Love disappoints. Hope, ambition, family, all things disappoint. But what do disappointments matter when we have our own private world, the only thing real to us, the one place we go to feel fully free and happy? Ultimately, that free and happy place must come from within, a fruit of the self, offspring of the innermost. Only in expressing the innermost, in putting out something personal, of making the transition, can one find an eternal source of joy. For maturity means knowing how to be content in all situations. Master your focus, realize only the best realities, care most for the happiest things. Learn from the stoics: don’t care about life’s inevitable sufferings; attending to them increases them. For happiness in life does not depend upon types of circumstance, but upon style of focus. This fulfills.
Fulfillment is for needs. To grope with metaphysics, needs could be viewed as an energy within a void. Mythologically, the needs separated from the mind when an atomic self identified with a body, when the body resonated with the same energy of the atom. A body has unity through its needs; the mind breaks this unity by growing. Needs are not merely the emptiness within a body, for at the center of that is a tight energy that stylizes how that emptiness will be filled, and colors motivational energy it creates. Mind, however, holds its energy on the circumference, in a sphincter like ring, keeping its void in the center. To press an idea into the void, to constrict focus, brings it into the body.
The summoning power of a resonating system sets the needs to draw energy from the system and direct it towards needed goals. But the ambitions of the mind are free, and the energy of the mind is free; it seeks what it will, and its health therefore lies in activity.
As needs must filter energy into a shape, mind too summons an idea by taking on a shape, and so also acts as a filter. The freedom of the mind is in moving the energy in neurons within the realm of its possibilities. As habits incarnate in nerve structures, the mind is limited by the brain it acts through, since it acts upon the brain and its possibilities.
The needs provide a style of self: its freedom is in being itself. The mind however has no absolute self, and its freedom is in moving. It functions to enact emotions.
Creativity too is an emotion. We desire to add style to reality. Creativity is a means of balancing unused emotions, of letting the moods and feelings flow out into the world. Thus the original energy of needs blooms.
Needs become real through pains and pleasures. This energy is mingled as desire, love and fear. These desires intermingle around shapes, and charge our images so they react with the mind to either center themselves in it, or push other objects out of focus. The mind in turn can either focus or release. This basic dichotomy permeates the whole system.
This does not make a neat category of opposites. For though love is habitual pleasure, and fear habitual pain, love brings pain when the beloved is distant, and fear brings pleasure when the feared is distant. The fruits of fear are cowardice and weakness when mind doesn’t master it, but when mind does master fear, we achieve truth, power, and authority. And even fear can grant the power to create a beauty to love.
Beauty shuts the critical eye: she will be taken whole. Only beauty can be loved, only power can be respected. Though a strong analytical eye is required to expand the scope of the eye, to be able to subordinate more pieces under one whole, the apprehension of beauty is a release from analysis and criticism. Much work goes into love, and love requires much work – yet they are opposites. Beauty, the object of love, requires power to see. Strangeness is an unassimilated figure, before it can be experienced as beautiful or ugly. Great art remain ever strange, like a fountain. And the strangeness that is the innermost is never opened up – each man is farthest form himself. Love and fear optimize in the wise man, the man who learns the best of his culture, and adds to it.
The structure of wisdom is illustrated thus:
A table of values founds the arguments of philosophy, commentary applies these to life and its stories, the myths we live by, and these present themselves in paintings, words, and other symbols that epitomize the full experience.
Commentary is stories about stories, and chooses a few stories as central. This it must have already selected the table of values it wishes to prove through interpretation. The logic of a philosophy is the style of identifying concepts together to justify a table of values; but a philosophy is a story about ideas, a myth a story about people, and commentary a bridge between them.
All commentary is based on the interpretive key, a basic method by which we use our stories to explain the rest of the world of stories. This is familiar in Freudianism, which sought to explain psychology through the Oedipus complex and castration anxiety. The two basic stories are used to explain all others. Christianity also knows only two stories: the fall and the sacrifice.
All theologies and criticism are interchangeable. The basic position are a sort of map. The place of the most important element is interchangeable, and yet the place is always filled by something. The agent of the system, the logic of the system, the are called by different names but mean the same things. A neutral map could describe all worldviews, philosophies, and religions.
Theology is mode of commentary on certain religious myths. Theology and commentary can be interesting and reveal beauty that was not before seen. They are styles for sorting through stories. Interpretive methods are therefore neither true nor false; they are either fruitful or barren. We need constant stories, and the key to grasping them.
Myths and stories set the pace of life. Life is a poem, and mankind is paced. As you must read a long time to be hypnotized, so too does a group, company, or friend take an effort to internalize and gain the tempo. This persona-of the business company holds a pace and attitude. These are the energy that resonates through a group body.
Here we come again to the distinction between style and substance, between manner and matter. It takes some time to pace yourself to a book; you must reread the first paragraph a few times, or plunge in and imitate the pace and cadence. You will become hypnotized, for reading is a trance. The style presents an attitude of the body that you as the individual internalize, and experience either disfavorably, balancing it with your own disapproval, or which you identify with, empathizing with approval. Whichever, the other’s attitude is internalized within you.
Each member shares the group attitude, even if he rebels against it. A family shares a spirit; since they conspire together, they feel with one heart, and the persistent emotions move the others most. The greatest passion works strongest. As passion is a persistent focus, and passion is made of willed tensions, this creates an anticipation which grants a greater release.
Needs become real as pleasures and pains around imagined objects. Each of our basic myths, or life stories, we imagine for ourselves, is daily edited with thousands of conscious and unconscious fantasies of what we desire, and handles the frustrations of daily life. Every pain balances itself with a little story. In this way, our emotions and desires constantly balance and complicate themselves. Fantasies balance life. Only in this way can we persist in our work, and persist in love.
Work and love fulfill life; they are opposites and yet they intermingle. Just as work without mind becomes boring, and without habits becomes stressful, all opposites must intermingle. Pleasure and pain become desires. Fear and love intermingle into shapes. The effort and release of mind becomes thought. And thought is felt in the body.
Emotions are felt in the muscles, and thinking is always somatized. To do a job, to make love, you must be in the right mindset. A mindset is actually a muscle stance. When a man is ready to write an essay, and sits down, his jaw is set, his eyes get a faraway look; he does his chores and manages his affairs as if he were the world were a fading vapor. But this requires manic preparation.
Just as in astrogenesis, biogenesis, and evolution so too in culture, religion, and technology: creativity comes from a surplus of ideas. The great inventor Edison and the great speaker Emerson kept hundreds of notebooks produced by constant thought. In complexity, ideas resonate together and become one body. Easy pleasures make fat and sick; difficult pleasures make supple and strong: we must increase how much we can think at a time, and allow ourselves to stay in that mindset.
A state of mind lasts for months, a passion for weeks, a mood for days, and feelings for moments. The little fantasies we tell to tie our moods down must allow us to persist in a goal. Just as rewriting is the most important part of writing, so constantly recombining of ideas is the most important part of thinking. A set mood allows this to persist. The energy for moods comes from habits, and the fountain of needs.
The needs can be imagined as a set of vesicles expanding and constricting to create shapes of energy which seek their object. An expanded needs hurts, but an expanded mind pleases. Yet the pain of needs centers focus on itself, like an obsession, like the tongue that returns to the sick tooth. Pain must be bound. Fantasies bind pains and frustrations into certain muscles, gestures, and expressions. Just as creativity is able to restructure a pain so as to satisfy the need, so a metaphorical mind that tells a lot of stories can find outlets others don’t see. The shorter strings of moment-by-moment fantasy hold the larger threads together.
Work and love fulfill life. We need to be important, we need to be loved. Yet when these are frustrated, we can tightly bind the erratic unwilled focus of pain and let the mind feel the smooth unwilled nonfocus of pleasure. To tightly bind an anxiety allows us to turn it solid, to turn it into a tool.
Sensations themselves are like anxieties, but they are more tightly bound, till the erratic element is lost. And just as needs hold the shape of the energy they created, and won’t collapse into pleasure until the energy is put into the needed object, so does an interpretive mind know how to change energy to plug it into the right outlet.
The mindset of a focus holds to one purpose – using the eyes of intellect and the mouth of desire to hold a pose – and this allows the right stories to fill in the gaps of life. The conceptual mind is based on the imagination, and even when we aren’t literally imagining ideas, still those invisible concepts holds shape.
Passion is a persistent focus. The focus that releases is the focus that receives. And so each person can only be loved as much as he allows, as much as he is able and willing to allow. What is the limit of desire? What is its asymptote?
Moby Dick is about discovering an asymptotical meridian and throwing your life against it. Pure love and pure fear are impossible, for they compound each other. When an asymptotical objects springs to life, we must either swallow it or kill it. Through these affinities and hates, the world is structured like a great rolling plain of gravities and fictions where each of us rolls into his best possible place. Yet most of this is unconscious. A strong emotion would destroy the integrity of consciousness, so the emotion is plunged under and allowed up in manageable dosages.
Love frees, and truth empowers – the truth cannot set you free, for freedom makes truth, and truth sets you working: only beauty frees. Beauty, the only object of love, exists in many layers. The surface structure leads to the deep structure. But the deep structure of an art form may never be fully explicated. The deeper the art the greater. The deeper structure lies in definite but elusive implications.
Persons themselves are the most beautiful of objects, and though the are complicated, each of us readily internalizes others. We have archetypes for what a person is. We have no innate ideas but we do have innate methods for making ideas. The making of images, ideas, and stories is all a sort of language.
And so language is the shape emotions take before they become thinkable. We answer the same primordial needs that all men do, but with our own conventional language. The group body fulfills its needs voyueristically through certain persons representing a certain drive. The gratuitously wealthy man satisfies all our avarice. The madman goes crazy so we don’t have to.
And thus certain people act like objects, and objects are also words, gestures are words, all actions have a layer of gesture to them.