The Interface: The ionizing layer

After yesterday’s fiasco, I don’t know where we are or how you want to proceed.

We wouldn’t call it a fiasco. Interesting to watch you redefine things as you go. Your reaction may serve to illustrate, in fact.

We were proceeding smoothly. We hit a speed bump. We had to stop and reconsider our path. You and we, thinking together. But then after the session your life continued, and you drifted from calm interest and quiet anticipation of whatever would come next, to an uneasy sense of failure, and a disturbing wondering if in fact what we were doing couldn’t be done. The lapse of a few hours loosened your grasp of what had been said, and in the absence of a secure ledge to grasp, you felt like you were floating nowhere. All of this might look like thought; we point out, it is emotion.


Certainly. Emotions and feelings don’t have to come with sirens and horns and galloping drama. In fact, they do that only in a minority of time and events. You couldn’t stand it if that were the norm. Everybody knows at least one relatively hysterical person, probably: Consider if your life were to be lived at that level of ill-controlled intensity, all the time. You’d burn out your fuses.

No, emotions and feelings are more typically your interface with what seem to be “external” events. Nothing more, nothing less. They color your lives, but not arbitrarily and not because they have their own nature or their own necessities. They color your lives in the way that a returning space capsule would be lit up by the friction of re-entry.

I know what you mean, but you haven’t said it. You mean, the friction of reentry at 18,000 mph, or whatever it was, caused heat so hot that it ionized the atmosphere around it, sort of creating an envelope of fire between the air and the heat shield. You are comparing emotions to the ionization layer, I think.

Not a bad analogy in some ways, you see. That ionization layer was not a thing in itself that interposed itself. It was created, and briefly functioned, and then dissipated as the conditions causing it ceased. That is emotion in your lives.

That is a pretty vivid analogy.

Fire and things associated with fire are in many ways analogous to your lives in general and to particular aspects of your lives. Fire requires heat, fuel, and oxygen, and does not function without all three. The three may exist without manifesting fire, but fire will not exist in the absence of any of the three factors. In the absence of its actual physical manifestation, though, fire is only a concept! Or, let’s say, only a potential. It isn’t like fire continues to exist, unmanifested. No, it comes into existence and it goes out of existence in specific instances, therefore at specific times and in specific places. It doesn’t exist on a shelf somewhere, waiting to be activated. Similarly, emotions.

And to continue with the analogy, fire doesn’t have to be a wildfire. It may be a cheering campfire. Drama is not necessarily its accompaniment, you see.

Now if you get the idea of the emotions and feelings as interface between your circumscribed 3D life (as experienced from within 3D, we mean), and the external shared subjectivity it exists in, perhaps what we are getting at will be clearer.

It gives me an image of us always in reentry.

Let’s adjust the analogy, then. Consider emotions and feelings to be like the laminar flow between a moving object and the medium it is moving through.

That’s an interesting image.

Surfaces may be streamlined or not, slippery or not, aerodynamically efficient or not. In any case, they still have to accomplish the same basic task; they are the interface between internal subjectivity and shared subjectivity. Or rather, the surface is the base for the interface.

Yes, I see that. Our psychological makeup will determine the general pattern of our interactions. It is the hull, or the aircraft’s skin. The interaction between our way of responding to the world and the world itself is the active interface, the ionization layer or the ripples of air or water caused by our passage.

And in the nature of things, you tend to identify with that ionization layer, when you ought to be identifying with the skin composition. They are not your emotions; they are the phenomena that appear in certain situations. They appear personal to you because they reflect your signature, but they are not “yours” any more than the molecules of atmosphere being ionized by a reentering spacecraft are the property of the spacecraft.

So this ought to clear up the questions around definition of feelings and emotions. It is more a question of context than of substances. Is fire from a campfire objectively different from a fiery reentry from space or from the wildly destructive open fires in forest land? You could say “Yes,” in examining things closely enough, or you could say “No” in concentrating on what characteristics they share. But except for the purpose of analysis, it’s pretty academic. It doesn’t help you live your lives. The analogy of an ionizing layer of air, though, may.

All I can say is that at least at this moment, while I’m actively linked, it seems clear and extremely vivid. More so than I can remember any description of emotion being.

You can see that fire, being considered as an abstract, has so many potential forms of manifestation that the commonality may be all but lost among the variations. Well, that’s emotions in your lives. Emotions may be calm, stormy, destructively rending. They may elate, depress, disorient, fulfill.

Or rather, they may register such states?

No, not exactly. We know it can look like that.

The key thing to take away from this, along with that vivid image of the ionizing layer protecting the reentering spacecraft from the effects of its interaction with a relatively unvarying environment (relatively unvarying in relation to it, we mean), is that that layer is generated by the interaction of two different things. That’s the important thing here.

Taking our 3D lives to be the reentering spacecraft and the shared subjectivity, the “external” world, to be the relatively incompressible atmosphere.

Yes, only don’t confine it to that one dramatic example. Remember, emotion is the interface between your personal subjectivity and the shared subjectivity, so it is the smoothness or roughness of the canoe’s skin as it makes its way in the water. It is the comforting light and warmth of the campfire, interacting with the darkness and coolness it interrupts. It is the holding hands while strolling, or the cuddling one’s baby, or the fist-fight in the schoolyard. It is the inner lightbulb going on when a new concept suddenly gels, and the satisfaction when one gets wording just right, or completes a painting without ruining it.

Clear enough, at least at the moment.

Just hold that concept (only, hold it lightly!) of emotion as the interface between you as you experience yourselves and the “external” world as you experience it. We can build on that.

Perhaps not so much a fiasco?



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