"Ausserdem lehrt die Zoologie dass aus einer Summe von reduzierten Individuen sehr wohl ein geniales Ganzes bestehen kann." Robert Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, Band I, p. 32, Rowholt (rororo), 1978.

(amateuristic English translation below)

I am tired. So I could just go with the irony of this. Make it easy on myself. Heroism is, after all, the easiest interpretation of human value. Heroism combined with some praise of the supporting sheepishness, insofar as it supports the eternal cycle of this heroic queen bee. The worldview of the many that are merely the fuel for the engine of greatness that, from time to time, delivers a prophet or a sage or an enlightened philosopher or a paradiggm-shifting artist.

But I won't make it that easy on myself. I won't take the opportunity presented by a book about somebody that does not achieve greatness - being written by somebody that obviously did achieve an extreme form of great notoriety. Someone that is - for the intellectuals - a hero of the written word. Nothing short of a Hercules of language and a prophet of postmodernity.

And so on and so forth.

I won't because I am a cultural optimist. As a cultural optimist I am committed to an assessment of the current state of affairs as not too bad despite how appalling earlier times were. Despite the heroism of the past and its sacrificing of hords of individuals whose faith was considered to be expendable in view of the greatness of heoes that were long gone but still had to be defended.

This optimism is in contrast to the prevalent cultural pessimism (specifically of elites that identify themselves with past heroism). In starkest contrast: cultural pessimists assess the current state of affairs as appalling despite the fact that earlier times have been marked by the best examples of heroic humanity.

(I should be able to find a witty chiastic way of summarizing the last two paragraphs in a one-liner but, hey!, I'm tired and summarizing is bloody difficult)

Back to the quote.

In both cultural optimism and pessimism the whole is greater than the individuals, & the difference lies in the sequence. Optimism means that the individuals of the past have combined (through noticed, unnnoticed and almost unnoticable efforts of them that were really without significant properties) into a continuously improved whole, of the progressively evolving present state of affairs. Pessimism has it that individuals of the present need to be humbly admitting their own nothingness in view of all past greatness in whose name they need to be prepared to sacrifice themselves (for God for the country and all that bullshit).

Not man but mankind learns!

That's it: not man but mankind learns. And this to the benefit to the people who will live tomorrow and to the credit of the people that lived before. Naturally, without the effort of stress and wanting to achieve greatness, or wanting to serve or stand proxy for greatness. That's it: anarchism (but not the anarchism that falls in the footsteps of the authority of past 'rebels' or teachers; the anarchism that burns not one's self in memory of a past goal but that burns the past thought into a creative movement of new thought).

Anarchism, it is something I need to update myself on. I'll keep you updated on the updating of myself (knowing full well that I don't tend to keep this kind of promises, so those reading this chronologically should not get their hopes up because I cannot promise to keep the promises I make).


"Besides, Zoology teaches us that the sum of reduced individuals may well constitute the most brilliant whole."

Whilst writing this I was listening to the wonderful broadcast 'Mixtuur' on klara.be, which is centainly worth the effort of going to a dutch website, starting the media player, navigating to the 'Net Gemist' section and launching the latest hour thereof

21:35 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (2) | Tags: decadence, learning, tones, musil, optimism |  Facebook |


The Elder Statesman - Act One

"CHARLES: Your words seem to come
From very far away. Yet very near. You are changing me
And I am changing you.

MONICA: Already
How much of me is you?

CHARLES: And how much of me is you?
I'm not the same person as a moment ago.
What do the word mean now - I and you?"

T.S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman, Faber and Faber, 1969, p. 13 ;-)

Yes, I love my wife too.

People want to understand. We want to capture the meaning and then vivisect it - & trace each and every detail until it is well and truly known. Until it can be recited and reproduced ad infinitum. The preference is for natural numbers over rational ones & for rational numbers of real ones. The real numbers may not outnumber but clearly outperform the complex numbers as regards the popular vote. The same is with the discrete versus the continuous. If we can split in two halves we will; but anything will be preferred over the messy reality of there being an infinite number of ways for us to look at a single thing. And we prefer the linear over the non-linear as well; things come in well identifiable singles, if at all possible, we will go to the most extreme of extremes to avoid having to consider what happens as a whole that can't be reduced to constituent parts.

The 'whole' is for our everyday understanding a big, glaring hole.

I hate that.

I like to say that what takes effort is probably not worth the effort.

My bad, I guess. My loss as well. If you count in number of hits, at least.

The worst of it you'll get if one questions the identity of people's personality and the hard and fast truth of being born as an atomic spirit into a growing body. If we do it, we get stared at: "For sure, you don't imply that this I is something, continuously in flux & merely a function of its environment (more specifically its linguistic context)!" It is precisely what I imply, what Eliot implies, what Pirandello implies and what can't but be the consequence of what can't but be right in contemporary philosophy.

"But what about guilt? If the person is no longer a trustable unit of accountability, it is impossible to attribute guilt." It would be impossible and it is impossible to 'guilt' somebody in the absolute way that people want to make other people guilty (and - which is the same - themselves potentially innocent). Sin is impossible but workable as a concept within the limits of the over-all fogginess of all other concepts,'person' included. Original sin is definitely out. Original sin would apply to those just born, & to those not capable of language. It doesn't apply - because it cannot hold. Before feeling yourself as a self there was no self and no guilt, original or otherwise.

One should not underestimate the power that religions have in presenting a linear & a discrete & a natural picture of atomic spirits that can be wrong or right, that can be saved or doomed. This is serious business even if, by nature, somewhat fuzzy. This cannot be. The most you can do is have your you influence another I - thát is what we get as an after-life: not even so much as 'being remembered' but merely having caused something for the good of what comes after. This is also enough for Kant's sense of morality because it is enough to want to cause something good.

I am sorry to have focused on the negative, with a quote that so clearly opens doors to the positive. But the easy way out of that is to tell you to reread the quote - and I hope you have somebody like that - and if you haven't, it is the easiest thing to get (because it may be very difficult to get many friends, or to become popular but it's a matter of the smallest difficulty to talk to somebody, & be transformed, & transform at the same time - just let go of your own individuality - and in any case the merest fact of you feeling like an individual is only the consequence of others having talked to you and breathed life in you - you were created not by God but by everybody that has taken the time to nurture you).

I will never ever get softer than that ;-)

Whilst writing this I was listening to BOENOX, 'STUDIO' (will be a hard one to find but one well worth the effort)

19:52 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: t s eliot, identity, optimism, tones, learning |  Facebook |


Purgatorio - Marco Lombardo

From a guest writer and friend who will go by the name of Stena.

 "70 Se così fosse, in voi fora distrutto
71 libero arbitrio, e non fora giustizia
72 per ben letizia, e per male aver lutto.

73 Lo cielo i vostri movimenti inizia;
74 non dico tutti, ma, posto ch'i' 'l dica,
75 lume v'è dato a bene e a malizia,

76 e libero voler; che, se fatica
77 ne le prime battaglie col ciel dura,
78 poi vince tutto, se ben si notrica.

79 A maggior forza e a miglior natura
80 liberi soggiacete; e quella cria"

Dante, Purgatorio, XVI, lines 70-81.

(professional English translation from http://www.divinecomedy.org below)

Dante is asking Marco Lombardo an interesting question: why is there evil on earth, and which is the reason for this evil which seems to be predominant in life and determining my days. 

He wants to understand and explain this to everyone.

He’s not just curious, but he feels a sense of responsibility towards everyone to understand this and to affirm there is an ultimate possibility of good.

A few lines before Dante puts the question around freedom by saying "For one in the heavens, and here below one puts it"….somebody thinks evil on earth is caused by nature, somebody else thinks it’s caused by man.

Why it’s about freedom?....because if it’s the former, than what would be freedom all about? If it’s all about me having a natural blueprint, what it would be my responsibility? Would there be any room for my liberty to play?

Then the answer comes from Marco Lombardo (the quote).

At the very beginning it’s our nature blueprint…but at the very end "light has been given you"…we have been given inside us the Reason, capable to distinguish good and evil and the freedom to choose….the light of reason will be able to win over our natural blueprints.

With only one, fantastic condition: "if well 'tis nurtured"….which is the greatest definition of education I ever heard….our reason, our willingness has to be nurtured well.

This is a huge question around education of ourselves and of our children. Our reason and freedom won’t get mature without them being nurtured, accompanied, protected, and corrected.

"Though free, ye subject are"…is this a contradiction, being free and subdued? It’s an idea of freedom which is almost gone nowadays….an idea where freedom is recognizing whowhat I depend upon…man is like this deep inside: the shape of freedom is the way we adhere to truth, to what one depends upon….a relation. The opposite of having the chance to do what we want to do and think what we want to think, or at least not limited to this.

So, the answer…..if the world is in its current condition, the reason of it has to be searched for inside us….if there is evil in the world, we should ask ourselves why, how we "let it be" and how we contribute to that, as our freedom we have as man is the first cause of evil’s success.

If freedom is not educated (nurtured), then willingness will get confused….

"70 Free will, nor any justice would there be
71 In having joy for good, or grief for evil.
72 The heavens your movements do initiate,

73 I say not all; but granting that I say it,
74 Light has been given you for good and evil,
75 And free volition; which, if some fatigue

76 In the first battles with the heavens it suffers,
77 Afterwards conquers all, if well 'tis nurtured.
78 To greater force and to a better nature,

79 Though free, ye subject are, and that creates
80 The mind in you the heavens have not in charge."

 Whilst writing this Stena was listening to "La revancha del tango", The Gotan Project.  

17:55 Gepost door Guido Nius in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (3) | Tags: learning, dante, dynamics, tones, mind-mind dualism |  Facebook |