“Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.”
– Rene Descartes
I, as a word, a pronoun, a sound and symbol, is oft equated with ‘me’ or my ‘individuality.’ The proposition here is that this ‘I’ is all tied up in knots, knots of thoughts. The tied I is the knots of thoughts to which our identity is tethered. Knots of thoughts are produced from tying threads of sensory experience together which is the proces of ‘cognitive organization’ and which forms our model of ‘reality.’ Cognitive organization is the weaving of sensory experience into the psychelogical tapestry we call our personal, and collective, ‘reality.’ That personal and collective reality is often shared with others, which allows meaningful communication and relationships. At the same time, there are unique elements, uniquely woven threads, that make any one person singular, and solitary, if even using the collective material available.
The overlap of personal and collective realities serves to make the tied up knots of thought that constitute the tapestry of individual life rich and embellished with diverse values. A tapestry made with only a few threads of similar color is not nearly as beautiful as is a tapestry made with many colored threads, woven together. Cognitive organization is the creative artistic act of taking threads of sensory experience and tying them together. For example, the sight of an elephant is a visual thread and the sound ‘elephant’ is an audio thread. Cognitive organization ties them together. If you get close enough to the elephant, the tactile and olfactory threads can be tied in as well. Consider the vast volume of sensory threads during the formative years of childhood and adolescence used to build a web of coherent experience called ‘reality.’ Without knots of thoughts, there is no identified reality, either individual or collective.
Identity can be considered as a collection of knots, or dents, I-dents, knots as dents in the fabric of the tapestry. Threads knotted together can be represented as dents in the threads. These dents are the myriad of sensory experiences, impressions upon the mind, and body, many of which are jarring, some quite intense and impressionable, accumulated throughout the formative years of development and coalesced into the tapestry that makes up identity, a collection of dents, of knots, in the tapestry; these knots, or ‘I-dents’ are expressed as biases, preferences, prejudices, beliefs, opinions, facts, and fictions, hopes, dreams, wishes and goals, as well as disappointments, frustrations, irritations and anger and not to exclude the joys, pleasures, contentments and passions also forged via cognitive organization of sensory experience.
The dents, or knots of thought, become ways in which we are identified. Most people are not just intellectually identified with these knots of thoughts as dents in the fabric of ‘I’ but emotionally attached as well. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that a particular knot of thought, a particular belief or bias or conclusion about something, is faulty or erroneous or incomplete, is too commonly met with avoidance, defensiveness, hostility and even violence rather than consideration, deliberation, discussion and a kind of adjustment, an adaptation, or evolution, towards a more current understanding, which does then require the relinquishment of the outdated understanding. One must, so to speak, untie the knot of thought that formed the erroneous bias or belief. The tied I, the individual as a tapestry of knots of thoughts, is not a static piece of fabric but rather a dynamic living process of weaving. Sensory apparatus, housed in the biological fabric is the material, cognitive organization is the tool used to weave the tapestry of one’s life.
As a weaver of the knots of thought, through the process of tying sensory experience into cohesive collections, each person is creative, taking the raw elements of sensation and crafting them into a tapestry of identity. Of course, not all tapestries are alike even though the same material is used, just as no music is alike even though the same notes are used. And, just as the tapestry of notes can be melodic, so too the knots of thoughts can be harmonious. Those knots of thoughts which are not harmonious, like notes in the music that are not melodic, can be removed or replaced. Cognitive organization, like music, is a creative process of using the available material to weave a reality which gives expression to I, the individual identity, the collection of I-dents, within a collective, large or small as it may be. The individual tapestry is but a subset of the collective tapestry which ranges from the family to the community, to the nation, to the planet as a whole, and even beyond, to the solar system, the galaxy, the cosmos.
It is often tightly tied identities, knots of thought, on the personal level which prevent the expression of those larger collective tapestries into the personal life and which if allowed would promote an expanded sense of identity. Old, outdated, irrelevant, dysfunctional and even harmful knots of thoughts, i.e., identity, are often tightly tied, and so requires more attentiveness, and patience, to untie. One of the most fundamental instructions in untying tight knots of thought is….in a word…..relax. It is as if when caught up in a web, to struggle is likely to yield more entanglement whereas to go limp is more likely to yield…..release.