Wednesday, November 27, 2013

felix culpa

I was looking through some old papers, all written in 2006, and by some happy accident found two poems that I (evidently!) had written, scribbled on the back of a sheet of a rough draft for an essay I was writing. They could use some revision, of course; but for now, I copy them exactly as I found them, in all their off-the-cuff glory.

This, you knew, maturated your being
And begged you for compromise with the world surrounding.
The world, your world, unfolds before you with
Eloquence and diligence, loveliness and sprite.
Have you enough ply to crack open this nut?
The world, sweet world, which sprints
Before you?  The mysteries of ages, the
Wonderment of minds, beyond your finitude,
Have but scratched the surface
Of the darkest corners of sights even untold.
Yet you seek, your finest achievement, and wield the
Knowledge of Being in Action, knowing, yet not,
The strength of your own mind, you wait,
You wait to dawn upon your intellect the essence,
The kernel, the radical definition of this thing.

*               *               *

The street-light makes love to the mist,
And a little kiss hurt no one ever,
Who so longed to touch your body
Couldn’t lose the misty longing of the night.
Four pieces composed your decomposèd life,
And sucked out of me potency and inertia and truth.

Orson Welles said that while he loved making movies, he didn't like watching them.  Dare I write poems who does not (except for Eliot) read them?

Notes toward the establishment of a new blog

There are many things I've thought about as regards the pursuit of a purely autonomous career.  I've made little films and thought about making bigger ones; I've re-mastered the guitar, recorded, and figured on making a living as a musician; I've spent a decade in the university system figuring I might eventually become a professor of something, but probably either Philosophy, English, or Art History.

The saga of areas I want to "break in to" continues:  along with Italian Renaissance architecture, which I've been studying off and on for over a year, I'm now poking my nose into geometry, and the physics of music.

In all of these "fields," while it is true that they intrigue me in a theoretical way, I can't say I have any interest in them on a practical level.  For examples:  I really don't want to start playing gigs; nor do I want to be an architect, design new buildings; nor do I want to get anywhere near that Edifice of Bullshit which is Modern Academia.

The one area of confidence I have -- that which exceeds anything else I'm capable of doing, relatively speaking -- is writing.  I don't remember a time when I didn't have a knack for language.  Nor have I ever met anyone who was a better writer than I am.  I'm sure there are better writers out there, but I've never met any of them.  I have read many of them, but they're all dead now.

But here, alas, is the rub:  I have no passion for writing!  So what am I doing right now:  I'm communicating thoughts, by means of writing. What most people call Great Writers are, more properly speaking, literary artists:  they make beautiful objects -- just as plastic artists do -- but with pen, paper, and poem or paragraph.  I would call this writing for writing's sake (ars gratia artis).  And these type writers, true writers -- those who have both the natural talent and passion -- do not do what I want to do.

However, I seem to only be able to do what I want to do by means of writing.  For what I want to do most of all is to study, to master, and to communicate my findings.  The only way I know of to do this (besides talking) is to write.  This activity is not writing for writing's sake, it is not art.  This is more akin to philosophical reflection.  What I am talking about is writing for the sake of something else.  E.g., writing about an idea, writing about a building, writing about a film, writing about an author or book, writing about music theory.  All I really want in life is to understand (and, on occasion, to get into "a reasonable amount of trouble").

What I've been thinking of, in terms of a new blog, consists of -- rather than most blogs one sees, which deal with one predominant "subject" -- interdisciplinarity.  I would have one blog, but with separate sections; e.g., there would be a section on Philosophy, a section on Architecture, a section on Music, a section on books and authors that I read, a section on films perhaps.  In the music section, I would discuss not only music theory, but also have recordings of my concrete experimentation on guitar with new theoretical ideas (which would stream, but could also be available for people to download for a small price).

But with all of this, I see still something much bigger going on.  I believe that all of these things are connected. I see, e.g., music and architecture not merely as two separate arts, but as two kinds of manifestation of deeper ontological significance.  So, perhaps, what I am working toward is a great game of connect-the-dots.  Looking for such "substrates" might, in fact, form the content of the section on philosophy.

Alas, about all of the aforementioned, I have my doubts....

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

my nihilism

I wrote this down several months ago and just now re-read it.  I think it's a good example of how logic can be employed to separate out groundless emotion from the mind, and yet place one back in his original state, but with clearer understanding of the fundamental issue.

I think my nihilistic streak is very unconventional. For one, I do not hold that the universe is without purpose or that humanity is without purpose within it. I do not deny the reality of objective truth. No, the "nothing" of my nihilism has to do with me: it is I, who seem to serve no purpose, have no function or reason for existing, other than to exist, and to be painfully aware of existing with out purpose. The cosmos is not chaos: I alone am chaos.

The flaw in most nihilistic argument is that X has a feeling of purposelessness and projects this on to the entire universe:  his error is to assume that the truth of the part includes the truth of the whole.  The flaw in my own nihilistic argument is the other way around:  I assert that the universe, and humanity, of which I am a part, have a purpose, and that I am part of this whole, but have no purpose.  But whatever is true of the whole is true of the part.  So, if the world is purposeful, so must I, being a part of it.  I just don't know what that purpose is.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I can never really decide if I have "what it takes" to be a professional musician.  I haven't done most of the things requisite to embarking on such a career.  I don't sell myself; I rarely perform anymore; I don't practice enough.  Nor can I ever tell what other people really think of my playing; some people love it, and others are indifferent to it.  One thing I've never been told is that I'm no good at it; at the very least I haven't been told that I suck.  Invariably it seems people will take either the position that I'm really good, or that they don't understand what I'm doing.  I suppose this is because I'm not much of a "song writer."  In any case I feel like I'm floundering in mediocrity.  But one thing that everything seems to always come back around to is that I'm better at this than I am at anything else -- at least, at anything that could potentially do to make a living. There are things that I like much more than music, but they're all things that I couldn't make a living at.  Or, there are things that I can do better than almost anyone -- such as writing -- but which I have no interest at all in making a living of, even though it is a talent that can be made into a living.  Actually, I think that for me writing and music are in the same position:  I can do them well, but they're not what I "want to do."  The things I "want to do" either are not marketable, or else they are things that I am, in fact, not already good at, things that I have still yet to learn.  My position is very precarious.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

the proto-phenomenologist

"σωφρονεῖν ἀρετὴ μεγίστη, καὶ σοφίη ἀληθέα λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν κατὰ φύσιν ἐπαίοντας." + Ἡράκλειτος

"Reflective reasoning is wisdom, and the most excellent of virtues, for it unveils meaning by listening to the essence of things." 

+ Heraclitus (Fragment 112)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mere Lewistry

"The dominant impression I get from reading the Psalms is one of antiquity.  I seem to be looking into a deep pit of time, but looking through a lens which brings the figures who inhabit that depth up close to my eye.  In that momentary proximity they are almost shockingly alien; creatures of unrestrained emotion, wallowing in self-pity, sobbing, cursing, screaming in exultation, clashing uncouth weapons or dancing to the din of strange musical instruments.  Yet, side by side with this, there is also a different image in my mind:  Anglican choirs, well laundered surplices, soapy boys' faces, hassocks, an organ, prayer-books, and perhaps the smell of new-mown graveyard grass coming in with the sunlight through an open door.  Sometimes the one, sometimes the other, impression grows faint, but neither, perhaps ever quite disappears.  The irony reaches its height when a boy soloist sings in that treble which is so beautifully free from all personal emotion the words whereby ancient warriors lashed themselves with frenzy against their enemies; and does this in the service of the God of Love, and himself, meanwhile, perhaps thinks neither of God nor of ancient wars but of 'bullseyes' and the Comics. This irony, this double or treble vision, is part of the pleasure.  I begin to suspect that it is part of the profit too."

+ C. S. Lewis, "The Pslams" (Christian Reflections)