Peter Dudink

Philosophy (1)

This is not modern psychology or ancient wisdom, nor is this art, nor is this a work of forensic history or science fiction, this is a work of philosophy, one that says a great deal about the past and future, and largely says them silently. 

According to ancient superstition some dreams tell or suggest important things about the future, and according to modern psychology some dreams tell or suggest important things about the past. I don’t doubt that both views may sometimes be true. Dreams are often driven by hopes and fears about the past and future, hopes and fears that can be based on true ideas and memories. But this discussion of dreams will not deal with those particular past or future events which are the realm of ancient superstition and modern psychology. As a work of philosophy I will discuss universals, which does not mean that this will be a discussion with no practical application. The fact that deeply disturbing dreams are often blamed on particular individuals or events, an approach that produces limited success, is reason enough to consider a few universals involved in dreams.
  Dreams should be seen as a product of two universals: (1) the total environment which created them, and which created – and was created by – (2) a dreamer whose understanding or lack of understanding, particularly of our total environment and of our nothingness in death, produces dreams with corresponding levels of stress.
  The danger with looking into dreams for particular truths, that is, for references to the past or future, is that historically this assumes dreams are solely products of weakness and self-deceit, and historically this assumes that we must find the truths hidden in dreams. The idea that dreams conceal the truth is a product of a culture that does not understand the value of art (concealment) or of philosophy (revealment); it also quite misses the point that the primary reason a truth is ever concealed is that it was a source of stress and that to force the patient, or dreamer, to re-confront this truth seems tactless and cruel, and it
might well be counterproductive if the individual is not given the skills required to deal with it. However, such skills are not imparted to anyone by such banal comments as, “You must be honest” or “Be brave,” “realistic,” “true to yourself.” A person who repeatedly talks about painful matters with no more art or wisdom than such comments show will do little to help anyone deal with pain, and all too often such banal “open” discussions accomplish nothing, or are counterproductive. Whether we are speaking of dreams or arguments, psychology or sociology, the full potential for recovery and peace will not be approached until pain is treated with some semblance of art and wisdom.
  What does it mean to treat pain with art? Since art, like dreams, here means concealment, we are asked to treat painful dreams by becoming dreamers again, but not precisely. The artist does everything the dreamer does, employing symbols and other devices to conceal meaning, but the artist does so consciously, if not always without fear, hope, or stress, at least with some awareness of the truths that cause pain.
  What does it mean to treat pain with wisdom?
  Dreams are not merely products of weakness and self-deceit, they also manifest degrees of strength and honesty, for what is concealed is not utterly destroyed or lost. More importantly, the act and effect of concealing is a healthy and necessary function. By concealing truths with false and fantastic images, with symbols, metaphors, puns, and so forth,
we are actually creating a tapestry of meaningful connections. Yes, the tapestry conceals the truth, but we must avoid negative connotations here, for no truth can exist in isolation, for everything exists as a part of the larger environment.
A truth isolated, a truth corralled and hunted into a corner will bite back: all roads may lead to Rome but if everyone goes to Rome than Rome will fall: we must be focused, but to be focused on one thing is to be obsessed. To speak like a neurologist, I mean like an electrician: if all our energy is forced through a few, or through one thin line of reasoning, we are bound to short circuit. Connections must be made, and it is not enough to connect ideas with a straight line of
logic or rhetoric. A tapestry, a complex network of connections, is needed.

Philosophy (2)

According to ancient superstition some natural phenomena tell or suggest important things about the future, and according to environmental science some natural phenomena tell or suggest important things about the past and future. I don’t doubt that both views may sometimes be true. Our perception of natural phenomena, if not nature itself, is often
shaped by our hopes and fears about the past and future, hopes and fears that can be based on truth and fact. But this discussion of natural phenomena will not deal with those particular past or future events which are the realm of ancient superstition and environmental science. As a work of philosophy I will discuss universals, which does not mean that this will be a discussion with no practical application. The fact that deeply destructive natural phenomena are often blamed on particular individuals or events, an approach that produces limited success, is reason enough to consider a few universals involved in natural phenomena.
  Natural phenomena should be seen as products of two universals: (1) the total environment which created them, and which created – and was created by – (2) the perception of the person whose understanding or lack of understanding, particularly of our total environment and of our nothingness in death, produces natural phenomena with corresponding levels of stress.
  The danger with always looking into natural phenomena for causes is that this assumes nature must be changed; the danger with looking into destructive natural phenomena for particular truths, that is, for divine motives or human causes, is the assumption that destructive natural phenomena are bad, and that we have a responsibility to prevent them. The idea that natural phenomena can be bad is a product of a culture that does not understand the value of a destructive and creative nature; it also quite misses the point that the primary reason a natural phenomenon is ever destructive is that it is necessary and natural, and that to force nature to stop being destructive could be foolish and futile, and it might well be counterproductive if we are not given the skills to properly perceive nature. However, such skills are not imparted to anyone by hugs or by such banal comments as, “It’s God’s will,” or “That’s life,” or “Be a man.” A person who repeatedly talks about painful matters with no more art or wisdom than such comments show will do little to help anyone deal with pain, and all too often such banal “open” discussions accomplish nothing, or are counterproductive. Whether we are speaking of our perception of natural phenomena or of war, of environmental science or of geo-politics, the full potential for recovery and peace will not be approached until pain is treated with some semblance of art and wisdom.
  What does it mean to treat pain with art? Since art, like nature, here means a thing that creates and destroys, we are asked to treat the mental pain, or stress, caused by nature by becoming natural, but not precisely. The artist does everything nature does, creating and destroying, but the artist should always do so with the aim of producing pleasure, not fear, hope, or stress.
  What does it mean to treat pain with wisdom?
  Negative perceptions of natural phenomena are not always products of weakness and error, they also manifest degrees of strength and honesty, and positive or optimistic perceptions can conceal as much stress as any negative perception may reveal. More importantly, both positive and negative perceptions of nature are healthy and necessary. By viewing nature as a negative or positive entity, from a variety of perspectives, we are actually creating a tapestry of connections. Yes, the tapestry confuses the reality, but we must avoid negative connotations here, for it is natural to have a diversity of perceptions and feelings about any single phenomenon, since no phenomenon can be perceived as something unrelated or unconnected to our diverse, contradictory and changing needs. Any phenomenon that is forced to conform to a single view, a single opinion about its value or meanings, is a phenomenon that will come back to haunt us: everyone might like Rome, but if only Rome existed no one would live: sometimes we must be decisive, but to be decisive about everything is to be a tyrant. To speak like a neurologist, I mean like an electrician: if all our energy is forced into a single opinion or vision of life, than we are poor conductors of electricity.
  A diversity of perceptions must co-exist in peace, but this does not mean that we must
live in confusion. Actions must be guided by firm and reliable opinions about human nature and the environment, and yet each opinion must live with contradictions and parodies.

Peter Dudink © 2008