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 |