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Category Archives: being

The last post (see below) discussed being and its presence in philosophy. In that post, I suggested that being is potent when it symbolizes the mystery of being alive and its wonderment. Here, I wish to offer up being as the canvas or paper upon which words depend in order to exist. On this canvas sound can become words. Out of my body, I can emit vocalizations, “Aaaa! Aaaa! Aaaa!” which, with the help of tongue and mouth can become “Lover! Forest! Running!” They can become, “Anguish! Ecstasy! Grief!” They can become words. In sign language, the hands become a tongue and mouth and words become visually heard. Words are a type of language. Language can be seen as a bridge – anything that expresses or communicates, connecting us to another. The design of a city is a language, the design of an art piece is a language. The design of a mathematical equation is a language. Gestures, facial expressions, touch, energy are language in action.

Simultaneously, language can refer more specifically to vocal communication. The word “language” comes from the Latin word for “tongue” – we can see this link more evidently in the Romantic languages more so than in English – tongue is “la lengua” in Spanish and “la langue” in French. The tongue shapes the sounds our vocal chords emit into different identities. And these sounds can hold meaning for the speaker and for those who hear. But from where does this meaning come? Do the sounds themselves carry a “meaning”? If we think of meaning as sensation and sensation as sentiment, yes! Fire. . . ffffffiiiiiiirrrrrre feels warm, hot, cozy, terrifying. The words can carry felt experiences. And when I say “fire,” I bring into my body the external experiences of witnessing fire. From within, I can say and/or think “fire” with no fire present, it multiply-exists as a concept, or an idea, as well as an event, as well as a word, as well as countless felt experiences.

Words can rest together in patterns and in relationships to each other. Noun, verb, adjective. Subject, verb, predicate. We paint these relationships onto canvas, onto being, and being holds them together. These relationships can go beyond the tidy relationships we have constructed as grammatically and logically correct, and the “meaning” can transcend the patterns, roles and definitions of the words that we have given them in rational discourse. This extravagance beyond the rules is being and is the work of poets and other writers who “smith” words to allow more sensations and often, paradoxical meanings to come through them.

Smithing can be playing with words and letters out of context, writing their irregularities, irreverently wedding them or maniacally repeating them or unpredictably dividing them – any act that allows words to include in their multi-tasking the allowance of a fleeting revelation, an elusive epiphany to be felt for a moment. Words, are after all, not only bridges to “understanding” but also bridges to the mysterious being of their canvas, as well as to each other. As well, they are bridges between humans and they are bridges forming (and at times wedding) my autobiographical selves living and dying in this body. We can fall into words, fall into being and swim and sink and rise to the top and float and swim and sink and rise to the top and float and swim and sink and rise to the top and float.

And through them, with them, we can feel alive miraculously.

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Philosophy is an intimidating word for many, however, our culture and our perception are based on philosophical assumptions that once unveiled, can show us fascinating aspects of our beliefs about ourselves and the world.

Here, in the West, we inherit a certain assumption about humanity that is based on “being”. But, what is it “to be”? Most of us think of actual physical presence as being, but, philosophy asks, what is the foundation for our perceptions of this external world, and also of our internal, subjective experiences? How is it that we think we know what is going on with our existence?

Traditionally, here in the West, we believe we know what is going on when we “understand” something about it. Now we must ask, how do we create understanding? The short, traditional answer is mind. We have assumed that mind can commune with the foundation of our perceptions, and that the foundation of our perceptions is being. Tuning into being allows us to understand.

While being does have a long and varied philosophical history, over the centuries, it has taken on a certain identity of structure and order, an order that is mirrored by human understanding. This so-called “understanding” has been limited, largely, to mind and mind has been narrowed to intellect, and intellect is thought to be ruled best by “rational capacity” or by the principles that constitute Logic, the science of correct thinking.

Over the centuries, philosophy, which has the demonstrated potential to be much wider than “rational inquiry” has become restricted to it.

This project challenges this fundamental assumption about being and understanding. Logic and rational thinking are incredibly useful, and this project does not attempt to denounce them as useless. However, it advocates the notion that rational thinking can be aided by leaving room for and by valuing that which is outside our rational understanding – the unknown, the mystery, the beyond – as is. Philosophy, even here in the West, historically has been informed by such a view, even though now it is considered quite questionable.

Leaving room for the “beyond intellectual understanding” involves respecting a sort of seeing that is not derived through rational inquiry and explanation. This seeing is not synonymous with understanding. Instead, it is more of allowing “not knowing” to be the basis of our existence. Within this project, being becomes something more than logical order, or rational structure. While it may carry them as possibilities, it itself is always already “beyond intellect”.

Impressions of our existence, of being, can be sensed outside of our intellect. These impressions, if we allow them, can then impact our intellectual endeavors. This project delivers impressions I received after studying philosophy of the body and language, impressions that lost their information when formulated into rational explanation.