Sunday, October 14, 2012

mapping the psychic weather patterns . . .

The Homeric Greeks were open to the world in a way that we, who are skilled at introspection and who think of moods as private experiences, can barely comprehend. Instead of understanding themselves in terms of their inner experiences and beliefs, they saw themselves as beings swept up into public and shareable moods. For Homer, moods are important because they illuminate a shared situation: they manifest what matters most in the moment and in doing so draw people to perform heroic and passionate deeds. The gods are crucial to setting these moods, and different gods illuminate different, and even incompatible, ways a situation can matter. The goddess to whom Helen was most attuned was Aphrodite; she illuminates a situation’s erotic possibilities and draws one to bring these out at their best. Achilles, by contrast, is sensitive to Ares' mood—an aggressive mood in which opportunities to shine as a ferocious warrior become the most important aspects of the situation at hand. Other gods call forth other attunements. The best kind of life in Homer’s world is to be in sync with the gods. As Martin Heidegger puts it:

[W]e are thinking the essence of the [Homeric] Greek gods...if we call them the attuning ones.

At the center of Homer's world, then, is the sense that what matters is already given to us, and that the best life is the one that manages to get in sync with it. This vision speaks eloquently to our own modern needs. Homer’s Olympian gods give his Greeks a sense of the sacred that underwrites the joys and sorrows of a truly meaningful existence. To lure back these Homeric gods is a saving possibility after the death of God: it would allow us to survive the breakdown of monotheism while resisting the descent into a nihilistic existence.

~All Things Shining Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly

“Every new medium transforms the nature of human thought.”  
“In the long run, history is the story of information becoming aware of itself.”
~James Gleick

The word experience comes from the Latin experientia, meaning "to try," whereas the word aware comes from the Greek horan, meaning "to see."

Experience implies participation in an event, whereas awareness implies observation of an event. The two words can normally be substituted in an ordinary conversation without much damage, but they are differently inflected. One gives us the sense of being engaged, whereas the other gives us a sense of being cognizant of that engagement. One denotes reflection while the other denotes the thing being reflected. In fact, awareness can be thought of as a kind of experience of our own experience.

~Stumbling on Happiness Daniel Gilbert


  1. from an old letter . . .

    "This is how I've been thinking about what we do, which is becoming conscious of the psychological weather. Understanding the energetic flows that move through the whole, that affect everyone. It's weather, but perhaps acting on the subconscious. We've been tracking systems and currents for a long time now. It's pretty fabulous. There is something to the idea of the energetic flows and the sun cycle and moon cycle too. The Two worlds really are one--but perceiving this w/ our rational side is so difficult--esp since the modern world view is one of scientific materialism.

    anyway, all I'm saying is that I'm proud to be some of the first weathermen with you blokes."