Street Level

We can carry around huge truths of ourselves without ever knowing what they are until one day, in the haircutter's mirror, we see that picture: of the Universal. Such a realisation came to me at such a salon, which, because this city is what it is, had to move above street level to stay in business: no one would ever know it was there unless they'd been to it first. What resilience there is here - rather, it just happened to be here that I noticed such resilience. I travelled half the world to realise that the whole world is everywhere - including in myself.
So I'm like that ragwort fluff that floated into train carriages in Victorian England, remaining suspended there until the movement of exiting passengers caused the seeds to float out again, with them, taking root somewhere far from their origins. And all the love I have for this locality has turned into an increased love of humanity, and what I love from here is what is universal, valuable insofar as it can be recognised by distant others. For example, the Rastafari movement is specifically black with its own principles of spirituality - but young people around the world identify with its universal aspects, such as the struggle for dignified independence through peace.
To have a universal, vertical, without a local, horizontal, means that one is but theorising. Any time we apply ideas, they become horizontal, and usually enmeshed - being at street level. The perfectionist tends towards the vertical, which is also a tenet of much Asian religion. But as I was reading Tagore yesterday, I realised that no universalist would choose to live in the clouds: he is too concerned with the well-being of his fellow man, regardless of creed/ origin, which brings him down again.
When I was a child, my love of India manifested into a gift I received of a book by a swami who wrote that one oughtn't descend too far down to the waters of life lest one get muddied. But now I think that you cannot get muddied (in your soul) if you descend to the water to retrieve a friend.
One undervalued tool of friendship is the imagination, which is not getting the room I think it deserves in popular culture. The imagination does not operate fully where there is money or constraint: the point of the imagination is that it is disinterested. I'm sure MFA students can explain this better than I can: when brainstorming, one must allow for a true democracy of ideas. In this democracy, we may imagine our friends in ways that brings out our compassion: the first bridge is formed from man to man.
And from this bridged structure - and all Chinese gardens have a bridge, this important symbol, there for meditation - we may think of larger-scale interactions. Like the platform given to us via blogging. Which brings me to the sad news that Google is folding its Reader: what a public service it was doing via Reader. It's just a shame that it was not honoured on time for its philanthropy. 
Where will we go in the future to exchange our ideas, in the democracy of imagination, which is the first stage behind all later productive activity? It is strange that humankind gives precedence to certain activities over others because to my mind, if we do not tend to all fields, we ruin what we have through over farming. The field I see languishing is that of language, but who's listening today... I mean, in the sense that words have a meaning that can be, vertically speaking, above lives, above people, as Jaynes wrote.
Even 40 years ago, when Julian Jaynes wrote his epic on how consciousness is not in the brain but in language, his book was critiqued out of serious debate. It is suggested he should have written it not as scientific theory but as literary provocation - because at least that way, his ideas would have got more currency. Pun intended.
So with my words - and words seem ever less important particularly as they require work to be understood - I shall return to the picture of the hairdresser's where I sat this morning and wondered at how, despite being comprised of talented cutters, the only sign of the salon's existence is in the sculpted hair of its customers. Maybe this is what is happening to the internet: a lot may be removed from street level...

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