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A song of definitive abstraction and its remedy
By Alan Rayner
I know where I stand
At the top of this heap
My pyramid of numbers
With me alone
At the top
A wholesome wholeness
Complete in every way
Superior to all my parts
That make me up
As a divine construction
Knowing it All
By Being Above It All
Yet, not having a clue
About what it means
In the thick of it all
I seem to have forgotten
What love means
Perhaps I’d better
Take a look around myself
Then feel my way inside my self
To find out why it really hurts
To be this way
Then, let my self breathe again
The ‘univanity’ alluded to by the above poem is an intransigent belief in the supremacy and completeness of individual or group as an ‘absolute independent singleness’ or ‘wholeness’. It thoroughly permeates modern thought and culture and is characteristic of both ‘individualism/reductionism’ and ‘collectivism/holism’. It is embedded in all forms of definitive abstraction – philosophical, mathematical, scientific, theological – that envisage the numerical figure of ‘One’ to be a discrete entity, ‘on its own’. It is neither consistent with our sensory experience of natural energy flow, nor can it make consistent sense. But it does lead to the exclusion or suffocation of human creativity, love and variety, as well as profound social, psychological and environmental conflict and harm through the pursuit of definitive knowledge as a source of power.
As I have put it elsewhere:-
Knowledge without Love is Power without Wisdom - Fearful Vanity that commits crimes against humanity and Nature. http://www.bestthinking.com/article/permalink/1807?tab=article&title=power-love-vanity-and-humility
Yet the pursuit of knowledge alone has, since the so-called ‘Enlightenment’, increasingly led to ‘Institutionalized Univanity’.
Correspondingly, it seems that most modern universities have become Institutions of Univanity, licensed to impoverish creative thought through having discarded their poetic licence in favour of money and kudos
But they’re not alone! For thousands of years we have been ramming univanity down our own throats, reinforcing it in our educational, political and religious institutions and ideologies, without recognizing how and why we do this, in spite of our selves. We have needlessly been hardening or removing what is needed to distinguish and nurture ‘ego’ as unique local self-identity in order to brutalize this into the abusive ‘egotism’ of individual or collective entireties.
Univanity is virtually impossible to remedy without profound mental breakdown or breakthrough, because it is by definition singularly unaware of its actual situation IN Nature, and hence unaware of the needless conflict and suffering that it induces. It is convinced of its own virtue and beneficence, thereby attributing all blame for harm elsewhere, by means of psychological projection. It views all questioning of its foundational premises as an unwarranted violation of its integrity, from which it defends itself by means of an exclusive and paradoxical wall of self-definition. Anyone who does question its premises is disregarded as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ (except in so far as they may agree with its premises, in which case they may be disregarded as ‘having nothing new to add’). No doubt, my calling it ‘Univanity’ will be regarded as an ‘insult’. Such is the difficulty of politely alerting Univanity to its own intransigence and harmfulness: one way or another it will find an excuse to take offence and/or ignore the point that is being made.
The 'hole point' of the fluid boundary logic of natural inclusionality is to move on from the 'univanities' of 'whole ways of thinking' that base themselves on the definitive completeness of individual or group, to a dynamic 'hole new way' way of thinking, where space is acknowledged to be a continuous intangible presence and boundaries are appreciated as energetic interfacings of inner and outer 'holeyness' or 'hollowness'. This corresponds in turn with the move from an idealist (abstract) vision of a 'hole' as an 'absence of presence' or 'gap/discontinuity IN the fabric(ation) of everything' and an authentic (natural) vision of a dynamically bounded locality OF space as intangible presence everywhere, without limit.
This natural inclusional move is commensurate with the vision of Robert Frost in his statement:
“Nature does not complete things... Man must finish, and he does so by making a garden and building a wall"
It is also a fundamentally different transformational move from the simple recurrent exchange of one kind of 'univanity' or 'partial truth' (e.g. reductionism – which fragments natural energy flow) for another (e.g. holism – which suffocates natural energy flow) depending on what is 'in vogue'
"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor." - Robert Frost, The Black Cottage
Here it is vital to appreciate that natural inclusionality (NI) seeks to TRANSFORM the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ of Univanity into a more sensitive and sensible understanding of our human place in Nature. It does not seek to eradicate and replace what has preceded it, but to learn and evolve from this in a creative and sustainable way.
NI doesn't preclude conventional arithmetic or reasoning but transforms the meaning of its answers
Most fundamentally, NI recognizes that One is never all one alone; one dynamically includes and is included in the infinite space of Agape (deep Love).
Now, what could actually be so mad, bad and dangerous to know about that?
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About the Author
Dr Alan Rayner is a naturalist who uses art, poetry, fluid mathematics and careful science to enquire and communicate about the evolutionary
A poetic reminder of what not to forget, which single-mindedness does its level best to forget.
A brief poetic reflection on what locks most people in to a damaging perception of reality that automatically prevents receptivity to what would open the way to a more sustainable, loving and enjoyable way of life.
Four paintings by Alan Rayner expressing awareness of self-identity as a dynamic inclusion of natural neighbourhood.