Monday, June 6, 2011

David Michael Levin

Also along the lines of recent posts Levin is on a similar trajectory. Here are some excerpts of my comments from an '09 thread on him at the old Gaia IPS forum:

Yes, I’m following and enjoying Levin quite a bit. Pp. 47-9 [of The Opening of Vision] particularly reinforced and expanded upon my own nebulous speculations.... Notice that one requires an ego to start the process of integrating what came before:

Stage (3) is the moment when, for the first time, this return and retrieval become existentially possible.”

Recall when I talked about earlier stages (states) being atemporal but not timeless, being bound by time, as transcendent within immanence? He says:

Bodies (1) and (2) are ‘transhistorical’ in the sense that they are biological, and therefore not fully determined by historical conditions, even though they are never to be found apart from, or outside of, a social history.”

And of course to go beyond (3) requires a “return” and integration:

Normal development (stages 1-3) is always, more or less, a linear progression; but the process of self-development beyond (3) is not: it is essentially hermeneutical, involving a return, a turning into the body of experience, to retrieve a present sense of the earlier stages. Beyond (3), it is necessary to go ‘backwards” in order to move ‘forwards.’”

This also makes sense of Goddard’s contention that (3), egoic-rationality, requires a “split”, i.e., subject/object etc. It’s healthy and introduced our amazing scientific discoveries. Granted we must move beyond it (by going back) but we cannot go forward, or back, without (3) in the first place!

I also like how he describes the ontological body (5) as a hermeneutical phenomenology, as “vigilant openness to the invisible.” It reminds me of Derrida, and of those comparisons of him with Merleau-Ponty.

This also makes sense of the two truths debate between Gorampa and Tsongkhapa when it comes to conceptual elaboration. Recall that for T conceptual and nonconceptual, as well as samsara and nirvana, nonduality and duality, are mutually entailing. In Levin’s context this means that even when we go to levels (4) and (5), even when we integrate (1) and (2)’s sense of the nonconceptual, we still retain the conceptual duality of (3) and its many useful functions. We don’t have to eliminate (or suspend, or quiet) (3) for “enlightenment” but rather it is a necessary prerequisite of, and ingredient that continues afterward as part of, the “spiritual.” There is no I-I without I!

I looked up the pre-trans fallacy chapter in Eye to Eye (Shambhala, 1996). On p. 237 figure 7 sums up the inverse relationship between pre and trans “levels.” Recall this is well prior to the WC lattice, which no longer has the “states” above the levels. Nonetheless the figure has 8 levels: 1 = primary matrix; 2 = body; 3 = magic; 4 = mythic; 5 = ego ming; 6 = bodymind; 7 = psychic; 8 = archetype (subtle); 9 = spirit (causal to nondual). According to Wilber 1 and 9 are inversely related, as are 2 & 6, 3 & 7, 4 & 8. The figure is also in the shape of an inverted V, with 1 at the bottom moving up to the apex at 5, then downward to 9. This does not exactly match up with my regression in exact inverse order during the process of meditative state training, but I think the case I've made with the brain research might lend more weight to my hypothesis than Wilber's figure 7, which originally appeared in 1983 I think? Nonetheless, Wilber's intution about these relationships might be explained more postmetaphysically within the WC lattice.

* * *

We then further discussed Levin at the current IPS forum in this thread. Some more from my comments in that thread:

Also recall p. 5 of the "IP definition of states" thread, where I explored Levin's use of Levinas as well as referenced Levin's work on Merleau-Ponty.

[Responding to Balder posting a sample chapter from Levin's Before the Voice or Reason]:
I enjoyed the sample chapter, raising many of the themes I explored in the above referenced thread, particularly the means of using language to establish relations with what was pre-language, i.e., nature. And how such attunement is achieved via a bastard reasoning or hyper-dialectic in MP's turn of phrase, which is not merely a return to what was but an an intertwing with the yet to come:
“The attunement...having originally preceded the ego-logical consciousness, is not realized, and does not actually take place, until the belated moment of its reflected recuperation. The 'always already' that memory strives to retrieve is inseparable from a 'not yet,' a future conjectured in hope” (61).

In the following passage I found much akin to my own rhetoric against the totalizing hegemony of "nested hierarchies" posited by allegedly purely quantitative, mathematical models of hierarchical complexity and much exploited in kennilinguist altitude sickness:

"What I want to argue voices of the non-identical: what cannot be subsumed and the 'sober,' tone-deaf concepts produced by our strictly 'rational' understanding—a hearing in excess of, or say beyond, our concepts for grasping and comprehending them; a hearing impossible within the ontologies codified by both rationalism and empiricism, both of which enshrine in reification the structure that positions a subjective interior opposite an objective exterior” (65-6).

Here's an excerpt from my referenced thread that demonstrates “using a mytho-poetic evoke in us...this reconnection with both the always already and not yet."

Levina's language is intended to evoke a “deep, bodily felt sense” that is a “return effected by phenomenology.” It is pre-conceptual in a sense, this return to body. As we've discussed before, only in one sense, since the return is also an integrative move that is more than what was before concepts.... Hence Levinas language uses such mythological motifs and tropes that move us deeper than conventional experience based only on concept, back down into those roots of morality in the body where we are more directly connected to the other. In a way his language is magical in that it takes us to a place both before and after language by the use of language. But language is part of the equation, right in the middle of it, hence Hermes is indeed a messenger that uses language to convey meaning.

Levin makes clear that meaning, like being, builds on the "always already" but is extended into novelty by the "not yet." And these two are in continual relation, at least after the "fall" or "rise," depending on your interpretation, of the ego. But since its advent there is no simple return to the always already of the pre-egoic, no pristine or original awareness. The belief in the latter is in fact one of the symptoms of metaphysics, since it is now the "not yet" that transforms the "always already," but without which the not yet would not exist.

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