Friday, August 24, 2012
The Meaning Of Life
The meaning of life is not so exciting as haunted castles, storied towers, mighty oceans or even crumbling buttes in Arizona, but still it is a mystery, an enigma, and therefore worthy of our attenton.
Whenever I can't think of anything to think about, I most always go for the meaning of life. It sounds important, doesn't it? I suppose it is, and one feels useful pondering it and that's important. It's not an urgent question. Tomorrow, or the next day, the meaning of life will be right where it was a billion years ago and, to a researcher who is also a gardener, that's about like caught up.
Picture above is not a product of electronic wizardry but of an old man whose life-pondering made him get into his toybox and pull out a goofy-lens. He's got lots of them.
Goofy-lenses are set in little plastic cones that fit nicely over the web-cam eyehole on this computer. I also took a picture of a goofy lens over my own eyehole, which they are really meant to do but I'm not allowed to run with them like that, just sit quietly and look dignified.
Point is, Life is multifaceted. As philosophical instruments, goofy-lenses can only take us so far. Is the physical-psychological-spiritual plenum best viewed in segments like time zones on earth? Nah. Time zones are just another way of different people in the world trying to avoid each other. Consider these two propositions:
1. Oh sure, you didn't call on my birthday because you're in yesterday. Likely story!
2. No wonder the world's a mess when I wake up. Everybody east of here's been up hours fiddling with it.
Now who can make sense of that? What we want here is science. Science is composed entirely of one slightly less erroneous guess after another. Empiricism demands it. Progress requires it. You don't get perfection in a bunch. Problems are solved at the expense of manifold new questions. Not an activity for the Squeamish.
Carl Jung wasn't Squeamish, he was Swiss. He came up with much to advance meaning as a science: Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious; Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people; There is no coming to consciousness without pain; Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves; Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses; Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.
Jung thought of all those clues to the meaning of life while having trouble thinking of anything else. It happens. He looked at the mish-mash of ideas that preceded his and decided feverish speculations simply would not do. Science --order and method-- gave him no guarantee of getting anywhere other than nowhere either but at least it would leave us certain of which nowhere we are not.
And, of course, there is always uncertainty attendant to cosmic questions --but they advance us in the language of the universe. For instance, in the word "Cosmic", the "s" is often silent.