Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Let’s Pretend", the Metaphysical Impulse


I have it on good authority that when the New Metaphysicians, those object-oriented mavens of the real, gather in their clubhouse for their Wednesday night meetings, they play a game, “Let’s pretend...”

Let’s pretend you’re a butterfly.

Let’s pretend you’re a Kuiper Belt Object. 
Let’s pretend you’re a bubble-sort algorithm. 
Let’s pretend you’re a kumquat. 
Let’s pretend you’re a mote in G-d’s eye. 
Let’s pretend you’re an end credit in a Miyazaki film. 
Let’s pretend.
They gather in a circle, clasp hands, close their eyes, and one of them utters the phrase: “Let’s pretend . . . “ Then another, just which one and how the determination is made is up in the air, fills in the blank: “... you’re an insight into the nature of being.” The next, as determined by the same method, adds an attribute, or an event: “I’d be colorless and green” – “I’d jump for joy” – “I’d, well, I’d I’d I’d “ – “You’d stutter, that’s what” – “you sorry excuse” – “for an iron butterfly” – “knockin’ on heaven’s” – “portmanteau.” And so the game goes.


I’ve got my doubts about this method, seems rather like pointless to me, but I do like the framing concept: Let’s pretend.

So let’s pretend.

I take my cue from an observation that Weston La Barre made in The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion (p. 60):
... the Australian Bushman themselves equate dream-time with the myth-time that is mysteriously brought back in ritual; myth is as timeless as the unconscious mind. It is the delectability of dreams that makes them desirable, and it is their desirability that (along with lowered critical threshold) that gives them their intense “reality” and conviction. The fact that he dreams first force on man the need to epistemologize.
Let’s pretend we’ve just gotten up from a dream. What do we make of it?


When playing this pretend, bracket-out all you know about the mind and the brain. For the duration, you don’t know that you have a mind, much less a brain. You don’t know about Freud and Jung and the lady down the street who’ll interpret your dream if you cross her palm with a C-note. You don’t know about the brain and how chemicals make it do weird things. All you know is that you wake up from sleep and you remember these things and events.

How do you frame those memories? How do you relate them to who and what you see here and now?

Let’s pretend. But not with a dream but with a drop of ink released into clear water. While pretending, bracket-out all you know about molecules, thermodynamics, non-linear systems, and chaos (which is not disorder, but order of a funky kind). What do you make of those forms?


From where?

About what?


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