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Passions in Poetry

Is reality real?

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Kitherion
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0 posted 09-18-2007 09:25 AM       View Profile for Kitherion   Email Kitherion   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kitherion


I know it sounds absurd, but is the reality we experience the same for everyone else. Psychologically speaking it isn't, but what about philosophically?

"Our Father who art in Heaven... Hallowed be thy name..."

Stephanos
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1 posted 09-18-2007 10:06 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I just watched a documentary on the events of 9/11.  There was one pervading experience of fear, dismay, and pain, in spite of everyone's subjectivity.  The same is often true of joy, and other emotions.  To me, that's pretty good evidence that our perspectives are simply commentaries on one objective "text", that we all share.  Despite all of the philosophical speculation to the contrary, I still think the sanest and safest conclusion is that our senses are fairly reliable reporters of "true events".  That of course doesn't mean that we can't get it wrong.  But the very fact that we say "wrong" indicates that we recognize there is an "original", which all our copies are subject to.

So even psychologically, I think the answer "no" is too hasty, hence the common experience of the Twin Towers.  But philosophically, I think we should say that there is a reality which is real, making subjectivity even possible.

Stephen.    
oceanvu2
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2 posted 09-18-2007 12:44 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Reality is real, but whatever you think it is, it isn't that.

Jim

Stephanos
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3 posted 09-18-2007 03:51 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Is that what you think?  

I tend to think there's a great deal of accuracy of perception, its just that we don't always act accordingly.  Sometimes we choose illusions, knowing they are just that.


Stephen
Essorant
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4 posted 09-18-2007 08:40 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Yes, in a universal respect.  We experience different manners of the same universal reality.  But we don't necessarily experience the same or exact same reality (in the sense of "part" of that universal reality) that some one else does.

In other words, we are all experiencing the same overall "Tree", but not all the exact same branches within that "Tree".

Kitherion
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5 posted 09-19-2007 12:25 AM       View Profile for Kitherion   Email Kitherion   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kitherion

So, you say that although reality is subjective, it is still real to everyone at the same time. Okay, then to use your example of the twin towers, the people experiencing it might have thought it real, but I know that when we got the news broadcasts we thought it was just a sick joke, thus making it different for us. I wholehartedly agree with Stephanos, and his tree theory, however does everyone share the saem type of tree? And does the type of tree you belong to (just to continue a metaphor ) actually influence your reality.

And Stephanos, psychologically speaking, it is impossible to share the exact same reality with the next person, as your perceptions of it are most different. Thus inclining you to a different reality...

"Our Father who art in Heaven... Hallowed be thy name..."

moondogz
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6 posted 09-19-2007 12:41 AM       View Profile for moondogz   Email moondogz   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moondogz

There is no reality, only perception.
Kitherion
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7 posted 09-19-2007 04:39 AM       View Profile for Kitherion   Email Kitherion   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kitherion

Yes Moon, but does that not thus influence your reality? Notice I said your reality, because I personally don't think that Reality as a whole exists in a single time or space.

"Our Father who art in Heaven... Hallowed be thy name..."

Edward Grim
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8 posted 09-19-2007 10:05 AM       View Profile for Edward Grim   Email Edward Grim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Edward Grim's Home Page   View IP for Edward Grim

quote:
There is no reality, only perception.


There is a set reality that cannot be altered. Then there is our perception, which is either in tune with reality or separate from reality. But yes, there is a reality.

I can see a windmill as an ogre (that's my perception of reality). The reality (that cannot be altered) is that it is, in fact, just a windmill.

"Well I wish that you would cheat with someone, 'cause you're like diggin' holes in water and we know that can't be done."

Balladeer
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9 posted 09-19-2007 12:31 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Reality is for people who can't face fantasy.
oceanvu2
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10 posted 09-19-2007 01:25 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Reality is for amatuers. Magic is for pro's.

Yikes, I might be starting to think like John!  

Jim  
moondogz
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11 posted 09-19-2007 06:45 PM       View Profile for moondogz   Email moondogz   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moondogz

and Ascending is for Masters.
Brad
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12 posted 09-19-2007 07:25 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

There are two questions being asked here:

1. Is reality real?

Presumably you mean do our descriptions of the world accurately descripe that world. Yes for the most part.

2. Is the experience that I have of the world the same as the experience that you have?

Again, for the most part, yes.

And the kicker is this one:

quote:
But the very fact that we say "wrong" indicates that we recognize there is an "original", which all our copies are subject to.


This is the reason we know that there is a real world and that are descriptions of it are, again for the most part, accurate. The fact that we are wrong sometimes necessarily leads to that conclusion.

Does anything follow from that?

No, not really.

oceanvu2
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13 posted 09-19-2007 08:59 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

There are two questions being asked here:

1. Is reality real?

Presumably you mean do our descriptions of the world accurately descripe that world. Yes for the most part.

1.a  Nope, for the most part.  This assertion brings to mind the oxymoron "common sense."

When we look at a brick wall, we describe it as solid, while in a closer version of reality, what we are looking at is a whole lot of empty space surrounded by bits of "brick-stuff."

When we talk about "descriptions" of the world, we are dealing with the enormous limits of our ability to see what we are seeing.  Many corals, viewed under ultraviolet light, glow in vivid flourescent colors.  What is more real, the the bland colors we can see, or the colors that are there in a spectrum we do not have unaided access to?

The whole of the discourse around the Veil of Perception  (entirely different from the Sufi Veil of Illusion) argues aginst an ability to perceive reality, let alone a common reality.

When we look at a red rose, we don't "see" a red rose.  What we see is a reflection of light filtered through an optic system that responds in a specific way to a specific bit of the color spectrum.  A rose is red only because we say so.  It has nothing to do with the color of the rose.  A cat's observation that a rose is olive green might be equally valid, but then, cat's don't talk much.

Rather stupidly, most people insist that the world is round, when it is an oblate spheroid.

Commonly, folks describe the universe as being three dimensional.  Some grudgingly throw in "time" and perceive it as being four dimensional.  Physicists are suggesting that the universe contains at least 14 dimensions.  Beats the hell out of me, and it doesn't turn up in the average Joe's description of reality.

When we "taste" an apple, we're not tasting an apple at all.  We're only tasting that part of apple-ness of which we are capable of tasting.

  

2. Is the experience that I have of the world the same as the experience that you have?

Again, for the most part, yes.

2a.  Nope.  For the most part, we don't even experience our experiences, let alone experience them with commonality. But that's another ball of wax.

There is a tremendous cultural bias at work here.  The first part is the assumption that that human experience of the world is more valid that say, a rat's.  The second part is the assumption that the average Western Joe sets the standards for experience.

Does, for example, a blowgun hunter after monkeys in Borneo experience the world in the same way as a factory worker in Cleveland?  I think not.

Does a poet like Thomas Merton who took a vow of silence and lived a hermit's life present a commonality of experience "we" all share?  Nah.  

"And the kicker is this one:"

Kicker a:  I think we Westerners can accept that everything is made up of atoms in motion, and that there is space between those atoms.  Now, its just possible that the spaces between the atoms in our old brick wall might line up with the spaces in you, and you could walk right through it.

I just wouldn't bet the farm on it.

If all this sounds a little odd, the best I can say is that you think I'm like you, but I'm not.  

Jim
Brad
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14 posted 09-19-2007 10:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim,

I used to think like that. The one/two punch was a Rorty/Davidson combination.

Did you miss this part:

quote:
Does anything follow from that?

No, not really.


Everything you talk about presupposes something to talk about. That is the commonality.

If people truly experienced the world differently, not just on the margins or in their philosophies or in their thinking, then  their would be nothing that could be talked about talk about. ;lk just as we lodclk consiipoin;aadit 2345 asidtwadlkge0w3pqwgon ;oashvgona;lskdhgpor3ihg048y5y420it vn jptpawtu42tu42-t9q3g9j- v9q3]g-


So howled out for the world to give him a name.
The in-dark answered with wind.

oceanvu2
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15 posted 09-19-2007 11:28 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Hi Brad --  The kicker: Yes!  Exactly!  That's why I say I wouldn't bet the farm on our ability to walk through walls.

As it happens, I still do think like this, and, while I may be in the minority, I'm not pretentious enough to think that I am unique or alone.

I'm not suggesting that this viewpoint is particularly useful, but I do have problems with the Western cultural-bias thing and the general lack, in "common sense" to admit that not everything is common or sensible.

There is something innately silly about all philosophical suppostions.  As long as they don't involve killing other people, and me in particular, we can all live with disagreement and a chilled bottle of Pouilly Fume'  

Best, Jim

[This message has been edited by oceanvu2 (09-20-2007 12:01 AM).]

Brad
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16 posted 09-20-2007 12:08 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I can live with your attack on Western bias. I just have a problem when that attack supports and propels another form of bias to a superior position.

Don't get me started on this one.

On the other hand, I just don't think that has much to do with philosophical Idealism v. Realism. We live in the real world, we are in touch with world, and we perceive it, for the most part, correctly.

When you look at a rose and you see red. There is nothing false or untrue about that. You are really seeing a red rose.

Yeah, but is that rose really red?

How in the world can you talk about color if you are not also talking about the act of seeing?

oceanvu2
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17 posted 09-20-2007 01:28 AM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Hi Brad!

"I can live with your attack on Western bias."

I'm not attacking Western bias, I'm just saying that "Western-ness" seems to be an unacknowledged "given," like other  cultural "given's" in many of these discussions.  Hey -- I'M Western biased.  Can't help it, but I can recognize it.  


"I just have a problem when that attack supports and propels another form of bias to a superior position."

Well, given that I suggest there is no "attack," only a suggestion for recognition, I'm curious as to what other form of "bias" you think I'm promoting as superior.  It's not like I'm supporting some kind of different cultural mysticism. If anything, I might be an old school nihilist, except I'm not.

"Don't get me started on this one."

I understand this completely as a sentiment.  I've walked away from a lot of discussions that I felt it might take aeons to get into!  Ya choose your areanas and take a shot.  Or not.

"On the other hand, I just don't think that has much to do with philosophical Idealism v. Realism."  

OK.

"We live in the real world, we are in touch with world, and we perceive it, for the most part, correctly."

I'd rephrase it slightly:  "We live in a fantasy world, in total disconnect, and we can barely percieve it at all."  For the most part, we make stuff up and presume it is "so."

"When you look at a rose and you see red. There is nothing false or untrue about that. You are really seeing a red rose."

Sure, but what has that got to do with the reality of the rose?

"Yeah, but is that rose really red?"

Damned if I know.  It might not even be a rose, except that we (and Gertrude Stein) say so.

"How in the world can you talk about color if you are not also talking about the act of seeing?"

I AM talking about the act of seeing.  I'm saying that what we "see" is most likely not what we are looking at.  I'll go further:  What we see is invariably not what we are looking at.  It CAN'T be!

Don't let me get started on this one.     Or let me just suggest that what we "see" is an upside-down image of everything, that our brains conveniently turn right side up to help us avoid vertigo.

What part of commonality of experience do we share when we hand a Sudanese nomad an iPhone?

Well, there's always the commonality of "sharing," maybe.

Best, Jim




Brad
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18 posted 09-21-2007 06:21 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
Well, given that I suggest there is no "attack," only a suggestion for recognition, I'm curious as to what other form of "bias" you think I'm promoting as superior.


You've left open a space that can be filled by something else. As far as I can tell, it usually is. There are worse things out there than Western-ness -- at the very least we do have a sense of conflictedness (?) that you actually point to.

quote:
"We live in a fantasy world, in total disconnect, and we can barely percieve it at all."  For the most part, we make stuff up and presume it is "so."


But you don't live like that. If you did, you wouldn't live very long.

quote:
Sure, but what has that got to do with the reality of the rose?


Things in themselves? This is actually very hard to understand -- albeit probably just to me. But I read it as containing the idea that the rose must be something independent of its surroundings, a thing in itself.

I see no reason why that thought is particularly productive. You've already pointed out the multiple ways such a thing can be described. Why privilege one or the other unless you have a particular reason to do so?

That is, why the physicist's description over the gardener's or the lover's?

Why privilege the idea that no description is   better than the others?

If you want to say that there are other descriptions of a rose out there, one's we haven't thought about or written down yet, I agree. But what I don't get is how that leads to the idea that those unwritten description are somehow better than the ones we have now?

quote:
I AM talking about the act of seeing.  I'm saying that what we "see" is most likely not what we are looking at.  I'll go further:  What we see is invariably not what we are looking at.  It CAN'T be!


But why? If, again, multiple descriptions (or to use Rorty's word, vocabularies) are both useful and non-contradictory, then why privilege yet one more description only because it has yet to be written?

quote:
Don't let me get started on this one.     Or let me just suggest that what we "see" is an upside-down image of everything, that our brains conveniently turn right side up to help us avoid vertigo.


I would argue that vertigo is precisely a very good thing to avoid.

quote:
What part of commonality of experience do we share when we hand a Sudanese nomad an iPhone?

Well, there's always the commonality of "sharing," maybe.


If the Sudanese nomad didn't know what an iPhone is (I'm not completely sure what an iphone is, I'm not completely sure he wouldn't), then by far the majority of that situation would still be described in both languages accurately and understandably for both parties. You just have to learn each other's language.

Sorry for being so repetitive.

oceanvu2
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19 posted 09-21-2007 07:59 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Hi Brad:  Quick response:  Try Wallace Steven's The Man with the Blue Guitar.

Then hit me with a bigger stick, roshi!

Best, Jim
Brad
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20 posted 09-22-2007 07:14 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I think that's the first time I've ever been compared to a guru.

At any rate, there are still many parts of the poem that I don't have a handle on, but let me throw out some initial thoughts:

quote:
. . . But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."


I think the man is perfectly correct to argue that "things as they are/Are changed upon the blue guitar" but, if I'm reading you right and Stephens right, the question of whether one can describe things as they are is made impossible by the act of playing itself.

The question of 'as they are' is left unquestioned. My point is that 'playing' can offer a good description or a bad description but a description of 'things exactly as they are' is impossible because there ain't nothing to describe -- in the sense of a final description, the one that gets it right. What I mean is not that you or I don't exist, but that we don't have a fundamentally privileged description that can contain us, hold us, unfold the light to us in a way that everything else being talked is somehow lessened.

Next:
xxii
quote:
Poetry is the subject of the poem,
From this the poem issues and

To this returns. Between the two,
Between issue and return, there is

An absence in reality,
Things as they are. Or so we say.

But are these separate? Is it
An absence for the poem, which acquires

Its true appearances there, sun's green,
Cloud's red, earth feeling, sky that thinks?

From these it takes. Perhaps it gives,
In the universal intercourse.


I actually agree with this. The difference is not that a poem doesn't add to the 'universal intercourse' but that the absence, the difference between the poem and things as they are, implies that some form of representationalism (scientific, artistic, rhythmic) is privileged above other aesthetic forms. I see no reason why that should be so.

This is no way meant to demean scientific or linquistic philosophy. It is meant, simply put, that there is a time and place for all these things.

I had one more thing I wanted to bring up but I'm out of time, I'll try again later.

We have a lot to talk about with this poem.
Brad
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21 posted 09-22-2007 10:27 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, I've changed my mind a bit. I wanted to talk about the last two lines:

quote:

The moments when we choose to play
The imagined pine, the imagined jay.


and I wanted to complain about the conflation of the real world with imagination. I don't think Stephens does that here. I think he really is talking about the pictures we have in our head, not the animal or tree outside your window.

At the same time, it bothers me that, whenever we talk the divide, the imagined jay and the imagined pine are so easily conflated with the perceived 'outside' jay and the 'outside' pine.

Yet, I hope it goes without saying, the two are distinct.

At the same time, it has always seemed odd that the 'outside' jay and the 'outside' pine  are now consigned to a realm that can't be talked about at all -- noumena.

Let's see if I can make my thoughts a little clearer:

three realms:

imagination -- perception(phenomena) -- noumena

imagination = describable

perception =  describable

noumena = indescribable

Idealism:

(Imagination/Perception) Noemena

The problem as I see it as that when you conflate these two you lose a perfectly good if imperfect distinction. Imperfect in that there is some overlap.

Realism:

Imagination + (Perception/noumena)

I wanted to put a line through noumena (what is that called again, under erasure, or something like that?) because while it's still necessary in terms of the explanation. The very idea that something is not describable falls away.

But not exactly. It falls away not because we can't  describe it but because it wasn't there to begin with. But that still isn't it either, jays and pines are still there but to understand a thing as it is necessarily entails an understanding of the whole:

The universe through time.

So, what we are left with are partial descriptions and the thing in itself disappears under the heading of everything.

I hope that wasn't too confusing.

  
Essorant
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22 posted 09-22-2007 02:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

When a mirror reflects, the reflection isn't less real just because it isn't the object itself.  And if the mirror is a fullwarped mirror, and represents the object in a very warped way, then the reflection still, is not less real just because it doesn't reflect the object unwarpedly.  The reflection is being itself, a reality, and acting in conjunction with realities around it.  What more may anything do?  It is all real.
Brad
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23 posted 09-22-2007 06:41 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If everything is real, then nothing is.

The word loses all meaning.
Essorant
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Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


24 posted 09-22-2007 07:25 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

The distinction of a rock and imagined rock is not reality against unreality, but difference of one part of the same reality in contrast with another part, variations of the same Universe.  

The one variation is the solid, physical rock.  The other is a representation of the rock in one way or another.  The representation of the rock is just as much a thing as the rock itself.  The distinction is that it is much different than the rock though because it is a representation referring to the rock, instead of the rock itself.  The representation is just as much a presence of reality as the rock is a presence of reality, and they are distinguished from each other because they are different, not because either of them is "unreal".  

 
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