By William Markiewicz
Thought seems to be the crown of the living process. Life is different from everything else in the universe; life 'acts' while no matter what dynamic and grandiose phenomena occur in the rest of the universe, they always express 'condition.' 'Condition' means automatism, while 'acting' implies decision. Decision as part of life precedes thought. Practically all living creatures, no matter what their degree of evolution, make 'decisions.'
Unless we are motivated, we usually catch our thoughts floating at random. This is shown most clearly in dreams where we are totally passive observers trapped in an illusion of reality. Basic thought is a semi-automatic constant process comparable to breathing but while we can temporarily stop breathing we can't really stop the stream of thoughts. Even those who stop their thoughts through some training or discipline, can't really imitate death. In this, thought's automatism will be something between breathing and heart beating. I don't remember which scientist described the process of thinking as the function of the brain "which excretes thought as the liver does bile." The brain is the only organ whose excretions have such an abstract character. Still thought is a physical phenomenon and science fiction anticipates "informaton" particles. Thus, in some remote future, we may be able to receive knowledge by injection. This will be 'thought' at its end point but not at its starting point..
Automatic, constant, spontaneous thoughts are the raw material of our more organized voluntary, goal directed thoughts. The question still impossible to answer is: when, at which point, do automatic thoughts become conscious thoughts, meaning coming from us and not to us. We know that when we have to make a decision we feel the weight of consciousness; it starts at the edge of opposites. When we accept something we may have to reject something. We know that there are different degrees of consciousness, from semi-conscious to super-alert. Dying people, like the famous toreador Manolete and some others had similar last words: "I feel I am fading, I am fading." The ultimate mystery of consciousness is not so much in degree as in the fact that it is so personal. We can transplant body parts but we cannot interchange our consciousness. That's where the fear of death intervenes no matter what the creature's degree of evolution.. Being, conscious means simply being, as an overwhelming instinct for life, transcending intelligence.
The ancient Romans' slogan, "Bread and Circuses", despite its apparent triviality presenting a low picture of the Roman populace, really expresses the truth of what life is about. If you don't have to struggle for survival, the next most important goal is -- fun. Of course, fun is not the same for each, as each tree bares different fruits.
Each of us knows what triggers the goals and activities in his own existence. Still, we don't know what triggers living. Imagine an immense ocean containing 'aquariums' of various sizes interdependent with the ocean but not identical to it, and possessing the drive to be self-sustaining and multiply. Those strange 'aquariums' are us, vessels of the flame of life in water, earth and air. We don't know why life possesses the determination that comes from its entrails to perpetuate and multiply; why those 'aquariums,' designers of their own environment, exist within the 'ocean?' Why life exists; this link between inside and outside, using exterior resources for its own convenience, for its own sense? I don't assume that the building of life is a conscious drive. If we're the sum of our parts, how can we grasp the genesis of ourselves; it would be consciousness preceding existence.
We don't know the fabric of our thoughts, only what they intimately relate to -- they exist because of what they can perceive. We are not as aware of instruments which are part of us, as of their purpose. Eluard expressed it poetically: "she has the color of my eyes, she has the shape of my hands." Outside our thoughts .and their topics we don't 'exist;' because being only a link, we don't have existence apart. Therefore we cannot think of ourselves thinking, we cannot observe ourselves observing.Back to the index of the Vagabond