Upon Which I Inhale
Written By: Jeff Behnke
In order to correctly understand the world in the proper way, you are taught that you must do it directly, that you can’t just come up with things off of the top of your head and declare it as fact. You have to go get your hands dirty. You have to head to Antarctica and pull out slabs of ice and measure the chemical makeup of the water stored within it. You have to take readings of heat radiating from a volcano, determine the content of sea water and count the number of bacteria. You have to ‘do your research’ in order to get your numbers, and you are supposed to not make any decisions upon the nature of reality unless they are decisions based upon those numbers gathered from your samples. But here’s the kicker to your oh-so-careful fact gathering and numbers analysis—what if you take the wrong samples? Bah! Impossible, you say. How dare you imply we have taken the wrong samples! What kind of makeshift held-up-by-strings operation do you think we’re running here on this planet? We are professionals. We give degrees and only listen to people who hold those degrees! Of course we have taken the correct samples to…er…sample. And the meaning taken from those samples is often self-evident, you say. Just look at what Al Gore said in his documentary, look at those big spikes in carbon emissions on that wall chart thing with the hydraulic crane. Self-evident. Just as he said.
Au contraire, mes amis. We take the wrong sample all the time! In fact, the sample you take and the meaning you gather from your sample is even worse—it’s arbitrary. Want a sample?
This sentence is false.
Depending upon what meaning you are sampling at any given time, the sentence says two things at once-- it is saying that what you are reading is false, but if it were false, then what you are reading is true. But if it were true, then the sentence is false and since it is false, it is true again. On and on it goes. Every time your mind is made up and determines whether it is reading a true or false sentence is an arbitrary sample just as much as what you take from it is an arbitrary meaning. It is what consciousness does, all the while pretending it is not arbitrary at all.
Oh, you say, but the samples taken from volcanoes are different! There is something in the stuff of lava that somehow makes it a better sample that contains more information about reality with more meaning than that blasted sentence! Truth doesn’t work that way! Truth isn’t arbitrary!
UFOs are real.
Hmm. A statement of fact? Is it a true statement or not? There are many things that fly around in the sky that are not identified regardless of who is flying them (if anything) so obviously it is a true statement. But what is implied is that UFOs flown by aliens of which we have no proof. So, based on our current accepted samples, the statement is false. But what if an illegal alien from Mexico has high-jacked a top secret device and is flying it for fun, then UFOS—even ones flown by aliens--are real, so it is once again a true statement. As a result, the sentence suffers from the same wishy-washiness as ‘this sentence is false.’
True or false?
As you can see, I am taking arbitrary samples of sentences (which could actually be anything) and attaching to it arbitrary meanings just as a scientist does with measurements of numbers taken from a volcano or from a core sample from Antarctica, just as you do every moment of your life in every way, shape and form.
My husband is an ass.
Why is he an ass? How have you come to that conclusion? Because he doesn’t take the children out to play when he comes home at the end of the day. Work is more important than family to him, but he just doesn’t see it that way. He likes football way too much and eats too many Doritos. He doesn’t listen to me, he just doggedly does his own thing and ignores our friends and neighbors. The children hate him. He never makes an effort to clean. Self-evident, like Al Gore’s carbon emissions. But then again, what if he did listen to you and all of the sudden started taking the children out more, lost his job because of the extra time spent with the family, and couldn’t support anyone, including you, whatsoever?
Then my husband would be an ass for listening to me.
So is he an ass or not? Up to you! It’s an arbitrary meaning that has been attached to an arbitrary sample—your sample--that you have decided to take, and your meaning that you have decide to imbibe upon your sample. You, your conscious mind, have therefore invented reality as opposed to discovered it, just as a scientist does when he is trying to do his measurements, just as you do when you are trying to decide upon your skills and upon your career path. In reality, it is all fluid, and our consciousness particlizes it into some recognizable form to ourselves. But like a junkie, the more you sample the universe in one way, the more you just can’t get out of it and it sort of takes over you and you just can’t see anything else. It becomes truth because you have become addicted to what you have sampled. He’s an ass, he’s an ass, he’s an ass, he’s an ass!
Is that sniff good or bad?
How can something so good be so bad? How could something so bad be so good? Maybe I’m not talking about drugs…maybe I’m just upset. It’s arbitrary, you see, and you have developed an arbitrary addiction to your interpretation. In fact, the best that us junkies have really come up with so far over time when dealing with this arbitrary sampling and arbitrary attaching of meaning to the world around us by our conscious minds is to do our sampling and interpretation consistently. “Well, considering I’m a scientist, I must see things objectively. And considering I must see things objectively, I must be bothered by chaos and a lack of order. And because I must be bothered by chaos, I must not get along with artists who like chaos and believe in some invisible thing called the human soul. They don’t understand the beauty inherent in an equation.” Yes, if we do our sampling consistently, we say to ourselves, we turn into an archetype, and lo and behold, we think we suddenly mean so much more in everyone’s minds so we must continue to be consistent and allow further structures grow and grow upon us until we become larger than life! Because not everyone can be so pure like us! Yes, we want to be more than just a scientist--- a scientist that is so scientific, he creates equations for ocean waves and declares reality to be the equation and the movements of the waves that don’t quite fit into the equation to be just some unknown variable that we haven’t discovered yet!
Yes, the more consistent we sample, the more symbolic we believe we have become in the minds of those around us. Larger than life. Pure. Someone who got it versus all of the others who didn’t get it at all. We suddenly believe we represent something in people’s minds, as if our ideals are so powerful and poignant that we sacrifice our egos to it—Jesus, anyone?--- and give life its much needed meaning—a meaning that wouldn’t exist without you. But when we do these things and become these archetypal monuments to mankind, haven’t we just become stubborn and stuck in our ways? I guess it depends on your sample and your own arbitrary meaning. Don’t like it? Just take a different sample. Attach a different meaning. And convince everyone around you for the good of democracy, for the good of mob rule.
So is your husband an ass or not? Are UFOs real or not? Is this sentence false…or not?
Someone who believes all nature is conscious won’t step on an ant, won’t eat a hamburger, won’t eat plants…just nuts and berries and things that grow off of trees and shrubs in a renewable fashion…they are just as much of a junkie as the “objective” scientist, attached to their sample and continually applying their archetype, their model. And, like a junkie, in the vegan’s mind, man becomes the intrusive force on earth, wreaking havoc in some orgy of unnecessary destruction—so destroy man instead! Boy, thank God for the vegans! Our saviors. Their mind travels up and down the tendrils of their own self-created archetype, defining the world from this perspective, sampling and sampling some more, sacrificing everything to their ideal, staying as consistent with themselves as humanly possible. But at what cost? What has our sampling done to us? What have we created?
Reality, my friends. And we created it all while getting high.
But after awhile, like junkies, our samples just don’t seem to do the same thing for us as they once did, do they? They just aren’t as powerful or they lose something that kept us interested. We grow tired of them—bored, even. And it is at these moments when this feeling sets in that we either sniff too much and O.D., or leave it all behind and learn to sample something new. And with these new samples, your husband doesn’t seem to be such an ass, does he? And UFOs aren’t real anymore, are they? And that sentence we keep talking about? That’s right--it has finally come true.
Cheers or tokes, folks. Whichever poison you prefer these days. Until next time.