The Blind Leading the Blind LO22698
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 17:52:14 EDT

Dear Learners,

This question made me think to pull some things together...

>It would be lovely if we adults could regain the enthusiasm we had when we
>were two! Do you have any ideas where I could look?

In my local town there is a man who is a registered blind person. This
means he is entitled to various 'benefits'. I surmise that chief among
these is his beautiful golden Labrador. Beautiful and luxurious coat,
'down-soft' ears and deep brown eyes with blonde lashes to make any girl
green with envy. I was with my Goddaughter one day and we saw them
waiting to cross the road. I asked her, ' Helen, what is the difference
between that dog crossing the road and you crossing the road?' She gave it
due thought. She was stumped. I said, ' His patience will not bend, he
will sit and wait, and wait and wait -until it is safe.'


When I was a child there lived opposite our house a deeply mysterious man.
He was both 'blind' and a lecturer and the load he willingly bore every
day was a heavy pile of papers, Braille notes, and every morning he left
the house to walk without the aid of a white stick or dog. His walk was
one of the outwardly confident and upright man that comes from a 'certain
knowledge'- that perhaps one sees both everything and nothing? On such an
internal and eternal map, what could become an obstacle?


Here is a hard question for a soft time, or is it?

What are you blind to?

Here is a soft question for a hard time, or is it?

What is blind to you?

-Master, what can one put in people's minds? First ask, What you will put
in their way. Andrew'ism (;-))

I read only from the Digest format on this list. I like the collectivity,
to see the patterning of names and titles. Sometimes the titles and names
are very beautiful. I only just discovered that some read only from
selected authors or subject lines. This made me very sad.

The average time someone spends looking at, say a Van Gogh in a museum is
less than four seconds. Frightening isn't it? By contrast a Japanese
businessman is reputed to have bought a van Gogh for $57,000000 and had it
cremated along with his body two years ago.

'Four seconds' and 'eternity'.

Long time - short duration, short time - long duration.

Understanding is probably very fluid and relative. For my purpose
understanding happens when I sense a fitting. I intuit that something is
taking place in my minds space.

I print out to paper form what I feel drawn to digest on the digest and I
find, generally, that most postings I need only read once or twice to
comprehend and more if I need to synthesize particular strands. At de
Lange's work is often different, I find it sometimes necessary to read
twenty times. Yep! I have nine folders; stacked up in 12point type they
would be about a meter high. There is no 'point' to this. But the
apprehension of the 'roundness'‚^ņ¶Blimey!

Do you feel anything 'slipping' here, a 'glimpse' in the corner or your
mind's eye?

This LO list seems to maintain two kinds of minds. Creative and
Uncreative. Intellectual types and intuitive types. (If you desire to
criticize the seeming judgement then in my own defence may I say it is a
transitory observation and emboldened by David Ohm among others)

For fun, if you think you are 'creative' go stand in the circle, if you
think you are uncreative go stand in the 'square.' Thanks. (;-))

The Master said something like, I do not worry that people do not know me,
I worry that I do not know people. (Confucian'ism)

In a world of seeming so 'this or that' occasionally one may trip, ooops!
over a philosophy (a way of understanding the world) that is trying to be
a 'both' Henri Bergson is such a one. It 'cuts across recognized
boundaries.' However, one may also 'classify' philosophers by the desire
that promotes the philosophy, so that we can have philosophies of feeling,
inspired by a love of happiness; theoretical philosophers, inspired by the
love of knowledge and practical philosophers inspired by the love of
action. Note the quality of love adjoined in each case by Bertrand
Russell. Bergson is reckoned to fall into the third category, which is
reflective of the modern age.

Please give this following and very partial understanding of the
Bergsonian view some time so as to digest and then if it forms an image in
the mind ask yourself lots of questions.

His philosophy is dualistic, on the one hand 'life', on the other
'matter', or rather that inert something that the intellect views as
matter, then the entire universe is the clash of these two opposite
motions; life that climbs upward and matter which falls downward.

'Life, climbing ever upward as a great force, from one vital impulse given
to it at the commencement of time, meeting every moment the resistance of
matter, all the while struggling to break through it, learning on the way
to use matter by means of its organization; divided by the obstacles it
encounters into diverging currents, like the wind on some street corner;
partly subdued by matter through the adaptations forced upon it, yet
retaining always its capacity for free activity, struggling always to find
new outlets, seeking for greater liberty of movement amid opposing walls
of matter.' Long sentence, but what long meaning?

Sounds evolutionary to me. Adaptive. Complex. 'Buzz' words now of the
contemporary age?

Russell points us an indistinct way, a way without map, a way of spirit, a
misty way with no discernible end in sight.

A blind man's vista?

'Adaptation explains only the twists and turns on the roads of evolution,
like a winding route to some town on a hill. But this simile is not
enough, there is no town, no definite goal at the end of evolution's long

Bergson's view of the world's evolution is that it is 'truly creative,'
like that work of the artist. An impulse or desire to action deposited
with undefined 'want' that until satisfied remains unknown. Russell posits
the notion that sight organs arose from the organism's slight desire to be
aware of the presence of objects before contacting them and in the
acquisition of which the desire is satisfied which could not have been
imagined beforehand. The word 'beforehand' speaks to me of action prior
to thought in a very fundamental way.

Bergson sees evolutionary bifurcation's movement through plants to
animals, the former having the aim to 'store energy' and the latter to
'expend it in sudden bursts of activity.' Within the highest animal is the
bifurcation of bifurcations, the division to intellect and instinct. Never
wholly separated, but distinct. Instinct Bergson saw as formed into
intuition-'disinterested, self-conscious, capable of reflecting upon its
object and enlarging it indefinitely.' On the other hand resides
intellect, 'whose chief object is the organic solid' - as it leaves the
hands of nature it seems only able to form a clear idea of the
discontinuous and immobile. The intellect is said to, ' separate in space
and fix in time.' It is made in such a way as not to think or see
evolution, but rather represents its continual becoming as a series of
states. It therefore inherently,'- has a natural inability to understand
life.' It's preferred products are like those in geometry and logic,
strictly applicable to solid bodies, but elsewhere reasoning must be
checked by common sense, which Bergson says is a very different thing.
Solid bodies are then in Bergson's understanding, '-inventions of the mind
created by it on purpose so as to have something on which to apply
intellect.' So, the genesis of intellect and the genesis of material
bodies are developed by reciprocal adaptation. 'An identical process must
have cut out matter and the intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that
contained both.'

Intellect can be viewed like a power of seeing things separately from one
another, and matter as that which is separated into distinct things. In
reality there are no separate solid things, only an endless stream of
becoming, in which '-nothing becomes and there is no thing that this
nothing becomes.' Becoming is then seen as,'- a movement up or down,
movement up is called life and movement down is misapprehended by
intellect as matter.' Russell offers the view of a cone, with the absolute
at the vertex, for the movement up brings things naturally together. And
conversely the movement down seems to separate them. Now let us animate
this like some cosmic movie of the mind. Imagine the upward thrust of the
mind being pressed upon by downward passing objects, falling bodies that
impact it, it must be able to cut a path though this seeming storm. So
over time intelligence carves its paths and lanes, outlines appear in the

For Bergson an adjunct of this duality is the notion that aligned to
intuition or creative life is not time but duration. So complex is his
theory that even Bertrand Russell declines to explain it fully, Suffice to
say for our understanding here,'- it is the form which our conscious
states assume when our ego lets itself live, when it refrains from
separating its present state from its former states.' Thus does it join
past and present into one unified whole, where there is mutual
penetration, succession without distinction.' 'Duration in which the past
is big with a present absolutely new. -Then our will is strained to the
utmost (I feel a bifurcation‚^ņ¶) we have to gather up the past which is
slipping away, and thrust it whole and undivided into the present.
Duration is the very stuff of reality, which is perpetual becoming, never
something made.'

Intellect then has the purpose of 'turning in on itself, and awaken the
potentialities of intuition which slumber within it.'

In this landscape man moves thus, 'Intellectual knowledge is concerned to
touch so close does it wish to give knowledge of things, whereas intuition
is giving of knowledge at a distance. It does not divide the world but
seeks to join it.'

Let's return now to that figure of my childhood, on what did he rely to
negotiate the world?

In my imagination he was blessed with the 'foresight of blindness' that is
a truer vision. He moved through a world undivided and his vision was
memory as much as anticipation, which for Bergson when conjoined to desire
brings the past and the future into experienced reality. This creates true
duration and true time. It is the mingling of opposites and he who sees it
sees an end to division and has an image of union between all things arise
before his gaze, the material world melts back into a single flux.

Maybe only the blind man realises the true value and virtue of sight in
the world.

Russell laments Bergson's view, saying that it forsakes the good that
comes from men with pre-formed vision who imagine a state of affairs in
the world where there is to be less pain. When men with pre-formed visions
have built such a paradise on earth I will book my ticket, until then I
will put my faith In the freedom that intuition and imagination has
brought and will continue to bring into a world that seems self-set in

For Bergson the vision is rounded and precise. Real freedom is possible; '
We are free when our acts spring from the whole personality, when they
express it, when they have that indefinable resemblance to it which one
sometimes finds between the artist and his work.'

Small wonder then that COMMON sense tells us, LOVE IS BLIND, LOVE IS

Best wishes,

Andrew Campbell

For those who do not know it, David Bohm's recounting of the Helen Keller
(-a little blind and mute girl) story may provide a 'moving' experience.
Anne Sullivan brought light from love in a dark place through the creative
intuition to 'become blind' to Helen's 'animal' ways and from that
instructive and intuitive distance feel their ways out of their respective
darkness' such that a 'different observation' became the instrument of a
shared transformation.

The Monist. Russell
Time and Free Will. Bergson
Matter and Memory. Bergson
On Creativity. David Bohm


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