Iain McGilchrist recommended Bergson’s Creative Evolution as a way to understand the reality and importance of time, or, as Bergson himself would have it, duration. I found the book hugely inspiring and, so as to really understand (and remember) the extent and complexity of Bergson’s thinking, I decided to summarise the book in my own words, as best as I could. I’m still digesting the full scope of what Bergson thinks and so what follows is not my opinion about his ideas, but as always, I would love nothing more than to engage in discussion. You can read the whole book itself here.
Adam John Miller, March 2019
Our faculty of intellect has evolved from our faculty of action, intended to best fit the body to its environment and to represent the relationships of external things amongst themselves. Action is impossible without fixity and stability and so the intellect feels at home amongst the inanimate. The immobile is all it knows. If the intellect is created by life then how is it possible for it to wholly embrace life, of which it is but an aspect? Not one of the aspects of our thought: unity or multiplicity, mechanical causality or intelligent finality, applies exactly to the things of life.
“Who can say where individuality begins and ends, whether the living being is one or many, whether it is the cells which associate themselves into the organism or the organism which dissociates itself into cells?”
Continue reading “IN MY OWN WORDS: HENRI BERGSON’S CREATIVE EVOLUTION”
I have recently been reading a most enjoyable novel called The Dream Illuminati by Wayne Saalman (Falcon Press, Santa Monica, 1988). Mr. Saalman has found an epic theme – dreams of flight, and the achievement of flight.
Historically, dreams of flying appeared in the collective unconscious before the reality of flight existed in technology, and it seems plausible that if we understood our dreams better we would use our technology more wisely. Our machines manifest our dreams in matter crafted to coherence, and a psychoanalysis of our culture could easily derive from an examination of how we use science to materialize our fantasies and nightmares.
Mr. Saalman’s science-fantasy made me wonder: Why have we always dreamed of flying, and why have we built flying machines? This question seems “eminently” worth pondering in a world where 200,000,000 people pass through Kennedy International Airport every year, flying the Atlantic in one direction or the other.
To understand the profound, it often appears helpful to begin with clues that seem trivial. I suggest that we contemplate what our children look at every Saturday morning on TV. One of the most popular jokes in animated cartoons shows the protagonist walking off a cliff, without noticing what he has done. Sublimely ignorant, he continues to walk-on air-until he notices that he has been doing the “impossible,” and then he falls. I doubt very much that there will be any reader of Magical Blend who has not seen that routine at least onec; most of us have seen it a few hundred times.
It might seem pretentious to see a Jungian archetype adumbrated in crude form in this Hollywood cliché, but follow me for a moment.
When Hollywood wishes to offer us the overtly mythic, it presents Superman, who can “leap over tall buildings in a single bound,” and a more recent hero named Luke Skywalker. Continue reading “DREAMS OF FLYING”