We operate so out of synch with reality that we don’t even know if the things that we backlash against are still in vogue, or due for recovery. We operate so lazily that we aren’t even sure that we aren’t backlashing against straw-men that only exist inside our mushy brains.
But no matter. This is after all the internet, the perfect venue for such exercises. Let us begin our collection of micro-essays against Mindfulness with Dr. Joachim Padgell, from the Department in Philosophy at the University of Las Bajas. The floor is yours, Dr. Padgell.
Why am I against mindfulness, you ask? Doesn’t mindfulness help us wrestle control of our cognitive system away from the automatisms with which it reacts to an overwhelming reality? Isn’t it the right tool to perceive the world around us and inside us as they are? A way to acknowledge, and become comfortable with the micro-sensations of which we are made – weight, position, function, pain?
This is all nonsense, I say! Do we encourage the idle youth who wants to forever stay living with his parents to do so? Do we admire the man who eschews the wonders of medicine and culture and runs into the woods, to live in a filthy hut? Do we aspire to become beasts forever existing in the moment, devoid of the conscience that makes us humans?
Yes, there lies the crux of the problem. Conscience – the ability to follow a thread through our existence, the feature of our existence that makes us us – is precisely the thing that we vanquish with mindfulness Can you think while you are being mindful? No, you can’t. You become a hostage to the trivial mechanical noises of your body.
And are you really becoming in some way more directly connected to reality? I think not sir, you are simply switching off the signal processing apparatus that filters out the noise from what you perceive.
This way, you regress in age and history to an idealised, innocent childishness, a wilderness. You go back to your teenage bedroom, to the kindergarten, to the womb even. Some may say that this is a good thing to do, not me sir. I claim that it is a dereliction of your duties to society, a failure to think forward, to imagine and to grow.
I could elaborate on all these points in a great deal of detail, but the owners of this website have only given me limited space to express my views.
I will therefore conclude by saying that Mindfulness is a misnomer. It doesn’t make you more mindful. It fills your mind with irrelevant perceptions, and eliminates the space you have to think. Don’t do it. Or if you do it, think about it the same way in which you think about a night of drugged-up debauchery. Perhaps it is good to “wig out” that way from time to time, but don’t be so insufferably smug about it.
Before leaving our office in a huff because we didn’t give him more time to talk about the themes above, Dr Padgell told us that we should illustrate his micro-essay with some music.
We were happy to oblige, and went for a couple of tunes from the late 1970s/ early 1980s which we think represent quite well the idea of a beautiful conscience (i.e. a melody) surfing through the dizzying sensorial chaos of reality.
One of them is by the Stanford AI Lab graduate, coca-cola sound effect simulator extraordinaire and “Delia Derbyshire of the Atari Generation”, Suzanne Cianni. It is included in her Seven Waves album, which was reissued by Finders Keepers a couple of years ago.
The other one is by legendary jazz fiddler and cosmic voyager Jean Luc Ponty. It is not a coincidence that it sounds like an electronically enhanced Mahavishnu – he collaborated in a couple of their albums while he was living in LA, and jamming with Zappa. So there.
This song is included in the Individual Choice album, which also features the famous Computer Incantations for World Peace.
As a bonus and prompt, here is a documentary about Breadwoman and Other Tales, the album by Anna Homler and Steve Moshier that RVNG just reissued.
Breadwoman Tales and Trails, by Hazel Hill McCarthy III & Douglas J. McCarthy, is the black and white intersection of the origin story for that poetic super-heroine, Breadwoman, a detective caper where the principal witness, Anna Homler, tells us what happened during a Cadillac ride through Lynchian LA streets, and the abstract for a research project about the ur-language, the bread-tongue in which Breadwoman sings. It is fantastic, don’t miss out.
It is a prompt because Anna Homler and Steve Moshier are currently performing Breadwoman in the UK. We’ll be at the Cafe OTO show in London on Tuesday, really looking forward to it.