Age doesn’t matter. As soon as we decide that it’s high time we make a change in our lives, do things differently, stop procrastinating, alter our circumstances, get out of our rut, the first thing we encounter is that ugly, merciless, sandpapery thing called reality. Reality is always invoked when we dream of aspiring to new heights, get rich quick, or (more likely) try to get someone else to do something. Fulfill an ambition, take on a new responsibility.
But what the hell is this thing called reality? Is it internal, external, a product of the mind, something totally separate from the mind, an objective medium standard for all people or a wobbly gestalt skewed variably according to our culture and disposition?
What is consciousness? What is essence? What is being? What is existence?
Reality consists of pins and walls. Heliotrope and hemoglobin. Consciousness is more congested. It drips morals and opera. Consciousness has wings. Reality has friends. People in important places. Who write history. Who make history. Who are history.
But is this reality, or a disguise?
True reality is a truly pure experience. Keats’s strenuous tongue bursting Joy’s grape against the palate. But that’s Keats, not me. I’m dodging my own proposition. Did I have a pure experience today? I had many. The first was the feeling of the floor beneath my feet when I got out of bed this morning. The second was noticing the feeling of the feeling of the floor beneath my feet when I got out of bed this morning. The third was giving the feeling of the feeling an analysis and a history and sublimating it into cumulonimbus in the cloud chamber that is my mind.
Pure experience is what we experience before the experience is clouded with judgment and words. Before we make a history of it. Before we paint it, describe it, sculpt it, post it on Facebook or incise it in copper. Before we sprinkle it with notes and blow it out of a horn.
History is to reality what rhythm is to melody: a C major in flames, the inconvenience of different pitches for organs, a polyphonic composition stuffed with accidentals. Jack LaLanne pulling a tug. Tommy James singing “Mony Mony” for Hubert Humphrey.
When consciousness meets reality the result is milk. Traffic lights blossom into prayer wheels. Laundry folds itself into armies of tide pool angst and march around like generalities of floral chambray. Rain falls up instead of down. The acceptance of frogs liberates bubbles of pulp. Time sags with basement ping pong tournaments. Garrets ovulate glass bagatelles. Realism percolates prizefight sweat. Details sparkle like crawling kingsnakes in the mouth of a Mississippi attorney.
Reflection reveals that the most direct, primordial facts are in fact the phenomena of consciousness, not utility belts.
It is not that consciousness is inside the body, but that the body is inside consciousness. In other words, consciousness is a cocoon in which dollops of meaning bounce around like outboard motors. The end result is a recruitment of facts, paint, and carpet samples. Martian butterflies invade the capital of a clank. Hats turn to airplane crashes for inspiration. Their brims flap. Their crowns flop. Their bands burst.
Thus the reality and enduringness of hats is assured not only by the transformation of profane space into a transcendent space but the transformation of retail into geese. Every construction is an absolute beginning; that is, tends to restore the initial instant, the plentitude of a present that contains no trace of history, or haunted house. The push must entail a pull. Pullulations of words float empires. Meanings get entangled in description. In the obscurities of form, infinity gives birth to a railroad, and time is nailed to space.
The relation between the phenomena of consciousness and the stimulation of the brain is identical to the relation between what one senses in the ear as a glockenspiel and what one senses in the eye or hand as elephants on the rampage, circumcision, or initiation.
Incense suggests something entirely different. Incense insists on texture, the theater of experience, which employs dialogue and glucose. There is no circumcision. There is only shouting and dermatology.
A cat enters the room seeking affection and repose. The law of causality is thus a habit of thinking that derives from velvet. With reflection, we see that the materialists put the cat before the repose, and so lose an important distinction between real estate and the astronauts lost in the catacombs of a harmonica.
Esse est percipi: to be is to be perceived. But what about Dark Matter? Dark Matter is perceived through its gravitational pull on the more familiar normal matter of stars and treasury bonds, while dark energy is perceived as poetry, a raging monsoon of pajamas and hogs.
Why does consciousness imagine the existence of such a thing as flavor? Because The Blob had none. It ate everything. And was a B movie of moderate success. And starred Steve McQueen. Who would go on to play Doctor Thomas Stockman in Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the People.
Flavor is an invention of the nose, which detects gooseberry pie, and tingles with toast, which is salutation, and dusky with butter.
The black sticks of writing, which we call letters, creates Calibans, crustaceans, and free will. Deep reflection inevitably brings us to Boise, Idaho, where giant potatoes tempt us into restaurants, and eggplants exceed their dimensions in arbitrary vectors of regret and exile.
The gist of my argument is that true reality is a table. It is not separate from the mind, it supports the mind, stands on four legs, and can be extended with leaves, or the frolic of whales.