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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bright And Dark Gods

 Hieronymus Bosch, A Garden Of Earthly Delights

There are bright gods as well as dark gods. There are good powers in the world as well as bad powers. There are good Tuatha and bad Tuatha (tu-e'-he).
So far I have only been talking about the dark ones, the evil powers in the world.

I have talked about the dark gods of weapons and war and the dark gods of drugs.

Yet there is a complementarity.

I went to a documentary on Hieronymus Bosch yesterday, A Garden of Earthly Delights. One of the people in the documentary spoke of the complementarity of symbols for the medieval mind, where Eve may be Mother and also temptress, gold may be pure richness or greed, and so on.

So also the powers of the world, the Tuatha, may be good or bad. The powers of drugs may enslave and kill or they may liberate. This has been amply demonstrated for us. Weapons may kill and maim, or they may protect and save us. We live in a time of both: our country is the world's biggest exporter of weapons, our country has frequent gun incidents from solitary victims to mass shootings, and we have developed a 2nd Amendment politico-religious dogmatism that borders on the fanaticism of the Skoptsy of tsarist Russia, yet we rely on weapons to protect us, too.

The Powers of the world do not exist on their own. The Powers emerge as intelligent life experience its environment. And these powers are real. They are not merely impressions of the environment.
When one hears the thunder, the ear-splitting impression and fear have an effect, but they do not causally lead to some belief in a god Thor, for example.
The beautiful sunrise does not prove the existence of any divinity, nor form a good base for belief.
But the interplay of intelligence and the world give rise to emergence, and these emergent properties are far more than the simple causes which we are able to describe. (For example, Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is more than the sum of the parts about which we may read about him.)

Mankind does not sum up its amazements and fears and surprises and say, "Gadfrey! Some sort of deity or deities must exist!"

An example of such might be the following:

Charon, the ferryman of the Dead, Escorting Eurydice to Hades with Offering of Hops

where the awe and fear of the Flood give rise to an new Orpheus legend!


The Hieronymus Bosch documentary made me think about this.
Bosch is a good example, for his paintings are so non-representational that they are a surrogate for a brand-new environment for the mind.

Afterwards I asked my fellows if they found the documentary "coherent".
That was a disaster, because they all acted as if I had sprung a pop quiz on them, and I had to explain myself, the question, and any real conversation disappeared.

However, no matter how non-representational Bosch's painting is, it is indeed coherent.

It is a Coherence.

Most good paintings are a Coherence. Most good stories are a Coherence.
Most films are a Coherence. They are more than the sum of their parts, and the parts form a small solar system of Rutherford's atomic structure wherein the planet-electron-parts swirl about each other pulled and flung by the "symbolic gravity" of a coherence. 
In fact, your can go in and edit films in a number of ways - even doing what is called "chaos editing" - yet... yet the films mostly remain "coherent".
The "Director's Cut" may have radical additions and subtractions, but it is still coherent, even though the story itself and the motivations of some characters may have changed.

Coherence emerges from a film. It requires the film and a viewer. The phenomenology of viewer and film is a description of the rise of a Coherence.

Yet, even though Coherence is emergent, we treat it as if it were the exactly same type of phenomenon as the film, viewer, and viewing that gave rise to it. We analyze Coherence as if we could take it all apart, talk about film techniques, discuss story-telling and writing, arguing about actors, etc.

Yet none of these things will affect Coherence, since Coherence is by definition greater than the sum of its parts.

We do not really know how to deal with truly Emergent Phenomena.
We try to reduce them back to the interplay from which they arose.

It does not seem to work

In the Bosch documentary, there was a singer who finally stopped talking and began to sing. Renee Fleming, the opera singer was also in the film, and she eventually sang also. There were some Downs Syndrome artists who had paintings of the painting, their own impressions.

These artists tried to create their own coherence from looking at a Coherence.
Most other people just chattered on, some were word-bound professionals, others were not, but every one sought to break it all down to language.

Thus, when I speak of the Tuatha, the Powers of the World, I am talking of emergent phenomena, things that emerge from the interplay of intelligent beings with their environment.
As emergent phenomena, we are usually at a loss as to how to deal with them, so we end up treating divine visions as prophesies of the end of the world, or some other scenario we have learned. When we are face to face with saintliness, we look for simpering faces and haloes! When we sense something we don't like, we yell, "Hitler!"

We cannot deal with emergent phenomena because we always want to break them back down.


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