Truth, consciousness and cats

I have an over-scrupulous outlook on truth: It should be absolute – with everyone, everywhere, everytime, especially between those you care about or most trust. 

But it can’t be. We’re all liars when we need to be, whatever the need may be – uplifting or repulsive, noble or degrading.

And necessarily so.

Think about what you would need to say – when, how and to whom – to be entirely, soul-baringly, unflinchingly honest at all times, in all situations. And think about the repercussions.

Most times we don’t want the truth, even when we think we do. We hold a candle to temporarily ward off the darkness we can’t name, and we think honesty will provide the absolving light.

Truth can seldom be formulated, far less articulated. There is no “truth”; so, no “reality.”

That can sound pretty negative, but it’s also a release. If there is no truth – no fully definable reality – we’re free to scratch our heads and decide that what we’re seeing today is as good as yesterday, as good as the often specious reasoning of Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Jesus, Buddha or your own personal religiopholosophic boogeyman.

Philosophy and religion have not found truth. So what will anything that I, you or today’s muckers proclaim look like tomorrow?

Yet, we have to start somewhere.

(Don’t we?)

*   *

Speaking of philosophy (which, for the  most part, I try not to do), I find the idea of “moral philosophy” so much hogwash. Morality is a concept which differs for each individual human being. I don’t see how you can define, codify or justify “morality” on a cosmic scale, and anything less is mind games. It’s easy enough to say “the psychopath (or the ex-president) has no morality,” but likely their unhinged obsessions occupy pretty much the same realm as “morality” does for the religious or the righteous.

*   *

I have a continuing feeling of personal waste and failure. I once thought I had immense potential, but its realization has peeked around the corner and glared at me.

*   *

Much of this segment goes back to a note I sent out months (years?) back, so if it sounds annoyingly repetitious, just toss it.

The study of consciousness is getting major play these days, especially in the area of neurophysiology. For some (most) researchers, it’s tightly, even inextricably, tied to the idea of “self.” In part that’s because they can’t agree on the exact definition of either term. But here’s a real-life experience that I think feeds into the discussion. 

Back at Baring St. in Philly, lying in the cuddling warmth of our marvelous clawfoot bathtub, I fell asleep. Some time later, something awoke. It presumable occupied my mind, but it was not me. It was pre-being devoid of all knowledge. It did not realize that it existed. It not only did not know what it was, it did not know that it was. It was raw consciousness having a fearing sense of wonder, but without a wonderer. 

Slowly, forms – feet, water, the faucets at the front of the tub – became, but they meant nothing because this pre-entity had no concept of meaning. In time it became a something, with separateness. Then knowledge, background and memory slowly crept in. In more time it became me.

In all of the science and literature that I’ve read, I’ve found no description close to what that pre-I experienced. It remains the only experience in my life that I see as unique to myself. Everything else I’ve felt, thought about, conceived of, has reference. This has none.

How can such a thing – such a non-thing – erupt… erasing, for a moment, all recognition of existence?  In its simplest outline, it was consciousness without a sense of self – which I otherwise think of as an impossibility.

*   *

I don’t personally believe in telepathy or other forms of mind-share. And I wish I did. In the ’60s I spent many months studying the writings of J.B. Rhine in the U.S. and Samuel Soal in the U.K., also some of the Russians who had been doing various forms of experiments to identify ESP (U.S.) or psi (U.K.) possibilities. It’s now usually lumped together as parapsychology. 

I wanted it all to be so. But by the end, I became convinced that it has no serious underpinnings. Rhine and his decks of patterned cards with symbols that his subjects were supposed to envision without seeing them seemed more silly that enlightening. And years later I read that Soal had so manipulated his data (much of it based on a single subject, Shackleton) that it verged on – or passed into – fraud.

But… (some of us have bigger buts than others) there’s Tigger, the world’s most wonderful cat. I call to him when he’s off wandering; he seldom answers or immediately appears, yet five minutes later I turn and find him standing a couple paces behind me. Nothing exceptional in that, really, by itself.

Yet, other times I’ll be thinking, for no good reason, “I wonder what Tigger is up to?” Again, a couple minutes later, he’s standing where he wasn’t. It happens often enough to seem eerie.

So, at least thee possible explanations:

1) he picks up a query from my mind and responds; 2) I pick up a query from his – I think about him because he was already thinking about me; 3) I ignore or discount the more numerous negative instances when he does not respond or appear.

I want the explanation to be one of the first two; I strongly suspect it’s the third. And it’s hard to do a statistical analysis based on the fluctuating maybes of the human and cat minds.

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