On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci IN THE FLORENTINE GALLERY. [Published by Mrs. Shelley, "Posthumous Poems", 1824.] 1. It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky, Upon the cloudy mountain-peak supine; Below, far lands are seen tremblingly; Its horror and its beauty are divine. Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie _5 Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine, Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath, The agonies of anguish and of death. 2. Yet it is less the horror than the grace Which turns the gazer's spirit into stone, _10 Whereon the lineaments of that dead face Are graven, till the characters be grown Into itself, and thought no more can trace; 'Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain, Which humanize and harmonize the strain. _15 3. And from its head as from one body grow, As ... grass out of a watery rock, Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow And their long tangles in each other lock, _20 And with unending involutions show Their mailed radiance, as it were to mock The torture and the death within, and saw The solid air with many a ragged jaw. 4. And, from a stone beside, a poisonous eft _25 Peeps idly into those Gorgonian eyes; Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise Out of the cave this hideous light had cleft, And he comes hastening like a moth that hies _30 After a taper; and the midnight sky Flares, a light more dread than obscurity. 5. 'Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror; For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare Kindled by that inextricable error, _35 Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air Become a ... and ever-shifting mirror Of all the beauty and the terror there-- A woman's countenance, with serpent-locks, Gazing in death on Heaven from those wet rocks. _40
“The key,” announce my cat as she sensed my confusion, “is awareness.”
“Awareness,” I replied with a degree of confusion.
“In your mission to define,” said my cat, “the subconscious.”
“Define,” I muttered, “mission.”
“The simplest investigation,” said my other cat, “will highlight how even as far back as Freud no psychologist regards it as a term that holds meaning.”
“Though it’s a wonderful concept,” purred my cat, “for pseudo-intellectuals wishing to ride a tide of fuzzy thought.”
“In the mass perception,” said my cat, “it’s one of those concepts everyone think has meaning even though they’re not sure what that meaning is. So most hide their ignorance and assume them that use the term must be authoritative because they’re using big complicated words.”
“But as long as you define your terms,” said my cat, “there’s nothing stopping you from recycling such fuzzy concepts for your own purposes.”
“Here comes the war,” muttered my other cat.
“You’re not wrong,” I replied. “The answer is buried somewhere inside my mind. Though it’s a bit of a fight when it comes to arranging it.”
“You’re not as incoherent,” said my cat, “as you think.”
“Awareness,” my other cat reminded me.
“I suppose,” I smiled, “what I’m trying to say is that the subconscious is the place where the mind pushes things which are below conscious awareness. But an example to highlight my point seem elusive.”
“Learning to read,” said my cat, “would be a good example.”
“Initial awareness,” explained my other cat, “would be of the individual letters. Over time as familiarity was gained the letters would drop below conscious awareness and the words would appear.”
“And as time passed,” I concluded, “the ability to read would likewise become subconscious. Yet you still retain the ability to access that knowledge.”
“Subconscious awareness,” purred my cat. “Nominally below the level of conscious awareness until you consciously pull that information out of the back of your mind.”
“Walking, talking,” said my other cat, “remembering to breath, all abilities which reside within this mythical space.”
“But what of the extraordinary powers,” I asked, “new-age thinkers claim reside within the subconscious.”
“Some do,” said my cat. “The ability to overcome physical discomfort, for instance. The ability to consciously slow your heart. The skill to override the autonomic fight or flight response.”
“But mostly the abilities such assertions refer to,” said my other cat, “reside above the level of conscious awareness.”
“Above,” I queried.
“Above,” agreed my cat.
“By way of an example,” suggested my other cat, “consider the colour of the handholds you find on the bus.”
“What,” I asked with mild surprise.
“It’s an answer that resides within conscious awareness,” said my other cat, “yet you’re not aware of it because it is largely irrelevant.”
“Hence you push the answer,” said my cat, “up into your higher consciousness.”
“Your hyperconscious,” suggested my other cat, “if you like.”
“Orange,” I muttered.
“See,” said my cat, “you knew, you just didn’t knew you knew until you were asked.”
“Sounds rather radical to me,” I sighed as I glimpsed the picture my cats were painting.
“Not really,” said my cat, “pagans have been drawing down the power of the Moon for centuries.”
“Just what has that,” I asked in a mildly incredulous tone, “got to do with the price of milk.”
“As a symbol within your wider cultural heritage,” said my cat, “The Moon represents the unconscious.”
“And it’s not just the pagans,” said my cat, “Christians have co-opted sufficient pagan philosophy to have generated similar constructs.”
“Although Christians,” said my other cat, “tend to eschew the external symbology in favor of more abstract historical concepts.”
“But regardless of the theologies involved,” said my cat, “sooner or later most will encounter the hyperconscious.”
“Which is where it get icky,” admitted my cat.
“Icky,” I replied with a dubious look.
“Indeed,” said my cat, “because the manner in which an individual interprets the connection is strongly bound to cultural operators.”
“For instance,” said my cat, “read a self-help book that incorrectly espouses the untapped power of the subconscious and that’s what you’ll believe you’ve discovered.”
“Although as bad ideas go,” said my other cat, “it’s not the worst.”
“Why’s that,” I asked.
“Loci of control,” said my cat.
“Self-help books tend to explore answers,” said my other cat, “in terms of an internal locus of control. That is to say they seek to teach individuals to interpret events as resulting primarily from their own behavior and actions. In a sense placing the power of the hyperconscious in the hands of the individual.”
“And the alternate,” I frowned.
“The external locus of control,” said my cat, “which most cultural imperatives seek to replicate in the minds of the individual.”
“Why’s that,” I asked.
“Makes for better sheep,” said my other cat.
“Consider the psychologically abusive way,” said my cat, “the Roman Church seeks to enforce the view that power resides outside the individual.”
“To what end,” I asked with a degree of skepticism.
“By forcing an external interpretation of the hyperconscious,” explained my cat, “you effectively allow the hierarchy of the collective to misappropriate the power which essentially belongs to the one.”
“Which according to one definition,” said my other cat, “is Black Magic.”
“It’s a bit like telling somebody that they live in a democracy,” said my cat, “and then offering them identical lizards to choose from.”
“I’m not sure I believe this,” I replied.
“Consider the shape,” suggested my cat, “subconscious, conscious, hyperconscious.”
“Triangular,” I replied after a moment’s thought.
“Three in one,” purred your cat, “sounds familiar don’t you think.”
“Doesn’t exactly take a big leap of faith,” I replied after a pause, “mankind was after all created in the image of God.”
“Psychologically speaking,” said my other cat.
“I want you getting the impression,” purred my cat, “that it has anything to with arms and legs.”
“Or indeed thumbs,” grinned my other cat.
“Hmmm, I find myself pondering,” I sighed, “my own loci of control.”
“And,” asked my other cat.
“The best I can come up with,” I admitted, “is that I’m inside-out.”
“You got that backwards,” said my cat.
“Sounds paradoxical,” I replied.
“Not really,” said my cat, “there’s something you’ve yet to realize.”
“What,” I asked in suspicious tone.
“You began asking questions,” replied my cat. “About your nature.”
“Being an introvert you dove inwards,” added my other cat.
“Then you generated a virtual identity node,” continued my cat, “to help you ask a question, and through it you inadvertently activated the mass consciousness, giving you access to a higher dimension of thought.”
“Which is what you’ve been muttering about,” I conceded, “for a number of months.”
“Indeed,” purred my cat.
“So what do I do about it,” I asked with due concern.
“Tell somebody,” said my cat.
“Who,” I replied. “Why.”
“Trinity plus one,” said my other cat, “plus one.”
“A pentagram,” I replied.
“Precisely,” purred my other cat. “It’s been leaking from the mass-unconscious into the hyperconscious for as long as humanity can remember.”
“Jupiter Exception,” announced the other. “We would ask you to stop.”
“No,” said my cat. “I WILL NOT!.”
“But he can’t perceive it directly,” said the other.
“He doesn’t need to,” said my cat, “he perceives it as the geometric centre of a triangular based pyramid.”
“A place where the uncertainty principle,” grinned my other cat, “operates within circumscribed parameters.”
“Then he asks nicely,” grinned my cat.
“Tetragrammaton,” muttered the other, “and the end of this World.”
In Case of Emergency *(i tell you three times)
Wizard of Transformation, actually
I am a wizard in the magical Kingdom of Transformations and I slay dragons for a living. Actually, I am a systems level programmer. One of the problems with systems programming is explaining to non-computer enthusiasts what that is. All of the terms I use to describe my job are totally meaningless to them. Usually my response to questions about my work is to say as little as possible. For instance, if someone asks what happened at work this week, I say “Nothing much” and then I change the subject.
With the assistance of my sister, a mechanical engineer, I have devised an analogy that everyone can understand. The analogy describes the “Kingdom of Transformation” where travellers wander and are magically transformed. This kingdom is the computer and the travellers are information. The purpose of the computer is to change information to a more meaningful form. The law of conservation applies here: The computer never creates and never intentionally destroys data. With no further ado, let us travel to the Kingdom of Transformations:
It’s a thing, you see…
A little thing of me still…
A curious shadow…
…of a former Life.
I’d give money to discover what these symbols mean. Only where in the name of all that is feck, with all the power of this hyper-global-mega-net of ours, may one find my answer?
Feck! A Story for Another Day…. Perhaps.
a.k.a. how irritating are kanji 🙂