threats to leave

On Wednesday, I noticed an ear pain wired to my swallowing. That is, every time I swallowed, I got a shooting pain through my ear. It was bizarrely difficult to distinguish my throat from my left ear. My attention was fractured because it had to be devoted to the process of swallowing, something I realize I’d rather not think about. Two things occurred to me: one,  I am not conscious of the intersections of the various parts of my body, and therefore take for granted their working in harmony whenever I do not feel sick, and two, I swallow constantly.

On Saturday morning, the functioning of my mouth and throat was foreign to a degree that made me question if I’d been transported into someone else’s body. The regulation of my saliva was disrupted, swallowing felt like inserting a knife through my ear, and consciously or not, I had stopped doing it to a normal extent, and therefore had tons of excess liquid within my mouth. All of this was due to a swollen left tonsil, putting pressure on my throat, ear, and jaw.

I don’t often get sick, and it’s been about three years since I’d been prescribed an antibiotic. It was striking how differently I felt after taking just one. I started taking it yesterday at 2 pm, and about 24 hours later, I feel physically well again. I am no longer massaging my left ear every time I swallow. I paid 45 dollars, for both the antibiotic and to be told by a doctor that I had tonsillitis. It’s clear to me that if I hadn’t gone to a doctor, my condition would have worsened. As it stood, my pain was comparable to the intensity of a migraine or a cluster headache, (the unremitting ache), and Ibuprofen only provided a dimming of the symptoms for two hours at a time. It amazes me that if I did not have $45, I would have either continued to use Ibuprofen until I compromised my liver, or had a completely nonfunctional mouth in a week. Maybe my throat would have closed up.

The pharmaceutical industry controls society.  This is, of course, a large problem, and it would take a lot of time to list all the ways in which this is true, but my personal experience in being so profoundly demobilized by bacteria, and then restored to health by exchanging value for a drug, introduced the control of the medical establishment to me at an affective level. My sense, along with most people, is that my body is my own, and yet I’m unconscious of the rules that govern it. How is it that the very processes responsible for the generation of this sentence cannot explain their own workings?

I am back at the general principle that stimulated my interests in philosophy of mind. I don’t have as much control as my mind leads me to believe I do. I helplessly feel like I am a mind that owns a body, and this is true until the body stops functioning. I either get to a doctor, someone who is more competent of my own workings than I am, or the mind dissolves in the break down of the body.

eye contact and its implications

false mirrorEye contact is a primary interest of mine. It feels like the most raw and deliberate form of human communication. If we think about language as a good enough medium for getting information from one mind to another, that is, adequate for getting an occasional idea across but fundamentally a category shift that only gestures towards rather than captures our intentions, then eye contact represents a method of direct communication.  We rely less on eye contact and more on language for organizing the social world because eye locks are less susceptible to being watered down and ordered in the way that speech can.

In the fascinating Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, the authors explore a student’s insightful leap regarding the notion that people with blue eyes are often considered particularly evolutionarily advantageous. The idea was, roughly speaking, that because blue eyes are lighter, it is easier to detect the size of the person’s pupil (with larger pupils signaling interest) when a person’s eyes are blue rather than brown or green or hazel. Easily detectable interest in others is itself an evolutionary advantage because people are going to be more willing to take the risk of implicating one in a sexual encounter if they can easily detect that person’s interest.

I’m commonly preoccupied by the long-term implications of everyday events. For instance, it’s clear that we can be mistaken about our own intentions. We can be telling ourselves stories about our actions while doing something for reasons that are hidden from our conscious viewing. For example, we might tell ourselves we are attracted to Jane because she has a natural way of relating and she makes us feel good about our weaknesses, but on some unconscious or semi-conscious level, we’re detecting her pupil size and realizing we have a better chance of getting into a reproductive scenario with her than her friend Emily. Or to zoom out, we can tell ourselves stories about why we want to become actors or painters, saying that we want a medium through which to express ourselves, when really what we want is to not die, and one anti-death method that is pleasurable as well as reliable is finding a sexual partner, reproducing and maintaining our genetic line, and success at a creative enterprise is going to increase our chances of successfully playing out this long-term survival strategy.

Every human relationship I’ve had has been maintained by conversation. Of course, there are people with more relational sophistication than me (those who successfully communicate with the deaf or people with cognitive impairments) but much of the time, our everyday interactions run on language. However, people are born and people die over glances that cannot be reduced into sentences. Considering that all human connection depends upon the knowledge that the other is able to understand and react to what we’re trying to get across, and considering that eye contact is a primary means of establishing this fact in everyday interactions, it seems to be a representation of how we can be confused about the primary phenomenon that is creating our life circumstances.

Extroverted Intuition (Ne) and image management (INTP/ INFP)

clarkExamining my inner terrain through personality models creates a sense of psychological control. On episode 0227- (Developing Intuition as a Co-Pilot) of the Personality Hacker Podcast, Antonia mentioned that while developing Extroverted Intuition (Ne), image-management should be seen as the enemy. Attempting to maintain an image is going to derail the growth of this function.

For psychological equilibrium, Joel and Antonia posit that the auxiliary or secondary process should be utilized in conjunction with the dominant function. However, because this process has the opposite orientation of the dominant function, it’s common for people to avoid spending much time within it and instead moving into the tertiary process, which has the same introverted/extroverted orientation as the dominant function. In my case, if the enemy to Ne is image management, could this be because its opposing function, Si, is concerned with sustaining an already established identity?

As an INTP or INFP, use of Ne can be scary because as we’re trying new things, we’re also examining our interpretive frameworks, and therefore adding or subtracting to/from an established identity, since our concept of self will shift along with the self-knowledge a new experience generates. A personal example: even though I have a lot of ideas and interests, I have trouble fully committing to one sustained project. If I never fully commit, I will never have to confront information that contradicts the self image I have already created. For instance, I’ve been attracted to theoretical, argument driven writing for the past three years, but with every essay I’ve written, I’ve experienced some level of resistance. This usually manifests as a long period of envisioning a project, meticulously planning something in my head while refraining from actually getting to work until I’m too close to the deadline to truly create something excellent. This is a form of self-sabotage used to avoid finding out things about myself that I don’t want to know. If I fully commit to a project and it fails, it is harder to defend myself because I know I put in as much effort as possible, yet still came up short. When considering my tendency towards image management, I also think of my resistance towards fully participating in social contexts that might actually make my life easier.  I can see the utility in creating a LinkedIn profile and attempting to get myself into an income-generating situation that accommodates my natural inclinations, but making myself available for public viewing makes me feel like I’m breaking down, rather than building, an identity. By putting my skills and experiences out for public viewing, I am burning through versions of myself instead of enjoying them as potential.  I’m thinking that Si is a comfortable zone of potential that we as INTPs or INFPs, want to lean into to avoid confronting the information the outer world might deliver. Full participation is threatening to the identity, and we are more conscious of our identities than any other types because we’re using introverted judging functions, bent on evaluative criteria (as opposed to the other introverted functions, Ni and Si, which are perceiving, information-gathering, rather than opinion-generating functions).

After moving from Rochester to Philadelphia, I believe that I’ve gotten a clearer sense for what it means to engage Ne. For a few months, my process of developing my auxiliary function was stunted by influence from my inferior function, which has a way of unconsciously squeezing itself into my motivations in distorted ways. When I thought about developing Ne, I often thought using it entailed approaching strangers and introducing myself with no context. This seemed possible, but not natural, and as a Ti dominant, it felt difficult to justify most of the time. I’m now thinking cold conversations with strangers could be a way of building skill in a function that is accessible but is not especially strong for me, (Fe) compared to engaging Ne, which seems to be more readily available for conscious access. Since August, I’ve been exploring new territory, and thinking that Ne is more of an objective information/theory generating function based around grappling and engaging with information presented by the outside world (particularly when paired with Ti). So this entails finding various ways of getting from one way to another using pattern recognition, and then developing a more thorough picture of the outside world as a consequence. In conversation this function manifests as a willingness to not only share my ideas, but to update them in the immediate context by asking questions and committing to understanding what is being said by another. Also, being willing to update my assumptions without clinging onto opinions I’ve already formed, and updating my concepts and ideas as a result. Ne seems less about always feeling great about encounters and more about being willing to get concepts about reality (Ti) on speaking terms with reality as it presents itself after sustained examination (Ne).

I am using the idea of image management as the enemy as a kind of litmus test for whether I’m stranded in the TI-Si loop and seeking to maintain old ideas and self-concepts, or utilizing my strongest function pair, Ti-Ne, to take the risk of updating my self-concept by engaging with novel and occasionally paradigm-threatening situations. Thoroughly honest conversation, new means of getting from one place or idea to another, and in short, gathering information about an environment through any means necessary.

at the very least, projecting

I began this post trying to walk through my psychology, attempting to think through some of the internal conflicts that have brought me down this week. This is an emergent of simply asking a question and seeing where it takes me. I’m interested in what it means to lay myself bear with no intention except to be self-revealing, and to explore my inner terrain. Maybe you will relate, or maybe this will be an exhibition of having an inferior feeling function. 

I want to build an inner foundation, or organize my experience around the elements of a “good” life– financial clarity, relationships, and engaging work. Relationships seem to be the element that cause the most suffering, though. I am sensitive to the idea that if I lose the people from my past, then as it currently stands, I have no relationships to rely upon. I somehow equate history with trust, and trust in relationships as a way of being comfortable within my life. These are problems I don’t like to admit. Although I strive to form new relationships, the potential for positive relations in the future is in some way dependent on the past. I’m fixated on the idea that if something goes wrong with the relationships I already have, then I’m less equipped to navigate current and future relationships. If previous entanglements suddenly break down, they were built on flawed assumptions, and this must be a sign that I’ve missed some critical information and therefore lack a strong perceptual system to lead me into the future.

But I also keep thinking, I am all I have. My relationships are always susceptible to abrupt endings because there is so little I know about the interiors of others. In the school of life video, “Why We Are Faded To Be Lonely” Alain de Botton discusses the idea that loneliness is an inevitable side effect of being a complex and sensitive human being. It’s unlikely we will meet someone EXACTLY like us, capable of anticipating our every need, and this sets us up for a low-grade, interminable sense of isolation, even if it seems to lessen in select instances. It is, of course, possible that an extraordinarily like-minded person could have passed us on the street yesterday, or that they currently live in Amsterdam and will die tomorrow, or maybe they were born in Prague in 1918, but due to the limitations of time and space, as well as the structure of daily life (i.e. the pervasive tendency to simply pretend we don’t see the people with whom we share trains, buses and library bathrooms) the likelihood that the people who could connect with us on the deepest possible level is not necessarily high. I am trying to build my own foundation. One built on relationships is going to be perpetually unstable, no matter how long they’ve existed or how seemingly trust worthy they are. All I ever have is my mind and its contents.

A main factor in my chronic loneliness is the constant search for subtext within social contexts, usually at the expense of immediate, concrete details. Although my focus on understanding the hidden thoughts and feelings of those around me occasionally helps me avoid conflict, most of the time it creates an excessive screening for how much of my authenticity is safe to reveal at any given instance. The question becomes- is it better to make predictions as to the thoughts of another and use this information to mitigate potential moments of disconnection? Or does it make sense to simply embrace authenticity, and assume that anything happens as a result is better than what happens on the basis of cautiously navigated falsehood? To put this another way: is it better to experience solitude as a side effect of having been authentic? Or to carefully assess how much authenticity will be within the bounds of acceptability and act from there? My sense is that if I know that I’m never going to fully understand anyone, and no one will ever fully understand me, it makes more sense to display what is actually within me. Even if none of my connections are ever satisfying on the deepest possible level, instances of connection that occur based on complete openness would likely satisfy more than those that are fractured and dulled by restraint.

people tend to head towards the future w their eyes on the rear-view mirror

If you took a random sample of my inner life, it would most likely reveal my constantly shifting from past to present to future on repeat. I am always considering how my personal past has got me to my present moment, and how the past and present are going to proceed into the future. in an endless loop.

Next week I am moving, by myself, to Philadelphia. This will be the first time I will be travelling five hours on my own, let alone staying in an unfamiliar place indefinitely. Even though this is something I’m excited about and have been actively considering since February 2017, I also occasionally experience moments of terror and alienation when I think about it. I have a bias towards reflection over action, (i.e. every time I make a judgment I spend the next 24 hours overturning it, wondering if I’ve made a mistake, considering how I can get myself out of it, etc.). So even though I can think of plenty of reasons why this is a good decision, I can also think of the myriad of ways in which it could entail disaster. This is partly because I’m not walking away from a place I’m eager to leave. My current living situation also involves friends that I value and would love to keep in my everyday life. even though I like the idea of expanding my worldview, I realize that it also comes with parting ways from people and places I love. The idea of walking away from a situation that feels advantageous evokes the fear that I am walking away from good things for reasons I’ll eventually regret. For example, I met a person over the last few months who I find attractive and interesting on a few different dimensions, and every time I think about previous fun we’ve had together I experience something resembling homesickness and alienation. Even if we remain friends, it’s likely that the structure of our lives will look radically different, and that by moving I’m leaving behind the current conditions of our relationship. I can imagine how that could be a good thing, yet I can’t help but mourn the loss of something I appreciate. Also, one of my dearest friends since age 14 lives here and leaving also likely means the end of an era. It’s not obvious that we will ever again live in the same place, and besides for occasional visits, moving essentially means, as far as the realities of day-to-day life are concerned, relegating the friendship to the past. Getting what I want on one level means being deprived of what I want on another.

However, I realize I am constantly projecting the fears of the present moment into what I conceive of as “The Future,” but in the present, how much do I really know about the future? Do I know enough to make educated inferences about how I will feel three weeks from now? It feels like paradigms shift constantly (cough, this website is called exiting a paradigm). Yes, I can look at set of conjectures about what it is likely to be, considering where I will be living and where I’ll be directing my attention, but when the future becomes an experiential fact, I will have been altered by events that in this present moment I have no concept for. Even though four months ago I could have sketched out guesses about what my life would be like today, I couldn’t have accounted for the qualitative character of my experience in the present no matter the accuracy of my assumptions about the concrete details of my projected life situation.

It’s possible that my concerns about leaving the people I care about exist right now because I am not certain that I will be moving into a welcoming environment. Or maybe I’m torn because acquaintances have been reminding me, since May, that I am leaving, (“oh, I thought you already left”). It’s like people are accounting for their lives without my presence before I can account for my life without theirs, since I don’t know who will be in my daily life this time next year. Even though I’ve previously been friends with a person who was moving, and I remember projecting this sense of superiority onto his experience (he could be moving into anything! how exciting!) now I know that leaving doesn’t provide any more security than staying. Or maybe it’s that excitement and security can’t exist simultaneously, (i.e. pick one) and excitement and nervousness exist within each other, kicking each other out of the forefront depending on the moment. But here is the thing (and the center point of this blog post)– I am projecting loneliness and alienation into my future without acknowledging I am experiencing it in the present! I am concerned about leaving my friends because the self I am in this moment, with my current knowledge and interests, flows nicely with these people. However, as the future approaches and I experience it as the present, the complexion of my mind is going to shift along with new knowledge and experience. It is possible that the experiences of the future will render these concerns irrelevant, not because I’ll stop caring about these people, but because my personality will expand in a way that will help me accommodate for the change in a way I currently cannot.

The idea that the concerns of the present masquerade as concerns of the future made me wonder if this logic could be extended into other dimensions. Whenever we worry about the future or the past, we are essentially concerned about the present, because the past and future depend on the conditions of the present. we remember our past and imagine our future based on the nature of our minds in the moment. Terrence McKenna said that that worry is essentially hubris. We assume that we have complete knowledge about the future and then we worry. If we were able to account for emerging possibilities to the same degree that we fear repeating the negative aspects of the past (or avoiding the worst case scenarios of the future) would we still worry?

Well, [clearing throat] Jordan Peterson recently said that discipline is a matter of being terrified about the right things. The moment in which you dodge a car accident, there is this flurry of panic and tension that emerges, even after you know you’ve avoided an accident. Of course, this experience is the subjective side of a flood of cortisol, but I am wondering if the anxiety in response to an obvious threat in the immediate environment is just an emergent property of a past event but a warning about the present, in the same way that my fear of being lonely in an unfamiliar place reflects my alienation in the place I’ve been intending to leave since I arrived. The stress response after avoiding the accident is the body’s way of reminding us of our fragility, of the need to watch ourselves more closely, and to realize the game can come to a halt at any moment, and just because you made it out alive this time doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a future. The present is just as threatening as the dangerous past or future. I am afraid I will be socially isolated in the place I’m planning to spend at least the next two years because I’m currently in a place where my friends are accounting for my leaving, where there is very little opportunity to play the role in society that I want, a place that I never planned on being anyway. Perhaps the fear is natural.

the instincts perceptions of themselves

Here’s an image that may not have popped into your stream of consciousness for the last 24 hours—the flying dutchman. Remember the ghost ship destined to sail the ocean for the rest of eternity never to port? This idea was something I used to go months, weeks, days, epochs, etc. without checking in with. And now that I’m no longer enmeshed within the domestic family it is something that runs through my mind, AT LEAST five times every day. ; — )

I was introduced to the concept of Flying Dutchman Syndrome in Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self by Anthony Stevens. The book is an exploration of the biological evidence for Jung’s theory of the archetypes. In Jungian thought, the psyche is, roughly speaking, a kind of microcosm for all possible conscious states in human beings. The archetypes are described as “the riverbeds through which circumstances might induce libido to flow” (Stevens 143) or the arrangements of being that have historically occupied and continue to live on in the minds of people, despite vast differences in life circumstances.

Stevens describes the psychological trauma that results from our care takers’ inability to meet our early needs in childhood as the “frustration of archetypal intent.”  These primal frustrations are regulated to the unconscious and subtly create the conditions in which we think. Stevens devotes a chapter to the concept of the mother due to its extreme importance in the development of the ego-self axis, or “the spinal column for future individuality and autonomy” (Stevens 95). The self, as director of the psyche in its totality, negotiates the development of the ego, and future security is determined by the unfolding of this process. “The Self is to ego what the parent is to the child; it also resembles the relationship envisaged by the great world religions as existing between god and man, for the ego is, in a manner of speaking, the Self’s representative on earth, (i.e. in outer reality) (Stevens 92). The ego is a single constellation of the much more expansive Self, which includes both the material available for conscious understanding as well as the material which underwrites the conscious personality that has been relegated to the unconscious.

One important stop on the child’s journey towards recognizing himself as a *relatively* autonomous being is his (satisfactory) experience of mother-child dynamic, the expectation for which comes programmed in the psyche of every human being. As Stevens suggests, the parent-child dynamic was written into the phylogenetic blue print for the human experience. Because the infant is born at a period in his development which renders him much more vulnerable than other mammals, he has an innate need to be protected, and the urgency of this need (along with his obvious lack of cognitive sophistication) causes the child to see the mother as indistinguishable from survival, as well as indistinguishable from himself. During his most vulnerable years he sees her as essentially the embodiment of the great mother archetype, rather than an autonomous, unique individual. The degree to which he experiences his mother as well spring of love and protection (aka, the degree to which she fits into the mold of the mother as archetype which came programmed into his psyche) determines the integrity of the ego-self axis, which in turn informs the level of security the adult possesses later in life.

To further intensify the dynamic effect on the psyche the mother-child relationship represents, Stevens, along with Jung, suggests that the process of differentiating between ego and caregivers constitutes a crucial step in the developmental process. “Only gradually, as the child’s ego -consciousness grows and he begins to recognize his parents as persons in their own right distinct from himself , do the parental archetypes –Mother (in both her Good and Terrible aspects) and Father — differentiate out of the archetypal totality which is the self” (Stevens 92). Just as there are restorative and destructive elements of nature, the simultaneously dangerous and protective elements of the mother underscore the parent child-bond, and an understanding of how to confront these dynamics must be obtained in order for the child to proceed towards normal development. My sense is that if the integrity of the relationship between the individual child and the individual parent were based solely on the concrete interactions between the two then it would be much easier for things to go well—all you have to do is feed the infant when he cries, change his clothes when dirty etc. but here is where this all becomes more complex– because all humans also have the capacity for reproductive potential (though obviously there are individuals who, for various reasons, are exempt from this rule) parents come equipped with expectations around the role a child will play in their life. Things get prickly, particularly for the child, when she fails to meet the needs of the parent’s puer aeternus (eternal child) projection, and in response the mother fails to or refuses to meet the child’s most basic needs. Because children or young adults tend to lack the ability to give voice to their unconscious dynamics, a lot of damage can be done to the ego, and the rest of the psyche, as a consequence.

Because the parent-child relationship proceeds on the basis of archetypal projections, (and is therefore also indistinguishable from the ego’s perception of its self [if you follow my logic there]) Stevens suggests that psychological integration cannot occur until both parent and child move beyond projections and instead embrace each other as individuals. The act of dissolving projections occurs in one of four ways.

  1. The child renounces her projection of the ideal parent and proceeds to love her care taker as an individual, and the parent holds onto their projection of the eternal child
  2. The parent renounces her eternal child projection and the child holds onto their ideal parental figure projection
  3. Both renounce their projections and love each other as individuals (our goal)
  4. Neither ever renounces their projection of the other.

I’m enthusiastic about the idea of Flying Dutchman Syndrome because it provides a framework for understanding the activation of early childhood tensions in adulthood. Like the ghost ship destined to explore the seas for the rest of eternity, Flying Dutchman Syndrome occurs when a child cannot give up their idea of the perfect parent and proceeds to search for it in other idealized figures for the rest of their life. This seems to occur when the process an individual would normally undergo to understand his parental figures as distinct from himself is thwarted. “When the actualization has been deficient, an individual finds himself, despite his conscious will in the matter, ‘sucked into’ personal involvements and situations which promise to possess characteristics adequate to constellate, or bring to birth, the un-lived archetypal elements” (Stevens 93). Interestingly, a person on a flying dutchman quest will experience his life circumstances shuffle themselves in a way that allows him to act out the early frustration of failing to get his basic requirements met. He can’t help but displace his early expectations for his parental figures onto his romantic partners, who fail to engender these requirements, or at least cannot sustain an ability to do so for long.

Considering the pressing needs of most infants, my conjecture is that more people are on a Flying Dutchman quest than we acknowledge. Maybe this is partly because though as a society we occasionally joke about looking for a mother or father figure in a romantic partner, most of us don’t realize this dilemma is so common as to warrant a name (Thank you, Anthony Stevens). When I brought up the concept of flying dutchman syndrome to a friend, he suggested that marriage might be a socially acceptable way of attempting to remedy this complex. We find a figure to idealize, form a bond with them, and move onto a stage of our lives where our emotional distance from our parents becomes ostensible (i.e. we enter into a domestic arrangement ourselves). If this quest for the ideal protective figure we never had in childhood cannot be fully remedied, but only soothed,  maybe instead of prematurely involving ourselves in long-term relationships, we can be sure that we’re attending to the integrity of the ship on which we sail. I think this means committing to an ongoing inquiry into the complexion of one’s mind, perhaps at the (occasional) expense of connection to seemingly important others.



Stevens, Anthony. Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self. London: Routledge. 1990

grand-schemes, meta-narratives, et. al

I am often inspired by how much heavy lifting intonations do in conversation. Time and time again it feels appropriate to say that it doesn’t matter what you say as much as how you say it. If you don’t know what i’m talking about, please remember that dogs, to name one example, respond to the intonation in which they are spoken, not the words being pointed at them. Our intonation, body language, historical and situational context, levels and duration of eye contact seem to say more about our inner lives than the language we employ to represent ourselves.

So i’m wondering–what if tomorrow the intonations we’re used to hearing in a calm conversation on a Tuesday morning with a co-worker with whom you have a civil, yet weightless relationship were replaced with the intonation, the timing, and quality of eye contact a neurosurgeon might drop in a hospital waiting room as he’s telling you that the surgery he went into with casual arrogance resulted in your mother being in a coma? what if we went to the gas station and though all we were saying was 20 on 2, it felt identical to the feeling of having something lifted, like the metaphysical transaction that occurs in the confession? What would this shift imply about the importance of language in interactions between people?

Terrence McKenna said that “language is to life what life is to death.” I am a person who has previously attempted to replace living with reading. I’ve prioritized immersing myself in conceptualization at the expense of experiencing, but as I develop a healthier balance between the need to think and understand and the need to simply BE, I’m realizing that no matter how articulate I become, experiencing a paradigm shift is categorically different from reading about one. This might seem obvious to you, it seems obvious to me, but that’s partly the point I’m trying to make: though our relationships and experiences on one level proceed on the basis of the words we exchange, the shining forth of the inner life of the person we’re in relation with is how we interpret our experience, update our models of reality, and know how to proceed. Somehow we outsource our sense of the appropriate thing to say from what is not said. Somehow we know when a person is perceiving us in a way that is out of touch with who we know ourselves to be, when to end a conversation, or when a person could be understood as being “authentic.” So much of our interactions are non-linguistic, yet we try to “download them into language” whenever we attempt to understand their implication.

Part of why “language is to life what life is to death” seems opaque is that death is a state of non-existence, just like language is fundamentally insufficient in capturing reality. After death, the tools we’d employ during life become irrelevant, untouchable, incapable of being drawn upon. Considering the importance of intonation, subtext, body language, etc. What if language is useful only as a rough approximation of what occurs between subjects? What if the reason that I’m constantly looking for meaning in life and existing in a state of scarcity is that  (And I suspect at least one other person knows what i’m talking about here) I’m using a system to establish a meaning for something (life) which is much more expansive and multi-textured than language could ever manage? What if the only appropriate solution to this problem is to step away from my word processor and go be a body?