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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    The otherness of the other is none other than me (or you)
    So, my dear friend, here I continue the same line that I started previously in: “Liberation! It’s as simple as being free (from liberty)”.
    Though I understand your questions perfectly, or at least that is how it appears presently, there is a point I would like to make before proceeding with an extended answer to your questions.

    The point is this: The otherness of an ‘other’ is none other than you. Allow me a moment to explain, for it is no simple matter, to realize that otherness is fundamentally a complex trait-building, pattern making characteristic of our minds.
    The simple manner to understand this concerns our perception apparatus and our processing of images in the process of self-description. The fashion by which you self describe define more or less the manner and mode by which the otherness of the other is described because contrary to popular opinion it is not our uniqueness that defines us but our similarities.

    As embodied consciousness we have very little to go on when self-describing. We have our bodies of course, that are (presently) more or less fixed in their line of engagements and development. Consider for example that unless you belong to (presently) a very small minority of humans that at some point decide to change it for whatever reason, your biological gender is set from birth.
    This little fact has more to do with your self-description than you imagine, if only because of the biological, hormonal and eventually cultural baggage this implies. It is extremely difficult in this instance to disentangle yourself from the particularities of your body, its gender, its color, its look and so on.
    That however is only the beginning of the difficulty for soon enough, being subject to forces much beyond your control, at least initially, you will get a language and a biased experience of the world via your parents, siblings, family and friends, not to mention the geographical location of birth, its cultural heritage, possibly a religion and or political affiliations and so on.

    Then at a certain point these forces coalesce into an apparently confident set of words and terms, views and biases, filters on reality, and an overall worldview, which of course you will consider as ‘you’.
    The fact that you may realize that you had very little (if at all) say in these matters counts for little at the beginning for the simple reason that these will become the constituents or building blocks with which you have to work and they carry meanings, and significances that are hard to almost impossible to eradicate or change.

    On top of these building blocks you will get an education, again a systemic impregnation of your mind in fashions to which until quite an advanced age you will have very little to say or indeed be able to criticize, but even if and when you do find yourself able to realize the state of affairs of your mind and self criticize to an extent that defies all that which was put there by ‘others’ you will find that certain attitudes, and some views are quite difficult to overcome.

    But overcome them you must, if you are to create an ‘other’ defined by you and fitting the overall worldview which you have chosen.
    The ‘other’ in you and as ‘you’ need be coherent and consistent with all that pertains to the relevancy of your process of self-description.


    “Otherness is in many ways, a slippery and difficult term. A contradiction is apparent whereby the very process of naming the other, whether in specific or generalized terms, is bound by the simultaneous disappearance of the concept. More than just simply a result of a linguistic deferral of ‘meaning’, this situation is an effect of the fact that the very nature of alterity is impossible without the idea of sameness. Other and self are inherently joined and so when we ‘speak’ of otherness, we inevitably ‘speak’ of its other: selfhood. In spite of this, otherness is generally conceived of as that which is not ‘self’. We feign that there must be a dividing line somewhere between and not outside the two and as such the relationship between other and self is inevitably problematic and complex.”

    (Otherness: Essays & Studies 1.1 from the Introduction by Maria Beville)



    Otherness is most commonly defined as difference, both by external markers and internal characteristics and is generally accepted in this order. However the way I see it is that otherness is first and foremost and aspect of one’s self-reflection, self definition, and self-description, in this I think that otherness is a complex and highly critical issue in the process of self-revealing, or evolution into a state of personal liberty and freedom of mind.

    Moreover, the ‘other’ as a sub-category of your own self-description is biased in as much as it is indeed a condition impregnated upon your mind by none other than your own process of self-description. Which of course brings me to your specific question (which I have rephrased a bit): “How can ‘the other’, as a representative of a condition in itself, can be a supportive power (partner) to the process of self-description into a state of liberation and the ascent into the freedom of mind which you have proposed? “

    Permit me to say that I see this as a very important and critical question; indeed in as much as we are culturally biased in our present society to associate liberty with individualism and uniqueness, it may very well be that that this question represents the fulcrum of that which hinders our mutualities.

    “…all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny.”

    Martin Luther King Jr


    There are many aspects to this hindrance and we can as a basic rule divide them into two generalized aspects, one is the substrate dependency of our minds upon our neuro-chemical soup (or brain) and the other our context dependency upon the language of our minds (which will include by necessity all of the cultural semantic patterns with which our minds have been filled.
    I will not deal here with the first of these two, namely substrate dependency, I will say however, that though substrate dependency from which stems the concept of embodied consciousness is a very difficult nut to crack, there are many avenues in current scientific and theoretical research that may lead both to a better understanding of the mind body conundrum and possibly to paths of extending the mind into and unto the world in manners previously unthinkable. For an extended view on all that pertains to substrate dependency and the desire for ‘substrate independent minds' see the quite amazing work done by Randal Koene at Carboncopies.

    Having said the above, and though I am a great believer in science and technology to provide for us tools of evolutionary advantage, my main concern is with the second point namely context dependency.
    Context dependency has many aspects and many levels but at its most simple and basic it is an extension of the weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, namely that our language influences the experience of reality.

    But to update and upgrade our contextual dependency we need a new kind of conceptual scaffolding. The conceptual scaffolding we need has at its core the metamorphosis of the information-processing model of mind, in which incoming information is acted upon by the system. Our minds are not spatially fixated, and are to a very large extent better understood as emergent semantic networks.

    And as emergent semantic networks our minds define and redefine continuously in a hyper complex dynamic process that which we consider as meaningful. In the case we are talking about here the ‘meaningfulness’ resides with the concept of the ‘other’. In the conceptual scaffolding I am proposing to you here, the very term ‘other’ transforms to become an extension of that which is ‘me’, but even that transformation is only the first step into a greater motion still. The motion I refer to is the one in which the ‘other’ is not only an extension but forms a nucleic reality within your own self-description. In this case the nucleic form or image that the ‘other’ has become is no longer disassociated from the powers at play within your own mind but constitutes ipso-facto a strength of activity, dynamically interacting with the overall process of your own self description.

    “For human reality, to be is to choose oneself; nothing comes to it either from the outside or from within which it can receive or accept….it is entirely abandoned to the intolerable necessity of making itself be, down to the slightest details. Thus freedom…is the being of man, i.e., his nothingness of being.”

    Jean-Paul Sartre


    The thing is, that as the process unfolds you may discover a very interesting phenomenon, a phenomenon seldom acknowledged but extremely important nevertheless. The fact is that to allow the form sense-thought of the ‘other’ to interact meaningfully with your overall process of self-description an extended emotional reflectivity need be present. Put differently (and quite colloquially) without the ‘love of the other’ the other cannot become an inherent part of you. So in a sense that may answer your question concerning the conditions in which an ‘other’ can become a power for your own self-transformation into a liberated mind. The funny thing to notice here is that unless a very deep acceptance of the emotional reflectivity involving ‘the other’ is in place, the ‘other’ remains a ‘limiting condition’, whilst when the emotional capacity of your self description process extends into an accommodating inherency of ‘the other’ through love the ‘limiting condition’ transforms into a pillar of your own freedom of being, an allowance for your own liberty and independence.

    Not only that, but over and above this particular direction of the evolution of your freedom, the inherency of the ‘other’ becomes an extended reality by which you ‘cover more ground’ or put differently, your self description incorporates a larger world, or better yet, the reality that is ‘you and me’ has transformed into a greater unified whole, in this fashion my freedom is unshackled from the tyranny of the ‘other’ by intimacy.

    The intimacy about which I have written to you in the previous letter is a creative and dynamic interactivity, an intermingling of minds. (I will write to you, if it is of interest, about this kind of mind intimacy in another letter.)

    Finally, before I bore you with too many words, let me say that for my own mind the term ‘the other’ is practically a non-issue. My lovers are free to change ‘me’ as I am free to change them; it is in a fashion the ultimate uniqueness of the process of self-reflection for by its very dynamic inherency I am made greater. Greater in all fashions but primarily greater in the unique freedom of mind that I embody.

    The nothingness of my being is thus my highest asset and my extended reality the very liberating and highly idiosyncratic intimacy within which my freedom resides.

    Into my desire of being, I fold.
    Until next,
    W.
    ..

    Addendum:

    As an addendum to all of the above permit me another small intrusion upon your precious time. You mentioned in another letter that you find it very difficult to merge with your desires, your questions of life and make them part of your liberation.
    To walk on nothing like I do, you may need to soften the kind of intellectualized logic you find so precious. Freedom of mind and personal liberty, seen as a hyper complex dynamic process demand a certain flow, which carries its own logic for sure, yet it is a soft version of self-reflection. The soft version of logic I refer to here includes an allowance of ‘desire’ to fold again and again upon itself, both condensing the desire (becoming in the process a motive power) and simultaneously annihilating the ‘strong‘ foundations of its semantic contours.. Thus providing the intensity necessary for the ‘walking on nothing’. If you are to walk on nothing what will sustain you? You guessed correctly: the otherness of the other as you (or me), its intimacy revealing its intensity. (I’ll write more about this)

    -
    (Part of the Ultrashorts Project)

    Endnotes:

    1. Image 'Otherness' by Artist Robyn Walton






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    nedzen     Tue, Apr 30, 2013  Permanent link
    From this intermingling of minds called love springs out the most beautiful creativity. We know little about the colors of love because we don't engage blindly into it and we also have 'biased' views about it., like: a man can love only one woman, or love for parents, love for sister, love for brothers. love for teachers but to how many of them you can say: hey man I love you! or not even say it but just let the idea run free into your mind and not be afraid of it, Not let it knocked down by a second thought. —> That's to gay, or that's immoral. How do we learn to love each other and not be ashamed by our second thoughts?
    Thank you.

    Wildcat     Thu, May 2, 2013  Permanent link
    Interesting comment, Nedzen, thank you. I have found that second thoughts whether rising from a need to ease existence or please the 'other' is very often a product of our mismanaging our emotions. That is doubly so, when the subject matter is love of the other that is inherently unconcerned with reciprocity, but finds pleasure in the very statement of fact.
    To my mind, the fashion to learn this most amazing and admirable skill, is not to be overly concerned withe the possible meaning of our loves but to follow a path of ambiguity, into the probable.
    When a sense of extended emotional reflectivity (love) overwhelms us, we may simply acknowledge the reality of its sensation. There is no shame or immorality in second thoughts as such, but our desire for reciprocity may make it so.

    Indeed beauty springs from this intermingling of minds.
     
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