The synecdoche, Me – a philosophical dream

The synecdoche, Me – a philosophical dream

In this short article I will show you how, starting from a dream, we will reach a philosophical understanding, although partial.

The Dream: a man, perhaps endowed with special powers — gives me a massage with his thumb around my eyes, takes away my glasses and smashes them on the ground, then he tells me to look without glasses. And there we are, I can see! He crushed my spectacles in his hands and he tells me to look without my spectacles. I could see. And I felt moved. The joy was all interior, inside myself. Finally! But that place was dark, there wasn't much light. Like a semi-darkness. Anyway, for a moment I believed I could see perfectly. End of the dream

I always had and, in some way, I still have a great desire to see perfectly without spectacles. The more the years go by, the more I understand that this idea is a vain wish, an impossible want and I can never live without glasses. Spectacles are a prosthesis similar to crutches for the eyesight, for the eyes. Is it like being limping? No, it's like having the need of a filter. The man in the dream, by going around my eye partially with his thumb, gave me back my eyesight; the reality is I'm here awake and I need glasses to see well. It was a dream, nothing more.

I connect to this dream the following three facts:

  1. My desire to see without glasses;
  2. The actual condition I have now as my eyes are full of tears and my nose is blocked.
  3. I'm afraid somebody wants to destroy my spectacles, and actually in the dream he does so. Now, the first reason that comes to my mind for doing it's envy.

At once, then, I have the following metaphor coming to my mind: you need help to see correctly – and "to see" doesn't refer simply to the eyesight. Also, in the dream, breaking the glasses is connected to healing: you can start seeing with your own eyes but also if I break your glasses you won't be able to see any longer. So there are two aspects: one is the positive: "if I break your glasses you will recover your eyesight in its entire capacity" and the other aspect is: "I will impair your life by breaking your glasses as you cannot see correctly any more".

We see also the presence of the fear I might have that I will be forced to rely only on my judgement. An idea comes to my mind while I am thinking this and it says - "I need to reorder my writings".

Let's pay attention to the following three things

  1. the ability to see
  2. the need of a filter and
  3. the other than yourself.

The defective constitution of my eye sends back to me the existence of a world I can perceive better with the help of a support / a technological help as the eyeglass’ lenses.

In the dream the man uses only one finger – his thumb – to heal and the entire hand to crash and destroy the lenses of my spectacles.

My visual organs are not functioning well – will this mean so I am not seeing correctly the situation? One can be found short-sighted also in a metaphorical sense. He sees no further than the end of one's nose, as they say, with the meaning of being “narrow-minded; lacking understanding and perception.” Also related to being selfish and careless of others.

I feel that my brain cannot see any further than my nose and I need the help of prosthesis – otherwise I cannot see correctly and the mental prosthesis are the philosophers. In order to understand a situation, a context I need to write about it. Two important things here:

  1. I am not entitled to use my brain independently and there is always someone who must tell me how to read the situation and tell me what to do.
  2. To think I must use my pen or my voice; in any case, I need something external to the brain itself.

My thoughts need a prosthesis and my eyesight as well! So I have some difficulty in seeing the world correctly. Without the help of another person, is my interpretation of reality erroneous and necessarily so?

This question brought to my memory an event of my childhood. I am reading on my own, it is summer so the shutters are semi closed to keep a softer light in the room. I am staring at the page without actually reading the works, so I cannot tell you what they say. I am about eight years old. I wearing short pants and suspenders, a squared pattern shirt on an orange background. Somebody is knocking at the door; she is a classmate, we are in the 3rd year of the primary school. I am not going out, I am taken by surprise; her visit was unexpected. I am continuing my reading, or my page staring – two hours every day, that’s what my father told me and that’s what I do. That’s what I tell my self, but in fact I was not reading the situation at all – I didn’t want to go out with a girl who had all her front teeth missing! I stayed with my books, staring at the pages without understanding much. And this is the same with the situation: I couldn’t read the invitation to go play, I was staring at the missing teeth of my classmate. Here is the part, the detail instead of the whole: the synecdoche. I don’t see the situation, its complexity or its meaning – I see it only partially or I am capture by just a detail – believing this is the situation itself. In fact, my eyesight is defective!

Every situation means something and I have asked to the philosophy or the books to clarify it for me, or just to help me to recognize it. But the books are not written exactly for me as they need to speak to a wide spectrum of people. We can only pretend that they were written only for us. So, we need to adapt them to our situation, but couldn’t I prefer to adapt my situation to the books? It would be easier some time.

At present, my prosthesis is not the activity of reading, but the act of writing, so my pen is the extension of my reflection, which happens without the sensory organs: I am using the eyes to see the paper, the hand to move the pen but the thoughts I am expressing have nothing to do with my present sensory perception.

The dream, its memory, the thoughts the same dream stimulates, the interpretation, the human condition, the knowledge of the world through defective senses: the need of one or more prosthesis. Our mind sees a part and not the whole because it pays attention to that what is the nearest to itself and cannot see any further than… his nose. Our interpretation, our vision of the things is limited to the nearest and most intense things meanwhile the books can see beyond, they can see more. Like my spectacles allowing me to see farther things and my pen allowing me to see my thoughts on the paper.

Therefore, the question becomes: what is it that Man need? He needs everything! The human being is a very limited and incomplete being – he had to create for himself, for the entire humanity, an endless number and type of prosthesis to feel more important, bigger, more capable, to be more than he his, to compensate his finitudes. Here is the conclusion:I owe to my dream: a man without prosthesis, that man cannot be in the world. This world is not made for the men as they are. That’s why we build a man-made world; outside of it we can’t be.

Have a nice day!

Ran Lahav
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