Cognition & Reality

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Business of Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 2:06 pm

Some time ago, I had been having trouble sleeping for a while. This one night I was sort of stuck awake. A lot of times when that happens, I watch TV or listen to a radio podcast. Other times, I meditate in a more or less formal way. This time, however, I just sat there with my right leg stretched out, my left leg crooked with the foot on the couch; I draped my left arm on my knee as if I were perched on a rock somewhere looking out on a scene, a little valley or glen. Just looking. And then I was looking, and what I was looking at was, let us say, the “solar system of my mind” with all of the planets whirling around, so easy for me to see, like Ezekiel: All the thoughts I could have, all the systems I could create. And then I saw it or thought it, and wrote words that could have come to me any time in the last 30 years or so. Here is what I wrote at 3am one morning:

The business of mind cannot possibly take place within the internal narrative. Like the smoke in the old commercial for Pall Mall cigarettes, the business of mind takes place over, under, around and through the narrative. Over, in that the actual activity, whatever it is, is out of reach of the narrative and its various constructions. Under, in the sense that there are activities, not necessarily, indeed probably not physiological processes, without which the narrative cannot take place. Around, in the sense that the real business of mind need not include the narrative, although both occur “within” the mind. And through, in the sense that the narrative can play an instrumental part in the execution of the business of mind. Once the business has taken place, the narrative often can include elements of what was, but no longer is, the business of mind.

The stories we tell ourselves are, in short, dispatches from the past, from the workings of consciousness occurring a moment or a year ago.


1 Comment »

  1. This was the best version of that thought ever. It was strong and illucidating and brought me to a deeper understanding of the weaving of the narrative and the mind. The mind, the constant, the narrative the clouds or the woof of the warp or something. Beautifully written. Thank you.

    Comment by annie — Thursday, 7 May 2009 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

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