duminică, 30 octombrie 2011

Trakl: 'The Soul is a Stranger to Earth'

The strangeness as also claimed by Socrates as regards his existence in the city, or by the Christians regarding their life in this world.

 Both cases bring out the cause of such strangeness. Because Socrates is different from the rest of people of the city, he is a stranger.  Because Christians believe in other world, there are stranger to this one. At a second level, Sophia and Theos are the causes for both. Being the causes of the strangeness, they are also the causes for which Socrates or Christians feel a kinship with them. Sophia is supposed to receive Socrates as one of its own, as God is believed that would receive men as his sons.

Therefore, we have a partial strangeness.

Could we say the same about the soul? If the soul is strange to earth, which is the cause and where could the soul find something or someone that will receive him in a familiar space?

If there is applied the idea of strangeness supported by Christians, we should consider the opposite of the earth as the cause of the strangeness of the soul. Which is the opposite of earth? In a metaphorical sense, the opposite of earth is the heaven. In a literal sense, it should be the air.

The metaphorical sense seems to detour us from the understanding of the strangeness belonging to soul. A soul who has the heaven as his space of familiarity would never feel himself as a stranger to earth; instead the soul could show the earth as being itself a stranger. And it does so, but only if something and someone extraneous to him compels him to bear the weight of the earth on. As illness casts the weight of the pain, vigorous and steady way of feeling the earth. Or when someone who had the power of fastening another on the earth leaves him without the common ground and, therefore, without a ground altogether.

Socratic strangeness is too peculiar to be applied to the strangeness of the soul, too. Moreover, it is a false strangeness, because the quest for sophia involves necessarily the use of language, the means which ever offers to the man the sense of being at home.

As a consequence, the strangeness of the soul to the earth is not to be found in the opposition to the earth, neither in an opposition to other users of language.

It remains that the strangeness should reveal in its dwelling on the earth. And it seems that the soul itself could be understood by closing him to the earth. The soul is not a part of the earth, but its strangeness derives from this negation. Perhaps it was heard about soul exactly for the reason of such negation.

The soul is not somewhere on the earth and thereafter it feels stranger on it, as if being prepared for another place, but it feels stranger at the same time with its dwelling on earth. Such simultaneity requires that any thought about what counts as earth in our biological or spiritual constitution, every stable, firm and endurable feature of our thought and existence, to be also viewed as something that decants from our hands and handling to an unapproachable earth.

It is the lost that jeopardizes our certainty of being our own masters as souls that keeps something different from them under control.

Thus, all the earthy feature, even those kept away from rational scrutiny because of their trivial character, tell something about the ways soul shows its strangeness and, eventually, tell about the very nature of soul. Therefore, even the anatomical view of a man is an unwritten treatise on soul as a stranger to earth.

sâmbătă, 29 octombrie 2011

Life: Space and Void

The life of a man occupies some length in the world conceived as a spatial extension.

Some men occupy more, other less, according to the degree their lives move on the things that composed the world as a spatial extension.

The movement is usually achieved in a transitional way, which means by move the things to one place to another, and also by multiplying the things, so that they can express the progress of the world in acquiring much extension.

It is literally a great life that that belongs to an individual who uses his powers to build things, to destroy things and leave their remains in many places. For instance, the hunter who spreads out the small aggregate of life possessed by his prey on a greater surface: on the fire, in the dishes, in the stomachs, in human beings.  The expansion of life itself is due to a succession of extinctions.

For external observers, this kind of great life is confirmed as such by the possibility it provides to be told further. It shows its magnitude through the length of the story inspired or by the number of accounts it can furnish to others. And the linguistic extension of life is the primary means by which it can grow.

In spite of the common practice of speaking about others’ lives, the magnitude of a life stops growing, because it cannot be multiplied till to the point to occupy the life of another person. Nobody could assume entirely the life of other, not even in the shallow mode of speaking about it. And it is not a judgment inferred from experience, is the simple recognition of the individuality of human beings, which is manifested by the simple fact of being physically distinct beings.

The speeches about others are often interrupted for allowing the speakers to populate the world through their own facts of life.

When the speakers interrupt the work of extending the discussed person’s life, such person will discover the counterpart of her life conceived as a spatial extension in the world. Man is put to face what we may call the void of his life.

There is not the void in its existential fierce meaning. It is just the lack of any movement and therefore of any possibility of speaking about a life as one that occupied a place in the extensional world. The experience of the void is felt as the indifference of acting in a way or another. The mute attitude of others regarding one’s life often precludes him any belief that his life can really be extended. Without an echo in the stories or speeches, the life is confined to spread among heavy things, so difficult to be moved on, that it seems that life does not make any movement at all.

One possibility to overwhelm the heaviness of things is to extend the life beyond things. For instance, music is hanged over the extensional world and continually fills the life of its producer or of their hearers. In such cases, others’ power to extend lives becomes a detracting force that reminds to the pursuers of an upper extension that they have also to endure the void as being discussed by others and then abandoned for other topics (topoi).

luni, 24 octombrie 2011

Visual Memory

Do visual memories belong to us?

The answer could not be provided from outside, as from an expert in neurological science, but only from us. Could anyone else say what we have in our pocket except ourselves? We should be the responders for any question regarding human attributes we possess.

Could we map ourselves drawing places on which to be put our memories, images and other mental activities? The map of the brain is not a solution, since it never could be conceived by the possessor of the brain himself.

As regards visual memories, are they instilled in our eyes? Do we feel our eyes charged with past images?

If it would be so, our experience of sight would be extended more than it is sufficient for seeing. It should encompass moments of blindness, since any past image would count as a pause in the actual exercise of sighting.

The blindness will change the world we currently grasp by our eyes. Not only because it will be sunk into the darkness, but also because the world is going to be apprehended through another sense than sight. The world kept in the memories is a matter of touch.

It is the same world, but our way of apprehending it changes, involving a process of deepening into it, which can be loosely equated with the tactile sense.

The object touched attracts us into its existence, which is an unspoken one. As such, we cannot accurately recall our visual memories by words. As a consequence of the lack of words for them, we loose the power of possessing them in the dominant way provided only by the use of language.

Therefore, we may say that ‘our’ memories take us in what we cannot feel as our own, in the very existence of the things or person about which past images survived. Thus, the past images are able to possess us.

Though, we speak about memories as about any other matter we are acquainted with. It is a descriptive language that cannot be classified merely as secondary to the cognitive experience of the visual memories themselves. On spite of this secondary status, the linguistic recall of memories is accepted as a more reliable way of acquiring cognition than an account of a present state. Even if we do not develop such explanation, we rely on the past memories because of their power to introduce us into the existence of the objects discussed. Meanwhile, the present state can at most to refer to the objects in an ostensive way, by making room to the distance between the person who points to the objects and the objects themselves.

As any other practice of speaking confronted to non-linguistic experience, the linguistic description of visual memories prevails over their real experience. The experience itself is assimilated to the act of speaking about them, so that to recall a past memory is meant as an ostensive utterance about past events. As a result, we are free from the persons and things, which might possess us as visual memories.

The experience of visual memories still subsists, but rather as a mystic experience of being possessed by superior forces. For instance, the dreams that join past images were often considered as divine signs.

vineri, 14 octombrie 2011

Hegel and Gorgias on Freedom

The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him in the offing, on which he depends, without his having made this foreign world for himself and therefore without being at home in it by himself as in something his own. The impulse of curiosity, from the lowest level up to the highest rung of philosophical insight arises only from the struggle to cancel this situation of unfreedom and to make the world one’s own in one’s ideas and thought.

It seems to be two kinds of freedom. Hegel himself admits that the freedom acquired by knowledge has different levels. The highest level would be occupied by the philosophical insights in virtue of their power to make the world one’s own.

However, the criteria for establishing the ownership of the world can differ. The philosophical possession of the world is not similar to the common sense of a possession. We do not posses world by ideas and thought as if we have some property. One’s property does not move from him by its nature and does not require that its owner confirms his title through a continuous activity. Differently, the owner of the world should confirm his property by the continuous possibility to bring all of his human thoughts and deeds in his world.

But how we can prove such activity, if it does not act on the level of language? If the language would be overlooked in a philosophical ownership of the world, it would be an incomplete possession.

Thus, we should posit a second kind of freedom, one that is closer to the use of language. We meet such freedom in Plato’s Gorgias. Without noticing the value of a philosophical freedom, Plato’s Gorgias is put to say that rhetoric is the source of freedom for humankind itself and it is for each person the source of rule over others in one’s own city (Gorgias 452d). Of course, rhetoric, as far from philosophy could be, is still a kind of knowledge and its progress is caused by an awareness of the things of the human world, which requires the curiosity mentioned by Hegel.

Gorgias does not speak about the capacity of rhetoric to transform the ‘alien’ world into one’s own world, but he emphasizes the power of ruling over others. However, there is a minimal difference: the world is deemed to be the world of human beings according to Gorgias, while Hegel extends the world above humans, but including them.

In spite of the poor knowledge belonging to rhetoric, it provides a more vivid possession of human reality than philosophy does as regards the reality as a whole. The rhetorician cannot stay apart from its possession and also cannot shorten the use of the language. The freedom he proves through his skill could not be shared by a philosophical account of the world, since it has to impose and afterward to obey to the conceptual structures on which he can build his own view of the world.

When the philosopher does not acknowledge his dependence on such structures which naturally slip away from his control, his search for freedom would be moved in the domain of rhetoric. And it is not only the case of Hegel’s philosophy. Any string of concepts takes the form of a musical theme. As a rhetorician, the philosopher becomes tented to rule over others.

Therefore, if we want to keep the idea of freedom through philosophy, it is necessary to refute the dependence on the world we build, too. Such recognition would cause a mild view of the ‘unfreedom’ of the ignorant man. His dependence on the world may have its legacy in the nature of the world itself, as it is reluctant to any control through language. The freedom is still preserved, if we conceive ourselves as inner parts of the ‘alien world’ that ceases to be alien in this way.

marți, 11 octombrie 2011

The Power of Teaching

The act of teaching is primary the interaction between the teacher and his disciples.

The order of persons acting together agrees with the fact that the first exercise his power over the second ones.

While such attribution of power is already supposed by the very act of teaching, it cannot be a large consent about the power belonging to what is taught by the teacher,

What do we expect as regards the power of teachings?

There are three kinds of interpretation:
            1. The power of teachings is what the disciples can use for decrease the power exercised by the teacher over them;
            2. The power of teachings serves as a means by which the teacher grows and even constitutes his power;
            3. The power of teachings gets out from the relation of power between the teacher and his disciples, constituting itself as a third part and weakening simultaneously the power of the teacher and that belonging to his disciples.

The practice of teaching and the epistemological practice of uttering truths to be noticed by others testify about the large use of the first two possibilities.

But the third should be the condition of achievement for both. How could the master and the disciple keep their identity without attaching themselves to a neuter power? If not, they will be simple combatants on the field of words.

And often they accept such condition of simple fighters, with agreements and polite interaction. Without noticing themselves, they gave their power to the forms that result from such interaction, as, for instance, the form of a handbook or of the culture itself, and their powers become less important than what they created together. But it is not the due servitude to the third power.

Death as an Image

Death cannot become an object of imagination for one who is going to die, even if it comes close to him.

We could imagine only the men and the world receiving our death.

Even these two alternatives to the image of death appear in a faded way.

The men compose the crowd of a funeral procession; the world opens to us just for hiding us in its large extension.

Therefore, one could make the experience of his own death each time when he sees others preferring to fade themselves to him. It seems there is not possible to expect from others more than a faded presence that is temporarily directed to you as the mourners are to their dead.

But they also fade themselves every time when they are so far from sharing a crowd of a procession, that conceal themselves in the precise lines of their identities. For there are both precise and interlaced as to result in a faded and great confusion.

If the first fade may be viewed as a preview of death as the finally confining of a person to the boundaries of his body, never shared with others in the life time either, the second is already the sign of the body lost in the depth of the earth.

The second form of fade cause someone the sense of mourning for him. As the mourners, he might regret a life with others that it does not exist. Also, he has reasons to think of the first fade of others as just a variation of the second.

The body – soma – is not by itself a grave – sema, but it is always at others’ disposal to bury it.

Sometimes, the suicide seems a convenient way of escaping from being buried. 

duminică, 9 octombrie 2011

The Cell

In Scete a brother went to Abba Mose to ask a word. And the old man said to him: ‘Go and sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you anything’
Sayings of the Fathers

The need for an authority is often the need for a powerful word. It is not expected other’s guidance of life, since the life is essentially our own.

The wordy advice received from an authority guarantees that the life is a matter of words. As such, the life borrows the lack of place of any spoken word. The individual is not any more responsible for his life, but slips along with it in the variety of words that slipper from one man to another.

The ‘cell’ is the ever omitted possibility of living in an unspoken world. It teaches, but enclosed all teaching in the intimate relation between an individual and the unspoken world.

The man has to sit for receiving the movement of the act of teaching, but we know the men always get down from their cells.

The lack of movement in the spoken world is deemed to be a lack of the humanity itself. An unmoved man becomes his cell. But even in such case, he has the privilege of keeping himself together, without pouring himself through the holes of the loose words.

For a mystic, such apparent loss of humanity is divine. It is a feeling that what is worthy can be approached only by a previous abandon of words.

vineri, 7 octombrie 2011

Peace and Space

The anger is tempered by spatial distance, as we firstly know from Achilles’ retreat from the battle. On the contrary, the anger reaches its peak easier when there is no space between the persons involved.

The spatial distance is not a psychological cure for the anger, but it reveals better what belongs to the person isolated from the one who caused her anger. After such recognition of what belongs to one’s own life, the enemies disappear. Not the same occurs with the persons we have affective relation. The distance gives them a better shape. A better shape means that one can discriminate them among other persons from his life. For instance, the other world conceived by Dante in a spatial fashion succeeded in providing to Beatrice a stronger shape than any other possible to be reached in their common life lacked by spatial distance.

Therefore, we may say that the affective life becomes a matter of knowledge whenever it is doubled by spatial distance.

We may interpret this fact as a subjective fear of the spatial distance, but also as a confirmation of the fact that men cannot be spiritually detached from their spatial surroundings.

The fear of spatial distance has as its object the embodied thought of the possibility to have less value in the large field of real things. We can philosophically despise the importance of an extensional world for our existence, but it cannot be excluded. The large world of the so called real things, as far as they are parts of our existence, compounds us as a continuous conscience of our insignificance. Such world comes close to our extensional movement and menace to destroy all the certainty about an ongoing and ever directed movement to certain points. When such a fear appears, it can be dissipated by imaging the persons closed to us as stable points in that large space. Thus, they claim a place never able to resist by its stability to the amount of large space of the world often comprehended by an unstable surveying of it.

We mentioned that spatial distance equally confirm that men are not spiritual beings separate from the space they occupy. The experience of the life among others in spatial closeness seems to neglect that men are really composed of spatial existence. The use of „here” and „there” generally occurs when we do not have direct relations to the persons we refer to in such a manner. „Your friend is there” involves that we missed something from what composes the common life with him. We ignored his place of dwelling or his movement from a point to another, and somebody else supplies our lack of knowledge. Therefore the spatial determination of a person seems to be acquired from outside, not from our own relationship to her. Moreover, all the persons who do not share with us a close relationship are often called by invoking their place. But such use of spatial determinations does not imply we dismiss the spatial existence of a person. Instead, it proves that we do not know the proper space to be attributed to them. A friend cannot live here or there, but he should be conceived as living in a definite space, as his home, his country, his town, and so on. We come to such designation of definite places only when we find ourselves far away from others. And the place substitutes the vagueness of the direct interaction with others.

Nonetheless, the spatial representation of a person we are related to makes us to conceive ourselves in a spatial manner. We know us in our spatial extension, too. It is a narrow extension, which brings us again in front of our lack of importance. And even the friendship or the love opened to us by spatial distance may seem too large to be carried on, if we do not commit to the idea that humans can overpass their humanity through philia.

The place for such idea is already prepared by a possible former disappearance of anger. For anger, as a feeling we share with animals (the Greek thymos was deemed to be a faculty belonging both to animal and human souls), is an adequate way to keep us in the closeness to ‘terrestrial’ matters. The anger helped us to keep ourselves in the tension that creates the illusion of a place that could never be diminished by comparing it with the outer large space. When there is not any feeling of anger, its effect is imprinted by other related feelings or acts of behavior, as envy, arrogance, resentment, enmity, etc.

Thus, the refugee of some biblical writers from the enmity of the men to a peaceful God who would create the large spatial world becomes easier to be understood. Any peaceful state induced by the spatial distance is close to become an eternal peace, assuming all our ignorance and looseness of what could mean a state so strange to our common experience.

duminică, 2 octombrie 2011

The Conclusions Follow the Premises

How can be understood the logical statement that the conclusions follow the premises, if we think of following in the common use of the term?

X follows Y” means almost always that X declines his value as an individual who can act by his own. His eyes should star at Y in order to follow him, and moreover, X does not execute the act of walking in its normal conditions. The target or the goal of an act of walking normally subsists in the mind of the walker, so that his competence of walking consists in the knowledge of recognizing the significant marks of the road. The power of his mind in keeping the goal would be proved in the act of walking developed until the target is attained. The target itself is outside of one’s mind and does not require any mental competence to be reached. But the mental subsistence of the goal proves to really exist on the level of one’s concrete movement to the target.

Instead of an apprehension of the marks of the correct road, the act of following someone supposes a unique mark represented by the person followed. The goal of the road remains solely in the mind of the follower, without to be expressed in the act of walking. Only the person followed has the privilege of applying the mental goal in the act of walking.

We are in right to make an analogy between the fact of following another person and the logical statement that a conclusion follows some premises. For the act of following persons is the strongest form of following something, and so has to be the act of inferring conclusions from premises.

But in this case, the conclusions as followers are deficient as comparing them with the premises followed. They place themselves in a mental area, while premises can involve their mental content in a concrete realm. The fact is not unknown even in the Aristotelian logic, since there is admitted that we collect premises from obvious beliefs, therefore, we may say, from the realms where the certainty is among matters more concrete than those referred to by the conclusions.

The conclusions can fulfill their deficiency in the realm of concrete things through an inclination to grow their verbal significance. One who follows someone has to preach his adhesion to others. He has to justify his inappropriateness of changing the normal way of walking and also the common way of conducting our lives.

Since we know that conclusion is in fact prior to its premises, which are collected as an afterward act of supporting it, there is not easy to keep the premises outside of the verbal trend imposed by the conclusions. So, the premises may be equally far away from the concrete realm of things and closer to the mental area.