seeking the path
more to say of this in a moment. It is plain that a change of direction only operates between the field that is the centre of attention and a field of one peripheral zone; whereas, so long as the centre of attention remains fixed, variation of emphasis within the peripheral zone is in the province of the quasi-synthesis, and at that level does not involve a change of direction. The peripheral zone, it will now be clear, consists of a multitude of absent fields all differentiated and all given at once; and it is this combination of one and many that is the essence of the ambiguity. To be an absent field is to be given simultaneously with a number of other such fields, to co-exist with them; and the reason for an absent field’s lack of detail is evidently the dispersion of attention amongst a crowd of rival claimants. Consciousness of a field is consciousness of a dispersion of alternative fields, but it is not consciousness of them as such. Consciousness of a field necessarily involves a certain attitude regarding that field—not, to be sure, the pretended totally detached attitude of the scientist, nor even the semidetached attitude of cognition, nor yet the small separation of reflexive consciousness proper, but none the less a kind of slight fissure, an inherent quasi-attitude enough to confer on the field its existence, its elementary objectivity (without which it would never be manifest to reflexion)—, and that attitude, or quasi-attitude, consists in an ignoring of the implications of certain features of the field and its surroundings (for it cannot ignore the features themselves). Consciousness of a field, thus, is self-consciousness,14 and in the structure of a field there is already an inherent, pre-reflexive, element of reflexivity: a field exists as a blindness to its own nature. The15 gradient of feeling of a stable field as a whole (we are theorizing, of course) necessarily shares the equivocal structure of that field: on the one hand there are the gradients of the absent fields, and on the other there is the gradient of the quasi-attitude of the field towards itself (a quasi-gradient in fact); and the former are quasi-subordinate to the latter. It will now be evident that the gradient of feeling of a field as we described it earlier (appendix v) must at the same time be regarded as a complex consisting of the gradients of the absent fields and the quasi-gradient of these gradients (which last is indifferently either the dispersion of these gradients or the gradient of the succession of subordinate fields regardless of individual pleasantness; and this quasi-gradient must always be positive or there would be no dispersion of absent fields). We have already remarked that a field remains stable so long as its gradient is positive, but changes as soon as the 14. [‘self’ is crossed out.] 15. [This paragraph is crossed out in pencil.]
Published on Jun 26, 2013
Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...