Static quality, the moral force of the priests, emerges in the wake of Dynamic Quality. It is old and complex. It always contains a component of memory. Good is conformity to an established pattern of fixed values and value objects. Justice and law are identical. Static morality is full of heroes and villains, loves and hatreds, carrots and sticks. Its values don't change by themselves. Unless they are altered by Dynamic Quality they say the same thing year after year. Sometimes they say it more loudly, sometimes more softly, but the message is always the same.
During the next few months that Phasdrus reflected he began to transpose the static-Dynamic division out of the moral conflict of Zuni into other seemingly unrelated areas. The negative esthetic quality of the hot stove in the earlier example was now given some added meaning by a static-Dynamic division of Quality. When the person who sits on the stove first discovers his low-Quality situation, the front edge of his experience is Dynamic. He does not think, 'This stove is hot,' and then make a rational decision to get off. A 'dim perception of he knows not what' gets him off Dynamically. Later he generates static patterns of thought to explain the situation.
A subject-object metaphysics presumes that this kind of Dynamic action without thought is rare and ignores it when possible. But mystic learning goes in the opposite direction and tries to hold to the ongoing Dynamic edge of all experience, both positive and negative, even the Dynamic ongoing edge of thought itself. Phaedrus thought that of the two kinds of students, those who study only subject-object science and those who study only meditative mysticism, it would be the mystic students who would get off the stove first. The purpose of mystic meditation is not to remove oneself from experience but to bring one's self closer to it by eliminating stale, confusing, static, intellectual attachments of the past.
In a subject-object metaphysics morals and art are worlds apart, morals being concerned with the subject quality and art with object quality. But in the Metaphysics of Quality that division doesn't exist. They're the same. They both become much more intelligible when references to what is subjective and what is objective are completely thrown away and references to what is static and what is Dynamic are taken up instead.
He found an example within the field of music. He said, imagine that you walk down a street past, say, a car where someone has the radio on and it plays a tune you've never heard before but which is so fantastically good it just stops you in your tracks. You listen until it's done. Days later you remember exactly what that street looked like when you heard that music. You remember what was in the store window you stood in front of. You remember what the colors of the cars in the street were, where the clouds were in the sky above the buildings across the street, and it all comes back so vividly you wonder what song they were playing, and so you wait until you hear it again. If it's that good you'll hear it again because other people will have heard it too and have had the same feelings and that will make it popular.
One day it comes on the radio again and you get the same feeling again and you catch the name and you rush down the street to the record store and buy it and can hardly wait until you can get it home and play it.
You get home. You play it. It's really good. It doesn't quite transform the whole room into something different but it's really good. You play it again. Really good. You play it another time. Still good, but you're not so sure you want to play it again. But you play it again. It's OK but now you definitely don't want to play it again. You put it away.
The next day you play it again, and it's OK, but something is gone. You still like it and always will, you say. You play it again. Yeah, that's sure a good record. But you file it away and once in a while play it again for a friend and maybe months or years later bring it out as a memory of something you were once crazy about.
Now what has happened? You can say you've gotten tired of the song but what does that mean? Has the song lost its quality? If it has, why do you still say it's a good record? Either it's good or it's not good. If it's good why don't you play it? If it's not good why do you tell your friend it's good?
If you think about this question long enough you will come to see that the same kind of division between Dynamic Quality and static quality that exists in the field of morals also exists in the field of art. The first good, that made you want to buy the record, was Dynamic Quality. Dynamic Quality comes as a sort of surprise. What the record did was weaken for a moment your existing static patterns in such a way that the Dynamic Quality all around you shone through. It was free, without static forms. The second good, the kind that made you want to recommend it to a friend, even when you had lost your own enthusiasm for it, is static quality. Static quality is what you normally expect.
* * *
Soon after that Phaedrus ran across another example that concerned neither art nor morality but referred indirectly to mystic reality itself.
It was in an essay by Walker Percy called 'The Delta Factor.' It asked,
Why is a man apt to feel bad in a good environment, say suburban Short Hills, New Jersey, on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon? Why is the same man apt to feel good in a very bad environment, say in an old hotel in Key Largo, in a hurricane . . ? Why is it that a man riding a good commuter train from Larchmont to New York, whose needs and drives are satisfied, who has a good home, loving wife and family, good job, and enjoys unprecedented 'cultural and recreational facilities' often feels bad without knowing why?
Why is it that if such a man suffers a heart attack and, taken off the train at New Rochelle, regains consciousness and finds himself in a strange place, he then comes to himself for the first time in years, perhaps in his life, and begins to gaze at his own hand with a sense of wonder and delight?
These are haunting questions, but with Quality divided into Dynamic and static components, a way of approaching them emerges. A home in suburban Short Hills, New Jersey, on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon is filled with static patterns. A hurricane in Key Largo promises a Dynamic relief from static patterns. The man who suffers a heart attack and is taken off the train at New Rochelle has had all his static patterns shattered, he can't find them, and in that moment only Dynamic Quality is available to him. That is why he gazes at his own hand with a sense of wonder and delight.
Phaedrus saw that not only a man recovering from a heart attack but also a baby gazes at his hand with
mystic wonder and delight. He remembered the child Poincare referred to who could not understand the reality of objective science at all but was able to understand the reality of value perfectly. When this reality of value is divided into static and Dynamic areas a lot can be explained about that baby's growth that is not well explained otherwise.
One can imagine how an infant in the womb acquires awareness of simple distinctions such as pressure and sound, and then at birth acquires more complex ones of light and warmth and hunger. We know these distinctions are pressure and sound and light and warmth and hunger and so on but the baby doesn't. We could call them stimuli but the baby doesn't identify them as that. From the baby's point of view, something, he knows not what, compels attention. This generalized 'something,' Whitehead's 'dim apprehension,' is Dynamic Quality. When he is a few months old the baby studies his hand or a rattle, not knowing it is a hand or a rattle, with the same sense of wonder and mystery and excitement created by the music and heart attack in the previous examples.
If the baby ignores this force of Dynamic Quality it can be speculated that he will become mentally retarded, but if he is normally attentive to Dynamic Quality he will soon begin to notice differences and then correlations between the differences and then repetitive patterns of the correlations. But it is not until the baby is several months old that he will begin to really understand enough about that enormously complex correlation of sensations and boundaries and desires called an object to be able to reach for one. This object will not be a primary experience. It will be a complex pattern of static values derived from primary experience.
Once the baby has made a complex pattern of values called an object and found this pattern to work well he quickly develops a skill and speed at jumping through the chain of deductions that produced it, as though it were a single jump. This is similar to the way one drives a car. The first time there is a very slow trial-and-error process of seeing what causes what. But in a very short time it becomes so swift one doesn't even think about it. The same is true of objects. One uses these complex patterns the same way one shifts a car, without thinking about them. Only when the shift doesn't work or an 'object' turns out to be an illusion is one forced to become aware of the deductive process. That is why we think of subjects and objects as primary. We can't remember that period of our lives when they were anything else.
In this way static patterns of value become the universe of distinguishable things. Elementary static distinctions between such entities as 'before' and 'after' and between 'like' and 'unlike' grow into enormously complex patterns of knowledge that are transmitted from generation to generation as the mythos, the culture in which we live.
This, Phaedrus thought, was why little children are usually quicker to perceive Dynamic Quality than old people, why beginners are usually quicker than experts, why primitive people are sometimes quicker than those of 'advanced' cultures. American Indians are exceptionally skilled at holding to the ever-changing center of things. That is the real reason they speak and act without ornamentation. It violates their mystic unity. This moving and acting and talking in accord with the Great Spirit and almost nothing else has been the ancient center of their lives.
Their term manito is often used interchangeably with 'God' by whites who usually think all religion is theistic and by Indians themselves who don't make a big deal out of any verbal distinctions. But as David Mandelbaum noted in his book The Plains Cree, 'The term manito primarily referred to the Supreme Being but also had many other usages. It was applied to manifestations of skill, fortune, blessing, luck, to any wondrous occurrence. It connoted any phenomenon that transcended the run of everyday experience.'
In other words, 'Dynamic Quality.'
With the identification of static and Dynamic Quality as the fundamental division of the world, Phaedrus felt that some kind of goal had been reached. This first division of the Metaphysics of Quality now covered the spectrum of experience from primitive mysticism to quantum mechanics. What remained for Phaedrus to do next was fill in the gaps as carefully and methodically as he could.
In the past Phasdrus' own radical bias caused him to think of Dynamic Quality alone and neglect static patterns of quality. Until now he had always felt that these static patterns were dead. They have no love. They offer no promise of anything. To succumb to them is to succumb to death, since that which does not change cannot live. But now he was beginning to see that this radical bias weakened his own case. Life can't exist on Dynamic Quality alone. It has no staying power. To cling to Dynamic Quality alone apart from any static patterns is to cling to chaos. He saw that much can be learned about Dynamic Quality by studying what it is not rather than futilely trying to define what it is.
Static quality patterns are dead when they are exclusive, when they demand blind obedience and suppress Dynamic change. But static patterns, nevertheless, provide a necessary stabilizing force to protect Dynamic progress from degeneration. Although Dynamic Quality, the Quality of freedom, creates this world in which we live, these patterns of static quality, the quality of order, preserve our world. Neither static nor Dynamic Quality can survive without the other.
If one inserts this concept into a case such as that of the brujo in Zuni, one can see the truth of it. Although the Dynamic brujo and the static priests who tortured him appeared to be mortal enemies, they were actually necessary to each other. Both types of people had to exist. If most of Zuni went around drunk and bragging and looking in windows, that ancient way of life could never have lasted. But without wild, disreputable outcasts like the brujo, ready to seize on any new outside idea and bring it into the community, Zuni would have been too inflexible to survive. A tension between these two forces is needed to continue the evolution of life.
The beauty of that old Indian, Phaedrus thought, is that he seemed to have understood this. He wasn't interested in just knocking things down and walking off into the sunset with some kind of a moral victory. The old priestly ways would have come back and all his suffering would have been wasted. He didn't do that. He stayed around the rest of his life, became a part of the static pattern of the tribe, and lived to see his reforms become a part of the tribe's ongoing culture.
Slowly at first, and then with increasing awareness that he was going in a right direction, Phaedrus' central attention turned away from any further explanation of Dynamic Quality and turned toward the static patterns themselves.
Lila sat on the cabin berth and thought about the bad taste in her mouth from the coffee. There was something wrong with it. It was that rubbery taste in the water. That was bad too. It was in the coffee too.
She didn't feel good. Her head still hurt. From last night. How much had she spent? she wondered. She didn't have much money left. Then she remembered: he paid for most of it . . . Her head really hurt bad.
God, she was hungry. At least she'd get him to buy her a big steak tonight . . . with mushrooms . . . and onions . . . Oh, she could hardly stand it!
Everything was all changed again. Yesterday she was going to Florida on the Karma. Now she was on this boat. Her life was really getting worse and worse. She knew it. She used to at least plan things a little. Now everything happened without any plans at all.
She wondered where the Karma was now. And George and Debbie. He was probably still shacked up with her! She hoped they'd both drown. She didn't even ask for her money back. She knew they wouldn't give it to her.
She should have asked for it, though. She really needed it. She was getting that old feeling again. It meant trouble. She always got into trouble when she got mad. If she hadn't got mad at George and Debbie she'd be on the Karma right now. She could have got George back. That was dumb to get mad at him. That just made things worse.
And now she was mad at this new Captain. She was mad at everybody these days. What was the purpose of that? There wasn't anything really wrong with him. He was just a dumbbell, that was all. All those dumb questions about Richard. She wondered why Richard had anything to do with him. Probably just someone he met and she thought they were good friends.
Maybe Richard would be in New York when they got there.
Anyway she was stuck with this Captain now. At least until New York, or wherever they were going to stay tonight. She could stand him that long.
She might need him when they got to New York.
She watched him for a while over the top of the stairway. He looked like a school teacher, she thought, the kind that never liked her. Like someone who was always getting mad at her for doing something she shouldn't. He looked like he'd been frowning about her for a long time.
She had to get out of these bad feelings. She knew what would happen to her if she didn't. She ought to try going up one more time. She didn't have to look at him. She could just sit there.
She watched the Captain for a while longer then braced herself, put on a smile, climbed the stairs to the deck and sat down again.
There, that wasn't so hard.
She brought her sweater with her and now she stood up to put it on. 'It's gotten cool,' she said.
'We're lucky it isn't any colder,' the Captain said. 'At this time of year we can't count on anything any more.
'It's the wind,' he added. 'Watch out for the boom. The winds are fluky in river valleys like this.'
'Where are we?' she asked.
'We're south of Poughkeepsie,' he said. 'It's getting a little more industrial now. You can see some mountains up ahead.'
'I was watching you,' she said.
'You frown a lot. You were talking to yourself a lot. That's the way Morris was.'
'A friend of mine. He would just sit for hours and not say a word and I'd think he was really mad at me and he wasn't mad at all. Some men are like that. He was just thinking about something else.'
'Yes, that's the way I am too.'
After a while she saw there was all sorts of stuff floating in the water. She saw some branches and what looked like grass and there was foam all around it.
'What's all that in the water?' she asked.
'It's from the hurricane,' he said. 'We seem to hit thick patches of it and then it thins out for a while.'
'It looks awful,' Lila said.
'They were talking about it back in Castleton,' he added. 'They said everything's been coming down the river. Trees, garbage cans, old picnic benches. A lot of it's half-submerged . .. One of the reasons I'm using the sails is so we don't hit anything with the propeller.'
He pointed up ahead. 'When we get to the mountain up there the wind will probably start doing funny things. We'll have to stop sailing and run the engine.' Where he pointed, the river seemed to run right into some mountains. 'At a turn called World's End,' he added.
A few minutes went by and then she saw that far ahead, by a branch or something sticking up out of the water, it looked like some animal was floating with its feet up.
They got closer and she saw it was a dog. It was all swelled up and it was on its side with two of its feet up in the air.
She didn't say anything.
The Captain didn't say anything either.
Later, after they got by it, she could smell it and she knew he could smell it too.
'These rivers are like sewers,' the Captain said. 'They take all the debris and poisons from the land and carry them out to sea.'
'Salts and chemicals. If you irrigate land without drainage it loads up with poisons and becomes dead. Nothing grows. The rivers keep the land clean and fresh. All of this debris is on the same journey we are.'
'Where? What do you mean?'
'To the ocean.'
'Oh . . . Well, we're just going to New York,' she said.
The Captain didn't say anything.
'How soon will we be there?' Lila asked.
'Tomorrow, unless something goes wrong,' the Captain answered. 'Are you in a hurry?'
'No,' Lila said. She really didn't have to get there at all. She really didn't know anybody to stay with except Jamie and some of the others but that was so long ago they were probably all gone by now.
She asked, 'Is your buyer going to be there?'
'For your boat.'
'Not me. I'm going to Florida."
Florida? Lila wondered. She said, 'I thought you said you were going to sell your boat in New York.'
'You said so last night.'
'Not me,' the Captain said. 'It was Rigel. I'm going to Florida. You must have heard me wrong.'
'Ohhhh,' Lila said, 'I thought Richard was going to Florida.'
'No ... I want to get south of Cape Hatteras before the end of the month,' the Captain said, 'but everything seems to slow me down. The fall storms are in now and these could pin the boat down for days.'
Florida, Lila thought. In Florida the light was always golden orange and everything looked different. Even the light on the sand was different in Florida. She remembered the beach at Fort Lauderdale and the palm trees and the warm sand under her towel and the hot sun on her back. That was so good.
'You're going to go all by yourself?' she asked.
'With no food?'
'I'll get food.'
In Florida there were all kinds of good food. Good seafood - pompano, shrimp and snapper. She sure could go for some of that now. Oh, she shouldn't think about it!
'You need a cook,' she said. 'You don't cook. You need someone to cook.'
'I get along,' he said.
Once she went shrimp fishing at night under a bridge with lights and afterward they all cooked the shrimp and took it to the beach and drank cold beer and there was more than anyone could eat. Oh, they were good. She could remember how soft and warm the wind was and they were all so stuffed and they laid down under the palm trees and they drank rum-and-Coke and they talked and they all made love all night long until the sun came up over the ocean. She wondered where they were now, those guys. She'd probably never see them again.
And the boats, she thought, the boats were everywhere.
'How long will it take you?' she asked.
'A long time,' he said. 'A month maybe.'
'That's a long time... How long have you been sailing like this?'
'Since August eleventh.'
'Are you retired?'
'I'm a writer,' he said.
'What do you write about?'
'Traveling, mostly, I guess,' he said. 'I go places and see things and think about what I see and then I write about that. There are lots of writers who do that.'
'You mean you would write about what we're seeing right now?'
'Why would anyone want to write about this? Nothing is happening.'
There's always something happening,' he said. 'When you say "nothing is happening" you're just saying nothing is happening that fits your cliché of what something is.'
'It's hard to explain,' he said. 'Something is happening right now and you think it's unimportant because you've never seen a movie of it. But if you saw three movies in a row of people sailing down the Hudson River and maybe a TV documentary about Washington Irving and the history of the Hudson River and then you got on this trip you'd say, "Boy, this is sure something," because what you were seeing fit some mental picture you already had planted in your mind.'
Lila didn't know what that was all about. He said it like he thought it was pretty smart.
She looked at him for a long time and wondered whether to say something, but changed her mind. She watched the water pass under her elbow.
After a while she asked, 'You want to have a really good dinner tonight?'
'Sure,' he said.
'I'll make it,' Lila said.
'We'll bring the steaks and you just watch how I cook them. Is it a deal?'
'You don't have to,' he said.
'No, that's all right,' she said, 'I can cook. I just love to cook. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do.'
She looked at the shirt he was wearing. There was a big food spot over the front pocket. She wondered how long he'd worn that shirt. He hadn't changed shirts for days.
'I'm going to put that shirt in the laundry in New York,' she said.
He smiled a little.
She thought some more about Florida.
After a while she turned to him again and asked, 'Do you want to see something really beautiful?'
'What?' the Captain asked.
'I'll show you,' she said.
She went below, got out her suitcase, spread it on the berth and opened it. Inside one corner pocket was a bundle of papers with a red ribbon around it. She untied the ribbon and removed a colored pamphlet with 'JUNGLE QUEEN' printed in big red letters across the top. Beneath it was a picture of the most beautiful boat in the world. Lila spread the picture out and carefully turned back one corner that had got folded over.