13 Ways of Looking at a Chair by BW Powe
Take this chair:
Yes, it’s a chair
1. Look quickly: astrophysics/ quantum mechanics; electrons and protons whirling. Illusory firmness. No solidity.
2. Made of cosmic dust. Same as stars and moons. Chaos dynamics
3. Plato, ultimate chair, this is a pale copy. Mimesis of absolute chair. (Shadows on the cave wall.)
4. A commodity. Marxist reading of materiality. Late industrial capitalism. Exploitation, alienation, inequality. The result is a chair of poor quality. The chairs in the prime minister’s office (or a CEO’s office) will be much more comfortable than this one.
5. Sign of the chair. The word ¨chair¨ is representation of a language system that influences consciousness. Arbitrary term. Linguistic needs imposed on meaningless universe.
6. Freudian. Does it have sexual overtones? Penis plus womb. Everything is sexualized. What can you imagine doing on a chair?
7. Mystic´s reading. This seemingly lone object is thronged by angels; invisible energies surround it… God breathes into the cosmos and holds everything up with breath… First Nations’ elder would say the great creator co-creates the chair…
8. Historical chair. Who has sat there? Part of our culture and time. Put a plaque on it and it becomes memorabilia and tradition.
9. Figurehead… from a place, it symbolizes the place… from a university, maybe… we sit ready for wisdom… Configures power relations: the student sits, the teacher stands.
10. Healthwise. Probably not good for posture. Plastic also unlikely to be good for us. Still many have to sit to relax and receive.
11. A random chair. Forgettable. It will pass. It will break. Nihilist vision. Not important and neither are we.
12. According to Zeno’s Paradox, the chair doesn’t really exist. We never get to it… infinite particles of space prevent us from getting there. The chair is unreachable, unknowable. Sounds like lines from a Tom Stoppard play. Splinter its particles and you have a Picasso cubist painting, the chair seen from many angles at once.
The chair… is it still there?
13. Common sense. It’s just a chair. Kick it. My foot hurts. Ergo it exists. (Mystics and the philosopher Bishop Berkeley would emphatically deny the common sense test. Our senses can be deceived. )
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Chair
From object to idea to symbol to process-event.
This is a variation on Wallace Stevens’s poem Thirteen Way of Looking at a Blackbird.
William Blake said, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell… “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees”
Visionary comprehension begins with the premise that all of the above are possibilities, if not true.
Seeing many possibilities at once means awareness will not be arrested in single vision.
Allatonceness leads to multidimensional awareness (opening time).