Cliff Diving: The Dangerous Leap into Suspension and Proprioceptive Flight

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I’m forced to decipher the order that is slowly unfolding on its own. That is, this isn’t really an inquiry through words or logic of a thinking mind, but a way for words and logic to catch up with a wider perspective than a thinking mind can know.

It’s as if something non-rational is trying to recalibrate the rational mind so that it doesn’t block access to a larger perception.

And I’m not sure of my role as a speaker entirely. The speaker seems to be necessary in some way, but it’s not central to what is happening. Currently it seems to function mostly as a filter, to help organize certain features of reality into a workable personal relationship to the world.

But this worked-out relationship to the world – not only this sense of Self, but also everything this form of Self demands, such as power, prestige, and economic and national systems to promote all that – is leading to self-destruction.

The culture keeps looking for new ways to improve the filtering function of the Speaker or Self (which is to say, improve the moral quality of this fictional approach to the world); and we also keep looking for ways to improve the economic and national systems designed to promote the function of the Speaker or Self (which is to say, we keep looking for social solutions to this psychic and spiritual crossroads).

In other words, we keep employing one of two main ways to handle the approaching apocalypse: 1) Try to improve one’s Self; and 2) try to improve the culture that promotes the Self.

What we haven’t done is consider a deeper level change: exchanging the filter of the Self for an entirely different kind of filter – one not based on focus/repression, or concentration/exclusion, or Self/Other; but what might be called a “proprioceptive filter.”

The proprioceptive filter does not require a speaker. (The speaker may be necessary still for sub-functions, but I don’t want to take that detour right now). The actual “filtering” is not performed in this case by a speaker, a voice in the head, a controller, a thinker, a Self.

A proprioceptive filter doesn’t use repression, denial, promotion, argument, or any kind of forced or positive story (any thought) to filter reality into workable chunks. It’s an entirely different approach, radically different. Essentially it does what seems utterly contradictory to filtering – it prevents nothing from being absorbed. It doesn’t guard against anything. It doesn’t establish a subtle control over the stream of information. It organizes or puts order to this stream by allowing the errors to constantly surface on their own, and nothing more. It notices everything as it happens, not as a Self thinking about what happened in the immediate past. There is no past from the proprioceptive point of view.

(Switching metaphors entirely now, which a prismatic perspective doesn’t find jarring), it must be something like the conundrum faced by young birds that hatch on cliffs. They can find security either by holding tight to the cliff and never moving, or they can utterly abandon that strategy and allow themselves to fall. A young bird, of course, has no idea what’s going to happen. (Just as I never do when I’m writing this). But it feels or senses the pull or potential of a fully reversed strategy. It gets an insight into its own potential, sensing that if it let go it could find an order within that apparent chaos of falling. It doesn’t know this, it can’t until it falls. But it senses that there is a larger order available than the one found by clinging to the cliff. It senses the error inherent in such a life. There is something far too limited in clinging to the cliff. It senses the starvation and dependency this leads towards, and this feels “wrong” as a strategy. So by default, by negation, it begins to sense a larger world. But it has to give up its current approach to security to fully make the pivot from the cliff wall and look into the abyss. It must revoke control entirely, not partially, not carefully.

But this is what the transition to proprioception feels like. I can either hold tight against the errors I make, trying hard to retain an upright character, a flawless Self, the best person I can be, as if these efforts to cling to an idealistic image were noble, not in fact self-deceptive and destructive. Or I can drop these pretenses and protections and trust to a radically different sort of filter, one that sees through the repressions and promotions of an always-one-sided Self. Identity is a poor filter in general, because it’s always prejudiced in favor of the established precedent. So it’s essentially filtering by way of denying and promoting only certain aspects of reality. It says, Clinging to this cliff edge has kept me safe so far! I must never let go.

So in holding tight, the eyes are closed to the reality of the precarious predicament fast approaching (very fast), which is a natural predicament, requiring a sober look at the danger, and the realization that sacrifice of one security for a larger and initially more disconcerting one is necessary. It’s required in order to mature into this life form’s tremendous promise – perhaps as a bird built for more subtle realms. Discovering the security of falling — releasing the rock of certainty and discovering the uncanny security of living in the suspended awareness of not knowing: learning to stay aloft and not rest in conclusion.

So these quicker essays are pivoting towards a quicker relationship to honesty, one that is not based on ideals and other static conceptions; but one that allows mistakes to happen (allows the fall to happen) without correction, judgment, reprimand, guilt or any of the claws by which I cling.

Or without the top-down approach to control that requires the fictional CEO of a Self-image.

The mystery of proprioception is what interests me, the vivid promise of an utterly larger world than the one limited to top-down controls. It’s so bizarre to let go for even a moment and realize that it doesn’t matter what happens (or happened), it only matters if we’re honest about what is happening. Proprioception is allowing the little pinpricks of error to be felt, to be exposed to itself (not to a judge of some kind), before they are repressed into guilts or pumped up into solipsistic bubbles of certainty. The Self Filter always results in repression and solipsism on some level.

So this is a quick report I suppose on the pivot from one filter to another that is happening now (worldwide I mean). It provokes a different conception of oneself and others, not as the people we imagine us to be, but the dormant portion we can sense somehow, which is shared, which is not Self-centric or personal. A larger Self looks like the destruction of everything we know and trust. And it is. But it’s necessary and it’s already happening. The earth itself is who we are, and in its rapid decay we see the reflection of a psychological and spiritual crisis that demands a leap of faith. Is it possible that this is the earth’s own crisis of growth, and that we are only one of its emerging wings?

Fanciful and silly maybe, but I feel it’s something like this. And that’s why I’ve had to work out a new way of conceiving you, me and us. It’s not a personal issue anymore, so the personal voice and personal audience has to change its fundamental nature. It has to become more inconsistent for one. And there is an unexpected relationship between an honest performance of one’s Self (as a knowing or honest fiction) and the truth, but it’s something I can’t quite reach yet.  But the old conception of a real me behind all this is gone. And with it you also change into something I can’t grasp. But this no longer evokes the horrors of radical solipsism. I feel the reality of our larger life now in this utter uncertainty, like wings that beat the empty air but are beginning to feel the pull of the air’s hidden fullness.

Leap Before You Look
WH Auden

The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
It is not the convention but the fear
That has a tendency to disappear.

The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Produce a few smart wisecracks every year;
Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

The clothes that are considered right to wear
Will not be either sensible or cheap,
So long as we consent to live like sheep
And never mention those who disappear.

Much can be said for social savior-faire,
Bu to rejoice when no one else is there
Is even harder than it is to weep;
No one is watching, but you have to leap.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

8 thoughts on “Cliff Diving: The Dangerous Leap into Suspension and Proprioceptive Flight

  1. I should have made it more obvious that proprioception is being looked at as a form of suspended awareness or flight, a balance as if between two or more wings — negative and positive, focus and periphery, left and right brain, Literalism and Metaphoric or prismatic or kaleidoscopic perspectives, feminine and masculine, yin and yang, with the positive, the rational, the assertive, the focused, the masculine being in service to the wider-horizon of the peripheral, receptive, feminine, right brained, Negatively aware, because the wider, peripheral focus contains the focused, but the focused excludes the peripheral. So it’s a natural nested hierarchy, which this balance of wings suggests. A perfectly melded harmony of a large-hearted breadth of vision and a focused servant of that vision. Right now the balance is lost and a general state of war exists between these so-called poles. They lost their immersion in one another as proprioception.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Also, the essay is still a mixed metaphor — proprioception as flight and proprioception as filter. But that’s what happens in letting go of the control of highly edited essays and moving to the swifter form of 2 hour essays. I do lose some control and make more mistakes, in exchange for a livelier, more responsive relationship to what I’m learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff,

    “Mixed metaphor” is not an “error” within a prismatic perspective. Its prohibition has been one of Thought’s “Laws” intended to keep us in bounds.

    This journey you have shared with us through this past week’s essays has brought us to the top of this cliff and you have here shown us with a remarkable and thrilling clarity what this all implies.

    All I can say right now is, Wonderful!

    I must say I feel the beat of your wing working in amazing synchronicity with the beat I find in “mine…”

    And Auden…


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeff,


    I’m sending this to you all because I want to share this with Christian, and in hopes that, if he feels it appropriate, he shares it with his son Sebastian who is, I feel, already living post-leap.

    Jeff, I can’t wait for us to have a chance to sit by your campfire and lean back and feel the wind filling our sails.

    How’s that for a rolling mixed metaphor!


    Antonio Dias

    Liked by 1 person

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