Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Our Dreams

Antonio Damasio (the author of the book I'm reading) says that many paradoxes of human consciousness arise from a basic biological fact: on the inside, we must maintain an extremely stable environment (homeostasis) in order to survive, while on the outside, we must adapt to constantly changing conditions and environments. Trying to balance those two realities, separated only by a thin layer of skin, keeps body and mind very very busy, and gives rise to any number of emotions, feelings and storylines. Oh yeah.

One human ideal is the concept of perfection. Maybe biologically that would look like an exterior stability that was perfectly matched with interior homeostasis. But what does that look like in the human mind? For some people it's like a Hallmark Christmas card illustration in which everyone is happy, the fire is burning merrily in the fireplace, while outside the snowflakes are gently falling. To others it's an imagined scene of romantic love in which both partners are beautiful, the sex is always perfect, and there never seems to be anything to argue about. Artists throughout history have been able to imagine a perfect work of art, though no one has yet created absolute perfection. (I'm glad they keep trying, though.) Athletes visualize perfection all the time. Some of them come so close to perfection, it makes those of us watching gasp. The actual real life version of perfection is never exactly perfect, though, is it?

I believe the paradox of homeostasis/ever changing exterior world is the source of the yearning for a messiah or a messianic age when finally the lion lays down with the lamb ... yes? Or ... well, NO, because there is that unfortunate reality that is the food chain. Every living creature has its place in that chain.

Is it a bad thing to imagine perfection? I think it's OK as long as I remember that perfection is an idea, fun to pursue even though it can never be held in the hand.

It's a good thing to keep in mind going forwards towards the inauguration. Oh yeah I am going and yes I do have a ticket and no I will NOT be scalping it on ebay for $10,000. It's going to be a mob scene, far from perfect. They're predicting a million people will attend. Imagine me, the ultimate introvert, in the middle of that sea of humanity. It's daunting thinking about how hard my biological regulatory apparatus will have to work in order to maintain physiological stability.

Daunting? Yes. But I wouldn't miss it for the world!


Val said...

Reya that makes so much sense - trying to maintain status quo whilst being buffeted by winds of change - bound to be a struggle. more on the yin yang theme of your last.
And everything is a new challenge going forwards anyway. Cant wait to hear your impressions of the inauguration - bound to be an emotionally moving occasion!

willow said...

I'm smiling here thinking of you happily in the midst of the inaugural masses! A once in a lifetime opportunity for sure.

I was raised by two perfectionists and it has been hard for me to accept the fact that it is okay to be imperfect.

Janelle said...

reading a book about psychogenic pain. what the brain does with emotion. how it can distract us from emotion by creating a physical pain somewhere. persisting one. well. reya honey. aren't we already perfect? just so? how much more perfect do you wanna be?? good on you for going to The BIg Night. i'll be looking for you on the telly..! XX j

hele said...

I believe the trees in your photographs are always perfectly beautiful, no matter which part of their cycle they are in.

Your posts always make me feel more alive and interesting :)

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes Janelle, we're so darn perfect, but still we can imagine being MORE perfect. Humans believe there is always room for improvement. I wonder what sector of the brain lights up when I think about making myself "better" ???

Angela said...

You are perfect Reya, don`t make yourself any better.

Steve said...

Perfection is all around us. We just usually fail to see it!

I'm glad you're going to the inauguration. It will be a mob scene, but what a joyous mob it will be!

Pod said...

seeing you and sir jakie first thing on a rainy early saturday morning is perfection!

lettuce said...

i love to think of you there at the inauguration, wow that will be such an occasion.

the idea of perfection being "fun to pursue" is so at odds with what perfectionism usually means - but its a thought i LOVE!!

PAC said...

Vi su blog, por el título "The Gold Puppy". Y he pasado un buen rato leyendo sus reflexiones y disfrutando sus fotos.

Feliz Año