Monday, November 26, 2012

Mesmer


     In the annals of the word "catalepsy" and the words "logical thinking," are the words "intuition," "animal magnetism," and the name "Fredrick Anton Mesmer."  It's a story that includes an idea of "higher-ness."  It inclines to the view that there are conditions where a being can achieve insights through intuition and feeling. That sort of soft peddled nuttiness which eschews the hard work of  rational study, painful hours in libraries and the whole range of horrible disciplines and politics associated with Cathedrals of Learning and maybe Grocery Stores.  Mesmer took these cruel disciplines to the idea of "higher-ness" by trying to work out what exactly it was that happened when a person was mesmerized.  And he came away with a grand idea which persuaded Hegel that Socrates' yearning for truth was an animal magnetism, an innateness that Socrates could do nothing to prevent.  And for well over two centuries, magnetism and associated hypnotic trances, "cataleptic conditions," "mind altering substances," "Cyber Monday," "Forklift truck air horns," have become a source of wonder. Considered a route through the complexities, or confusions of mind,  directly to "true," and thereby to "peace," or whatever might be an equivalent to the mouth watering centeredness of my own recent experience of a Ham, Marmite and Green Beans in a white bread sandwich.

     Interesting is the idea of "higher-ness" in its many and ample forms, that run from ego maniacal, all the way back to Eden.  Five or four thousand year old literature reflects a king and his adventures with a wild man sent by the gods to distract him from the more traditional practice of kings which was to prey upon and otherwise irritate those over whom kings rule.  Together, the king and the wild man, spent many conflicted hours killing odd looking creatures, visiting odder places and occasionally fulfilling the more familiar role of mortals which is to piss off gods.  But the king was more adamant in his pursuit, more ambitious perhaps, and after the gods decided to execute the wild man for failing at his mission to usefully distract the king from preying upon his people, the king did go on to search for immortality, which is I guess the "ultimate higher-ness," but which I guess had as much to do with a king wishing to reunite with a wild man, with whom he'd become friends. In the end the king finds immortality in some kind of very special seaweed, or sea plant that grew here on earth, and might still.  And the king would be with us today, had he not been fool enough to misplace the plant while engaged in a rather pointless discussion with the unseen.  In the story, there are moments when the king is asked "why immortality."  It's a  most excellent question, which some argue, might not be asked so often if each of us knew with certainty what dying, or being dead, felt like.  But sadly we don't.  We only know with certainty what consciousness feels like.


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