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The Play Our Loving Longs to Behold

One could argue that this post reflects a category mistake: that is, it assigns qualities to something that should not be applied to it, which undermines the balance of the argument.

In other words, trying to locate an abstract entity like music or song in time and space (the way we could locate, say, a body or a piece of furniture) is an error. One can’t apply the standards of domain A to that which only abides in domain B.

Thus, one cannot – or at least should not – use the physical whereabouts of Fur Elise to disprove the existence of time and space (on the other hand, if we were just debating the nature or existence of time, music might still be useful because it necessarily occurs in – or over – time).

This is a fair and important criticism! But note: its efficacy as such rests on the assumption that time and space are real and have their own qualities apart from mental or ideal abstractions.

That is, it presumes the existence – the real measurable existence – of a physical domain against which things like concepts of beauty or ideas about justice and love can be compared.

Equating a song with, say, a body may be an error but in order for it to be an error, we have to accept certain premises about time, space, materiality and so forth.

So do we accept them?

I suggest that the only sustainable perspective viz. time and space and the objects that are subject to time and space as existing prior to and independent of observation (thus allowing for category mistakes or errors) is one of agnosticism. We can’t prove an external world exists, much less that it resembles our sensual reproduction of it. We can act like it exists – and we can argue that this acting is beneficial, even loving – but we can’t prove it exists, or say what, if anything, it looks/tastes/feels/smells/sounds like.

In that sense then, every thing that arises – object and concept alike – arises according to the structure we have, which is that of a wordy primate, whose language games beget both infinity and eternity, and so “every thing that arises” cannot be said to have a 1:1 correspondence with anything other than its own arising.

On that view, the category mistake dissolves, because we are no longer presuming an a prior validity of this or that domain. We don’t assume an objective physical world; we don’t assume time and space as constructs that exist independent of the structure that brings them forth; we don’t assume a self independent of the language play in which the self appears, et cetera.

On this view, even our identity as “a wordy primate whose language games beget both infinity and eternity, and and so “every thing that arises” cannot be said to have a 1:1 correspondence with anything other than its own arising” dissolves in a recursive dance that can only perceive its own dancing (and never the dance floor or the dancers or the tune). As Emily Dickinson put it:

Of life to own –
From Life to draw –
But never touch the Reservoir –

So all we can do is give attention to experience and being and see what happens: what else is revealed?

As I have been observing for years, the real question is whether a perspective or position or posture is helpful. And that is a very personal inquiry, forever subject to change. What helps you may not help me. And what helps me may not help me tomorrow. Such is the nature of the inexhaustible untouchable reservoir.

I am less interested in arguments about right and wrong than I am in giving attention – alone and with others, when and as appropriate – to the shared, interobjective arising of self, world and other and, through dialogue, seeing what is recalled, remembered, learned, and so forth.

In my experience, all this study – and all the shifts in living implied by all this study – point to Love. Even God as such is just a nontrivial idea that can, according to context, helpfully point to Love. But it is hardly the only pointer; let alone the most helpful.

Of course, you have something to say about that too! Thus, writing the way I do is in no small part an invitation: what do you think? What else can we do but ask? For I live in you – begin and end in you – and our shared wordiness brings forth the play our loving longs to behold.

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