Thursday, September 8, 2011

Black Swans, Betwixt and Between

(with thanks to The Beatles, Taleb, Graves, and Dillinger)
We can't live in a yellow submarine. Cognitive dissonance immerses us in indecision; to submerge or to surface? To stay in harbor or to set out to sea? To plot a mechanized course or to sail seemingly free? In which element does one find oneself settled most comfortably? Is life merely a matter of choosing, or do we indeed stay concomitantly cocooned, closely ensconced, endemically encapsulated, academically certain, and ineluctably closeted by our infamous penchant for predilections, preferences, and powers that be?

Catastrophe forces change. The black swan swims into our awareness. N. N. Taleb's metaphor in which a Black Swan eventually surprises us with its major impact, which may not necessarily be 'bad', forces us into a paradigm shift. Its apparent suddenness startles, provokes, hurtles us toward some new insight, establishes some new platform from which now to make a stand, or sets in us some new sea to sail. Yet after the fact we tend to rationalize our new stances very predictably. Recall when he said this or she said that, or what about the time we did this and they did that, or how about the insight I gleaned at that age that now leads me to this door? Way leads onto way, and indeed the predictability of where I am now at could've been forecast by any Luddite, ha!

Other instances of our ineluctable and intuitive shifting of consciousness, in due course, are indeed gradually wrought by the mindfulness of moment by moment accretion, but at some point that which 'was' is absorbed into that which now is, and the predominant reality changes from a stance, a belief, an ideology, to a larger whole. Our cognitive dissonance, betwixt and between, is the issue. We are fearful when feeling ungrounded.

Vacillation has its value. Many a premature decision would better have been made had I personally waded deeper into the dissonance that assailed me, but my instant want to be gratified greatly predestined me to pay for my mistakes. Perhaps. On the other hand, it is having made those same mistakes that propelled me toward making many other decisions, and each brought me to this point in time, which is as unfixed in the metaphor as it is in the mind. We would rather be sure of ourselves. We would rather know what is meant. We would rather have a value, have values, have certainty, have stability, have habits, have each other than be alone out there on a proverbial sea of anxiety. And only if what lies betwixt and between, port to port, destination to destination, platform to platform, and even thought to thought made sense, makes meaning and purpose and import and reason clear and worthwhile, are we at ease. Who likes to be out of control? (Dillinger’s psych-geometrics constantly shows how seldom we choose to be uncertain.)

Paradigm shifts are as cities in a journey; they are not necessarily hierarchically ranked though indeed one may encompass more than another, and knowing two or three gives one more awareness of yet more than only being limited to just one's own. Hierarchies in consciousness, however, are about becoming more integrative. Yet what lies betwixt and between is the real voyage, for in it are all the variables that may occur, that might be chosen, that may be engaged. Still, some will sleep on the way. Are we there yet, they say. Yet when awake to the shift in consciousness, to the shuffling off of What Was while gaining what is Anew, there is much lightness of being, like dissonance dissolving. Or do we just take ourselves with us, irrespective of what lies betwixt and between?

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