Apathy: Lives of the Koanan #2
a- without + pathos suffering, feeling, related to paskhein suffer, penthos grief (1)
Nothing can contribute more to peace of soul than the absence of any opinion whatsoever.(2)
Findaul was dreaming of currents and colours. Then he was dreaming of scuttling creatures. The latter were created by the former, or so it appeared to him, as he inhabited scene after scene. He returned to self-awareness and wondered about his own nature, but he had not yet dreamed himself, as it was early in his season of spark. He surveyed the matrix with his ocular faculty and perceived presences, some large, some small, some of a similar substance to himself, some that had little or no substance at all.
The larger presences were still, like him, apart from the slight rocking motion made by the breathing of the matrix. He knew that breath was a particulate entity, and that it was always moving. The nature of breath was his opposite, but he inhabited breath and breath inhabited him. But did breath inhabit or simply move? You could say it inhabited its own movement. The thought led Findaul to the question: ‘How can the Koanan be so still when the matrix around them, the breath, is always in motion?’ For an answer, he went where all the Koanan go for answers—to the honeycomb of shared intuition.
He was back with the scuttling creatures. They were smooth-skinned and seemed vulnerable, even to each other; to their matrix too, which was noisy. Findaul switched to aural mode and found that it could operate in tandem with the visual. He saw the noise as it vibrated in different frequencies. The noise inhabited the creatures like breath. It was, perhaps, their breath? He examined them. They were not in constant motion, but neither were they still. They stood and watched, they leapt, they ran, they ambled. But in everything they did they were deliberate, always conscious of a goal.
What is a goal? he asked. He saw two posts and a net between them. Something had to be placed there. It was the endpoint of effort. That was why the creatures were staring and starting. That was why they were constantly trying to get a sense of their surroundings—what was near, what track was available without hindrance, where they could find support. There was always something to be done.
What were they called? He asked and heard, ‘Flexipers’. Strange, he thought, and stayed among them. He was aware of the colours of noise, sometimes harsh, sometimes soft, sometimes coaxing, sometimes compelling. It moved in streams, like breath, but was not of one consistency and was not a single nebulous body. Aspects of noise began and ended. Globules of noise appeared, affected, and disappeared. Noise was like a bag of balls that was emptied one by one by an unseen foot and kicked to a goal.
Was there an unseen body with the unseen foot? That was not clear. Nor was the motivation. Noise could arise anywhere for no discernible reason. That must be why the creatures were constantly watchful. Uncertainty caused pain, it seemed. It was visible in their eyes and in the slow, arched way they moved in the wake of noise. In the thick of noise, they were propelled or pulled. Afterwards they froze.
Findaul rested for a time. Later, he came into other phases, and new dreams of the Flexipers. He watched them grow according to their nature. Everything, he realised, becomes more deeply itself, held in its particular, deepening groove in the paradigm of time. The nature of Flexipers was to be involved. Puppeted by the noise that was their matrix, they emptied their streams of faculties—those colours and currents—back into the communal realm. All was action, or poise for action. Action was identification. Action was unity with the matrix.
They were in pain and they were in pleasure. They were in noise and they were in the spaces between noise. They created objects of great mass that were unrecognisable to them. They marvelled at the products that seemed to emanate from them unwilled. They changed the constitution of their own matrix. They became every component of their own spawning. There was colour everywhere—seething, acid, currying, anodyne, chaotic, orderly—playing over and over in a random sequence.
Findaul felt it all and then stopped feeling. This is the way of the Koanan. Their cerebral constitution fills and empties like a pot that retains its shape regardless of the substance it contains. There is experiential change, in the form of understanding and opinion, like the chemical change caused by the tenancy of different substances, but a pot receives, it does not act.
Unfeeling, he watched the Flexipers continue in their ceaseless sensitivity, until they exploded in a cloud of stupendous magnitude and complexity. Living in this cloud was total beauty, and he became every current and colour, like a tiny particle spun from whirl to whirl.
Then silence. And stillness. And him, alone and distantly aware, a point in a matrix of connected but untouching points. Never-to-be-touching points. He breathed and the breath filled him with neither confusion nor certainty, just sustenance. So, he told himself, lapsing into default, this is what I am.
1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition.
2. Georg Christof Lichtenberg (1742-1799), The Waste Books, transl. R. J. Hollingdale, N. Y.: New York Review of Books, 1990, p. 63.