22-07-09

Fünf Sonette an Orpheus

"III

Ein Gott vermags. Wie aber, sag mir, soll
ein Mann ihm folgen durch die schmale Leier?
Sein Sinn ist Zwiespalt. An der Kreuzung zweier
Herzwege steht kein Tempel für Apoll.

Gesang, wie du ihm lernst, ist nicht Begehr,
nicht Werbung um ein endlich noch Erreichtes;
Gesang ist Dasein. Für den Gott ein Leichtes.
Wann aber sind wir? Und wann wendet er

an unser Sein die Erde und die Sterne?
Dies ists nicht, Jüngling, Dass du liebst, wenn auch
die Stimme dann den Mund dir aufstösst, - lerne

vergessen, dass du aufsangst. Das verrinnt.
In Wahrheit singen, ist ein andrer Hauch.
Ein Hauch um nichts. Ein Wehn im Gott. Ein Wind."

Rainer Maria Rilke, Fünf Sonette an Orpheus, III, p.24 booklet with CD "Rautavaara, Song of My Heart, Orchestral Songs", published by Ondine.

(official English translation below)


What I wanted to talk about was 'Mind-Mind Dualism'; then I thought about Orpheus and remembered what is quoted above from Rilke (I hesitated a bit: Kierkegaard or Nietzsche came to mind as well, but I settled for Rilke-Orpheus). This godly creature could woo even the devil into appreciating the beauty of song but he was too human not to hesitate about whether his earthly beauty was still accompanying him; he was more man than god in other words, and probably therefore as godly as can be, alive but not constrained by death.

'Mind-Mind Dualism'! No, I'm not a dualist by any means. But given how much it has gone out of fashion to be dualist, this phrase of 'Mind-Mind Dualism' is, maybe, just provacative enough to make people think beyond the current consensus. It has long been a thought with me that 'Mind' was treated in philosophy to simpliciter. & I don't mean: 'too simply' because nothing has been treated as complicatedly as this. But I do mean that 'Mind' is taken as some kind of simple entity, or as a quality common to a host of phenomena (let's not get stuck in the relative merits of the versions, as commonly denounced here).

Let me try to be as arrogant and ambitious here again as, hopefully, ever. My belief can be phrased as: 'Mind is a homonym for two qualitatively distinct phenomena, or objects (let's not get stuck in the relative merits of phenomena vs. objects." There's the associative Humean mind and the deductive Fregean mind. The fact that we are using the same word to denote two vastly different things is not a coincidence; from the former springs the latter, and - all scientistic claims of the 'Erreichtes' and all the religious claims of the 'Werbung' can be put aside - the latter can only originate if it has the former to spring from. More than this: the latter can only continue to be if it has the former as its continuous substratum. Leading to all positives & negatives of being 'All too human' - 'Das verrinnt' ... 'Lerne vergessen' ..., don't think you'll ever be beyond looking back.

If you follow my drift you'll maybe say that this is Mind-Body Dualism all over again. The associative mind being associated to the body and the deductive mind being of eternal-soul-like qualities. You'd probably right to a certain extent, I think - but this is a clearer way of putting that, avoiding the basic falsities in a dualism in any strict, and therefore honest, sense. It is in fact in line with my conjecture that a big part of insight in philosophy has to do with rephrasing, with finding a way of speaking that's enlightening what always tended to be obscure in context (with singing in fact). This is where a 'stepping-stone theory of language' comes in (as I once have to dedicate myself to working out in less detail but with more clarity than in my thesis); from an initially associative background we gradually and socially construct our well-behaved languages that permit us to express things that survive our specific context, & even our specific social contexts to some extent. This is not the process that takes rubble from the associative side to construct clean self-supporting edifices on a logical side - this is a process that requires both elements to continuously cross-fertilize without aiming at heavens but with the natural consequence of increasing understanding &, 'In Wahrheit singen'.

Yes, you got me, it's very close to anomalous monism (which I discovered after I'd grown a fixation to this theme). But still - not quite - because there the meddle still persists, the meddle of 'The Unified Signification of Mind'. It is - as far as I can see - a dogma that remains to be broken. As all dogma-breakers it's based on a hunch of association (dissociation between the paraphernalia of the Humean mind & those of the loftier, Orphean, mind). It's also a constructive thought; it demolishes all the 'Either/Or' and converges into an, albeit continually imperfect, harmony. Specifically the notion, elsewhere expanded ever so imperfectly, of the loftier Mind necessarily, and universally, being a Social Mind (rather than the hencetoforth used Fregean, or logical, adjectives at the service of clarity and provocation).

As Lance says: 'Stay Tuned'.


"III

A god an do it. But how, tell me,
should a man follow him through that narrow lyre?
His mind is torn in two. At the crossing
of two heartways you will find no temple for Apollo.

Song, as you teach it, is no yearning,
no wooing for something that can be finally attained;
song is being. Easy for a God.
But when are we? And when will he turn

the earth and the stars to our being?
This is not about your loving, young man,
even if your voice exploded from your mouth;

learn to forget that you ever sang. It fades away.
To sing in truth is a different breath.
A breath of nothing. A breeze of god. A wind."


Whilst writing this I was listening to (yes, you can guess) Rautavaara, above for details.

12:03 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: identity, tones, mind-mind dualism, optimism, rilke |  Facebook |

14-07-09

De la colère

"Je lui disais que c'était bien quelque chose, notamment à ceux comme lui d'éminente qualité sur lesquels chacun a les yeux, de se présenter au monde toujours bien tempéré, mais que le principal était de pourvoir au-dedans et à soi-même; et que ce n'était, à mon gré, bien ménager ses affaires que de se ronger intérieurement: ce que je craignais qu'il fit pour mantenir ce masque et cette réglée apparence par le dehors." Montaigne, Essais Livre II, Chapitre XXXI, folio classique, editions Gallimard, p; 488.

(amateuristic English translation below)


Let me be clear: I'm fed up with all this excitement and passion and live fast stuff - even if I wouldn't mind the 'die young'-bit. We're acting like the bunch of pubescent boys that we probably are at this time of the evolution of human culture. I like cool; from temperature over jazz up to lifestyle. All this frantic waving about & 'expressing one's emotions' and being really committed is just a load of crap kept alive by those that can't sit still for a moment if their life depended on it - them lot which would go into sudden disintegration & molecular collapse if they were put in positions in which it would be unavoidable to question their own motives.

But, & forgive me the unphilosophical rant, if even Montaigne is confused the matter can't be solved so lightly. Clearly, if you're fuming inside the smoke should be clear on the outside. Anything else is hypocrisy & (never even mind the others) that is not at all a good service to your self. So what's the deal? Do we need to be completely & utterly dispassionate or should we accept as unshakeable all the typical 90s mess of burning ambition & over-all impatience with ... anything really?

As you might have figured: I thought about this. I came to the below dispassionate conclusion which, or at least I'd hope so, I will be defending vigorously, with passion befitting the subject.

The conclusion is this: the issue is the familiar one of form/content confusion. What I see is that people want to have strong convictions on what needs to happen - and are relatively indifferent as to how it comes about. Which is all backwards obviously. One should be passionate in the discussion but irather ndifferent to the outcome of it. The outcome after all is the result of what can be reasonably expected to be the case, after discussion. The discussion itself however needs to be ferocious, because only if we're ferocious in making sure that all arguments have weighed properly can we ever be sure that the discussion will have been a real one, and hence can in fact be expected to be followed by a reasonable conclusion.

That clearly doesn't imply that one needs to gesticulate, shout, slam tables or push people around but it does imply that if any of it is required to ensure the discussion is a proper one: by all means, no holds barred, except those that prevent people to bring arguments. It specifically requires passion (biting sarcasm, creation of general uneasiness, ...) to bull-dozer out of the way any emotions that are tied to a specific position being beyond discussion (or, on a more human note, tied to the benefits of a specific individual or group of individuals). I mean it: we should treat fixed opinion with the most complete and utter disrespect, and should never refrain from laughing away any strong convictions that are thought to be beyond such treatments.

That's the role of passion, excitement, madness; to preserve the due process for us to arrive at conclusions. Once arrived at we have to apply the conclusions without the least amount of passion (as Montaigne rightly councels in this Essai). In other words - the judge should be 'all in' when he shouts 'order in the court' but once sentencing is there he should deliver the sentence modestly, knowing he can be wrong but cool, as he will be sure everything has been done to ensure he has it right.

Let's broaden it up a bit. We all know that fundamentalists of any kind are the most passionate in defending what they happen to be convinced of. Up to the point of the denial of the possibility of any discussion about the reasons for their beliefs. On the other hand, when we confront holocaust-deniers, creationists (& the rest of this sorry lot of people content to be sophisticated machines 'in the service' of some, or other, grand idea) we may (make that: must) expose them as wankers but we'll always do this ready to give our reasons for exposing them as such. (consider this a footnote: 'Sure, you'll readily find wankers passionately defending perfectly honourable points, without any inclination to get into their reasons; they're idiots squared, as dogmatic as fundamentalists and on top of that discrediting what they defend by passionately believing in it instead of argueing for it. But it isn't because sheep can also dress in wolf's clothes that, once undressed, they can't - make that: shouldn't - be exposed for the idiotic sheep they are).

Ouf! I can leave my passion and eat it too.

Coming back to the quote: let it all go before you come to the conclusion but by all means, restrain yourself once you have come to a conclusion. We're not beasts any more, after all. Clearly you wouldn't want to make love dispassionately (the scariest people are those that do want to have dispassionate sex, actually) but you wouldn't want to conclude passionately either; the competition for the best idea should be of the fiercest sort but the outcome should be accepted with equanimity.


"I told him that it was quite something, certainly in those - like him - of eminent quality on whom everybody has their eyes, to present oneself to the world always well tempered - but that the important thing was to provide for oneself internally; and that it was - to my taste - not a good way to manage one's affairs to be eating oneself from the inside: which was what I feared he did to maintain that mask and that temperate appearance on the outside."

(pff, not easy, that one)


Whilst writing this I was listening to Jean-Jacques Perrey and Luke Vibert, 'Moog Acid'.

21:36 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, form-content, boldness, competition |  Facebook |

27-06-09

Too much pressure

"(..)

Too much pressure, my life's so hard
Too much pressure, and all them certain kind of people
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them sail through life
Too much pressure, them have no joy
Too much pressure, them have no joy
It's too much pressure, it's too much pressure

This pressure got to stop
This pressure got to stop
This pressure got to stop
It's got to stop, it's got to stop....

(..)"

The Selecter, downloadable from iTunes & whatever.


Well, something to kill the time (mine & yours). Still, good lyrics, great music.

Pressure has always been predominant; struggle for life and all that. Heaven & hell, & the risk of eternal damnation. But it has transformed, & is transforming, no doubt.

Let's start with the former. In times we know of history lessons, there clearly was the phenomenon of the happy few that had time on hand; in which they were tormented only by their own, to some extent at least, chosen targets. I'm not speaking here of the rich and famous, of the powerful and rich. Wealth, fame & power are the sources of pressure; pressure to achieve, to a very great extent, goals set by others, or by a general (e.g. sociological) context. I'm speaking of the happy few intellectuals which - either through favourable inheritance or through selection on a basis of intellectual or physical ability - wound up having time that - from the point of view of immediate utility in the framework of the then current society - was unaccounted for.

This was literally unchallenged time, free from challenges, un-hectic & detached. The people having it had a lot of it but there were very few people that had any of it. Not the rich, wealthy & powerful as all of them were (and are) under constant pressure to conform to the many demands of their status and the continuation of it, not only for their lifetime but also across generations (of kindred blood or spirit). Those that I've quoted here are mostly of that specific class of the happy few.

The happy irony - and proof of the unavoidability of intellectual & societal progress - is that this class of happy few (from gladiators over clergy to academics) are the by-product of numerous status quo's, numerous regimes. Necessary by-products, which are unavoidably created. Because the rich, famous & powerful needed the rewarding mechanism of inheritance to ensure their continued service to hte status quo by the promise of, at least, riches to their offsoring. Also because any regime needs some selection of the intellectually & physically best in case some external challenge is to be defended against. Once selected they will mainly be idle, since in the status quo the challenges will be exceptional. Lest you think I forgot the irony, I didn't, really - the irony is that this necessary by-product of the status quo invariably generates the ideas around which the status quo generating these 'idle' people will be overturned.

(Oh, come on: if you want your irony in one-liners - Go somewhere else!)

This diagnosis of 'idleness', or lack of pressure, is probably accurate over vast times from the first civilizations until recently. Until the first fin de siècle that was called the 'fin de siècle'. Only then (examples are Wilde, Proust - 'I have to quote Proust here, one of these weeks!') did this type of idleness become assertive; no longer constant in its defense against charges of 'decadence' but claiming decadence as: 'thé way to be'. Not that there weren't precursors, Montaigne was one and there were others, but the archetype was more that of Darwin (& there's nothing wrong with him, he just did not claim that the type of idleness he had was a good thing, in general). Anyways, it is no co-incidence that the timing of assertive idleness (and laziness) co-incides with growing industrialization & urbanization. Both these latter not only generated more & more people with some idle time; they also colluded in bringing idle people together in ways that would exponentially increase the generation of destabilizing ideas - & to the extent that modern society, modern regimes are inherently instable. In some of the more fortunate cases this instability is even guaranteed by a constitution.

This transformation has been a good thing but has not remain unchallenged - & far from it, modern history is the history of challenging the democratization of idleness. Even the mechanism of creating and sustaining idle elites has been put to work in a constant struggle against democratization of idleness. 'Conservative intellectuals', & its specific pinnacle symbol of think-tanks, have emerged & are, as of very recently, the dominant claim to intellectualism; elitist intellectualism with the unstated goal of reserving idleness for a happy few & a, sometimes even explicitly stated, framework of restraining the instability that's brought by new ideas - decadence soon became a pejorative term again.

As it proved impossible to contain the increase of free time (although, of late, this is again something that's attempted afresh - cfr. pushing up the retirement age); their struggle has been to contain the freedom, the 'idleness', of people to use free time. This is done by putting pressure on people's direct utility for society (a.o. a pressure to procure more expensive or compulsively time consuming habits during one's free time). This is also done by creating a societal context in which free time needs to be 'spent' by ever increasing demands for the free time to be supercharged with events and other trophies and symbols of it being 'well spent'.

The current balance is one in which the happy few are an unhappy many. Many of us have free time but almost none of us have it in such abundance as to allow us to be spening it idly in pursuit of our own useless, decadent goals. This has checked - & is constantly checking - the generation of new ideas, which is a pity. The fight to fight - against the consensus that the current elite has built to saveguard the prosperity of its offspring and other heirs - is the fight to claim the free time without having to be accounting for it to anyone or anything.

The fight to fight is the fight for unashamed decadence. I kid you not.

An innocent quote, a complex thought. I apologize for any incoherence. I also am a lot under a lot of pressure; & I don't have the freedom to work these things out to a satisfactory level of perfection.


Whilst writing this I was most appropriately listening to New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble, "Live in Paris" & The Selecter, "Greatest Hits".

17:28 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: learning, pop culture, decadence, optimism, competition |  Facebook |