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liminalities of phenomenal life
october 25, 2011 | slight revision August 2017 / May 2020

In 2-D graphing, the X/Y axis is virtually perpendicular to one’s line of sight. Relative to that, 3-D graphing calls the line of sight the Z-axis (though we simulate 3D graphing perspectivally on the page). A difference on an X/Y plane (a difference, say, on a photograph) undergoes a profound change by there being the third dimension we take for granted in depth perception (i.e., the image is always a reduction of normally-embodied or bi-ocular experience). 3D is just incomprehensible in a planar world (but we virtually project depth into the plane because that’s how the lived world is). From the perspective of a planar world, movement of something into the third dimension simply disappears (a bug’s life; or the kids in the neighborhood playing hide-and-seek who fail to look up into a climbable tree). We reduce our dimensionality of attention when we regard an image simply as image: a 2D phenomenon “absent” the dimension of looking (the complement of there being depth) or absent attention to perceiving (which is more than looking) or framing (selectivity of attention).

Formal Art has been at times obsessed with this reduction, dramatizing it and questioning it (bursting the surface with stark strokes emblemizing the enacting of the work). Inattention to the perceiving of the perceived is a nonconsciousness (I prefer nonattentiveness of attentionality) of one’s enacting.

Willful refusal of attention to this (ignore-ance of enactivity) is usually “justified” by the confusion easily evinced by reflective attention. “I don’t want to talk about The Relationship.” But dear heart, that’s like fish not wanting to attend to there being water—which, I grant, they indeed do not attend to, like babies attending first to what is happening, slowly gaining vague cognizance of their doing (especially as Mommy so enjoys telling Baby that s/he’s doing things). Some of us grow up largely nonattentive, some confidently attentive, some anxiously attentive, some loving to play stances, ever curious how the play’s the thing.

Anyway, our proximally-profound difference that we variably live is between enacting and the act (which is different from what the act is about: There’s 3D enacting of a 2D act—framed canvas—about something in a time-framed space).

Indeed, we live in time frames. Relative to 3D attention, moving into the 4th dimension is simply to disappear. Forgetting is the great background of ignoring one’s enacting or enactivity. Imagination does our resolving of incongruous emergents we otherwise have go away.

Like a resonance of perceiving/perceived, there’s a resonance of there-is / is-there. Relative to outerworldliness of the perceiving, the perceived is innerworldliness. Relative to given memory (or what’s forgotten), the remembering is hidden (like the forgetting). This is not news, of course, being as ordinary to Literature as to psychotherapies. But a mental science of this is largely mystery, as minds are largely inaccessible to empirical designs. (For example, a behaviorally-named capacity can be vaguely mapped as active in various areas of the brain, when it’s observes to be effective; but nothing is known about the neurophysiology of how it is a capacity.)

Researchers get excited by finding relationships between the behavior of “mirror-neuron” clusters and construal of another’s intentions (so-called “mindreading” in controversies between “theory-theory of mind” and “simulational theory of mind”). Yet, the subtleties of reading the other in Literature (analytically reading a great writer’s reading of characters reading each other) puts the “insightfulness” of cognitive neuroscience to shame, it seems to me.

In particular, modeling healthy adult mindreading is not about synchronic solipsists without diachronic background bonds trying to discern the other’s personhood. We live in temporal continuities of relationship which ontogenically formed, from heartful kindredness to normative civility with others presumed to be like oneself more-or-less reliably. Any relationship can become more or less fluid in its degree of bonds.

Relative to my recent differencing: Given an ambiguity of [a] outer irt given and [b] inner irt hidden, there is an interpersonal interplay that builds separate understandings of what’s given, what’s hidden, where each participates in the other’s growth of reliable construal, together building shared understanding of each other—for each person a resonance of [a] interpreting the other’s outerliness ([self] presentation) and [b] construing the other’s innerliness (inferring the hidden self-like-me or emerging enrichment of myself). The better the solidarity-to-intimacy fluidity (albeit rarely highly good), the less of an implicit issue so-called mindreading is. So, what’s the nature of rapport in great friendship or in intimacy whose liminality of inter- and intra- variably dissolves?

How delicious cognitivist humanities may become depends on the richness of sensibility there is to conceptually garden, not the scientificity of its model-theoretical venturing. The potential of intimacy in our presencing—call it psychal (inter- and intra-), philosophical, or poetic—belongs to our sensibilities, certainly subject to its ownmost string theories of mindal time-space. But minds are post-biological organons (I will eventually argue in much evidentiary detail).

How lovely can be resonances between anticipation and recall in designing futures in light of durable legacies, knowing an authentic appeal would not draw one if capability for fulfilling the appeal were not already real. Seeing the light is already proof of belonging there. An elating thing is proof, by appreciation, of the wealth of sensibility one already is. What is the science of that (lol)? (Granted, “positive psychology” is fascinating, especially relative to organizational life, especially relative to educational organizations, yet).

Possible intimacies of conceptual venturing inevitably depart a science of mind, I think, notwithstanding the latter’s importance for professional services and intrinsic appeals of academic consilience (whose “call” for discursive imagination is ultimately philosophical, in a postmetaphysicalist sense I’m anticipating).

In any case, the “nature” of mind is primordially intentional (as the phenomenality appealing, as if personified), a point integral to contemporary philosophy of mind (but misconceived, in my here-broadstroke opinion). Whereas science works best with theories of behavior (subject to metrics), we are primordially enactors, and the great documentation of that belongs to the humanities, especially Literary work (including drama and other arts inasmuch as our humanness is what matters).

The resonance of enacting reflected in an act (post facto to representation) implies (I note here, but this would need elaboration, maybe seeming to be nonsensenote to self):

  • differences of disclosure (receptiveness) irt construction (responsiveness) in construal;
  • unwittingly being directed (i.e., as-if directing, fated to be exposed in obstinacies of things) irt directing one’s efficacy;
  • fluidities of temporalized boundaries between what can be admitted irt what must remain hidden—non-conscious and un-conscious designs preserving indiscernibilities (e.g., issues of one’s era of comprehensibility and durability of control; resilience and resolve);
  • resonances of imagination irt perception (challenges welcomed? possibilities desired?);
  • and realities of self-consolidation bonded to one’s sustaining ecology that determines (unwittingly, most times) who’s In, who’s Out; what matters, what dies, what’s kept distant, who’s kindred, etc.

That may seem to be largely the stuff of clinical work, but it’s more the stuff of Literature. Minds are psychal ecologies. How highly so can that claim be made to go in a well-formed way (i.e., tenably)? Good question, you must admit. I’m being free associative now, but anticipating a well-formed venture.

Aspiring to comprehensively comprehend a manifold, many-layered investment and project-iveness that makes mindal life matter is peculiarly integral to the self-potentiating nature of mind. Comprehending the scale of that as highly as I can—whether or not that’s useful to others (a venture to be shared through this website)—is what I have in mind.

The venture I’m anticipating is only self-positing in a preliminary way, because It’s about anticipated results of working with others’ conceptions—leading ones, to my mind (across proximally incongruous domains). I anticipate that a durable consilience of sciences and humanities (thus any adequately comprehensive conception of academic humanity) would be ultimately a philosophy of mind, but in no ultimately self-referential way.

Ideally, comprehensive discursive integrations can be brought to work together in original ways (but fatefully as singular exemplification). I’m talking years here. But most of the conceptual topography has been done (but not presented online yet), and my choices of leading minds have settled (while new leading lights emerge, thank goodness).

Meanwhile, I’ll not cease having a good time. Let there always be aspiration for joyous, beautiful living (and inspired foolishness). That doesn’t distract me from appellant well-formedness I already know is feasible.

Such may seem to be largely the stuff of clinical confession, but it’s more the classical aspiration of philology, which is integral to our humanity as such. I’m a Child of post-postmodern times (betrothed to our evolving).

So, it’s my self-begetting challenge to show something tenable, relative to some comprehensive comprehension of our humanity?

Supposing my inability to do that (having humility, after all), ultimately failing in such aspiration by venturing as best I can might at least encourage some future talent that one day can master the challenges (to be at least well-articulated by me, I hope, if not well-exemplified in result), alreadly clearly anticipated by enthused consilients—anticipating some species of human yet unborn?—like anticipating the unborn physicist who will securely marry 11-dimensional strings and quantum gravity mathematically (e.g., the next Edward Witten).

Hey, we all have our fantasies; mine’s not egoistic. But it’s inspired. I’m satisfied to be a modest precursor in postmetaphysicalist philology (albeit in bed with various muses), like a fictionist gardening a grand dream of the land unfound (sending seafarers to their death—in my case: conceptual dancing dressed in lasting promise that turns readers away?)—as if our accelerating rate of cultural evolution will continue to accelerate, and writing to our futurity may be reliably more than foolish vertigo (rather, credibly tripping).

Well, so much for an evening.

Next: section 4 of “feeling for the ‘thing’.”


  Be fair. © 2020, gary e. davis