27-09-08

La vision d'autrui

"Nos yeux doutent d'eux-mêmes, tant que les autres ne nous ot pas aidés à établir en nous la réalité de ce que nous voyons. Notre conscience s'égare: car cette conscience, que nous croyons être notre bien le plus intime, n'est que la présence des autres en nous. Nous ne pouvons nous sentir seuls." Pirandello, 'Un, personne et cent mille', p. 149, L'imaginaire de Gallimard, 1930.

(amateuristic English translation below)


It is the last certainty: our self, our individuality, our personality. Few have ventured to boldly go there where the simplicity of the self is no longer an unspoken premise. Pirandello was one of the first. Many have put nuances, almost nobody dares to get so bold as to attack the first pillar of dualism: the "I". Some day - with the sufficient hindsight - people will wonder about this fact; after all, of all linguistic constructions - "personality, self, conscience, I" are, historically, extremely recent. They will wonder how Pirandello antedates Davidson with a half century where Davidson really was the first providing a basis for a serious, systematic criticism of the construct of 'self'.

No doubt our self is a most useful invention, no doubt there are many things we will want to cling on that are based on this sense of self. Individualism for instance - as expressed in the creative imagination of the individual - is a good thing (if not "the" good thing). Again, don't interpret any of this as a step to woolliness; my criticism is not going in the direction of recuperating old group-think notions. It is not nostalgia to days of yore when cosy togetherness outweighed individual expression. In fact, it is my firm belief that we need to criticize (yes, why not, deconstruct) the notion of 'I' precisely because we will find in this way a nucleus of universality that binds us, that provides us a direction (even if never a definite goal). Precisely here Pirandello goes astray, whilst his notion of self as consisting of others is right, he stops prematurely &, often, gets stuck in an almost nauseating relativism.

"The others disappear when the self is no longer there. Otherness is central to those with a strong personality. Individualism is altruism." That are enough paradoxes not taken from other people's quotes. But, while you forgive my paradoxical indulgence, you can appreciate the direction of my criticism: integrating the notion of others in a notion like the self - & that's precisely the meaning of the word 'conscience' - does a world of good. To me it's so clear that I can feel how much good it does, even if it is hard to do it because all of the resistance built around the concept by traditionalists is huge. It is not a comforting quought but it is a quought that dynamizes (sorry for the ugly word).

And again (and again - and again, and again): nothing woolly is present because it is not a matter of conforming yourself to something external invented by others - in yet another attempt to go after your money & happiness. It is a matter of finding in yourself the others, whatever their shape or conviction. It isn't finding the conviction of others in yourself but finding the others there & appreciating how they came to a conviction whether deplorable or not. Expressing your individuality is the only way of respecting those others and therefore respecting yourself. Everybody lives on and it is only possible because they live on via others after others have lived on via them.


"Our eyes doubt themselves, as long as the others have not helped establish in us the reality of what we see. Our conscience dissipates: because this conscience, that we take to be our most intimate asset, is nothing else than the presence of other is us. We can't feel alone."


Whilst writing this I was listening (or trying to) to Stockhausen, Tierkreis, Laborintos.

12:59 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: self, imagination, universals, tones, pirandello |  Facebook |

09-09-08

De la gloire

"Toute la gloire que je prétends de ma vie, c'est de l'avoir vécue tranquille: tranquille non selon Métrodore, ou Arcésilas, ou Aristippe, mais selon moi. Puisque la philosophie n'a su trouver aucune voie pour la tranquillité qui fût bonne en commun, que chacun la cherche en son particulier!" Montaigne, Essais II, Gallimard 1965, chapitre XVI, p. 375.

(amateuristic English translation below)


Strange self-referring quote. Do I mean that I live my life according to Montaigne in trying to live it in my own way? Maybe so. Maybe the lack of Caesar's or Alexander's fame - or even Britney Spears' fame - bothers me to the extent that I need to seek refuge in a coincidental sentence by Montaigne. It is in any case certain that reading about how luck brings some to fame whilst others have the bad luck to be frustrated in their projects brings an immediate sigh of 'That's me! & Wasn't Kant nearly death by the time he got noticed?'

I admit in this self-indulgence, but I do not admit that it's a bad thing. I do not buy the 'if you work hard enough, you'll be successful'-sham. With some qualifications I can go in for the reverse conditional. I thought about qualifying success but that's a qualification I need to drop. When you have success you have created reverberation in others, whether that impact is of the high-falutin' sort or not is a small-town high-culture irrelevance. Who cares about who judges success? Success is not a quality, it is most definitely a quantity that can be measured. Sure, it can be measured in lots of different ways but it always is a matter of measurement - not of judgment by jury consisting of 'qualified assesors'. (I would venture to make a bold statement - that success is like weight, you can measure it in different ways but the heaviest - most successful - items will always get the biggest measure - but that's not for here, it'll need something like a referral rating on publications)

So the only qualification that remains is that 'to work hard enough' doesn't mean at all that you have worked hard. The stress you put yourself in, or that you have been put in by the occasion, is as irrelevant as the appraisal of the happy few. If you are successful you have worked hard enough in the sense that you ought'nt have worked any harder than you actually did. Much good would come from thorough, widespread understanding of this qualification. For one, it would finally break the spine of those doctrines of overstressing anything in sight for more quantitative output per person, the cases in point being religions. Yes, you have to work. No, you needn't work hard. You just need to work hard enough. (On this I will only have worked an hour but - if it turns out to be of influence - maybe it's the only hour I actually worked hard enough - if you are getting my drift.)

So success can be quantified, the amount of hard enough work can't; such is the big triumph of creative talent over uninspired reproduction!

Finally (this wasn't going to be long but Michel is really, really great you know), when you have no success this does not imply you haven't worked hard enough - you may well have had tough luck & no breaks, only brakes. So Michel is right, whether or not it indulges our sense of achievement in the absence of success, take pride in a road you have taken, if it so happens that you took it to your own personal contentment & fulfillment.


"All the glory that I pretend to have from my life, is to have lived it tranquilly: tranquil not following Metrodorus, or Arcesilas, or Aristippus, but following myself. Since philosophy has not been able to find any road to tranquility in common, let everybody find it for his specific situation."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Orquesta Del Desierto, Orquesta Del Desierto, 2002, Meteor City.

23:04 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, decadence, imagination, tones |  Facebook |