For a long time I’ve been trying to crystallize some vague ideas about a philosophy of flow, and finally it’s coming together.
Basically, we begin with the old-school problem of free will versus predetermination. If you believe in a god, a higher power/organizing principle, or time travel, you are often faced with the idea of a predetermined universe. Much of this has to do with the construct of linear time, and obviously it’s a whole can o’ worms. But the key point here is how predetermination butts heads with free will, which is (to put it lightly) central to western thought, and a difficult belief to shake off.
I’ve always found this opposition awkward. That’s the beauty of My New Belief, Flow™.
Flow is central to the I Ching, a text both simple and complex (and about the only ‘religious’ text I can get behind). Let’s put it like this: there is a predefined pattern to all situations in life. You can go with the flow, which means you have perceived the pattern and you act in concert with it, or you can go against it, in which case bad things tend to happen. Although this may sound like a more or less impotent form of free will, to me it places the onus of agency/personal choice on perception instead of action. Life becomes an act of interpretation, and since in this world view the overall pattern is multifaceted and difficult to perceive, since there is no master plan or authoritative guidebook, going with the flow is in fact incredibly difficult, contrary to the usual meaning.
One could argue that the I Ching is the guidebook. If you take a look at it you’ll find at the base a bunch of deceptively simple math. The rest of it is commentary (i.e. interpretation), and it is presented as such – the Duke of Chou said this or that about a particular hexagram, for example. It’s not: this is the meaning of the hexagram.
Seeing as it comes out of the world’s oldest book, flow is not a new concept. (Although, it’s interesting to think about it in a hiphop context, and in a traffic analysis context (but not in a menstrual context…).) It’s Taoist at heart. Interestingly, that page notes that similar ideas about binary oppositions were coming out of Greece at the time, from Heraclitus, aka the Obscure Presocratic who Baffled Plato, aka the Greek Dude with Clit in his Name. And beautifully, he said “everything flows.” Beautifully, again, hosted friend blogger extraordinaire King mentioned Clit-boy in his first post: “change alone is unchanging.” So with that in mind, I’d like to announce Heraclitus as the new patron philosopher of this site, because of his obscurity, because of his mad freaky flow, and yes, because he’s the thinker with ‘clit’ in the middle.