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Nobody’s Life But Mine.

One cannot truly describe experience.  Poets, philosophers, artists, writers and countless others have been trying to describe the ultimate mystery of experience since the beginning of time. Existential philosophy tries to grasp the ungraspable… of this, which we can in the end, only point to.  Meaning, purpose and wisdom can be found in the divine, symbolic meta-stories of our great spiritual traditions and religions. And all around, within and without, lies the awesome truth we all share, hidden in plain sight, beyond meaning or measure.

According to Fernand Deligny, we live life as language-grounded human subjects, in what he calls our “thought-out-project”, (after Milton, 2016), bound by the straight jacket of humanity, with our so-called progress, fragmented thinking, crises in selfhood and communication, endless reductionist philosophies, positivist science and the bizarre homogeneity and regulative norms that condition our being-ness and access to our own unbelievably astounding and unlikely personal and collective existence.

So the essence of existential experience is beyond notions of space, time and certainly, a separate self.  At the heart of it, experience is literally unknowable. Or is it?* Experience experiences itself in the centre of pure consciousness. Overwhelming tragicomedy of the planet aside (and it is a divine play or ‘lila‘ according to Hinduism), consciousness is, well, just conscious.  It doesn’t go anywhere. Without it, we are nothing. Consciousness is the special and unique essence of everything, it gives rise to all things, this and that, birth and death, me and you, us and them etc..


A memoir is largely a selfish affair, but I think after ten years of it (and it has been a thorn in the backside), I’ve matured it into something to contribute for a broad enough audience (you, my family, some friends and a couple of strangers will do). I started as a blogger when I was excited by the ‘liveness’ of writing for an internet reader, (having just specialised in live-art on a fine art degree), but I wasn’t quick enough to keep up with the advent vlogging, live-streaming and whatever other forms of media have emerged during my attempts at simple tracking of life and meaning. Social media has been a distraction and even made me fearful of releasing my story for the sake of the ego, but I’m over that, done lots of life-processing and at last, ready to let it go.

What’s it about? Well, while still in my youth, I took the path of the seeker, to find the ultimate truth, at whatever cost.  It was a path from innocent wonder and confusion to a truth, a realisation found through a path of sacrifice, pain and devastation. I write in detail about this frantic and many-facetted journey.

But in coming to write, I had a quandary. I asked, how can I engage in personal reflective writing, when the aim for so long has been to overcome the separate-self illusion?  In making this intention to ‘die before you die’ (you know the phrase), I discovered a paradox. I wrote words to try to make sense or make meaning out of life and the story keeps arising anew, the power in the pure experience fading while new horizons of understanding are being generated. Things kept happening and I was trying to keep up, through writing. But no more. I myself am soon gone, and the pages remain, in essence, a false narrative; my life, or a chunk of it from the pen as it scratches, glides and spews. No more important that the contents of an out-of-date box of pretend-healthy muesli. 

When I set out on the path of self-discovery as a youth, I made the commitment to become as fully conscious as I could. I knew not why I was here, despite asking, I had grown the intense conviction that I wanted to see myself and all of myself and the whole of the world objectively, from the outside, by whatever means. I perpetually asked if it’s possible.  My goal was to increase my awareness to a point of transcendence over the sense of a separate self, to reach God-consciousness.  

I wanted the noise and questioning to stop, to be silent and to ask no more. To be.

We humans are suspicious and afraid of our own silence more than that of others.  But it’s too easy to continue to speak for its own sake and rather than being reflective and silent we compete and conceptualise.  Our minds frantically continue in their task of perpetually looking for something or someone to calculate and formulate and quantify, using the senses then reflecting outward, avoiding looking at the uncomfortable questions deeper within the silence of pure wonder. People talk everywhere all the time, at school, on TV, in shops, on buses, in pubs and restaurants.  Everywhere in our society, people are talking, talking, talking over one another and at each other, producing a cacophony of voices with opinions, protests, debate, fight-for-your-right, false-democracy and cruel oppression, where silence is also even used as a weapon. With words we have hung, drawn, quartered and doomed ourselves and the gold of silence.

Regulated, normalised society can be stifling, boring and meaningless and at times, terrifying.  I know too well silence can be a radical stance, but perhaps as demonstrated by a young student in one of my private art classes who wrote on her personal mandala, “I am really not good with words”, my drive, in which this writing exercise has played a large part, is to give others the opportunity and right to be silent for a while, to not take a stance but be ‘nothing’, to allow for a deeper, truer voice to emerge, to bring us back to a state of unity with life, to experience being alive and the miracle of creation itself.  I can’t really recommend becoming obsessed with the relentless search for deeper and deeper meaning. I had to do this to survive.  My father accused me of ‘too much navel gazing’ and then the establishment labelled me as autistic.  The rabbit hole has some dark and silent corners where we’re not supposed to go. I’ve been to some of them, or some of them visited me, and occasionally still do.

In conclusion, when we lose authenticity and openness to the fact that everything, you included, is ultimately part of the whole, (therefore you are the whole), things go wrong.  We talk about fairer societies and use words like belonging, diversity, equality and inclusion, but no one can belong anywhere if we don’t know who we are, or where we are meant to be situated within ourselves to begin with.  If we did, the world would be a very different place.  I’m curious about that.

So far it is estimated around 107 billion people have ever lived on earth, and continue to be born into a world that is seemingly teetering on the brink of disaster.  Is it? When I was a fairly new person of five or six, I sensed something needed working out, something about experiencing what was behind that which was being presented by the people around me, or was that me making problems from a new point of separation?  As part of the problem, I was already doomed to be the idiot, a nowhere man, nationless, bereft of life among people, so I took a long look inward with this book.

Make of it what you will.

My book will be out this year, self-published on paperback and Kindle.
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*In researching experience in the context of intersubjectivity, the need for modulation of social understanding and ‘the autonomy of interaction’, Dr. Hanne De Jaegher proposes a method called PRISMA: ‘there is a need for a suitable method to study interactive experience…. the systematic unfolding of interactive experience. – Read that proposal here.

Damian Milton (2016) Tracing the influence of Fernand Deligny on autism studies, Disability & Society, 31:2, 285-289, DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2016.1161975

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