🪟 28 - Entering the psychical universe
Frame & Axiom #28 (Part 4): On our subjective patterns and predispositions, and why the question 'who am I?' is inevitable.
Table of contents
PART 1: NATURE » on the relation between man and nature: man as feeble and the consequence of forces.
PART 2: JUSTNESS: » on the relation between man and justness: reality as court and canvas.
PART 3: MIRRORS » on the relation between man and others: the necessity of love and compassion toward the ill, that is, us all.
PART 4: IDEALS
Entering the psychical universe
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🪟 Entering the psychical universe
My fellow sufferer,
There is a universe that supersedes all other universes. I have sought the source from which everything flows, and I can go no deeper than the psychical. The reality of the psyche, the subject, the ‘I’ — that is what predominates in the given order of things.
Now, my sense is that this goes against the scientific inclination of the modern age, which puts an emphasis on the physical and objective. It is a doctrine I myself grew up in, after all. If I recall correctly, the scientific bias would frame the objective realm as the origination of everything, for everything is a measure of the material — all things the make up of measurable atoms and molecules, nerves and neurons, frequencies and waves, time and space — and consciousness exists within this frame. My view is otherwise, that the psychical universe precedes the physical, or that the subjective precedes the objective. Personally, I have found this order to be much more complete, which is why I am taking it upon myself to write all of this. It is no straightforward task, so bear with me as I unearth my own perspective.
To begin, let us take in reality as it appears before us, in this very instant. There is no need for abstractions. I am looking at the here and now — my own here and now as I am writing this, having you in mind.
Look! See how you have these senses. See how they give rise to everything before you. How remarkable! With them, you wake up every day a part of this palpable, grand universe. It is all so immense and succulent. Worthy of awe. The sort of universe God Himself declares to be “very good”Yet if you savoured it properly on your tastebuds — swishing it around to get its aromas the way you would with a sip of wine — you would have also made out a strong hint of mystery in its aftertaste. Indeed, the universe is as wine served from the shadows. Inquirer, my fellow guest in reality’s banquet, see how everything is so inexplicable! Perhaps this mysterious aura is the reason for the arousing, fine quality of its experience. But the table is still set, and your glass filled with wine that takes an eternity to fully savour. What will you do, if not take each allotted sip with curiosity and intrigue at each specification? Now, my fellow guest, let us raise our glasses once more to a toast, swish around one good sip, and notice the tones of what we have been served. In one sip there are a multitude of tones — such unique tones — if only we were not numbed to them because of how many times we have sipped it. I will now try to take on the task of the sommelier, and try to illuminate some of these tones to you.
See, though you may have forgotten it, this reality you are tasting is quite special. Its foremost tones are concentrated in the realm of experience; your psychical universe, starting with your perceptive machinery. To demonstrate what it is, however, I will begin firstly by demonstrating what it is not.
Why does reality present itself the way it does, and not as something else… say, a quantum universe? I am no physicist, but my elementary guess is that it is simply too small to perceive. Thus, I detect a particular flavour here — a perceptive predisposition — that you observe, interpret and act within a specified scale of size. Your imagination provides you assistance in reaching the far sides of the scale, helping you to comprehend objects down to size of subatomic particles and up to the size of solar systems (quite astoundingly!), but it is a given that your operating model of reality is tuned to a certain scale of size, which carries its own dynamics. If you were shrunk down to the size of bacteria, everything would certainly be alien and perplexing. Interesting. Let us keep going with this thought exercise.
Why does reality not present itself as a harmonic universe? Perhaps your ears are simply not attuned enough to it. An alternate reality is quite conceivable where man is like dolphins or bats, navigating the physical reality by detecting frequencies. Or another reality where man speaks the language of the resonance patterns underlying the Chaldni figures. The particular flavour here is that you observe, interpret and act predominantly using the sense of sight, through the medium of imagery. Quite fittingly, the word one uses to point another to any other thing, is “see”! Now also, why does reality not present itself as a mathematical universe? An alternate reality is quite conceivable where man navigates by sensing the algebraic, arithmetic and geometric qualities in everything before him. But as for us, within the unique combinations in reality as it is given, numbers are simply too abstract for use. We are not perceptively or mentally predisposed to it. The particular flavour here is that you navigate reality predominantly for use. In practical terms. As it pertains to you. And this, I think… is one of our most fundamental predispositions.
Man is a meaning-making machine. Inquirer, as a fellow subject, your predisposition is just like mine — you have to ascribe a certain meaning to everything, as it pertains to you. Last time round, as I was writing about the solipsistic nature of experience, I could hear the inner voice of a reader exclaiming: yes, well, reality is interpretative until you walk into a pond! Certainly, but that is not inconsistent with my framing, and this is how. Let us take water, for example. You do not perceive water by its physical properties, that it is a clear fluid made up of hydrogenic and oxygenic particles. That is insignificant insofar as it is of no use to you. The significance of water is as its effects pertain to your use — that it is a thing you can drink and therefore gain sustenance from, or in a body, a thing to swim in for leisure or sport, and equally a thing you could drown in. The meaning you ascribe to a thing is reverent to the laws that permeate it, since those laws are implicit within the contents of that which is interpreted. And so nothing here is in denial or at odds with the laws of physics.
Now, I can offer plenty more examples! If you were to just look around you — in every solid cuboid, you see a stool or step ladder. In every hollow cuboid, a container, or if it is large enough, something you could be trapped in. In every small sphere, a ball, or something you could trip on. In everything pointed, a weapon, or a hazard. Equally, with other persons, you ascribe a meaning, or an interpretation, for yourself — something to exploit, or something to love; or equally, where you could be exploited or loved. The matter with things is what you can do with it, or, threateningly, what might it do to you. That is what I mean when I refer to the physical reality as an interpretative, operating model. It is how our machinery is wired! Even the thought of rebelling against it is inconceivable.
I still feel that more scaffolding is called for, so I have another angle to offer. This time, look at reality not with fresh eyes, but with aged eyes — the eyes of one with a history. Inquirer, recall your life at its earliest stages! You had not developed quite enough to parse through the mad multiplicity. You saw reality in its infant form — reality as it sustains you. This and that satiates my hunger. This and that makes me feel safe. This and that amuses me. All you saw were uses. Now, returning to my example object of water, let us imagine that you tried drinking water for the very first time. You identified it and realised its relevance: ah… water quenches my thirst. Wonderful. You arrive at the conclusion unconsciously, as you are predisposed, that the effect of thirst-quenching is desirable, and that it is achievable by ingesting fluids with the same sort of appearance. When you next stumble upon a cup of water elsewhere and it coheres to this model, this cause-effect relation proves reliable and weight is added to it. And so it continues, on and on, until you stumble upon an elegant-looking bottle of water in Siberia that turned out to be hard liquor, then you would react accordingly (!!) and your operating model would evolve to doubt it. Or you might even fear it, if it was terrifying enough.
Now, has this impulse ever really changed? I am certain it has not. As an infant, reality-as-experienced began clumped as a rough, confused mass. Over time and repetition, you shaped, sharpened, and clarified your senses and your interpretation of sense data, and now your operating model encompasses layers upon layers of compounded data. Though now you are now in adulthood, the predispositions still remain, since you operate with the same machinery. You continue thinking in this manner: this and that satiates my hunger. This and that makes me feel safe. This and that amuses me. Except, your model of causes (“this and that”) is now exponentially more precise, and your model of effects (“hunger”, “safety” and “amusement”) has expanded from finitudes into infinitudes, accompanied by the flowery vocabulary you have cultivated. Indeed, see how your comprehension has grown beyond your basic requirements for food, water and shelter, and into soulful quests for identity, meaning and love. How and when in the heavens did you cross the bridge from the body into the cosmos?
But here lies the origins of our predicament. You see, any significant object is incomplete if it is without meaning or interpretation. Any relevant effect is incomplete if it is without cause. Where a relevant effect does not correspond to a known cause, our machinery classifies it as unknown, and that is where where the alarm bell of incoherence is rung — where anxiety and dread rears its ugly head. It is always this causeless effect that always lurks behind a dumbfounded, puzzling ‘why’? and equally the anxiety-inducing ‘who am I?’ which through its anxiety implies a hidden question, ‘why am I?’ Inquirer! Have you realised yet where I am getting at? The Self, the origin of all things, is itself an effect without a cause. Everything is enjoyable, manageable, until… oh boy! … until the source from which everything flows loses its own footing, until it saw that the buoyant waters on which it was flailing about were hallucinations, and that it has in apparent fact always been dangling over an abyss. You are confounded beyond belief, desperate for relief, and it is a magnitude that threatens any once-held sense of safety. Your soul is at perils. If you are not careful, dear inquirer — if you do not find something solid to stand on, you may be terrified to the point of being at a loss of appetite.
Though you suffer these things to yourself (since you are to yourself), you persist on your daily tasting of life, recurring all action and narration, despite doing it all on unjustifiable grounds, and with a constant state of angst. You continue to sip the wine, listen to the glasses clink, and the sound of fellow guests slurping their wines, along with the chatter; yet, you will always find the alarm bell of incoherence ringing in the background, like the buzz of an elusive mosquito that will not miss a beat. But pray, do not fall into the trap of thinking yourself special, inquirer. You are no better or worse off than others for your anxiety over the question ‘who am I’? Our fellow guests from centuries past have already said it: everything is absurd. The question is the mere consequence of your predispositions — a logical response in the face of life’s unjustifiable misery. It flows from a foremost flavour of this odd wine you have been served. It is only the natural response.
Inquirer, with this I have managed a brief account of the abyss and relayed my impressions. I will traverse more deeply into the thick and thin as I go, but for next time, I think we have reached the point where we should try to alight into some manner of light.
Till next time,
There is a fascinating YouTube video from BRIGHT SIDE that visualizes this vividly: What If You Shrunk to Bacteria Size Suddenly
‘Relevance realisation’ is a conceptualisation by John Vervaeke that has to do with this.
Beginning with Kierkegaard in the 1800s, and popularised later on with writers like Camus.