Alan Watts

Alan Watts nsIn existographies, Alan Watts (1915-1973) (IQ:160|#340) [RGM:352|1,500+] (Perry 80:71) (CR:23), was an English-born American philosopher noted for a number of book and audio publications in which he advocates a semi-scientific semi-newage one nature mixture of Zen Buddhism, aspects of Christianity, and new physics theories, e.g. cybernetics, process philosophy, etc., much of which amounts to a good deal of circular philosophical talk, albeit semi-interesting nevertheless.

Wiggly forms | Science vs Buddhism
In 1960, Watt, in his "Science and Buddhism", gave the following diagram to give a two-point of view model of science (quantification) and ancient wisdom (description) of something such as the form of a flame dancing above a fire: (V)

Watt wiggly figure (1960)

The following (V|13:51) shows Watts explaining how one can see a certain figure as either a bear climbing a tree or a tree with lopped off branches (left), depending on what you were told it was, in the same what that one can conceptualize an eclipse of the sun as either a dragon swallowing the sun, as in primitive cultures (e.g. ancient Egypt), or as the moon obfuscating view of the sun, as modern science explains things:

Before
(No exposure to alternative explanations)

After
(expose to alternative explanations)

Watts bear tree climbing analogy




Dragon swollowing up sun (Watts)

This is akin to a modern version of Plato's allegory of the cave, in respect to religious beliefs.

Spontaneity
In circa 1969 to 1972, Watt, in his “Work as Play” video talk (Ѻ), a key four minutes of which is shown, in text and in video, discussed spontaneity, work, and love in a pleasing manner:

“And what is it all about? Well we say, one must live. It’s necessary to survive. You know, you really must go on. It’s your duty. We think, in other words, part of our western philosophy, that we think we have a drive to survive, that we must go on living, because some big daddy said to us: you gotta go on living … see! And you better make it or else … There really is no necessity to go on living.

The fear of death is completely absurd. Because if you’re dead you’ve got nothing to worry about, so you’ll be alright.

So in the same way, this thing here, this plant. I’m quite sure it doesn’t say to itself: You ought to go on living. You’ve got an instinct to survive which is something other than yourself in which you have to obey.

Now you see, living, like this plant, is something spontaneous. In Chinese, the word for nature is ziran, which means that which happens of itself, not under any control of any outside boss. And so you stop this spontaneous flowering of nature cold if you tell it: you must do it! It’s like saying to someone: you must love me! Well it’s ridiculous.

If I were to ask my wife: darling do you really love me? And she says: I’m trying my best to do so, it’s not the answer I want. I want her to say: I can’t help loving you, I love you so much I could eat you. And that’s what the plant feels in growing, it doesn’t feel that it must grow, it’s not under orders, it’s not a military chain of command. It does this spontaneously, so that when you try to command this spontaneous process, you stop it.

What you are basically, deep deep down, far far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. Reality itself is gorgeous, it is the plenum, the fullness of total joy. Wowee! And all those stars, if you look out in the skies, is a firework display, like you see on the 4th of July, which is a great occasion for celebration. The universe is a celebration it is a firework show to celebrate that existence is.

This is the real secret of life: to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now, and instead of calling it ‘work’, realize that this is play.”

Watts's comments about spontaneity and the "secret of life" in some ways, is akin to Robert Pirsig's views.

Thermodynamics
In 1970, Watt published Does it Matter? Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality, his third-most widely held book; the following being an example quote: [5]

“A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool: the shape alone is stable, for the substance is a stream of energy going in at one end and out at the other. We are particular and temporarily identifiable wiggles in a stream that enters us in the form of light, heat, air, water, milk, bread, fruit, beer, beef Stroganoff, caviar, and pate de foie gras. It goes out as gas and excrement—and also as semen, babies, talk, politics, commerce, war, poetry, and music. And philosophy.”

The following is oft-cited variation and or aggregation quote of the above: [1]

“A living body can be likened to a flame or a whirlpool. The shape alone is stable. The substance is a stream of energy going in at one end and out at the other. Life’s purpose to maintain and perpetuate itself is understandable as a physico-chemical phenomenon studied by the science of thermodynamics. We are temporarily identifiable wiggles in a stream that enters us in the form of light, heat, air, water, milk …. It goes out as gas and excrement—also as semen, babies, talk, politics, war, poetry, and music.”

Watts interests seemed to be focused on mixing Eastern philosophy with science with focus on explaining and understanding the "ultimate things" and the whys and wherefores of existence.

Chopra
Watts can be compared, in some sense, to new age writer Deepak Chopra, albeit with more a sober grounding. Chopra, in fact, stated that he was “spellbound” after reading Watts’ 1951 The Wisdom of Insecurity, along with Carl Jung, who me met at one point. [2]

Alan Watts (on the here kitty kitty ideology)
Left: Watts on what seems to be the question of purpose, or the use or value of existence and feelings, in the context of the large dynamic universe. Right: A video (Ѻ) still (5:54) of what Watts calls the “here kitty kitty” social indoctrination ideology, set up for people as they enter the various “corridors” of society (similar to what Libb Thims conceptualizes as societal "hoop jumping"), from age 0 to 40, after which one supposedly wakes up to an empty bag or vision of reality.
Quotes | By
The following are notable and or interesting quotes:

“Anybody who tells you that he has some way of leading you to spiritual enlightenment is like somebody who picks your pocket and sells you your own watch.”
— Alan Watts (c.1955) [3]

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
— Alan Watts (c.1955) [3]

Life is not a problem to be solved, but an experience to be had.”
— Alan Watts (c.1955) [3]

“You yourself are the eternal energy which appears as this universe. You didn’t come into this world; you came out of it. Like a wave from the ocean.”
— Alan Watts (c.1960) [3]

“The meaning of life is just be alive. It is so plain and obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to reach something beyond themselves.”
— Alan Watts (c.1960) [3]

“But I’ll tell you what the hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
— Alan Watts (c.1955) [3]

References
1. (a) Margulis, Lynn and Sagan, Dorion. (1995). What is Life? (pg. 43). Simon and Schuster.
(b) Dowd, Michael. (1993). The Big Picture: or the Larger Context for all Human Activities (pg. #). Woodsfield, Ohio: Living Earth Institute.
2. Chopra, Deepak. (2011). “Introduction”, in: The Wisdom of Insecurity (by Alan Watts). Random House.
3. Alan Watts – Pinterest.
4. Watts, Alan. (2012). “Alan Watts by South Park creators” (Ѻ), YouTube, Mar 3.
5. Watts, Alan. (1970). Does it Matter? Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality (energy, 24+ pgs; quote, pg. 23). Publisher.

Further reading | Videos
Schneider, Eric D. and Sagan, Dorion. (2005). Into the Cool - Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life (pg. 309-10). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

External links
Alan Watts – Wikipedia.
Alan Watts (works) – UMD Library.
Alan Watts (collections in text) – Genius.com.
Watts, Alan (1915-1973) – WorldCat Identities.

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