Condensed Notes on Rheomode

http://www.gci.org.uk/Documents/DavidBohm-WholenessAndTheImplicateOrder.pdf

The word ‘relevant’ derives from a verb ‘to relevate’, which has dropped out of common usage, whose meaning is ‘to lift’ (as in ‘elevate’). In essence, ‘to relevate’ means ‘to lift into attention’, so that the content thus lifted stands out ‘in relief’. When a context lifted into attention is coherent or fitting with the context of interest, i.e. when it has some bearing on the context of some relationship to it, then one says that this content is relevant; and, of course, when it does not fit in this way, it is said to be irrelevant.

Clearly, the act of apprehending relevance or irrelevance cannot be reduced to a technique or a method, determined by some set of rules. Rather, this is an art, both in the sense of requiring creative perception and in the sense that this perception has to develop further in a kind of skill (as in the work of the artisan).

Moreover, one cannot even say that a given statement is either relevant or irrelevant, and that this covers all the possibility. Thus, in many cases, the total context may be such that one cannot clearly perceive whether the statement has bearing or not. This means that one has to learn more, and that the issue is, as it were, in a state of flux.

As already stated we are, of course, often able to overcome this tendency towards fragmentation by using language in a freer more informal, and ‘poetic’ way, that properly communicates the truly fluid nature of the difference between relevance and irrelevance.

To answer this question we first note that the verb ‘to relevate’, from which the adjective ‘relevant’ is derived, ultimately comes from the root ‘to levate’ (whose meaning is, of course, ‘to lift’). As a step in developing the rheomode, we then propose that the verb ‘to levate’ shall mean, ‘The spontaneous and unrestricted act of lifting into attention any content whatsoever which includes the lifting into attention of the question of whether this content fits a broader context or not, as well as that of lifting into attention the very function of calling attention which is initiated by the verb itself.’ This implies an unrestricted breadth and depth of meaning, that is not fixed within static limits.

Clearly, the above way of using a structure of language form built from a root verb enables us to discuss what is commonly meant by ‘relevance’ in a way that is free of fragmentation, for we are no longer being led, by the form of the language, to consider something called relevance as if it were a separate and fixed quality

So the content of thought and its actual function are seen and felt as one, and thus on understand what it can mean for fragmentation to cease, at its very origin.

Thus, the rheomode will reveal a certain wholeness, that is not characteristic of the ordinary use of language (though it is there potentially, in the sense that if we start with movement as primary, then we have likewise to say that all movements shade into each other, to merge and interpenetrate).

For example, if we try to listen to a symphony while our attention is directed mainly to a sequential time order as indicated by a clock, we will fail to listen to the subtle orders that constitute the essential meaning of the music. Evidently, our ability to perceive and understand is limited by the freedom with which the ordering of attention can change, so as to fit the order that is to be observed.

Levate, re-levate, re-levant, irre-levant, levation, re-levation, irre-levation.
Vidate, re-vidate, re-vidant, irre-vidation, vidation, re-vidation
Di-vidate, re-dividate, re-dividant, irre-dividant, di-vidation, re-dividation, irre-dividation.
Ordinate, re-ordinate, re-ordinant, irre-ordinant, ordination, re-ordination, irre-ordination.

the prevailing scientific world view has generally been to suppose that, at bottom, everything is to be described in terms of combinations of certain ‘particle’ units, considered to be basic. This attitude is evidently in accord with the prevailing tendency in the ordinary mode of language to treat words as ‘elementary units’ which one supposes, can be combined to express anything whatsoever that is capable of being said.

the ‘atomistic’ attitude to words has been dropped and instead our point of view is rather similar to that of field theory in physics, in which ‘particles’ are only convenient abstractions from the whole movement.

Similarly we may say that language is an undivided field of movement, involving sound, meaning, attention-calling, emotional and muscular reflexes, etc.

So the word ceases to be taken as an ‘indivisible atom of meaning’ and instead it is seen as no more than a convenient marker in the whole movement of language, neither more nor less fundamental than the clause, the sentence, the paragraph, the system of paragraphs, etc. (This means that giving attention in this way to the components of words is not primarily an attitude of analysis but, rather, an approach that allows for the unrestricted flow of meaning.)”

Evidently, the meaning of a communication through language depends, in an essential way, on the order that language is. This order is more like that of a symphony in that language is.

This order is more like that of a symphony in which each aspect and movement has to be understood in light of its relationship to the whole , rather than like the simple sequential order of a clock or a ruler; and since (as has been pointed out here) the order of sounds within a word is an inseparable aspect of the whole meaning, we can develop rules of grammar and syntax that use this order in a systematic way to enrich and enhance the possibilities of the language for communication and for thinking.

It is clear, then, that the ordinary mode of language is very unsuitable for discussing question of truth and falsity, because it tends to treat each truth as a separate fragment that is essentially fixed and static in its nature

In seeing (as pointed out in the previous section) that the rheomode does not allow us to discuss the observed fact in terms of separately existent things of an essentially static nature, we are led to note that the use of the rheomode has implications for our general world view. Indeed, as has already been brought out to some extent, every language form carries a kind of dominant or prevailing world view, which tends to function in our thinking and in our perception whenever it is used, so that to give a clear expression of a world view contrary to the one implied in the primary structure of a language is usually very difficult. It is therefore necessary in the study of any general language form to give serious and sustained attention to its world view, both in content and in function

As indicated earlier, one of the major defects of the ordinary mode of using language is just its general implication it is not restricting the world view in any way at all, and that in any case questions of the world view have to do only with ‘ones’s own particular philosophy’, rather than with the content and function of our language, or with the way in which we tend to experience the overall reality in which we live.

By thus making us believe that our world view is only a relatively unimportant matter, perhaps involving mainly one’s personal taste or choice, the ordinary mode of language leads us to fail to give attention to the actual function of the divisive world view that pervades this mode, so that the automatic and habitual operation of our thought and language is then able to project these divisions (in the manner discussed earlier) as if they were actual fragmentary breaks in the nature of ‘what is’

It is thus essential to be aware of the world view implied in each form of language, and to be watchful and alert, to be ready to see when this world view ceases to fit actual observation and experience as these are extended beyond certain limits.

It has become evident in this chapter that the world view implied in the rheomode is in essence that described in the first chapter, which is expressed by saying that all is an unbroken and undivided whole movement, and that each ‘thing’ is abstracted only as a relatively invariant side or aspect of this movement. It is clear, therefore, that the rheomode implies a world view quite different from that of the usual structure.

More specifically, we see that the mere act of seriously considering such a new mode of language and observing how it works can help draw our attention to the way in which our ordinary language structure puts strong and subtle pressures on us to hold to a fragmentary world view.

Whether it would be useful to go further, however, and to try to introduce the rheomode into active usage, it is not possible to say at present, though perhaps some such development may eventually be found to be helpful.

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