Falling into place

Intuition is easy to define, absurdly easy: it’s “what comes naturally”. It follows then that following intuition is simply doing what comes naturally. Do you agree? Do you see what I mean? I could write a longish essay explaining what I mean, a book even. I am not saying that what you should do is devote your life to following intuition. I never offer guidance. But the time has come where this is precisely what I must do. This is one of those cases where “must” does not imply onerous obligation, but inevitable result, as in “If you jump off a cliff, you must soon reach the bottom.” If you are a base jumper above a Norwegian fjord, as in my illustration, you hope it won’t be too soon.

The definition of falling is surrender to gravity. It’s easy to fall into traps. By definition, they are the things which are easier to fall into than climb out of. To attain skill in getting out of traps you need to fall into them in the first place. Talking about skill in getting out of traps, this could turn into a review of the excellent film The Prestige as recently recommended by Bryan. (In which you see how a performer falls into a trap from which escape is impossible. You see it, but the audience doesn’t. They don’t care what happens out of sight to the caged bird or person who vanishes. They wait only for “the Prestige”, where order is restored to everyday reality—where the disappeared miraculously reappears.) Yes, a film review might flow naturally, but nature must be tamed, and this little stream of words meandering down the mountainside by gravitational force must keep within its ordained banks for now.

The trap I fell into was try and fit my natural flow between the well-defined canal-banks of the progression called “writer”, in which, as a river flows to the sea, a person brings to completion his book and guides it towards wide circulation and the earning of royalties therefrom; achieving popularity thereby, itself acting as a spur to more writing, which eats up freedom till there is none left. It’s true I haven’t really fallen into this trap, just stared into its abyss, not even mesmerised. To adopt the label “writer” was merely the lazy consequence of declaring a mission. I shall cease forthwith such laziness and shamelessly remain—as announced in my Profile—an “idler”. These Notes are enough for me. In my hands, they’ll never amount to more than that, though I’ve spent countless hours trying to shape them into something. An idler can also be an armchair explorer. Idling by itself is challenging enough, but exploring has the additional catch that you need to find somewhere to go where no man has trodden before. (I say man advisedly, though Wikipedia lists seven female explorers. I beg their pardons.) There are those who venture off the beaten track geographically, but my explorations are into the unfettered depths of inner experience, to clothe them in fresh-minted expression. Yet in every such wild path I’ve wandered, I’ve found the footsteps (writings) of someone greater. So I’ve hitched a ride. It’s not cheating, you still make your journey, but on shoulders of giants you get a better view.

Which brings me again to David Abram, mentioned in my last. I finally received his latest book in the mail, sent over from the States: Becoming Animal. It’s not yet time to review it, for I’m not halfway through. But I’ve read enough to abandon plans for any book on the same subject, or indeed any subject. Abram is a proper writer, to whom this scribbler of brief notes is honoured to yield. He has youth, energy and genius for the task. Me, I’ll go on doing what comes naturally. Part of this will be to publish a little volume on Kindle, comprising a selection of relevant posts spanning five years, entitled “On being an animal”.

It will be one of a series: a dozen or more volumes on different topics, each available on Amazon at a dollar. (People talk with affection of the physical experience of paper books. But there are good and bad. What physical pleasure can a book give you, when you can’t hold it flat open at the page? Similarly, what’s the pleasure of a Kindle book that’s hastily converted, and not custom-designed for the medium? I shall take pains that all illustrations, hyperlinks, formatting and text are exactly right, however long it takes.)

It’s not that I think the contents of this blog have any literary merit as a whole or even in any particular part. I just think of it as a handful of seeds to broadcast for another generation, weeds and all, in case some part of it gives an idea to someone some day. This is what I must do, when must is what comes naturally, not burdensomely. Abram is a true pioneer. I rejoice that he is alive.

Another influence helping things fall into place is my younger daughter. I discovered the other day that she’s five times faster than I at web design, despite not having studied it. She has wanted to become a web designer for years now, but now suddenly we both realize that I can teach her, where “teaching” is merely pointing in a certain direction and helping inspire. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t even teach, do what comes naturally.

PS After drafting the above, I went back to Abram’s book, from where I left off. This man has gone further than I dreamed possible, down the trails I most want to follow. I wonder who or what has been his guide? He will be one of mine forever now. I just came upon this:

But I was now beginning to realize another possibility: that ideas had their own lives independent of mine. That indeed some vital ideas were like creatures wholly unaccustomed to human contact, wild notions whose robust elegance and vigor required that they keep their distance from those who might strive to define or domesticate them, twisting them from their native habitat.

One such fugitive idea, timid like a deer encountered unexpectedly, will be the subject of my next.

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21 thoughts on “Falling into place

  1. I thought the same thing about that opening picture.

    Glad you liked the movie, and I look forward to your Kindle, of course. (I definitely still harbor affection for the physical book, and I'm still getting accustom to the reading app on my iPad. I find that I mostly miss the physical texture of the book, and even more so, the feeling of making progress through the book's thickness. There's something to be said for that meaty feeling of holding all the pages I've read in my left hand, a tangible handful of accomplishment. Still, I can't deny the opportunities that e-publishing offers, so maybe I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.)

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  2. I was just hoping there was a parachute tucked away on his back. I've seen some base jumping videos as well as other high risk, high excitement sports that just plain amaze and dizzy my senses. Heights are not my thing.

    I also understand what you say about intuition and the paths we tread. I have no gift for creative writing but hope the drawings and stories together allow some lightness, if not wisdom, to filter through the electronic barrage. I've been pretty uninspired recently and you've been a good aid for that condition.

    I've also just added both of David Abram's books to my next Amazon list. Most of the news is miserable so it's good to find someone now and then whose work is realistic yet offers a positive outlook.

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  3. I was afraid for a moment, from your opening comments, that you had given up on writing just because other people had gone there before. That would be a tragedy and a waste of talent. Remember that every new path opened leads to more. Abram's went down this path, but what about this one? Let's see where it leads. I'm thinking that Douglas Hofstadter went down some of the same roads about ideas in “Metamagical Themas”. It's an awesome thick scholarly tome and I only understand a tiny fraction of what he is saying but I keep chipping away now and then. There was a bit about memes and viral self replicating sentences taking on a life of their own which I found fascinating. Now I just need to find a “Hofstadter for Dummies” book so I can understand what he said.

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  4. Like the Rev, I also got the sense at first that you were hanging up your pen (or whatever people blog with.) By the end though, I felt that concern was resolved. If not, I definitely echo the Reverend's sentiments. There's always something new to be said, even if it's just a fresh way of saying what's been said before.

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  5. Of course often I wish I could find a “Wayfarers” or “Nuclear Headache For Dummies” as well.

    I don't remember who or where I read it, but someone attended a lecture of Einsteins and said “He must be brilliant. I didn't understand a word he said!”

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  6. I don't remember who or where I read it, but someone attended a lecture of Einstein's and said “He must be brilliant. I didn't understand a word he said!”

    I'm pretty sure everybody said that, and still does.

    They probably say the same about Ludwig Wittgenstein, my own hero. One of his sayings was “What can be said can be said clearly.” He had a notion that lots of things could not be said, as in his other famous saying: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

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  7. I do blog with my pen, Bryan, also voice recorder & keyboard, almost everything other than my logical mind, which really gets in the way.

    Yes, Douglas Hofstadter writes intricate books, very clever like solutions to puzzles. I like his Le Ton beau de Marot, mainly about translating poetry. But he's also fascinated by novels which don't contain the letter e, and suchlike difficult things.

    So what I have given up is trying to write in a manner different from these blog posts. But you have given me an idea.

    At least one of the volumes will be Wayfarers for Dummies, that is, it will be easier to read. It won't have that title. but the title should fit the book, just as the punishment should fit the crime. On which, over to you, Rev!

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  8. Susan you have been good for my mostly uninspired condition too. The lightness and wisdom of your drawings comes across this electronic barrage/superhighway most clearly. I specially like the fresh sense of now that emanates from every line: a kind of spontaneity and joy in the moment. Something which can't be turned on like a tap. You can only make yourself ready.

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  9. Bryan, yes, that feeling of making one's way through the book's thickness. To be honest I don't read many books on Kindle. Increasingly I buy them second-hand in hardback, if they are worth owning.

    If you love a book, Kindle is frustrating, for it assumes you want to read it through from the beginning, or else search for a word. You can't dip into it as you can with a well-loved book.

    Day to day, I mainly use mine for sending documents to, away from this pesky screen, and for consulting the excellent dictionary.

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  10. However, Kindle is better than a book for reading a collection of blog posts, because you can include as many illustrations and hyperlinks as you like. In a book, illustrations add to production cost and hyperlinks would be all hype and no link.

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  11. Hmm… Some random ideas right off the top of my head:

    Led By The Nose

    Here's Your Brain!

    Mental Floss

    So Easy Even Rev Can Understand!

    I'm sure more will come to me if I give it some thought.

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  12. Vincent, Hmm…Yes, intuition does seem easy to define. I wonder why in some situations, why it isn’t easy to actually follow. Why we question ourselves when we turn away from “what comes naturally.” Why we hear ourselves say, I should have listened to my “gut.” Is it because of our over absorption of information and as you allude to the human getting out of synch with its animal/creature/elemental nature?

    Thank you for sharing the book Becoming Animal. It sounds interesting. I downloaded a sample to Kindle, but haven’t looked further than the table of contents. Speaking of Kindle, I have found that I read certain books on it, but I’ve been enjoying the articles of the weekly “Christian Science Monitor.” It does truly feel like well-rounded unbiased reporting. I also still download samples and odds and ends. And of course, I still find myself, pulling my paper books from the shelves and the public library. I love the feel, but Kindle has been a great addition. I have done as you have, even sent myself one of your blogs to appear in Kindle so I could read it and digest it because with your blogs, I rarely can read them only once or in one sitting. I always need to go back. And I dread staring at a computer screen for too long. I love that option with Kindle.

    I am warmed at your mention of your daughter and how you are helping each other. “Those who can’t even teach, do what comes naturally.” This quote is perfect and it resonates profoundly! Thank you, Vincent.

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  13. How did the Welsh get involved in this? Watch what you say, Rev, my maternal grandmother was Welsh. Do please come up with more titles, some of them are good, especially mental floss & led by the nose.

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  14. Rebb, thanks for your very pertinent comments. Yes, I certainly don't like sitting at the computer screen to read things. I really want to use it mainly as a typewriter! Much of the rest is distraction. I wish there were an invention to send all my favourite blogs etc to the Kindle. I have heard that about Christian Science Monitor & its bias-free reporting. I'm too addicted to news media that feed my own bias, and shouting at the radio for being biased the wrong way!

    As to the definition of intuition, I was expecting to be challenged on that one. And as to the difficulty of following it, I think it can take a lifetime even to discover it, let alone to use it. I think it has many layers, many hidden depths.

    I think that by “intuition” I was referring to the most ancient wisdom. But it's in the nature of civilisation to put emphasis always on the latest discoveries, and push the ancient ones away. There is much in Abram's book that illustrates this.

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  15. Many of my ancestors were Welsh. The reference was to an earlier post. I still think their secretive ways and language are a long standing inside joke on everybody else.

    How about:

    Accosted By Understanding
    or
    Brother, Can You Spare A Brain?

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  16. Pre p.s.: Have you seen that Amazon may be coming out with a Kindle Tablet in October? I don’t know if that is for US and UK, but anyhow, it will have that same e-ink technology and be more like a computer and still be an e-book reader.

    **

    Ah, Vincent…I had read your comment this morning and shuffled it away in the mental filing cabinet, but I must have stuck on when you said, “As to the definition of intuition, I was expecting to be challenged on that one.” I was poking around in my bookshelves this morning looking for a book that I may have given up. And when I went to the last shelf, I saw Awakening Intuition” by Frances E. Vaughan. Ha! My inner self said. I flipped through it. It was for a class I took and I saw some highlights and some notes in the margin. And then I realized/remembered that intuition indeed does not come naturally to everyone and instinct and intuition together only seem to be a small part of the layers. In her preface, Vaughan, states simply, “Awakening intuition is really about learning to trust yourself.” She mentions also, what we’ve talked about at different times—and that is that it cannot be forced—it’s a spontaneous occurrence that can, with intention, be developed. Three additional points that she makes on the chapter titled, “Imagery and Intuition, between pages 98 – 99, that speak to me right now are the following:

    “Intuition is a way of knowing that transcends both time and space.

    “Beliefs are limitations that must be transcended in order to break through to a new level of awareness, but one cannot see the limitations of beliefs unless one acknowledges underlying assumptions.”

    I feel that the above statement is why many people get into unproductive arguments—they are not aware of their own blind spots and are not as open as they presume to be.

    “The point is not to change your way of thinking, but to see that any way of thinking is necessarily limited.

    **

    I also feel—and it is discussed in the book—that intuition can be scary because sometimes it may show itself in the form of getting in touch with seeing what has not yet occurred. I had an experience yesterday. It left me shaken. I saw a horrible image/thought in my mind involving harm to me. It stemmed from what appeared the apartment neighbor seeming to look out his window blind—For some odd reason at that point in time, I imagined something horrid. Later when I looked at Yahoo News at work, I saw a clip of my…I guess you can call it my paranoid fear at the moment I originally had the vision and then there I saw it on the news. They both survived—thank goodness, but it was a bad scene.

    With that said, I do agree, intuition is multi-layered, complex—difficult to pinpoint—but I’m glad you reminded me that it really does not come naturally. As the title alone of this book suggests, intuition is there to be awakened.

    And with that…these thoughts, I toss as a handful of sands—back into the ocean, washed away.

    Thanks for getting me to think a bit more on this, Vincent.

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