Today I would like to explore something that has been on my mind for a while but I couldn’t articulate it. Feels like it is getting its shape so let me see if I can let it out. Since recently I dived into the rationalist movement, mostly exploring resources like Lesswrong and CFAR (Center for Applied Rationality). I find it fascinating to read and discover this world. It seems like there is a reason, cause and effect for everything. And all of it is being exposed, investigated and dissected. And most importantly made available to practice. At first I felt a little overwhelmed by the revealed complexity but the longer I stayed and allowed myself to give in, the more lightness I felt. I’ll try to explain why, it might sound a little abstract. I think most of the time, things I encounter, I can either already understand or find a way to do so. Very rarely I face a problem that has no way out. So what rationality surprisingly provides is that I feel my having-mode is more active than my being-mode.
A little intermezzo to refresh the memory, it is probably helpful to bring in the distinction between having-mode, being-mode and doing-mode. In a nutshell, when in the being-mode, we are in the process-oriented mindset, fulfilling our own potential while flowing freely in the stream of life. In the having-mode we are oriented towards acquisition of various kinds. It is either material goods or emotions we want to posses. In both cases we are chasing the desire to have. And the doing-mode is action oriented where satisfaction is extracted from the act of doing. These modes also relate to the ways of knowing I mentioned yesterday. I think they are handy to keep in mind and be aware whether the mode we are in, is the mode we actually want to be in.
But now let’s go back to the rationalists. So, when I dived into the theory and belief system they propose, I felt that no matter what, I can never grasp the complexity of it. The body of knowledge is just so immense that even trying to encompass it is impossible. This feeling activated the being-mode in me. Very clearly, I didn’t feel the urge to solve anything or understand. I must be still under strong influence because I am about to call the experience sublime. The sublime is defined as having the quality of such greatness, magnitude or intensity, whether physical, metaphysical, moral, aesthetic or spiritual, that our ability to perceive or comprehend made almost impossible. So, yes, here I am, having a sublime experience from navigating rationalist maps. While I was swimming in this blissful sea in full surrender, I came across many useful tools, though. I will be bringing some of them into my drifts. There is a lot of wisdom to dig out from these detailed, pragmatic explorations of the human psyche.
But perhaps the most interesting in this exploration was that i realised how I relate to rationality in general. People would often call me rational. I have always wondered what it meant - the label felt a little out of place but it kept reoccurring. Because I couldn’t really place myself in this frame I started to feel slightly reluctant towards this label. If I look back at it, I think the reason is that I just didn’t have a capacity to make a right assessment of who I am and how I appear on the outside. I didn’t feel that my reasoning was strong or articulated enough, but maybe it was just that the awareness wasn’t there. In the beginning of my artistic practice I was calling myself a Rational Romantic. Now 10 years later I find myself excited about rationality, drifting in meta and exploring my body. If I would have to put the label on me today, I’d say I am an Embodied Rational Romantic. I am excited about combining rationality and using the body as a tool for reasoning to deal with meta stuff. I feel good about it. I acknowledge and fully embrace my compatibility with rationality and looking forward where it will take me. In the upcoming days I’ll share some of the practices I found useful on my journey. I tweaked these tools to experiment with using our bodies to collect data about an experience which helps us discover new knowledge.