One of the quotes triggered a question for me — now let’s see what other’s think!
“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” ~ Anaïs Nin
What are the things we are unable to say,
that writer’s say for us?
It seems to me that in some cases Nin’s quote is accurate, and in others, not so much.
It seems to me that the role of the writer is to communicate, as clearly and succinctly as possible that which they have to give.
In some cases, this can mean opening a path to our own subconscious to allow us to see that which is already within us; and in other cases it can mean creating experiences that are entirely new, through the use of metaphor and images constructed in words.
It seems to me that we are all capable of having new and original thoughts, and to the degree that we are able to communicate those thoughts to others, we are able to enrich the world.
Sometimes the new thoughts relate very directly to experiences had, and sometimes the new ideas are of a more conceptual nature.
It seems clear to me that all concepts are double edged tools, they can at once liberate and entrap us. There is always a tendency to classify experiences as belonging to a known category, rather than allowing them to remain in the realm of the unknown (the currently mysterious). Moving from a hard basis of right/wrong:true/false to a categorisation that is probability based helps, and the trap still remains. Sometimes the role of the author is to remind us of the infinitely mysterious nature of even the smallest of infinities.
And of course there is always the sense of that which “we are unable to say” is the “unknown” to us. So to the extent that an author can move something from the realm of the unknown and into the realm of the known (to us personally) then they are of service to us.
And sometimes the role of the author is to put us back in touch with emotions that we have lost touch with.
I think what Torch is pointing to is not in external objective reality, but in the way we perceive of it and make sense of it.
If we have a polar concept, like happy/sad or good/bad – then for there to be something at one pole, there must be something at the other.
This is one of the traps of distinction, at any level.
A distinction allows us to categorise something, and at the same instant, it limits and lessens our understanding of the thing we have perceived. As long as we retain constant awareness of this logical necessity, we can go some way towards mitigating the worst of its effects.
So there is a very real sense in which any description, of anything (which description is necessarily a model, and not the thing itself) is different from the thing itself.
This is most particularly noticeable when we mix our value judgements with our perceptions as if they are the same thing. When we attempt to make our values an aspect of reality (as in giving a label good or bad or anything else) to something in reality, rather than maintaining a clear distinctions between our perceptions of reality, and the value judgements we make based upon those perceptions.
It seems that reality just is, what it is, whatever that may actually be.
It seems we have no direct access to that, our only access being through a model of reality created by our brains from a mix of current perceptions, categories and distinctions available to us, and past experiences.
Reality may be devoid of value judgements (simply being what it is) but we are not.
We humans are little meaning machines. We make judgements about everything. It is extremely difficult for us to stop it, very rare indeed for most people.
So, given that we don’t have direct access to reality, only our model mediated access, a lot of “meaning” and “judgement” gets added into most of our lives that really has no place being there. In my understanding of the process of how awareness arises, it is a side effect of learning judgement in language, which allows our awareness to bootstrap in the first instance. Unlearning it can be a lifelong journey (it keeps on creeping in at us from unexpected directions – as it must, as it is the foundation of our self reflective awareness).
Many traditions, have various ways of approaching this issue, but without a knowledge of the fundamentals of systems evolution, most miss some key insights as to the nature of the process (and its tendency to infinite recursion).