Refocusing

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

6:25 a.m. Late start, today. Yesterday you suggested that we begin with the image of cooperative roadbed-building that came from the memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

It is or could be a productive image. Everyone working on that project had his own life and went his own way afterward, but while they worked together they built something that transformed the 3D platform, the 3D conditions, that shaped its time.

I am sensing a lot of associated thoughts. Distraction, or part of the picture?

You mean, which aspect is more important, for anything is distraction and enrichment both.

I see that.

Noodle it a little; it will help loosen you up.

An earlier generation would have said, “muse on it.” Okay, well, I was thinking, railroads were wonderful transformative technology. They were also unbelievable vessels of political corruption and financial manipulation and outright theft. I guess I was thinking how hard it is to come to a thing with clean hands and leave with clean hands, above a certain level of responsibility. You might be personally honest, but at some point you were going to come into close contact with corruption, or you were going to live with eyes closed.

And what about the men doing the physical work, actually driving the horses, or anything involving manipulation of material rather than manipulation of money or of politicians.

Well, that puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?

After all, to institute something is to insert it into where it had not been. What is that, but manipulation of matter, of minds, of social agreements, of intentions? Be the end good or bad (and who is measuring?), be the means to the end good or bad (and, who is measuring?), the process of altering the environment is the same. Someone or a group of someones determines that instead of what is, there shall be an alteration. Nobody can know the changes that will come from this change; no one can count consequences that cannot be foreseen. And this is your life in 3D.

Some consequences can be foreseen. Some endeavors can be judged good or bad.

Yes in both cases, but most cannot, and most are mixtures of good and bad.

To be sure. So, the application is – ?

When examining your 3D life as an extension of your non-3D being, there is a tendency to slur over the effects of what you do here, in favor of an examination of what it does to you. That is, we have been looking at your choices as they affect who and what you are, but it is important now to look at them also as what they do to the shared subjectivity that you call “the world.”

Overcoming the split between metaphysics and “practical” studies.

It is the same old story: You can only examine one facet of a subject at a time, but when you have gotten a handle on it, you can either move to examine a different facet, or you can move to relate what you have just examined to a larger whole. Another way to say the same thing is, You can then move to reexamine it, only including elements previously omitted or excluded.

I was thinking after yesterday’s session, maybe it would be possible to summarize the world-view you have been giving us in three parts: Life as extensions of the larger being we extend from, life as cooperative enterprise among us all, and life as it appears to us as we live it. Not that I am promising to do it, nor assuming that I could do it. But the point is, this sounds like we’re going to go over the same ground in one sense (our 3D life as we experience it) but in so different a context (the 3D world we create together as we live our separate lives) as to be really almost a different subject.

That’s the sense of it. Assuming you by now are accustomed to thinking of yourselves as extensions of your larger beings, now we are going to pay more attention to what it is that happens as you live choosing.

Big subject. I’ll be interested to see how we go about it.

Well, we have already begun. Hold that image of cooperative enterprise that is the building of the railway roadbed.

And as I get up to get some more coffee, I think, maybe it wasn’t merely coincidence that I have spent my entire life immersed in history.

No, not quite a coincidence.

Now, let’s look again at the lives you lead. You come into a life with certain predilections, certain potentials. You are inserted into a given time and place, with its own conditions. That time and place exist independent of you in one sense (they wouldn’t cease to exist if you weren’t there) and are dependent upon you in a different sense (you are a part of the whole, which would be incomplete without you).

You will undoubtedly say, “incomplete without you” may refer to an Abraham Lincoln or any prominent man or woman in a given time, but surely not to the anonymous Joe or Joan whose lives are lived in obscurity. And in this reaction you would be right and wrong. Right, in that a relative few people fill a role that affects a given time deeply. Wrong, in that most of what you do is invisible to each other and, indeed, to yourselves, so that you don’t really see how little the term “obscure” means. If you are an extra in a movie, yes, you don’t influence it in any noticeable way, but you are still an essential part in the movie while being an actor.

I think you mean to say, extra in one movie, maybe a speaking part in another, and even a star in a third.

There is that, but that isn’t quite what we mean. And, in fact, our analogy doesn’t do very well what we employed it for, but it can be used in a different way. “Extras in a movie” is how you see yourselves, often enough, when you judge your life as it pertains to the “external” world. Yet no 3D being is an extra in its own movie. How could it be?

Perhaps this is a diversion, but I noticed the other day, you seem to have decided to overcome the pronoun problem by using “its” instead of his or her, etc.

“Its” has the unfortunate attribute of seeming to imply an inanimate nature, or – in the case of animals – at least a non-human nature. All we can say is, it is a linguistically difficult problem to avoid the appearance of gender bias, so we have decided to avoid it altogether. This also has the side-effect, perhaps, of reminding you that you are expressions of a non-3D being that includes all the attributes of gender without being confined to either, or any, depending upon how you see it.

Just wanted to get it on the record. It isn’t a totally satisfactory solution, but I can see that it will help keep our eye on the ball, once we get used to it.

Now, you are thinking, 50 minutes and seven pages, and we haven’t gotten very far, but we remind you, that has been your reaction many times, and ultimately we have come to new ground not only without losing you but making it seem familiar and well-understood.

Okay, Mr. Tortoise.

Slow and steady may or may not win the race, but it does  provide a stable platform.

So what did we accomplish today?

We have begun to change the focus. Your 3D lives mean something when considered as 3D expressions. They are not just irrelevant background while you choose how and what you as a part of the larger being are going to be.

That is, it is important that Lincoln freed the slaves, or that Washington held the patriots together, or that Edison invented the light bulb.

Or that Georgia O’Keefe painted or Gertrude Stein wrote or that Grace Kelly acted and became a princess, yes.

And it isn’t a ten-minute disquisition to relate inner and outer.

Might take eleven or even twelve.

So today’s theme was?

Call it Refocusing.

And tomorrow’s (or whenever’s)?

Let’s glance at history and the vast impersonal forces. This may go in any of several ways, depending upon the moment.

Very well. Thanks as always.

 

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