Numb in the Middle

Whither bloweth the wind?

The past few hour-blocks were spent in defining the middle.  What is ‘just above enough’ going to be for my students?  Thankfully we have numbers to wave aside all questionings.  Most people find themselves benumbed and awestruck by them; they certainly do n’t know how to controvert them.

But how much effort should be spent in defining mediocrity?  Not fluency, not mastery but good honest paper, a few scratch-marks to maintain balance-of-power, and the greatest of care in avoiding anything resembling an apology — this is the balance which ought to be struck.  That is, this is how to avoid the unwanted extremes.

The concept of living in the ‘middle kingdom’ is fit for the highest poets — by which I mean those who can recall the everyday to us.  Has our peace-keeping become conflict-avoidance?  Are we caught between the greatest powers? hobbits in a world of men?  Have we become so media-driven that we serve merely as faceless conduits for the reflections of our great stage-plays?  How can there be so much news with nothing to be said betwixt anyone? –such blathering as if the information could n’t dash away quickly enough to slough off into the sea of our un-knowing.

Are our middles become truly hollow so that we are not even in hope of arrival? is our train speeding along its loop only so as to get to the next station.  Is there no more becoming?

–Ah, numbers!  Numbers have us firmly by the collar, drug (not from here-to-there) but always hitherward.  The last few weeks mine and I have spent too much of our time trying to stay awake just long enough to reach the next station, not a wink of time truly our own.  Ever more out-going than in-coming, numbers will drive us — but they were made to be driven!  They are only meant to describe legitimate interactions — inventions of language meant to simplify.  Instead we allow them to grind us to powder.

for my friend in Abu-Dhabi

of ‘Abu-Dhabi’ by Dave Yoder, National Geographic

And currency is worse — for the current is ever cresting waves beyond the reach from whence we might, we might, be swept along willingly.  Time escapes us all, and would we chase after with no destining thought.  Worse than the question what is behind our currency — what is in our time that it should run away from us so quickly as though we were unwelcome strangers?

Intros to European Philosophy: Hegel

GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL (1770-1831)

Previously read: Nothing, but I ‘ve wanted to.  After reading Spinoza for the first time I was interested to see how Hegel and Spinoza might compare as interpreters/appropriators of Aristotle.

Key texts: Introduction to the Philosophy of History and Logic (Part I of the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences), Ch. 7, A

Overall impression: Similar to when I first encountered Nietzsche (in European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche, ed. M. Beardsley), I expected a bit more naivete from Hegel.  I had heard little past thesis-antithesis-synthesis; his perspective seems more careful than I had heard from the textbooks.

Unconscious participation in the unfolding Idea – it’s an interesting conception (European Philosophers, p. 563).  For Fichte to be conscious of it and wend not where it may go…unforgivable.

Surprises:

“Every writer of history proposes to himself an original method… Instead of writing history, we are always beating our brains to discover how history ought to be written. (ibidem, p. 540)”

And, perhaps more brilliantly:

“But what experience and history teach is this: that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it. (ibidem, p. 541)”

Concerning the historian:

“One Reflective History therefore, supersedes another.  The materials are patent to every writer: each is likely enough to believe himself capable of arranging and manipulating them; and we may expect that each will insist upon his own spirit as that of the age in question. (p. 542)”

`It is too easy to read history and say “why didn’t he or she see X”.  One often smacks the forehead in amazement; but fails to see the very shortsightedness with which the reader of history is himself plagued.  In reading, one sees oneself reflected and too few are appropriately disgusted.  If they were, they would be slower to read their perspective in the age in question.

ra/tio

“The only Thought that Philosophy brings with it to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process.  This conviction and intuition is a hypothesis in the domain of history as such. (ibidem, p. 544)”

`Precisely what Foucault is seeking to avoid in Archaeology of Knowledge; that intuition is moreso the product of experience-histories than the means by which to construct a history.  The result is closer to the previous quote about Reflective History.

{im}part

“Even the ordinary, the “impartial” historian, who believes and professes that he maintains a simply receptive attitude, surrendering himself only to the data supplied him, is by no means passive as regards the exercise of his thinking powers.  He brings his categories with him, and sees the phenomena presented to his mental vision exclusively through these media. (European Philosophers, p. 546)”

`So much for aspirations to doing history objectively.

^~~~conduit

“Reason is Thought conditioning itself with perfect freedom. (p. 548)”  `That seems a mite naïve.  It is continued on p. 553 of European Philosophers as such:

“The History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom…”

un[“]happ[“]ness

“But even regarding History as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been made victims, the question involuntarily arises: to what principle, to what final aim these enormous sacrifices have been offered. (ibidem, p. 554)”

`I love the imagery here – its poetry.  See also:

“The History of the World is not the theatre of happiness.  Periods of happiness are blank pages in it, for they are periods of harmony, periods when the antithesis is in abeyance. (p. 560)”

vo*~c~*a~*tion

“If we go on to cast a look at the fate of these World-Historical persons whose vocation it was to be the agents of the World-Spirit, we shall find it to have been no happy one.  They attained no calm enjoyment; their whole life was labor and trouble; their whole nature was nothing but their master-passion.  When their object is attained they fall off like empty hulls from the kernel.  They die early, like Alexander; they are murdered, like Caesar; transported to St. Helena, like Napoleon. (p. 564)”

`Perhaps we ought to be a little more careful of that urge to raise our children to greatness; happiness will be far off (and it won’t be a joy to the family either, but a sorrow).  It is not that nothing is worth the sacrifice, but too many want greatness without knowing to what end.

“No man is a hero to his valet de chamber…but not because the former is no hero, but because the latter is a valet. (p. 565)”

Concerning language & grammar:

“For Grammar, in its extended and consistent form, is the work of thought, which makes its categories distinctly visible therein… Exercises of memory and imagination without language are direct [non-speculative] manifestations. (p. 593)”

Grammar is the medium which orders thought and the pre-lingual is communicated only by means of such language ordered by grammar.

^v^`tempo

“Time is the negative element in the sensuous world.  Thought is the same negativity, but it is the deepest, the infinite form of it, in which therefore all existence generally is dissolved… (p. 606)”

`I ‘m not sure what exactly constitutes a ‘negative element’ in this sense.  We recognize the motion of objects and call this the progression of time.  How existence is dissolved in thought…I ‘m less clear on; but for both cases I believe I ‘ve failed to understand Hegel on these points.  As a reader the imagery appears pregnant, but to what end?

###anima

“It will now be understood that Logic is the all-animating spirit of all the sciences, and its categories the spiritual hierarchy… But things thus familiar are usually the greatest strangers.  Being, for example, is a category of pure thought; but to make “Is” an object of investigation never occurs to us. (p. 609 from Logic (Part I of the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences))”

`At least till Heidegger…

*^**^fact*

“In common life truth means the agreement of an object with our conception of it.  We thus presuppose an object to which our conception must conform.  In the philosophical sense of the word, on the other hand, truth may be described, in general abstract terms, as the agreement of a thought-content with itself. (p. 610)”

`Perhaps I might gloss the difference as facticity (at this moment, I would define this as relation to the world of experience) versus internal consistency (in this sense, we might speak of truth as grammatical).  I do n’t know if I ‘ve done this justice, but philosophers often mean something other than common people (and often ought to; but they should meet at some point).

“The foundation of all determinateness is negation (as Spinoza says, Omnis determinatio est negation). (p. 622)”  Actually, that is n’t quite the case.  Strange that something which is Spinoza out of context becomes so key to Hegel’s logic.

Intros to European Philosophy: Kant

IMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804)

Previously read: I used his rejection of the transcendental argument for God’s existence in a paper (though I didn’t understand it well), but mostly encountered him through secondary sources and key ideas in other people’s courses – both in undergrad and graduate studies.  It’s nice to at least dig into the abridged text of Critique here.

Key texts: Critique of Pure Reason (abr)

Overall impression: It feels like dealing with Kant in an abridged form is at once necessary and lamentable.  I’d really like to trace his complete thought, and I’m almost ready to fruitfully understand him I feel, but I must admit I don’t have the time to treat him as his status deserves.    Perhaps one day I’ll do better, for now I’ve merely sharpened my teeth a little more for that day when I can begin this task in earnest. 

His contributions to metaphysics and ethics are unavoidable even in their secondary form in academia.  So this was a frustrated but perhaps fruitful familiarizing with several important philosophical utterances sourced in one voice.

Surprises:

“There can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience… In the order of time, therefore, we have no knowledge antecedent to experience, and with experience all knowledge begins. (European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche, ed. M. Beardsley, p. 375)”

 

“In what follows, therefore, we shall understand by a priori knowledge, not knowledge independent of this or that experience, but knowledge absolutely independent of all experience.  Opposed to its empirical knowledge, which is knowledge possible only a posteriori, that is, through experience. (ibidem, p. 376)”

  • “Experience teaches us that a thing is so and so, but not that it cannot be otherwise. (p. 376)”  This meets well with Ghazali’s critique of the philosophers in Incoherence/Tahafut.  It’s easy to assume that a thing can be no other way than what it has been previously, but our experience is far too limited to tell us how probable or exclusive such knowledge is.  “Secondly, experience never confers on its judgments true or strict, but only assumed and comparative universality, through induction. (ibidem)” 

 

  • Analytic judgments are connected by means of identity; without identity it would be synthetic (p. 380).  So all judgments of experience are synthetic. 

 

  • Space is a pure intuition according to Kant.  To me that’s brilliant.  We necessarily intuit it in order to try to locate our world.  Even when we speak of multiple spaces, we are only representing to ourselves that one space (p. 389).  So, perhaps space is that which I project to the world around me in order to understand it.  In this sense, space may not be infinite in the sense that it is endlessly extensible but it is certainly indefinite in that it is the background against which all events in time are located.  “Space is nothing but the form of all appearances of outer sense. (p. 391)” 

 

“Permanence, as the abiding correlate of all existence of appearances, of all change and of all concomitance, expresses time in general.  For change does not affect time itself, but only appearances in time.  (Coexistence is not a mode of time itself: for none of the parts of time coexist; they are all in succession to one another.)  If we ascribe succession to time itself, we must think yet another time, in which the sequence would be possible. (p. 402)”

  • “[T]ruth consists in the agreement of knowledge with the object… (p. 404)”  Perceptio is representation with consciousness; a sensation is a perception which ‘relates solely to the subject as the modification of its state’ – we only notice a smell or a sound when it demonstrates change; knowledge is an objective perception – whether intuition or concept (empirical or pure); the pure concept is called a notion.  “A concept formed from notions and transcending the possibility of experience is an idea or concept of reason…” (pp. 414-415)  An idea, therefore, can have no sense-experience matching it.  Whew, maybe it’s easier to use Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

 

  • “Reason does not really generate any concept.  The most it can do is to free a concept of understanding from the unavoidable limitations of possible experience, and so to endeavor to extend it beyond the limits of the empirical, though still, indeed, in terms of its relation to the empirical. (p. 419 found in Ch 2: ‘The Antinomy of Pure Reason’, Section 1)”  It seems that reason makes demands of understanding, and so constrains it or reminds it of the natural boundaries, but is not itself a system by which to produce concepts.  Understanding is by way of experience and we choose concepts or recognize their value by way of reason, but reason does not itself give rise to them.  It seems interesting that reason, as Kant would have it, is the very thing which reminds us of its own division from the conditioned.  Reason is herein its own limit (or the limit of our reason-discourse).  [Nothing is ever interesting if I have to say ‘it seems interesting’, but still I offend.]

“[Humanity] is thus to [it]self, on the one hand phenomenon, and on the other hand, in respect of certain faculties the action of which cannot be ascribed to the receptivity of sensibility, a purely intelligible object.  We entitle these faculties understanding and reason.  The latter, in particular, we distinguish in a quite peculiar and especial way from all empirically conditioned powers. (p. 446)” 

This aligns, I believe, with what I have attempted to say about understanding and reason in the previous segment. 

“That our reason has causality, or that we at least represent it to ourselves as having causality, is evident from the imperatives which in all matters of conduct we impose as rules upon our active powers.  ‘Ought’ expresses a kind of necessity and of connection with grounds which is found nowhere else in the whole of nature.  The understanding can know in nature only what is, what has been, or what will be. (ibidem)” 

He goes on to say that our ‘ought’ has no meaning when applied to nature.  It is simply our projection upon our experiences – our expectations.  This is ever so like Ghazali’s critique of those who would claim causality’s rulership as part of the world rather than God’s decision in Incoherence.  Causality is a concept we impose, not something inherently true of experience – at least it cannot be determined by way of experience.

  • “Therefore there is only one categorical imperative, namely this: Act only on a maxim by which you can will that it, at the same time, should become a general law. (p. 473)”  Is it possible that any such maxim can exist?  That we should wish for its existence is reasonable enough – who could then argue with it?  But it ‘s not so simple. 

 

Concluding Remark:

This is already too long, but summarizing Kant is (at this moment for me at least) an absurd task.  Please treat these as thoughtful musings, worthy of rebuke and further instruction, which may one day reach toward some useful understanding.  As of today they are still speaking a foreign language, but one which may one day be more familiar.

Helpful links:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant/ (Michael Rohlf)

Intros to European Philosophy: Leibniz

GOTTFRIED WILHELM von LEIBNIZ (1646-1716)

Previously Read: My undergraduate research project was on Leibniz’ greatest possible world theodicy (defense of God’s justice – he invented the term). But that was by way of someone else’s approximation, so I was happy to read Leibniz in his own (translated) words.

Key texts: First Truths, Discourse on Metaphysics, and Monadology

Overall impression: I love any reading where Time and Space come into the fold. “Time too may be proved not to be a thing, in the same way as space. (European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche, ed. M. Beardsley. p. 248)” Jackpot. “Space, time, extension, and motion are not things but well-founded modes of our consideration. (p. 249)”

Surprises:

  • Monads. It seems to me to be a sort of atomism, for he speaks of them as simple substances which begin in creation and end in annihilation. Change is continuous in all things – very Heraclituslike.
  • Mention of the Averroists. Leibniz avers that the church fathers were ‘always more Platonic than Aristotelian’ (European Philosophers, p. 278) and the Averroists misused the concept of God being the light of souls. “Truths of reasoning are necessary, and their opposite is impossible; those of fact are contingent, and their opposite is possible. (p. 292)”

48. In God is Power, which is the source of all; then Knowledge, which contains the detail of ideas; and finally Will, which effects changes or products according to the principle of the best. (p. 294)”

For Ghazali, I believe these would be rearranged to Will, Knowledge, and Power. At least, that’s what I noted after reading Frank Griffel’s explanation of Ghazali’s cosmology. Interesting to note the parallel for me.

71. But it must not be imagined, as has been done by some people who have misunderstood my thought, that each soul has a mass or portion of matter belonging to it or attached to it forever, and that consequently it possesses other inferior living beings, destined to its service forever. For all bodies are, like rivers, in a perpetual flux, and parts are entering into them and departing from them continually. (p. 298)”

As I said, very Heraclitus-like (though I seem to perpetually want to say Xenophanes or Hippocratus)

  • He noted the limit of the ontological argument, as it was rejected by Aquinas (p. 307).

From ‘Space and Time’:

“I hold space to be something merely relative, as time is; that I hold it to be an order of coexistences, as time is an order of successions. For space denotes, in terms of possibility, an order of things which exist at the same time, considered as existing together; without enquiring into their manner of existing. (p. 304)”

Disassociated: ‘Is that me?’ or Mach on the Physical and Psychical

Questions of self-identity are popular these days, but then they are perhaps popular in all eras.  Popular films incorporating this element include ‘the Bourne Identity’ and ‘Unknown’.  In both films, the central character struggles to discover who he is, or perhaps who he was

For those of us not struggling with amnesia, the problem of permanence or connection of our current self with the past self (or rather selves) might rarely occur.  After all, most mornings I do n’t wake up wondering at any truly deep level who I am – or if I do it does n’t have any consequences.  If the question is ever posed, memory swats it away. 

According to Ernst Mach,

“Further, that complex of memories, moods, and feelings, joined to a particular body (the human body), which is called the “I” or “Ego,” manifests itself as relatively permanent.  I may be engaged upon this or that subject, I may be quiet and cheerful, excited and ill-humored.  Yet, pathological cases apart, enough durable features remain to identify the ego.  Of course, the ego also is only of relative permanency.”

~The Analysis of Sensations and the Relation of the Physical to the Psychical, Ch. 1.  Trans. by C.M. Williams and printed in ‘The European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche’ p. 769

So for Mach this permanency of Ego is n’t so permanent.  In fact it ‘s largely illusory. 

The apparent permanency of the ego consists chiefly in the single fact of its continuity, in the slowness of its changes.  The many thoughts and plans of yesterday that are continued to-day, and of which our environment in waking hours incessantly reminds us (whence in dreams the ego can be very indistinct, doubled, or entirely wanting), and the little habits that are unconsciously and involuntarily kept up for long periods of time, constitute the groundwork of the ego.  There can hardly be greater differences in the egos of different people, than occur in the course of years in one person.  When I recall to-day my early youth, I should take the boy that I then was, with the exception of a few individual features, for a different person, were it not for the existence of the chain of memories.  Many an article that I myself penned twenty years ago impresses me now as something quite foreign to myself.  The very gradual character of the changes of the body also contributes to the stability of the ego, but in a much less degree than people imagine. 

~ibidem, pp. 769-770

I must say there is nothing by which I can connect myself today, though he seems very like the me of yesterday, with the 2008 study abroad version of myself, or the 2004 fresh college transfer version, or the junior high school baseball player who read a few books over his head some summers ago – save memory.  And I ‘m too nostalgic not to note that my memories are changing to, not simply as I forget more things but as my vantage point changes.  While the day-to-day flux seems minimal and easily corrected for if I ponder yesterday’s events, when stretched across the canvas of larger time periods I find I can offer little explanation for the macro-changes, the gestalt shifts that have taken place.  Truly I would be unrecognizable to my 2004 predecessor.

Worse, I find that I am largely unrecognizable to myself in any enduring fashion!  I do n’t journal consistently, so that evidence cannot be called against this faltering witness, but I have critically engaged with myself as a habit for many years.  If there is any story to be told, it is that each point of view I have taken up has only had significance in relation to some purpose; and as such, my views have no absolute, permanent validity (as Mach from ‘the European Philosophers’ p. 790).

~~*##~

But some will have already foreseen the dubious nature of such views for those anticipating a bodily resurrection.  This is no problem for Mach, for he rejects such as unnecessary impediments (ibid, p. 785).  For Christian and Muslim believers, this is a considerable problem.  Resurrection is kind of a big deal.

Perhaps it is n’t often a believer thinks at any deep level about what the concept of a bodily resurrection entails philosophically.  After all, it is a promise for the faithful afforded by revelation (sourced either in Jesus or the Qur’an) before ever philosphical language is consulted.  But critical thought is not the enemy of religion so long as it does not supplant faithfulness and obedience for these are primary. 

*~*

Seriously though, how are we to expect a bodily resurrection to look?  In the New Testament/Injeel, the resurrected Christ is recognizable to his followers at the minimum as human (though unusual) and seems to be fully recognizable after some period of testing (on occasion).  While resurrection is no everyday thing, the resurrected Christ is n’t some monstrosity or tertium quid.  As such there seems to be something recognizable of his personality or self, even though his body at will passes through walls.

If God is to resurrect the faithful according to His promise, which self is going to be renewed?  Oh yes, of course it ‘ll be you, but are you the exact quantum states of each atom you might consider part of yourself?  Or wait, maybe now.  By tomorrow, if you were able to count, there ‘d be something akin to a slightly different body.  But then, we simply have to connect it all through memory.  If God recreates a set of memories we ‘d recognize as our own, then maybe we can say He ‘s successfully resurrected that which we used to (and can now again call) ‘I’.  But our memories are very much in flux. 

It is for this reason Dr. Augsberger, one of my wife’s professors, calls marriage ‘a series of monogamous relationships’.  The ‘we’ who say those vows are not the ‘we’ a few months later, much less years or decades.  So, we must say with Mach: “The ego is as little absolutely permanent as are bodies.  That which we so much dread in death, the annihilation of our permanency, actually occurs in life in abundant measure. (ibid, p. 770)”

~~-~

Or perhaps, we have other options (I ‘ll give two, feel free to add your own): 1.  The ‘I’ is illusory.  Mach does an excellent job demonstrating the indefinite extensibility of the ego.  That which we experience as the self is actually provided for us by God.  We exist at His pleasure and, in whatever way He chooses, we will experience resurrection in some recognizably parallel manner.  In such case, nothing is particularly given of itself.  Insofar as I exist I am unable to picture my existence truly independent of other beings.  Perhaps this would be compatible with some form of acosmism, in which only God truly exists and no finite thing can claim any true existence.

This seems not to fit so well with the offered personal bodily resurrection expected by Christian or Muslim adherents.  It seems to work on a philosophical level (they do n’t know the nature of their existence after all, so however God chooses to resurrect them is still a gift); but is it recognizable still?  Perhaps not.  The anti-individualism is appealing at moments, but I ‘ll have to say this is unsatisfying as an answer.

2.  We ‘ve gone to some length to speak of the ambiguity attached to the idea of ‘I’ to this point.  I ‘m not so sure that a legitimate monolithic anthropology limits us here.  Is one picture of humanity going to eliminate answers for the Christian or the Muslim?  Perhaps, on careful consideration no answer is necessary.  Although I cannot now tell you who I shall be in the next moment, or in the past these are all in God’s hands.  That is, I see the problem, but I trust that God’s will is manifest in the state of events as they exist.  In the same way, my hope is in God to accomplish his will in resurrecting me and my fellow believers.  How exactly that is to look, I do n’t have many enduring expectations.  Only guesses.  And perhaps that ‘s the best place for me answer from: trust, not uncritical trust, but trust.

Perhaps we need not fear stepping in the river, though neither we nor the river shall be the same in, during, or after the event, for the river is but a path to an end.  Our choice then seems either to step boldly assured of the claims of our Scriptures or entirely do away with any idea of ego or self.  Which is it to be?

Mis-reminding: Wishing Time Would Stand Still

Too often I lie half citizen to the dream-world and half aware of the directions my musings may choose.  Re-calling scenes and faces and moments to remembrance, I wonder what profit such exercises may offer.  Yet I can ill afford to suppress such habits – they are too ingrained.

The picture fleshes out my own longing – to share in the joys such a space offers; the joy time well-shared.  Tonight it is that dust-scoured basement but quickly the picture can shift to a tranquil moment in the outfield, to climbing that tree’s low-hanging arms with my sister, or to traversing the fields of Oxford, or merely sprawling on a mildly uncomfortable couch drinking in words far beyond my comprehension whilst amused by the most welcome of sounds—rain on a reading day.

Consistently such images arrest me and I can do little but wish to be back there.  Worse, I wish that time would stand still so I could again appreciate the presence of being there.  Surely such a wish should never be granted, however.  To arrest time at this very moment would require halting all motions, both perceived and imperceivable.  That would require that I too experience a forced pause – I do n’t know that my mind could appreciate the experiment.  At least, it is n’t what I ‘m asking for.

Perhaps I merely desire to experience time without obligation.  But that can’t be it either: the burden of obligation better helps me appreciate that time which is left for leisure.  In the case of Oxford, our common travails made us better fellows – to one another at least.  In such a case I wish not that the burden be lessened, but that time might be extended.

Extension – that seems to hit the ear a bit better.  What do they say, ‘youth is wasted on the young’ or some such?  I desire to be revisited by the thrill of such times and to have the energy to meet it well.  This carries a certain desire that time might be modified, or at least that I might be, but in truth I can do little to affect the past in such manner.  I return to Heraclitus too often, but I should note that while we never set foot in the same river twice, change is not so great that all is unrecognizable or that we always scramble to meet time well.  What can be done but to seek opportunities to greet the present as we might such welcome scenes of the past?

Mis-place[d]

These meandering thoughts concern time and its relation to space. It fascinates me that we measure time in terms of distance. “How far away is it?” can be answered with, “twelve minutes’ walk”. In fact, we are often less interested in knowing precisely how far away something is than we are in knowing how long it shall take to get there.

So, time-distance is very correlated. In planning I attempt to anticipate what amount of work it will take to get to a certain ‘here’. Here-being I would define as a point in which we are able to share space. I am thinking particularly of how I maintain relations with my fiancee when, in some sense, neither of us is ‘here’ and yet we manage to share a certain ‘here-being’ through many mediums. Of course we wish to simultaneously maximize our experience of ‘here’ and minimize the middle, for the middle is yet a separation.

But this separation or distance can also be manifested when the physical medium is minimized. We are not simply points on a graph whose closeness can be measured by proximity on such a plane. We can watch the same movie, listen to the same speech, share the same meal, sit in the same company, or even engage in the same discussion and yet display an extended middle – a large gap.

It is therefore most interesting this time in which we are apart, for we are being trained in here-being while in most senses we are enacting there-being.  I believe the Ancients would wish to speak of such items in terms of finitude and extension.  We are temporally-located, meaning in some sense I never leave here, and yet there is a sort of transcendence and sharing that shares a here when it could more easily be argued that we are actually there.  If such is the case, then our measurements of where and when are relative (read: related directly) to both the here and now but also to a here which is only partially perceivable at this immediate time-place.  Yet that other here-being is one worth re-orienting to find wherever I may find myself, for now we come to the grander question: in relation to which here-being is it more costly to be mis-placed?