Subject: Intro -- Alfred Rheeder LO26419

From: Alfred Rheeder (
Date: 03/23/01

Replying to LO26386 --

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for responding to my intro. You reminded me alot of an abstract
of new book(in the process of being published), I received from a friend
(author amongst other things). I would like to share it.

Please take note that this abstract is not my own authentic contribution.

"Dear Gretchen,

I've never tried to explain this to anyone before; possibly because I
never understood it, possibly because I'd never before met anyone who'd
understand. I think in some way you coerced this knowledge into being.

As you know, I was brought up in Africa. I saw with my own eyes the
intricate workings of nature. The primacy of biology - biology is destiny,
as someone said - was never more apparent to me than when I was face to
face, breast to breast, with the animals and trees. Lying there in my
bedroll on a cool autumn night and looking upwards, it was as if I saw
each star being born, now, now; I was part of the living universe, not
separate from it. It was as if the universe was incarnated within my
flesh. My blood ran in the stars. I was not an observer, I was inside the

But I knew that the bush was resolutely separate from me. I was as
governed by my biology as were the animals and trees by theirs. My organs
of perception had evolved in frictive contact with the outside world to
provide my species (and me!) with a survival mechanism in the harsh
environments that were our first home in Africa. As Jacques Monod said:
"Every living thing is also a fossil." We bear the marks of our
evolutionary history; there is no such thing as an instant being. My eyes
see the sun because they evolved to. Goethe said it: "The eye could not
see the sun if it were not in some way sunlike."

My knowledge of the world was limited by my senses; yet I remained
convinced that beneath the sensed phenomena of everyday life there lay a
substrate of reality, the "thing in itself," which, sadly, would be for me
forever unknowable. It was as if I lived in a constant state of
incompleteness, a sham existence in which my true contact with the
universe was restricted by the sense organs evolved by my species to cope
with an environment that no longer existed.

This seemed funny but also very sad. It was as if there was a veil, a
shifting curtain that would conceal forever from me the true nature of
things and being. All was illusion. I could not, as it were, touch the
bedrock of my own being, nor could I, when I sensed myself linked to the
universe by some almost palpable emotional and physical copula, trust my
own intuitions. Everything was untrue.

It was as if, walking down the street, I had come across a tall building,
blazing brilliantly with light. All the windows are closed but a startling
luminance shines from within. I walk up to the door and try to enter, but
it's locked. I try to peer through the windows but they're curtained. I
cannot see in, I cannot get in. I can see only the outside of the
building. The inside is denied me.

This troubled me until one day I listened to Bach's "Prayer for the
Dying." This was music that went beyond the everyday. It was not
quotidian, nor - unlike opera - was it concerned with purely human
longings and loss. It seemed to me to be celestial, to touch the face of
the unmoved mover. This conviction lasted well after the music was lost in
silence. I knew then that there was a way into the building; but I was not
yet certain exactly what it was. I pondered this and finally the solution
came to me. It was so simple I can't believe I'd not seen it before. To
others, I am an aggregate of their sense impressions. I am to them no
different from a stone or a cathedral. I am a "thing" in their world. Yes,
they're conscious that I'm also a sentient being, but they receive their
impressions about me through their senses in exactly the same manner as
they receive data about the rest of the phenomenal world.

But I do not experience myself in the same way. I have privileged
knowledge. I am inside myself. I am already inside the building; I am
inside the "Thing-in-Itself". I AM the "Thing-in-itself,"

And I have one inestimable advantage over a stone or tree: I have
reflexive consciousness. I am aware of my "in-itselfness." To know the
underlying substrate, the numinous, the Absolute, the godliness inside me,
I need to cultivate what happened to me when I heard the Bach chorale. I
already KNOW the substrate of reality. It IS me. True, it's further from
me than the furthest galaxy, but also nearer than my own heartbeat. The
Gnostics are right. God is inside.

And I want to write down the music of the stars inside: I want to write
down the star-songs that make knowledge of the thing-in-itself real. I
want to enact in art the truths that live inside the mystery."


Carpe Diem!


Alfred Rheeder <>

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