About inhabiting the moment

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Ichigo ichie

Living in the moment

Hegelian zen

We have a native spaciousness in which we should be aware of our mortality and its one-time-only quality for our inhabitation of places. Ichigo ichie.

-- I don't see how you can insist on native spaciousness, and the one-time only of our mortality, and yet also emphasize complexity. These oppose one another.

-- That's just my point, that the two can and must be combined. The reality we have to be present to in the moment includes its complexities.

Short of catastrophes, our society is not going to simplify its systems and its increasingly complex cultural interrelations. We have to discover how to be effectively in such a culture and such places while retaining an awareness and flexibility that will help us work for their improvement. But that improvement should not consist in wholesale rejection, which will quickly be coopted into some new line of rejectionist products, as has happened with rebellious styles of music and art. Opening a space to be in touch with the basics is also letting complexity be, without being torn apart in it. The tensions and complexities of our life should not be denied, but held lightly within a spaciousness that exceeds them. We have to find a way to allow spacious awareness and non-attachment to pervade a life with media and virtual reality. We have to find ways to open up what seems closed, and show the closures in what seems too open, and for that we need a more complex awareness than is at first suggested by emphasis upon mortality and "be here now." Yet we also want the decisiveness and attention that come from such focus on the moment.

It is not just stone or wood that we experience, but stone supporting or wood shaping and bracing, and there is no easy line to be drawn between these actions and the goals and actions of the economic and cultural and political processes within which the stone and wood play. Don't turn completely away from that life to encounter just the stone -- for that is, in Hegel's sense, an abstraction -- but rather find a fuller way to be in places, a way in which their processes and social norms can be lived with a light touch that lets the stone be with us in its full suchness. Hegelian Zen? This is a contemporary form of the age-old spiritual problem of uniting, in Christian terms, contemplation and action, or, in Buddhist terms, wisdom and compassion. Complexity and encounter have to be related.

We should be wary of that tradition influenced by Heidegger, which urges a break with the current technological culture and a return to primal contacts. Inspired by Hegel, I believe that our problems stem more from half-done than from too much reflection, that reflection need not be distancing, and that we should work through our complexities rather than step behind them. This can bring us to encounter even more concretely our mortality and the world's materiality.

The issue keeps coming back to how the moment and the present and the place exist, and I keep arguing that these are what they are because they open up to their horizons and linkages. We exist in the spacious process of their happening.