Introduction: The Eternal Conundrum
“We cannot know things as they exist independently of our perceptual and conceptual apparatus because the only way we can gain knowledge is through our perceptual and conceptual apparatus.”
We find ourselves existing, as Sartre wrote “coming from we know not where, going we know not whither”. As Heinrich Kleist put it, caught between the innocence of animals and the perfect knowledge of angels; between the necessity of individual being and the dialectic of this separation from the whole. The essence of being is separation: the min- ute space of tension between the fingers of God and Adam as Adam’s consciousness is cast into being, depicted in Michelangelo’s famous portrayal of the creation.
The world, existence, is dynamic process; a constant state of becoming in a dimension of time, and relationships, beyond human comprehension. As human beings, we are an integral part of this complex, dynamic energy that is the earth. We are one small infinitesimal part of this process. It cannot be viewed in its entirety in human terms through which all description is subjective in time and in its point of view.
Thus life itself is caught in this relation between the infinite and the circumscribed; the individual consciousness arises and experiences itself as separate and unique before giving itself back to eternity. I can only see the world from where I am standing; from this particular vista of time and place. From this point I look through the lenses of culture and education, of the nature I inherited and the experience life has given.
I make meaning from what I have and from what I am.
I, this being; here and now with this experience and these perceptions, with this desire to express the condition of being human; this relationship of one, small microscopic part observing the whole, from my microsecond of eternal time. I try to grasp the essence of our nature: of being, of consciousness and of time.
“Present” implies fixity, and yet there is only movement and relationship.
It is only through realising the tenuous hold we have on life, on ‘reality’, on ‘knowledge’ that we can come to any true understanding of ourselves and reconciliation to the world. Moving beyond the centre of self and seeing our being as one infinitely small cell in the vast, on-going process of return and renewal that is existence changes all. I believe that we cannot live peaceful lives until we become conscious of this limitation of ourselves and our knowledge. The cell of man has become cancerous, destroying the infinite variation and subtle balance of the system because, like the child he is, he believes he is the centre of the universe. The primeval animal instinct for power and control dominates his being.
I would like to bear witness to an eternal truth beyond individual desire and ambition; to use my one beat of energy in time to keep the eternal flame alive and pass it to the next generation. “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”