So, I’ve started to talk about some right proper kookiness these last few posts: giants, PKD, heavenly invasions to save the dead. Do I really believe this stuff? The short answer is yes, the long answer is no. Or the short answer is no, the long answer yes. Or is it short answer, no, long answer no? Those responses should give you a clear idea of what I am getting at–‘believing’ isn’t quite what matters here, though it does come into play. The gnostic work must take for granted that (1) the human understanding is limited but not incompetent and (2) the world is complex, exceeds our understanding, but is not senseless.
Let me warn you, I am still sick, writing from the end of night into the break of day. As I prepare to take some Nyquil, I think back to PKD and the darvon delivery that would change his life. I suspect most of the readers who peruse these posts will recognize that I have a lot of sympathy for Philip K. Dick. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to follow in his footsteps (man, I do not have the constitution to use drugs like that), I cannot deny that his work exerted a great deal of influence on me. I came to PKD’s work after I was well and truly chugging down my gnostic way because my partner kept nudging me to read him. “You’ll like it,” she promises. Startled probably better captures my response.
So, funny thing. It is actually pretty darn hard to think, if by thinking we mean something like considering a thing and its relationship to us and the world. What we are really good at is plugging whatever we think of into our established patterns for positioning things and then proceeding to go from there. It is one of the reasons that we are lousy at changing our ideas even when they don’t hold up all that well. Unless we stop and force ourselves to think, we tend to presume more than we discover. That’s actually not terrible and given how patterned the world can be, it’s even efficient. It does mean, however, that Gurdjieff has a bit of a point–it’s better to assume that we are more like machines, more like computers, than we are like what we imagine people to be. In other words, it’s better to start from the presupposition that we anthropomorphize ourselves and others to excess.