Reality An Open Possibility
n.c.esMiy. luvsdn^: march I|^ 1975 page 7
By BRYANT ARRINGTON
Fire burns. Without this as a fact there
could not be the kind of reality we have.
But fire does not have to burn a person in
a particular case at a particular time.
Fire walking is a reality on the island
of Ceylon for the Hindus who worship
Kataragama. The event has been
covered by such reputable publications
as the New York Times, National
Geographic, Travel Magazine, and
Scientific American. The English Society
of Physical Research ran a series of tests
on two Indian fakirs who walked on red
hot coals under control conditions. No
chemicals were used, no preparation
made and they repeated the performance
on coals measured at 500 to 1400 degrees
centigrade. The results: verified stories
published on fire walking.
The secret of the Hindus was stated in
National Geographic by Hindu Mohotty,
a successful fire walker, as “Faith, total
faith in my gods.”
“As with all the firewalkers, the long
togas they wear are not even scorched
unless the walkers faith snaps,
whereupon the toga bursts into flames,”
one account said. Admission to the
priesthood hinges on a successsful
walking over the stones, and attendants
stood by with long wooden hooks to try to
rake failures off before they were
ONE OF THE tenets of science is of a
basic uniform causality operating as a
unifying force throughout the universe.
Dr. Warren Weaver speaks (Science and
Imagination, Selected Papers) of this as
a kind of statistical necessity, but points
out that this can never be proven to apply
in a specific case.
“There is a relationship between what
we think is out there in the world the
energy of thought and the energy of
matter modify each other and
interrelate. A kind of rough mirroring
takes place between our mind and our
reality.” So says Joseph Pearce (The
Crack in the Cosmic Egg).
Jerome Bruner of Harvard’s Center for
Cognitive Studies has also concluded that
our minds direct our sensory approaches
with a selective program as much as our
sensory apparatus informs the mind.
However, to consider our viewpoint as
arbitrary places our reality in the same
questionable position. This could explain
the hostility of an individual towards
something outside his reality.
HOSTILITY AGAINST another’s
reality and support of one’s own reality
with religious fever is part of reinforcing
the circle of one’s own logic. Have you
ever witnessed a discussion of beliefs?
Each person has a circular logic which
often necessitates denial of the others’
arguments as rubbish, or a reexplaining
within their own realities’ terms of the
We often look on the beliefs held by
primitive tribes as archaic survival
mechanisms. I^vi-Strauss, the French
anthropologist, challenges our smug
chauvinisms (The Savage Mind). He
claims that archaic thought patterns
were “highly disciplined, intellectual
structures, designed to give the world
coherence, shape and meaning.” This, of
course, is what all world views
Our realities and the realities of
primitive people produce results
unobtainable to each other. Each reality
is bought at the price of possibilities
sacrified to keep a limited structure
intact. And there are times when a
reality “no longer protects, but
suffocates and destroys,” as Pearce
ERICH NEWMANN contended that
fire is experienced “with the aid of
images” which derive from the interior
of one’s psychic world and are
“projected upon the external world.”
■riie subjective reaction, he claims,
always takes precedence historically.
Fire walking seems to accomplish this.
Fire walking is made possible by
replacing historical precedents with
another reality created out of faith.
Price, in his preface to Whatley
Carrington’s book (Matter Mind, and
Meaning), discusses the physiological
phenomenon of “ideomotor action.” It is '
found that an idea tends to fulfill itself
through the muscular apparatus of the
body. Price suggests that this is
indicative of a wider operation in life,
namely that all ideas have a tendency to
realize themselves in the material world
in any way they can, unless inhabited by
Carrington considered consciousness
an intensified point on a spectrum of
unconsciousness. He rejected the
metaphors of a “layered consciousness”
as formed in depth psychology. He
favored a “field of consciousness,” the
mind belonging to this field rather than
the field belonging to the mind. Even
material objects are only “logical
constructions” from different
possibilities for sensory data.
BRUNER, IN HIS study of thinking
discusses experiments in sensory
deprivation. After a period of womb-like
condition, the subject begins to
hallucinate. Deprived of ordinary
sensory data from which to select, his
mind structures a reality, drawing on
past data. He is not necessarily aware he
is hallucinating. He feels himself very
much a part of the event. His sensory
system is sending appropriate sights,
smells, tastes, and touches as needed by
the mind for its reality.
Fire walking is found in “primitive”
societies probably because these people
have fewer investments in strict causal
modes. We are so heavily committed to
our constructs that any suggestion of
their arbitrary nature fills us with
anxiety. One does not abandon a circular
To give up one’s belief concerning
some structure of reality, there must be
an image that stands for the new goal or
reality. The statistical world is a broad
and powerful way. But we are the
determinate that shapes the meaningful
pattern that is our reality. William Blake
claimed that “everything capable of
being imagined is an image of truth.”
SUSANNE LANGER thinks that
speech as a function was part of the
development of a system of logical choice
through which new possibilities for
reality could be consciously directed,
linger quotes Fluger in saying the cause
of the need is the cause of the fulfilbnent
of the need.
People do walk on fire. We need not
succumb to the statistical world.
Nietzche said we hear only the question
to which we are capable of finding an
Our universe can be what we have need
of it to be. I don’t think we must live as
Northrop Frye said, as armed
crustaceans, damned to a perpetual
alarm and crisis, where hfe itself is a
threat to life.
We are an open possibility.
Bryant Arrington is a first year Design
and Production major.
They should have named me butch.
I never got clear of trouble.
And my face
I always looked like I had a stocking
pulled over it.
And much of the time I did.
My sister was a whore.
My father was a gambler,
and my mother tried to support us all.
Which was a stupid thing to do.
She should have left
like I did.
Design and Production
At my grandfather’s funeral,
a man I have never known,
though I had been named for him,
feeling uncomfortable, shaking hands
with relatives I’d never met before,
and probably never meet again,
wondering what I felt-
I was not too grieved, though a
sufficiently guilty conscience made me
feel sincerely depressed. I unconsciously
wandered, not really caring where I
went, so bored
was I at his - affair.
I saw my grandfather lying in state,
heard the normal comments, saw all the
arranged in the chapel (there were two
other bodies lying in state there at the
County Funeral Home that day)
the music registered in
my mind, and I had to step outside
before I broke out in hysterical laughter,
for they were playing
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Now about that Christmas
I’m sorry you were
waked up so rudely
this really took a lot
on my part
I thought you’d think it funny
maybe even a bit cute
I still do.
I don’t understand.
Design and production
Design and Production
I used to love to be me.
But now I am an experience,
A function that produces, similar to
A line of production at some factory.
I used to make friends, more numerous
Than the ports of the seas.
But now the never ending, • nameless
Dominate, since you have gone from me.
I am he as you are he, and
We must part and I will be.
With each small step the other side of the
grew a little bit closer.
The old man’s feet grappled with the
while two canes steadied his approach.
To me the horror of the marvelous
To him just another lonely day before
As the light changed a motorist blasted
horn with insensitive rage
at the slow moving obstacle.
The old man regained for a split moment
the vitality and spontaneity of youth
And with two mighty blows smashed
the headlights with a cane and slowly
clawed along his path.