Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Transparency of Efficient Utilities: How problems keep us awake and why a perfect world would resemble deep sleep.

Just like the lyrics in this song bring up: we love problems because they entertain and arouse our attention. Without them, we would perhaps not find anything worth paying attention to...

Heidegger brought up in his Being and Time that when something works well, we fail to notice it. He used the example of a pencil: we only notice the pencil when it breaks and not when we are using it. When the pencil works up to expectation we focus on other things. But when it breaks our attention is brought to the pencil. Therefore, we can say the same of any utility. For instance a limb. We almost never notice out arms. We do think about where to put them, but we hardly ever think about the arms themselves. Its only when they have some kind of deviancy that we start to think solely about the arms. So when the arm is injured we think of the arm. When the arm is well we think of what is done through the arm.

We can postulate that: as long as a utility is efficient, its presence is transparent, in that we pay no mind to the utility itself.

If we think of the adage “time flies when your having fun” we can infer that when all is well and we are content/happy, our sense of time quickly runs to its end, so that it seems as if the fun affair was an altogether brief one- compared to what happens before or after. This means that having fun, which may be the most efficient use of ones time in a satisfactory sense, causes time or reality in general to flyby. So let us assume for a moment that one always had fun and there was no end to it. It would be reasonable to say that time would flyby. But would it flyby so fast that it ceases to exist? As times of joy seem like quick flashes compared to periods of plight, a time of joy with no boundaries to contain it would be so fleeting that perhaps if we would to experience it, the experience would not be noticeable in much the same way that our experience of efficient utilities is not noticeable.

If we take the experience of time to be something that can be utilized more efficiently through having fun, then we can say that time would become transparent and we would not notice it at all. So having fun removes the notion of time from us by making it not a problem, because in times of joy one does not experience stress or anxiety which are the essential reasons we bring attention to time.

Thus through the lens of that adage we can see this phenomenon of transparency of efficient utilities as telling us that time is only noticeable when we have something that interrupts our fun. The founder of Gestalt therapy F.S. Perils in his book Ego, Hunger, and Aggression stated that time exists as a tension between meals. That is, we don’t notice time when we are full, because our cares our satisfied, and we notice time when we are hungry, because we begin to focus on the a future event, which in turn creates a hunger-tension which is experienced as time duration.

Taking a step further we can imagine the logical conclusion of our technology in providing satisfaction. If this were to happen, and all our desires were met, we would perhaps lose all feeling for time. What would become of us when time is not an issue anymore? Well if we follow the logic above concerning the transparency of efficient utilities and apply it to this thought, we can conclude that time would become transparent when it is not an issue for attention anymore. But what does it mean to exist without time as a constant in our attention? If such a state were possible, and we had no problems to make time a concern, how would we behave? How would we think? What about us would change?

I believe if all utilities were brought to maximum efficiency, then all experience would fall into something resembling deep sleep- deep sleep meaning a state of mind devoid of conscious attention. That is, when there are no more issues and all runs smoothly in our reality, then our attention becomes nullified as it is only brought up when there is something to be fixed or a problem to be solved. Thus a perfect world, in terms of every satisfaction being met, would cease to become a focus of attention. Thus as no attention is brought to anything, the perfect world resembles deep sleep. We may as well be awake but we wouldn’t know it. Only when something comes to disturb the peace/efficiency/fun does attention spring up and existence once again becomes something to be experienced.

We owe our problems a great gratitude. For without them, we would have nothing in reality to experience. A perfect world free from pain or problem has no reason to be looked at, problems are what bring us into experiencing the world. Without them we would not have any reason to experience reality.