April 2, 2018


PSI-1 March 29, 2018

(Post-Stroke Impressions)

I began this note on March 29th but here I am finishing it on Easter Sunday which is at the same time, ‘April Fools Day’.  Is that a coincidence or is there some hidden meaning in it?

Here is the elusive ‘understanding’ that I am trying to bring ‘down to earth’ at this time.  That is to say, it is not yet an ‘understanding’ that I have brought down to earth as an explicit finding; i.e. it continues to flirt with me and yet elude me, in a manner that calls to mind a phrase that stuck with me from earlier philosophical readings;


“For Kepler, ‘geometria’ was the source of nature’s mystery and divinity (Kepler once asserted; “Why waste words, geometry existed before the creation, is co-eternal with the mind of God, ‘is God himself’) and the uncertainty associated with its multivalent harmonies and self-referentiality was an innate source of beauty in nature. Kepler quoted Virgil in regard to the elusive absence of finality in astronomical space-time relationships; “Galatea seeks me mischievously, the lusty wench; she flees to the willows, but hopes I’ll see her first.””  — The Sleepwalkers, Arthur Koestler


This observation was something I made note of in an essay written 20 years ago which I introduced with the following quote from Lao Tzu;


Geometry and Culture: ‘Burying The Hatchet’

May 15, 1998

“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;

It is the center hole that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;

It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;

Usefulness from what is not there.”

— Lao Tsu, “Tao Te Ching”


Part of the therapy I have been given for post-stroke recovery is to do ‘maze’ exercises, where one must find an unblocked path from an entrance to an exit through a maze.   This ‘bothers me’ in the following way;

Relational understanding seems to me to deliver more basic understandings of the real (relational) world we live in.  The world we create using noun-and-verb language-and-grammar, which is in terms of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things-in-themselves do’ is a more superficial source of understanding which, meanwhile, has risen to dominance in our Western noun-and-verb language employing society.

While we focus on the river and the channel it digs in the earth… Wait a minute, why do we attribute this creative act of digging a channel to the river?   Surely it is the ground that subsides in such a manner as to pull the runoff around like a bull with a ring through its nose.  ‘What is not there’ is where the creative act originates.

The ‘furrow’ that ‘the river ploughs’ is an inverted view of what Is actually going on which falsely imputes primary agency to the river.  But it is the valley (in concert with transformative influence of the gravitational field) that inductively gathers runoff together and gives form to it that we refer to as ‘the river’.

Solving the maze exercises teaches one to put the assertive into primacy over the inductive [the masculine into primacy over the feminine].  Still, on a tidal flat, the stream system one maps one day will be radically transformed the following day since the ‘female’ inductive influence is in a natural primacy over the ‘male’ assertive action.

Western society teaches understanding that puts the male/assertive into an unnatural primacy over the female/inductive.  This is in spite of our inclusion in a world where relations are ‘fundamental’ while ‘things-in-themselves’ are abstractions supported by noun-and-verb language-based intellection.   It is not true that the river sculpts the valley; i.e. it is the other way around; the valley inductively induces the collecting of runoff into streams and rivers.  In the maze exercises, one takes on the masculine mindset of the river that seeks to find an outlet to the sea.

The point is that one derives understanding of self and world from ‘what is not there’ [i.e. purely relational dynamics where inductive influence is the mother of assertive actors as with valley and riverflow] and then employs noun-and-verb language to communicate such understanding in terms of ‘what is there’ as in ‘the colorado river carved out the Grand Canyon’..  The Western culture has opted to put ‘what is there’ into an ‘unnatural’ primacy over ‘what is not there’.  ‘What is not there’ is the source of inductive influence that underlies what we observe through visual and tactile sensing as ‘what is there’.

Nothing has been more ‘out of the blue surprise’ to me in my post-stroke experience, than being unable to remember the names of my own children, nephews and close friends.   Reflecting on this informs me that what has ‘dropped out’ of my cognitive activity is renderings of ‘what is going on in the world’ in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things do’; i.e. relational understanding in forms such as ‘Dances with Wolves’ is intact and it is only understanding that is based on notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’ that has ‘dropped out’ and very noticeably so.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s coining the term ‘Stroke of Insight’ for the title of her book is well made.  In my own experience, the subsuming of the ‘object-based’ in ‘the relational’ hits you like a blow from a baseball bat to your midsection.  One’s sisters, children, grandchildren, friends are still fully present in that one continues to ‘know them’ in a relational sense, it is only the thing-based characterization of them as in noun-and-verb language that has fallen away.

‘Having a stroke’ (of the type described herein) resituates one in the relational world of our actual experience.  It is only the ‘thing-itself’ based world of noun-and-verb language-and-grammar that falls away in the stroke.  While the language speaking competency may persist, the manner in which one understands things is altered; i.e. there is a shift from knowing things in terms of ‘things-in-themselves and what these things do’, … to relational understanding.  This ‘different way of understanding’ [relational versus things-in-themselves-and-what-things-in-themselves do’ has been identified as a bias within Western culture; e.g; observation of the Nicaraguan poet Claribel Alegria; “My father was a famous engineer; my mother had no name”.  

People can be known ‘relationally’ as in ‘dances with wolves’ or they can be known, especially as in Western culture with its noun and verb languages, as ‘things-in-themselves-that do stuff’ [seen as being fully and solely responsible for their own acts and accomplishments].  When people are credited with ‘personal achievements’, … is there really such a thing?  No; … there is no thing as ‘individual achievement’ in a relational world.  Sure, if we focus on the foreground where we see the child soldier shoot down several ‘innocent’ villagers ‘in cold blood’, it is the Western way to interpret/understand this in terms that the soldier is fully and solely responsible for the deaths of the villagers.   However, the indigenous aboriginal understanding of this killing would be ‘relational’ so that the entire village would have to accept responsibility and move so as to reduce the relational tensions that are the deeper-lying, primary source of conflict.

In my post-stroke mode of understanding, ‘individuals’ are ‘relationally animated’ and there are no such things as ‘things-in-themselves’ as described by Bitzer in Charles Dicken’s ‘Hard Times’ commentary on social dynamics;

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

‘Bitzer,’ said Thomas Gradgrind. ‘Your definition of a horse.’

 ‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.’ Thus (and much more) Bitzer.


When I reflect on ‘what goes missing’ in my post-stroke mode of understanding, it is clearly ‘facts’ as constituted by ‘things-in-themselves’ that are ‘knowable-as-things-in-themselves’.  Only the relational understanding of ‘things’ survives the stroke.  This is alluded to by Jill Bolte in terms of her shift of being ‘at one with the universe’.  “You and I are literally swimming in a turbulent sea of electromagnetic fields.  We are part of it.  We are enveloped within it, and through our sensory apparatus we experience ‘what is’.”

It is our describing of relational-forms as if they were ‘things-in-themselves’ that leads to our constructing language and grammar accounts that ‘take on a life of their own’.  We do it with storm-cells and we do it with ‘biological cells’, imputing to them a life and existence of their own, even though they are relational forms in the transforming relational continuum.

While the stroke re-grounds us in ‘relational reality’, stroke therapy seeks to return us to the synthetic world of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves’ do, … ourselves included.  It is necessary for us to at least know this popular and ‘officially ratified’ ‘thing-in-itself-based’ way of understanding the world in order to cultivate an ability to live in harmony with the dominant culture, but there is no need to abandon the deeper relational understanding, which, in my view, is a layover to the indigenous aboriginal mode of understanding wherein ‘relations’ are in an innate natural precedence over ‘things-in-themselves’. [as is the finding of David Bohm and F. David Peat in ‘Blackfoot Physics’].

Nevertheless, ‘stroke therapy’ orients to restoring one to the arguably distorted and troublesome ‘ersatz reality’ that we intellectually construct in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.   The maze exercises provide a clue as to what understanding-building competencies are being re-fortified and reinstated as ‘primary’.  We can visualize the world as a maze based on positive features (eg. mountains) that we must find passage through, or we can visualize the world in terms of a relationally transforming space where the impediments are transient, as in a crowd dynamic wherein the participants are, at the same time, the passageway walls and the flow in the passageways, where opportunity and achievement are two faces of one coinage (i.e. two views of one relational dynamic).

With respect to the stroke therapy program and the use of ‘maze’ solving exercises, I don’t mind relearning how to talk about things using the ‘male’ worldview that falsely gives all the credit to (‘male’) causal agency without acknowledging the androgynous nature of real dynamics; i.e. this ‘male view’ is the ‘scientific world view’ which is what Charles Dickens is identifying as problematic in ‘Hard Times’.   The ‘scientific’ view of dynamic phenomena makes use of an implied absolute Euclidian reference frame to capture the dynamics of things ‘relative to’ the fixed Euclidian reference frame.  The sediments that the rushing stream is digging a trench/trough in are described as a passive layered sequence that the hydraulic flow is eroding.  As described earlier, the sediments undergo their own ‘female dynamic’ so as to locally subside and open up concavity ‘here’ and uplift and push out convexity ‘there’, and this ‘female’ undulation in the supportive sediments animates and shapes the runoff.  Thus, the ur-source [agency that sources the source] of the ‘digging of trenches’ and other etching of the sediments is NOT the running water but the female dynamic of the containing sediments whose sagging, rising and folding under the influence of gravity inductively actualizes and shapes (channelizes) the flow of water.

As Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in ‘Full House’, the decline and extinction of .400 hitters in baseball was not necessarily due to a decline in ‘hitter performance’ but was more likely due to improvement in ‘pitching and fielding’.   Baseball statistics cite batting average of hitters as if it is meaningful in-its-own-right when it is intrinsically tied together with pitching and fielding efficacy and neither of these influences can be physically measured in ‘its own right’.  The reduction of relational dynamics to one-sided ‘male assertive dynamics’ and burying from view the innate primacy of ‘female accommodational dynamics’ is an inherent shortfall in noun-and-verb language constructs. The ‘female’ aspect includes the ‘male’ by ‘inference’.  For example, when the land (container) subsides, the runoff gathers in the negative space of the subsidence as a rushing stream and then we credit the stream with carving out a canyon [a female feature] but it was the ‘female feature’ that inductively actualized the asserting male action (the gathering together and focusing of the flow of water).   As in the mathematics of complex variables, there is both ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ aspects to such dynamics.

Measurement follows language and grammar constructs.  It is convenient, in Western noun-and-verb languages, to formulate ‘what things-in-themselves do’ constructs which are then taken as ‘truth’.  Child soldiers are convicted as independent, fully-responsible killers; i.e. they are found, by Western forensic science, to be fully and solely responsible for (guilty of) the murders of innocents, in spite of the greater reality that the dynamic that the accused is included in is inherently ‘relational’ and cannot be reduced to simple terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.

Western justice systems make use of ‘forensic science’ to establish that the ‘individual’ is fully and solely responsible for such acts as homicide, however, indigenous aboriginal justice would see the ‘murder’ as arising from dysfunction in the relational social dynamic.   In fact, the relational structure of indigenous aboriginal languages does not support such absolutisms as would establish full and sole causal responsibility on the part of an ‘individual’, absolving all others in the community of responsibility.  In the indigenous aboriginal view, as also in the view of relativity physics, dynamics are understood as inherently ‘relational’ and the concept of ‘things-in-themselves-that-are-the-jumpstart-authors-of-their-own-acts-and-the-‘results-of-those-acts’.

Forensic science is thus based on abstraction and fails to take into account the inherent relational essence of physical dynamics.  The violent act of the child-soldier did not ‘jumpstart’ from the interior of the child-soldier viewed as an ‘independent thing-in-himself being’.  Such imagery and understanding derives from noun-and-verb language constructs and NOT from our inherently ‘relational’ real-life experience.

I need to ‘close’ this particular reflection on my early ‘post-stroke experience’ and, if possible, capture and highlight ‘the main point’ as I am seeing it currently.

It is probably apparent to the reader that I feel as if my stroke ‘opened up’ my understanding, in the same sort of way as described by Jill Bolte Taylor in ‘My Stroke of Insight’.  There is no acknowledgement of any beneficial aspect [newly gained insight] of a stroke in Western medicine and the medical approach aims to restore the stroke ‘victim’ to his pre-stroke condition, as far as the remaining potentials in the ‘stroke-damaged goods’ will allow.

So, there is an inevitable conflict here, in that the Western medicine stroke therapy aims to restore the individual to his pre-stroke condition and thus put the genie of insight back in its bottle.  This ‘insight’, in my view, is the same insight as would acknowledge the greater depth of the indigenous (relational) mode of understanding, as explored by F. David Peat in ‘Blackfoot Physics’.  It is also the same insight as lies within the Zen parable of ‘wind, flag, and mind’ (which is moving?) which parallels the valley, hill and flow discussion in my preceding notes;

Zen Koan: Not the Wind, Not the Flag

Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said: “The flag is moving.”

The other said: “The wind is moving.”

The sixth patriarch happened to be passing by. He told them: “Not the wind, not the flag; mind is moving.”

Mumon’s comment: The sixth patriarch said: “The wind is not moving, the flag is not moving. Mind is moving.” What did he mean? If you understand this intimately, you will see the two monks there trying to buy iron and gaining gold. The sixth patriarch could not bear to see those two dull heads, so he made such a bargain.

Wind, flag, mind moves,
The same understanding.
When the mouth opens
All are wrong
(Source: The Gateless Gate, by Ekai or Mu-mon, trans. Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps [1934])



What I have ‘lost’ in my stroke is my ‘thing-in-itself’ understanding of those close to me, including my own children.  My understanding has reverted to a ‘relational’ basis and what has ‘dropped out’ is my acculturated understanding in the reductive terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own jumpstart sourcing of action as Western noun-and-verb languages tend to reductively capture dynamics. It is not just my failure to recall the ‘names’ of people close to me; … this is just the secondary expression of my being able to understand dynamics in the culturally standard terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.   What remains and is now the sole and uncontested source of insight is the ‘Dances with wolves’ type ‘relational’ understanding of friends and children.  That is, the type of understanding of self and other that was taking a back seat to the ‘things-in-themselves’ based understanding has now regained its full and uncontested stature.  As is also the view of Jill Bolte, this sort of stroke is a ‘stroke of insight’ that brings relational understandings that have been ‘submerged’ or ‘overwhelmd’ by ‘thing-in-itself’ based understanding, back to the surface (to natural precedence).

Clearly, from the point of view of Western social protocols and socially established ways of understanding and managing things, it is important for me to ‘relearn’ these so that I can ‘fit back in’ to the established social order.   From this point of view, the ‘insights’ that come with a stroke are a hindrance rather than a help.  That is, if in my social behaviour I ‘held true to’ my post-stroke worldview, I would be cultivating social relational dynamics that are closer to the aboriginal tradition than to the prevailing Western tradition.  The post-stroke therapy I am receiving is to help me fit back in to ‘Western society-as-it-is’ wherein the thing-in-itself based scientific worldview is the ‘official reference base’ that must be complied with by all citizens, as this is the officially approved way of thinking of ‘self’ and ‘others’; i.e. as ‘independently-existing-things-in-ourselves’ with our own internal sourcing of thought and action.

The challenge for me now, as I see it, is to find a way to live harmoniously in a world where the officially believed (or at least, the ‘officially endorsed’) understanding of the world, the one which is used to regulate societal dynamics, is very different from my own post-stroke-insight understanding of the world.

My stroke, to me, is kind of like ‘shock therapy’ that wakes one up to what Is already there but is being habitually (due to cultural conditioning) overlooked.  When the ‘things-in-themselves’ that are the artifacts of noun-and-verb language ‘fall away’, the relational reality shows itself once again.  It didn’t go anywhere; we simply buried it beneath a load of noun-and-verb constructs.



* * *


Prior starts to this post-stroke accounting follow;



March 31, 2018


I started writing about these impressions yesterday and am finishing the note today, March 31, 2018.

A ‘bottom line’, for me, is that physics ‘(Greek: φύσις phusis) draws from relational understanding [relational dynamics that we and everything are included in] that is beyond ‘explicit capture’, and this ‘more basic’ understanding becomes available to us as the explicit facades ‘fall away’ in the post-stroke understanding of the world.

My impression is that in our pre-stroke or ‘normal Western mode experience’, we cannot see the ‘forest for the trees’; i.e. we cannot be cognizant of the continuously transforming relational dynamic that we and everything are included in, so long as we are interpreting our observations and experiences in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.

I would therefore distinguish between ‘mathematical physics’ and ‘physics’ since I don’t see how ‘physics’ (φύσις) which is based on our relational experience of being included within a transforming relational continuum could be captured and conveyed by noun and verb language whose mode of expression is in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and what ‘things-in-themselves do’.

That is, we can’t speak directly about a world that is a transforming relational continuum in which we are included, but only indirectly.  Sharing views of our worldly experience in this way could be called ‘physics’.  In this case, ‘physics’ would not be delivering models of the world that we can see ‘out there in front of us’ and displayed on a screen or blackboard or via other projection techniques that present the understanding ‘out there in front of us’, as if understood by an observing-investigating-subject’ that has been probing, prodding and sampling and photographing and studying the world ‘out there’, since in the view of the world as an all-inclusive transforming relational continuum which includes all observers/experients/investigators along with their monitoring/investigating/visualizing equipment (whether built into them or wielded by them), whatever views can be captured ‘through them’ cannot, at the same, capture them as part of the world dynamic they are looking out at.

“The Tao (way) that can be told is not the true Tao” – Lao Tzu.


Our scientific cultures, meanwhile, have developed views of the world that are independent of the observers.   These views are commonly captures by language based abstraction where ‘things-in-themselves’ are not only ‘possible’ but play a foundational role in the construction and sharing of ‘thing-based’ caricatures of the relational world of our experience.

Nevertheless, the world in terms of discrete things-in-themselves is a synthetic intellectually contrived façade that ‘falls away’ in the stroke, leaving the experient/observer/thinker with no-longer-covered-over sensory access to an inherently-relational world of nature aka ‘physis’;

Physis (Greek: φύσις phusis) is a Greek theological, philosophical, and scientific term usually translated into English as “nature“.

The term is central to Greek philosophy, and as a consequence to Western philosophy as a whole. In pre-Socratic usage, phusis contrasted with νόμος nomos “law, human convention” Since Aristotle, however, the physical (the subject matter of physics, properly τὰ φυσικά “natural things”) has more typically been juxtaposed to the metaphysical.[1]

… In pre-Socratic philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus, phusis in keeping with its etymology of “growing, becoming” is always used in the sense of the “natural” development, although the focus might lie either with the origin, or the process, or the end result of the process. There is some evidence that by the 6th century BC, beginning with the Ionian School, the word could also be used in the comprehensive sense, as referring to “all things”, as it were “Nature” in the sense of “Universe“.[3]

In the Sophist tradition, the term stood in opposition to nomos (νόμος), “law” or “custom“, in the debate on which parts of human existence are natural, and which are due to convention. — Wikipedia

This situation, wherein some people prefer to be guided in their life/actions by their intuitive relational understanding of the world while others put rational convention (as developed differently by different ‘societies’ aka common language speaking cultures), into first order precedence.

If the world is understood as a transforming fluid continuum and ‘forms’ are relational features within the transforming relational continuum, then disparities in human behaviour will arise that derive from which of these two modes of understanding the world is put into precedence over which.  It would appear that the indigenous aboriginal culture embraces the relational worldview as ‘the world of our actual experience’ while Western civilization employs as its ‘operative reality’, a language-based world of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ wherein the world dynamic is NOT relational but is instead based on ‘what things-in-themselves do’..

Having a stroke of the Jill Bolte type restores the relational understanding to its natural precedence while the abstract language-based reductions that are in terms of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’, fall away and are no longer accessible to the ‘stroke experient’.   That is my experience, also.  That is, in my post stroke mode of understanding, I know people and things ‘relationally’ as in ‘Dances with Wolves’ but not as ‘things-in-themselves’.   Hence, I can no longer ‘get to who a person or thing is by its title or ‘thing-in-itself definition’, nor attribute specific actions to the authorship of specific persons; i.e. ‘alles fliesst’, as Wittgenstein and Heraclitus observed (“everything is in flux”).

“In Newtonian and special relativistic physics, if we take away the dynamical entities – particles and fields – what remains is space and time. In general relativistic physics, if we take away the dynamical entities, nothing remains. The space and time of Newton and Minkowski are reinterpreted as a configuration of one of the fields, the gravitational field. This implies that physical entities – particles and fields – are not all immersed in space, and moving in time. They do not live on spacetime. They live, so to say, on one another. It is as if we had observed in the ocean many animals living on an island: animals ‘on’ the island. Then we discover that the island itself is in fact a great whale. Not anymore animals on the island, just animals on animals. Similarly, the universe is not made by fields on spacetime; it is made by fields on fields.”   — Carlo Rovelli, in ‘Quantum Gravity’



Notes for completing this note;


There are many examples wherein the relational shows up as primary and the discrete as abstraction.  One such example;


We speak of waterflow as eroding stationary rock formations, but it is the movement of these rocks that sources the gradients that induces and organizes the water flow; i.e. the dynamics that source the valley are in a natural primacy over the river that we say is carving out the valley. Western thought always puts the ‘male’ in precedence over the ‘female’ when nature suggests it is always the other way around; i.e. the opening of a valley is the source of the actions of things flowing into it.   Mathematics may give us the ability to ‘fixe’ the valley topography and explain motion in terms of ‘things’ and ‘what things do’, but that is not the full story.



* * *




PSI-1 March 29, 2018

(Post-Stroke Impressions)

What is coming strongly to mind is that my stroke has kind of re-booted me into a pre-cultural mode where relations are in an inherent primacy over ‘things-in-themselves’.   That is, the ‘thing-in-itself’ mode of understanding self and world has collapsed leaving the relational mode as the operative reality manager.

I can’t help comparing this to ‘relativity’ in physics; i.e. these comparisons arrive spontaneously.   For example, the statement of Carlo Rovelli;


That is, ‘we are made of fields’.  We are ‘fields within fields’ [as Carlo Rovelli implies in ‘Quantum Gravity’.

“In Newtonian and special relativistic physics, if we take away the dynamical entities – particles and fields – what remains is space and time. In general relativistic physics, if we take away the dynamical entities, nothing remains. The space and time of Newton and Minkowski are reinterpreted as a configuration of one of the fields, the gravitational field. This implies that physical entities – particles and fields – are not all immersed in space, and moving in time. They do not live on spacetime. They live, so to say, on one another. It is as if we had observed in the ocean many animals living on an island: animals ‘on’ the island. Then we discover that the island itself is in fact a great whale. Not anymore animals on the island, just animals on animals. Similarly, the universe is not made by fields on spacetime; it is made by fields on fields.”   — Carlo Rovelli, in ‘Quantum Gravity’


Rovelli’s above statement ‘rang a bell’ for me when I first read it, in this sense; We are always talking about water flowing in streams and rivers, but that leaves out the movement of the land as it subsides and uplifts and so as to induce the movement of runoff water.  The dynamics of the land surface inductive the formation of rivers (pulling rainfall runoff together to form streams over here, and dispersing it over there).    It is evidently inductive influence that activates/animates and shapes waterflow (streams, rivers).  In general, the relational transformation of the land dances the lead in water ‘runoff’, in which case, it makes no sense to speak of ‘river flow’ and ‘the mighty river’ as if the river is the source of erosion and canyons.   The converging of rainfall into streams and rivers is inductively shaped by the continually transforming land.  The dynamics of the land ‘dances the lead’ and the water is the compliant dance partner that ‘follows the lead’ of the land.   Since the land is ‘fluid’ as well, the dynamic scenario is more like a mixture of fluids with differing viscosities.

‘Science’ imposes a ‘fixed frame’ and associates the topography of the land with the fixed (absolute/Euclidian) frame and then talks about what is going on in such a manner as to make it appear as if the river is a sculpting agency that is etching out forms in the land.   This ignores the inherent primacy of the ‘female’ container that is the source of, and shaper of the ‘male’ river dynamics.  The ‘raging river’ derives its power from the female ‘what is not there’.

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 11

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.


In my stroke, awareness of relational understanding persists but what ‘goes’ is understanding in terms of people as ‘name-designated things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these name-designated things-in-themselves do’.  Even in the case of my own immediate family, the names and associated ‘person-in-themselves’ way of knowing can vanish (i.e. the ‘things-in-themselves identities are superseded by relational ‘knowledge’ of them).  ‘Dances with Wolves’ comes to mind as exemplary of this shift, as in the indigenous aboriginal culture.

The ‘completeness’ of this ‘dropout’ of ‘thing-in-itself’ based understanding as result of the stroke registers ‘with a jolt’.   How could I forget the names of my own children and grandchildren?   Well, I am not surprised at this development, as may be picked up by the above quotes that have come to mind, from Lao Tzu and others.  The point is that while the world of our experience is ‘relational’, our noun-and-verb language recaptures it (crudely) in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.   ‘Things-in-themselves’ do not really exist within the world as a transforming relational continuum.

In my view, this is where the ‘shock’ comes from in post-stroke awareness as one realizes that one has lost the knowledge of people in terms of their being ‘things-in-themselves’ and what remains is an understanding of people in relational context, as they might be conveyed in an indigenous aboriginal verb-based (relational) language rather than in a Western ‘thing-in-itself’ noun and verb (what things do) based language.

Can you see how this relates to my prior comments?  The physical reality of our experience is ‘relational’ but Western people employ a ‘noun-and-verb’ language to reconstruct the relational reality of our actual experience, in noun-and-verb abstracted terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.

The land gathers rainfall together into streams and rivers; i.e. the gravity field together with the land induces runoff waters to come together and form streams and rivers.   But noun-and-verb languages like English build a picture in which the river is the source of action on the land so that we speak of rivers ‘eroding’ the land to form ravines and canyons (e.g. ‘the Grand Canyon’).   There is no mention of the fact that the land, together with the gravity field, induced runoff to come together and form rivers.   There is no mention of Rovelli’s point that everything is in flux (like Heraclitus’s earlier mention).

You will agree with me, probably, if I point out that we tend to fix the land by making it a static form within a mathematical x,y,z geometric grid space.  This is how we can fix the land and describe how the river is eroding the sediments and digging a river channel into them. The land becomes passive in this picture; i.e. the female aspect of the one relational space is portrayed as passive while the change-authoring actions and ‘results’ (the digging of the channel) is attributed fully to the ‘male’ river; linguistically, at least.  The role of the land and the gravitational field in inductively orchestrating runoff into a coherent streaming flow (the river) is ignored in this treatment.

Is this not a general ‘error of grammar’ that is chronic in noun-and-verb language-and-grammar formulations?

All of the impressions based on ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’ ‘drop out’ in the sort of stroke that Jill Bolte Taylor had, and that I have had, so that one finds oneself ill-equipped for understanding speech that is formulated on that basis.

The therapy exercises with mazes that one must solve puts the emphasis back on the trail through the maze as the important thing to discover.  This is like focusing on the river and how it weaves its way through the valley.   But in focusing on the river as active agent, one’s mind is distracted from the overall relational landform which, in general, is also ‘in motion’ as part of the overall relational transformation.  Precisely ‘what?’ is the maze exercise restoring.  Is it just for exercising vision so that one’s surveying of one’s surroundings will be more complete?  Or will it strengthen the relative emphasis we (Western culture) ascribes to the male oriented ‘what things do’ that tends to marginalize the female opening of possibilities?  The stroke has restored the feminine and put it back together with the masculine as one relational understanding.  Does stroke therapy tend to ‘undo this rejuvenating of the relational understanding orientation’?

My point is that there is nothing, in stroke therapy, that celebrates the ‘gains’ that are celebrated in Jill Bolte’s ‘Stroke of Insight’.  The loss of how one used to remember things NON-RELATIONALLY, in terms of their own ‘names’ is compensated for by the resurfacing of cognition in purely relational terms such as ‘dances with wolves’.

It is a shock in one’s post stroke experience when one realizes that one’s ‘thing-in-itself’ based archive of knowledge is gone and what remains is all of that knowledge but in relational form.  The horse as a quadruped thing-in-itself is gone while the horse in Sissy Jupe’s ‘romantic’ relational terms remains.



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