The Mind-Body Problem

woops

is not like other people
i;ve always resented having to keep feeding the mule, cutting its toenails, brushing its teeth, pissing, shitting. all that stuff is a drag. i dont mind sleeping though.
those days when you're just dragging yourself around with nothing happening (except possibly letting things get worse) but you still have to get out of bed and put food into yourself
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
"Cogito, ergo sum" has always bothered me. My immediate response is "Why?". You have to make so many assumptions about what thinking is, how it occurs, whether anything else thinks etc etc for it to work. There's also no frame of reference, nothing to compare and contrast it to.
 

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Language is another one. Every single thing we've invented to try and explain and understand things feels like simply another layer of obfuscation.
 

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Nah, not really. I've done it a few times, but it wasn't serious meditation. It was just some Pranayama thing for anxiety.
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
Language is another one. Every single thing we've invented to try and explain and understand things feels like simply another layer of obfuscation.
The artificiality and arbitrariness is perhaps what really bothers me. Everything I think there's a name for doesn't have a name, the concept of it having a name isn't even a thing. A tree isn't "a tree". I don't really know what it is. I don't even know if what I think of as a tree is even the whole of whatever that thing is. Perhaps it extends past where I think it does and doesn't end in the roots and leaves, whatever they are.
 

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The fear is that I can keep unraveling things, but I can't really put them back together in any other way, or perhaps at all. It's a case of being stuck in discomfort out of fear of being stuck in even greater discomfort.
 

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Also I can sort of watch myself thinking these things from a distance the way I can watch my body from a distance, like being sat in the back of a cinema being able to watch the audience watching the film.
 

luka

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the thing about writing is it means even the bad stuff is in some sense just material. it gives you a kind of position outside it, to a degree. you still suffer and get scared and that, but you're The Writer.
 

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I might write one day, I dunno that I really want to though. I'm not enthused enough to ever actually bother. I've no compulsion to do it, nothing I want to get down or say.
 

luka

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but if you dont want to do it dont do it. its just a good way to work through things and use them to your own advantage. but everyone is different.
 

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I can't write the stuff in this thread. It's just lame, 6th form musing and it's been done to death. There's no use for it when you can already read Beckett etc.
 

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Repetition's actually another aspect of it. I often feel trapped by going through the same motions others have. Anything I could possibly do would just be an echo.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Repetition's actually another aspect of it. I often feel trapped by going through the same motions others have. Anything I could possibly do would just be an echo.
i know the feeling but i think its an error. i dont think its true. i think the devil tells us that so we just spend our lives wanking and playing metal gear solid instead of being cool
 

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What is missing from Beckett’s account of life? Many things, of which the biggest is the whale.

“Captain Ahab, I have heard of Moby Dick,” says Starbuck, the mate of the Pequod. “Was [it] not Moby Dick that took off thy leg?”

“Aye, Starbuck,” says Captain Ahab, “it was Moby Dick that dismasted me.” For that “I’ll chase . . . that white whale . . . over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out.”

But Starbuck is dubious. I joined this ship to hunt whales, he says, not to pursue vengeance—“vengeance on a dumb brute . . . that simply smote thee from blindest instinct. To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous.”

Ahab is unswayed. “All visible objects . . . are but as pasteboard masks,” he says, offering a philosophical account of his vendetta against the white whale. “But in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me.”

Are our lives directed by an intelligence, malign or benign; or on the contrary is what we go through just stuff happening? Are we part of an experiment on so grand a scale that we cannot descry even its outlines, or on the contrary is there no scheme at all of which we form a part? This is the question I presume to lie at the heart of Moby-Dick as a philosophical drama, and it is not dissimilar to the question at the heart of Beckett’s oeuvre.

Melville presents the question not in abstract form but in images, in representations. He can do it no other way, since the question offers itself to him in a singular image, the image of blankness, of no-image. Whiteness, says Ishmael the narrator, in a chapter entitled “The Whiteness of the Whale,” is “the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind”; his mind throws up a picture of an all-white landscape of snow, of “dumb blankness, full of meaning.”

The question offers itself in images. Through images, even blank images, stream torrents of meaning (that is the nature of images). One image: the white wall of the cell in which we find ourselves imprisoned, which is also the white wall constituted by the huge forehead of the whale. If the harpoon is cast, if the harpoon tears through the wall, into what does it tear?

Another image: the whale, huge in its rage, huge in its death-agony. In the world of 1859, the white whale is the last creature on earth (on God’s earth? perhaps, perhaps not) whom man, even man armed for battle, goes forth to confront with fear in his heart.

A whale is a whale is a whale. A whale is not an idea. A white whale is not a white wall. If you prick a whale, does he not bleed? Indeed he does, and by the barrelful, as we read in chapter 61. His blood cannot be escaped. His blood bubbles and seethes for furlongs behind him, till the rays of the sun, reflected from it, redden the faces of his killers. It turns the sea into a crimson pond; it doth the multitudinous seas incarnadine.

In their white cells, Beckett’s selves, his intelligences, his creatures, whatever one prefers to call them, wait and watch and observe and notate.

All white in the whiteness of the rotunda . . . Diameter three feet, three feet from ground to summit . . . Lying on the ground two white bodies . . . White too the vault and the round wall . . . all white in the whiteness . . .

All known all white bare white body fixed one yard legs joined like sewn. Light heat white floor one yard square never seen. White walls one yard by two white ceiling . . .


Why do these creatures not grasp their harpoon and hurl it through the white wall? Answer: Because they are impotent, invalid, crippled, bedridden. Because they are brains imprisoned in pots without arms or legs. Because they are worms. Because they do not have harpoons, only pencils at most. Why are they cripples or invalids or worms or disembodied brains armed at most with pencils? Because they and the intelligence behind them believe that the only tool that can pierce the white wall is the tool of pure thought. Despite the evidence of their eyes that the tool of pure thought fails again and again and again. You must go on. I can’t go on. Go on. Try again. Fail again.

To Melville the one-legged man who trusts himself to the harpoon-thrust, though the harpoon fails him too (to the harpoon is knotted the rope that drags him to his death), is a figure of tragic folly and (maybe) tragic grandeur, à la Macbeth. To Beckett, the legless scribbler who believes in pure thought is a figure of comedy, or at least of that brand of anguished, teeth-gnashing, solipsistic intellectual comedy, with intimations of damnation behind it, that Beckett made his own, and that even became a bit of a reflex with him until the late dawning he underwent in the 1980s.

But what if Beckett had had the imaginative courage to dream up the whale, the great flat white featureless front (front, from Latin frons, forehead) pressed up against the fragile bark in which you venture upon the deep; and behind that front, the great, scheming animal brain, the brain that comes from another universe of discourse, thinking thoughts according to its own nature, beyond malign, beyond benign, thoughts inconceivable, incommensurate with human thought?
 
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