In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas makes essentially this same argument, pointing out that the reduction of our cosmic understanding at a certain historical juncture (the dawn of Enlightenment science) to the tenets of Newtonian mechanics - which posits the universe as an impersonal, clock-like machine - is largely responsible for our blindness to the “personality” of the universe. In such a Newtonian understanding, there is no room for visions of the cosmos as “psychological” - with moods, emotions, and all the other unpredictable qualities that constitute human beings.
It is Nietzsche who shed the most light on the relationship between knowledge and temperament, teaching us that neurotic moods beget neurotic forms of knowledge, that an unstable temperament gives birth to troubled categories and concepts. The infamous German iconoclast was one of the first to suggest that knowledge was not objective but rather evolves differently based on the underlying mood that conditioned the emergence of that knowledge. In other words, knowledge is cultural and circumstantial.
I was watching a documentary about the brain the other day, and one of the many remarkable things it discussed was how some people, who have been partially paralyzed by brain damage, are actually regaining mobility where they were once paralyzed, through continuously practicing various repetitive movements. Always the movement initially starts just with the smallest twitch.
There is a thought-provoking story about the surgeon who first advocated for kidney transplants, before these were standard procedure. As is often the case with trailblazers, the wider community of surgeons claimed it could not be done, or at least, they claimed, no successful one had been done at that point that would warrant any other surgeon performing the operation.
Fresh on the heels of my Peru trip, today I took a walk near my Bushwick home in a state of subdued clarity. The world always seems to order itself more cleanly following periods of travel. On the way to my morning coffee, I came across a new work of graffiti, and in the bottom left corner was a little message from the cosmos: “rest in power”.
"Be free!" It's an imperative about as American as Hollywood hero movies and pumpkin pie. Independence is indeed pushed from childhood as the true mark of maturity. But what kind of independence is this? Claiming independence from those who would oppress us, from dictators, from domineering parents, from tired social mores, from our own repressive self-images – history abounds with tales of casting off chains and gaining independence from something. But when we’ve cast off all our chains, what are we left with? Perhaps some of us have become so addicted to independence from something that we have in turn isolated ourselves and forgotten that life is to be lived with others. What might “independence-with” look like, a more integrated independence?