Saturday, December 12, 2020

Plumbing Banality

This Slog is me working stuff out...and sharing my observations with eavesdroppers. But that's not to say I'm entirely unselfconscious about doing this publicly.

My greatest fear isn't being wrong or looking dumb. It's banality. I worry incessantly about stating the obvious in a needlessly convoluted manner. Just consider this Slog's subtitle!

I once wrote a posting essentially reestablishing the purpose of glue. I left it up for amusement value - it was posted with a winking grin - but I tremble to recall it, because I'm well aware that some of my more tortured conclusions can seem like some prettttty basic common sense. I'm never unaware of this.

For example, consider my recent posting "Reframing vs Posing". I propose that a person can actually do a thing...or else just pose at having done it. Whup dee doo. For that, 1600 words? Really?

Yes really.

We wave away our meatiest realms. "Imagination" is juvenile Disney fluff. "Posing" is what pretentious people do. "Perspective" is your opinions or whatever. Boom, done. Onward. None of this affects me.

I’ll phrase this Yogi Berra style: we don't pay nearly enough attention to the stuff we overlook. Framing/perspective is so intimately familiar that we go our entire lives without considering it. But, having immersed in it extensively for a couple of years, I've been able to shed fresh light on autism, addiction, depression (here and here), and creativity. It helped me, some shmucky trombonist, to construct an original and credible theology, cosmology and quick-start guide for would-be messiahs. Framing might be banal, but plumbing it has produced a gusher of answers to eternal mysterious. Don't write off banalities!

"Being" versus "seeming" - the Authenticity question - is likewise both banal and deeply productive. It's an everyday matter seldom explored. No one imagines they’d need to struggle to distinguish actuality from posing, yet the world is plagued by massive delusion, everyone oppressed by sad movies playing in their heads. We recently added the phrase "First World/Rich People Problems" to our vocabulary (a promising sign!) but we don't yet see the full extent of it...because we're not paying enough attention there.

Sooooo.....while my recent posting "Reframing vs Posing" seemed to laboriously fixate on familiar terrain, it’s truly worth peering behind the veil. The distinction I’m drawing is not intellectual. It's practical. It's about the tone of our lives and our happiness, both of which are - surprise! - completely under our own volition.

Where do you draw the line between forgiveness and just telling yourself you forgave? The thing versus the story? It's not a pedantic distinction, though I realize it smells like philosophy:
Philosophy is abstract conceptual masturbation, usually irrelevant for everyday people. This material is anything but. All things mind-bending and assumption-challenging are not philosophy! Every "long view" is not philosophy! It's a lazy term. Like "ethnic food", it's a planet-sized drawer where we toss anything not brutally familiar. This material is too singular to sort, so into the drawer it goes. "Smells like philosophy" justifies one's retreat back to a more comfortable diet.
If we were as clear about seeming-vs-being as we think we are, this would be a very different world. We wouldn’t wonder why our declarative New Year's resolutions fizzle. We wouldn't feel angry and depressed when the universe presents evidence to suggest we're not the heroes we presume ourselves to be.

Practical benefits can be gleaned from exploring these questions. Much of our misery and bewilderment stems from our habit of confusing the two faculties of consciousness. "Thinking" is not "framing", and "framing" is not "thinking". We use cognition to fake/pose/simulate/charade. It's insubstantial commentary; a perpetual tickertape of noisy mental flotsam. But with our framing, which is way deeper than thinking, we can shift everything fundamentally. Real forgiveness, for example, isn't some dramatic interlude - a scene to play out; a string of thoughts and words. Like all reframings, it's a foundational pivot that can be executed in the bat of an eyelash with zero effort. This banal faculty we perennially overlook turns out to be frigging incredible.

If we can untangle our assumptions about consciousness, we can wield it more productively, rather than use it to make ourselves needlessly miserable amid Utopia. I’m explaining how to regain control of innate faculties, which has nothing to do with pointy-headed philosophy. Banality is juicy!

If you've recognized the breadth of creativity and insight compiled here over the past twelve years, take note that I'm freely spilling my secrets of how I did it as I go. Bear in mind that I'm not super smart. I'm nowhere near as smart as this Slog. I'm the hapless little dude behind the curtain. But reframing’s my cheap magic trick, and I’ve been framing the framing for you.

Yes, it gets wordy. Conventional perspectives must be examined and overturned before you can be coaxed into considering the unfamiliar underpinnings of the commonplace. It’s nothing scary/trippy. It feels like home, where you’ve been all along. Banal! What’s weird and creepy and stilted is the movie you’ve been pretending to star in. That’s why we all feel so ill at ease!

I'll keep explaining how you can have your output (in whatever realm) vastly exceed your ability...and be happy...and evade depression...and be free. Just grant me slack on the banality thing, ok? I promise I won't waste your time with needless convolution. If I appear to be convoluting, there's something there. So convolute with me! Let's have ourselves a Convolution!

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