Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Art of Metaphysical Composition

Metaphysical composure is an experience that is available among the variety of experiences. It is the experience of 'knowing one's way about', of knowing how to proceed (cf. Wittgenstein, PI§123, 323).

A metaphysical composition is any arrangement of materials, in any medium, any work of art, which occasions metaphysical composure, or which is best appreciated in a moment of such composure.

"...the outer gaze alters the inner thing [and] by looking at an object we destroy it with our desire [so] for accurate vision to occur the thing must be trained to see itself..." (Ben Marcus, The Age of Wire and String).

Such training is the perfection of the art of metaphysical composition. Metaphysical composure is the experience of a thing during a moment of apperception that includes it.

Faced with any given object, metaphysical composure occurs when the subject (I, you) becomes simultaneously and immediately aware of its (the object's) concept, and therefore, necessarily, of itself (the subject).

When the composition employs writing it may be called conceptual notation. It is then the art of writing concepts down, or philosophy.


Laura Carter said...

I have to ask: how does this apply to poetry, or does it?

Thomas Basbøll said...

Well, properly speaking, no, it doesn't, it applies "purely" to philosophy -- and, uh, the metaphysical poets were barking up the wrong tree, contradicting their own terms.

I have a feeling my position is untenable but that, I suspect, is all part of a day's work. Holding something that can't be held.

Anyway, I'll build this into a post over the next few hours, but the short answer is that the pangrammatical homology of metaphysics is anthropology. In moments of metaphysical compusure we become aware of the answer to the question "What is it?" in the (relatively) profound senses of "I know it's a glass but what is it?" and "What is it with you?"

Anthropological composure is occasioned by awareness of the answer to the question "Who am I?" in the (perhaps) profound sense of Hamlet's "What is a man?" and the increasingly interesting question, dealt with by James Baldwin and others, "What does it mean to be an American?"

This will lead me into a set of problems I want to take up under the heading "The Imperial Subject", which will swing my blog, for a time, into a position to take up some of Chomsky's ideas at long last.