Monday, January 05, 2009

Composure Begins

Tomorrow morning I will begin work on a short book to be called Composure. I've talked about this project before, but I have now decided to give myself three hours a week (one hour every other morning) to actually make some progress. The basic idea is that composure is the resolution of crisis, and that crisis is a discord of belief and desire, a schism of knowledge and power.

Composure is found in the homologies of grammar, both philosophical and poetic. Remarks and strophes are arranged to tune our intuitions to our institutions, the immediacies of our seeing and our doing. That's a pretty obscure way of putting it. In the book I hope to be able to make this clearer.


soren buhl said...

Even though you don't mention politics in your posts on composure I take it that your interest in Obama might be one among many sources of motivation. Anyway, composure makes me think of politics.
I wonder if you could look at Obama vs. McCain as different displays of composure. Obama, on the one hand, asks us to believe that composure is rhetorical and that there is indeed nothing false about this form of composure. Leadership is about linguistic composure. A majority of the electorate aggreed and accepted this very modern notion.
McCain, on the contrary, asks us to subscribe to the idea that he as an image represents a personal history, a non-linguistic reality, which is his source of composure.
In other words: while Obama shows us composure in a form easily mediated and experienced here and now, McCain does not show us composure, but asks us to believe he's got it.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Composure is the visible presence of suffering in a person's public life. There is no simple correspondence between inner outer, of course. (Your composure depends both on inner and outer circumstance, as does your suffering.) McCain and Obama have suffered, and do suffer, in different ways. (Or so we are told and have no reason to think otherwise.) Very different kinds of composure. (Like suffering, it is a question of degree, not an on/off position.)

But my book will not deal with cases at all (I think). Certainly not high profile cases. To write a book about Obama's composure today is bit too reminiscent of writing a book about Mussolini's strength (or whatever) in, say, 1927. Oh, yes, wait a minute ... one of my litterary heroes actually did that. Another wrote about Kennedy's "existential heroism" ... oh my! ... well, it'll have to be a another time.

This one is about composure in its pure form. I.e. Nixon.

Okay, enough kidding around. It will be a grammar of composure, a handbook of composition, if you will. It will have no allegiance to the throne. Caesar non supra grammaticus!

Presskorn said...

Goethe saw the aim of his Farbenlehre as one of piecing together different experiences such that they could be repeated and shared among people and such that the multiplicity and manifold of experiences could be surveyed.

I sometimes think of your aim as being along the same lines. But, of course, I might be wrong. Obviously, you would add “actions” to “experiences”.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Yes, Goethe's aims and mine are one.