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May 20, 2012


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Are there other ways we are porous beyond breath? Holding up my hand to an intense light I can see the bones. Working in the garden I sweat, and sap from the leaves sticks to my skin. Abrasions open me to ... to what ... I remember living in Tokyo near the Arakawa and walking along the bank getting scratched by the leaves. Our skin is a permeable membrane, one older than the interior of the lungs. Kuriyama's book goes deep into the different ways in which the body is experienced as an expressive organ in Greek and Chinese medicine (The Expressiveness of the Body http://www.zonebooks.org/titles/KURI_EXP.html). We often think of (experience) spirit as breath, but I think we need to bring into one view the gaze, the breath and skin. Beyond that there are all the rhythms - the pulse, the day, the moon, the contraction of muscles. Why is the brain organized so that there are brain waves?

and the brain waves are measured in Hrz. Interestingly somewhere between Alpha and THeta is Shuman's resonance at 7.8 Hertz, Hertz being the measure of waves per second, 7.8 being the resonance of the earth. The earth resonates 7.8 waves per second and I've often wondered if that might be the sweet spot for clairvoiants or perhaps for the experience of unity where heaven 0and earth meet, mind and body and world at 7.8. Theta, by convention, extends from 4 to 8 Hertz and up from their alpha waves comprise the 9-14 Hrtz range. But perhaps the aleph is realized at 7.8 at least in the Borgesian sense:

"The Aleph's diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror's face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I'd seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand; I saw a woman in Inverness whom I shall never forget; I saw her tangled hair, her tall figure, I saw the cancer in her breast; I saw a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree; I saw a summer house in Adrogué and a copy of the first English translation of Pliny -- Philemon Holland's -- and all at the same time saw each letter on each page (as a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight); I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal; I saw my empty bedroom; I saw in a closet in Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between two mirrors that multiplied it endlessly; I saw horses with flowing manes on a shore of the Caspian Sea at dawn; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw the slanting shadows of ferns on a greenhouse floor; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino; I saw a monument I worshipped in the Chacarita cemetery; I saw the rotted dust and bones that had once deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth;

Perhaps at 7.8.

I have gone so far as to procure a sensory deprivation tank. You might recall from the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, studies of old zen monks revealed those whose practice exceeded twenty years were resonating predominately theta whereas the younger adepts were vascilating at the alpha rates. My paucity has precluded me from measurements within the tank. But a bio-feedback entrainment program could help us realize the SHuman Resonance without years or even months of effort.
The body as an expressive organ seems to approach an infinite appearance as the activity of the brain melts into theta and the body expands omnidirectionally, as the notion of the body being an ethnographic projection dissolves back into the preconceptual precultural depth of consciousness such relaxation affords.

As “brain activities melt into theta and body expands omnidirectionally,” one breathes in landscape; exhales heart/mind. In-spired and in-fluenced, Francois Jullien might call this moment “the undifferentiated.”

However, where existentialist philosophy and confucian sensibilities perhaps differ from that of the Mahayanans is in their approach to universalism; for I would argue that Existentialist philosophy and Confucianism experience is grounded (and it must be grounded) in the particular and only through a lazy kind of extrapolation is any kind of universalism arrived at. One loves all mankind through the love of this man; and one can revere Nature through walking around the same lake day after day... It just cannot be attained through abstract contemplation but rather through a reverence and paricipation in the landscape (social and cultural context) in which one is embedded. —And because this is as true for me as it is for you, then we can call this a universal truth.. kind of.

In fact, I am not convinced that compassion is possible without it being based on local particulars. Remember old Ivan Karamazov, who loved humanity but hated his neighbors? Part of me wonders if this is not fundamentally a matter of predilection....? For speaking personally, I have never been interested in Nirvana or Enlightenment, instead being far more interested in concepts surrounding authenticity and the good life. And just like in the

vibrations of an aelean harp,

so does a particular breeze sweep over us—plastic and vast, one intellectual brreze/At once the Soul of each and God of all....

I also love Borges.

Someone once taught me that there was a word for the practice of looking for mathematical laws and algorithms in natural patterns. I don’t know if that word really exists or not but I remember someone told me it did—and we were talking about Borges. Of course. And so, it goes that he has philosophers searching for the names of Allah in the patterns of the rose petals in a Moorish garden or in the Aleph,

the only place on earth where all places are -- seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending

Borges and the Golden mean or even the mathematics of his infinite Library! All roads lead to Borges...indeed, he thought of everything again, didn’t he?

Kuriyama’s book looks wonderful, Steven. And I agree, the eyes are part of it. From my point of view it is not “breath” as much it is “breathing” (動詞)that comes into play—this idea of a respiring heart that comes from the Medievals. Or, in Harrison’s words

What appears to the eyes then becomes spiritualized and, as spirit, enters the onlooker's inner being, inspiring the soul to emit a sigh. From this sigh of inspiration--this culminating intake and exhalation of breath--the poem we are reading is born.

In Dante, at least, the sigh is that which connects particular vision to particular heart. Seeing (“a seer”) is not just seeing what is actually there but imagining or –re-calling visions—in the form of the sigh, which connects these visions to the Seer’s heart—expatriating them back to earth, to Florence and to the poet’s heart--where it is later ex-haled as art (the sonnet) (see, Body of Beatrice, p126).

There is an American philosopher’s whose work on somoaesthethics I only know vis-a-vis working on translations of the work of a Japanese philosopher at University of Hiroshima who works in aestetics. I have been wanting to read his book,

Body Consciousness: A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics for years.. it looks interesting. Schusterman did research for this book in Japan---in Hiroshima. Philosophical project is communal/personal flourishing.

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