Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Am Not

There’s nothing I can zero in on and say, “That’s it!” Actually, there is no “it.” I have Charles Eisenstein to thank for this new knowledge, though he has others to thank too. That chain goes backwards forever. There is no “it” to be isolated, identified, and profited from.


A few days ago my younger daughter asked me where her tongue ended, how deep in her throat. Sadly, she has me for a father. I told her there are no beginnings and endings in the way our eyes and fingers suggest. What is Tongue without flavours, without odours, without saliva, without digestion, stomach, sound? I pointed out that my back is painful because my shoulder is still very stiff from the operation in August, which happened because I rode a bike to work, and crashed twice in three years, and so on, and on. I said that I don’t play with my children in rough and tumble games because of those crashes, and that she and her sister will remember this, that their Slightly Broken Dad will always be of them, in their associations and memories. And so on, and on.

I get depressed sometimes. Today I imagined rubbing myself out of the universe. But what am I for such an idea to make sense? How can what I am be taken from Universe? Impossible. I do not exist in a way that allows me to become null. Nor does anything else. We understand existence very badly. (And change is the only constant.)

To be is not to be. Eisenstein points to ‘being’ as our profoundest core concept; reality made up of ‘objects in existence.’ Objects, discrete, each Other to one another, sometimes affecting each other in physical ways, though mostly not. A lonely and cold reality, pitiless and pointless. Seeing this as a fallacy requires the upending of almost everything we ‘know,’ yet this is precisely what we are going through.

So what is competition, and what is cooperation? We cannot even know if asking such questions makes sense until we’ve developed a better understanding of reality. What is human nature? What is profit? Success?

People debate economics and money, finance and society, but the debate, the discussion, the thinking, is wrong at the very outset. I set out in this blog to question assumptions as deeply as I could, and found in Charles Eisenstein’s work a process of questioning that has undone me so deeply that I no longer exist.

Confession to the contrary: I want to be loved and respected. I write to be respected for what I write and how I think. Failure to achieve these ego-goals—goals I was taught to desire by my environment—depresses me. My depression seeps out from me into my family and beyond, into the future, unravels in unknown ways. And yet I don’t exist. I am patterns of change changed by the patterns of change I change by being changed by them. The universe is itself as everything, and Toby Russell is a verb, as are we all. And in this paragraph are contradictions I have not time enough to undo.

There, I got that off my chest.

There is no economics, there is reality. It is change, and it is everything.


Demote money, promote wealth.


Martin said...

An amazing song. Simply amazing in its beauty. You are an invaluable gift to the rest of us poor souls.

Florian Popp said...

An honest song, I'd like to add. And all too human in the best way...

I'm lucky that I had my "undoing", i.e. the unravelling of my societal correct worldview, done a few years ago. Since then, I'm still feeling confused and in the wrong place in time, but the shocks tend to wear off more quickly. The damn Ego's of course still breathing down my neck, so it stands to argue if anything profound did indeed change... On the other hand, we all have to start somewhere.

The fascinating thing is, wherever you start with critical, yet unbiased thinking, it always leads you to the last questions, and from there onwards to the very last question, which is the essence of your own existence. Some give in to that nagging feeling of incompleteness that Eisenstein describes so well and do their best to explore it; others back off and try to block it out, which may be one of the reasons why real change is so hard to come by - because we feel it might threaten our very core of being. Which is, of course, an illusion, just like that very core. ;) But try to explain that, and, even more challenging, to act on that yourself! Ha! Unfortunately, I know what I'm talking about...

But this comment was not supposed to be about me, but about your insightful post. And I discover, I have nothing to add, because you already summed it all up so well. All I can offer is this little bit of thought, a weird attempt at consolation: essentially, trying to change the world for the better is the most important thing we could ever do. On the other hand, it all is in vain, or Alles ist eitel, as a famous theme among the poets in the Baroque went - but in a positive way, because the real thing, reality, the Kosmos, the Spirit or whatever way you prefer to call it, will continue. The Whole is much bigger and much stronger than our feeble efforts. We are allowed to fail. And we are allowed to succeed. It's alright already, in a way. Although, in a more precise way, it of course isn't.

Florian Popp said...


Guess what prompted the start of my own questioning? Henry Miller, the ol' giant. Just wanted to mention that, as I discovered his Big Sur in your profile...

Toby said...

Thank you, gentlemen.

MwaH, I agree, this is why change at the necessary depth is so hard personally, and nigh on impossible at the cultural level. And the ego is an arch deceiver, a cunning military dictator who won't let anyone talk directly to the denizens he falsely swore to protect and nourish.

Fascinatingly, I imagined having to defend this rather esoteric position, then realized I wouldn't want to defend it intellectually because it's more a song than an essay. This realization came after I posted it. Then I saw Martin's comment and got a shiver. Very prescient of you, Martin!

On that note, and if you haven't already, check out Sophie Hunger. I've fallen in love with her work. Very honest, very courageous, very beautiful. Very global.

Florian Popp said...

For those of you who speak German (like you, Toby): there's an interesting discussion going on over at Weissgarnix. Have a look.

Greg said...


I noticed your comment over at Jeff Hardings place.

Very good as usual. Wish I had the grace you had when it comes to responding to people with such ideologic blocks. Have you read his "Must Read Posts" over on his left side margin? Read the one "Money a Semifictional fable" Its complete fiction. Its bizarre he can write this with a straight face. He actually thinks he's educating folks. Sad

Toby said...

Hi Greg,

I've decided to let the debate -- should it actually become one -- inform me of his position. I have neither the time, nor do I want, to get deep into his thinking. I just posted another comment, amazed by how he avoided saying anything at all in his response to me.

Kinda cool how we meet each other across the net, don't you think?

Greg said...

Very cool.

I've noticed your comments at Yves Smiths place too.
Eatin' some of the same brain food I guess.

That guy Harding is a piece of work. Its amazing how EVERYTHING supports his views! He's never seen a data point he cant fit to his model

I downloaded "Ascent of Humanity" and read the introduction on your suggestion. Very interesting. I've got a couple others to finish before I get full into it. Looks like it needs my undivided attention.


Greg said...

Oh and Toby

Who is that Reverse Engineer over at Jeffs place?

Do you know him? Does he have a blog?

I'd like to see more of his stuff.

Toby said...

He's a guy I met at Raging Debate. His articles are still there. Very interesting guy, if I remember correctly he was a maths whiz child prodigy (studied by psychologists for his smarts) and high performer in the financial world before becoming what he is now, a teacher somewhere in the depths of Alaska. He has a yahoo group which you could join:

Just tell him toby sent you and maybe I'll get a free sandwich LOL.

Glad to see Charles Eisenstein's work spreading out. Very very necessary reading. Life changing stuff. Enjoy.

Greg said...

Merry Christmas Toby

Thanks for your contributions.

Toby said...

Thanks Greg.

A merry Christmas to you and all who read this message! And may 2011 bring more of what humanity needs to wake up from its slumber!