03-01-08

Mort à crédit - désordre

" 'Courtial n'a commis qu'une erreur! Mais elle ètait fondamentale! Il avait pensé que le monde attendait l'esprit pour changer... Le monde a changé... C'est un fait! Mais l'esprit lui n'est pas venu!...' "
"(..) le désordre (..) c'est la belle essence de votre vie même!"
Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Mort à crédit, p. 389-390 & p. 358 resp., Gallimard, 1952.

Amateuristic English translation below.


In attempting a translation I realized I'm far from sure whether I get it. Still, it is a theme that - certainly after a long read of Bergson - is compelling.  Maybe an inclination to well ordered formulae combined with an allergy for the grand & magnificent lead to a fascination for indeterminate chaos, 'désordre'.

"Order!" is a French thing. It's the substrate for the spirit of 'esprit'. Decline in French thought over the past centuries is naught else than a hang-over, from imbibing too much Descartes. The remains from this great thought experiment are restricted to spirituality. The French language itself - & with it the Romanic lanaguages - is quickly becoming a study object, an antique. Evolutions are, & in many cases by explicit authorities, blocked from occurring and the language is increasingly sterile, essentially binary and dominantly dualistic.

Only great writers overcome this, Céline may be as 'wrong' as a writer can be but he succeeded in overcoming this. Surely, most of the Romanic writers rely on the fact that the world is waiting for 'l'esprit' of their language to convey in a clear way how things spiritual are to be ordered. Obviously, an increasingly Germanic - or, more approximately, Anglo-Saxon or, more to the point, English  - world is not waiting for that. Adam Smith, Charles Darwin wrote in English & the root of all living philosophical enquiry is mostly in German.

How did I get to a long - maybe even longwinded - & largely unsubstantiated rant on the character of languages? Partly because of my difficulty in the little translation attempt below but mainly, I guess, to convey as forcefully as I can - and therefore obliquely & indirectly - that, whilst the spirit-part of traditional dualisms is the more sterile, it is the well ordered body-part which is the root of the issue. One is restricted in attempts to directly convey this thought to a long sentence referring to both parts. Restricted because otherwise damned to be understood in line with popular wishy-washy New Age "analysis".

Ultimately what is at stake is scientific as well as technological optimism which is as scientifically ungrounded as the crudest animist religion. There's thought to be put in something more original, something bigger than the orders we've been creating so successfully. Hard mundane thought on body and mind - not grand sublime thought on destinies and deliverance. 'What we are' is in need of discovery still. I have no doubt that further discovery is possible, that it will be a 'good' thing if only because it will allow us to deal non-dogmatically, non- question-beggingly & non-mysteriously with 'good'. Dunno how though - that would somehow spoil the fun.

In closing, the quotes for me come from a tale of friendship. An egotistical but real friendship where something was created by stimulation of imagination. 


" 'Courtial has only made one error! But it was a fundamental one! He thought that the world waited for mind to change ... The world did change ... It's a fact! But mind did not come into it!...' " (note: 'esprit' is a tricky one)
" (..) chaos (..) is simply the essential feature of even your own life!" (note: 'désordre' is a tricky one)


For those interested, whilst writing this I was listening to "Messiah" of Georg Frideric Handel, by The English Concert & Choir, Archiv Produktion 1988.

13:50 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: friendship, celine, decadence, scientism |  Facebook |

01-11-07

De l´amitié

"Il les laisse heritiers de cette sienne liberalité, qui consiste à leur mettre en main les moyens de luy bien-faire." Michel de Montaigne, Essais Livre 1 (Flammarion 1969), Chapitre XXVIII (amateuristic translation below).


I'm not sure I get it. It's not pure coincidence that I start with something I'm not sure of. A good quote is never a slam-dunk type of argument but always leads to an element of wonder. This element of wonder fuels your creativity, and hence your thought.

I did not reread the entire chapter. I guess it does not make a romantic plea for altruistic friendship of the kind that makes people forget themselves in an attempt to improve the fate of others. Friendship, as specifically human trait, cannot be a matter of a couple of individuals. Friendship, understood as pure reciprocal relationship, is nothing but a romanticized version of the economic quid pro quo. Human acts and feelings of friendship can therefore not be just - or mainly - a matter of reciprocal acts of benevolence. At heart we know for sure that friendship is of another kind than what makes economic sense.

At least, that much was the fruit of my first wonder. If somehow in the  right direction, we need not just look for a relationship between individuals but for a relationship tying befriended individuals to something they hold in common (do not take my words too literally, if one could mean things with an isolated sentence or word one would not experience wonder at them). Now, the only thing I can think of that individuals can really hold in common is an intention. If so friendship shows by commitment to a common intention rather than by a commitment to a friend. It then allows for quite some egotism, insofar such an intention has its source in a single individual. This may be the way to come to the quote above, he/she who creates an intention that can commonly be held creates friendship. Not just regardless of whether he/she benefits of it; but precisely because he/she allows for something where others can share in the creation of some benefit.

True, this is still a quite foggy notion. As all words, 'friendship' is also a messy word and it is a characteristic of pre-modern thought to rap on words without noticing that the wrap put around words is a clear show of the insuffiencies of the word itself. Modernity however doesn't rescue us from pre-modern reflex, we are not just language analyzed.

As per the above the easiest common intention is the well-being of a specific individual. People not interested in their own well-being are mostly just lousy friends, they tend to care little about anybody else's well-being and want to subjugate us to some overriding abstract concept. Not because they intend to reach something but because they believe (and want to make us believe) that we should humble ourselves in the light of Greater Things. It is the proud whom we love. From this simple intention it is not too difficult to generate the more complex actions and events of the social world - not that everything is friendship but it seems that at least a lot of social interaction rests on notion of friendship (at least it seems like that to me now).

Emotional friendship, material friendship based on intention of one's financial security, monogamy based on the intention of sexual security; those having  time and the virtue of lengthy undivided attention can analyze forever. We're misplaced to denounce as "false" friends those who help the rich feel well as long as that help originates before the economic advantage (economy is not something we will avoid here just as little as we can avoid nature elsewhere) that springs from it came to mind. We're as misplaced to denounce the rich to accept that help on the basis of friendship since friendship only degenerates to an economic concept when we demand reciprocity in the actions borne out by friendship.

A final note on a most special kind of friendship: intellectual friendship where the common intention is intellectial in nature. A creation, a thought, invention or whatever other fascination; not of the kind already described desiring us to be put under some abstract notion standing loftily outside of us (that's a religion and religions are never good in themselves but at best only good as far as they promote something good inside of us) but of the kind that springs from within someone of us. That friendship is the most difficult to attain, but the most beneficial to all of us because of the creative power it can unleash. Diificult to attain because this type of friendship is not just gift but also, and very explicitly, a service delivered towards an idea of somebody else. Pride is often an insurmountable hurdle for intellectual friendship. Intelligence is only possible in the proud but pride about one's ideas is for the weak enough not to assist in helping along somebody else's ideas.

Jealousy will be for another time but rest assured, jealousy is based on mere fallacy, to wit: the notion that the idea-space is finite and that the laws of our economy apply within that space.


"He makes them heirs to his liberalism, which consists in giving them a means to treat him well."

14:38 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, intention, friendship |  Facebook |

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