Sunday, June 13, 2010

Your (last) assignment

The Tao doesn't take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn't take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.- Tao Te Ching

Thomas Bayrle, Maxwell Kaffee, Oil on canvas (1967).

I surmise that Thomas Bayrle takes Jean-Paul Sartre's metaphor of the cup of coffee in La Nausée as a Pop paradox of the one and the many. Let's talk about this void which calls forth the fullness, the paradoxical coexistence of Tao in both subject and object, essence and appearance. Imagine a situation, which shows itself as something not complete, an event that demands our involvement. The situation appears imperfect, out of joint, sort of what Kenyan artist Ingrid Mwuangi does when she multiplies her own id-entity:

Ingrid Mwuangi, If, digital c-prints mounted on aluminum (2001).
The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities. (vers. 4)1
According to the Tao Te Ching, our will to fix things can take us into unexpected detours. Let me explain: Generally, I don't see my will as being impeded by anything other than my desire to act. But in the big realm of overall causation, I'm not alone. My will is differential, i.e., one amongst hundreds of millions of other wills. Seldom I stop to ponder my will as being a very small fraction of an overall sum of (unknown) wills, not only in the here and now, but as -already- established chains reactions which precede my time/space (and of which I'm a part of).

Mathematically speaking, what's my will vis-a-vis a higher order of will/differentials? What's the relative limit between my doing and my doing too much? Sure, voluntarism is a well-respected part of our strategy of success. But think about it, how many of the things (we think) we do turn out to be the opposite of what we anticipated?

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