Ah, give me a big word and a new rabbit hole to pursue and I am in 7th heaven. So the word today is phenomenology, from the Greek, “that which appears” and “to study.” To study that which appears, I like it already! Phenomenology is the philosophical study of the structures and experiences of consciousness. Human consciousness generally, although who knows, there may well be other kinds, too.
The study of human consciousness, the exploration of the nature of ourselves, the multiple mysteries and magical moments to be found in the human experience really do delight me. That is what my Alice in Wonderland theme is really all about, plunging through the Looking Glass, contemplating new ideas, exploring with all the wonder and delight of a child.
“Child” being the key word there, as in some of this stuff becomes far too heady and intellectual for me. I need it translated into a language I can understand and inhale deeply, and Alice serves that purpose well.
There’s this concept within phenomenology called reduction, coming to the world with no knowledge or preconceptions at hand, the experience of astonishment. I’m rather fond of that idea too, and it translates well with my saying, “you do not know what you think you know.” Do not believe everything you think. It’s a type of intellectual surrender, submission. In existentialism, I suppose we could call it, plunging into the abyss and hoping something is there to catch you. Nietzsche once said, “when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.”
I’ve long had a crush on Nietzsche. He also said, “distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.” Yeah, no kidding dude, wise words there. (Ooops, now this here whole out of place paragraph about my Nietzsche love affair is yet another rabbit hole within a rabbit hole.)
Brains are stubborn things. Established beliefs, poorly laid down thought patterns, false conclusions, misfiring neurons, these things all serve to trip us up. I’ve spent a long time talking with abuse survivors and one thing I’ve learned is how much damage we do to our own selves because of how we process information with our brains. Tell a kid they have no worth and value and they will lay that down in their brain and do their best to manifest it into the rest of their life. Breaking the curse of those words is important work and where healing and freedom lives.
We all have bits of cognitive dissonance that chase us around, strongholds, established beliefs, preconceived notions. I enjoy challenging those, my own and sometimes other people’s too, if they’ll let me.
The universe has a way of not bending to my will, a most annoying thing, I assure you. Just the same, I should like very much if the Western world would toss off a bit of materialism and embrace the spiritual, the philosophical, re-discover our higher selves, so to speak.