What is real? How do we know?

Monday, September 20, 2010

5:30 AM. Tired already, as I’ve been up a couple of hours doing e-mail etc. after I couldn’t sleep longer. You guys have anything in particular in mind?

You’ll notice that the first thing you do in the morning is apt to be the tone-setter. Listening to radio programs about allegations of secret science, etc. isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing to do, any more than Free Cell while you listen, but it will produce a different effect than prayer or meditation or thought or reading novels or playing music or anything one might do. The primary reason you are past 270,000 words in this is that this is your habit now – for as long as you don’t depart from it – and therefore it gets done regardless if anything else does.

I’m going to rest for a few minutes.

Well, that didn’t work out either. Too stirred up even to rest. So – over to you.

You are experiencing disorientation.

Yes, I sure am, and a bit of self-doubt, too. A friend sent me a link to a radio show interviewing at some length a man named Joseph P. Farrell, who has written a series of books purporting to be scientific investigation of various aspects of our history since World War II – and also ancient history. To summarize it would sound nutty, and in fact as I listened to him it was like following Alice’s rabbit down the rabbit hole. The man has scientific credentials (academic ones, anyway) and appears sincere and not a space cadet. But —

Yes, but. But the farther you follow his arguments, the more tenuous the connections with everything you know, and you’re wondering who is crazy, you or him.

For starters, yes.

And it led to the thought of how very many worlds people live in, incommunicable to each other, with different assumptions, “proofs,” etc.


And as you listened to Farrell and his breathless interviewer, you remembered some of your own radio interviews when Muddy Tracks came out.

Oh yes.

And not only do you wonder if others would question your sanity, you also wonder if you should be questioning your own.

Not my sanity. I’m pretty sure of that. But suppose what we have learned isn’t true, then our sanity can be being misapplied, resulting in our living in fantasyland anyway.

Isn’t this just a variant of “maybe they don’t really exist, and I’m making it all up”?

How so?

If what you’re doing right now is not real, that leads one way. If it is real, that leads another way.

Well, supposing I’m fooling myself and thus potentially fooling others. But then, there is Jesus’s test: Judge by the fruits a thing produces. Good fruits, good tree. That is reassuring.

Can we rephrase this discussion? For you haven’t come to the nub of it. The whole point of your inquiry from the beginning has been, What is real?

That question presents another: How can I tell? How does one judge a system from within it? While you can use the test of the fruits a thing bears, even a mistake may bear good fruits until you reach the specific area of error. In raising a child, the fact that your ideas of physics or thermonuclear reactions or algebra might be totally erroneous might have no consequence. Or, to use a slightly less far-fetched example, you might raise a child or even be responsible for the education of large numbers of children and do no harm – even do positive good – even if your ideas of psychology and metaphysics were entirely erroneous. And of course you can see that this is a necessary stabilization factor. If success in any one area depended on having correct concepts in every other area, what hope would there be? Fortunately, farmers don’t need to understand chemistry or alchemy or magic. You understand.

However, this fail-safe in life also leaves you – leaves anyone – vulnerable to huge amounts of misinformation. Or, let’s put it another way: Most of what you “know” may be entirely or mostly wrong; most of it must be at least slightly wrong. You function, nonetheless, and the very fact that you function may serve to lead you to assume that you can’t be very wrong, or you wouldn’t function as well as you do. But this isn’t so. What is so is that you are – anyone is – tightly focused as a person-group with the mission of living your life. Outside that focus (whatever your focus may happen to be) life is little more than a blur to you. It hardly affect you, and there isn’t any reason why it should.

So much for watching the TV News, eh?

For some people, that is part of their focus. For others, no. There’s no telling. But common sense, applied here, will show you that the world, as Robert Louis Stevenson famously said, “is so full of a number of things, that I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Assuming kings are happy.

Assuming that. The point is, no one is big enough to comprehend everything. Hence the deflating expression that someone is a “know-it-all.” No one knows it all, or could know it all or would benefit from knowing it all. Did not Thoreau say that he wouldn’t go to Europe because if Europe became more to him, his native Concord must become less? That was perceptive. Although your contemporary society is tempted to think in terms of amassing more and more and more, whether resources or knowledge or “power” of one or another kind, the fact is that beyond your limits, whatever they happen to be, you cannot add something without first discarding something. Or, as it more likely appears to you, you can’t help having older topics and considerations and subject of interest fall off your radar screen when the screen has become filled with newer ones. It’s the old RAM analogy again. Or do you suppose if you work hard enough, concentrate enough, want it enough, you can have an extra day or two each week?

You can’t. You can fill the seven days fuller and fuller, can run faster and faster, can cut sleep to a minimum or less, you can totally frazzle yourself trying to do more, more, more – but you can’t get more than seven days a week. That is, your life has limits.

Limits are not only not a tragedy or a disappointment; they are essential if you are to experience form. And limits imply selection. If you can’t “have it all” (and be glad, by the way, that you can’t), then you must choose what to keep, what to discard.

Everyone chooses differently, some more consciously than others. You can no more have everything then you can live everywhere, or know everyone.

Now, the point of all this is, don’t let yourself be thrown whenever you stumble upon whole mental worlds that proceed from different suppositions, follow different lines of logic, explore different kinds of evidence. Paddle your own canoe.

I came to say a while ago – and I believe the same thing still – that although when I was young I wanted to know everything, I have had to resign myself to knowing that I am going to die, as I have lived, ignorant.

It’s true, and so what? Properly viewed, that should be a great relief. Much easier, isn’t it, to realize that task is impossible than to pine away because you can’t accomplish it or even start on it?

Yes, but I don’t think I quite expressed what bothers me. As usual when I experience a different line of thought, I wonder if it is right and I am wrong. So much of the various conspiracy materials make sense in their own terms, and much of it makes sense viewed in light of other parts of it. Maybe (I often wonder) what I’m taking for granted isn’t right, and therefore maybe I’m just wasting my time, living in a world that never was and still isn’t what it is painted to be.

We revert to the previous statement. As you can’t know, stick to your business.

Now, what is your business? Obviously, for some people such research is their business. Like Velikovsky, it is what they came into life to do, unbeknownst to their conscious selves until the curtain rose. For others, peripheral knowledge (dabbling or merely reading and speculating) is that part of their path that it encompasses. For still others, contemptuous dismissal or lifelong ignorance of the fact that the subject even exists may be indicated. But everybody has a center of their life, however wide or narrow. Not only should you not neglect this center, we tell you that you can’t ignore it. Can you not know that you have a nose on your face?

If you are paddling your own canoe, what is it to you who’s doing what on a lake 500 miles away?

It’s funny, I’ve had the feeling, these last few grafs, that you are speaking more to someone else (who will be reading this, presumably) than directly to me.

The process is familiar to you. Sometimes people need to hear something from human lips – or pen – rather than only from within.

Understood. Hopefully they’ll recognize it.

How could they not? Their own guidance will be assuring that they do.

Okay. Till next time.

Remember there’s no harm in skipping a session if you decide to do so, rather than letting it slide.

No, I might just as well use the time. It isn’t exactly quality time otherwise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.