The Horizon Seekers

The Horizon Seekers by Mary Clark

In my new book, The Horizon Seekers, time travel and romance play like light in the story, I hope. 🙂

Leila Payson moves from the present to the future seamlessly, and tries to make her visions real. She teaches high school, but she is more than her job and her role as dutiful daughter, she is a kind of pioneer. She hopes that when her students fly, they’ll see beyond the horizon to where imagination and courage can take them.

Meanwhile, mystery follows Leila. She is haunted by early trauma, but is it memory or a dream? She confides only to her funky, no-nonsense best friend, Caroline.

One of Leila’s students learns he is losing his hearing. She rethinks her life and occupation, remodels it, bringing in her past experiences, her future realizations, and her friends. Those friends veer from fun-loving to serious as they move through the seams of the modern world, seeking new arrangements. Baruti, the therapist who works with people with disabilities, whom Leila met in South Africa years before, is a constant presence. And an attractive man with a book keeps appearing at her favorite places. The journey begins, and the horizon always beckons.

Tender Branch

Chapter 3 Tally: An Intuitive Life

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Rogue read from PJ’s novel, Tender Branch, written after his divorce and subsequent hospitalization.

PJ decided to publish a chapter. It would be a chapbook. A local shop had a color copier that PJ had experimented with in reproducing his textile designs.

Rogue and I spent the weekend typing it. PJ came to Rogue’s apartment and helped Rogue sew up the binding of some of Rogue’s chapbooks while we worked. Afterwards, we ambled to outdoor cafés for ice cream, in the deep space of our own world.

“I sought death,” PJ said, “by unintentional injury—not so unintentional, of course. I was hospitalized and spent weeks in hysteria and paranoia. In my own life I have been far from conventionally pure but even in my excesses, I was always innocent. And yet my guilt came out in the paranoia in the hospital. That was all my lifetime of guilt that I had so carefully put away. Oh God, the paranoia. I remember asking my wife: what have the investigators found out about me? My secrets? Did she know? Did they tell her anything?”

Tender Branch opened with a hallucino-dream in the hospital.

“It was a far more vivid experience than the consciousness that was my life. It was a kind of super-consciousness.” He remembered sitting with his back to a wall and in front of him nothing but distance. “Behind the wall, an inclined space. There was brilliant light and to his left, several feet away, naked, sat his wife with her back to the wall.

“She was as silent as he. A voice said: ‘Shut your eyes. The first one who opens them will die.’ For a long time he sat there with his eyes tightly shut, for he did not want to die, and he hoped his wife would keep her eyes shut, for he did not want her to die.

When he could not bear it any longer, he let one eye open, then both. “He turned his head to look. His wife was not there. Surely she was not dead—and he would not die.”

He knew that this was not an episode in his life, although it was certainly a conscious experience. In this new and fantastic aspect of consciousness he understood more clearly the situation he was in.

After signing a paper he was too ill to read, everything changed. “Sometimes briefly he would see at his bedside one of those out to destroy him. Hysteria, hallucinations and dark humor prevailed. He knew he was one of a dozen who were to be the doctors’ victims. They would be used as long as they could be, in the machinations of the programs for the amusement and indulgence of the rich patrons and eventually, when they were no longer useful, they would be murdered.”

He asked his former wife if she were one of them and she said yes. “But he could not believe it. He loved his wife. Even though he knew she would leave him and he would die because he could not live without loving her.”

The major torment the doctors devised was to “open all the shut and locked doors in his mind and transmit his secret thoughts to people in the next room. Film projectors had been set up in concealed places and he could look nowhere without seeing the lurid, erotic, unimaginable images as they danced, pranced, rolling and tossing beautiful color, with the sounds of voices, hysterical laughter, musical voices making disgraceful proposals, and participants freely acting them out, no matter what sex, what age, what combinations.”

He lamented, “Not one of his most secret and buried fantasies or memories could be concealed. Now all these people knew his deepest guilt. How could he continue to live?”

“What was it like to die?”

“Nothing dramatic about it. I welcomed death as a solution of all my conflicts. I would avoid the viciousness of a life without her. She would be free to pursue her own interests.”

“Free to create her destiny.”

He smiled, his eyes winking, piercing blue. “At the same time, I welcomed death as the fulfillment of a very great life. I was content. In fact, nothing could be more right. I had the wonder of living in love with my wife. Surely, few men had ever had it so good.”

“You were aware of what was going on?”

“For a few moments I experienced an exceptional clarity. I felt no sentiment or emotion, no regret or grief. I told my wife, ‘All the happiness I’ve had in my life was due to you, recognizing you, loving you and living with you.’”

He wrote this about dying:

Death enfolded him before he could say more. Death. Silence. Absolutely nothing, if not deep unconscious peace. That is what death is. Release from all consciousness, from all guilt, from all threats of poverty or torture of riches. The dead have no responsibility. There is no ego to establish and maintain at the cost of one’s self and cruelty to others. Peace. The apotheosis of peace, of quietness, of no emotional or physical pain, no wish or seeking for praise.

But suddenly my sublime peace was disturbed. I could not move but I felt. Cold, then warm. A flow of warmth began to trickle in. What is this? The warmth moved at a snail’s pace across a line marking half a body, seeking a place where it could break through. The point was found and with the same languid force the warmth broke through until I felt every part of myself, still inert, immobile, but an eyelid, one and then the other, opened. Without interest I saw my wife sitting in a chair beside my bed, watching me with intense anxiety. From her arm extended a tube to my arm, and then I knew that the warmth I felt was her blood, her life, giving life to my body.

He fell asleep soon after. His last conscious thought was this: She is giving birth to me.

Tally: An Intuitive Life, published by All Things That Matter Press, is available in print and ebook formats.

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A New Definition of Intuition

In our modern scientific world, the idea that great thoughts and insights can come from a person who simply uses his mental capacity to study and gain understanding of human nature (or the human condition) has receded into the realm of legend: Aristotle, Socrates, Plato (The Greek pantheon), Rousseau and the French pantheon, Hume and the English/Scottish philosophers, Laozi, and countless others from many parts of the world.

In the 1960s through the late 1980s, Paul Johnson (PJ), a Greenwich Village artist and writer, made his own journey to study the way in which we develop our intuition, how we use our perception and intellect, and how we relate to one another based on these.

PJ discovered that the “intuition” is not ESP, or some magical process, but a rational one. In the “building of the intuition” the use of reason is elemental. Beginning before consciousness or at least consciousness of memory, a child interacts with his body, other people and the environment, beginning to learn of the effects of his actions and reactions.

There is a qualitative value assigned to each experience. At its most fundamental, this can be expressed as either positive or negative. Human beings’ interactions with others and the environment are fraught with emotions, impacts on self-development and image, and one’s sense of “being a good person,” that is, innocent. Placed in a compendium are both the positive or amiable, and the negative or hostile experiences.

Thinking of his childhood and observing others, PJ was able to describe how the “intuitive program” begins. Seeing a child punished in the park for picking up a piece of glass, he said, “That child was amiable when he was born. He felt no guilt. Until someone slapped his hand and said, No, don’t do that! And he felt hostility for the first time.”

“The little one is beginning to make up his own program. He builds up an unconscious memory bank of what would do him the least harm of his actions and reactions.”

This collection, or breviary, of amiable and hostile experiences may be given the name: intuition. The intuition, PJ explained, determines one’s response to a situation as either an amiable or a hostile one. This response is instantaneous and unconscious (although one can become more attuned to it). The intuition is only an intermediary between stimulus and response. It directs the nature of the response.

All of this happens below the level of consciousness. British professor Guy Claxton states that the intuition is “a mental process which is non-conscious, but nevertheless rational.” That is, it follows certain implicit rules. 1 (Claxton uses the word “non-conscious” to separate it from the Freudian concept of the “unconscious.”)

As PJ did, Claxton recognizes the levels of consciousness, and the need as well as the ability to access these levels. PJ came to his conclusions through “tapping into the subliminal stream of consciousness.” In this way he was able to discover his motivations, and to evaluate his actions and their consequences.

This paper will be followed by others on Memory and Intuition, Guilt and Innocence, and Perceptive Intellect.

PJ’s story is told in Tally: An Intuitive Life, All Things That Matter Press, 2013. Available on:

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1 Han Baltussen, 2007. Did Aristotle have a concept of ‘intuition’? Some thoughts on translating ‘nous’. In E. Close, M. Tsianikas and G. Couvalis (eds.) “Greek Research in Australia: Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial International Conference of Greek Studies, Flinders University June 2005,” Flinders University Department of Languages – Modern Greek: Adelaide, 53-62. Archived at Flinders University: dspace.flinders.edu.au. This paper is available on academia.edu

Human Beings are Rogue Agents of Change

What if we are all in a dream, and it is just a phase, a phase that must not be interrupted, but allowed to run its course, or the promise will be unfulfilled? That’s the idea that informs Waking God, Book 1, by Philip F. Harris and Brian L. Doe, All Things That Matter Press. The main characters, Andrew and Mara, carry the godseed that can bring forth a new Being equal to or even greater than its Creator. “They shall be as gods, for that is their design. The dormant gene shall emerge.”

Harris and Doe give flesh and blood to this theme. Andrew, a professor, is on a quest: “To discover the unified secret, both lost and perhaps conspiratorially hidden, that lay behind man’s spiritual existence. If he could close the circle, science and religion would once again merge.”

Not only is there a conspiracy to keep Man from knowing, there is this impetus behind all scientific and spiritual search:

“If you knew the reason for everything as it happened, you would stagnate. Man is not yet all-knowing. If he were, there would be no purpose for any of this. Not having all the answers at one’s fingertips puts us on the path of discovery. It is how we evolve.”

“While physicists were exploring a more real world theory of a unified universe, Andrew felt that such a hypothesis would never truly answer all of life’s greatest questions. Intuitively, he knew that quarks, neutrinos, packets of photons, vibrating strings of energy, dark matter were but half of the “grand equation. …What was different, [Andrew] often queried, between the transcendental notion that an event in one part of the universe rippled throughout all of reality, and the current quantum string theory?”

In the search for “the unified secret,” all the cards in the deck are reshuffled. What has been promulgated as “good” is revealed to be an attempt to prevent human beings from waking from the dream-state and discovering their true potential. God is undefined, appearing to be an aloof and mystical causal agent (reminiscent of the Holy Ghost). While many of the traditions, organizations and symbols are Christian in this book, there are episodes where other spiritual traditions and religions come into the story.

If there is a divide between Man and God, what side would the angels be on? It turns out their loyalty would be divided, and a battle has been playing out since ancient times. What gives human beings hope that they will wake from the dream-state is the force of consciousness

Of interest to me is the notion that every human being is an agent of change. We are, I believe, not only agents of change, but rogue agents, a disrupting force in the universe. As disruptive causal agents, our influences and interactions can become disruptive causes in themselves. So the interactions may initiate series (are they chains?) of actions and reactions. We push the known limits of being and becoming. Some say this is to become more like our creator, attracted by unity; others that we will realize our full potential and become the equal of or greater than our creator.

Why would the god-principle create a force that could, once it wakes up, challenge all other forces or agents and even become dominant? One possible answer is that it would be natural for a causal agent to create more than harmonious effects or results (the Garden of Eden, for instance), but other causal agents (Adam and Eve). The god-principle, as the creator of all causal agents, is the greatest of them. But can this god-principle be subject to being overtaken by its own creations?

Our role in the universe may be to keep being and becoming alive, both by creating and developing and by breaking patterns or rearranging them, even to the extent of destroying (changing matter and energy in one form to another distinct form), or making chaotic what has become too stable. These are precipitating events, another theme of Waking God.

All the while, we view ourselves as rational beings, with a desire for order. Camus said rebellion, which is disruptive, was at base a call for unity, the most positive form of order.

In our quest to fully develop our potential, at some point, we will reach a level where transformation to a higher form takes place. In a sense our current condition is a dream state; we are not truly awake to what we are becoming, or could become.

It is this vision that Waking God explores.

Thinking, Consciousness and Time

Thinking is a conscious act. Without consciousness it does not exist. While the brain uses reasoning, memory and sensory information to evaluate, solve problems and decide on actions continuously in our everyday lives, often without our awareness, or with partial awareness, this is not thinking. The act or process of thinking requires an awareness of the “whole” or gestalt of a situation, and we call this over-arching awareness “consciousness.”

Consciousness is a way for the brain to hold a problem or observation of a situation in the here and now while time is passing by. In this suspended state, non-essential stimuli are blocked; perhaps this contributes to the experience afterward of having “lost one’s sense of time.” Without this ability, thinking would be like riding the rapids with an assault of sights, sounds, and emotions. It would be very difficult without the ability to set aside time (within time) for a thought process to focus and develop on one particular aspect. Thinking is intellectual consideration, whether of an external object, or of concepts, or both. Because of consciousness, a person can complete this consideration.

By keeping us “in the moment,” consciousness keeps us where we actually are in time: always in the present moment, and gives us a sense not of passing time, but of timelessness or time without end, the eternal (nunc stans, the Eternal Now). It is this experience that attracts people who are seeking a “higher awareness” and a suspension of thought and freeing from the physical, the body and the world, and from time. It is in fact a suspension of thinking about non-essentials as one focuses more on the present moment. What is considered non-essential increases as considerations are made and understanding or resolution achieved. Some call the apex of this an experience of “nothing,” but in fact it comes from the understanding of every action and thought as it reaches its culmination. In other words, there will be no epiphany, or nirvana, or heaven, without the wisdom that comes from living.

Notes:

“Nunc fluens facit tempus, nunc stans facit aeternitatum. (The now that passes produces time, the now that remains produces eternity.)” – Boethius, an early 6th Century Italian philosopher, The Consolation of Philosophy

Nunc stans, the Eternal Now, was thought to represent the consciousness of the Supreme Being in medieval times.

This is part of a work in progress, currently titled Essays, by Mary Clark