ART and ORGANISM
and notes touching on
(from which meaning is born)
“For it all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” –Carl Jung(1933) Modern Man in Search of a Soul.
How far does the network of meaning extend?
“I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms. What I touch, what resists me — that I understand. And these two certainties — my appetite for the absolute and for unity and the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle — I also know that I cannot reconcile them. What other truth can I admit without lying, without bringing in a hope I lack and which means nothing within the limits of my conditions?”–Albert Camus (1942) The Myth of Sisyphus.
A&O: can we argue that a thing (say, a deliberate work of art or an artifact) has meaning in proportion to the connections it creates or discovers? The more deeply into consciousness it penetrates the greater the number of possible connections. Have you not had the experience of being “haunted” by something that was not particularly remarkable on first observation? What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of bring connections into the fullest possible levels of conscious awareness?
Recalling Mark Johnson’s observation,
As for the depth of connections, “You may forget with whom you laughed, but you will never forget with whom you wept.” (
The MEANING of LIFE
I am confident that each of us has our unique meaning, at least at every level of organization above the most primordial requirements of being an organism. If we can agree (if only for the moment) that everything is in flux, constantly changing, then meaning is constantly changing and a familiar platitude comes to mind: “we can never step in same river twice.” Look at the A&O notes on BEING and BECOMING and consider, as Anaïs Nin wrote, “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”
Do we pursue the “meaning of [one’s] life” because, failing to achieve that meaning, we decide that we were on the wrong path and get on a different one? Or because when we have gone as far as we can, we see that this “goal” was but a place to pause and reconnoiter and we realize that there is a further path, another horizon? Joseph Campbell said, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about” (from The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, PBS television series, Mystic Fire Video (2001; Episode 2, Chapter 4)
ARGUABLY (or at least a fascinating perspective) is that MEANING derives from CONNECTEDNESS … at our (organism) level of organization, that means connections within and between us– and not less, our connectedness to our ancestors and our descendants –or at least those who follow us to whom our direct or inclusive fitness has made a contribution (in genes or memes) that will (hopefully) enhance their own biological fitness.
Considering world traditional literature, what do you make of Ecclesiastes 1:2
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”