever altered our future, negating a life we might have had? Such chances are rarely granted. Memory and grief prove Faulkner right enough, but Einstein knew the finality of action. If I cannot change what I had for lunch yesterday, I certainly cannot unmake a marriage, erase the betrayal of a friend, or board a ship that left port twenty years ago.
"What the empirical evidence tells is that, far from being meaningless, we are, individually and collectively, equipped not only to appreciate meaning but, even more importantly, to continually conceive and revise it. The evidence suggests that to be human is to be a meaning maker, individually and collectively."