CHAPTER FOUR: FOURS
IV. 6. THINGS FOUR IN BALANCE
A SHORT LIST
MODES OF TRANSMISSION
A NEW GRAMMAR SCHOOL
IV. 6. THINGS
FOUR IN BALANCE
From the world of things in their "fourness" we have selected examples, each with binary qualities coupled like the nuts and bolts on Duchamp's sculpture, illustrating some significant concerns of modern life. By this we have intended to place both the formal and the fanciful aspects of With Hidden Noise into rich and meaningful perspective. The insistence of this process may, for some people, occasion reactions that are shocking or depressing, especially when it seems that trying to get at the truth behind the smallest detail, we are so frequently caught up in the coarse mesh of stupidity, cruelty, greed...all the crossed purposes and binding, karmic consequences of sins and vices for which mankind has invented names, and the tangled knots of ignorance representing the nameless rest. Much subsequent sadness comes from realizing the utterly accidental nature of the suffering--in the precise sense of the adjective, meaning that which befalls one, which is to say: suffering perhaps not-at-all-necessary.
The world of things four in balance has long been imagined as an icon of Paradise, where the Four Rivers flow, the Eden in which Adam and Eve's Four Humors are in perfect harmony and eternal. Their being is of an order not yet complex enough to admit of time--not even of that first theoretical time in which the values in an equation might be seen to change. However, with the first order of time, the first and simplest feedback function we can map in a switching circuit--that of the fifth crossing, counting from the void, in which we can show that there is a primitive oscillation of values--we leave the Eternal Realm. Hence the Fall, Birth, the Real world, and so forth...with all the memories and reflections about now-past paradigms of perfection, angelic orders, or a blissful balance in the No-time of Eternity.
Since we are trying to go the other way in this programmatic count-down--from six to five to four to three...and then to the two plaques of brass, the one ball of twine, and the void it surrounds-- our procedural model must be one for reentering heaven. Some tips we can garner from other, successful attempts (or good tries) by past mathematicians, poets, philosophers, mystics, lovers and other lucky loonies. For one thing: we know that traveling in this direction is made easier the more excess baggage we are able to leave behind. As Shirley Ellis sang in the 'sixties, "You gotta get right down to the real nitty-gritty." And another thing: perorations on the Fall often focus on reasons or rationales about the departure from Paradise, succumbing to the temptation to tack on moralizations meant to justify the "new rules" which people are supposedly OBLIGED to follow on this side of the crossing. Hence the dichotomies, the judgements, and the projections of sin or guilt. Here compassion and forgiveness may help.
A great corrective is offered by objectification of the situation beyond all siding with dialectical judgements, one way or the other. We may also profit from the wisdom of other human beings who have a good sense of balance within a generous, natural, cosmic frame of reference. For, going back into Paradise ought to be a pleasure trip with happiness and joy, a liberation from the sublunar, a breaking of bonds, "lightening-up," while laughing either at or with the All and Everything, and honoring that balance which tokens basic sanity. Rather than following the dour prevailing style of pretentious academic writing, wringing out witless words in a tortured skein of inconsequentialities, we are attempting to piece together here a kind of "Crazy Wisdom" quilt. Though made up from wildly different patches of reference, it is respectfully held up to the light so that one can inspect--not only the constitution of the individual patches, both obscure and transparent--but also the patterns of the stitching, the designs made by the finer piercings of the needleholes themselves, and the twill of the threads. We are prepared to hold up this construction --as Good as we could make it--even before the light of Truth, or close to the eye of Beauty (TUNC) trusting that it skrys a more Real iconological reading of Duchamp's four nuts and bolts than the usual literature of art history might otherwise have led one to expect.
In the Hopi language, the term Koyaanisqatsi means "life out of balance," or "insane life, life in turmoil, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living." It was used in 1983 as the title of a sublimely beautiful, terrifying movie by Godfrey Reggio, with cinematography by Ron Fricke and musical score by Philip Glass. The single Hopi word diagnoses the dangerous madness of the pahana, the "White Man's world," from the viewpoint of those people who have dwelled in harmony for millennia on both continents of the Americas. Traditional Hopi prophesies prominently mention four Purifiers associated with the symbolic colors white, black, red and yellow. While some interpreters see here a reference to the "races" of mankind, this reflects an incomplete understanding. Others relate the Purifications to the two World Wars, and Hopi spokesmen have said that this is not strictly correct, nor could it be, if only because Hopi verbs do not express tense. It is something like that; but rather than insisting upon backward glances of either War or Paradise, the "way-back-in" focusses more on the future: whence, "prophesies."
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the principal present author visited Hopi lands in Northern Arizona on several occasions, meeting primarily with Thomas Banyacya, and the elders David Monongye, Ralph and Taylor Selina, and Herbert the Bonesetter, in the traditional villages of New Oraibi, Hotevilla, Shungopavi, and Shipaulovi. Having introduced several vexing issues into this text--such as religion, ecology, basic sanity and the like, about all of which the Hopi have developed extraordinary wisdom--a decision was made to include here certain edited sections from the transcript of four tapes which constitute the first-ever authorized recordings of Hopi prophesies.
Obviously, their revelation here comes at a crucially important time in global history, both for the Hopi and for ourselves.
Well, the Hopi is always very happy, joking, laughing and teasing--just that kind of person, you know--so that's the feeling they like to create in everybody they know. The Hopi knows tradition. He has knowledge; that's why he knows what's coming, today and tomorrow. That's why I say I've got the movie up here [in my head]; I don't need to see movies because it's up here already. And there are certain things that the Hopi elders know, these men who have been initiated into [ritual] societies. They know, they can almost forsee some things coming, and they already know or envision what this person will see or do sometime in the future. The elders are well-versed in this when they are initiated into [what are called] "high societies." That's when they cut their hair like that [in a traditional manner, with straight bangs and a "page-boy" effect, forming a rectangular "window" in front of the face]. Because that's a window from the body to the heart and the soul. Looking out to the world from that window, they know all those things about religion, and what you are supposed to do.
Those head bands are mainly just to hold the hair in place, but they also signify some sacred duty a person was commissioned to perform, see, like some ceremony. Different head bands mean different authority. Also that is a special feature of the Hopi, so [when we travel] we always dress up like that, you know, signifying that we are Hopi. That is a feature we pass on from the Great Spirit, with the hair cut like that. There was supposed to be instructions following that line of teaching--and on the other end, to meet the Great Spirit, so he will recognize us.
The Great Spirit is the owner of this land. When we came to him, he gave us instructions about how to take care of it for him; so this land really belongs to the Great Spirit. It doesn't belong to us or to anybody else. It belongs to the Great Spirit; and the grandmother Spider Woman, and the twin sons---they were the ones who were caretakers of the land for him before we came. Then, when man came, the leaders were given authority over the land. The Bear clan leader was given authority over all this land and life, just like the Great Spirit himself would be taking care of. But when man finally came to him, the Great Spirit said, "Now I place it in your hands, you be the authority and the power over this land, and keep the land as I have...as long as you follow instructions. Nowhere must you cut up the land, no place must you give up your land, nor do anythig to dispose of the land. Just take care of it just the way I have placed it in your hands and you'll have long life.
[But recently some of the younger people, especially through the influence of external religions, money and liquor] are beginning to neglect these things, and not fulfilling these obligations and going through the purifying like they should. So that even though they perform the ceremonies, it doesn't do much good. So these are some of the things that disturb [the elders] because these religious, ceremonial things, the religious activities, are the power by which we keep this land. So no matter what other programs come in here, like Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, or missionary programs, or industrial development programs--their intentions are always to disturb and to take hold of this land. Education programs take the children away and train them elsewhere--and the children go away.
So these are the things that keep tearing down the Hopi way of life, and the old people are concerned. They know this is going to disturb the land, and tear down the way of holding this land and life for all peoples. Eventually it's going to break down, just like they are disturbing nature all around us. They are digging into Mother Earth for everything to create some [profit] out of it, and they're polluting the air and water and everything, and disturbing things up above now, and all these things eventually are going to destroy us.
So that is why the knowledge of these things should be put out and explained, so that people will realize that if we don't stop these things it's going to destroy us--like total destruction. All around us it will take place and this [the three Hopi mesas in northern Arizona] will be the last place, because this is the center, the spiritual center from which the whole land is held. This is the last place that would be destroyed; then the whole land will go down. It's like the prophesies say: this land will turn over four times and put us back where we started from, in darkness, way down--so that would be the punishment. So this is the dangerous part, for failure to adhere to the instructions.
The prophesy, of course, is merely known things that will happen: that we've warned you now, if you don't stop doing this, this is what's going to happen. And if you're going in that direction, some signs will be shown or things will be happening, like if you destroy too much forest area, then there's denuding of that land and erosion will start, and other things happening--all those things, there's a warning to it. Then if we start to destroy our religious ceremonies we can't check the way of the wind anymore, the way it used to be, and the rain will cause flash floods, and there will start to be erosion, and many other things.
Before, when it rained it was a slow drizzle, maybe all night long or for two or three days, just soaking the ground real good. Springtime had flowers all around; you could hardly see the ground all over this field one time--just beautiful! Flowers of all kinds, birds and animals out there--a real fertile valley here, with no washouts. When water ran off in springtime, you would see water all over--covering this whole valley--that's the way it was during that period. That's the way the Great Spirit told them to take care of it.
Once it has been disturbed and people neglect it, then things are going to start happening that lead to destruction, so that if we don't check this now it's going to happen. And so that is why we have a chance to stop it; if we learn to understand this, we have a chance to stop it. And the Great Spirit knows: if we can't stop it, if we don't know how to stop it, he has appointed the... purifiers to help us do that, with their power and might, and with the understanding they have about how they are going to purify this land.
Now one time I [Herbert the Bonesetter speaking] took some men down to Phoenix--we had a trial over some of the young men who were to be drafted, and we fought that. We did not want the Hopi to be drafted....On the night before we took the young men down to a theater, because we saw in the paper a picture show which was The Day The Earth Stood Still [the classic 1951 science fiction movie directed by Robert Wise]. I don't know what it was, but it looked kind of similar to the Hopi prophesies we know. So we went in there--these old men, the Hopi elders went with me. And after what they saw there, one old man came out and said,
"I wonder who told that to the white people?"
That's the way we know it's going to happen. Somebody comes down from a flying saucer...they call it a flying saucer, but we call it something else. Then people will come watching us, checking on us fast, and we won't know who they are....One day someone's going to come here and warn the people not to go too far, but to get together and work among themselves; but they won't listen.
And see, it goes along with that story: when the "flying saucer" comes landing in front of the capitol, and then the white men all come with guns and try to shoot them, it won't do any good. And when they come out of the [spaceship], that's the way a person would come who's powerful--he's going to shoot his arrow at the machinery. The gun won't go, the airplane won't go, and all the machinery will come to a standstill. People will get out to look under the hood to see what's happened to their cars, you know. That's about what's going to happen when the Purifier comes.
These are some of the things that will be happening at that time. That's why I say we know that's how it's going to happen. When the Purifier comes it's going to be with horror and lightning. He's not going to stop and ask questions. [Like the flying saucer] he's going to go right directly to the village chief.
If we recognize this, we must help to support the [traditional Hopi] leaders, like the Bear clan chief. He supports authority in this way: he has no weapons of any kind; he has no way of demanding things. He's just merely holding onto that, the way he was told, and with the [clan or society] helpers around him, they perform the ceremony; and that's the only thing they can do to hold it. But if that is disturbed--well then, we are on our way to some kind of trouble.
But even if one man is hanging on, then as long as we bring this [teaching] to other tribes and to other people, somebody somewhere should understand, and someone will come to help support it. And [because of] that person's help, for the one who stands to the last [the Hopi who has preserved the traditional way]--no matter how hard it may be, like the Indian Bureau [the U.S. government's Bureau of Indian Affairs] putting all that pressure on them and threatening them, and all that--even if one person with a strong heart and courage is still standing and someone comes to help him...many other good people will be saved. Because by that time the Purifier will come and he will see that these people are protected from then on.
And those that are saved, like many of us left--like if Ralph [Selina] was the one that stood last, and if you people came and helped, and because of that help, this has put a stop to destroying the world and everything, and that whoever was saved after the purification, then many good people would be saved and go into the [next] new phase, the new life where we will see the Great Spirit himself. He will be there, and the Purifier will be there, and they that stood last will be there, and the one that helped him will be there. [The elders say] that all the people that were saved would be so appreciative of the things that were done, that they would hardly touch the ground...because of that person's faith and courage, many of us will have been saved, and gone into this new life, so that we will always remember their name and their work. Their courage and their faith would be like we talk about the old world leaders, and about what they did to help mankind throughout history.
This is the last stage now. If we fail, we go back to where we started from. Or if we stop [the destruction] and realize [the threats and dangers], and bring these [teachings] out in a way that the majority of people will help us hold onto [the traditional ways], then we enter a new phase, and from then on we will be in this this new peaceful life. This is the goal toward which the Hopi is working for all people, for all religions. And the birds and the animals and trees--even they are watching us; and if they see that we are about to destroy ourselves, well, they will be crying to us: the rock will roll down and cry, the blade of grass will be crying, the birds will be crying. Everybody will begin to be aware that we are about to destroy ourselves.
It could happen anytime. But right now there's a chance for us to stop it. There are several leaders still holding onto [the traditional way]; and we travel all over the United States and we find some leaders [in other tribes] still holding on to it--even one or two people, here or there--that's the way it's going to be, just a handful here and there. So those are the ones who are now coming together, because that's the only way out of this troubled world.
[The Hopi are holding this land for all]. And not only for man, but for all living beings: all plants, all animals, everything. [The Great Spirit] holds all this in his hand. The Hopi leaders work through their prayer, through their ceremonies, through their chants--everything is directed toward keeping life going. And if we go into deeper things--which we won't be able to explain unless you're initiated, because they are very sacred--secret societies still know that knowledge, and you go into deeper things there. You could almost see the machinery of all the religious parts of everything. It would be just like looking into a machine, like clockwork, in order to keep the wind and the rain and other things in check and in balance; it would be like that. Now it's only these people who know who can bring about the rain or check something. So the [Hopi elders and leaders have] said, the more people who understand these things and dig into [these matters, would signal] a time to reveal some part of it. So that way it would be gradually exposed to the outside world, and they would begin to recognize the point the leaders have been stressing: that this is the spiritual center, that these leaders are holding this land for all people, not only Hopis, not only Indian tribes, but all other people who come to us, and every living thing on this earth.
A SHORT LIST
Anyone who has seen the movie taking the Hopi word Koyaanisqatsi as its title may also understand the "Purifiers" to represent those paramount threats to life on earth as we now know it. In the symbolic tradition of Albrecht Dürer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an important service to general awareness may be served by calling ourattention to genuine global threats. A short list might read:
Putting it in local terms, the San Francisco Chronicle (October 20, 1986) listed results of a readers' survey indicating the four biggest problems for Bay Area residents: transportation, pollution, overpopulation and housing (in that order). The last three check out, if we take the "housing problem" in its largest sense as the problem of preservation of the habitat in general. What the good people in the San Francisco Bay area view as their largest problem--transportation, or getting to and from work--in a certain bizarre way might be seen as euphemisms of warfare: the hurry-up-and-wait of bumper-to-bumper traffic analogous to the main operational rhythm familiar to anyone who has performed military service, regimented quasi-robotic dress and behavior, the viciousness of competition, the pointlessness of it all.
But so long as the insanely proliferating instruments of destruction persist in the arsenals of all nation-states, it is mere wishful thinking to ignore--and thereby hope to bypass--the major threat in our short list above: that of war which, once begun, could escalate with frightening inevitability beyond any human agency of control into global thermonuclear destruction. In quite another sense, however, it really is a matter of "getting to work" on those problems of broad scope and lofty significance--most imminently taking swift action to change the mechanisms of nation-state bellicosity historically responsible for the most obvious and immediate threats of war, somehow transforming or neutralizing nations become instruments of pomp and terror that do "furiously rage together." Then the real work can begin, for the benefit of the present generation of children, for the enlightened well-being of our species, for the future of our friends the animals, for all plant life, for the survival of our whole planet, and so that people, right away, can begin to relax and have more fun.
MODES OF TRANSMISSION
Suppose we do finally succeed in discovering the Real, the True, the Good and the Beautiful. There remains the imperative, practical problem of finding effective means by which to transmit the substance of these teachings to the "optimal receivers among our species," the present generation of children. Having made our concessions to the "Demon of Progress," most of us have thus bought into enjoying the wonders of modern technology; we may also feel that we have been asked to pay a rather steep price in sacrificing some of the peace, beauty and dignity of older, saner, traditional ways. We have also--most of us long ago-- compromised the simple power of a physically wholesome and spiritually sustaining way of life. Many people feel that we have forfeited the natural context within which to balance our own psyches, and in which we might both shape and transmit the values of basic sanity to each successive wave of the world's youthful progeny.
A poignant object lesson may be had from the recent experience of another deeply traditional culture, that of Tibet. For they, like the Hopi, could be ferocious warriors, although religious (Buddhist) traditions established among Tibetans over the last millennium have encouraged following a path of peace. But in the 1950s the worst nightmares of their own Tibetan prophesies came to pass, with the horrifying destruction and tortures that accompanied the Chinese invasion. The principal targets were the lamas. In Tibetan, the word lama means "teacher," and prior to Tibet's occupation and subjugation by the Chinese, the endeavors of teaching and learning received utmost respect. According to tradition among Tibetan lamas, there are four ways in which the teachings may be transmitted effectively.
The fourth, or "least effective," means is the written word, no matter how finely printed or decorated with beautiful calligraphy. Many of the Tibetan scriptures are glorious works of calligraphic art in themselves, which can only add to our respect for the sutras, the sacred writings, and the poetry and literature that have come down to us in a cascade of creativity and expression for the last millenium and a half. Vast quantities of Buddhist manuscripts were burnt in the Chinese cataclysm, with extensive obliteration of monasteries and the manifold works of art contained therein. Each monastery in Tibet was the center of community life. Each monastery--often the only large, well-constructed building--was also a library and, effectively, a university. Even illiterate peasants or rude and wild nomads, if they should happen to notice on the ground, say, a piece of paper bearing any sort of writing, will pick it up to place it reverently in some respectful place. And Tibet does have a very great tradition of literature. Many of the medieval classics can still be read with ease and pleasure because there is a long tradition of placing a high premium upon clarity, directness and thoroughness, especially in texts that contain indications for performing ritual work or that relate the sacred teachings, as we might appreciate for example by inspecting the twelfth-century text by Sgam.po.pa., The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.
[ Translated and annotated by Herbert V. Guenther, (Clear Light Series) Shambala, Berkeley (1971). ]
One problem with depending on the written word for accurate transmission of the teachings is that anyone can write just about anything on paper (as with the tabloids: PRINCESS DI IN SUICIDE TRY). Certainly that is more true in the United States of America, where the right to express one's self freely in print is explicitly guaranteed and protected by the Supreme Law of the Land...and so, unfortunately, neither the quality of the paper, nor the opulence of illustration, nor the elegance of hand is a trustworthy guide to accurate content or precise expression in any given text. Anyway, even if the author were honest and the text were clear to the point of being thought foolproof when written, all living languages change; textual critics forever argue about the precise meaning of this or that word and phrase in every literature. However carefully edited or beautifully inscribed, the written word presents intrinsic, inevitable problems; texts can serve, at best, only as helpful tools or adjuncts to some other, more vital method of transmitting the dharma, the living Truth.
A higher order of transmission can only be achieved through the agency of a live (and inspired) teacher passing on the teachings directly to a student--that is to say, one properly prepared to receive the teachings--who then really DOES complete the circuit by understanding the injunctions and following them: actually practicing the work. But in order to be passed properly, there must already be that ground of receptivity. Ideally, this requires reasonably good physical and emotional health, and some kind of empirically functional intellectual discipline within a framework of basic sanity.
Transmission is like receiving a spiritual inheritance. In order to inherit our spiritual discipline, in order to have a good inheritance, we should become worthy vessels. In order to become worthy vessels, we have to drop the attitude that we are going to be saved, that there is going to be a magically painless operation, and that all we have to do is pay the doctor's fee. We have the notion that if we pay the doctor, everything will be taken care of. We can just relax and let him do what he wants. That attitude is simple-minded. It is absolutely necessary to think twice. The questioning mind is absolutely necessary; it is the basis of receiving transmission.
[ Chgyam Trungpa, Journey Without Goal, p. 49. ]
Honoring the "lesser vehicle" of the physical body, we all thank our personal doctors (John Sperry, Franklin Scarlatta, Robert Hampton, Jacob Goldenberg, David Suchard, David Woodruff, Savelly Chirman, and noble others). Ideally, with no dichotomy between doctor and patient or teacher and pupil, the sublime process of initiation (or healing) can take place with "the meeting of two minds," as it is known in Zen terminology: genuine, open communication between the student and one who is best called a "spiritual friend." With thorough preparation a moment arrives when suddenly, in the new openness thus created, it is possible for two minds to become one, in an experiential confirmation of wholeness, here called the "softly-spoken word," or the "whispered" transmission of the "secret oral tradition." Just so, the spoken word is called the third most powerful mode transmitting the teachings. In order for these words to be fully effective, however, they must be accompanied by the living example, by an energetic and vital manifestation. This is the second most powerful mode of transmission, which may be recognized by illustration through mudra, or "gesture," as featured in many stories of famous students who received awakening whacks across the back with boards, or an inspired slap across the face with the sandal of the spiritual friend at just the appropriate, receptive moment when the right situation had been created. The power and directness of such a transmission is quite literally beyond words.
At this point, a long pause might ensue...long enough to wait until someone asks, "Well, what IS the first most powerful mode of transmitting the teachings?" If no one asks, we may just shine it on: because, although perhaps not impossible, it appears to be very difficult both to talk about these means and to employ them at the same time. The most powerful mode of transmitting the teachings refers to an essential function of each dynamic gesture, softly-spoken word, or conventional symbolic token making up any true text; yet it is a function that transcends them all. The Vajrayana tradition is one of the few authentic cultural vehicles that recognizes this particular kind of spiritual energy, accords it a proper respect, and calls it forthrightly by name. In contemporary American English--our language with a far less well-developed or precise vocabulary for phenomena of the psyche--perhaps the closest we come to it is the term "telepathy."
Just suppose there really were such a process as telepathy. How would it be regarded--or employed--by the consuming interests of such Western institutions as Wall Street, the Department of Defense, the C.I.A., the I.R.S.? One anticipated response can be modeled on the early years of legal experimentation with LSD: although Dr. Timothy Leary is thought to have said some silly things, he accurately pointed out that the approach of every institution and institutional spokes-person to LSD was an attempt to CONTROL it. The irony with telepathy is that apparently the power is developed most effectively--if not exclusively--through cultivating receptivity and so, in a sense, knowledge of the art is self-protecting. A neurotic predisposition of the Western mind to conquer and exploit nature is unlikely to succeed in mastering the higher processes of learning, teaching and awareness. Still, our best hopes for success may reside in the institutions of "higher learning," if they will truly live up to this nominal calling.
A NEW GRAMMAR SCHOOL
These four orders of transmitting the teachings suggest some intriguing analogies with new models for whole systems. One such is the product of attempts to analyze the different ways in which our brain and mind (taken together as a functional unity) process information. There are enormous complexities that challenge the mapper of neurological structures and brain functions. Nevertheless, we can refer to a highly simplified four-part model, the principal virtue of which enables us to correlate bio-physiological processes with certain abstract analogs. These are particularly useful in the design of circuits or programs, and possibly other features of AI(artificial intelligence) paradigms. In the 1970s, J. Christopher Wells outlined the essential features and potential applications (some already realized) of such a scheme. Utilizing our self- referential, metagrammatical principles, we may visualize the four grammars as interacting in an abstract process architecture, which we can represent diagrammatically as a tetrahedral prism having the Metagrammar at its apex: the ADAMANTINE ISOMORPH.
[ J. Christopher Wells, Neurolinguistic Information Processing, Institute for Information Systems, University of California at San Diego, (unpublished paper, 1974). Ideas in this section owe a very substantial debt to Mr. Wells, and to the work of Karl Pribram. See K. H. Pribram and A. R. Luria, "The Primate Frontal Cortex: Executive of the Brain," Psychophysiology of the Frontal Lobes (1973). ]
We use the concept of a grammar in a general sense: the rules governing and capable of generating a formal language, encompassing information processes of rich dynamic complexity and interest. Four cardinal classes of generative grammars suggest themselves for a hypothetical curriculum that would allow efficient transmission, through all potential modes, nurturing natural capacities for the intuitive perception of basic forms and relations, in a new grammar school:
ARRAY GRAMMARS map matrices of point terminals onto transformed matrices, or images. Physical records and the written word (the fourth and least effective mode of transmission) have analogies with the information processed by the archeocortex of the human brain. The array is the image of our own body we formulate in our brain/mind, principally from the data input of our peripheral nervous system. When we are first learning our ABCs the letters are studied sequentially, then linked to form words; and we proceed mentally to string the beads of written letters together to form sentences. But once we have mastered the process of reading, we transcend a strictly lineal approach in order to grasp larger wholes. A speed-reader tends more to view the entire page as array; and a printer or a typographer learns to pay as much attention to the blank space as to the inked. The stadium scoreboard with many lights and the computer screen with its pixels can be regarded as arrays, with each of the image-comprising points enabled by an electrical circuit. Our brains have evolved so the array of our essential body functions are regulated by the autonomic nervous system, which does not require the deliberate operations of our consciousness in order to work. This is fortunate, because it allows us to sleep soundly, and thus to dream, without the lungs forgetting to breathe or the heart to pump blood. Perception of temperature is usually passive, reacting to the ambient environment; yet, with discipline ordinary human beings can learn to regulate consciously both the rate at which the heart beats and the body's capacity to generate heat. Such an exercise is known as gTummo in Tibetan (or Pranayama in Sanskrit), and is the fundamental practice for higher meditations based on the Six Yogas of Naropa.
[ See, Teachings of Tibetan Yoga, translated and annotated by Garma C. C. Chang, University Books, New Hyde Park, New York (1963); and The Life and Teaching of Naropa, translated from the original Tibetan with philosophical commentary based on the oral transmission, by Herbert V. Guenther, Oxford University Press, London-Oxford-New York (1963). ]
TREE GRAMMARS map iconic descriptions onto hierarchical directed graphs, or symbolic descriptions. This process is characteristic of binary logic or Boolean algebra, on/off switching functions and the transmission of electromagnetic signals, the branching of trees and (as in a story by Jorge Luis Borges) "The Garden of Forking Paths." These grammars generate information which flows in time, as with the lineality of speech or music, and sequences of loud or soft sound, of high or low pitch, and so forth, but most essentially, alternations of sound and silence. This kind of data typically requires a long time in which to transmit or receive a signal, but affords possibilities for subtle and complex modulations. A generation of classical composers from the 1950s on, including John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez, developed precise notational systems that specify qualities of sound far more thoroughly than conventional musical scores. Recently, synthesizers extended this concern in new creative dimensions, yet only within the last few decades, as an astounding consequence of producing high-quality tape recordings, has it been possible--the first time ever in human history--for people from all parts of the world to listen to each other's music, that art universally regarded as among the most sublime expressions of a culture.
WEB (NET) GRAMMARS map images onto directed graphs, or iconic descriptions. Icons are typically perceived all-at-once. Although it takes considerable time to listen to a tape, we can glimpse a picture image almost instantaneously. The recent cultural history of the world has been transformed dramatically by technological innovations producing an unprecedented iconic innundation. High-quality photographic and printing processes within recent decades, even surpassing developments with sound recording systems, have enriched greatly our capacities for transmitting precise, comprehensive visual images. We may reflect that not too many years ago, before the advent of the 35 mm. color photo and relatively inexpensive four-color halftone printing processes, even expensive art books had illustrations only in black and white, and a few years earlier paintings were represented by line drawings or engravings. But now the powers of mudra--as graphics options--range from instant video and color copiers to electron microscopy, satellite photos, or computer-enhanced quasar images from radio telescopes.
METAGRAMMARS map elements of the other three grammars onto themselves as planning and command learning, or extensions. The feed-forward (planning) and feed-back (command/control) configurations have obvious analogs with psychological processes of self-awareness, learning how to learn and other self- referential or recursive finctions. The principle of the evolution of consciousness, although in the end it may prove to represent little more than a romantic bias, many people feel, must signify some purpose to the parade of human endeavor that has passed before and the circus still going on. There are real dangers: one might be tempted to embrace the self-congratulatory belief that, since the Western spirit of business and industry has achieved signal triumphs in the manufacture of astonishingly clever devices for transmitting data--beyond tapes, slides and videos to laser-holograms and virtual reality--we might therefore lightly dispense with the need for real human teachers, at least at the more conventional, or "less powerful" levels. But we cannot.
If it were so--that real teaching without human presence could succeed fully even at these lower levels of efficiency--then we might expect the next metagenetics, cryptorobotics, superprogramming, or some such fantasy-rife technology to take care of transmission at the "most powerful" level as well. But this cannot be, for the same reasons that, in the Tibetan Kargyud-pa, or "Practicing Tradition," just as in well-taught American English classes, the written texts are read aloud: allowing otherwise inert words to become suffused with vital spontaneity, humor, active wisdom and possibly insight. We must have the essential presence of consciousness, without which even the most sacred scriptures are merely marks on paper, dead and potentially dangerous, though well-intentioned, byproducts of human technology. We may better appreciate that element of metagrammatical "telepathy"--however we choose to call its name--as a living token of the human essence, surely an emmanation of Divine Essence when it is in harmony with the Tao, the Great Spirit, or the All and Everything, and with respect for Bodhi, a bud, a blossoming: the idea of Enlightenment.
A great deal of popular interest was aroused by early discussion of "left-brain, right-brain" phenomena, corresponding to cognitive/ symbolic and perceptual/iconic specializations, respectively. There were also recognized to be front and back specializations generally corresponding, in turn, to central and to peripheral nervous system activity. This four-part structure-function model is supported by impressive clinical data, and relates closely to the four grammars outlined above. However, the important work of neuroscientist Karl Pribram has provided a truer and more sophisticated model, based upon understanding brain/mind activity in terms of the "Holographic Paradigm." The spirit of this highly-evolved perspective was expressed by one of Professor Pribram's colleagues, the physicist David Bohm:
Relativity and, even more important, quantum mechanics have strongly suggested (though not proved) that the world cannot be analyzed into separate and independent parts. Moreover, each part somehow involves all the others: contains them or enfolds them. This fact suggests that the sphere of ordinary material life and the sphere of mystical experience have a certain shared order and that this will allow a fruitful relationship between them....The true state of affairs in the material world is wholeness. If we are fragmented, we must blame it on ourselves.
[ See, Ken Wilber, editor, The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Leading Edge of Science, Shambhala, Boulder and London (1982). This tellingly appears on the paperback's cover. ]
We return to the work of James Joyce in order to bring this leisurely, scholarly discussion of matters four to a stop. Where better to turn then, than to the Tunc page, with its problems of punctuation projected upon (and through!) the manuscript of The Book of Kells, and to its literary avatar, the "Tiberiast duplex" of Finnegans Wake, with a passage as funny, as typographically audacious, and as full of fours as any of the many such in the book:
The original document was in what is known as Hanno O'Nonhanno's unbrookable script, that is to say, it showed no signs of punctuation of any sort. Yet on holding a verso against a lit rush this new book of Morses responded most remarkably to the silent query of our world's oldest light and its recto let out the piquant fact that it was but pierced but not punctured (in the university sense of the term) by numerous stabs and foliated gashes made by a pronged instrument. These paper wounds, four in type, were gradually and correctly understood to mean stop, please stop, do please stop, and O do please stop respectively, and following up their one true clue, the circumflexuous wall of a singleminded men's asylum, accentuated by bi tso fb rok engl a ssan dspl itch ina, --- Yard inquiries pointed out ---> that they ad bn "provoked" ay ^ fork, of grave Brofèsor; àth é's Brèak -- fast -- table; ;acùtely profèssionally· piquéd to=introduce a notion of time [ùpon à plane(?) sù' ' fàç'e'] by pùnct! ingh oles (sic) in iSpace?
[ James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 123 f. ]
An exegesis by James S. Atherton of Joyce's audacities, so marked in the passage above, is offered en passant (all the while unravelling our one true clew) to lead us toward whatever light may filter through about these superficial Teeny patterned filigrees provoked by punching holes in space:
It is, I think, very probable that Joyce was...ascribing some cabbalistic meaning to the arrangement of words and ornament on this "Tunc page" [of The Book of Kells] over which he must have pondered for many hours. He found there symbols suggesting at one and the same time crucifixion, death, salvation and spiritual rebirth in Christian symbols, blended with lingam [phallus] and yoni [vagina] of the Far East, a pagan serpent--perhaps phallic-- emblem of ancient Ireland, and Rosicrucian designs of which the derivation is best described as "occult."
The Book of Kells has a remarkable and complex history, much of which presents scholars with riddles, secrets and mysteries. It is not even known whether the book was produced in Ireland, Scotland, or northern England. The book was brought to the monastery at Kells early in the 11th century to keep it safe from Viking raids, although since the 17th century it has been treasured by the library of Trinity College, Dublin. No one knows by whom, nor where, nor when the volume was written, which prompted James Joyce to remark on:
The studious omission of year number and era name from the date, the one and only time when our copyist seems at least to have grasped the beauty of restraint.
[And Atherton comments] Sir Edward Sullivan tries to prove that "The date of the Manuscript should be ascribed to a period which cannot possibly be earlier than the latter end of the ninth century. For the proof of this he relies on an analysis of the type of punctuation. Joyce parodies this in an account...Sullivan [having] said that there were four ways in which a period or full stop could be represented in The Book of Kells. He goes on to remark that "Another point in connection with the punctuation ...has been overlooked by all paleographers. None of them seems to have noticed that the dots are, in the Kells volume, almost always square in shape or quadrilateral--not round. This was Joyce's source for:
When some peerer or peeress detected that the fourleaved shamrock or quadrifoil jab was more recurrent whenever the script was clear and the term terse....
But Joyce could never be satisfied with one example. He had to pile up dozens. Indeed he was aware that he himself had not grasped "the beauty of restraint," and he preferred the theory that,
the more carrots you chop, the more turnips you slit, the more murphies you peel, the more onions you cry over, the more bullbeef you butch, the more mutton you crackerhack, the more potherbs you pound, the fiercer your fire and the longer your spoon and the harder you gruel with more grease to your elbow the merrier fumes your new Irish stew."
[ James S. Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville (Arcturus Books edition 1974), pp. 66- 67. The lines from the Wake are found on pp. 128, 124 and 190. See also, Franoise Henry The Book of Kells: Reproductions from the Manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin, with a Study of the Manuscript, Alfred A. Knopf, New York (1977). ]
We will now stop, stop, stop, stop, taking care to add only a few final brief but most apt lines about the style and higher purpose of that great Irish chef of stew, James Joyce, from the unlocked closet of the erudite commentators, Campbell and Robinson. Some fair portion of this wisdom may apply, mutatis mutandis (changing what one must in order to preserve the sense), to the intentions--and as well to the limitations--of both the present author and the immediate text.
James Joyce early understood that unless we transcended every limitation of individual, national, racial, and hemispherical prejudice, our minds and hearts will not be opened to the full stature of Man Everlasting....Beneath our constricting coats and vests we are Man the Hero, triumphant over the snares of life and over the sting of death, sublime behind the tailorings, the petty harryings, marryings, and buryings of the endless round in this valley of tears and joy.
James Joyce did not subscribe to the journalistic fallacy that everything should be made easy to understand. He knew that there are levels of experience and consciousness that can be reached only by a prodigious effort on the part of the creative artist, and comprehended only after a comparable effort on the part of the audience.
[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, p. 362. ]