Thursday, April 12, 2018
3:45 a.m. The day the Titanic sunk in 1912, and that Roosevelt died in 1945. Jefferson’s birthday in 1743 tomorrow, Lincoln shot the 14th, 1865, and died the following day. I remember all these things every April, only don’t ask me what day or year things happened to me!
Usually. But then there is November 22, 1963, and everybody alive that day knows where they were when they heard the news. So, we were going to talk about third-tier effects of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I take it that is why I was led to mention the historical anniversaries I am always aware of, as opposed to my own anniversaries, mostly.
The examples will lead us into a wider-ranging subject, the interconnection of the personal and the social, or the intuitive and the sensory, or the subjective and the objective, or the soul-heritage and the genetic heritage, though this last apposition isn’t phrased quite right. These are all aspects of the same gap in understanding.
I take it you mean the equivalent of tying together the microcosm – each of our lives – and the macrocosm – all of our lives taken together, or in fact all of life.
By this point we scarcely need remind you.
To recalibrate, no. All right.
Not that you were wandering, nor about to wander, but that this is a very important topic that needs to be approached slowly and examined thoroughly. It is a key, as we often say, to many things.
I’m getting that idea.
You know how cosmologists and physicists have trouble applying the same rules to individual lives as to the movements of the stars in their courses, so to speak.
I know they have trouble. Quantum physics at one end, celestial mechanics at the other, so to speak. But science isn’t my thing. In saying that much, that is about everything I know about the problem.
The problem in short is that reality appears split, and it is difficult for people to find the more or less invisible linkages that make it one. Science has been unable to do it, neither physical science nor social science. Any attempt to apply the methods of one upon the data of the other has been a ludicrous or tragic failure. Humans are not predictable in the way that atoms in a given mass are – only, it turns out that neither are the atoms, when you watch them closely enough, only when you observe effects at enough of a remove. And in its own way, that’s what we are talking about when we discuss third-tier effects.
I don’t know if I hashed the translation or what, but that paragraph seems awfully stumbling and fuzzy to me.
Try stating it yourself, and let’s see how it comes out.
I think the sense of it is, we can measure large-scale things, particularly in bulk interactions, and particularly when there is no evidence of consciousness or willpower, and that is the external science world: chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, all that. Or we can measure small-scale things at the sub-atomic level (assuming that atoms are anything more real than generalizations about behavior) and we see an entirely different kind of behavior, closer to magic than to laws of cause and effect. Things appear and disappear, they go through two places at once, or through neither, yet appear on the other side. They exhibit entangled behavior, non-locality, what seems like foreknowledge of what is going to happen even if that something hasn’t been determined yet. As I understand it, science – particularly conventional materialistic science – cannot reconcile the two kinds of evidence, yet cannot refute either.
That’s a fair layman’s summary of one kind of dichotomy. And the other?
The other is, I suspect, the same thing seen differently. On the one hand is the individual with his subjective world that can never be measured, and can be perceived only very indirectly: the world of dreams, and daydreams, and running fantasies, and moods and emotions and obsessions and ideals and who knows what-all. On the other, the generalizations (laws, they call them) of psychology, sociology, and all the studies of human behavior as it manifests in the outside world. Clearly the two are connected, but the connection is the individual in its two aspects, inner and outer. And never the twain shall meet.
Not externally, no. In reality, of course, never the twain can be severed, for they are mirror images.
And it is that unsuspected connection, or identity, that we’re out to look at, I take it.
That is one aspect of what we’re going to look at, put it that way. Remember the theme: It’s all one world, and anything that argues that it isn’t will mislead you by just that much. It is one thing to have to consider reality bit by bit, in logical slices. It is another to think that these logical slices are realer than they are.
Our limited RAM forces us to consider only a relative few bits at a time, and we get into the habit of thinking the divisions realer than they are; essential, rather than matters of convenience.
That’s right. The key is interconnection, and the key to interconnection is consciousness, and the key to consciousness is attention. We know that last bit is cryptic. Leave it that way for the moment.
John F. Kennedy is assassinated on a bright Friday midday. For him, for his murderers, a first-tier event. The mental event created as the awareness of the event explodes around the world is a second-tier event, and it is so regardless of the nature of people’s reaction. Shock, grief, joy, even glee, relief, outrage, fear – any reaction you can imagine, including indifference, all second-tier effects, you see.
People who didn’t care nonetheless lived among a world population that did care, and could not be unaffected by the tidal wave of emotion even if they did not share it, or were hostile to it. There just isn’t any isolation to be had in the world.
John Dunne: No man is an island. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.
That’s right. But still, the immediate reaction is a second-tier effect. It may be profound, it may be universal or conflicted, it may be an irrelevance, but it is second-tier. It is a reaction to a physical event, and forms an event of its own, or, we should say, in itself. When Franklin Roosevelt dies, when astronauts in a returning space shuttle die, when Princess Diana dies, when John F. Kennedy or Abraham Lincoln are killed, the people’s reaction itself forms a second-tier event which is to be considered in looking at the event itself. It may be disregarded because invisible, usually, but in such cases [the examples just cited] it bursts into the open.
I think you just said, every event has second-tier effects, but only certain events have them at so public and widespread a level as to make the fact obvious.
Yes. And seen or unseen, such second-tier effects produce third-tier effects. We can finish this piece if you can hold out a little longer.
I know. Go ahead.
Third-tier effects might be called “long-term effects” in a sense. Let’s stick to Kennedy or Lincoln because their third-tier effects were so public, so widely shared, and so historically significant. People’s lives were changed as much by their reaction to what had happened as by what external actions of others followed. Spell that out, if you are able to.
Lincoln’s murder prevented a more conciliatory, thoughtful approach to reconstructing the Union and dealing with changed circumstances. Kennedy’s murder prevented withdrawal from Vietnam before it became an American war, prevented a more conciliatory approach that aimed at ending the Cold War 25 years before it finally did end. In both cases, an assassination had definite political and social consequences. But you are saying, and I feel it, that another level of effect, more or less invisible though the tip of the iceberg showed as pubic grief, was its third-tier – long-term – effect upon individuals as they lived their lives during long years thereafter.
Yes, although the important part is not the “long years thereafter” but the (invisible) effect of changing what strands of themselves people brought to the fore. You, Frank, are not whatever person you would have been. What is true of you is true of many, to greater or lesser degree. Theodore Sorensen, Dave Powers, those who actually knew and worked with John F. Kennedy lost someone they loved and had first-tier experience with. You and others who knew of him and had caught the spark of inspiration lost someone they had shared second-tier experience with. Those born too late to have known of him while he was still alive share third-tier experience. There is a difference in the cumulative effect.
But – and it is a significant caveat – this is looking at things only from a 3D perspective, not considering what (equally invisible) links may link this individual and that. Thus, one short example: anyone whose life story inspires you, even though the person lived long ago. Lincoln, let alone so many others in so many fields of endeavor, and those but the ones you knew of because they have left historical traces. Equally, often more, historically unknown people – “past lives,” you call them – sharing salient traits.
Well, it is in third-tier effects that history interacts with psychology, one might say, or biography interacts with spirituality. Long subject, and we have barely touched upon it, but a good start nonetheless.
Thank you. This took 75 minutes and I think (pending re-reading it) was worth the effort.