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!