Monday November 26th 2012
In the annals of the word "catalepsy" and the words
"logical thinking," are the words "intuition," "animal magnetism," and
the name "Fredrick Anton Mesmer." It's a story that includes an
idea of "higher-ness." It inclines to the view that there are
conditions where a being can achieve insights through intuition and
feeling. That sort of soft peddled nuttiness which eschews the hard work
of rational study, painful hours in libraries and the whole range
of horrible disciplines and politics associated with Cathedrals of
Learning and maybe Grocery Stores. Mesmer took these cruel
disciplines to the idea of "higher-ness" by trying to work out what
exactly it was that happened when a person was mesmerized. And he
came away with a grand idea which persuaded Hegel that Socrates'
yearning for truth was an animal magnetism, an innateness that Socrates
could do nothing to prevent. And for well over two centuries,
magnetism and associated hypnotic trances, "cataleptic conditions,"
"mind altering substances," "Cyber Monday," "Forklift truck air horns,"
have become a source of wonder. Considered a route through the
complexities, or confusions of mind, directly to "true," and
thereby to "peace," or whatever might be an equivalent to the mouth
watering centeredness of my own recent experience of a Ham, Marmite and
Green Beans in a white bread sandwich.
Interesting is the idea of "higher-ness" in its many
and ample forms, that run from ego maniacal, all the way back to Eden.
Five or four thousand year old literature reflects a king and his adventures
with a wild man sent by the gods to distract him from the more traditional
practice of kings which was to prey upon and otherwise irritate those over
whom kings rule. Together, the king and the wild man, spent many
conflicted hours killing odd looking creatures, visiting odder places and
occasionally fulfilling the more familiar role of mortals which is to piss
off gods. But the king was more adamant in his pursuit, more ambitious
perhaps, and after the gods decided to execute the wild man for failing at
his mission to usefully distract the king from preying upon his people, the
king did go on to search for immortality, which is I guess the "ultimate
higher-ness," but which I guess had as much to do with a king wishing to
reunite with a wild man, with whom he'd become friends. In the end the king
finds immortality in some kind of very special seaweed, or sea plant that
grew here on earth, and might still. And the king would be with us
today, had he not been fool enough to misplace the plant while engaged in a
rather pointless discussion with the unseen. In the story, there are
moments when the king is asked "why immortality." It's a most
excellent question, which some argue, might not be asked so often if each of
us knew with certainty what dying, or being dead, felt like. But sadly
we don't. We only know with certainty what consciousness feels like.