richard_foreman's picture
Playwright & Director; Founder, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater
World As We Know It

Many of the things I call to mind that have worried me have already been well notated by other contributors to this years Edge Question. But all such responses are, I believe, concerned with problematic aspects of this world or of current discourse that are, I would maintain, ultimately non-correctable through either direct thought or through direct action.

Time by itself, of course, will alter the parameters within which these problems are currently situated, and all of them will be absorbed or transcended by the new, evolving parameters which will eventually dissolve these threatening problems. Even if "The end of the world itself" is threatened, that too will lead to some "other" state—inconceivable perhaps—but even as a vague allusion we humans will dismiss it as beyond thought and "Not to be wished for". But that very understandable rejection arises from the same psychological base implied and evoked in the word— "worried!"—which is the lynch-pin, as I see it, of this year's Edge Question.

I realize one can say the 'Worried' therein can be thought of as a means of selecting and focusing upon a particular problem. But that very act of picking one problem out of the many available for consideration—that by itself constructs the very trap into which we all fall the minute we begin think about the sworld.

I further postuate we should in fact be "Worried" not just about a single selected problem, but about all possible problems. (Again—reference all the answers included in this year's Edge Question).

But again and most important—what does 'Worried' mean, other than the inevitable 'fall' into human consciousness that focuses the mind—producing inevitably—Science, Politics, and everything else The World As We Know It.

There seems no responsible alternative to this assumed "Fortunate and Productive Fall" into consciousness.

Indeed, is the only historical alternative the disreputable "blissed out" state of passivity and removal from the real world as known to us through our rigorously conditioned mechanisms)?

Perhaps—but perhaps not.

I reference not only suppressed mystical traditions, plus more acceptable philosophers such as Heidegger and phenomenologically oriented contemporaries—but first and foremost my early collegiate inspiration in art theory—Anton Ehrenzweig's great books The Hidden Order of Art and The Psycho-analysis of Artistic Vision and Hearing.

Ehrenzweig demonstrates how artists in many disciplines from many different historical periods operate not out of normal focused vision—but out of wide-angle un-focused perception. And thereafter soon discovered similar theses, hidden or not, in other "official" Western thought.

All of which may be interesting—But how does 'theory ' relate to real-world problems of the sort we should now be worried about? Well of course, de-focusing on obsessive worrisome problems often leads, in the end, to the sudden emergence of a solution where previous directed effort had often failed. (Eureka!—Poincare, etc.)

So what should we be worried about? Perhaps the failure to stop worrying—when that stopping can, (all by itself, after the proper 'preparing of the ground' with concentration and "worry") , lead to sudden vision.

It's tricky, Yes. And difficult. And sometimes a frightening risk—giving up everything we 'know'—when it's 'knowing' that itself gives rise to the uncontrollable virus of 'Worrying'. But I suggest that this year's posed question is itself a hidden trick. (That was not the intention I feel sure—but I do see it as a trick question for all half brilliant, half sleeping—human consciousness.)