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among evolving characters
April 17, 2011

You might be amazed at the audacity of some academic minds (often due to tenure, I suppose), generating wonderfully courageous work (amid much unremarkable stuff by others). For example, after I wrote the following (beyond the first horizontal line below), I vaguely recalled the ethos of a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, a leading psychologist of adolescence, of “flow,” and of creativity; and an originator of positive psychology as a seriously-academic field, around the turn of the millennium. In the early ’90s, MC wrote The Evolving Self (published 1993), which—in retrospect—seems like a manifesto anticipating great strides in cognitive science, humanistic psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and other fields. I read his book in 1993 and loved it, which fed into an ongoing, humongous project I shelved in the mid-‘90s because I knew too little to do what I wanted to do.

I began again in the late ‘90s. The Project continues, as I’m very confident I’m going a good way.
But I’d forgotten about MC’s book, recalled today. Look at these chapter headings: Part I: The Lure of the Past: ch. 1: The Mind and History; 2: Who Controls the Mind?; 3: The Veils of Maya; 4: Predators and Parasites; 5: Memes versus Genes. Part II: The Power of the Future: ch. 6: Directing Evolution;
7: Evolution and Flow; 8: The Transcendent Self; 9: The Flow of History; and 10: A Fellowship of the Future.

So, my title for this page (written directly after revising “once upon a time” today) implicitly recalls decades of interest, even before the ‘90s.

1 | Intangibility of tangible experience is derivative of one’s intangible time, bringing imagination and remembrance to things or letting peripherality gravitate into mind. Something of attention may be anything, likely no thing (in the tangible sense): another person or a psychal phenomenon. An inanimate tangible is enlivened by granting it a pretense of animacy, its animacy, as if being a psychal other, like we are. This is far more appealing than regarding animate phenomena as inanimate (or not being open to finding vivacity latent to inanimate things). Yet, both as others are more appealing (other persons, as well as other things), the more that imagination and memory can find in them potential brought to bear as belonging to them. Inner-directing (outer directed) interest may be endlessly informed by outer-directing (inner-directed) experience (such a carnival of life and things the ever-surprising world can be!), but the potential of mind brought to given things grants the endlessness, at best like another person’s potential instilled there. Given self/other differences may be outerly informed (outer directing, found, disclosed, borne) or innerly informed (inner directing, made, instilled, granted). Phenomena are, at best, like intelligent others, yet others are only as appreciable as oneself, i.e., through one’s ownmost capability for appreciation. So, phenomenality is intrinsically liminal, between outer- and inner-directing potential resonating in its worldliness, a liminality of outer-/inner-worldliness.

2 | A diminished mode of this (typical of pre-20th century life and children) is to conceive “natural” worldliness as outer-sourced orientation toward tangible phenomenality, a developmental limitation on the potential of phenomena (not yet imagined as possible) that egoistically requires a stark differentiation of mindal (“spiritual”) worldliness as inner-sourced (directing) orientation toward intangible phenomenality that is expressly not part of the tangible world.

3 | Given the stark boundary, inner-sourced orientation to tangible phenomenality must displace the basis of its personifications as a distinctly inner spirit of the thing or absent creator of nature. Given the stark boundary, outer-sourced orientation to intangible phenomenality (self reflection) must displace the basis of possession as a distinctly outer spirit or immanent creator (a possessor other than oneSelf).

4 | With such innocent (but retrospectively recognizable as diminished) differencing inflated to world-constitutive proportions, a mind seeks to purify itself of nature, in order to eternalize the atemporally Given Difference of intelligent life.

5 | Disclosed temporality of developmental and evolutionary reality dissolves the atemporal Difference into the missing dimension of differential (evo-devo) Time expressed ontogenically. (The religious mind has yet to get with the program.)

6 | So it goes with the promise of the good planet: that intelligence of Earth gives way to modern humanity, where love of individuation, creative insightfulness, goodness, and truth dwell nebulously as our evolutionary ethic (I would argue), now a hyperNet metropolis Appropriating the planet for its self-designing play (quite evidently), there being so much reflecting mindality (extended, distributed planetarily) or inworldness (evo-devo): worlds of Selves and selfnesses (selfidentities) in their worlds—so much phenomenality contained, containing, being held holding engivenness enacting granting bearing flowing life....

7 | Any degree of theorized presence, no matter the number of contributors theorizing, faces the universal value of all cohering (i.e., that It All coheres), as if one texting mind could be a god disclosing the Theory of Everything, the consilience of all domains—as if some Archive fever is to be resolved in a new Good Book of Life, some ultimately Literary (if not genomic or mathematical) dwelling.

8 | The high scale of inquirial venturing belongs to everyone and no one, as we’re all still children of a species that likely has several billion years ahead of us (destined by the nature of intelligent life to become no longer recognizably our species soon, given the exponential character of our evolving).

9 | So, one does a little in a life, like the cathedral builders whose willed legacy is some great Unfinishedness whose design changes with the generations. The Appropriate complexity of truly evolutionary ecothinking is beyond anyone, I imagine (like theoretical physicists surmising that intelligence on Earth hasn’t evolved to be able yet to disclose the mathesis of our real universe—among “universes”: in a multiversality that begins again sometime—They say, these days—as if a cycle of life belongs to the gods, too).

10 | Our leading characters are, at best, philosophical poetics now, probably lacking the mental resourcefulness (speaking for myself, at least—certainly not as a leading character—Ha!) to ultimately understand our planetarily mindal evolutionarity as such.

“He gathered the entire Library into himself—pretending one could—so many textual windows arranged into a grandly crystalline, yet organic, beauty topologically folding into itself to grow new dimensions of paths weaving to further his silly innocence of psychoconceptual venturing.”

11 | Yet, there’s some kind of self-formativity—selformativity (autotelicing?)—in a living transliminality (generativity) of entrancing a phenomenon, a time, a weave.

Beyond common sublimation, beyond a Romantic Sublime, beyond ontological longing, there can be a “transcendental” character to inquirial aspiration that’s wholly worldly.

Yet, it’s ultimately only, at best, a character, destined for enframing in time.