a quick word beforehand
The novel Painting Aporia presents the driving question carried throughout the Phenomenology Poem - to what extent can I be honest with my Self? It wrestles with the human tendency to harp on the past or project into the future, wondering where the mind should be located temporally, and how the dimension of time helps create our conception of self-identity.
The novel also questions if a person can look at them-Self objectively as a character in an unfolding story. While the narrator describes his experience of the scene, how he is acting and how others are reacting? Do I trust his story? Is he being honest with himself, and do I, as the reader, have a greater advantage point than the main character for understanding the plot and meaning of the story?
How can I trust my own experience, the ab intra of grand stories that my imagination and ego lead me down - then, going forward, realizing that whether I follow my own intuitive self and story, or if I become fully enraptured through another narrative, what ever constitutes and justifies my epistemological framework for either of these lived experiences?
The thesis of Painting Aporia is that if I cultivate the virtue of honesty with my Self, then by natural law, after a time of processing and implementing, I eventually acquire a combination of the Romantic and the Surrealist perspective.
By Romantic I mean a lens of absolute value and Self-fulfillment contained within the present scene, regardless of all fluctuating degrees of pain and pleasure (just as great authors like Charles Dickens or Roald Dahl can romanticize poverty by employing pity, whimsy, purity; so great marketing gurus can romanticize wealth and status; so the human mind constructs it's own subjective meaning of value and virtue). The human experience is a blend of tragedy and comedy, and both have the potential to provide wisdom to those humble or proud enough to accept Life's teachings. Thus the Romantic lens invites despair and hope from the human psyche and postulates that onto to the world, aiming for a present nowness by reveling in the drama of the moment. If this differs at all from Buddhism or Daoism, then it is an eschatological difference, meaning, it makes zero belief claims about the future of my Self or nonself by claiming all of my experienced reality as embedded within this moment (including any memories or future prophesies that interact within the present circumstance). If it differs from Stoicism, then it is a semantic difference, equally understanding emotions as potentially useful, but not as a competent measurement for one’s direction of action in most circumstances; whereas Stoicism has a neutral connotation of acting blasé to emotion, the Romantic uses it to color the world, giving meanings to these reasonless shapes. The Romantic lens thus provides axiological justification and purpose to phenomena.
Honesty equally cultivates the Surrealist mental perspective, where the mind accepts all incoming variables without indignation of real or not real. The historic Surrealist movement (1920-1966) advocated for an idea of continual revolution, and served as a correction to strict rationalism. Culturally we have constructed grand narratives to explain the underlying structures of the world, but these grand narratives are inherently mutable and unsustainable across time and culture. The thesis of the past, with all its symbolism and story collide now with the antithesis of the future (a future predicated on the differences between the symbolism of the past and the symbolism of the present, and includes many other differences such as the perceived source of pains in the past contrasted with the perceived pains of the present; thus a difference emerges in the exegetical and hermeneutical approach to the shared signs and stories of the present and the past, synthesizing in our current world view, which is both neither nor and in motion). Revolution of thought occurs again and again, superseding our previous conceptions of reality and continually revealing new layers of mystery and absurdity. For example, according to Nasa, under our current cosmological models and understanding of the universe, dark matter and energy represent 95% of the universe; meaning that everything we know of (much less understand) amounts to only 5% of the universe (according to our best guess). In an age characterized by knowledge, we begin our epistemological theory with an admittance to being 95% ignorant to everything in all of existence. Our ignorance is so vast and extreme that to claim any sense of meaning or value seems absolutely illogical.
So how might we navigate this epistemological landscape? Again, honesty cultivates the Surrealist mental perspective, where the mind accepts all incoming variables without indignation of real or not real. Our experience of phenomena is not validated by our ability to categorize that experience into a wider framework; rather, by realizing the explicitness of phenomena and the lack of a systematic or grand narrative, we are cast out into a place of absurdity. What is a correct response to the absurd? The absurd has no reasonable response (since it is absurd) and thus we realize the free and limited nature of our potential reactions to the experience of phenomena.
Equally, honesty cultivates the Romantic worldview of kinetic meaning embedded within the "now", which balances the Surrealist perspective of the absurdity of existence. These two frames engage one another in a Derridian-style interplay, each dominant and submissive to the other perspective, not in a spirit of competition or opposition, but correlation; meaning that they are maintained not in a hierarchical sense of aspect one vs aspect two, but harmonically as a field of vision onto the world.
Throughout the novel note the questions the main character asks himself, which questions are not asked, and how his exploration of honesty culminates in something surreal and romantic.
I hope you enjoy.