Category Archives: Religion

Uniqueness, universality and the social region

What is unique to each of us is intimately connected with what is universal to all of us.

The connection is intimate but it runs a long and intricate circuit through everyday, practical life.

Let us call this intimate, intricate circuit the social region.

In good times, the social region mediates between uniqueness and universality and provides us roles and identities that do justice both to our uniqueness and to universality. Because it mediates uniqueness and universality, we find social existence tolerable and sometimes worthwhile.

In bad times, the social region imposes upon us roles and identities which suppress our uniqueness and eclipse our relation to universality. Social existence alienates us from ourselves, and from universality beyond socially given commonalities.

Cut off from our uniqueness, individuals are reducible to identity. Cut off from universality, reality is socially constructed.

Cut off from everything apart from social existence, tormented by their alienation, social activists work tirelessly deconstruct and reconstruct society, in order to win the recognition, power and resources to which those of their identity are entitled. They win and win and win. But with each victory they feel less and less victorious. And the social region, as it tries to do more and more of what it cannot do, becomes more and more alienated and alienating.

Arthur C. Clarke famously said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The supreme example of such a technology is religion.

And ironically, another example is… magic.

We do not even know what either of these technologies exist to do.

But we go on knowing, anyway, with “the sublime confidence of the ignorant.”*

This addled age is a cargo cult of history.

Credit to Freddy DeBoer for the hilarious expression: “the sublime confidence of the ignorant.”

This article, by the way, is about the unfounded belief that a normal, intact personality lurks beneath the outward personalities of the severely autistic.

This exhibits the same disastrous mental move I have observed in vulgar understandings of the subconscious. Somehow, fully-formed but unspoken beliefs lurk beneath the surface of consciousness, forever trying to bob up, despite our frantic efforts to push them back under, away from our awareness.

Both are the result of an incapacity to think subjectivity-first.


Something incomprehensible is happening to us.

It is happening to all of us, all at once, and each of us, personally.

It is happening so rapidly, so pervasively and so totally that the change is, as yet, incomprehensible.

It is happening immanently, in every minute detail of our individual and collective lives, but it is obviously also happening transcendently: something portentous is going on elsewhere, beyond, and manifesting here, now, personally.

The whole itself is disturbed, and life is saturated with signs of the disturbance.

Some read the signs as the creaks and groans of decaying institutions, preceding total collapse. Some read them as clues of secret scheming of a malevolent totalitarian cabal, while others diagnose this reading as precisely the kind of paranoid theories concocted and propagated by totalitarian populists. Some read the signs as Gaia making final preparations to heal herself of the destructive parasite we have become. Some interpret these signs as an approaching futureshock of exponential proportion. A post-singularity artificial god will purge us from the planet. Some read the signs as the harvest of evil seeds planted centuries ago — a long overdue reckoning — a humanist ultio dei. Others see it all as prophesied trials and tribulations finally coming to pass.

Different faiths, different metaphysics, different elsewheres, different beyonds — different accounts, different explanations. But for all their differences, they all point to a common phenomenon: our shared sense that the fabric of reality is unraveling.

It manifests as uncanniness. We are all collectively and individually anxious about everything-all-at-once. Most of us fixate on one or several particular foci. But the themes and things upon which we focus our angst are just condensations of something in the air. That something defies focus. It demands something else.

The something-in-the-air that everything-all-at-once is not calling us to action.

It is calling us to a reorientation to subjectivity.

We can no longer be naively objective. Mere objectivity will no longer deliver us.

We must learn to comprehend our own subjectivity, and the supersubjectivities in which we participate.

Who are your supersubjects? Or rather, to which supersubjects do you belong?

And do your supersubjects answer to anyone higher than themselves?

Some do, some don’t.

Most don’t.

May your wanting be wiser

I was looking in Susan’s copy of The Hero With a Thousand Faces and saw that she wrote in the margin “May your wanting be wiser.” She says she learned it from Rabbi Jeff Roth.

I find it strange how everyone assumes they are, in the state they are already in, qualified to define what a better world should be. And it seems the less experienced an activist is and the more distorted their faith is, the more passionate they are about reshaping the world to match their ideals.

Unless you are wise and your wantings are wise, your vision of a better world will be unwise. If you think you must repair a broken world in order to repair your own brokenness, your vision is broken and your repairs will only make things worse.

Make yourself better, then you will be able to make the world better.

Remedial phenomenology

For the last couple of months I have been re-grounding myself in Husserl’s phenomenology. The work I am interested in doing is phenomenological, but it is not, itself, phenomenology. By returning to Husserl, I hope to arrive at the point of departure for my project. I am interested in approaching philosophy as a design discipline, both in the form of the philosophy (writing, visuals, practices designed to impart a particular faith) and in its substance (the life afforded by adoption of the faith). To make matters weirder, the faith itself is designerly. Obviously, it is a synthesis of philosophy, design and religion that profoundly scrambles the current meanings of philosophy, design and religion.

Natural as opposed to what?

I’ve used the word “natural” to four very different ways, and each is defined against a different opposite. These are each

The first two are the boring obvious ones.

  • Natural versus manmade. Is it from the wilderness, or is it from our own hands?
  • Natural versus supernatural. Does it obey the laws of nature, or does it follow the laws of something or someone beyond nature? Note: I understand there are less vulgar notions of supernatural, but for the present purposes, let’s use the vulgar sense.

The second two (to me, anyway) are more interesting.

  • Natural versus unnatural. Does something subjectively feel as though it spontaneously participates in nature or does it seem alienated from it and at odds with it? This could be subdivided into any number of categories, depending on the perceived location of the unnaturalness. For example, it could be one’s own self (“this action feels unnatural”) or in a perceived or conceived object (“that light looks unnatural”).
  • Natural versus phenomenological. Am I regarding some phenomenon in solely terms of the object given to my perception or conception, or am I understanding the phenomenon also as a subjective act of perceiving or conceiving some given object? And I will always add: and if conceived differently, will reveal a different given object.

These latter two are at the heart of my philosophical design work.

Can phenomenological freedom be used skillfully to suspend one natural way of perceiving in order to reconceive reality (or nature, if you prefer) in another way — a way that is shockingly unfamiliar, yet just as natural as the old one. A new comprehensive praxic gestalt clicks into place, replacing the old “everything” gestalt.

This is a non-supernatural account of metanoia, and it suggests that philosophies rooted in phenomenological reflective practice can be a kind of genuine religious practice. If one is willing to pay the necessary exorbitant price, one can radically reconfigure one’s own subjectivity, objectivity and subject-object relations.

For a long time I was planning to call my perpetually unwritten book on this subject Second-Natural. I was also playing with another title The Ten Thousand Everythings.

Now I am leaning toward calling it Enworldment.

Phenomenological prayer

Reality is an articulate whole we inhabit.

Reality is myriad interacting things among us.

Reality is participation with our fellow inhabitants.

We participate in realities beyond our comprehension.

Interacting things unite and divide.

The whole can rearticulate in shocking ways.

Reality is not what we think it is.

Things can be otherwise.

We are not who we think we are.

Metanoia and the triad

A problem is coming into view for me.

For the last two decades, it has seemed true to me that we have three fundamental factors that shape our being:

The first factor is intuition, and intuition’s “object”, everyday, immediate givens — those real entities we encounter and interact with in the course of our practical lives. Do we have a clear conception of these givens, that allows us to relate this particular given to other givens? Or is our intuition purely tacit recognition that lies dormant in oblivion until it spontaneously recognizes and responds to some given, and then recedes back into oblivion? All encounters with entities around us, whether conceived or merely recognized, are given to experience. Intuition is the faculty of immediate givenness.

The second factor is will — our own motivated response or nonresponse to what we experience. Do we ignore or attend? If we attend, do we merely observe or do we respond? If we respond, do we respond subjectively by adjusting our understanding or attitude, or do we try to respond objectively by changing that which we experience? Or do we do both at once, and interact — alternating fluidly between acting upon and being acted upon? All response, whether ignorant or attentive, whether observational or active, whether inward, outward, or both is will.

The third factor is metaphysical attitude — our sense of reality and our own place in it and our relationship with it, to it, within it. In fact, it might be the essence of our metaphysic what preposition we prepose when relating self to beyond-self. This metaphysical attitude is an implicit faith, which might or might not be articulated as a metaphysical doctrine, and that articulation might be a faithful expression of the implicit faith or it might be in conflict with one’s implicit faith, which means it is held in bad faith.

This is my best understanding of the great triad. The source of intuitive givens is Earth, who is Prakriti, who is Shekhinah, who is the Virgin. The source of reality within whom we exist is Heaven, who is Purusha, who is Keter, who is YHWH. Between is Man, who is the Ideal Person, the polycentered heart of the world, and the schlub who is each of us.

Rabbi Simcha Bunim taught: “Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: ‘I am a speck of dust,’ and on the other : ‘The world was created for me.’”

If we manage to change our metaphysical attitude, it changes also our intuition and our will. I am talking here about metanoia.

This is not the same thing as coming to authentic articulation of a faith that was misrepresented in bad faith.

Nor is it that more common, much worse reverse case, where we adopt a bad faith that allows us to make coherent articulates sense of things, and share it with others around us — but at the cost of fidelity to our implicit faith and our intuitions. We gain the world(view) but lose our soul (our intuitive and metaphysical connection with reality). This bad faith dooms us to clearly and compellingly positing things rooted neither in our experience nor in our sense of reality.

I am talking about shift in how we tacitly situate ourselves in reality, due to a shifted tacit understanding of reality, a shifted tacit understanding of self and a shifted tacit understanding of relationship between this new self and new reality.

My problem is: In the metanoia experience of rebirth as a new person in a new reality, is it better to think of it as new conceptions — new receptive faculties affording new realities to which, before we were oblivious due to lack of receptive faculties? Or rather, is it registering novel ordered stabilities emerging from the chaos and instability of unordered experience, which we did receive but could not order?

Is metanoia more like being blind but now seeing? Or is it more like becoming able to make out murky forms we see in the shadowy fog? I’ve been inclined to see it as the former.

Stiff-necked fuckups of God

The appropriators of Hebrew scripture and faith read all the terrible things the Jews say about themselves or relate God saying of them, and rejoice in their own superiority.

These successor religion believers could never act like those vicious patriarchs in Genesis, or the wicked persecutors of prophets, or those hypocritical Pharisees.

The secular inheritors of the Judeo-Christian morality beg to differ. All those various religious fanatics of the past did all kinds of injustice and violence in the name of God. They were clearly out for themselves, and using God as a way to delude themselves and others.

But the modern secular moralists, having rejected all the sketchy doctrines of the past, could never act like those fanatics and mistake themselves for moral when acting in their own self-interest. They’ve found ways to objectively, methodically, scientifically neutralize their deepest biases and motivated reasoning. And therefore, they alone ought to teach and administer justice, and those who oppose them should be suppressed.

To me, those people capable of recognizing and acknowledging their wisdom failures are wiser than those who still have not discovered the unwisdom in their wisdom — (not to mention the injustice in their justice, the unfairness in their fairness, the violence in their compassion, the error in their truth, and so on) — still have some collective growing up to do.

I’m sticking with the stiff-necked fuckups of God.

Wisdom and Golden Rule Prime

I am clearly in a serious perplexity. It is very painful, but the pain feels promising. It is manifesting as increasing impatience at being condescended to. Some are people who seem to me manifestly unqualified to condescend. They know something important, but they seem unaware of how much remains beyond their understanding, and how crucially important that beyond is. Others are possibly qualified. They might have important knowledge beyond mine, but I’m frustrated with our relationship — but perhaps because they are perplexing me with something as-yet inconceivable to me. The interference between the two possibilities is jamming me up. Plus I have some scary medical stuff going on, and that’s intensifying my already excessive intensity.

Here is my current attempt at resolving this perplexity…

A while back I began reflecting on the Golden Rule, and came up with the idea of Golden Rule Prime.

At its surface, the Golden Rule is a pretty terrible rule. Do to others as you would have others do to you. So you would have others serve you the disgusting food they themselves would like to eat, or have you listen to the terrible music they prefer? Who would want that?

But if we note that very fact, and run it back through the Golden Rule again, we get something much better. What would we like better? We would like others to serve us the food we ourselves like, or play the music we ourselves prefer. This iteration of the rule is Golden Rule Prime.

But even Golden Rule Prime is not quite right. Maybe we are not hungry, even for our favorite food, or maybe we are not in the mood for any music however much we normally love it. What would we like better? If we run this back through the Golden Rule again, we get something even better. We would like someone to check with us on what we want and then respond to what we tell them, or something along the lines of asking and responding to the person, instead of speculating or guessing. That would be Golden Rule Double Prime.

With each iteration the Golden Rule yields a deeper principle, approaching a moral asymptote, which I believe is absolute and not attainable. And with each iteration we presume less that we know better (or ever can know better), and put ourselves more on equal footing with others — who we must involve in our decisions if they are to be good ones

I am inclined to see wisdom as a function of this approach. How many Primes can you actively intuit in your dealings with others, how aware are you of the remaining unclosable distance between your own understanding and the intersubjective reality of the situation, and how ready are you to involve others in your effort to reduce that distance?

True — but it could be truer

I just had one of those creative conversations, where I was moved to say things I didn’t know I knew.

I found myself saying, “Intersectionality is true in a deep sense. Our existence is radically intersectional. But it is not an intersection of social categories. It is an intersection of love relationships  — participation in transcendent being in which we experience our personal being.”

I also related this with an old thought: “In my meandering journey through atheism, I learned to disbelieve in many different notions of God. Though I’ve found an understanding of God I cannot even doubt, my past atheisms all survive in me. I still disbelieve in every one of my rejected notions of God.

“Years ago, when my daughters came to me and proclaimed their atheism, I asked them what it was they disbelieved in. They would explain, and I’d say ‘Wonderful! Definitely refuse to believe in that!'” To have a healthy faith, it is important to disbelieve everything you find unpersuasive

I also realized last week, talking with another friend that the notion of institutional racism is rooted in a legitimate intuition that there are institutional personalities. Our participation in these collective forms of being — these egregores — do, in fact, change how we perceive, think and respond to the world, and not always for the better.

But to change the collective personality of an organization requires profound structural changes — changes in how participants in the organization interact and exchange service with one another. Attempting to change the mindsets of all the people within the organization, and worse, doing so through coercive means, will only create new forms of institutional oppression.

The organization must be redesigned to make people naturally want what is better for everyone. The most effective way to change an organization’s personhood is service design.

A conversation with yet a third friend gave me a third insight. Identity crises are an essential part of young adulthood. In youth, we outgrow the roles we are given by our parents and seek new ones. And this role is almost always a category of some kind or another that we share with others we see as our people.

My friend reminded me how, in our profoundly musical generation we adopted music genres and specific bands as our identities. When we met someone else who loved our music we knew something about their ideals and behavioral norms. We were very protective of these identities, scorning poseurs who tried to appropriate our style. If we’d found a way to defend the boundaries of our identities with coercive force, perhaps we would have done it. But adults barely noticed what we were doing and even if they had, they would never have indulged our feelings of ownership over the borrowed foundations of our selfhood.

Young people today favor different categories, and unfortunately many of these identities have been politicized and are enforced by nominal adults in positions of authority.

But it is important to remember, those who are still in this stage are doing their best to establish their selfhood. We cannot condemn them for that. But as adults we have a responsibility to help them mature past this stage.

Participation, theory, wisdom and love

Etymologically, to comprehend means to grasp-together.

What does “together” comprise? It is the new object of knowledge together with the existing body of knowledge.

In comprehension, new and old knowledge are grasped together and integrated.

Not all forms of knowledge can be grasped together. Whenever we comprehend some matter, some remainder of the matter refuses to be integrated.

The remainder that is left out of comprehension we call “irrelevant”.

The remainder that remains, but which can’t integrate, we call “contradictory”.

The part of comprehension that is intentionally integrated through a mental assembly process we will call “synthesis”. Etymologically, to synthesize means to put-together. Syntheses are held together with logic, causality, hierarchy or other formal organizing principles. This is the stuff of theory, epistemology and logic.

The part of comprehension that is spontaneously integrated through spontaneous intuition is concept. Etymologically, to conceive means to take-together. What is conceived is taken-together as a given. This is the stuff of ontology.

Sometimes when we synthesize a new idea from an assembly of ideas, the new idea is spontaneously intuited as a whole, so we comprehend it both as a synthesis and as a concept. Or sometimes when we carefully examine a concept and disassemble it into components we find that the components are each intuitively conceived. The components can now be disassembled and reassembled both synthetically and conceptually. When we know this way, we understand through “analysis”. Etymologically, analysis means loosen-up.

When we are able to analytically loosen a synthesis up into concepts, then re-synthesize the parts into a concept whose conceptual sub-components remain visibly present as parts of a whole, our understanding is “articulate”. Etymologically, articulate means to separate into joints.

Ultimately, all understanding, whether conceived or synthesized or both, is developed up from givens, which, as explained above, are taken as givens. But we can only take what we have capacity to conceive. Anything we cannot conceive, even if it is real and actually present is inconceivable, and we are oblivious to it. Etymologically, oblivious means smoothed-over. When we are oblivious to something, not only is nothing there, but the nothingness is smoothed over, so nothing is missing. The thing exists, but to us, it is non-existent.

All of this is theoretical knowing. And it is only one kind of knowing.

Theoretical knowing that conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is one-third of wisdom. As philosophers would say it is a necessary condition of wisdom but not a sufficient condition.

Practically knowing how and morally knowing why conceptual knowing is only one kind of knowing is the other two-thirds of wisdom.

Wisdom is known in our hearts, felt in our souls and done with our strength.

But even wisdom is not enough.

Wisdom must also be wisdom that loves, because love is our participation in being in whom we are only part — an organ — together with others who, with us, are participants in a being who sustains us as who we are. When we love our spouse, this is our participation in the being of our marriage . When we love our friend, this is our participation in a friendship. When we love an organization, we participate in the life of a group who sustains who we are as a person — a member — an organ of this living whole.

These wholes in whom we participate are inconceivable and incomprehensible in theoretical terms. We can certainly theorize about the limits of theoretical knowledge, as I am presently doing, and it can be helpful (which is why I am doing it) but it is insufficient.

Without threefold loving wisdom that not only conceives, but also does and feels, we are oblivious to the beings in whom we participate, and we remain oblivious to the Being in whom our own being and all being has being.

Obliviousness to the the Being in whom our own being and all being has being is atheism. We say with Bertrand Russell “I have no need for that hypothesis” without recognizing that belief in God not a matter of theory.

We must wisely love beyond the limits of ourselves, with the entirety of our hearts soul and strength, and this is actualized by loving our fellow participants in being and in Being.

Love versus alienation

Valentin Tomberg:

…To feel something as real in the measure of its full reality is to love. It is love which awakens us to the reality of ourselves, to the reality of others, to the reality of the world and to the reality of God. In so far as we love ourselves, we feel real. And we do not love — or we do not love as much as ourselves — other beings, who seem to us to be less real.

And what is the sense of unreality — of ourselves, of others, of the world, of God? That is alienation.

I could have sworn I wrote this already, but I can’t find it…

In Existentialism: A Reconstruction, David Cooper states that the entire purpose of existentialism is to overcome alienation. He identifies three kinds of alienation:

  • Alienation from one’s own self
  • Alienation from other people
  • Alienation from the world

And I add a fourth category of alienation:

  • Alienation from God (or, if you prefer, alienation from what is beyond our experience, but which involves and obligates us)

I believe all religion is essentially existentialist. But not all existentialism is religion, and this is a function of whether this last fourth category is included or excluded from the goal of one’s existentialism.


When I was first taught how to draw, the first lesson was showing us how us to slow down, attend closely and really see, instead of merely looking (as most of us do most of the time).

What is meant by this distinction between seeing and looking?

Looking is visually scanning our environment and categorizing whatever is identified in the visual field. It is seeing-as, where the seeing is discarded and the “as” is kept. Seeing is suspending the “as” and preventing it from occluding what is there to see if we slow down and pay close attention.

How did we effect this shift? We were taught the method of blind contour drawing. The teacher set an object before the class to draw. It was sometimes a pile of cloth, or a gourd, or a cow skull — something visually complex.

We were told to pick a part of the object to draw — a part with an irregular edge. We were directed to move our eyes slowly along the edge of the form, and as we moved our eyes, we moved our pencils. Like seismograph needles, as our eyes traced the object and followed its contour, registering each minute bump, pit and arch with both eye and hand.

We were told to pay no attention to what we drew. Once we placed the pencil point in the center of the sheet, we were not even supposed to look down at the paper.

At first, we were anxious. We knew we were producing atrocious drawings, and that nobody would even recognize what we were drawing, and we were right.

But this was not about making good drawings. It was about effecting the shift from looking to seeing. The activity caused us to become deeply absorbed in the object we observed. The absorption sidelined our speech. As we gained the ability to see the unique particulars of our object, and disintermediated our seeing from language, we gradually lost the ability to speak. After class, it would take fifteen or thirty minutes to shift back into the wordworld.

This is what it takes to draw what we see instead of writing what we are taught to re-cognize, categorize and scribe in memory when we move around in the world scanning for relevance. The world is there to see and — once we learn how — we can actually see it when we choose to stop looking for a moment.

We cannot see all the time. Even artists don’t see all the time, and they sometimes choose to focus their absorbed seeing, not on the world, but on the artifact they are crafting. But the originality of the artistic vision is rooted in the actual seeing.

An artist who only gets better at looking and scribing what they recognize will not draw a seen eye, but instead will only scribe a conventional hieroglyphs of an eye in a conventional hieroglyph of a face on a conventional hieroglyph of a person, in a world of conventional hieroglyphs, populated by conventional hieroglyphs, furnished with conventional hieroglyphs.

Artists who see might acquire new habits of looking and scribing. But when they scribe an eye, it is a hieroglyph of an eye they themselves observed. It is an eye as they, themselves, have come to see them. Their style reflects their own original experience of seeing.

As a young adult, I learned the art of spiritual blind contour drawing, an art known as Vipassana.

Instead of sight, the absorbing perception of Vipassana is feeling. Vipassana is a tracing of the contours of sensation on and within the body.

Through this art, I learned some direct and extremely disturbing lessons about existence. We are not who we think we are. Our thoughts are not what our thoughts claim to be.

Our thing incessantly recognizes and scribes whatever it looks at, and whatever it cannot look at it does not see. In other words, we think and think and talk and talk and read and read — and rarely slow down or stop to intuit. We fail to register the myriad nameless, unique particulars of which reality is composed. We skim for the categories and toss out the rest.

We are speed readers of the wordworld, re-generating the same thoughts by the same interpretation and logic we we trained to use long ago before we were even conscious. We see hieroglyphs, we write hieroglyphs, we speak hieroglyphs, we inhabit hieroglyphs. We are hieroglyphs.

We will remain imprisoned in hieroglyphia until we learn to see, hear, feel, smell, taste, touch and, most of all, intuit for ourselves.


Love, love is a verb

I suppose I could call it a capacity and desire to participate in a transcendent We — and I probably should do that, since the word “love” has been emptied of metaphysical significance and consequently, reduced to an emotional state, all-too-easily confused with infatuation or lust. (Infatuation is only a prelude to love; lust is its miscarriage.)

But if we are able to restore to love its open-edged metaphysical significance, speaking of the Judaic tradition as a religion of love — or as a series of religions of love — can inter-illuminate both love and religion.

I, Polycentric

One of “my” older, stranger and truer insights is this: Being is essentially polycentric. I believe this insight was conveyed to me by S. N. Goenka through his ten day Vipassana courses, but I learned it in a way that was not recognizably “taught” — at least, not recognizable until decades later.

The insight began as a realization that we ourselves are composite beings, a community of intelligences, which I called “homunculi”. The homunculi that make each of us up might self-organize into any number of political orders. A person’s soul might be harmonious and all-inclusive. Or it might be arranged hierarchically with some homunculi leading and others following. Or it might be of two minds, locked in a civil war of mood swings and self-sabotage. Or it might be sheer anarchy.

And the people with whom we associate can change our inner politics. We might find that some homunculi in ourselves are friendlier with and more loyal to certain homunculi in other people, than with other homunculi in ourselves. This is why we feel like a different person in the presence of certain others that we love or hate, or who has some strangely oppressive or inspiring effect on us. And these changes others have on us can estrange us from other people in our lives. Jealousy becomes far more credible when we realize how much we change under the influence of love of different people.

So how can it be that we feel like one person one moment and another the next, yet still feel as if we are and have always been the same person? I would say that it is for the same reason that a chord feels like a single sound despite being multiple overlaid notes, or a complex musical passage feels like a phrase despite its chordal, timbral, rhythmic multiplicity. Except instead of its being a complex object of perception, it is a complex perceiving subject.

Later, some extraordinary life events made me aware that each of us is not only constituted of homunculi but each person is, in a sense, a homunculus who participates intuitively in transcendent persons larger than ourselves. The ethnomethods that guide our social behavior and enable us to understand the behaviors of others and mske our behaviors understandable to them… our built environments and the artifacts we manufacture to furnish our semi-artificial worlds… our language and our repertoires of concepts — these are all participation in being greater than ourselves. We are organs of unknown beings whose being we only intuit. We are regulated by spiritual hormones that we do not know how to explain or control.

We explain these mysteries away with vague language. We understand or don’t understand this and that. We don’t understand, until suddenly “get it” and now we do understand. We are attracted or repelled by beauty or ugliness . We feel moods, vibes, gut sense…

We focus so much on what we know how to say and what we know how to count and calculate — and sometimes only these things for which we can account seem real to us. But really, the opposite is true: the intuitions, the felt unsayables, the immediate experience that cannot be recorded in memory and recalled — only the meager word-shells and a few impressions, negative space where positives ones pressed — these are what is closest and realest.

All the rest — all the words that can be word processed or numbers and formulas that can be locked spreadsheet cells or database records — these are abstracted from these concrete particulars.

When we lose intuition for anything but the symbols we use — which are themselves symbols of… of what? — we become numb to the real. We become alienated, animated processes. We are still participants of a sort, or at least parts — but we lose agency and intellect. We become socially passive and unconscious and perhaps believe this is the only possibility of social existence.

Listen carefully to the testimony of those who claim we are all socially determined — to those who want to wake you up to this supposed fact of the human condition — and realize they are speaking of life as they know it.

But understand: this is only one way to live, and it is not the only way. Alienated being knows only alienated being.

Human being is a kind of being which is chosen and cultivated.

Choose humanity. Try to feel your life, feel your truth, feel your enworldment, feel the world of which you are a part. These things can neither be said nor counted because they are real.