On reason 2

Salvador Dali, Sleep, 1937, oil on canvas, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Dali stated ‘I have often imagined the monster of sleep as a heavy, giant head with a tapering body held up by the crutches of reality.’

Salvador Dali, Sleep, 1937, oil on canvas, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Dali stated ‘I have often imagined the monster of sleep as a heavy, giant head with a tapering body held up by the crutches of reality.’

The other day I was asked to explain my use of the concept ‘contemplation’. I posted a reply but was not happy with and deleted it.

I decided to think about my response non-linguistically, non-conceptually. I thought a day would be sufficient (one can intuit what is sufficient).

How does one think non-linguistically and non-conceptually? By consigning the issue to one’s subconsciousness, by giving up control of the process (through language) and just ‘sitting with it’, letting it run its course.

Several times my thoughts on the subject ‘rose’ into my consciousness (as shards and snippets, very likely due to my conditioned desire to control the process) but I stopped them from forming beyond single concepts, immediately sending those shards and snippets back into the workings of my subconscious brain.

I simply got on with my day. I focused on other matters.

I knew that the process was developing and could feel it was so – intellectually (I knew, by the briefest glimpses, as though quickly opening an oven door the slightest amount, that my thoughts were taking shape) and, inseparable from this, emotionally (I felt good that I could deliberately initiate and be conscious of this subconscious process).

I left the process to itself.

Last night I sat down at my computer, brought to my consciousness what had developed in my subconsciousness by reconsidering in language how to explain my use of ‘contemplation’, composed and posted my reply.

My response which a day before had seemed so difficult to express and inadequate, came easily.

‘Sitting with it’ in one’s subconsciousness is no less a form of thought, of reason than is conscious reason using language – the reason of patriarchy and control (‘Here-comes-a-sentence-now.’).

Yet the former is far more fluid and creative – to draw from Zamyatin, it is a process in which trotting chairs and fluttering wings can freely mingle.

It is a form of reason (delicate, dynamic, intuitive, sensitive, poetic, profoundly rich and complex) that is active all the time, which linguistic reason can easily dominate, drown out, precisely because the latter is – has to be – defined, measured and structured. Limited.

Having acknowledged and embraced it, we can consciously employ and focus this powerful subconscious tool.

It is most probably the same as what we employ when we have a problem and ‘sleep on it’, waking at 4am at the ‘Eureka!’ moment – ‘I have spent ages thinking about this problem (linguistically) and couldn’t solve it – but now, in my sleep, I have!’.

Most importantly, this subconscious process is reason.



8 thoughts on “On reason 2

  1. so this is part of why you dislike Wittgenstein so much I guess — his emphasis on reality being formed by our ability to articulate it. yes, I agree, sleeping on it or (in the old days) walking my dog, thinking of ‘nothing’ can lead to great break thrus in creative and conceptual ‘thought.’
    It’s POURING! here in Mexico, very early for this much rain, but my plants are loving it and there’s BASEBALL! back after four gruesome months without it. only spring training but still.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Austin,
      in my view, we are ultimately the product of objective reality, not it of us.

      Yes, we learn and develop in the process of shaping it (through physical engagement not through articulation only) but if our species becomes extinct and there are no other life forms capable of it, we will take every non-inscribed articulation, every fact with us, leaving a totality of objective things.

      Wittgenstein was only one who, maintaining a patriarchal and ideological lie, claimed that his mysticism was, in fact (?!) the most rigorous ‘reason’.

      It could be considered somewhat ironic that the disingenuous mystic Wittgenstein should argue for articulation and that I, as a materialist, should argue for non-articulated thought used in mysticism.

      It is now autumn here in Oz – some rain but usually the days are beautiful – this time of the year in Oz is the best bushwalking weather. I call it ‘salad weather’ – a little bit of cold/a little bit of warm/a little bit of shade/a little bit of sun/a little bit of breeze/a little bit of none…

      I sense a powerful relief and excitement in your use of caps for ‘BASEBALL!’. Do you go to the States to watch any games or will you be following from home?

      I sincerely hope you really enjoy this season’s games.

      Rugby league has just started up again in Australia. All the players are bigger and faster than ever. Whenever I see a photo taken of a game, I count the number of bandages on heads, legs, arms, wrists, hands etc. It is a brutal game.

      Have you heard that a successful league player from New South Wales – Jarryd Hayne – has signed for the San Francisco 49ers?

      Best wishes and I look forward to following your baseball commentary!


  2. It’s intriguing you brought this subject up Phil. I like to paint and write poetry, and what you said certainly applies to those two things. In fact after I discovered the more attention I give my art the worse it gets, and my best paintings were the ones that I put little thought into, I started experimenting.

    I now know my paintings are so much better, as if someone else created them, when I listen to an audio book at the same time. What I find even more fascinating is I’m actually able to listen to my books without my mind drifting, and having to rewind all the time, when I’m painting at the same time.

    It kind of explains why some people doodle, when they are listening hard to something. Could it be there is interference between the conscious and subconscious mind, that by keeping one busy the other is able to function better? For those that are not experts at controlling which the two states.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Phil. Wonderful to recognise our subconscious functioning, beyond our linear conscious and cognitive or knowing processes. We tend to stay in the accountable and the transparent especially in this post-modern world and keep our selves occupied and diverted there (therapies to help with patient’s stay in hospital).

    Behaviourism and the cognitive therapies of psychology have done away with the grey areas of the subconscious. Our deeper senses of gut instinct, intuition and the mystic and spiritual, are the dynamic basis of our reality.

    Right or wrong, good or bad, true or false, we are isolated from our whole, in our identification with our self and what we experience. We hold to what can seem consistent, certain, authentic or familiar, of knowing in our mind. It is reinforced by our assertions and actions, and again reinforced by the development of our interactive technologies and their use.

    We have always kept each other in our linguistic linearity. Language used to be the reverberance of a deep understanding, belonging, recognition and communion that welled from our deep subconscious we lived and acted by. Now instead, our fellowship trails our language, our common points in our “texed” and digitalised bits of our lives.

    I think it useful to distinguish the self from the whole self. A whole being has the body, brain and mind, the conscious and subconscious. Only in our minds can we consider a functioning brain separate from their whole, when there is no brain without a whole body and no whole body without a brain. The whole body has the eyes and allows us to think we see, has the brain and allows us to think we think.

    Yes, we can ascribe the subconscious to take care of our concerns while we are otherwise occupied or asleep, paint beyond our thinking we know how and are doing it, indeed performances and feats are recognised as enacted beyond our cognitive notion and sense. (And thanks for your comment on my woodcut video post, and associating it with poetry, dance and tai chi.)

    However, in considering the human condition and all its states, conditions and functioning, what we may do, experience and notice in our reality, let’s consider a whole body in and of reality and our reality being a projected part.

    A mechanism is implied and a guide and reference established that we may “contemplate” and test, for it is about our actuality and being in relation with the whole body. An empirical pragmatism and process to our reality may be, and be a universal reference for us all.

    The dynamism and vibrancy of our whole being is of creation, ie creation, distruction, creation in true existential and shiva-istic (Hindu god of creation destruction creation in polarity with Vishnu the preserver) fashion.

    Incontestable for us as a part and in projection. Our transience and what we may hold consistent, are his/her projected parts. The whole body is present in the present, and encompass our past, here and now, and all realms, entities and experiences we may encounter. What or who we experience, if they are true indications, exist in reality next to our whole being.

    The mystic and intuitive extend deep into our subconscious, but physical in reality is the whole body. He/she is godly, more than the sum of his/her parts that include our sense of the physical, of “our body”, nature, others, humanity, life, the divine, the profound and the profane.

    Physical is spiritual, the spirit being the essence of the whole self and All creation, God-presence if All creation be God, for the whole self being of creation. And our whole does not deny our part nor our reality, of experiences and our presumptions about them; projection is a part of the whole body, as are his/her solid, vaporous and fluid, vascular and musculo-skeletal spaces.

    Our surrender and actualisation as a projected part (it is what we are) and in relation with our whole (our maker and source, and contact with reality); forever becoming a part for being in relation with the whole body who is of the forever changing present.

    Orientation to our projected part and whole, allows for this approach, to our self and to our whole. Without a notion of a whole being and our projected part, we can only point at reality from within the black box or the brown paper bag of our reality, of conscious experience and identification witnessed.

    We keep our selves and one another, occupied and diverted in the linearity of story and vision, in what we “see”. We must confront this incessancy, hold to our actuality, of our self, our reality and our depths, and introduce the whole self.

    As projected actuality, in what we and our reality are, we may present our selves and be in relation with our whole. Our conscious is released and connected with our subconscious, through an integration of our parts with our whole. Beyond alluding to reality, we may be in relation with reality, the whole body alive in creation.

    And our whole is more complete with more integrated parts.

    How do you feel about this proposition, that the source of our conscious and subconscious, the mystic as well as the cognitive, being a whole being in and of reality, and with who we may be in relation. Would you consider presenting you self in your actuality to your whole?


    • Hi Tach,
      thank you for your comment. My approach to the subject, as you know, is materialist. While I am an aspect of the objective whole, I am so materially, not spiritually.

      By that I mean I don’t think the whole is objectively spiritual (which requires consciousness) – it just is. Spirituality is a feeling I, as a human, am able to experience as I reflect on my relation to the whole.

      Certainly, that (objective) whole takes primacy over any thoughts I have or anything I might do.

      A further thought on your video – yes, I thought of a parallel with Tai Chi but I also thought of Wing Chun which I learnt for 4 years – ‘centering’ is crucial for that art too and a hand move you did in the video with your hand flat and upright, bringing it towards your body was very similar to one I learnt in Wing Chun.

      Best regards,



      • I loved it but had to give it up because of a recurring injury – due to incorrect ‘Western style’ (i.e. ‘I’m going to dominate you’) tuition.

        Some of the moves you make in your video are very reminiscent of moves we learnt.

        I sparred with an expert from Hong Kong who easily beat me (as he did all the instructors – he would beat one> an assistant would hand him a towel and he would wipe his sweat off> he then sparred with another and beat them. He sparred with about 6 people in a row!) and whose attitude to Wing Chun was far superior to the Western attitude – to Wing Chun (he laughed with sincere happiness after he sparred each time), like so many other things (Western martial arts expert, shoulders forward to display lats, looking fierce and in beautiful silk uniform: ‘Let me loose and I will destroy this room and everyone in it – with one breath!’)


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