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Garman Lord


If A Tree Falls In The Forest




> In reading the posts  the thought came to me that the whole argument of
> whether the tree falls, or doesant fall as the case may be....
> the question would be, does reality as we know it... come into focus when
> we percieve it by some focussing effort........ or is it some absolute,
> ordered thing, irreguardless....?


Personally, I think it's some absolute, not necessarily ordered, thing. I do
believe in an absolute reality, but I don't make a religion of causal order,
the way the logical thinker does. What is interesting, though, is the
difference such a question illustrates between the very different powers of
logical and mythic thinking. To explain something like witchcraft, the runes
or the gods; by logical thinking, impossible, but by mythic thinking, fairly
easy. Contrariwise, to say whether the tree makes a sound; by mythic
thinking, impossible to judge, but by logical thinking, fairly easy.


Logic is free to assume... axiomatically forced to assume, in fact... causal
orderliness and phenomenal objectivity. In other words, the falling tree
always does the same thing, whether you are looking and listening at the time
it does it or not. When it falls, it releases stored energy, by definition,
and disturbs its environment accordingly. If you are there, you will
experience that disturbance as what you call sound. If you were deaf and
could not hear it, that exact same disturbance would still happen
nonetheless, and likewise if no one were there at all.


Just as logical thinking must posit causality in order to work at all, mythic
thinking must disregard causality, as inappropriate, or at least irrelevant,
to its ontology. So which is the reality of the universe, then; is it causal,
or is it not? In my own view, I think it must be both and neither; that the
conventional idea of causality itself may be wrong or mis-stated, that in
some ways the universe is what we call causal and in some ways it is not, the
idea of causality being itself, like the sound we hear, a perceptual
illusion... and that the trick of wisdom is to understand which is which, and
to apply either mythical or logical thinking appropriately, accordingly as
the case may be. It's all what I might call my "Theory of Ontological
Indeterminacy." And it's the reason why the tree fall still matters, even if
you're not there to experience it. In determining which mode, mythic or
logical, is the right one to apply to the phenomenon, it's part of the full
information you need to complete the thesis.


> One of the problems I see in the re-awakening is our attempt to find some
> sort of focus on the band width of our ancestral people...... when we never
> learned that intimatly from  the first... as they did as a "milk tongue" as
> it were... what we did learn is somthing completely  foreign and alien to
> our traditions... and therefore cannot help but  find ourselves .. "Playing
> at  Viking"..a good part  of the time. The hardest  for us, and the most
> simple thing for our ancestors.... is to actually "be there". Hmmm, and
> maybe that is why a lot of the time its so hard for the Gods to break
> through to us.....
> Maybe practicing the folkways is a good place to start.. and all the
> language and ritual...  all the traditional stuff... everything....
> Yeah. Im wondering if the Theod does this as a concious excercise with a
> purpose? Have you thought about it this way.... ?


I believe you've got it, Gunnsmith. That's a reasonably good description of
the Theodish "Existential Thesis" that we have operated by from day one.


To me, the biggest mistake that Asatru, by contrast, has always made, has
been its quasi-scientific tendency to allow formal or academic-style
lore-scholarship to become a "Patristic" tradition. Heathenry is not a
science, and even less a quasi-science, and the more scholarly an authority
in it is, the less of real usefulness he can tell you about it.


This may sound like some kind of obscurantism, but in fact it's mere common
sense. The scholarly approach, which might be called the "Fallacy of the
Quest For Specious Certainty," is inherently Reductionist; it doesn't recover
heathenry at all, but instead annihilates it piecemeal, by a death of a
thousand cuts. It posits that, for a heathen form to be valid, it must be
practiced in strict accordance with the recorded lore. 99 percent of the
lore, however, was never recorded and no longer exists. It is as much as if
to say that where heathenry's temple once stood, there is now nothing but a
hole in the ground. The scholarly approach, then, posits that, to be validly
heathen, one needs to live in the one remaining thing we can be certain of;
the hole in the ground.


And, moreover, that we must be content with that. We can't reconstruct a
structure over the hole, because no one today knows for sure what that
structure was like, therefore any building there can only be fantasy, and can
only mar the existing record, the hole in the ground, beyond recall, and
therefore should never by conscience be undertaken. The only choice, then,
becomes that of being willing to settle for a one percent heathenry that may
be 99 percent incomplete, but at least is historically valid and certain.


But is it valid and certain? No, of course not. The whole proposition is
defeated by one thing; namely, that the heathen did not live and worship in
holes in the ground, they lived and worshipped in houses, and therefore the
fact that you are living in a hole in the ground necessarily means in itself
that you are not reliving heathenry. The one percent, then, itself
disappears, such that the only certainty you are left with is geographical
location, i.e., doing what you are doing on the same spot as heathen once did
whatever they were doing. However, even that certainty inevitably disappears,
since before the coming of Xtianity the whole world was heathen, and there is
no such thing as a spot where heathen were _not_ once doing whatever they
were doing. Such "turn back the clock" Reductionism, then, necessarily
reduces the whole quest to an absurdity.


The only real way to recover anything at all of heathenry is existentially,
to step outside the clock and outside history, and get inside the heads of
heathen themselves by studying them and their greater world on its own terms,
by becoming them ourselves, at second-hand, such that in that great
preponderance of vital cases where it is no longer possible to know exactly
what they thought about something, it becomes at least possible to surmise
pretty well what they would have thought, given a sound enough internal
understanding of what kind of people they were, and to proceed fairly
strictly from there.


Obviously the problem there is that the recovery of heathenry is, inevitably,
not a science but an art form, and we all know that there are good and bad
artists, and we are not always good at telling which is which. Heathenry as
art form will inevitably produce quite a lot of rather bad heathenry along
the way. But that's just the bad news. The good news is that it will also
produce some very good heathenry; maybe not complete, exact and perfect, but
at least a lot better than one percent.


And beyond that, at least for sufficiently disciplined heathen of true heart
and right good will, there is some even better news; that wherever any
sufficiently good heathenry begins to happen, the gods themselves can and
will begin to intervene, and subtly steer things in the directions they want
them to go over time. The bad heathenry will tend to be trimmed away by
experience, and the good heathenry will keep getting better and better. It
may not ever be, in all particulars, exactly what the elder heathen did, but
then, as long as we are not bound upon turning back the clock, it doesn't
have to be; it only has to be what they might or would have done, and felt
natural doing. The real test, then, is: If the elder heathen were around to
see you doing what you do today, would they naturally and comfortably
recognize it as all of a piece with their own heathenry, even if not exactly
the same, and feel at home in it themselves? If you go by the scholarly
principles, it can never be, by definition, and you're really just kidding
yourself, but if you do it as art form and are a good enough artist, then it
just might be. Godspeed......