This is the crux the whole thing, I think. This is still the only place where we can get real results. And it's still fraught with indissoluble contradictions. What is the perfect encounter?
We know that the face an object shows to us changes with each encounter. We know that sometimes we seem to see more, and sometimes less, sometimes with clarity and vigour, sometimes dimly and indistinctly. Sometimes the figure stands out bold and vivid from its ground, at other times it fades into it.
So that even if we reject the idea of the perfect encounter we at least have a scale implicit in this, degrees of clarity and strength. That we may be more or less equal to the encounter. The doors of perception more or less cleansed or cloudy.
And the same holds true for other qualities, for emotional resonance for instance, that we are touched or we fail to be touched. That we are roused by what is rousing, hushed by what is soothing, that we are saddened by what is sorrowful, excited by what is stimulating, aroused by what is arousing, or we are not. That that excitation crosses over into us, or it doesn't.
And also we have some sense of this emotion transmitted being either genuine or false, the true coin or the forgery. Some sense of it being worthy of us or beneath us, something we willingly share or something we are bound to reject, or that we feel cheapened and soiled by.
We have also an axis which runs from the mundane to the sacred and again, separate encounters with the same object can fall anywhere on this scale. Being now numinous, now banal.
And we have some implicit sense of how all this might be coloured by our own moods and prejudices, fears and desires, what we might project onto it or filter the perception of it through.
There's a phrase in Northrop Frye's book on Blake, Fearful Symmetry, that reads, 'perception is self-development'. I think that's right. I think we can learn from Blake here. And from all sorts of other people, particularly those concerned with perception and relationship. From Martin Buber and his notion of I and Thou, and from the whole psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic tradition and the various ways they have tried to facilitate a kind of perception which is free, as free as possible, from the kind of delusions and pitfalls and failures we have described. Even from notions which perhaps seem messianic, like Carl Rogers demanding unconditional love towards the client. Can we adopt that attitude towards what is before us?
To not interrupt the stimulus before it reaches the heart, to avoid rushing to name it, categorise and define it. Keeping that openness and suspension of judgement as a way to let it work upon you and unfold in its own time-span and time-pulse. To see more of something is always to see it better, to see it in its full magical dimension, as a thing which exists, a part of the fabric of the universe, to see the full extent of its implications and the forces and modes of being it partakes of.
There's a kind of valve, an aperture which can dilate and close, as faith expands and doubt contracts, which governs the immediacy and intensity of the encounter. To what degree we allow it to touch us. What is demanded of us is attention, not a critical, guarded attention but a surrender. This is gestalt's contact boundary, Reich's armouring, any conceptualisation of closing down and opening up.
This work is what the 'listen to this thread' was for but as soon as trust is broken it falls apart which is where the Carl Rogers comes in, where the necessity for an attitude of good will becomes vital. It's very tricky and any impatience or irritation or suspicion of motives makes it impossible. Mostly we fail. Mostly we are inadequate to the encounter, not equal to it. Personalities intrude and position coarsen and harden.
We don't read what people write, we alight on this or that word and fill in the blanks ourselves. We hear assumed intentions and not what is actually said. We don't wait for the stimulus to reach us, we preempt it before it reaches its target define it and calcify it.
And the rock all this founders on, or at least what makes this problematic, is what is discussed in prior posts, how does this relate to an encounter with what we hate, or what we consider second rate, or fraudulent, or pernicious? What happens when we recoil, or sneer or snarl. How do we marry this ideal with our desire to value and to judge, to rank and order and condemn? We don't want to become pious and we don't want to only see 'the good in everything.' We have to be able to see what is rotten too.
I'm not sure how that works yet but I am sure that the old model of music criticism, of liking and disliking and the attempt to impose our own subjectivity on the world at large, has been exploded, is completely defunct and good riddance.
"What'" it will be Question'd, "When the Sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire somewhat like a Guinea?" O no, no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty."