Relates first-most to the unboundedness of infancy.

—> Awake. The flood of inner and outer world sensations are indistinguishable. Intermingling, arousing, evoking, eliciting, cautioning, inviting. A fascinating world of colour and sound and textures all internalized and projected reciprocally. Fluctuating and (ever-potentially) overwhelming experiences of need and fear and satisfaction and safety. The startling and the soothing. Invigorating limb motions and foreboding hunger pangs. The bliss and potential horror of a complete dependence. A defining powerlessness and every effort to subvert it.

No thing is conceived as separate. None are understood as Other. All begins as immersion in an unequivocally inclusive present. Thrust into the necessity of environmental adaptation and Other learning. This is how we commence acquaintance with the world: We and them and it are, initially, indivisible experiences.

Nearly immediately, it is known… Known without an already-structure of Knowledge. That certain flush and warmth and absoluteness of a fulfillment. The infant’s cheek pressed in against a fleshy breast. The release of gastric tension before drifting off into that human cradle. It smells of more than one body and is the sound of more than one’s breath. Repetition and difference. This is bodily knowledge acquired, continually redefined, as the infant grows. Soon this experience is recognizable, anticipate-able, and familiar enough to stimulate it’s own conceptualization. This could hardly be a visualized object; infants do not see the way older children or adults do. These are not complete forms and the world is not categorical. This isn’t merely the domain of ‘the mind’.

An extreme vagueness of moving shapes and colours and textures blurred together. Infused with temperatures, energetic impressions, tactilities, and whatever is audible. From one moment to the next, these worldly mysteries can intertwine and be attached to any emotional, and to any of those physiological, responses. So that the meaning of a temperature or voice can be joy, serenity, or fear. So that the meaning of a touch or handling can be alien, pleasurable, or painful. Whether environmentally incidental, vicariously threatening, or an act of protective nurturing; reasoning has no sway here. One can as much become fused with and confused for another, where the conditions warrant it. This pertains to the process of confounding the who and the what.

—> Without this beginning the infant has no motivation to learn, well, anything. That absorption of nurturing and engagement is the content and journeying toward further development. Development of the sensory, chemistry, neurology, etc. Toward and comprising development of an awareness of a whole bodily self. So long as boundaries are learned incrementally, this experiential process layers up and differentiates the ‘me’ from the ‘you’. Should the environment and care-giving be merely good-enough, the cumulative process individuates the ‘I’ from all else. This is really important. Yet, even with maturity and the ‘power of reason’ we prejudice against experiences of a too autonomous ‘I’. We call it loneliness and it can be suffered as a kind of crisis.

But one of many reasons a self should not be restricted to conceptions of the social-identity Self.

I just don’t think that’s ethically accurate enough.

—> A baby gurgles, winces, cries, roots around, coughs and sighs. Care-givers interpret visual cues, audible expressions, sets of behaviours as an infant’s means of communication. It’s an investment and expectation which then also serves itself. The result and cause and then outcome of inter-dependency. The formulation and expression of inter-subjectivity. The infant will grow to learn all kinds of communications, simultaneously. Without all this, the survival of the infant is at risk, and the survival of our species is unlikely.

The supportive co-existence of more than one heartbeat, is a matter of life or death. It explains the crisis of loneliness where there may be no determinable crisis at all.

As it happens, every molecule in every instant is compelled to survive. So much so that a common desperation, or a perpetual deprivation, or a too-familiar experience of threat isn’t enough to quash it. Not-existing isn’t an option. Instead, the absolute intolerability of such experiences must be innovated from within; altered and transformed into something else. An omnipotent rage. A withdrawn despondency. An intuitive and yet relentless compensatory investment into learning how to satiate the otherwise insatiable need.

Much of our individual particularities, idiosyncrasies, neuroses, and the more inter-personally troubling dysfunctions, relate to a no-longer relevant but still felt insatiable need.

This, in turn, relates to the value of excavation (as opposed to a further ‘building up’).

—> The infant experience may in fact be that originary ‘throwness’ of Being.

Is it not? A throwness which cannot be separated from the rhythm of a heartbeat. Everything depends upon that muscular determination. The first and last com-puls(e)-ion; the impetus of the toward. That always-leaning into aliveness, right up to the last breath. Breathing into the next heartbeat in the animating rhythm; into the next bundle of mysteries and adaptations; into the next-ing of moments while learning to Be. Building upon experience in order to become a ‘me’ and then an ‘I’. So as to be capable of caring for one’s self, as well as another. A persistent sort of learning and unlearning of the always-referenced past.

It’s also the thriving of cells reproducing as quickly as they are sloughing off, toward living some more, even while dying. This compulsion – that impetus – it’s very character of determination is an intentionality shared by all living things. And that pulse. But the pulse of our experience of time; the way it quickens and when it slows….

The pace-making of that beating heart. It may most significantly define our human experience of temporality, all unto itself.

Is it a ‘lurching-into’ compulsion… Into living indivisible moments. And what of the inevitably of death? The former would be moreover responsible for ‘possibility’ and then the latter an ‘angst’. Both ‘forever’ residing on the horizon, but out of sight. Life in the world is easier that way.

—> Possibility and the impossible. Not so much as opposites; isn’t that a wishful cultural reduction… Where the experience of it is concerned, they are necessarily inseparable. Actualized in the unified-body, where cognitive awareness doesn’t split. It explains the existential crisis, where no threat to life is otherwise certain or discernible.

An infant won’t adapt well to that awareness; they need confound the who and the what. We must grow into a knowledge of Being and the impossible plausibility of not-Being. To understand that it lingers between each fleeting breath. To realize that’s the pulse of the story of us coming into the world, dependent and helpless among others. To appreciate the legacy of our own becoming in the world, and the inter-dependent qualities of surviving thus far.

Hold on now, though. Hold up.

Some of that is certainly redundant… Or even superfluous for this post.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes.

—> The unbounded, indissoluble dynamics, contextualize something essential about the experiential world of an infant. I would think.

And how could all of that be left behind? It couldn’t. Not actually. The root of the plant remains where once seeded, even after the has flower bloomed and wilted.

We call it ‘forgetting’ but forgetting isn’t really the absence of memories. Forgetting is the implicit memory of something-somewhere-somehow; a vague recollection of experience one way or another. It is this implicit which must, nonetheless, inform the more explicitly remembered. It’s the a priori / requirement for the capacity of remembering and then learning at all… Is it not?

When we began life in the world, we were not yet capable of differentiating and sorting and discriminating. Everything evolved from within and grew up from those experiences. Naturally, we cannot call on our already individuated selves, nor our complexly sorting and discriminating cognition, to literally recall any of it now. That we cannot locate the visuals and associate them to words does not necessarily indicate that we no longer exist this way. Some attribute of our selves, indeed, must. It describes too well what we are capable of, how we impact and influence each other, and much of what we struggle to explain.

We have no short-handed words for these experiences and dynamics and skills, because, we weren’t capable yet of creating and then communicating with signs (objectified forms, abstract representations, conceptualizing languages). And then there is the sculptural influences of culture…. Handed down.

Relegated to an inner-world, those bodily memories, even while the habits of the self remain. Un-named.

But now just stop. Sit back.

It’s kinda been lost – or – hasn’t it? A certain thread in this meandering stream of thought… It broke away.

And without it, a bunch of this can’t be wrapped into a conclusive anything at all.

Yup. Done for the day. But I’m posting it anyway.

Only this nugget available to me…To leave here, now. Unexplained:

—> How much does this understanding of the infant experience pertain to (or comprise) what is referred to as the field of immanence and the virtual plane?

[Image Credit]


4 thoughts on “Confounding the who and the what.

  1. At first I was not taken in by the initial phrasing but then came a cohesive thread and I followed your thoughts and then you broke it with those short sentences and I liked it made it feel like a jazz session where you scream in the horn and us tapping our feet…

  2. Pingback: When Transcending Necessitates Transgressing | scrapaduq

  3. Pingback: Ramblings on a subject’s object. Persona. | scrapaduq

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