Fragmentation is what happens when you take something that is real and that continually changes through time and you attempt to solidify it and stop it from changing. This is, of course, an illusion because it is not possible stop a thing from changing and yet most of humankind tends to live in this illusion most of the time and by doing that disconnects itself from the possibility of any approximation of living in what could be called the real world. This is not useful when you are trying to get an injury to heal or to communicate with another human or any of a myriad of activities where it is of benefit to have somewhat of an accurate picture of what is going on.
It works something like this. I injure a joint and immediately contract all the muscles that cross that joint to stabilize and protect it. This much is an intelligent, in the moment and useful response to the situation. What follows is not. This is where the fragmentation comes in. I take a mental picture of what was going on in the joint at the time of the injury then I freeze it. I solidify it. I treat my injury as if it is a solid thing that doesn’t change and limit my responses to the situation to those that are within the range of not changing and for that reason I limit the possibility of change. In this case the healing of the joint is limited or actually interfered with by the way I hold and protect it. It’s possible to maintain a “bum” shoulder or a “bad” ankle for the rest of your life.
This process is bad enough when applied to a body process like allowing an injury to heal but when it is applied to other people as groups or individuals we step out of relationship and doom ourselves to a seemingly unchanging illusionary experience of reality. We live in a world where the information necessary for problem solving, growth, and a fully empowered experience is limited to what we don’t know already. Bad tidings for the future. Bad experience of the present. Bad. Bad. Wrong magazine subscription.
It works the same way with people as it does with shoulder injuries. Somebody says something that hurts my feelings or pisses me off. In all likelihood it wasn’t even their intention to cause hurt but even if it was I’m going to label them. Now this person is a jerk and I’m going to ignore any information to the contrary which precludes the possibility of working together or being in any kind of real relationship.
When the process is expanded from individuals to groups of people it becomes even more dangerous. Ethnic, religious, political and all manner of other group identities become static shadows of real people and it doesn’t matter if I’m Identifying someone else with a false label or myself. It doesn’t even matter if the group in question gets a good approval rating or not. It’s just as unreal and just as limiting in terms of the exchange of information and communication.
I’m going to make a big leap here and it’s not the kind of thing you can back up with data. At least I don’t have the data and I can’t think what it would be but it does seem logical in the light of the last couple posts. I was at a Grateful Dead concert once and deeply under the influence of the sound man’s electronic spell when I had what I thought to be a profound revalation about the name of the band. I’d heard that it was inspired by one of the headings in a collection of folk ballads that referenced the “Grateful Dead” in the title. I got a copy of “Child’s Ballads” which is where it was supposed to have come from but I never could find it. Anyway, it occurred to me that if you took the name quite literally and in light of one of the group’s comments about playing as a single entity of which each member was a part, that the name could be related to what it might be like to live life in an un-fragmented mode, where every moment is the present and no one is clinging to a static picture of their self or of any one else. What happens when we let go of who we think we are based on past and future fictions and move completely into the present, into what T.S. Elliot referred to as “a condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything”? In their video series on “the transformation of man”, I am also reminded of Indian philosopherJ. Krishnamurti asking the western psychiatrist David Schoenburg if there was anything stopping him from making such a change and coming completely into relationship in the moment.
The leap I’m making is in proposing that such a shift would indeed be a radical transformation but only necessary if the magazine we subscribe to is the one where humanity remains a part of the picture. More on that later. We’re getting close. I promise.