Notes on Consciousness 001
When reading Huxley’s Heaven and Hell, I was struck by a concept he refers to often, when attempting to elucidate on the almost indescribable profoundness projected by visionary objects that are revealed when an individual, by chance or subtle inducement, glances on the eternal universe that lays behind the veil of human consciousness. He speaks of things that are intensely themselves, projecting an otherworldly light and deep significance through the power of immaculate being, untouched by the corrosive nature of man’s clouded earthly perception.
Something that is intensely itself – I’ve felt it before. If reduced to the limitations of human consciousness, what this refers to, however palely, is authenticity – the holy grail of individuality, of a whole sense of self and of a life truly lived. The source from which erupts clarity of vision and understanding, where fragments of meaning and purpose are openly explored in truth, with every conscious choice slowly and meticulously crafting a defined, sentient being. Authenticity also, in the strength of our connections, in the profoundly communicative glance of a lover, in the genuine, face splitting smile we automatically manifest when the soul bursts with spontaneous, immensely felt joy; and of late, as the eternal lifeblood so sought after by modern industries put at the service of advertising and consumer culture.
It’s easy to see why such a thing as authenticity, even in its blandest form, is so valuable - authentic beings and actions unleash an energy so strong it is perceptible even through the hard glass surfaces of the objects we place between each other, electrifying people by remotely stirring an obscured but highly sensitive chord in the heart and soul of every human – a yearning for the profound; an insatiable hunger for self-fulfillment. But this exhilarating energy, for all its thrilling vitality, will always project but a watery, diluted shade of the essence of pure being. Not only due to the dimness with which it can manifest from the rough, clay molds of earthly reality, a fact of existence among and within the material world of matter, but more recently, due to its tragic new-age appropriation as the propaganda arm of capitalist consumer culture, debased and dulled by its abuse in branding ads, in the production of cash cow celebrity figures and in the deforming, ego-aggrandizing mechanics of a society that has surreptitiously bowed to Image.
And yet, for all of its relentless intrusions into the homes and minds of individuals, the engines of materiality stop dead at an insurmountable impasse. The universal light of souls may have dimmed, smothered by a tangled invasion of weeds and drowned by the perpetual distractions of the modern world, but it is only dormant, and sometimes, through sheer abandon and extrication of the self from the tangible, ego-driven illusions of reality, it bursts forth in all its divine luminescence, its light seeping through the cracks that are slowly eroding the slabs of concrete that make up our roads and our homes.
I remember where I first perceived it – watching a dancer in full abandon. The body unfurling in lithe movements, delicate, yet with a furious intensity, the face an intricate mandala of heightened emotion unfolding itself with controlled consistency and complexity; the manifestation of genuinity, the self consumed in the act of being the self; all uncertainty washed away in a blissful present that aligns mind, body and soul. I could attempt to dissect its beauty if I wanted to, but it couldn’t possible relay the totality of the experience - the whole was infinitely more than the sum of its parts. Then as it is now, I am acutely aware that the captivating essence of her dance wasn’t its perfectly executed choreography, but the state of being intensely herself. Not every dancer can claim to transcend their physical movement, just as not every being can claim, in very special moments, to transcend physical reality. It takes the ability to take oneself to a place of pure abandon, to become the dance rather than perform it. This is the case wherever there is consciousness and there is a body, objects; compact matter reduced to minimal dimensions. It’s in these small windows to the soul that humanity can bypass the limits of their perception and step outside the cage of realism forged by evolution to assist in the task of survival in a complex universe. Where art hasn’t yet bowed to commerce, the waves of intense being carry the artist to a state of divine creation. It is the same for the sculptor, the painter, the writer, the musician; it is the same for the individual freed from the dulling constraints of doubt, fear, material thought; masks within masks. Where there is inspired creation there is a crossing, however slight, into what Huxley describes as ‘the world beyond the veil.’