Three Images

Three Images

Sunday February 2, 2020

2:50 a.m. Last night I asked what the theme for today would be, and you said we should start with the image of us in 3D as ships upon the sea. So, shall we proceed?

We wonder if we should not be proceeding more with images and less with descriptions of relationships. An attractive idea, but impossible. Images require explanation, as explanation requires images to put it into a capsule.

Nothing wrong with alternating, I suppose. At any rate –

A ship upon the sea is a self-contained society existing at the boundary of elements (sea and sky). It is affected to an enormous degree by weather. It is self-contained, but very far from being isolated from the elements. Its existence depends upon the elements. It is affected by any turn of the weather, it sets its course sometimes in cooperation with prevailing conditions, sometimes in opposition to them. Does this not resemble your life conditions in the 3D world? There is “you” and there is “it” – it being the impersonal world around you that affects you and seems to be unaffected by you.

Sea currents, hurricanes or even prevailing westerlies, winter conditions, and even subtle conditions such as salinity, barometric pressure, magnetic fluctuations – it all affects you, in reality or in potential, and it all is vastly disproportionate to your own force. You live among these forces. The forces have their own origins, their own laws of existence, their own patterns of interaction. The salinity of the sea or the barometric pressure of today’s atmosphere do not adjust themselves to you; you adjust to them, or you live among them unconscious of them perhaps.

That’s one analogy. Hold it in mind as we remind you of another, which is equally suggestive and equally only so accurate and no more.

You as passenger on a train are being carried in a certain direction at a rate of speed you do not control. From your point of view, the world outside your windows seems to continually refresh. That is, the old disappears and the new appears, and then in turn vanishes. Within the car you may interact with your fellow passengers. You may walk up to the dining car, if you choose to. You may snooze or read or pass the time however you can, but you cannot leave the train. You cannot change its direction, its speed, its conditions. “You” are one thing, your environment is something else, and you know intellectually, if not sensorially, that each of your fellow passengers is in the same fix.

As you see, the two analogies illumine each other because each has its own deficiency and its own applicability. Add more analogies and each would assist you to see more nuances. None would be “correct.” Each would illustrate certain aspects. Together they would come closer to portraying your reality.

And of course, each analogy is really an image, easily remembered, not requiring words to be called up. So – once explained – they serve as summaries. Pointers.

So now if we refer to the vast impersonal forces, you might remember the ship upon the sea. If we refer to time in 3D, the train. If to your position as the ghost in the machine, so to speak, you might remember either. They are not meant as dogma, but as capsule visualizations. Again, as we said a while ago, we (you and we, working together, must deal with the inherent limitation of attention caused by 3D conditions, and symbols allow you to hold more relationships in your attention simultaneously.

They economize on our mental RAM.

Yes. The more information that can be packed into symbols, and the more symbols that can be deployed at the same time, the more sophisticated an understanding you can achieve.

However, it is important not to allow yourselves to be trapped within symbols. The two analogies cited above do not describe your lives as you experience them. They describe one aspect of your life: the apparent surrounding existence of the objective world as it shapes the conditions of your life. They do not really deal with your life as you live it, choosing, creating yourselves, shaping and being shaped by the crucible you exist in. They do not deal with the fact that you are in 3D but also extend beyond it; that the world around you is in 3D and similarly extends beyond it. And they very much do not deal with the question of who set the boat sailing or the train rolling, or what the course is, or what the condition or purpose of the journey, etc.

And if we can come up with symbols for each of these aspects?

Then you will have a handle on your life. We need not – we hope! – add that your working with the images, rather than passively accepting them, will deepen your understanding.

I can almost envision a comic book summary, consisting of little more than images.

Not impossible, but of course it would be valuable to the degree that the images were understood not only in their literal appearance but in their implied connections and invisible but necessary attributes.

“—but necessary attributes.” A little out of focus, there?

Well, say, “in their implied connections and invisible extensions.”

Don’t try to truncate symbols into any one meaning.

Yes, exactly.

Now, holding in mind the analogies of the ship and the railway car, let us move to find one to represent your active mental life among a seemingly external world.

“Diving bell” is what came to mind, immediately, though I don’t know how many people remember what a diving bell was. Scuba gear doesn’t have the same feel to it.

Perhaps caissons?

You’re asking? Well, maybe. Caissons were boxes constructed underwater in which men worked. The high atmospheric pressure contained within them kept the water out. The caissons were open at the bottom; the men were digging it deeper as they went. This is how the towers for suspension bridges were built, for instance.

Life inside a caisson was high-pressure by definition. You entered through hatches that allowed the pressure to be maintained. You were entirely isolated from the world outside the caisson. You could enter or you could leave; you could communicate through telephone lines or other means, but what you could not do was exist both within and without those walls. The walls preserved your life: They made it possible for you to exist in there in the first place. But they did enforce isolation.

As an analogy, it may serve to describe 3D life. You may call us in non-3D, beyond the walls of your 3D caisson, but you can’t exist here and there at the same time.

That gets confusing, since we are in both at the same time.

You are, but your bodily awareness is limited to 3D. (Well, actually it is more complicated than that. Everything extends, as we have said. But we must defer that discussion if we are to complete this one.)

You see the point of this analogy. The ship referred to the vast impersonal forces that affect your lives. The railroad car referred to the effects of the perception of time as remorseless movement. The caisson refers to the fact that you are isolated in a high-pressure environment to do your work, constructing something, not merely passing the time.

Yes, very interesting. Holding the three images really does let me hold three aspects of life in the same moment.

So call this Three Images. And we will continue by discussing permeability.

That one surprised me. Okay, I can’t wait. Thanks as always.


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