Synecdoche (Part Two): Little World

Fool's Cap Map of the World. Unknown origin c.1580-1590

Fool’s Cap Map of the World. Unknown origin c.1580-1590

In the first part of this article, we discussed how each person, in coming to understand how they construct themselves as the self-entity they take themselves to be, must in the process come to understand how all others do too. In other words, self-knowledge is not particular to the individual, because the self – in essence an embedded, accumulating and by graduation morphing narrative and body schema – comes into being by identical means in our species. Each of us remains unique in many ways, such as in our formative experience, our psychological make-up, conditioned traits, genetic inheritance, and in our individuated physicalities. Yet that which we regard as our quintessence, the enduring internalised construct we each unquestioningly hold as the self and the aspect of ourselves which we most intimately cling to, is little more than a formulaic pretence determined and governed solely by means of evolved, unbidden and unconscious processes.

Each character has a given name, societal position, cultural identity and perhaps a hierarchical status; yet all such markers are in part a figure of speech, or synecdoche, denoting an undeniable correlation with countless others. The markers delineate superficial distinctions alone, and the greater the number of them, the more we remove from our understanding the underlying truth of the other’s commonality with us.  In much the same way, in our coming to understand how the worlds we ourselves inhabit are constructed, we see also that same world as a synecdoche for all others. How I relate to my home and environment, my relatives and loved ones, those I engage with out of chance or necessity, and those whom I depend upon or those who depend upon me, human or non-human, all make up my little world. It is a relational world, an interactive adventure forged from myriad connections, surprisingly few of which do I have great control over.

The argument against this is to assert that such correlations are facile, that how can I, a materially secure Westerner living in a largely strife-free state, possibly share any commonality with the oppressed and malnourished other on, say, the Indian sub-continent?  Are these conditions not worlds apart, if only qualitatively? Well, in examining human suffering, we find it has a common genesis, proceeding as it does from the mind. For example, we commonly mistake unpleasant bodily sensations for suffering, failing to distinguish between physical pain and the attendant overlay of mental anguish. Is the suffering of the wealthy financier who contemplates suicide at her portfolio’s decimation greater than that of the homesteader in sub-Saharan Africa facing a crop failure of a few sacksful of grain? Objectively, then yes, these are worlds apart, yet the subjective suffering of each may be qualitatively indistinct, even in their wildly differing experiential settings.

Geography of Twitter. By Eric Fischer, Washington, DC

Geography of Twitter. By Eric Fischer, Washington, DC

And what of care and affection; are we to suppose that our world as comprising love is any the lesser or greater than others? Ought we to suppose the human instinct to loving solicitude is greater than that of our fellow creatures? Who amongst us knows what human love is as distinct from other forms of animal love, and whether it is qualitatively superior? Am I so arrogant as to suggest my altruistic benevolence is any the greater than that of my pet Border Collie, for it seems far from being so? If I am unable to define precisely what constitutes this world aspect, how am I to know that those of other animals are not simulacra of my own, there being no original and authentic love-world other than the one as represented by the many – is this not a truth hard to refute? I may describe a personal world of felt affection, yet in doing so prescribe but a figure of speech alone, a synecdoche for all worlds inhabited perhaps by most beings of sentience.

My little world is forged at the interface between psyche and otherness, between ideas and the world as impressed upon my senses. Those impressions and the precise nature of that otherness differ in every detail from the next person’s, yet the means of forging are identical. This shared action results in distinct narratives of course, and it is these that are held to in our bids to assert the pre-eminence of individuality over commonality. I want to believe I am, if not special, then unique; yet that is only true in the differing stories of what I am and what my little world is. To those without privilege to my narratives of self and world, my assumed mantle of uniqueness is meaningless, and the same is true of theirs to me. We may here be at a cold and sterile juncture, yet it also is a starting point from which we may begin to introduce the binding agents of humankind – our innate qualities of kindness and compassion, of empathic understanding.

So what, why should I care about such ideas when I have altogether more pressing concerns? What is the point in abstracting notions such as these from the warp and weft of daily living, the place where I earn my crust, feed my children, and work on my betterment as a means of personal fulfilment? Perhaps the answer lies somewhat starkly in the evidence, and which seems to me to be in a state of constant deterioration. We live in a polarised world, where theists fight theists and atheists argue against both, where the wealthy seldom flinch in their impoverishment of others, and where power-hungry and psychopathic leaders crush the potential of all they have dominion over.  Is it not time to find our common humanity, or even our common animality? We humans are destroying our sole environment; we are chasing down the darkening corridors of economic systems at the point of failure. Can we not rest awhile so as to perceive our little worlds as one?

125 thoughts on “Synecdoche (Part Two): Little World

  1. I usually like to include a music video with my articles so as to provide a little light relief from the interminable tedium of my textual offerings. Finding something that related to the theme of ‘Little World’ proved challenging, until that is, I remembered the wonderful imagery of film maker Michel Gondry:

    • Your writing is never tedious, dear Hariod. You might be interested to know that I specifically started an album to accompany my reading of your post. I chose ‘The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place’ by ‘Explosions in the Sky’. Massive Attack is a brilliant choice.

      • I am listening to your choice as we speak Madalyn – the whole album in fact. I gravitate to instrumentals in terms of modern music more often than not, and find the emotive connection has no necessity for lyrics in my case. So pleased you enjoyed the video; I think Michel Gondry did an amazing job on that track – I hate to think what it must have cost MA to hire him, but whatever it was, it was worth it.

  2. The main image above is something of an enigma in Western cartography, and is referred to as the Fool’s Cap Map of the World. Little of its origins are known other than that it dates from c. 1580-1590 and that it possibly emanated from an obscure Christian sect called The Family of Love, whose members included the Flemish cartographer Ortelius. Another possibility is that it was the work of Orontius Fineus – the Latinised version of the French name Oronce Finé – who produced a map in 1531 showing Antarctica devoid of ice, and with many rivers. The inclusion of his name in the top left corner could simply be a leg pull as Fineus was likely deceased when this work was produced.

    Transcription of main image:

    The floating panel to the left reads: “Democritus of Abdera laughed [at the world], Heraclitus of Ephesus wept [over it], Epichtonius Cosmopolites portrayed it”. This last name loosely translates as ‘everyman’, perhaps as a means of keeping the cartographers true identity hidden. Over the cap is the Latin version of the Greek dictum, “Know thyself”. Upon the cap’s brow, the inscription translates as “O head, worthy of a dose of hellebore”. The Latin quote just above the map is from Pliny the Elder: “For in the whole universe the earth is nothing else and this is the substance of our glory, this is its habitation; here it is that we fill positions of power and covet wealth, and throw mankind into uproar, and launch wars, even civil ones”. Such problems are explained in the quote below the map, from the bible book of Ecclesiastes: “The number of fools is infinite”, with another from the same source seen on the jester’s staff to the right: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”. The linked badges upon the shoulder belt read: “Oh, the worries of the world”, and “Oh, how much triviality is there in the world”, and “Everyone is without sense”, and “All things are vanity: every man living”.

    The secondary image is a map of the frequency with which people in different places reply to each other on Twitter. The brightness of each arc is proportional to the log of the number of tweets from one place addressing someone in another place, with locations chunked to 20-mile squares. Communication is shown moving clockwise from the person sending the tweet to the person being addressed.

  3. I say it is time, high time, that we find our common animality. Though I’m not sure I can explain it, we have this commonality only by virtue of sharing a planet with all the other life forms. I theorize that we, the human species are the invasive species, not native to this planet, or at least not wholly native to the planet, and thus find it incredibly difficult to coexist with nature. In fact, we are the only species on the planet who does poorly existing in nature. However, we have these things in common with nature and her animals, if I take your meaning correctly, both inexplicable and explicable, that bind us to all life. I guess what I’m trying to say is if we embrace all life in the world with “our innate qualities of kindness and compassion, of empathic understanding”, then the paradigm of the individual shifts. Maybe.

    • I had you in mind often as I wrote this piece Peter, and wondered quite how you might react upon reading it. Can we agree that the human is indeed an animal, and that we come to be as we are as a result of processes most would deem to be synonymous with Darwinian theory? If so, then we are quite literally part of a brutal and, at times, often brutalising animal world, thus perhaps inviting a misanthropic perspective upon ourselves as a result of any sensitive analysis, such as your own.

      And yet we are part of nature, a product of nature, birthed from and as itself; and as far as I know, have nothing about us of any super or supranatural faculty, quality or capacity. In what sense then, do you mean it when you state that we “find it incredibly difficult to coexist with nature”, for are we something beyond nature, attempting to reconcile ourselves to it? Certainly, we dominate and exploit nature, yet not as any invading external force, but as forces intrinsic to nature itself.

      Many of us are prohibited from seeing what I describe as those innate qualities you referenced of kindness, compassion, and empathic understanding. These are qualities that exist within you I know, and if they were not innate, then how did they come to present within you as they do Peter? I hope I do not appear too Panglossian in suggesting these are indeed ubiquitously innate qualities of the human animal, albeit ones more often repressed or stifled by cupidity, hatred and selfish desires.

      What you call “the paradigm of the individual”, I am suggesting is also the paradigm of the human animal per se. As I said in the piece, the ‘stories’, or narratives, of individuals remain distinct, yet how we come to inhabit those stories, and also to inhabit our identities of self-entity, are common to us all, they being no more than, if you will, necessary schematics for the mind of the human animal. I think there is hope for us Peter, yet it takes both action and understanding; neither one alone will suffice.

      Please do come back at me if I am failing to take on your perspective fairly, or if you would wish to add anything further. The aim here is not to reach any consensus if none is apparent, but to learn from one another. I think our positions are in fact very close, yet the vehemence with which you state your case suggests to me that there is something I am missing, or failing to perceive clearly. Am I wrong to hold hope in any redemptive power of our species to realise itself Peter?

      • Hariod, I apologize for my vehemence. I’ll revisit this, but for now it’s late and my days begin in the wee hours.

        And yes, one more thing before I depart, I too believe our positions are close. However, mine is just a little on the flaky side.

        Peace, my friend.

      • Before proceeding, you must know that when I say something like, ‘I believe’ or ‘I think,’ I mean it only as a hypothesis; it is not a firm-standing, over-zealous premise seeking consensus. I believe only one thing absolutely, and as to the rest of what I ‘believe’, or what I ‘think’, or even what I ‘know’, these are all based on assumptions – assumptions that are flexible, malleable, and oft times contradictory.

        I can agree to human-as-animal, in generalities only. And I believe we came into existence via creation, albeit not as one might imagine. I find Darwin’s presentation of man’s evolution nearly as ludicrous as the religious creationist theory; for unless there’s evidence I’m unaware of in popular evolution, I can find no transitions between the various Homo genus. I’m not an expert of course, but one Homo genus is here, then gone as another follows, sometimes overlapping the previous, but never anything in between. It’s an over simplistic observation of mine and as such I’m sure it is flawed, but it is the best I can offer with what little I think I know at the moment.

        But in all this is a contradiction: I believe we are evolving – some of us. However, this is only in our thoughts, convictions, and awareness, perhaps brought about by an evolving DNA that is precipitated among other things by our desire for survival. [e.g. we can’t continue as we’ve done and expect a pleasant outcome.] And if we are living evolution then we are but on the cusp of this period of “kindness, compassion, and empathic understanding”, for this seems a trait far from being widespread. As you say, many are prohibited, and I say, it is by virtue of their limited distribution of the aforementioned qualities. [i.e. it’s easy and nothing special to feel compassion for another human, it requires only a beating heart, or to feel compassion for a lion with a name killed by a dentist, a puppy or a kitty, but not so easy to feel compassion for a nameless pig imprisoned out of sight and condemned to a gestation grate for its entire life only to face a brutal and horrifying death when one enjoys eating bacon.]

        I believe brutality to be a human attribute and therefore cannot liken that to a connection between animals and us. The animal brutality you may be referring to is a survival mechanism that takes no pleasure or pride in the kill – domestic cats being the exception. Furthermore, carnivorous predators comprise only about 10% of all the animals, and they are all beneficial predators, as compared to ourselves being the insane swarm of predation.

        I would never suggest that we are of a super or supranatural faculty. In fact, my suggestion is quite the opposite, and for the very reasons most credit us as superior; but to continue this would lead me to digress. So, what I mean by “find it incredibly difficult to coexist with nature”, is this, in brief: Our constitution is unique and further separates us from other earthlings in that we require certain non-natural adaptations in order to survive, not just comfortably, but to survive – clothing to protect our modesty is as important to us as it is for protection from the elements. Our innate fear of the dark – have you ever ventured into the woods alone at night? It scares me and I’m fearless. Our tender skin, soft teeth, dull nails, lack of speed and agility, our volatile digestive system; all of which lead me to mention our necessity for manufactured tools and weapons; whereas with the creatures, their tools and weapons are integral to their body. I believe too, that we are the only species that regulates body temperature by salty sweat. In short, it would be extremely difficult for anyone of us to live naked coexisting in and with nature, whereas the animals naturally and comfortably have adapted.

        I do believe the paradigm shift of the individual in my context is similar to what you suggest – to perceive our little world together as one. But to suggest this as an answer to harmony, and then to exclude nature and or her animals is to fall into the same trap we now find ourselves. I see too many here and elsewhere give accolades for preserving the environment and paying lip service to peace, yet making no concession for nature’s animals, other than the hero animals, such as Cecil the Lion.

        Finally, although I express optimism at times, deep within I feel there is no hope for peaceful resolution within our species. We, with too few exceptions, are overwhelmingly corrupt to the core, naïve, and too eager to follow the crowd and its authorities instead of our innate spiritual guidance, be that what it may. There is a force; I feel it all around me. I commune with it in non-language for no language would avail. I sense it in you, and in some others (though not all), in nature and in the animals. It is what binds us. It is what the ruling elite seek to suppress in us, for it contains magic.

        I hope that this has addressed and clarified any ambiguities I may have imparted. But more I hope it to be of some relevance to your post as that was my intent, and not just the furthering of my vegan agenda.

        Peace to you, Hariod, and to yours.

        • Thank you so much Peter, for your wonderfully generous and passionate comment; I greatly appreciate the time and thought given to this, as will other readers here I am certain. And yes, I too am a relativist, if that is what you are implying in your opening paragraph. I said to Sonmi just the other day that I was unsure if I would stake my life on a single factoid. Of course, at one level we have to communicate in terms of the definitive, yet when we dig deeper, we find most certainties begin to dissolve in some respect or another.

          I am not qualified to discuss evolution other than at a very basic level Peter, and my reading on the subject was largely confined to the work of Ernst Mayer in his book What evolution is. I think a point to consider is that evolution is very seldom anything like being a linear progression, and that once a species has acquired isolating mechanisms it may not materially change for millions of years, with no branching of the phylogenic tree occurring. Stephen Jay Gould, amongst others, demonstrated that species’ typically remain unchanged over great expanses of time, and that speciation events arise only in brief intervals. [See: Punctuated Equilibrium] Religionists frequently and disingenuously misrepresent evolutionary theory in demanding linear progressions in evidenced fossilized remnants, which is not how speciation works at all of course.

          When speaking previously of humankind’s ‘brutality’ it was more of a literal rendering Peter, suggesting that we, along with other mammals, may be considered brutes, or beasts, or creatures, or as you Americans charmingly say ‘critters’ – both in respect to your ‘generalities’, and as I see it, more. Then there is the less literal rendering implying a savageness, which undoubtedly obtains too, and frequently so throughout history. Here, it seems to me we share a great commonality with much of the rest of the animal kingdom. Rhetorically: what is it like to be a worm picked from the earth and eaten alive by a dear little Robin? Such examples are countless in number, being as they are intrinsic to animality; I think this is undeniable. I of course take your point about the necessity for this as a survival mechanism, and am appalled at the human presumption that we too must kill our fellow creatures in order to survive, albeit whilst acknowledging the same as an evolutionary artefact – not all such are artefacts were ever necessary, there being no intelligence at work behind the process. These presumptions are, within a contemporary time-frame, unthinking in the extreme and complete nonsense to boot; we have the knowledge and wherewithal to abandon this anthropocentric madness entirely.

          I am intrigued by your statement to the effect that you “believe we came into existence via creation, albeit not as one might imagine.” Would you be prepared to elaborate in any way Peter? I must confess I cannot envisage what you may mean, though am sure that is a reflection of my own limited capacity to imagine, more than anything else.

          Peace to you too Peter.

          • Greetings Hariod.

            I believe the official narratives to be a hoax, leading us down the path of least resistance; that things rarely, if ever, appear as they truly are. And I think they have their reasons.

            What follows I draw in part from the ancient Sumerian clay tablets, not that I’ve seen them mind, but rather the deciphered works of the late Zecharia Sitchin, and from the work of South African author Michael Tellinger’s Slave Species of the Gods, William Bramley’s The Gods of Eden, Jim Marrs’ Our Occulted History, and a few other sources. Oddly enough, though necessarily so, also the bible. It is important, in any serious inquiry of our origins, to note that many tales within the Sumerian clay tablets resemble those of the bible, yet predated the bible by thousands of years.

            As the latest research attests, human life originated from a single point in Africa, over 200,000 years ago (all years are in rough figures). Approximately 240,000 years prior to that, ancient astronautic explorers landed on earth. They came in search of gold needed to repair their planet’s atmosphere. They were from Nibiru, today a planet known as Planet X – a planet on a 3,600-year elliptical orbit around our sun. They were known as the Anunnaki, and so named from their leader Anu who had two sons whom he sent to earth to establish a space station and mine for gold, Enlil and Enki. They were in charge and later were heralded as the Sumerian gods (and devil). Yes, their alleged life cycle is several thousand years. And I believe they may still be alive to this day. It is either they or their descendants who are calling the shots. Call it a hunch.

            Over the years, more Anunnaki arrived to work the gold mines. When one day, tired of toiling the mines themselves, they created a clone from a DNA mixture of Anunnaki and Homo Erectus. It is interesting that the name of their first successful clone was Adamu, created by inserting a fertilized egg into an Anunnaki womb; Adamu was the first of many attempts to ‘utter proper sounds’, and so they declared it a success. Thus, a slave species was born. And another Homo genus vanishes to extinction, suspiciously so.

            Time progressed.

            A similar account is found in the clay tablets, as in Genesis 6: 1-2, and I believe it accounts for the multitude of races, “[1] And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them [2] That the sons of God [Anunnaki] saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”

            Mind you, I’ve never met an Anunnaki, or a God, or any other alien for that matter that I am aware. Nor have I any recollection of being an abductee. But I have seen, on occasion, inexplicable lights in the night sky behaving unlike any common aircraft – for what that’s worth.

            And so I believe, God the Father, a.k.a. the Anunnaki, created (cloned) us for the sole purpose of slavery. “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Genesis 2:15.

            Of course, there’s much more to all this than meets the scope of this comment, but by now you must have a fair idea of the lunacy that infects my reasoning.

            Peace, strength, courage.

            • This is quite extraordinarily exotic and imaginative Peter; I am grateful for you taking the time to elucidate further on your thoughts and sources, as well as on the ‘hunch’ (your word) which you hold about humankind’s origins. I must confess that I find it problematic reconciling your own insistence upon inhabiting a certain ‘lunacy’ (again, your word) in this regard, with the apparent sincerity of your stated case. I can only assume the former claim to be self-effacingly disingenuous, you being the good man that I know you are, and that your sincerity of belief is in fact consistently held.

              At the same time, I am reminded of your earlier words in which you declared that whatever ideas you set out ought be regarded as no more than provisional, they being ‘malleable’, and oft times contradictory ‘assumptions’. With that in mind, and without wishing to argue the case either way – I simply do not know anything about ‘creation’ – I looked at your references within two sources that generally go to the drier, more seemingly rational side of human understanding when it comes to matters dubious. They are by no means necessarily reliable, it must be said.

              These are Rational Wiki and Skepdic, and their names say it all; I know. The chief problem is, there simply is no reliable academic source for theories such as you set out, and one has to turn elsewhere, if only for a very loose and, admittedly, overtly slanted, at times condescending counter view. With that proviso in mind, I searched Zecharia Sitchin at Skepdic [ ] and the findings were not wholly positive. The same applied at RW and elsewhere as regards Sitchin, Nibiru, Anunnaki, Velikovsky, Nancy Lieder, etc.

              The fact is, if indeed there be a single fact amongst all this, I know nothing my friend. If I incline to anything, it is perhaps the idea that we quite possibly are putting all our questions wrongly as regards creation and creation myths. The human mind evolved to think in terms of existence and non-existence, of time and space; it cannot escape this schematic starting point. We want to know the beginnings and endings of things as if our perceptual mechanisms were ever capable of seeing the whole picture. I have a ‘hunch’ of my own Peter, that this is all impossible.

              I remain indebted to you for your candour, integrity and generosity dear friend.


  4. You write so very, very well.

    Short of alien visitation, which I don’t think is going to happen, we need a collective overview effect if we’re going to survive this adventure. We need to see the earth framed against space.

    • Coming from an author of your calibre that is a compliment I shall hold as a great and humbling offering of encouragement John – thank you. As to alien visitations, then you are less sanguine than our good Mr Hawking then, who seems to be on the airwaves currently suggesting that at least they are out there, if not yet preparing to make our acquaintance. And yes, I always imagined that viewing the earth from space would have a transformative effect upon any fortunate enough to do so. Those few that have had that privilege seem to find it deeply moving, and there’s nothing brings us up so short as seeing our own utter insignificance as little persons. Thank you once again John, for your kind words, interest and presence.

      Readers, please do check out John’s book:

      • Cheers, Hariod!

        I believe aliens exist. I think the universe is teeming with life. The problem seems to be time and distances. How long do civilisations last? How in the name of Mithras do you travel between the stars? I’m hoping there’s a way, but for now, its not at all obvious. Do we have enough time to figure it out before ruining ourselves?

        • Agreed on all fronts John, and how marvelous it would be to discover sentient life elsewhere in the universe. Whether we as a species have the time to make the discovery is doubtful in the extreme it would seem, and the onus would appear to rest with higher life forms. Perhaps at least we can welcome earth’s visitors with a little eternally-piped and looped music, albeit something with the dreadfully clichéd opening notes of Bb – C – Ab – Ab (octave lower) – Eb.

          • Yep, and I think the only thing that will save us will be a collective overview effect. I was tremendously disappointed recently to learn that DSCVR won’t be beaming back live video of the earth from L1. I’d heard that was part of its mission and was giddy with excitement. A few weeks ago I was, however, chatting to one of the mission controllers and he said that wasn’t on the books – never had been. Now seriously, what is wrong with these people? Do they lack imagination? You send a satellite out three-times further than the moon, point a bloody HD camera at earth, watching it rotate against the blackness of space, the greatest view of the planet man has ever got, and you don’t think, “Hey, I bet kids would love to see this – let’s organise a feed.”

    • How lovely to hear from you Poppy! As you appear to be in reading mode, then I trust that the seas are calm and the weather is holding good for you. I am following your progress with interest of course, and as always send my best wishes to you and Free.

  5. This is a great piece. It is important that we fight the illusion of self and see ourselves as being part of the human race. I don’t know whether we will someday realize we should stop ruining the environment and so start to conserve it, being as it is our only home.

    • Thank you very much for your interest and also for your kind words of approval OM, both of which encourage me greatly in my writing here. The corporate vested interests and their right-wing mouthpieces seem intent upon treating the earth as an unending source of provision in their scandalous denial of the scientific evidence as regards man-made climate change; and my fear is that their folly and cupidity shall only become widely seen for what it is once it is too late. I have hope for the redemption of humankind, being as that may come on an individual level, although as you rightly suggest, our only home is in grave jeopardy due to our failed economic and political systems.

      • Most traditional societies, except those that have been corrupted by the bible carrying believers, show unity with nature as the way to live. They protected their environments. The bible carrying believer, in his/her book of lies, believes the earth was made for them alone and so will destroy anything on the way. What small minded people.

        • How very true it is what you say about that which you term ‘traditional societies’ OM. As you know well I am sure, there is a movement in thinking in post-Industrial Age Western societies that we must return to small scale, self-governing collectives, ones which live sustainably in environmental terms. Nationalism, Centralism, Capitalism, Neoliberalism and Individualism all are proving deficient in providing well-being to our species, and perhaps we must completely rethink our place on earth. This is idealistic I know, yet I have faith in our capacity to re-imagine society and what it is that truly conduces to human weal, and am encouraged by the secular movement Occupy and its power to mobilise and influence globally.

          • I get accused often of being an idealist and an extreme pessimist. Some think of me as being anti-science which I am not. I only ask, having almost satisfied our curiosity for space travel, why do we still kill each other over [territorial] boundaries or ancient gods? Why are we not harnessing all this brain power in solving problems that are closer to home?

            • I believe one can be both cynical and idealistic OM, and your own position in this regard seems to me to be eminently well-considered, rational and sensitive, from what I can ascertain in your writings. Why should we abandon hope merely because we can anticipate the often warped products of human thought? Maybe we humans can both exhibit shades of Schopenhauer as well as those of Dr. Pangloss, and the two are not mutually exclusive?

  6. Wonderful piece Hariod. Not easy to grasp but so inspiring. I have often thought of a state of being where we put as much energy into our union with all things as we do into our separateness. Imagine that! What would it look like and what would be the outcome? Having worked in the arena of Narrative Therapy I have often watched how difficult it is for people to perceive just how closely connected their own narrative is with the wider narrative being lived out by others around them. When that connection has been seen and made, life for them has taken on a deeper union and expansiveness. The way the ego defines its own narrative as being exclusive and unexampled is probably the greatest problem we face today. Again, thank you for the challenge.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement Don; I greatly appreciate them, as well as your interest and sagacious reflections too of course. I do know that my writing can appear rather convoluted, and excuse myself in part by remembering that the subjects of interest to me perhaps do not so readily find their expression in words. Then again, and unlike yourself, I am not of a creative bent and so have little option but to plod along prosaically in my efforts. All the more surprising it is then, to receive the attentions of those such as yourself, particularly as you appear to have expertise in a related field – do tell me if you have a moment, just what this ‘Narrative Therapy’ is Don, as I have never come across the term before, and had always assumed you were an artist by profession throughout your life.

      • Hariod, you certainly don’t ‘plod along’; you fly where we can’t go. My ability to grasp stuff has everything to do with my limitations, not yours. No, I’m not an artist, not by a long shot. I just dabble. I would love to share just something of myself with you, but I would rather not do it in a comment. I really appreciate your interest.

        • Entirely understood Don, and sensible too. If ever you feel the inclination, you can always email me at the address displayed in your dashboard and which accompanies all comments I make at your site. I do correspond privately with subscribers here and greatly enjoy doing so. Please feel no obligation in the least though, and I apologise for my intrusive question my friend.

  7. Hello Hariod,

    I think what you have written about here is vitally important, in particular the idea that we are fundamentally the same. This is, I think, an essential insight to cultivating or developing one’s ability to see all other beings with compassion, because when we realize we are all the same in the manner you have described here, we discover how easily we could be, or could have been, anyone – anyone from the type of person we love to the type of person we so often despise. We are called by this insight to embrace a seeing of one another that is deeper than the categorical brands and the circumstances, and ironically, it is my feeling that in doing so we do discover something a bit unique in there. More on that shortly.

    In A Course of Love, this first aspect you have explored – our commonality – is expressed using the phrase that we “share an identity”. The “distinct narratives” (to use your phrase from above) that we produce through our differentiation and mutual relatedness are not an identity at all, but expressions of being. One would not say that an apple left to rot upon the ground is a reflection or an indictment of the tree itself, and yet we also see that each and every apple came into being in a similar manner, and contains within it the pattern of the whole tree itself. One confusion from which we suffer deeply is this failure to understand and accept our commonality, or our shared identity, and to invest ourselves instead in the identities we would construct out of thin air, using the bricks and mortar of our accomplishment, our despondency, our success, our failure, our inadequacies, or our talents. Whatever is handy will do. To realize we are all identical in this method of identity construction means the CEO and the beggar are identical.

    But there is also one other idea I want to explore, if I may, and that is the idea that the “distinct narratives” are unimportant or perhaps even the problem itself. I have come to consider that with the recovery of our commonality, or our shared identity if you will, the distinct narratives we occupy are freed of the need to be the bedrock of our identity. Instead, like the apples from the tree, they may be understood as the movement of that commonality into a diversity of expressions. In A Course of Love, this is described as the development of unique expressions of being, through unity and relationship. Unity is our shared identity, our commonality, and relationship is the tool we use to push off from one another a bit, to differentiate – not in the ultimate sense of fabricating our independent identities that function off on their own, but in the sense of it being a cooperative effort to bring forth beauty and creation.

    The sun and the planets had to differentiate in order that there be living animal expressions here as we know them, but this does not mean the sun and planets are unconstrained by one another, or that they are not somehow dependent each upon each for the possibility of distinctness.

    Lastly, I would accept that our physical forms are indeed the product of the evolutionary processes you discussed above, but I do not think lasting peace can be achieved by offering a physical history as the sole rallying cry. I feel that we are a blend somehow of the relative and the absolute – of matter and spirit to use another set of terms that some may find more problematic. But relative and absolute work just fine. The seen and the unseen work, too. Nevertheless, I think there will be resistance to suggesting that all of who we are is contained in the animal. It is a paradox, perhaps? It is difficult for us to be willing to enter the nebulous spaces within ourselves, where we find both the animal and the idea.

    I found your writing in this piece to be eminently accessible, Hariod, and very thought-provoking.

    Much love,


    • Thank you Michael, for your unstintingly generous and insightful reflections, and which I know are appreciated not just by myself, but by readers more widely.

      One thing to bear in mind here is that this piece, together with its earlier counterpart, are necessarily rather narrow reflections on the human condition as I see it, and I do not mean to suggest otherwise. I am really trying to explore the idea of the synecdoche/simulacrum in terms of how we conflate our subjectively held conceptualisations with any more objective understanding of individuality and the world. I hope I made clear in the piece that each individual carries a certain uniqueness in terms of how they represent themselves and their world to themselves, and that this in turn reflects outwardly into the world – a manifestation of what some may term the ‘will’, or as we discussed at your place just the other day, the playing out in action of volitional tendencies and conditioned traits. As usual, you will have to forgive my rather dry terminology, and I know you will.

      Accepting the narrowness of the subject under discussion, then I too regard the matter as one of importance, and am pleased at your obvious enthusiasm in tackling it within the context of humankind’s capacity for compassionate understanding, to which it relates so strongly of course. As you know, ACIM and ACOL are outside my ambit so as to be able to comment meaningfully upon, yet I always delight in learning from you of the many correlations that appear within them to what I write about here. I of course accept the distinction you make between ACOL’s ‘shared identity’ and the internalised narratives I wrote of, which in some sense are thought to be part of our identity, yet in a differing, altogether more personal sense. And yes, these do indeed become ‘expressions of being’, as I said just above in mentioning their outward reflections into the world.

      Carrying on with your reflections, then I hope I did not altogether dismiss the significance of ‘distinct narratives’, which are, after all, part and parcel of the human condition. They enable our navigation of the world, and provide a means of consensus in communication; yet we inhabit these narratives having imperceptibly slipped into them as if they were our actuality. [I believe you understand this point very well my friend.] This is the error that our evolutionary development and adoption of language has birthed to us, as I see it. In this process, we mistake our representations of the world for the world itself; the old problem of mistaking the map for the territory – the map is incredibly useful, yet remains two-dimensional.

      In the same way, our mental representations portray everything two-dimensionally in terms of a subject and object dichotomy. Returning to your apple tree analogy, then in awareness apprehending itself as itself, the fallen rotten apple and standing tree are seen as being each in the other; when we see the tree in winter we see also spring’s blossom and summer’s ripened fruit. This is because awareness sees the mind’s objects as just that, not as actualities ‘out there’ in the world – the objects are merely narrative formations fixing phenomena into a linear frame of time and an apparent time-limited ‘permanence’. Awareness does not comprise apples, nor is it inside time, nor does it exhibit impermanence other than in the representations of consciousness, which itself is a brain-made fabrication illuminated by awareness. This is my attempt at expressing what you called “the movement of that commonality into a diversity of expressions” Michael, and what ACOL refers to as “the development of unique expressions of being, through unity and relationship.” If I am not drawing false parallels here, then I would say we stand on common ground with the exception of our respective terminologies.

      And finally, I once again agree, there is a need for some sort of ‘rallying cry’ to alert ourselves to our shared error, and that any one perspective will necessarily prove lacking in some critical respect. Thinkers such as the late Richard Rorty pointed to the need for art and literature in coming to understand philosophy and science in fields less sterile than those of intellect, reason and historical perspective alone. If I read a passage from Eliot’s Four Quartets, I may far more readily grasp the true nature of the human condition than any amount of prosaic philosophy, psychology or neuroscience can possibly provide me with. Nonetheless, I think the endeavor as a whole is really a multi-disciplinary one, and above all, an unrelenting and fearless search within.

      Much love and gratitude to you too dear Michael.


      • Hello Hariod,

        Thank you for your thorough response, and I most certainly do appreciate the constraints of your chosen topic, and the medium in which it has been presented. I simply cannot help the desire to expound, an exercise in the unnecessary which you graciously permit. 🙂

        I think we are close, but not quite, in the reconciliation of our respective terminologies and philosophical moorings. What is intriguing to me is the following:

        All attempts at elaboration aside, we agree on the beauty of Eliot’s writing, and its ability to ‘take us there’ in ways that efforts to sort things out with explanations may never quite do. I also feel that when the chips are down, we know how one another are likely to respond, and in that moment any minutiae of logic or philosophy would again be moot. This is the foundation of trust and admiration that I have in and for you.

        In life the chips are always down, though we perhaps prefer to think otherwise; and so there is this beautiful, albeit quite nebulous, sensation I have that what we are each being – and so many others here and elsewhere too – is precisely who and what we can be to most benefit the movement of the world. It is wondrous to behold, and these areas where I sense we’re not wholly reconciled are in a sense secondary to this.

        But there are also areas where I feel as though I am peeking through a crack in the circus tent, treading on the ground of discovery, and seeing something I’ve yet to understand very well. It helps sometimes to talk about it, and see what others may have gleaned from taking a peek into the circus tent from their own vantage points. Not to be right or wrong about it, but I do love to understand how others interpret their inner lives.

        What I see through the folds today that I cannot explain, and that I’m not sure is adequately grasped by either of our commentaries so far, is the notion that our differentiation (something we’ve been touching on here and there of late) is fundamentally a non-physical differentiation. It is not simply the uniqueness we behold in different family histories, languages, cultural experiences and the like, which emerge from the constraints of a physical experience, but something even deeper. Something even deeper that nonetheless is not a departure from unity.

        Something like the ‘idea’ of a dolphin and the ‘idea’ of a lotus blossom might exist merely as invisible ensembles of attributes or qualities. Mightn’t there be an invisible ensemble of attributes and qualities that ultimately reveals itself as a Michael and as a Hariod? Is each of these movements not itself a synecdoche in the sense you have discussed here?

        And to go further perhaps, is the way that we inhabit these narratives having imperceptibly slipped into them as if they were our actuality possibly a distortion of the very real endeavor of the unity we share to point out that there are a few Hariod’s and Michael’s and dolphins and ostriches all ‘in there’ somewhere?

        While this perhaps sounds quite like the notion of the permanent and unchanging soul, that is not what I’m trying to suggest. It breaks down, for me, but I don’t think our differentiation is a purely physical process any more than any of the other fundamental processes of being are purely physical processes. This goes a little to the discussion we had last time about invisible/timeless processes giving rise to what washes up onto the shores of time and space.

        Thank you again, for permitting the unnecessary my friend! Ha!


        • Firstly my dear friend, it is not for me a case of ‘permitting’ your engagement here, as it is never other than didactic and delightful at once, and this is an open forum for all to come and go as they please – I like to think of it as ‘our place’, not mine alone. Whether it is ‘unnecessary’ or not I really have no idea; yet as it is indeed occurring, then we may as well assume it to be a matter of life and death! Also, thank you for your trust and kind words Michael; you know the same applies from me to you in equal measure.

          You have a more analytical mind than I possess Michael. You also re-interpret many of your thoughts in poetic metaphor, which is a faculty I sadly lack. These are undoubtedly great attributes, and you know I think this from my prior remarks about Eliot. I wonder at times though, is it possible that they also create a level of complexity where there need be none? What you are intuiting and pointing to is simple is it not? It is actually so simple that, as some before have said, it is elusively obvious – e.g. Moshe Feldenkrais.

          I recently came across a potter and spiritual teacher called Rupert Spira – you will know of him I am quite sure – and who lives up in Oxford, which is my old stomping ground. Anyway, what really struck me about listening to one or two of his talks is how he stresses exactly what I did in my little book and here too at times, and that is the required simplicity of getting past the subject/object dichotomy i.e. the mind-created given which occludes access to simplicity and unicty. [I will drop a video in at the end of the comment.]

          Put another way, the mind wants to think its way to this ‘elusive obvious’, yet all thought sets itself within a paradigm of space and time, of subject and object. As a result, it is stymied before it starts. The mind cannot think without creating complexity; yet what it intuits is indeed simplicity and some undefinable unification. Great metaphor can point to this simplicity, yet at the same time risks setting-up trains of thought which take us away from it.

          Speaking of trains, then let me now get back on track with your own comments. Your central point seems to be surrounding this “non-physical differentiation”, or what you also refer to as “an invisible ensemble of attributes and qualities”. This sounds rather like what some call a ‘spirit’ counterpart – not, as you say, an enduring, transmigrating soul, but a mirroring of us in the immaterial world. As a point of interest, orthodox Buddhism speaks of a ‘fine material body’ which mirrors the physical body but is not constrained by the physical phenomena of gravity and solidity, or resistance to mass. To swallow this concept, one may need to relinquish notions of a brain-dependent consciousness (hard!), yet the ‘fine material body’ remains linked to the grossly physical counterpart – so who knows? Well, you can develop concentration practices which take you there if you really are interested? See 4, ‘The Higher Jhanas’ here:

          Really, that is not a serious suggestion at all Michael, and I was merely following a line of thought to a logical conclusion in terms of doctrines I am familiar with. Such practices are extraordinarily difficult to experience without perfect conditions and many years of formal training, and even then, they lead nowhere other than in demonstrating that such experiences can be had, and that all is not as it seems Horatio – “there are more things in heaven and earth” etc. I do know that you are a practitioner yourself, so trust you will forgive me if I am covering old and familiar ground; it may well be so.

          Otherwise, Rupert does a fine job here, in discussion with a chap who is attempting to think his way to what Rupert is pointing to. If you have not previously viewed it, I hope you find it interesting Michael, and do let me know what you think; I would be most interested as always.

          Much love,


          • Hariod,

            First off, I just want to say – not knowing exactly how my words are interpreted or received on your end – that my peeking through the folds of the circus tent is an act of enthusiasm and curiosity, and that this action does not in its moment of flowering derive from the sensation that something is missing. It is more of a wonder at what is. I can see that it would be easy to interpret my comments as the actions of a mind alone, within its vacuum of thought, attempting to put all these puzzle pieces together into a nice, portable picture of all things that it could carry around in a briefcase and display for anyone interested when some conundrum or another appears. And this is not really the case.

            I do also think that the mind gets a bad rap in most spiritual teachings, and that the real problem with the mind is not that it is limited in its particular faculties, but that it is relied upon for purposes for which it was never intended, and that what we experience as the mind is only a limited version of the fullness of mind because of our identity challenges. We identify with only a portion of it – that little wedge of mind we call our own – and when given the burden of understanding everything and figuring it all out, will of course try with incredible stamina and good faith to do so, but cannot.

            And yet the mind is not to be left behind in my opinion. The mind in service to and joined together with the type of awareness Rupert Spira describes is another thing altogether. We are whole, in my opinion, when our faculties are in their rightful places, all integrated nicely and humming along. There is a place for the mind, but it is not to answer such questions as can only be answered by coming home to the knowledge of being.

            I have heard Rupert Spira’s name before but have never listened to one of his videos. I enjoyed it very much. For me it recreated the fundamental experience I had with A Course in Miracles, which is access to the deep-seated awareness of peace. Resting in being, without false identifications, is the only move possible to achieve lasting peace in my opinion, regardless of the words or practices one puts around it. It is this letting go of thought systems and identifications that are really quite complex and over-active, as you say.

            From there, it is undoubtedly true that various complexities subsist in the daily workings of my experience, and that difficulties arise here and there as a result. I cannot say truly, that I would have it any other way in this moment. With roots in the awareness Spira illuminated so nicely in that video, we draw forth inspiration and our daily bread, if you will. And this nourishment compels me somehow towards a living embodiment of what is known in that being-knowing-love; it calls me forth into a living exchange of this, into a participation with Creation, if you will permit me.

            What I found, Hariod, in the quiet of my own heart, was that I could return to the knowledge of being in any circumstance, or in response to any circumstance, and that it was wonderful. Also, that it was inactive in some way – perhaps as a result of being only imperfectly realized, or as a result of feeling a calling within to engage in some manner and offer what I was feeling.

            Perhaps my contact with this reservoir was simply occurring within a larger shell of fear about movement within the world that kept certain aspects of myself dormant. It is in this dynamic calling to ‘live’ what is felt in the deep calm within, that I still get wrapped around the axle of difficulties, and perhaps as well the engagement with life is the only way for me to encounter these vestiges – the only way to stir them and bring them out into the open where they can be undone.

            I do feel creation – the whole of it – is a meaningful act. I do feel that a life illuminated by the knowledge of being, as well as flowing forth somehow, linking up with others in the effortless expression of all that it contains, brings something forth that is true, beautiful. It is something that in some way, which I can’t describe, is a furthering of what already is. Otherwise, it would be enough to rest in the formless knowledge of being. But something happened, I suspect. Something hatched.



            • Aha, I can see how I have created the impression that I have, stressing as I did the need for simplicity in seeing what is otherwise elusively obvious. It was your use of the analogy of peeking through the circus tent that suggested to me a mind looking outside of itself for something, and yet I can see how it was perfectly valid even without such an interpretation. Many apologies for any unnecessary words I may have offered Michael.

              As to the mind getting a bad rap in spiritual circles, then I could not agree with you more. Still, I think this is largely down to distorted interpretations of what certain great teachers have said. U.G. Krishnamurti wrote a book called Thought is Your Enemy. Jiddu Krishnamuti, his more well-known namesake, also wrote often of the limitations of thought – how it is always derived from what is old and known, and so cannot reach what is new and unknown. Many believe that blanking the mind in meditation is somehow inherently beneficial. Others dismiss all rationalisations as pernicious ‘judgments’, as if the mind should not be processing information in that way.

              As always, and as you know, the whole is a question of balance. It is true that if we remain perpetually within the little world of mind-objects (consciousness), and never rest in pure lucidity and presence (awareness), then we remain inside the circus tent, or as prisoners in Plato’s cave forever staring at shadows. In order to see the mind-imposed constraints of consciousness, we need, if only in glimpses, to step outside the tent-cave and into awareness. Yet everyone returns to consciousness because they have to, for that is how the brain evolved for survival purposes. To talk of dismissing the mind and all its constructs is facile, and most certainly not what the great teachers meant to convey. As ever, the spiritual zealot turns to extremes and in so doing misses the point.

              You hit the nail perfectly squarely on the head when you talk of bringing the “mind in service” (consciousness) together with a pellucidity devoid of objects (awareness). Now we have it all nicely “humming along” without trying to figure out what is occurring within this new paradigm. Here, there are the objects of consciousness (mind representations) laid out so as we can navigate the world, yet the subject/object dichotomy is seen just as the satnav of the conscious mind – a sort of software algorithm that is very handy yet not capable of imaging the whole story. The algorithm tells us always that ‘you are here’ in relation to the physical phenomena, and that ‘you are the subject’ in relation to our perceptual and thinking world. It guides us and protects us from collision, because of course there really is a world of things which needs navigating, and the satnav is broadly accurate in its portrayals. Concurrently, awareness does not reference itself locally, or spatially, or temporally. It just knows itself as itself, not as an object representing itself. Now see these two worlds as one.

              These are merely my own means of expressing what I take to be, and interpret as, your thoughts Michael; and I hope I do not appear as if a tedious pedagogue in setting them out, which I know would be an altogether unnecessary approach in our mutual discussions. Besides, I frequently make it clear elsewhere on this site that I am not a teacher of any kind and simply wish to provide a forum for open discussion, as epitomised in our much-valued exchanges. I feel the same way as yourself, and as you set out in the opening paragraph of your last comment, as well as wanting to learn from readers here, which I frequently do. The exchanges are of tremendous value, not least of all in terms of connection, of being able to see all of us little persons, not simply inhabiting our little worlds, but instead sharing in one world.

              Peace be with you too my friend, Hariod.

  8. “To those without privilege to my narratives of self and world, my assumed mantle of uniqueness is meaningless, and the same is true of theirs to me. We may here be at a cold and sterile juncture, yet it also is a starting point from which we may begin to introduce the binding agents of humankind – our innate qualities of kindness and compassion, of empathic understanding.”

    I find this explains how fiction works. It’s interesting how the specificity in fiction – the details that often don’t get described in conversation – allow readers, outsiders, access to those universal elements. Of course, I’m talking about good fiction. Yet if I were to tell the world, “Damn, I lost all my money in the stock market”, I probably wouldn’t get at the feeling I’m trying to convey. It’s a “cold and sterile juncture” for those who might view this as a first world problem, especially those who’ve never owned a pair of shoes and don’t have access to drinking water. Yet if I were to tell this tale in great detail, nailing the specifics, I might – just might – get at the universal feeling of loss and hopelessness.

    • Hello there Tina; I’ve been thinking lately of emailing you privately to see how you were faring, so it’s good to see you popping your head up here my friend. I’ve noticed you briefly commenting at one or two places, but of course have seen nothing in the way of your own articles, which is entirely understandable, of course. I hope and very much suspect that little Geordie is being a rock for you of late, and once again, please do give him a tickle behind the ear from his friend and admirer here in England will you?

      As to writing, then I couldn’t come close to your capacity to paint pictures with words, and for which you have a real and special gift, of that there is no doubt. Now, I’m going to bully you, what is happening with TPK? If you tell me you’ve abandoned it I’m going to pull my hair out in despair, and knit it into a little toy-ball for Geordie boy as proof of same. Bloody well get on with it girl will you? This ain’t no Kallipolis, and it ain’t ever goin’ to be perfect – though doubtless it’ll come close – but you gotta get it out there.

      H ❤

      • Feel free to email me anytime! I’m used to seeing a bunch of Groupon ads in my inbox – it’s like going to the mailbox and finding bills. Well, maybe not quite that bad.

        I just got back from Vegas last night. Why Vegas? To be honest, I really don’t know. I got a phone call from a company that does time shares, and they told me that I ‘won’ a trip. I asked them if I’d have to listen to a timeshare presentation, and they said ‘yes’. I appreciated that modicum of honesty, so off we went to Vegas. Unfortunately, I thought Vegas was about 5 hours away by car, but it was more like 8. I don’t think I would’ve gone had I known that. Nevertheless, we had a decent time. The Cirque du Soleil show was truly remarkable. Plus I have a timeshare premise for a short story that may or may not get written.

        So the point is, I’m doing much better thanks to drugs, drugs and more drugs. I can even handle crowds and flashing lights now – up to a point.

        I will most definitely give Geordie your love. He will appreciate it!

        And I have not abandoned my book. In fact, I’ve been working on it (before the Vegas trip) at a pretty steady rate, which is partially why I haven’t been blogging as much. It’s still going to require a lot more work, but I’m having a good time writing it.

        Thanks for your kind words! I’m grateful and pleased to know there’s someone out there who’ll read my work once it’s done. It’s a great impetus for me to get to work. Speaking of which . . .

        • I went to Vegas once back in the eighties; we have a place here in England called ‘Blackpool’ that is our nearest equivalent – kind of the same, but minus the fake pyramids, the hookers, the white lions, and all that. In other words, nothing like it. Back then, you could stay in luxury for very little (the exchange rate was very favourable c.$2.40=£1), and they almost gave you the accommodation and food on the basis that you were there for one reason of course. I took in Lake Mead on the drive to Vegas, and saw yesterday how much the levels have dropped – it really must be quite worrying. I hear that California has lost the equivalent of a whole year’s precipitation in just three years i.e. 20 inches.

          Pleased to hear that TPK is coming along Tina, and yes, I shall be buying at least two copies for certain. You have an amazing gift for combining humour with great depth of thought, and yet you do so very naturally it seems to me. That is the kind of combination that educators strive for I know, yet often it comes across as stilted and a little effortful. Lots of TED talks are like that I find, and the act gets in the way of the message for me. If the two combine effortlessly, it really is a gift I think, and you do that so well in your writing; I know. I have a feeling you may have some success in attracting real interest for TPK – and I mean from publishers, not just from casual buyers on Amazon or wherever.

          Anyway Tina, back to we Brits and our penchant for gambling:

          H ❤

          • I remember Vegas in the 80’s – those were the days. I went there as a kid, and while my mother and I took advantage of the freebies, my father paid for it.

            Yes, the water supply is worrisome. Xeriscape people! (Although I’m not one to be pointing the finger – I certainly enjoy my long showers.)

            I’m blushing from all the flattery, although I’m not sure you’re right about real interest from publishers. I think I’d have to have more of a ‘platform’ to spark their interest.

            Loved the video. Was that a man?

            • Bubbles DeVere – a man? Oh, good lord no, she is Blackpool’s most glamorous debutante as it happens Tina. Bubs can always be found in the health spa, wrapped in a towel or three and drinking bubbly, regaling all with tales of bawdy nights in Monte Carlo with her very good friend Ronnie Corbett. Certain creditors of hers allege that she once was a fledgling actor going by the name of Matt Lucas, and underwent gender realignment in a bid to escape their clutches. Personally, I don’t believe a word of it. 😉

  9. I really enjoyed this piece Hariod. 🙂 Using words like characters – ‘little world’, ‘animality’ – catch the attention and imagination. Isn’t this also where we go further than our animality? We have the ability to use words, create ideas, strategize and imagine. If only we could bring these together with our empathy and compassion to build a better world.

    Such a strong message.

    • Thank you very much Val, for your interest and reflections; I greatly appreciate both. As to your thoughts about my use of the term ‘animality’, then I do know that many object to the idea that we as humans are also animals. This seems to be a result of deeply embedded notions, ones which perhaps emanate from early religious doctrines in which the concept of the soul as a unique property of humans is posited. One has to tread carefully, which admittedly I do not always do, as for many, to be deemed an animal is insulting, and to suggest that the soul-concept is nothing more than a fanciful idea, an invention of the human animal mind, may be equally disturbing.

      Whenever I speak to such types, what I invariably find is that their evidence of soul possession amounts to no more than conscious feeling. Typically, they might say “I know I have a soul because I can feel it”. There is a great leap being made here, because what is felt is a feeling, and in much the same way as we wrongly conflate feelings with all manner of phenomena, so is it easy to conflate the belief in one’s possession of a soul or self with pure mental and bodily feeling. Then again, you make a fair point in stating that we as a species possess unique abilities not found elsewhere within the animal world. The question is, does that necessarily denote our being apart from it?

      • Treading carefully while taking into account the beliefs of others is new to me in this realm Hariod. Thank you for your circumspection and respectful approach. I sense that this piece is repudiation of a belief that you have encountered, and I am missing another piece of the puzzle.

        • You are not missing any puzzle pieces Val, and firmly believe you understand life’s conundrum far better than most of us ever can hope to. That is all I ever write about to the limited extent of my capacity to do so, and am ever happy to have an open forum here for others to disagree if they wish to. Equally so, I am happy to learn from those others, as I frequently do, both here and abroad at sites such as your own. The only repudiation I make here is of those false self-conceptions, and the falsely held beliefs as to the worlds those conceptions inhabit. Yes, we know ourselves as little persons in little worlds, and that knowing is real enough of itself; it simply is so that it corresponds to no actuality, and therein lies the problem. We mistake the objects of consciousness for truth in the world, knitting them all together into narratives of self and other, of my world and yours. We slip imperceptibly into these erroneous views early in life, and are blinded to their corrupting and distorting influence thereafter. Knowledge is not about escaping such constructs as you know very well, but merely the seeing of them as they are. “Call it a dream, it does not change a thing” said Wittgenstein. Yet knowing the dream as a dream, then that does.

          H ❤

    • Paul, that would be a tremendous privilege if you truly felt it was appropriate and of interest to your readership. Also, it would be only my second ever re-blog, and the first was one which really came about purely as a result of a video I posted in the comments of the first part of this article, and which of course, was not my own work. So, in effect, this would be a first, and I am humbled and grateful for the consideration.

      All best wishes,


      • Don’t be humbled – it’s a brilliant, beautiful essay and it would be an honour to republish it. Tell you what, do you you want to email me a photograph of your good self and the background to the essay? [My full name as one word at gmail]

  10. Bravo, Hariod! You said so much of relevance to the current world, and I am so glad you brought in the animals and elevated them to a higher level than many do. The world is in a desperate condition and we need more people like you to write what you do and use your considerable intelligence to convince the rest of us of your arguments, proofs and thoughts, which are of a higher level.

    • You are simply too kind dear Ellen, although as I always stress here, I am excruciatingly ordinary and not at all well educated. Believe me, this is no false modesty, and to paraphrase Winston Churchill, I have much to be modest about! Thank you also for accepting my equating us with animals, which I know is something many reject. I personally find this a rather liberating thought; it takes us down off our self-made pedestals of reification and allows us to begin to view our fellow creatures with a greater empathy, for we are naught but one of them in my view. Yes, we have unique gifts of intellect, reason and so forth, yet frequently pay the price for these qualities in a loss of intuitively driven spontaneity. We have so much to learn from our fellow creatures of sentience, of love and affection, of loyalty and devotion, of instinctiveness and perceptiveness. What am I blathering on about? You of all people know this very well dear friend.

      H ❤

      • You are preaching to the choir. I totally agree with you on the nature of us, and animals have been among my best teachers! But I will never agree with you on your intelligence and education. Even if you are self-taught, your intelligence and writing sails over me like a bird in flight.

  11. When I imagine the future of humanity, I am struck by two competing possibilities:

    -The Pessimistic-

    We have spent our entire history as a species hurting one another and breaking off into groups. We separate ourselves from each other and the world around us. We have done so much damage to our planet in such a short amount of time, we’ll never be able to undo it. Globalization has just made it easier to hurt people on a larger scale. We will most certainly die off, and soon. Perhaps it will even be for the best.

    -The Optimistic-

    We have also loved and learned to love more widely as a species. Globalization has connected us and enabled us to de-other-ify people we would never have otherwise met. [My brain is fried; excuse my crazy word.] We know the damage we have done. When humanity is pushed into a corner, we excel at innovation and doing what we need to do to survive. In the end, most of us want to do good. More of the world is gaining more leisure time as we progress. Having time to think and create is one of the things that has immeasurably improved our species, so this should have a good effect. Perhaps the only way for us to improve is to reach critical mass and change as a whole.

    I don’t know what is going to happen to humanity, but I fully believe that for us to thrive as a species, most of us must come to realize what you have described in these two posts. Our survival is dependent on our understanding that to take care of ourselves, we must take care of everyone and to recognize ourselves as animals on a shared world is to care for the planet and all its creatures. There is a natural ebb and flow to life; humanity is reaching the height of our flow. Our ebb will come quickly and haltingly if we refuse to reconnect. I think humanity is worth saving, though I can’t say I’m not biased. If we do prevail, I hope we do so as a species that has learned from its mistakes.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful, insightful and generous contribution Madalyn; I am so delighted at the enthusiasm you have shown for the subject under discussion, and it is clear that you fully appreciate the significance of the problems we face therein. As with you, I have no clear vision as to our future, and can see the cards falling either way. I am deeply cynical as regards Neoliberalism and the right wing paymasters of our putative political leaders. With such forces acting against the interests of humankind more widely, and the environment most immediately, then it is perhaps not so easy to see much beyond a catastrophic outcome this century.

      Science is being dismissed in the privately owned MSM – such as your own country’s appalling Fox News – and shadowy figures such as the Koch brothers are pulling strings away from the gaze of the wider public. Things are no better in Europe, where banks are regarded as ‘too big to fail’, yet whole nations are not. Look at Greece currently, it is in effect now a debtor colony to Germany and its citizens must dance to the tune of un-elected EU technocrats whose supposed rescue funding has done nothing for the people and merely repaid the banks their loans. Save the financiers, and to hell with the little people – Neoliberalism at its finest.

      Then again, I too have hope for humankind and its capacity for redemption. Nothing can stop an individual from accessing their own self-knowledge, and as I suggest in the article, that knowledge sees others just as it sees the possessor of it. From this, compassion and empathic capacities emerge, and although it may sound hopelessly Utopian, there is the possibility for a paradigm shift in human consciousness I believe. None of this requires the intervention of avatars and saviours; it can be achieved through earnest diligence on the part of the individual, and the dissemination of knowledge on the internet and more traditionally.

      In gratitude and with fingers crossed,

      Hariod. ❤

  12. Thanks for this beautifully written piece. I like the point that we are all unique, and yet there is a sameness underneath. I think of this as many branches of the same tree, and the tree is consciousness, source, void, love.

    Another metaphor comes to my mind; it is from the Raj/Jesus channeling by Paul Tuttle: We are each like another facet on the same diamond. The point of this metaphor was that the most direct connection from one facet to another is not via the outside of the diamond, but via the inside of it. This means that the best way to connect with another human being is to go into one’s own center first – somewhat like what a person would do if he tries to connect to another via telepathy.

    Best wishes,


    • Thank you very much indeed Karin, both for your kind words and most interesting reflection. I greatly like the analogy that Tuttle outlines, and often have thought in similar terms as regards awareness being prism-like. What I mean by this is that consciousness is particular to the individual, yet may be likened to a light ray emanating from a prism, with the prism itself being awareness. So, awareness holds no objects and is rather the illuminator and facilitator of consciousness which itself is nothing but objects (phenomena) – ‘consciousness’ of course means ‘with knowledge’/’con science’.

      Perhaps a weakness of such analogies is that the mind may transpose them into something conceptualised as spatially and temporally referenced, which is the paradigm with which it understands all phenomena of course. In talking about an awareness devoid of objects, devoid of the dichotomy of subject and object, and devoid of all knowledge other than that of itself, the mind can only approach the outer edges of what this means. Still, it is always useful to have pointers, or templates for actuality, just so long as we remain alert to the danger of equating the map with the territory.

      I suspect all of this is more than familiar to you Karin, and hope you can forgive me for repeating what you have already said, yet in differing terms – I think the meaning is consistent, and thank you once again for your generous and most insightful comment.

      With very best wishes and gratitude,


  13. Hi Hariod,

    ‘Synecdoche’ is a new word for me! Your writing is always so brilliant with light: “an interactive adventure forged from myriad connections” is so true and I feel this amazing adventure with you and others here – I love reading the many conversational comments. You are a person of your words, Hariod, one full of “kindness and compassion” who I am humbled to call my friend.

    Thankyou from my heart; love,

    Meg. xxx

    • Hi Meg!

      Oh, you know me and my fancy words. Actually, this and the previous post were inspired by the film Synecdoche: New York, which, if you have yet to see it, I can heartily recommend should the opportunity arise to do so. Your words are too kind, extending as they do far beyond what is even remotely warranted. I shall leave you with a little song dear Meg.

      Lots of love from this little person,

      Hariod. ❤

  14. “… that which we regard as our quintessence, the enduring internalised construct we each unquestioningly hold as the self and the aspect of ourselves which we most intimately cling to, is little more than a formulaic pretence determined and governed solely by means of evolved, unbidden and unconscious processes… “


    I spend so much time in solitude, it always amazes me the roles that seem to define the lives of others. I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I could not settle into any of these slots for long. Not to misrepresent myself – I’m sure I have my own self identifications – only I am in a perpetual state of self-inquiry, so that when the folly of a particular illusion emerges, all I can do is to metaphorically shake my head and smile.

    In the end, there is only so much one can do within the confines of human skin. Thus, I love your invitation that we collectively pause and reflect upon our Oneness. There is more substance there, I think, than in the illusions of our separateness.

    Much love to you, Hariod. What spirit you embody!

    • I am always very grateful for your interest, and also for receiving your reflections Bela; I only wish I could encapsulate my thoughts as beautifully as you do your more sagacious own. The small section which you quote here is about as concise as I am able to conjure on matters philosophical, and I often wonder if in condensing thoughts in this manner whether it lends them to easier comprehension or not. I quite often get comments here suggesting that people struggle to grasp my meaning, and so it is so gratifying when someone clearly does; as you said – ‘bingo’.

      Much love to you too dear Bela, and my deep respect as always,

      Hariod. ❤

  15. Love the open-ended ribbon on the end of your article. May it float and touch to wrap no presents; infinitely.

    Your chosen images are wonderful, as always. Thank you for providing some background information; I found much interest and intrigue in them. The video had me jotting down specific times to relay back to you; yet it began to look like the diary of a stockbroker. So, with a page of numbers, I began to think, how could I possibly have any favourite sequences in such a movie – in such a world.

    After reading your articles, I sit and reflect for some time, jot notes and look for a common thread (with some uncommon knots), an open door to respond. For the most part, I have found that I don’t have any specific beliefs or point of view – for or against – your well rounded approach. I can only comment on what it summoned within me, in this moment, within this world, as I feel unequipped to suggest otherwise Hariod. Handing you back segments of your own writing, seems somewhat of a foggy mirror, lacking new reflection from your own view, here.

    Loving singularly is as uniqueness is meaningless.

    Much love,

    Jessie ❤

    • What an amazing response Jessie, perfect in every respect it seems to me, and I am very grateful for your candour, sincerity and vision. I invariably feel the same way about quoting chunks of articles back at their authors, though perhaps on rare occasions might highlight a line of a poem, or quote briefly as an easy means of reference.

      And thank you very much for looking at the images and video, which sometimes take quite a while to source, as they did on this occasion. You are the first to comment on Michel Gondry’s video, and being a video artist I would have appreciated seeing your ‘diary of a stockbroker’ – you have such an amusing and colourful way with words.

      I feel perfectly fine if readers have no clear responses to my writing; it may even suggest that something needs digesting – although not in your case I think. At times it may be effective just to hand over some fresh ingredients, give access to a seasoned wok, and let the restaurant visitor stir their own concoction, adding their own seasonings.

      I am very grateful for interest Jessie, your integrity and heart. I send you my love.

      H ❤

      P.S. It is pleasing to receive a comment that utilises the semi-colon correctly, as yours does.

      • Time for digestion does indeed include my being within its constraints – along with the fresh ingredients and a well seasoned wok.

        The thing is, not that I’m overly biased or optimistic or just agreeing – it just is.

        Your words sing true to me and feel more of a gift rather than something to fashion up a response.

        My response is mainly in silence.

        Thank you for your contribution to all, it is most felt. ❤

  16. As always dear Hariod, your thoughts are a kaleidoscope of words, some of which I need to use the dictionary for so as to find out their meanings, as I have previously mentioned. 🙂

    I thought long about the words I might choose to describe your article, for you show us many facets of human nature. And yet here we are, all of us upon this revolving sphere, each mirroring the other, albeit that we do not see the similarities to one another. We grow, thinking that we are all-important, and that all which is happening, is happening within our ‘Little World’.

    And yet something bigger still, like the hand which turns the kaleidoscope, propels us all in the various directions which form the patterns of our lives – each of us being part of the whole. And none of us can sit back and point our fingers at others when we are all of us part of the problem.

    We are destroying our planet, yet we humans, who supposedly have more intelligence than our animal brothers and sisters, can see no further than our own ‘Little World’. We cannot see how all things are interrelated, or how each of us, as parts, affect the whole.

    I hope some day soon we will wake up and understand that we are all of us pieces of a whole that make the world what it is. And if we are to help heal the world then we first need to look hard at ourselves within the mirror.

    An amazing piece of writing, and wonderful thoughts Hariod!

    Bless you.

    Sue ❤ xxx

    • Thank you so much dear Sue, for running through this piece as carefully as you clearly have done. I am often quite fairly criticised for my rather arcane language, though find it hard to resist drawing on a few of our more colourful terms on occasion. I think of it a little as a protest at the dumbing down of English grammar which seems to have been gathering apace in recent years. If we were to listen carefully to how many people speak, and were then to transcribe the same verbatim, the resultant reading would be torturous in the extreme; our ability to articulate is getting lost in a sea of largely meaningless and superfluous noises. Then again, some argue this is part of the natural development of language, and not so very important. Just so as you know, I used the term ‘synecdoche’ for this article because the inspiration came from a film I recently viewed called Synecdeoche: New York.

      I see we are very much on the same page as regards the meaning of this piece, which comes as no great surprise to either of us, or so I suspect. Our thoughts are more-or-less interchangeable on the matter Sue, although yours have the merit of being altogether more accessible – granted! You place a necessary stress on personal responsibility, which is something I omitted the covering of here, due to constraints of space in the blogging medium. I agree entirely of course, and any paradigm shift in public consciousness can only come about by virtue of individuals taking responsibility and bringing about the necessary changes within themselves. We cannot put the global house in order unless we do the same for our own firstly. Greed and animosity are at the root of all problems, as Buddhism has always taught, and they in turn stem from the mind of course. Know the mind, and you know yourself and all.

      With much love and gratitude to you dear Sue,

      Hariod. ❤

      • I would never criticise your wonderful vocabulary Hariod; on the contrary, I enjoy your fluid use of words that ripple off the tongue. I was never what you would call ‘Top of the Class’, and my grammar, I am sure, has a lot to be desired. I write how I speak, often not pausing for breath or punctuation. 🙂

        I am very ‘in tune’ with your thoughts Hariod, and agree that “we cannot put the global house in order unless we do the same for our own firstly.” I think reading your post must have started the thoughts gelling last night, as I awoke at 1:11, glanced at the clock and knew that I had to write.

        Many thanks for you wonderful reply. Enjoy a lovely new week.

        Blessings, Sue. ❤

  17. Very interesting article, Hariod, and supremely well expressed. However, I am mystified as to why you zoom off into a vision of hell and destruction in your final paragraph. It seems not to relate to the rest of the article at all, other than the obvious observation that selfishness leads to no good outcome. I am not aware that animals have any notion of such abstract notions, yet they seem not to be blamed, while humans are the enemy.

    • Thank you very much Steve, for your kind words and reflections; I appreciate both, truly I do. That is interesting that you should make those remarks about the closing, and I do also appreciate knowing how my words seem to impart to others. I think your criticism is perfectly fair, and doubtless I sometimes fail to see the wood for the trees in putting together these short-form pieces. I am still a neophyte writer, and though I say so in all modesty, have much to be modest about – to paraphrase Winston Churchill.

      The thing is, I like to limit the articles here to around 800 words or so, which seems the optimum, even though I only post once a month. So, bearing that in mind, then I should say that the point of this Synecdoche theme is to suggest what is surely in any case self-evident: that it may benefit humankind to think more in terms of our commonality than in that of pure individuality, or at least to redress the balance a little. And there must be a reason for what I and many others perceive as this requirement of course, that being that from what I read, we are indeed set upon an unhelpful trajectory in terms of our species’ ability to live safely and in relative harmony.

      I suspect our views may differ on the threat of man-made climate change, and also on the continued viability of Neoliberalism. I perceive them both as threats to our well-being, and I think the evidence is mounting to support such a view. Of course, it depends upon one’s sources of information, and I know that yours will be very sound, as I hope mine are too, despite the conflicting prognosis of each. Yes, it is ‘obvious’ that “selfishness leads to no good outcome”, yet we live in a system that encourages it, along with a self-centred stress upon individuality, and most of us fail to recognise that our personal cupidity, when multiplied up, might be a problem. A big one.

      The world is rebalancing economically, and our (The West’s) side of the scales is descending. It has to, because whether or not we vote for austerity, it will be imposed upon us by competition from the rest of the world. We are attempting to counter this shift with currency wars, devaluation, ZIRP and QE. So, at the moment, our leaders can talk disingenuously about growth with some appearance of credibility, but I think it mainly is smoke and mirrors Steve; I really do. The problem is, we have no bright ideas as to what else to do. The whole edifice is predicated upon growth, and yet the growth simply is not there in any sustainable way. What growth there is comes from the concentration of capital, and that is in the hands of the few, as will remain the fruits of that growth.

      I think it will play out ugly, and we already have banks that are too big to fail, but nations that are not. Look at Greece; it is now in effect a debtor colony to Germany. Look at the Arab exodus into Southern Europe, itself arguably caused by Western interventions in their territory on economic grounds. Look at the rise of the far right across Europe, coming as it does from people’s disenchantment with the current paradigm. What is the response of our political leaders? It is to print money and create asset bubbles so as to be able tell everyone things are going well. You have a perfectly decent house in Oxford I suspect; what is it worth, £600k, £750k? But is it really, or is that merely indicative of the economic madness we currently inhabit?

      Time will tell Steve, as it always does. And in the meantime we each have the option of considering our actions, and what kind of society we want to inhabit. Is it to be one in which each little person considers only their own little world, and to hell with the rest? Or are we to think about the possibility that there may be another way, one in which lives are valued more equally, and the world’s resources distributed in accord with our productive capacity, not simply by some vagary of birthright? I am not saying Capitalism will die, it may and it may well not, but Neoliberalism and pursuing the myth of free markets is a doomed project I believe. Those with the assets can protect themselves from the fallout, probably, although it may pay them to be flexible, or at least teach their children to be.

      Anyway, I have gone on far too long here, and quite probably in thoughts you were never likely to warm to, and which response I respect nonetheless. All I should do now is reiterate my thanks for your generous words and reflections Steve, which I do with all sincerity and humility; it is an honour to have an intelligent professional writer such as yourself come and visit – thank you.

      • Thank you for your very detailed response, Hariod. It saddens me that you see such gloom in our world and have such a pessimistic outlook. I suspect that you could have tagged your ‘everything is going to end badly’ prognosis onto the end of any of your articles, and that it was not particularly associated with your synecdoche theme. 🙂 I understand what you are saying though – that selfishness and greed makes us insensitive to the needs of others – and that is precisely what your synecdoche lesson is.

        We can totally agree that selfishness is unhelpful, and that seeing others as we see ourselves is one way to make our world a better place. I agree with you entirely.

        When I look at history, I don’t see a golden age in the past. I see disease, suffering, poverty, war, religious persecution, superstition, slavery and natural disaster. Those things are now diminished (even deaths from natural disasters) – especially in the West, where the trinity of free trade, free speech & secularism have most firmly rooted. The greatest progress has been in the last 200 years, as these three forces have grown in strength.

        Selfishness should not be confused with the rights of the individual. If a society does not value the individual and support his/her freedom to think, speak and act, then we end up with dictatorships like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, where individuals were crushed. To support the individual is not to support selfishness. It is to trust that other individuals are equally able to make choices as we do. It is to place faith in others.

        Surely that is the message of your synecdoche writings?

        I believe that you and I share the same ideals and the same goals, and yet we read the world in contradictory ways and draw almost opposite inferences in this particular regard. I see that often in the world, and it greatly saddens me.

        • As I said Steve, we were bound to disagree on our respective outlooks, and we do my friend. That said, then everything I write, and the purpose of this site, moves in the direction of human betterment from a psychological perspective, and not from any material one. It is a little unbalanced therefore, to characterise my view as one in which ‘everything is going to end badly’. Meliorism is all very well, yet the belief must embrace the power of personal transformation too, without which our other tools of knowledge lead us astray.

          I specifically referenced man-made climate change and Neoliberalism as being the chief threats Steve, and yet note that you have not put forward any counter claim, instead citing free trade, free speech and Secularism as having brought us to the sunny shores of where we currently stand.

          Free trade is largely a myth cloaked in the appearance of such. It is the lie at the centre of Neoliberalism. That was all amply demonstrated in 2008 when taxpayers rescued private institutions, and it continues today as the ECB’s so-called ‘rescue funds’ for Greece are almost exclusively being funneled to the banks so as to save the financial systems of Germany, France, and to a lesser extent, other EU member states. The same happened in the U.S. seven years ago when Wall Street was bailed out, courtesy of Mr. Paulson. Big business is not run on any ‘free’ basis Steve; it runs on the back of cartels, slush funds, political bargaining, and the like. Would you say the vast trading exchanges between the U.S and Saudi Arabia are conducted on a free basis? Of course they are not.

          As to free speech, then one has to appreciate that the global mainstream media is owned by a handful of private corporations, which in turn form public opinion and prohibit counter-narratives, as well as feeding the legislature certain lines to follow – how many times did Thatcher meet Murdoch? The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges writes eloquently and accessibly on this subject, tracing the origins of the global MSM to propaganda machines instigated during the war years and how politicians subsequently co-opted the methods for all future agendas in cahoots with private enterprise. Relative to Stalinism and Nazism, then of course we can say we are free to speak as we wish; but does the concept of a ‘relative freedom’ make any sense?

          Secularism, in the stricter sense of freedom from religious dogma, is of course a good thing, yet it has a long way to go. When the Middle East is a place of harmony and when American presidents stop asking God for guidance in what to do there – à la ‘dubya’ – then we can really talk of progress. In the meantime, we have ISIL, A-Q, rife religious fundamentalism in a nuclear-armed Pakistan, and Donald Trump to worry about Steve. But yes, we find broad agreement here where not so much exists between us on free trade and free speech.

          Neither do I see any ‘Golden Age’ in the past Steve, and never meant to suggest as much. Still, if we look at the span of history, including the Enlightenment era, then it is during the latter that the only two world wars ever to have occurred blighted humankind, and on a scale never before seen in history or (almost certainly) pre-history. At the risk of standing accused once again of seeing only ‘gloom’ (your word), then might it not be unreasonable to suggest that the same might occur once again? If it does, I think it will be more the case of an economic death by technology – i.e. cyber warfare – but that is another discussion.

          I think you may have misinterpreted me if you thought I was suggesting that individualism ought to be crushed Steve. I specifically suggested in the article that the pre-eminence of individuality over commonality was merely a case of the two being out of kilter, not that individuality should be crushed. I believe in art, in self-expression, in living as we wish to so long as it is harmlessly so. I do have faith in the individual, just not in the rampant pursuit of any blinded individualism, which I take to be unhealthy and pernicious. It is a question of balance, as ever. And that is, to again use your words, ‘the message of the synecdoche writings’ Steve.

          I hope you can forgive the bluntness of my response Steve, and put it down to a failed attempt on my part to remain concise whilst responding to your various points. In closing, then I think that our commonalities far outweigh our individually differing perspectives, and I thank you once again for your engagement and sincerity.

          With gratitude and all best wishes,


          • Hariod, I feel that we are on the same page, perhaps reading different paragraphs. 🙂 You emphasize the importance of the psychological. I tend to see the material as being necessary for this. Birth control and the invention of the automatic washing machine probably did as much to liberate women as any number of equality laws. Modern agriculture saved millions from rural poverty and drudgery. I tend to see technology as the means by which humans solve problems. Of course, technology can create new problems, such as the mechanised warfare you refer to. New and unanticipated problems are to be expected, yet these too can be solved. Climate change can be solved by the switch to clean energy for example.

            For my part, I see the key problems facing humanity as poverty, disease and death. I hope that technology will continue to push back poverty and disease. Death will probably always be part of the human condition, but already we enjoy longer and longer lifespans. I think this trend will continue.

            Religions teach that suffering is intrinsic to the human condition. Some religions tell us that it is our fault. Some promise salvation after death; others promise damnation, or a repeat of the whole process. None of these philosophies speak to me.

            I wasn’t suggesting for a moment that you were advocating crushing the individual. I was merely observing what happens if we fail to venerate individuals.

            As for all those economic woes you mention, I think we might even agree on most of them, even though we are coming from different directions. Bailing out the banks, government control of currencies, use of taxpayers funds to bail out private banks, quantitative easing, big business’s unhealthy relationship with government – I oppose them all too.

            Secularism and free speech – I think we agree here too.

            I do like to look for agreement. I’m sure that there’s far more of it than people think.

            • Thank you very much Steve; I have learned from hearing your perspective, and it is good to know you a little better. Your time spent engaging here is greatly appreciated, both by myself and others readers too, I have no doubt.

              With all best wishes,


  18. I read your post when you wrote it and just came back to read it again. What a discussion has happened in the meantime! I find myself wanting to close my eyes, breathe and relax into your last line: “Can we not rest awhile so as to perceive our little worlds as one?” May it be so.

    • Thank you so much Karuna, not just for reading, but for kindly returning and adding a reflection. I am indeed grateful for all the kind people like yourself who have taken the time to comment, to discuss, and to acknowledge my efforts. That last line you quote is of course the essence of what I am attempting to convey in this two-part article on the theme of synecdoche, and I was hoping that it would act as an impactful take-away thought.

      I send you my very best wishes,


  19. Ah! I am only half way through the comments that followed this incredible work of art you have written, Hariod, and I feel as if I was peeking into the circus tent and the energy that was created by you and your followers blew the roof off of it! It is a lot of information to take in, but it is insightful, and it is powerful. I love the minds that explore to this degree – the give and take, teach and absorb, the reading and realizing that there’s so much more to learn in the style of communication that goes on here.

    I will be back to finish reading the comments, and most likely to re-read your words. I feel there is much that I understand and feel to be true, and yet there is much that I need to explore more. I have had some very powerful instances this past week where I felt truly connected to another person, to every person, to the universe, and it felt huge and tiny at the same time. It felt new, yet old, remembered, yet forgotten. What it really felt like was, “Give me some more of that, please!” At the risk of getting completely off track (I love that the tracks lain here branch out and are not linear from point A to point B) I will end by saying, “Thank you, Hariod, and your wonderful supporters!” ❤

    • Thank you so much dear Lorrie, not only for navigating your way through my initial offering, but also for trundling through the resultant exchanges and which I do so appreciate engaging in myself. These two ‘synecdoche’ articles have, I know, been rather more tricky to fathom than those that I would normally offer for consideration here, although I wanted to produce something on this theme that was largely open to reader interpretation. It has therefore been gratifying to see so many people add their own reflections, some in broad agreement, others a little less so perhaps – I never mind people being contrarian, and think that it is a very good way to learn when done respectfully.

      It very much sounds as though you have been sensing within your own experience that which I have been dancing circuitously around with my words Lorrie, and the way you describe this is quite delightful. It is quite a task to put the matter into words that translate readily is it not? To say that you felt ‘huge and tiny’, ‘new and old’, ‘remembered yet forgotten’, is at once contradictory yet deeply evocative of a human experience that defies both reason and representation in formalised word constructions. This is where I frequently wish that I was possessed of some poetic powers, just as you yourself are, for that would seem perhaps the best medium to convey the undefinable in words.

      With much love and gratitude to you, Florida’s very own Billie Jean – the one with the racket! H ❤

      • 🙂 Giant smile to you my friend! The only other Billie Jean I thought of was Michael Jackson’s!

        If I, in my use of contradictory words, evoked even a tiny bit of what you have offered here then that makes me very happy. You see, Hariod, I think the difference is that the ‘poetic powers’ you speak of may allow one to say something with fewer words, and words that are largely open to interpretation.

        I think your job is much harder because you have to find the words that define a finite thought about something that is largely undefinable and most certainly open to interpretation. I applaud your incredible writing, and I love the ensuing conversation.

        Thank you for always stimulating my mind and for our wonderful connection here! ♡♡

  20. To realize that we have more commonalities than differences, is not that easy, is it? There is a world of ignorance to be bridged. [Too many comments to read.] – [Thinking of continuing our ongoing dialogue on the Part One.]

    • I agree Bert; coming to such an understanding is not so easy, it running counter to our conditioned tendencies and adopted cultural beliefs – i.e. the primacy of individualism – and in my view demands from most of us an earnest application of self-awareness, self-reflection – call it what we will. That sounds rather grim perhaps, yet the more we see into our own self-conception construct, the more absurd we appear to ourselves (I have found), and so it may become rather amusing at times, and so a joy to pursue such knowledge. Being able to laugh at oneself is, I think, an indicator of what one might term a form of sagacity.

      Accepting our overwhelming commonalities, I think it correct to say, equates to the acquisition of a certain kind of intelligence, one that relates closely to the basis of comedic appreciation, that being the ubiquitous absurdity of the human condition. Perhaps explorations such as these are an effective means of bridging that ‘world of ignorance’ to which you refer? I am sceptical that such knowledge can be absorbed so effectively in mere intellectual appreciation – reading, hearsay and so forth – but rather must come from direct experience, however brutal its initial apprehending. Thank you for reading Bert; I appreciate your presence as I hope you know.

      • There is a ceiling, let’s call it conformism, that prevents members of many communities around the world going further (thinking free) than their societies permit. This ceiling started to crumble in Europe from the 17th. century onwards, but it took 350 years to reach a majority in all layers of our West-European societies. We walk into modernity and beyond. The rest of the world is following, at a pace that most of those societies can not control. ( I don’t think it is under control here 🙂 either.) There was a time, and not so long ago, that making a certain movement with your hands would be misinterpreted in a neighbouring city – think about it. But look how satellite T.V. and the internet have been dissolving more mental borders in the last 15 years than any political order ever could impose.

        • Yes, The Age of Reason – i.e. The Enlightenment – is still working its way through the passage of time in Europe it would seem. I wonder, do we appear to be in the end stages of that historical drift, with the current confrontation between theism and antitheism (strong atheism), its tentacles reaching out beyond Europe to the fascistic fundamentalism of both the Americas as well as Middle and Far Eastern territories? Is religion the final adversary of reason, after which it may progress unhindered? I am not a Meliorist, and feel Humanism is as far as I can go in that direction – we are fallible, our ape brains inherently limited.

          Then by comparison to Europe’s Age of Reason, we have the historical public debating and dialectics of ancient Greece and India, in which intellectuals or sages would encourage the ‘going further’ that you refer to, and the fact that certain philosophies remain alive, are taught in our universities and are practiced by Westerners, perhaps suggests that the European Enlightenment project was not the first of its kind in history – perhaps in scope, but not necessarily in global reach.

          Other than in the technical sense to which you refer, I am unsure quite what ‘modernity’ means Bert, for it seems a term that must always currently apply, embracing even that vaguer still term ‘post-modernity’. We can say it is a rejection of traditions and their replacement with rising intellectual movements, though whether what is new is an improvement is perhaps not always a given. The ascendance of Capitalism and Individualism seems wrought with flaws that may soon come home to roost – just look at the abject failure of Neoliberalism and the vacuous nature of our infatuation with Social Media as egregious examples. There certainly is the positive side of technical modernity that you suggest, and the gradual dismantling of Patriarchal attitudes, the realignment of typically-held gender politics, and the broad distrust of authority in all its forms, are encouraging examples I feel. The politicians are floundering, speaking largely to themselves, whilst opinions are formed, and minds educated, way outside their sphere of influence.

  21. I was just talking about this very topic with some friends. It’s interesting how knowledge of self maps onto our relationships with others, and the discovery that we’re not all that different after all. 🙂

    • Thankyou so much for taking the time to cast your eyes across this offering Quentin, and also for letting me know that it chimed with your own recent perceptions. I think you express that so well, in saying how self-knowledge ‘maps onto relationships’, and appreciate also your sagacity in respect to recognising our commonality as human animals. 🙂

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