I dedicate this writing to my father and the memory of my father. He consistently pushed me to return to scholarship and writing.
While I spent most of the past decade caring for him 24/7/365 – none of that prevented me from writing. In fact it was an ideal context in which I could have, should have, but in fact could not pursue or accomplish such. No matter how hard I tried (although I could/should have tried harder). No matter how much time I did place in reading to further my knowledge and understanding (even that, though, I had an opportunity to do to a far greater extent than I accomplished).
What suppressed my ability was internal to myself – if indeed I have anything that can truly be considered “ability” in this endeavor (perhaps we can find out – as I break through these barriers today – and hopefully continue to do so in the weeks and months to come. A test I will impose upon myself if I can keep motivating myself to at least try. To try once again to do what once I had been told I had a great capacity for – before I effectively “lost all.”
As internal as that suppression has been I have to recognize the fact that it was external forces that initially imposed upon me. Imposed yes, but was I truly that vulnerable to allow such a drastic imposition? In some sense I blame myself for my shortcomings, failings, indeed for my near disappearance from a critical public discourse I so long preached as the essential missing element within American society.
It was an internal demon – that we today understand as PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – this is what I am assured by medical professionals was a very real cause of my “loss” not just of the “things” I lost “possession” of in conjunction with the decades old experiences that together constituted such a deep trauma. But of the loss of myself – of who I am, of what I “am” (and thus could have and still could be or become), of what purpose I have in life, in what it means “to be” and to be “me.”
I have not written much about the experience of living with PTSD but when I use the term I don’t use it lightly. This is not the kind of “traumatic” loss and imposition claimed by those now associating it with, indeed to some extent trivializing it, mere “political” experience. The claims of Hillary supporters to have suffered such as a result of 2015. Or the claims of a nation claiming such over the experiences of the years that followed.
Until this affliction became real to me – I always recognized its reality – but I never grasped, I never could have grasped, just how debilitating it can be – how disrupting of one’s life it is. What I have experienced and yes endured somehow for more than the past three decades is more akin to – although its origins and onset are not identical to – the traditional association of this disabling condition with those who have been forced to endure the horrors of engagement in or imposition upon of warfare. Although my trauma, which shares a similar nature to much of those who found themselves within such tragic contexts. Mine was suffered in a domestic context.
It was in pursuing much of what I had previously written about – and written for – as I emerged into adulthood and dedicated my life to pursuits in the nature of justice, democracy, and the dream of a state, a society, even a world which recognized, realized, and thus pursued the Common Good. The true nature of humankind. Something that I believed sincerely and unquestionably as within the capacity of ourselves – not only as a species, the end toward which its nature or essence was to perpetually strive, but no less so as individuals. A natural striving – which only society and socialization has suffocated while diverting US/us – each of us and all of us – from consciously pursuing – often told, with “scientific” certainty, that such an idea were not real, such a pursuit were not realistic, mere “metaphysical” (improperly used) nonsense.
At some point in time during the past three decades – I cannot say exactly when – I lost touch with, or faith in, this in and of which I had so long believed so optimistically that I refused to accept obstacles were insurmountable, defied somehow for so long the social and societal impetus to unnaturally suppress, suffered willingly the hardships that social context imposed, and took on that task – based upon what I had dedicated myself to learning about and how to pursue (the latter being something that cannot be taught but by experience – and in that – by simply trying. There may be texts and textbooks for the former – obtaining or at least pursuing the knowledge “of” and with that some degree of understanding of “why” and even of “how.” There are no “guides” that can replace the actual “doing” – and thus “doing so” even when you are not entirely sure much less in any way ensured of success or victory. Although there are persons, guides, both in history and potentially in your sphere of experience (if you seek them out, or even if you stumble upon them) – from whom you can learn a great deal. Including, unfortunately, what historically has often been the personal costs of seeking such and succeeding – encouraging others to act, guiding others into the journey – onto the path but not to how to blaze that path forward toward the unreachable destination – the Common Good, realized as a community, a state, a society, indeed ultimately as a species, not by arriving at some particular place, at some particular time, a thus declaring victory. I find the theme of Broadway’s Man of La Mancha, the “Impossible Dream” – and that as “unreachable” as that star may be – it is not to live a futile life to live it in pursuit of such – quite the opposite – it IS LIFE. This quest is eternal, like a limit in physics, you can continually approach your destination – the “end” or “aim” – without ever actually “getting there.” If such an abstract – even “unreal” – notion can be the foundation of the advancement of science (even though lost sight of as such by many who call themselves “scientists”); then it certainly can be the very real, and never shy away from stating ideal, objective and criterion of the progress of mankind and progress in its social “being.” There is an end – but it’s the journey, and not the destination, that is the true objective. Every step in the direction of progress toward reaching it – only redefines it, not in substance, but in essence. Every step forward only enables you to go further than was previously “achievable” – indeed often even conceivable. For the progressive journey of mankind not only enables us to “create” – rather than merely experience passively and contemplate afterwards – “history”. To be the genuine authors of our future – rather than continuing to slaves fettered to the “real” world around us. A “world” that we are not merely thrown into at birth, but one that – in potential – we are born to as the artists and architects of what it will become over time. Even if we venture off that path at times – given those so-called “realities” (which we cannot ignore “exist” as in the sense of having real impact on lives – our lives, and those of others, and all of ours together – this is not naïve “idealism” but a very real sense of the ideal. Often “reality” is found to exist in what can only be linguistically articulated in such seeming paradoxes.” But there is no paradox that a magnet is both negative and positive. Nor is there any paradox in understanding that the ideal is achievable in “the real” (in essence the ideal becomes the real) and that the “real” really can pose obstacles, formidable but never insurmountable – if you only try (and then try and try again – learning through time and experience – and thus progressing within – within each individual who tries, within any community who embraces trying – and those who dare try against the odds, against the norm, even against authority. For we alone – no one and no thing external to us – are the “sovereign” source of all authority. A lesson actually learned at one stage of human intellectual development, indeed one openly embraced in the “dream” of one nation – the United States of America – which dared to at least propose endeavoring toward the experiment … regardless of how we and “it” have forgotten the lessons over time (indeed perhaps almost coinciding with that initiating moment we also began losing sight of the path that it opened up before us…, the understanding, the daring to pursue the ideal despite the “real” (this nation, this country, this government) may have forgotten the idealism of that initial moment in time just over two centuries ago (and only thus – a brief moment in time, a brief moment in an eternally experienced (or authored if we try) history – we must fully recognize and appreciate – a mere “moment” in time, a “moment” in history – if we stop to reflect on what, particularly to Americans unlike those of Europe much less Asia, whose recognized “histories” span millennia. (Histories, by the way, if we take the effort to explore backwards, lead us to a unity – a unity of experience and a unity of “being” – rather than a naively presumed “reality” of differences and conflicts and competitions – as real as such moments in the past were, as unreal as the assumption that the present sense of differences necessarily divides us. We are – even history shows (in its most broad and enlightened understanding), and which science “proves – all in a very real sense “One” – despite also, at the same time, non-paradoxically being “different.” Indeed understood in this context we should come to appreciate our differences, the differences of experience and time as well as particular contexts, the differences also which inhere in each individual as an individual – that make each of us “what” we “are” – but in no sense require or entail that that “Oneness” is no less real, no less valid, no less important – even essential at the very same time as that plurality is in fact what makes this whole – this “one” and “oneness” – what it is and always has had and thus been, in potential. Again – something to strive, eternally, for and toward. Something always achievable and never pursued only by the naïve dreamer, the misguided idealist, but by each and every member of our species – which has this gift of nature, or of nature’s god, as its very defining essence. Call it “reason” – without getting caught up in the critiques of reason that have come to be the “post-modern” fad – for that is not a critique of what was meant by the appreciation of reason whether in the enlightenment of the Ancients of that of the Moderns. (What is a “Modern” by the way – much less what is “post-modern” – these are merely useful classifications within a particular context (or applied unwisely deviating individuals and societies from and distorting that creative utility as natural to the human being as its life itself (as opposed to mere utilitarian in the non-philosophical, “realist” conception … certainly never the “idea” that emerged from the head of Jeremy Bentham, at about the same time as the Birth of this Nation (the United States) – that has been adopted (and adapted) to such conceptualizations and their “realization” in the practice of society over time (and thus in history – as already written – but the point is not as it might be written in the present, producing – by our own creative will, the future. A future that my point is can be idealistic, progressively pursued, and one of true and natural “Happiness” – a term more misunderstood today than any, yet as long ago as two millennia was articulated by the Greek word, and the concept it referred to, as Eudaimonia. Strictly translated as “being with good demons.” Understood by the wisest of those who used the term as true “happiness” – the end of each and of our species – but one which, unlike the nature of all other living beings we have discovered, requires not mere nature and time to fulfill – but an active, intellectual, practice – of the critical use of reason (properly understood). To those who find relevance and insight in religion – it is this capacity to create, to be creators ourselves rather than mere creatures – that was captured in the notion of being “made” “in the image of God.” What distinguishes US/us from – at least a benevolent – deity – is that we have to apply that capacity of reason to be and produce that which is “Good.” In religious terms this is the ultimate calling – the responsibility of individuals and societies – toward perpetually making the conscious effort to live our lives in and for the very same sense and point that I have just spent paragraphs expanding upon – to try and encourage you, the individual, to take up this passion, consciously, in one’s life – no matter how you may choose to pursue that life on a daily basis. Whether you do so with a religious understanding, a scientific understanding, a historical or a secular understanding – that detail is of no matter – for both the result (in life) and the end (in the eternity of existence – in “being” per se) are the same even if expressed in different terms.
Let me return now to my initial point which was dedicating a particular work (however flawed or even failed) to my father and his memory. It is all too true that over the past three decades – at some point – I “lost” both my capacity to live my life in this pursuit and my ability to “produce works” – very much “to live” – according to this deep and heartfelt understanding (belief – yes, but beliefs can be tested, challenged, even pessimistically reflected upon – as I have done these many years, and I have to admit, am still in the habit of doing to this day.
Very real experiences cause very real obstacles but even disabilities in my life. But as anyone reading the latter part of this, which has become an essay unto itself rather than a mere dedication, I have never actually lost at least that “inkling” of understanding, to the extent that I had developed it up until that moment of doubt entered my mind and even my spirit. And I recognize this – even when feeling at the bottom of a hopeless pit (and I have been to “bottoms” that I never could have conceived without experiencing them, depths I can only hope few will ever have to suffer and hopefully endure (depths which all too often take from us some of the most inherently potent individuals – due to no fault of their own, but in part due to a society and a societal context that has not grasped, has lost whatever sight it may once “historically” have achieved momentarily, the essence of what I have been engaged in this discourse to enlighten us, to spark some inherently inner pre-existing inkling of natural understanding within you, the individual reader, who has endured my less than perfect, perhaps even quite flawed and mediocre, presentation via the written word.
It is that I have – at this moment – despite all of what I reveal above about my personal life and experiences – set down in words, an act even greater than the mere utterance thereof – that is of significance (as valuable as public discourse – the foundation of a public sphere – the essence of a democracy, if you want to escape from the misleading contemporary use of that term and invocation of that concept – an ideal toward which we must, as rational beings in the fullest sense thereof (recognizing that many have misused the concept of “reason” to create and justify many negative and harmful things and events throughout history (both before and after claiming to have discovered the concept of reason via the enlightenment of a particular era, itself but a moment in time, a moment in the history that has already been “written” [Never forget that written histories themselves are not the actual history – they are but impressions and interpretations. They can be accurate to an extent (for knowledge and thus understanding is a cumulative entity that can emerge over time – and so we must, as in all things in life, turn back to hour “histories” and reconsider them, even reconceptualize them. This is the essence of natural learning – the kind that leads to actual understanding – that which guides true reason). They can also be mistaken, even misleading – used irrationally in the name of reason – to do, to justify the doing of, wrong, of harm, of veering far off the path toward the Common Good – a use which is antithetical to the true concept and ideal of reason and its use – as much as, in history, it – as a term – has been invoked as an authority. The concept of “critical” – the practice of “critique” – must always be presumed to qualify the claims of “reason.” And while certainly philosophers as difficult to achieve an understanding of, such as Immanuel Kant, of whom it would not be exaggeration to state as fact is unfamiliar, much less understood, to most individuals – had an inkling of what I am attempting to communicate here – I am not applying this term in any but a colloquial sense understandable to all no matter their education or experiences. Indeed what is pointed out here, in this last qualification and appeal – a necessarily limited yet sincere attempt to expound upon difficult conceptions and what may be deemed radical assertions – is that one should never stop questioning – and one should never deem any claim or any statement unquestionable – critique in its true meaning ought to be looked upon as another “sense” that the human animal naturally possesses, certainly it is a disposition to which we are naturally predisposed. Naturally – but not necessarily. Herein lies the need for conscious reflection. But in that spirit – I encourage anyone, everyone – to look critically upon which I have attempted, with the very limited capacity of language, to communicate. For language is not in itself enough – but requires and entails to reach mutual understanding (much less the understanding of things and ideas themselves) – active participation of others (at minimum one other – but ideally, in the right contexts – contexts that may need to be consciously conceived and constructed, of all “others” – of society, of the species, of the community of your present limited direct reach in locality to the community of the world).
And so while this is but the ramblings of my mind at the moment – that came with the idea that I might write something of value and significance at some point, again, in the future – perhaps even the relatively near future – I do this in the memory of my father – who has for so long urged me get back to writing, to try and make something of it that can help to support me, and who – along with my mother – are wholly responsible for the person inside of me seeking to break out, the person that I once “was” or at least was aiming to become, and from whom I owe the capacity – if I have any – to put into written words something, some things, that will make a difference in all those senses.
This is of course a draft – a first writing – a stream of consciousness if not also conscience. But then again most of what I have written in the past is what comes out from my mind through my fingers in this informal way. And in many ways I find that, at times, leaving them as such is both appropriate and best. I do recognize, however, to get others to read them – and interested in reading more – I have to come back to such and redraft and rewrite to at least some extent. To edit, to rearrange, to fill in unintentional gaps, or to create more intentional segues. To be and become a better writer.
And it is in this spirit that I appeal to you – to any and all of you – to read the above and comment upon it. Critically or otherwise. And to offer suggestions for improvement – in the writing – that will make it more appealable to being read by others and capable of making a difference in their lives for having read it. Perhaps I am bit presumptive in having that ability – but at least this is one attempt – in what hopefully will become one day a habit or nature, a part of each and every one of my days, and maybe even leading me to finding my way back to some form of compensation for living, to make living possible, that can be an additional benefit to what is, already, beneficial in itself and on its own. For that has always been the only means of “employment” (for lack of a better word – and there is a better word – but it may not convey to the average reader that this is what is meant) I have ever found worthwhile. And towards which I can find true motivation – as it is offered as a contribution to others, to society, to prosperity perhaps, to the whole.