Lots of progress in the last two months. I did the docket space again and began to sort out the various bits and pieces that I had, over the last decades, pushed ahead into the last two sermons. Again this method worked beautifully. The key question was where to draw the line between the sixth and seventh sermons – this is answered. On that basis, I wrote some more. Now the sixth sermon has a pretty detailed structure and 41 completed stanzas – as usual, I expect not all of those will be among the 80 stanzas of the finished sermon. The title is changed again, to “Our Maps and Territory”. The seventh has a rough structure and 15 complete stanzas; it remains named “The Universe Machine”. Many of these stanzas are old, some over ten years, but most are new.
The scary part is the seventh sermon will open with a novel theory of consciousness that I have been incubating since before I started the sermons in 2012. This theory has always been intended to turn up somewhere near the end. I have the insanely bold, possibly megalomaniacal, idea that this theory might actually solve the hard problem of consciousness. This is extremely unlikely to succeed. But it’ll at least be a serious attempt. To make that attempt, I need to finally put the vague exciting ideas in my head down into language structured enough to see whether they’re actually coherent… let alone right. Before I do this in poetry, I’m doing it in prose, and talking with friends who know more about philosophy than I do. If the ideas turn out to be crap, which is very likely because so far all explanations of consciousness have, I do have a plan B. But plan A is the utterly mad one.
The translation of the fourth sermon into German is postponed indefinitely because I lack capacity, and because I’m unsure how it can be done. The English word “humanity” has two meanings; the species i.e. mankind, and the quality of being humane. Those are seperate terms in German, “Menschheit” and “Menschlichkeit”, which don’t even have the same numer of syllables. Such a problem in the central word of the entire poem would probably necessitate quite far-reaching changes, and I have better things to do.
The two new videos, and a bit of publicity through the shortlisting in the ACX book review contest, are already noted in previous posts. The shortlisted review ended up winning second place; I got a few emails by people who got to know the Seven Secular Sermons for that reason.