Saturday, February 17, 2018

A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music... and then people crowd about the poet and say to him: "Sing for us soon again;" that is as much as to say: "May new sufferings torment your soul." (Søren Kierkegaard)

Suffering separates our reasons from our passions in imagination.
Reason makes a picture of this suffering. Passion makes a melody.

To imagine the difference between reason and passion is to suffer.
Composure draws them together, sings their harmony.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

From the Tracatus Pathetico-Poeticus

"Melody is the most artificial thing in music." (Boris de Schloezer, via Ezra Pound)

2.1 We hum melodies of our acts to ourselves.

2.11 The melody presents the acts in pathetic time (le temps pathétique), the inspiration and desolation of holistic acts.
2.12 The melody is a siren of ideality.
2.13 The totality of the melody corresponds to the subject of the melody.
2.14 The melody comprises the totality that is actually imposed on us in various ways.
2.15 That the totality of the melody is imposed on us in various ways, represents that people impose on us in various ways. This multiplicity in the totality of the melody is called its texture, and the necessity of this texture provides the function of the representation of the melody.
2.16 In order to be a melody an act must differ in a significant way from what it sings.
2.17 How the melody must depart from ideality in order to be able to represent it after its manner -- justly or unjustly -- is its representative function.
2.18 How every melody, of whatever function, must depart from ideality in order to be able to represent it at all -- justly or unjustly -- is the functional pathos of the Ideal, that is, the function of ideality.
2.19 Melodic pathos is the song of history.

3 The melodic pathos of the act is the feeling.

7 Whereof we cannot sing, thereof we must dance.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

I am not an ideologue. It is not that I don't have ideas or hold ideals. Ask me what truths I believe and what justice I desire and I will happily answer. But don't ask me what orthodoxy or heresy of the moment I subscribe to. I don't.

Friday, February 02, 2018

For Ezra

Did you lose your center fighting the world,
or did you, perhaps, lose the world
finding your center?


There are sides of a woman
that only men find funny.
There is beauty in women
that only men can appreciate.

There is a species of pain
that only a woman can inflict
and only a man can feel. Let us
keep these things between us.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I am not an atheist. I have no compelling argument for the existence of God, but I can't shake the sense that my soul is only "mine" to lose. I believe my essential being depends (forever) on the moral quality of my actions. I feel God's judgment upon them.

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Literature is news that stays news." (E.P.)
News is literature that fails (as literature).

Friday, January 19, 2018

Deference is to power
as reference, to knowledge.

Science tells you what it is—
politics, who's to come.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The remark is to the philosopher
as the strophe, to the poet.
One passes what the other turns,
the aspect, the angle of an image.

But there is nothing in philosophy
as composed and finished as the poem.
There is no unit of work done,
just bits and pieces of the seen.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Three tings you might try:
Make up your mind.
Have a change of heart.
Use your imagination.

Political ambition seeks power.
Scientific curiosity seeks knowledge.

(It is possible that the terms "political ambition" and "scientific curiosity" are pleonasms. All curiosity may, in a sense, be "scientific", and all ambition may, in a sense, be "political". Or we may say that even apolitical ambition (like that of the athlete or artist) seeks a kind of power, and even unscientific curiosity (like that of the lover, or, again, the artist) seeks a kind of knowledge.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Wisdom is the stillness of the mind
in which things are what they are.

Love is the movement of the heart
through which we become ourselves.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Literature maintains the connection between language and imagination.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

"Matter," said Schopenhauer, "is the objective correlative of pure understanding."

The social, I add, is the subjective disposition of brute obedience.*

Thus, matter is the objective correlative of the subjective disposition of society.

Marx may have been on to something.

*The subject is to the object as passion is to reason. Obedience is to understanding, as the social is to the material. Relations are to positions as knowledge to power.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Variation on a Theme by Robert Brandom

We are distinguished by capacities
as broadly affective as cognitive.
Our transactions with other things,
and especially with each other,
mean something to us
in a special and characteristic sense—
they have an emotional context, we obey them
in one way rather than another
even when we do not understand them.

My strategy identifies us as passionate beings,
not merely reasonable ones. Reasonable beings
who are passionately becoming, perhaps.
Passion is as nothing to the beasts of the field.
We are the ones on whom passions are binding,
subject to the peculiar force of the greater passion.

See here for the source and some explications.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A work of literature is not "about" the experience of its characters. It is the experience of the reader while reading.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

How much of our culture is merely a distraction from the hogging of the harvest?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Image Is Easy

It can be seen
without strain
and done
without effort.

You peel it
off the appearance
And stick it
onto the surface.

The image is light:
It is not hard.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sometimes it is our honesty that leads us away from the truth.
Sometimes our decency holds us back in the pursuit of justice.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Our wisdom sits uncomfortably with us.
now that the ground has shifted.

Our love looms ominously before us
as the horizon closes in.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Sadness is to feeling as
______ is to thought.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Folly, let us say, is "the wisdom of the heart", the error in thinking that is caused by feeling, the unreasonableness of passion. But it is not simply a defect. Its ground is in something positive: our emotions. And this is why Erasmus was able to sing its praises.

Spinoza talked about "the intellectual love of a thing". What is to passion as folly is to reason? What do we call the loss of feeling that is caused by thinking, the dispassionateness of reason? Melancholy. Dowland would find his composure there.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

To champion reason I don't need to degrade passion. My passions are as valid as my reasons.

If we want to know anything at all, said Kant, we must know some things immediately. Similarly, if we are to have any power whatsoever, some people must wield it immediately. We might also say that our knowledge requires that some things sometimes go unquestioned. Our power, likewise, requires that some people are sometimes not questioned.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Nuance is to sense
as impulse to motive.

Tell me how you feel.
Not what, but how.
What techniques, what devices
do you use? By what means do you
hold back your impulses?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is the desire for truth grounded in the belief that we might say something undeniable?

Is the belief in justice driven by the desire to say something that cannot be denounced?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Facts don't make themselves known.

Acts are not committed on their own power.