Feeling and Awareness
EDWIN: Since you are a self-proclaimed philosopher, what is the distinction between awareness and will, as applying to the spirit?
TONY: The distinction is between the negative and positive approach to and/or application of spirit. When we use spirit actively it becomes will. When, on the other hand, we use it passively, which I interpret in a positive light, it becomes awareness.
EDWIN: But isn't will awareness?
TONY: Yes. But it is awareness directed towards practical ends and does not result in the direct cultivation of spirit. Awareness directed towards no other end than greater awareness makes for Truth.
EDWIN: Then what is spirit?
TONY: The awareness aspect of the most positive use of electrons, as when they are in a majority over protons in any atomic integrity.
EDWIN: And when or where do they exist in such a majority?
TONY: In the new brain. Now the new brain is of course a physiological entity, but, like all such entities, it has a psychic aspect, which we call the superconscious. This is synonymous with spirit or, rather, the superconscious is that part of the psyche in which spirit exists, just as the subconscious is that part of it in which the existence of soul is to be found.
EDWIN: What is soul?
TONY: The psychic aspect of proton-dominated regions of the body, which manifests in emotions.
EDWIN: As all emotions?
TONY: Yes, good and bad, or positive and negative. The strong as well as the weak, the lasting as well as the transient. Soul pertains to the flesh and thus stems from the Diabolic Alpha, which is to say, from the cosmic or natural roots of life. Spirit, though lodged in a material entity, viz. the new brain, can be encouraged to reflect an aspiration towards the Divine Omega, which is to say, pure spirit as totally free electrons.
EDWIN: Thus our spirit and our soul are alike impure?
TONY: Yes, they are dependent on and connected with matter, which, as we both know, is atomic. Pure soul, however, is subatomic and manifests in the proton-proton reactions of flame. Pure spirit, by contrast, will be supra-atomic, as manifesting in the electron-electron attractions of transcendence.
EDWIN: You say soul is feeling, but would the sun, as a cosmic manifestation of pure soul, be capable of feeling?
TONY: Not in the conscious sense! The sun or, for that matter, any subatomic absolute would be unconscious of itself as feeling. So, incidentally, would mineral formations, in which protons greatly preponderate. Consciousness of feeling only arises at that point in evolutionary development when atomic formations are less radically proton-dominated than with minerals - in other words, with plant life which, although still proton-dominated, is capable of feeling pleasure or pain by dint of a higher electron content than is to be found in stone. But so much does the proton content preponderate over the electron content of this particular mode of life ... that feeling is only registered subconsciously, never breaks into actual conscious recognition, as with animals and men.
EDWIN: Thus there is a difference between being unconscious of feeling because either absolutely or near absolutely proton-constituted, and being subconsciously conscious of it, as when the electron content increases slightly?
TONY: Yes, a distinction, primarily, between the inorganic and the organic - the former being beneath even subconscious receptivity, the latter on or above it.
EDWIN: If, unlike a stone, a tree is capable of feeling pain or pleasure subconsciously, would a dead tree or a log also be capable of doing so?
TONY: Of course not! To be conscious of feeling, on whatever level, one must be alive, and this applies no less to a tree or plant than to an animal or a human being. A dead tree would be closer to the inorganic than to the organic - indeed, it would literally become inorganic, as when wood turns into coal, and accordingly be beneath the subconscious recognition of emotions. A log would feel no pain from an axe-blow, but a live tree certainly would, if subconsciously. We, too, feel pleasure and pain subconsciously ... in sleep, which is the nearest we can get to understanding what a tree would feel. Plants are a life form that sleeps all the time, though if they dream they would have no consciousness of the fact, because there are too few electrons in their atomic constitution to enable a separate or viewing mind to emerge.
EDWIN: Would you describe positive emotions as good and negative ones as evil?
TONY: I am no Platonist, but I will concede to positive emotions the status of a relative good, that is to say, good in relation to negative emotions without, however, being good in any absolute or literal sense.
EDWIN: So still basically evil?
TONY: Yes, because dependent on and clinging to the flesh. Whatever appertains to soul, whether negatively (as pain) or positively (as pleasure), is inherently evil because temporal. Pleasure may result from the electron content of flesh responding to positive stimuli, but the fact that it has to do with the electron aspect of the flesh doesn't make it good in any absolute sense. It is certainly preferable to pain, and we recognize as much. But it remains sensual, quite distinct from any absolute good (of awareness) in the spirit. Indeed, the spirit itself falls short of Absolute Goodness by dint of the fact that it is impure, or dependent on the new brain for physiological support. We aspire, if virtuous, towards Absolute Good from the relative goodness of spiritual awareness. But, by comparison with positive emotions, even the lesser degree of awareness to which I have just alluded, which appertains to the superconscious, is closer to an absolute good, and we customarily regard it as such.
EDWIN: Clearly, you are no aesthete! For, if I understand you correctly, the contemplation of beauty would, to your mind, be but a means to effecting the relative, or lesser, evil of positive emotions.
TONY: Yes, and therefore not a means to transcending soul, such as any genuine aspiration towards the Divine must be all about. Beauty in art is only practicable or acceptable for a given period of evolutionary time - in other words, until such time as men turn away from emotions towards the cultivation of awareness through one or another degree of transcendentalism. Art then becomes a matter of Truth, a mode of intimating of Absolute Truth in the interests of increased awareness. We don't want positive sensations from art in a developing transcendental age but, au contraire, something that encourages us to transcend emotions through passive contemplation, something, in short, that negates or stills emotions in deference to the spirit.
EDWIN: Yet not all twentieth-century art does so. After all, there is a fair amount of ugly or anti-beauty art around, while some of it still appeals to our aesthetic sense.
TONY: That's true, and as far as the latter kind of art is concerned I have nothing to say, preferring not to lose my cool! But ugly art, as you call it, is certainly an important aspect of modern art, reflecting the fact that contemporary man is at a further remove from the Beautiful, regarded as an abstract virtue, than were the ancients or, for that matter, his nineteenth-century predecessors, and is more disposed, in consequence, either to interpret beauty in a relatively ugly way or to consciously turn against it in a determined attempt to undermine and slander it. I suspect that most petty-bourgeois artists who create a relatively ugly art are really interpreting the Beautiful in their own rather modernist way, and so extending the aesthetic tradition into increasingly rarefied regions of Being which, in some people's minds, may seem inseparable from ugliness. I don't think we need criticize such artists for having a different concept of beauty than the ancients or their bourgeois and/or aristocratic predecessors. Yet, regardless of their respective intentions, the art they are producing will be on a lower level, in my opinion, than that which is being produced in the realm of transcendentalism, or an art exclusively concerned with Truth and, as a corollary of this, the cultivation of greater degrees of awareness in the public at large.
EDWIN: So a distinction exists between 'emotional art', irrespective of the quality or type of emotions it encourages, and 'awareness art', which, by contrast, is the truly modern art.
TONY: 'Feeling art' is never absolute, nor, for that matter, is most 'awareness art' completely detached from feeling-engendering qualities, as we discover when we respond to, say, a Neo-Plastic work as though it were intended to reflect a higher concept of the Beautiful. But to the extent that a distinction of sorts does in fact exist between them, then yes - aesthetic art pertains, even when only tenuously beautiful, to the tradition, whereas 'awareness art' pertains to what is truly modern, as signifying a post-atomic bias for electron freedom. One could speak of materialistic art on the one hand and of idealistic art on the other - a distinction extending across the entire spectrum of petty-bourgeois creativity and even into the, by comparison, nominally proletarian realms of light art and holography. From a proton/bound-electron distinction in atomic art, we progress towards a quasi-electron/free-electron distinction on the post-atomic levels of much twentieth-century art. From works in the former contexts that directly appeal to the emotions and indirectly to awareness ... towards works in the latter contexts that indirectly appeal to the emotions and directly to awareness.
EDWIN: You are alluding, I presume, to works, in the former contexts, of concrete beauty and concrete truth respectively, but to works, in the latter contexts, of abstract beauty and abstract truth respectively.
TONY: To be sure, and to works, in the latter contexts, of abstract beauty that may well appear ugly and give rise, in consequence, to less than positive emotions! Perhaps they are a better incentive than more concrete works to our turning away from emotions and embracing awareness instead? I, at any rate, have always found so, which is why I prefer them to more traditionally aesthetic works, despite the difference in quality of the emotions engendered. Even a negative, indirect incentive to awareness is preferable to no incentive at all!
EDWIN: Ah, I'm almost afraid that I shall have to agree with you, incorrigible aesthete that I am!