(a talk by Alan Watts)

I suppose most of you have heard of zen But before going on to explain any details about it, i want to make one thing absolutely clear I am not a zen buddhist, i am not advocating zen buddhism, i am not trying to convert anyone to it. I have nothing to sell I am an entairtainer That is to say, in the same sense, that when you go to a concert and you listen to someone play mozart he has nothing to sell except the sound of the music he doesn't want to convert you to anything, he doesn't want you to join an organisation, in favor of Mozart's music as opposed, to say, Beethoven's And i approach you in the same spirit. As a musician with his piano or a violinist with his violin I just want you to enjoy, a point of view which i enjoy Prickles and Goo You see in the history of philosophy and poetry and art, we always find the interchange of two peronality types, which i call prickles and goo The prickly people are advocates of intellectual porcupanism They want rigour, they want precise statistics And they have a certain flick attitude in their voices.

And you know that, very well in academic circles There are people who are always edgy like that And they accuse other people of being disgustingly vague and miasmic and mystical But the vague, miasmic and mystical people accuse the prickly people of being near skeletons with no flesh on their bones And they say to you “You just rattle” You're not really a human being, you know the words but you dont know the music And so therefore, if you belong to the prickly type you hope that the ultimate constituent of matter is particles if you belong to the gooey type you hope it's waves If you are prickly you are a catharsist and if you are gooey you are a romanticist And, we 're going back into mediaval philosophy, if you are prickly you are a Nominalist, if you're gooey you're a Realist But we know very well that this natural universe is neither prickles nor goo exclusively It's gooey prickles and prickly goo.

And, you see it all depends on your level of magnification If you got your magnification on something, so that the focus is clear. You've got a prickly point of view You got structure, shape, clearly outlined, sharply defined You look look out of focus and it all goes “blewa” and you got goo We are always playing with the two Appling Look. Here is a tree in a garden and every summer it produces apples And we call it an apple tree. Because the tree apples, that's what it does Now here is a solar system inside a galaxy And one of the peculiarities of this solar system, is that, there is , at least, on the planet earth a thing called peoples In just the same way as a tree apples Now maybe two million years ago, somebody came from another galaxy in a flying saucer and had a look at the solar system. And they looked it over and shrug their shoulders and said “Just a bunch of rocks”. And they went away. Later on, maybe two million years later, they came around and they looked at it again And they said “Excuse me, we though it was a bunch of rocks but it's peopleing and it's alive.After all it has done something intelligent” Because you see, we grow out of this world in exactly the same way that the apples grow on the apple tree. If evolution means anything it means that But you see, we curiously twist it We say, well first of all in the beginning, there was nothing but gas and rock. And then intelligence happened to arise in it You know like a fungus or slime on the top of the whole thing But we're thinking in a way, you see, that disconnects intelligence from the rocks Where there are rocks. Watch out! Watch out, because the rocks are going, eventually, to become alive I I've always been trementously interested in what people mean by the word “ I ” Because it comes out in curious lapses of speech We don't say “I am a body” . We say “I have a body” Ans somehow we don't seem to identify ourselves with all of ourselves We say. sort of, “My feet”, “My hands”, “My teeth” As if they were something, somehow outside me. And as far as i can make up, most people, feel that they are something other, about halfway between the ears and a little way behind the eyes Inside the head, that is what you call the ego That's not what you are at all Because it gives you the idea that you are a chauffeur inside your own body As if your body were an automobile and you were the chauffeur principle inside it But you've been caught in a trap, because your body is kind of a mess It gets sick, tired, hurts and eventually, wears out and dies But you feel caught in the thing, because you feel different from it And you feel the world outside your body is an awfull trap, full of stupid people Who are some times nice to you, but mostly aren't, because they are all out for themselves, like you are And the rest of it, outside of people, are absolutely dumb. Animals, plants , mere vegetables, rocks And finally behind the whole thing, blazing, centers of radioactivity called stars and out there where there is no air, that is no place for a person to live. And so, we have come tho feel ourselves as confronted with, a world that doesn't give a damn about us Life and Music In music, one doesn't make the end of the composition, the point of the composition If that was so, the best conductors would be those who played bach And there would be composers who wrote only finales People going in concerts, just to hear one crushing gong, so that's the end But we don't see that, as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct We've got a system of schooling that gives a completely different impression It's all graded. And what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system, with a kind of “Come on, kitty kitty kitty” And then you go into the kindergarden, you know, and that's a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade And then, come on, first grade leads into second grade and then so on. And then you get out of grade school, you got high school And it's revving up, the thing is coming, then you gonna go to college By then, you go to graduate school An when you are through with graduate school, you go out and join the world And then you get into some racket, where you are selling insurance And they got that quota to make, and you gotta make that And all this time this thing it's coming, it's coming, that great thing, the success you are working for And then you wake up one day, about 40 years old and you say “My God! I've arrived” “I'm there”. And you don't feel very different from what you always felt And there is a slight letdown because you feel is a hoax And there was a hoax. A dreadfull hoax They made you miss everything We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end and the thing was to get to that end Success or whatever it is maybe heaven, after you're dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played.

  • prickles_and_goo.txt
  • Last modified: 2014-05-27 10:18
  • by nik