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   OLEXI NYKOLAIV

​​​One time I slept late at night, and realized the fact of myself dreaming. Consequently, it meant as follows: there was I – just by the fact that I was conscious of myself, – and there was the space of the night dream surrounding me – I saw a sea grotto with rock walls, their true solidity, and stalactites and stalagmites. Both “object” and “subject” were so defined – defined by the fact of this cave spreading in all directions within my eyesight, and myself being the point the eyesight itself spreads from. But – at the same time, I knew that it was not all, and something else was present, too: my bed, the walls of my room, etc. – that somehow existed on the very same spot, where I now saw only those stalactites and those salt rocks and felt the chilly and moist air. Eventually I woke up – the morning was persisting its way through window curtains, and the soft- and warm-lit room, where I had been sleeping, remained the only place I was in; and the grotto space got all into myself, became part of myself, and so stopped being any part of the world.

Yet, I still could feel it. Before that night I thought nothing about dark stone walls of this kind, but now, all that became a very clear fantasy – I could achieve an absolute precision in "visioning" it just by concentrating on this thought for a few seconds. Therefore – I concluded – this cave did exist before, too, – “inside” me, – and I simply “remembered” it, through the particular dream that let these rock walls be stretched up before my eyes.

The topic of “remembering” things while visioning them “for the first time”, brings us to the antiquity of European civilization. One of the philosophical perspectives in ancient Greece – first of all Platonic one – implied that there’s really no learning process in our lives, but only the acts of remembering. The roots of this view are obvious: it is born by the categories of Singularity and Multiplicity.

Singularity is the state of the world, where nothing is divided, no objects are drawn boundaries between. There is the center of everything and everything is this center with no fringes. There can’t be such opposing categories as “I” and “the world”, since their existence is a boundary, a border, too – with feelings and actions as some sort of checkpoint. And so, without any possibility to reflect itself in this state, but gaining desperate desire for it – as in, for being seen, – the world springs up on the next stage: Multiplicity. It loses its status as a whole, but acquires some kind of "mirror" for itself.

For the record, Greek culture wasn’t fond of this “shift”, and the worldviews of that era either lowered the status of Multiplicity, considering it rather some sort of unrealistic shadow, or they just fully denied its moral goodness, setting a goal for a practitioner to perceive how one thing is no different from another despite the opaque veil sewed of similarities and othernesses. It was reflected in Greek art, too, with its devotion to the shape of a circle as to what most directly depicts the common notion of infinity.

Returning to the topic of “remembering” – the birth of an individual is a personal act of division, when both “self” and “the world” appear; therefore, as they assumed some pre-birth existence when all things are truly perceived to be only recalled in life – it must have been some existence without any kind of “first-person view”. That's just, in fact, you don’t “see” anything when you’re just fused and melted with all! And, of course, philosophical Singularity corresponds with mythological Chaos, and all this is more or less equivalent to Ancient Egyptian Nun, the primordial waters. Appearance out of chaos is always the process of the division of something, some kind of tear at the whole, or some sort of folding of the fabric where a thing with one name ends and the next begins. Just like, I can look at a tree in a park, and see where it ends by interfacing the grass, some different item. Ancient Egyptians, at their time, appointed the role of the "divisioner" to the Sun that arose for the first time out of the Nun waters. But, besides, in their anatomical views, a human eye was considered a semblance of the Sun that possesses exactly the same properties. Eyesight was imagined – unlike in modernity – as that an eye rays out its own light, which makes objects visible by falling on them out of each human being; besides, it provided a good explanation for perspective – meaning that, basically, we see all shapes distorted, e.g. all objectively square items as trapezoids: this way, the “objective” light of the Sun gives all items their geometrical shapes, but human eyesight recreates them all anew, always with these or those deformities.

 

​​​​​Generally, it seems, not much can be said about the status of Singularity as such. How to depict a state where all contradictions are melted together, where one is all and all is one with no difference? A certain coefficient of curving in an infinite straight line, to make a circle of it – that is perhaps the least distorting option, and the Greeks used it. Next came other epochs that saw chaos much more superficially, simply like a dissonance of a kind, and the creation of the world as this dissonance being “cut” like a “stone”. According to baroque music theory, a French 18-century composer Jean-Féry Rebel conveys Chaos through a simple cluster of sounds, making the ensemble play all notes of the scale at once. It sounds chaotic, heavy, indistinguishably, uncomfortably… and that is the issue: none of the adjectives are, so to say, all-encompassing, because there always can be found an antonym to them: harmony, wispiness, clarity etc; while the only quality of chaos is the absence of any qualities. With a specific to his time manner, Rebel invites a listener to spectate this “chaos-like” thing, as if, through a museum glass or from a ship desk while looking afar at a newly discovered wild island somewhere in distant seas.

However, a chaos laid on the museum pedestal quickly turns into exotics. Exotics is, too, capable of feeding creativity, like it was with Japanese culture towards art nouveau, or Buddhist views for Soviet underground writers such as Pelevin – but let’s agree, this word, exotics, is just a disguise for the lack of understanding.

Speaking more broadly – where does this notion come from at all, exotics?

In Egyptian cosmogony, a more surprising detail could be that, in fact, this place, the Nun waters, had not been really empty until the creation occurred. Mostly lizard- and snake-like monsters inhabiting the waters, they were pushed down the horizon by the Sun beams – and, they continued to live there afterwards, being in a literal sense older than the world. They are the exotics, in some way, from the perspective of the land under the Sun, that can “look” at them from afar. But, in fact, they are no different from this land's inhabitants, it’s just, everything is turned upside down in the literal sense.

In the meantime, the snakes were pushed by Egyptian Sun quite far from the Nile River Valley – to the other half of the Earth, on the island of Haiti; where, after many centuries, they mounted the throne of the main voodoo spirit – the serpent Damballah – to then become a root for the heroic and gory revolution of African slaves against the French. But, every worldview has its “primordial waters”, and, in voodoo beliefs, these roles were appointed, too.

One metaphor is still in use in Haitian religion – “underneath the water”, as a reference to one particular place in the mythological world. If you look at the water surface, it mirrors you and everything above it, but there is also something beyond: some sort of “bottom sand” of the river remains in the status of unreflected. The thing that never becomes part of the world around you, yet exists.

And, when I saw my lucid dream, wasn't my bedroom exactly over there, underneath those waters, which I beheld and which simply formed the grotto I found myself in?

Also, one more thing, one practical observation. Aside from metaphorical descriptions, how can we spot this invisible field, right here and now, in day-to-day life? In what way should we look, to notice where it resides? Because I do suppose all this is possible. There is one easy experiment to do. So, when you are sitting in a bus by the window, and it is going past some landscape, there are three ways of looking in the window: you either glance at the objects quickly running past the window, or look at the window glass right in front of your eyes. But also, as a third and the hardest option, you can try seeing the movement itself – for example, by looking into the distance without concentration on any objects. Pick some random far point, and, as the bus goes, let this point be filled randomly with buildings, sky, traffic lights, or anything else.

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