Blindness

The greatest power of our mind is not to see more, but to see less in a correct way, to reduce reality to its notional determinations— only such “blindness” generates the insight into what things really are. – Slavoj Zizek

I’m back! What more can be said. Just about everything. Sometimes one needs to step back, take a long look, run the gamut, descend or ascend the mountains of one’s vacuity; discover in the hidden recesses of one’s blindness certain insights, weave a new chapter in life’s dark ecologies of the mind.

Most of us live in “What if…?” worlds, moment by moment struggling to make sense of the perplexity of life and ourselves. We want answers. We fall into sink holes of oblivion through drugs, drink, entertainment; art, literature, and… yes, should I say it: philosophical peregrinations. My friend R. Scott Bakker tells us that “The strategy I employ in my fantasy novels is to implicate the reader, to tweak their moral pieties, and then to jam them the best I can.” (see Hugo’s Weaving) This notion of implicating the reader in his own blind man’s bluff, allowing him to become a willing participant in the darkest conceits, dip his fingers in the blood of the truth that is the base measure of our human desires leads into an unexpected event. It allows the reader to discover the truth hiding in her own animalistic desires and drives, the blindness that hides the void of one’s being: the truth that there is no self preceding the struggles of life, that the self is not discovered behind the curtain of awareness, but is a fabrication of our dialectical involvement in our failures and inadequacies.

Plato woke up from his complacency long ago when the great rhetoricians of Greece – the Sophists, spouted the truth that we are nothing but fictions, our lives a tissue of words, that we live in a closed circle of signs that never escape themselves, never reach beyond themselves into some eternal realm beyond appearances. Yet, Plato in his struggle against the Sophists became mired in a struggle to create a greater fiction, the notion of an eternal Order behind appearances that sustains and gives meaning to life and thought.

As Zizek is fond of repeating: there is no Big Other (Lacan), no boogie man beyond the stars controlling our destiny, no structure or cultural Order imposing the truth upon us, no ideology ruling our lives: we are free… and it is our freedom that enslaves us to our foolish ends. We are terrified of our Freedom, our nakedness before the terrible truth of the universe and our finitude. We would rather bury ourselves in a sea of unknowing than accept the truth of our incompleteness, our openness to an incomplete universe, our freedom as freedom. So we create vast and intricate fictions to enclose ourselves within through the power of words, enslave ourselves to belief systems and ideologies that trap us in a blind man’s game of give and take.

One of my favorite novels is by the Portuguese writer, José Saramago, who at the end of his novel Blindness allows the Doctor to reflect on the small village’s predicament:

Why did we become blind, I don’t know, perhaps one day we’ll find out, Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.

Saramago, José (2013-08-23). Blindness (p. 326). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Is this not the predicament of humanity? Are we not the Blind ones who can see, but do not see?