File spoon-archives/heidegger.archive/heidegger_2001/heidegger.0102, message 21

Subject: Re: Cosmic Cinema
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 18:30:43 -0000

What follows is something of a flyer - food for thought - some cosmic

I can feel myself moving towards some kind of materialist monist view of the
cosmos, where matter/energy participates in a timeless transitive line-dance
of formation, reformation and transformation.  It is characterised by a
fearful preoccupation with a seamless seriality of events where the slow
formation of a human wrinkle around the orbicularis occuli can contain the
same equipoisal prescriptive charge for symmetry as the rings of Saturn.

"If it looks right - it is right," said the old violinmaker.

In the old Aristotelian ontology matter is moribund and static - Whitehead
moved things on a bit when he grasped the most objective expression of the
cosmos as generative becoming rather than as static, substantial Being. The
concept of event, or of duration which is the field of creative becoming,
plays the central role in Whitehead's theory and I have been thinking about
his view that the nature of a 'being' has a potential for every 'becoming'.
Now I know that Heidegger had a similar view. I reject both Heidegger's view
of 'becoming' and Whitehead's. But why a 'becoming' rather than a
'unbecoming?' Why a linearity in a forward direction rather that perceiving
change as 'departure' from one form to another as a constant bidding
farewell to one stasis to another?
Why view the oncoming engine rather than the departing Guard's-van?
 I would argue that it is not a question of temporal hellos and goodbyes - I
contend that stasis is an impossibility - for the molecular modification of
matter is instantaneous and constant.  The bundle of electrons and other
particles that make up the unique serial modality that we perceive as the
embodiment of Jon Neivens is changing at the speed of light. On which step
do we see the real Jon Neivens as he descends the stairs - at which point is
Jon captured in a state of stasis? In our crude way we attempt to grasp this
existential quicksilver - Eliot's "still point of the turning world." Where
do we look for the non-moving point on the rotating axis of the poles? Does
the central atom on my hard drive revolve?
The answer is stasis is a chimera - there is no such thing as 'Being' or
'Becoming'  - there is only a constant leave-taking to the unending express-
train of spatio-temporal happenings that we call serial modality as pulled
by the engine of isness it rushes through of the station of existence at the
pace of light.

The metaphysics of Whitehead holds that "Becoming" is more fundamental than
"Being" - the reversal of Aristotelian ontology. The forking of human serial
modality into comprehensible and digestible chunks is the task of the "to
 be" system as a predicational ringmaster, for humankind cannot stand very
much reality. The enormity of serial modality is a concept that is difficult
to grasp, and the natural reaction is one of avoidance or deflection of such
a terrifyingly insentient cogitative prospect and it is one that cannot be
easily be overcome. Whether or not we should pursue this concept to the
point where we consider that the most primal events of the cosmos are
"occurrences" to the aggregative or disparate mass, which acts and is acted
upon, or whether or not we can separate event and matter in the first place,
is something with which I am still grappling.
Our minds can cope with "Mary is sitting on the riverbank." as a pretence of
stasis, for natural selection has not prioritised or equipped the human nous
to deal with the magnitude of the alternative disjunctive reality of her
multiple consecutive adjunctive states - when understood, the fact of serial
modality overawes us in the same measure as the wonder of the cosmos itself.
Heidegger's fallacy of 'Beingness' his Chimaearic grotesque of Dasein and
the myth of 'Being' and its side-saddle of abiding corporeality is thus
exposed for what it really is - medievalist cozenage and theosophical
For Aristotle 'Being' precedes 'Becoming' because the former is the
actuality of the latter - I postulate and perhaps my indicant theorist
colleagues will concur that there is no 'Being' and no 'Becoming' - no
stasis of an entity, no entering or assumption of a certain state or
condition - for change from one state to another is serial and seamless.
There is no moment in reality when things stand still - no opportunity to
freeze-frame, no nana-micro-millisecond when you could stick a label on an
entity and call it a being or a becoming, for becoming suggests eventual
change into some form of stasis.
The "is" word provides us with an outtake-clip from the round-the-clock
performance of Mary's serial soap of modality.  The linguistic spool of
"Mary is sitting on the riverbank."  is an excerpt from the principal
temporal extemporisation. It would be impossible for us to view the main
feature for no screen is wide enough and the projector speed is too fast for
the human eye.

Ash on an old man's sleeve
Is all the ash the burnt roses leave.
Dust in the air suspended
Marks the place where a story ended.
Dust inbreathed was a house -
The wall, the wainscot and the mouse.
The death of hope and despair,
This is the death of the air.

T.S. Eliot. The Four Quartets.


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