Saturday, March 27, 2010
The Brothers Karamazowsky: Three Dimensional Model
(Link for the previous Section of The Brothers Karamazowsky.)
With the image of the drawing still being displayed in my brain, I walked through the kitchen. As I reached the door to the guest room, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to use my unaware brain. I wanted to know if the same person created both drawings. I didn't see if the artwork in Alex's den was signed. I knew the drawing in the guest room was not signed. In effect, I had wanted to know if the drawing under glass was a forgery.
I stopped myself from opening the door and tried to remember what Alex had said. I needed to ask my unaware brain if the drawing I was about to look at was authentic. Was it created by the same artist as the one on the wall of art? I needed to do this immediately before looking at the drawing under glass...and at a glance. Anything longer than a few seconds would let my conscious brain get involved.
I opened the door and intentionally looked to the floor. When I saw the legs to the desk, I placed my copy of "The Romantic Manifesto" on it. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and said out loud, "Is this drawing by the same artist as the last one I saw on the wall of art?"
I raised my head, opened my eyes, located the picture and as quick as possible looked from the rose to the piano and closed my eyes.
I felt it.
I was sure.
When I opened my eyes, I began to notice details I had not been aware of...
The piano keys were exposed. In fact, near the bottom of the drawing, there was a triangle like the corner of the piano bench. Everything about this drawing was active. The drawing in the den was static. I was getting more energy with every second. I started noticing other things...
Outside, not only had it stopped raining, the sun was out. I felt like I wanted to go for a walk and expend this energy growing within me.
As soon as I got outside, I laughed. It worked! I wanted to tell someone, so I told my unaware brain.
"That felt great! This feels great! Things are going to be different between us. I just want to walk...and walk...and walk...", and I began to chuckle.
I headed down the road serving as Alex's driveway. I looked up at the trees and tried to recall everything I had just learned about Alex.
Why hadn't I realized Alex had never shared anything personal about himself? Was I swept away by his charisma? Was I too focused on learning about Adam's fate? How much of Adam's fate was because of his father? Was Adam trying to be a pastor because his dad was a pastor? Was Alex avoiding God because of Adam? Because of his dad? Because of both? Why hadn't Alex wanted to answer the question about pharaoh? Did he not know the answer? Why didn't he answer questions about his band? Did the band split up because of the artist? Why was I sure the artist was female? Which of these questions should I get answered first? Will I get an answer? What did Alex mean about ending my visit this afternoon? Is Alex still willing to finish discussing "The Romantic Manifesto"? Is Alex willing to share anything? Why hadn't I realized Alex had never shared anything personal about himself? Was I swept away by...
I went around and around like this, unaware all the while I was walking further and further from Alex's cabin. I realized suddenly, as I noticed the sweat trickling down my spine that it was hot out. Not just hot, but thick and muggy.
The temperature was getting close to one hundred degrees and the rain from the morning was rising like steam from the ground. The path below me was becoming increasingly difficult to see as I debated turning around. The mugginess was enveloping and oppressive.
The return trip was hellish. My desire to rest was outweighed by the feeling of being trapped in a sauna and my frustrations were growing. As soon as I got to the cabin, I was ready to take them all out on Alex.
I took a cold shower in an attempt to restore my body temperature. I sat down at the desk to finish the last two chapters of "The Romantic Manifesto".
Everything written before the last two chapters was actually foundation for the manifesto which was the second to last chapter. The final chapter was a short story to illustrate her main point: art was the best way to present truth.
Here is what I underlined at the conclusion of her manifesto:
It is a significant commentary on the present state of our culture that I have become the object of hatred, smears, denunciations, because I am famous as virtually the only novelist who has declared that her soul is not a sewer, and neither are the souls of her characters, and neither is the soul of man.
The motive and purpose of my writing can best be summed up by saying that if a dedication page were to precede the total of my work, it would read: To the glory of Man.
And if anyone should ask me what it is that I have said to the glory of Man, I will answer only by paraphrasing Howard Roark. I will hold up a copy of Atlas Shrugged and say: 'The explanation rests.'
Ayn herself stated the best explanation of her beliefs was "Atlas Shrugged"! Not her essays. Not her articles. Not her speeches. She even "quoted" one of her own characters, Howard Roark from "The Fountainhead", when she presented this explanation! She stated literature was the best explanation of truth.
I tried to finish the last chapter, but I felt the sweat beading on my forehead. There was no air conditioning in Alex's cabin. "How stupid he must be," I thought, "to not have air conditioning because his piano will end up warped." Then I smiled. I took my copy of Ayn's manifesto downstairs.
I tried to open the door, but the den was locked. However, I could hear the piano from the room at the end of the hall. Alex stopped playing when I got to the door.
"Are you ready to go over the Three Dimensional Model?", he asked.
I wasn't ready for that question or his eagerness. My hesitation made me feel weak, so I answered, "Yes".
"Then have a seat", he motioned to the makeshift couch. He turned sideways on the piano bench in order to face me and began, "The One Dimensional Model covered input apart from ourselves being internalized and resulting in an action. The Two Dimensional Model covered the action from the One Dimensional Model serving as the internalized input resulting in an internal improving or wrecking of ourselves. The Three Dimensional Model looks at the first cause of our decision how to respond internally to the Two Dimensional Model."
Alex stretch both his hands in opposite directions and said, "Rand saw everything as being an effect of believing in Romanticism...or Naturalism."
He picked up his copy and said, "On page ninety-one, Ayn wrote, Romanticism is a category of art based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition. Erik, this is the tricky part. Rand also saw volition as the first cause. Let me put this in terms you are used to: A belief is a first cause. The effect of this first cause is either intentionally thinking and acting because this is in the control of the individual, which is 'Romanticism' OR you can choose not thinking and acting because this is not in the control of the individual, which is 'Naturalism'. Naturalism is the same as Determinism and Calvinism."
"Alex, is Ayn saying volition exists...and the first proof of volition is our choice to believe whether volition exists or not?", I asked.
"Yes. That explanation is non-contradictory. It takes in not only the effects...the what, but also the how and why. Notice, if volition did not exist, the individual couldn't choose to believe in it or not...and any talk of punishment or reward would be contradictory. There is no need to understand the how and why if you don't believe volition exists. This has wide ranging implications. Turn to page one-sixteen", said Alex.
I thought to myself, "I know a lot of Calvinists."
Alex read, "The Romantic writers did not record the events that had happened, but projected the events that should happen; they did not record the choices men had made, but projected the choices men ought to make."
Alex also read a passage from page 110, "The value of a Romanticist's story lies in what might happen; the value of a Naturalist's story lies in that it did happen."
Alex said, "The Romantics look forward. They imagine. The Naturalists look backwards. They remember. Both of these are done with the conscious brain. They are choices representing the belief of the individual. In fact, Rand applied these choices to morality!"
Alex read the following passages:
"The highest function of Romanticism - the projection of moral values..." (p. 108)
"Naturalism is a frantic escape from moral judgment..." (p. 119)
"The archenemy and destroyer of Romanticism was the altruist morality." (p. 106)
Alex said, "Ayn summarized all three dimensions of the model with the following sentence on page ninety-two: The faculty of volition operates in regard to the two fundamental aspects of man's life: consciousness and existence, i.e., his psychological action and his existential action, i.e., the formation of his own character and the course of action he pursues in the physical world. 'Existence' referenced the One Dimensional Model. The reality apart from the individual. 'Consciousness' referenced the Two Dimensional Model. The internal response to the reality created by the individual. 'Volition' is the cause of the first two dimensions of the model."
I reread the passage several times. It was a lot to take in, but it was all there. When I looked up, Alex was staring at me.
"Earlier you wanted to talk about the Bible", then making air quotes for the next word, Alex said, "Christians tend to fall into two groups. They either believe man has 'free will' or God has predetermined everything. Each says they can point to passages in the Bible supporting their position. Each side can point to passages they say contradict the beliefs of their opponent. Each side claims their beliefs are first causes. They are not."
I leaned forward instinctively. I could tell whatever Alex said next was the part I had to be able to understand.
"Their stated beliefs are actually the effects of the first cause, which is volition. If a person chooses to believe in volition, they will intentionally think and act with the result being growth because of free will. If a person chooses to not believe in volition, they are choosing to be fated and the result is they will live a deterministic life."
Scribbling notes on the inside cover of the book, my mind was racing. When I paused to look up, I saw Alex had been waiting for me.
"Notice, this model encompasses the effects both sides observe. This model removes all of the apparent contradictions between the two that result because these two models are not causes. They are effects. Rand knew Determinism was contradictory and couldn’t represent the first cause. It couldn't represent 'belief'. She wrote on page one hundred and nine, The contradictions inherent in determinism were obvious in this movement from the start. However, people during her time, during the 1960's, were choosing to embrace Determinism. Ayn realized this had spiritual implications. She even explained her struggle during this time. Look at what she wrote on page one-thirteen."
Alex waited until I caught up to him. Then he read, "Under the pressure of conformity to the pigs' snouts of decadence, today's Romanticists are escaping, not into the past, but into the supernatural - explicitly giving up reality and this earth."
Alex also read the following passages:
"According to this modern view, depravity represents man's real, essential metaphysical nature, while virtue does not; virtue is only an accident, an exception or an illusion; therefore, a monster is an appropriate projection of man's essence, but a hero is not." (p. 119)
"Anything that can be understood, they feel, is vulgar and primitive; only inarticulate language, smears of paint and the noise of radio static are civilized, sophisticated and profound." (p. 120)
"Their motive is obvious. If they actually regarded Romanticism as an 'impractical fantasy,' they would feel nothing but a friendly or indifferent amusement - not the passionate resentment and uncontrollable rage which they do feel and exhibit." (p. 142)
Alex continued, "When we covered the previous models, we saw art was the result of the individual's beliefs and philosophy. Now we see art is the result of the first cause: whether one believes in volition or not. However, Rand also saw a practical value of art. Let's go back to something she wrote near the beginning of this book...on page twenty-nine."
Alex then read, "Since a rational man's ambition is unlimited, since his pursuit and achievement of values is a lifelong process - and the higher the values, the harder the struggle - he needs a moment, an hour or some period of time in which he can experience the sense of his completed task, the sense of living in a universe where his values have been successfully achieved. It is like a moment of rest, a moment to gain fuel to move further."
Alex looked at me, "In fact, Rand wrote there's nothing more potent as art, which is a secondary cause, to expose the essence of a man's character, which is his first cause. Look at page thirty-four, When one learns to translate the meaning of an art work into objective terms, one discovers that nothing is as potent as art in exposing the essence of a man's character. An artist reveals his naked soul in his work - and so, gentle reader, do you when you respond to it. Ayn just admitted her true beliefs exposed themselves in her literature, not her essays."
"So, she did believe in God", I said, "She just didn't know it consciously."
Alex smiled, "I told you you really needed to read this book, but that isn't the only reason. Ayn held the individual’s belief in Determinism would lead to the damaging of the individual’s conscious brain and unaware brain through repeated loops of the Two Dimensional Model. On page eleven, she wrote, The place of ethics in any given work of art depends on the metaphysical views of the artist. If, consciously or subconsciously, an artist holds the premise that man possesses the power of volition, it will lead his work to a value orientation (to Romanticism). If he holds the premise that man's fate is determined by forces beyond his control, it will lead his work to an anti-value orientation (to Naturalism). The philosophical and esthetic contradictions of determinism are irrelevant in this context, just as the truth or falsehood of an artist's metaphysical views is irrelevant to the nature of art as such."
Alex continued, "On page sixteen she wrote, The enormously powerful integrating mechanism of man's consciousness is there at birth; his only choice is to drive it or to be driven by it. Since an act of volition - a process of thought - is required to use that mechanism for a cognitive purpose, man can evade that effort. But if he evades, chance takes over: the mechanism functions on its own, like a machine without a driver; it goes on integrating, but integrating blindly, incongruously, at random - not as an instrument of cognition, but as an instrument of distortion, delusion and nightmare terror, bent on wrecking its defaulting processor's consciousness."
"So, Rand wrote that choosing to not believe in volition...choosing not to think, leads to the person living a fated and destructive life!", I exclaimed.
Alex said, "Exactly. The nature of the fating of their life is that they live according to their unaware brain...just like an animal. On page twenty, she explained it this way, If his mind does not provide him with a comprehensive view of existence, his sense of life will. If he succumbs to centuries of concerted assaults on the mind - to traditions offering vicious irrationality or unconscionable nonsense in the guise of philosophy - if he gives up, in lethargy or in bewilderment, evades fundamental issues and concerns himself only with the concretes of his day-by-day existence, his sense of life takes over: for good or evil (and, usually for evil), he is left at the mercy of a subconscious philosophy which he does not know, has never checked, has never been aware of accepting. Ultimately, determinists are animals...worse, destructive animals."
"That is terrible!", I blurted out.
Alex responded, "Don't feel sorry for them. Feel sorry for the people these animals deceive. Ayn said it this way on page one-forty-four, His conscious conviction now unites with his subconscious feeling that value choices come from the mindless element in people and are a dangerous, unknowable, unpredictable enemy. His conscious decision is: not to get involved in moral issues; its subconscious meaning is: not to value anything (or worse: not to value anything too much, not to hold any irreplaceable, nonexpendable values). She even wrote on page ninety-four, It is one more demonstration of the principle that that which is not known explicitly is not in man's conscious control. Rand concluded the only way to intentionally grow or intentionally fix a destructive belief in Determinism is to consciously choose to explicitly know about one’s process...to know about one's Two Dimensional Model. What happens when a person does not explicitly know themselves?"
"What do you mean?", I asked.
Alex smiled and said, "Erik, if you take a big step back you will see this is the example you asked me for yesterday...remember? You wanted an example of the conscious brain and unaware brain working together to do something 'right' and 'evil'."
I forgot I had asked for this example during the discussion about the One Dimensional Model. I remembered now we had discussed the conscious brain focused on morality; on 'good and evil'. While the unaware brain focused on cause to effect patterns; on 'right and wrong'. Now, Alex said the answer had something to do with the individual not explicitly knowing themselves. I definitely wanted to hear the answer.
"Yes, I was going to remind you about that", I lied.
"When you hear a woman say, 'Why am I always attracted to the wrong kind of men?', it is an example of what you asked. It begins with the woman dating a man who is abusive. For whatever reason, and there is always a first cause, the woman is attracted to the destructive man. This is the One Dimensional Model. When someone asks her why she wants to be with an abusive man, this is an example of the Two Dimensional Model. If she rationalizes and justifies her choice with her conscious brain...for example, stating he is actually a good guy or is misunderstood and she wants to be with him, her unaware brain has now been given an objective. The unaware brain has been told by the conscious brain she desires destructive men. The unaware brain will actively look to find more destructive men. The unaware brain will cause the woman to feel something special when she encounters a destructive man. The unaware brain will also cause her not to feel anything special when she meets a nice guy. She will say, 'He's nice but he doesn't do anything for me.' So, the unaware brain is right to encourage the woman to follow the pattern identified by the conscious brain...and the result is something that is evil."
"But that's insane...", I breathed.
Alex continued, "The unaware brain desires an objective because it can’t create one itself. It crunches information in a causal fashion without regard to good and evil. It is in search of an objective. When the conscious brain presents an objective, the unaware brain embraces it and actively works towards this objective, even if it is destructive. In fact, for the Determinist, the only modeling by the unaware brain the conscious brain can support is determining 'bad things' that could happen. This reinforces the individual’s belief they are not in control and are a victim. This focuses the individual on a sense of life driven by fear."
This discussion was beginning to scare me. I knew a lot of people fitting this description.
"Is it possible to undo the damage?", I asked.
Alex said, "Ayn believed the best way to teach and reach the masses, to undo the damage, was through Romantic art. On page one-forty-five she wrote, Romantic art is the fuel and the spark plug of a man's soul; its task is to set a soul on fire and never let it go out. The task of providing that fire with a motor and a direction belongs to philosophy. She also wrote on page one-fifty-eight, Besides, to improve anything one must know what constitutes an improvement - and to know that, one must know what is the good and how to achieve it - and to know that, one must have a whole system of value-judgments, a system of ethics, which is anathema to the Naturalists. Erik, your friends who are Determinists are not moral..."
I stared at Alex.
"When it comes to art, Rand reached a powerful conclusion on page one-sixty-two, It was Aristotle who said that fiction is of greater philosophical importance than history, because history represents things only as they are, while fiction represents them 'as they might be and ought to be'. Ayn stated the best way to reach and teach people is to present secondary causes, not first causes! Secondary causes are the effects of the first causes."
Now, Alex was getting riled. He stood up while saying, "First causes are principles. They are intangible. They have to be understood. This involves a say...words. People can only relate to first causes with their conscious brain, which means they can lie. It takes intentional effort to understand first causes. People can reject or rationalize first causes and hide their unaware brain. At the very least, we are only accessing half the individual when we present first causes."
"Secondary causes are effects of principles. They are tangible. They are experienced. This involves a do...actions. The goal of secondary causes is to occupy the conscious brain while the unaware brain is assaulted with a tangible experience. With secondary causes, we are accessing the entire individual."
"Rand stated the ultimate secondary causes are art and love. Erik, what is the difference between love and art? Remember Ayn's summary on page one-sixty-two, Art is the product of three philosophical disciplines: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics. Metaphysics and epistemology are the abstract base of ethics. Ethics is the applied science that defines a code of values to guide man's choices and actions - the choices and actions which determine the course of his life; ethics is the engineering that provides the principles and blueprints. Art creates the final product. It builds the model. Now, reread this summary substituting the word love for art.", Alex said as he closed the book and put it on the piano.
I said, "Ayn did conclude by saying the ultimate explanation of her beliefs was 'Atlas Shrugged'...at least she wasn't a hypocrite."
Alex turned to me with a look of pure intention. He said, "Hypocrisy is the worst sort of poison for the mind. When someone says one thing and does another, the unaware brain cannot resolve the pattern. There is a disconnect....a gap forms. The unaware brain becomes destructive because it can't resolve the contradiction. Most people attempt to deal with this by not thinking. Look at the Ayn Rand Institute and the Objectivist Institute. Rand herself said the ultimate explanation of her beliefs was 'Atlas Shrugged', yet both of those organizations focus almost exclusively on her essays. However, you know who the most evil people are? The Christian authors who sell books and get paid for speaking at Christian events, yet refuse to give an explanation of the doctrine they espouse. Look at Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Tim Je...these authors actively avoid specific explanations of their doctrine relative to the Bible. Yet they are quick to accept money to speak at Christian events. People make the lethal mistake of believing any teaching of the Bible is good. Actually, teaching the Bible incorrectly is the most damaging thing a person can do. As you can see, it happens a lot."
His comments about authors I enjoyed reading made me angry. I responded, "You don't even know what you believe."
Alex said, "I know what I believe and it comes out in my actions without hypocrisy."
"What happened with your dad? Why is the drawing in the guest room under glass? Why don't you share personal information?", I asked seemingly all at once.
Alex smiled with ultimate self confidence, like he was waiting for this moment. He said, "Erik, everything I do is for a reason that is consistent with my beliefs. Whether I share the reasons with you is not the issue. The key is I share the reasons with my unaware brain. I know what I believe...why I believe it...and how to act on my beliefs. It is you who don't know what you believe and why..."
"I believe in God", was all I could think to say.
Alex shook his head in pity, "Erik, I believe in God. I believe in the God that Rand described: a Romantic non-contradictory God who requires me to choose to think more in order to understand and experience Him. You believe in a God who would work against Pharaoh's will. You believe in a Deterministic and contradictory God who wants us to not think and only focus on the past. You are a Calvinist and don't even know it. Erik, can you consider you are wrong?"
"I'm not wrong, Alex."
"Erik, I didn't ask you if you think you are wrong. I didn't ask you to admit you are wrong. Listen to the question: Can you consider you are wrong? Is it possible you are wrong?"
I'm not sure I had ever been asked that question before. I wanted to say "no", but I realized this would prove I was prideful. I had to answer "yes" or admit I'm in pride.
"Yes, Alex...I can consider I am wrong."
"Eric, what would it take for you to admit you are wrong?"
I wanted to shout "I'm not wrong", but I was already humiliated once. I wanted to make sure I thought about this question before I responded. Then it occurred to me, my answer was something he couldn't achieve.
"Well, Alex, I would need for you to show me where I am wrong by using the Bible...and Alex, is it possible you are wrong?"
"Yes", he responded quickly.
"What would it take for you to admit you are wrong?", I asked.
Alex gave me a look of helplessness as he said, "It all begins and ends with God. You would have to give me a non-contradictory understanding...a model, if you will, explaining God. God ought to make sense. Ayn's explanation for God makes sense. Your explanation makes God evil. You are brain damaged."
"I am not a modeler, so it looks like we are done."
"Erik, you are wrong and right. God made your unaware brain to model whether you realize it or not...so you are a modeler. However, you are also right...we are done", Alex said as he picked up his book.
"Alex. Wait. Let's talk about this more. It's not your what or your why that bothers me. It is your how. I'm just having trouble with how you support your beliefs. Use the Bible and I will believe you", I pleaded.
Pausing at the door, Alex hesitated and turned towards me. Slowly and clearly he spoke, "Erik, I have helped you as much as I am able. You don't like how I do things...but don't worry. I know someone who can explain this to you..."