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Shadow Play
31 March 2010 @ 01:45 am
If greed is the root of all evil, in religion there is a notion of blessedness appearing as a chalice, overflowing with the most heavenly of nectars, the most prized and coveted of ambrosias, for which the people clamour incessantly and which enriches the 'church' with currency--but is this not an ingenius ploy? --an acid test by seduction and selection of one's mettle by the spirit of nature itself-- "for many are called, but few are chosen" -Matt. 22:14 The spirit of evil, in the form of the serpent, we recall, was the originator of the temptation of eternal life the moment he introduced finitude~a true allegory, no less, in the very beginning of The Book.  The temptation of eternity born of the spirit of evil.

Or, as according to Plato's Socrates: "Many are the bacchants, but few are the thyrsis-bearers." Which is to say, many are the revellers, but few are those steadfast, less cognizant, of the object of the mysteries. The persistance of geometry--humanity as a triangle, spatially and temporally. In any event, the greatest holiness is apprehended as an object, the greatest humility as the greatest self-overcoming, the greatest selflessness ascetically perceived as the greatest human expression of "the will to power," an erroneous judgment namely because its predicate is the unsteady experience teetering on passage: "I have"; rather than the affirmative: "I am."

Thereby the greatest love, the greatest blessedness, is prized as an object by the greatest greed, the greatest greed as the most gracious love--the greatest illusion; the greatest good as the greatest evil, and vice versa. The greatest illusion therefore becomes the most arcane play of reality, the cruelest of human dramas, expressing itself since antiquity through the corruption of the clergy, ritual sacrifice of the innocent, and the greatest of human errors, the mixture of religious experience with political power, the concern with time--the question of eternity--subsumed by a practical concern for the domination of space.

And to the greatest greed the greatest love must only appear as the greatest foolishness--whereas to the latter the greatest greed must arise as the greatest challenge, its very reason for being--its meaning of existence, the concrete lived experience of the fact that it 'exists.' --and why should he long for eternity, whose soul be *the world*?

For in this challenge love and greed interlock within love and strife, the existential truth of Golgotha becomes more familiar to the damned than to the pious, not unified but universalized throughout culture in a world of invisibility, an 'invisible church' completely lacking organization, composed merely by the ghosts of forgotten gestures, half-phrases, smiles half-disfigured in shadows, held in bittersweet knowing, a potency of silence that is the very substance and meaning of the overflowing, divine utterance: "I am"--the religion of art, that is to say, life--an invisible bind teeming of becoming.
Shadow Play
19 May 2008 @ 12:10 am
masks of death 08-05-13 - rush hour on the subway ~ every other passenger peers into their cell phone intently  for meaning, as intensely as though they were reading into a cut deck of fortune cards--and I surmise, if only from the desperate looks of their uniform faces, they issue forth nothing more than the cold, veiled gaze of unfriendly Death.

080430 - You and him, animated on the train no more than corpses might be in fiction--no less;

mystically unified wind and dirt--anima more animal than soul--to be sure, animal devoid of soul, as animals were stripped during the "Enlightenment," "soul" from "body" -- draped by the weaves and colours of your masters who disown you as your bodies drag along lifelessly.

but her ~ in clothes which could have been made only for her, fashioned by an anonymous labourer unconsciously, through the mighty will of God, no less, whose toils were always in hope of her -- how her corpse now moves ceremoniously, as though she were a graceful dancer strolling carelessly through a graveyard, reckless to all death enfolding her -- in animated devotion, utterly, upturning life in such barren soil not with the measure of her step, but with her immeasurable discontent (which pertains to the invisible) -- as though to implore death with her silent pout holding up her smile: "cold shadow, come quickly -- for too long has the lie which calls itself 'life' kept us eternal lovers apart.  come now, Love--won't you tear such lies away  -- your magic suspends, moves thorough me utterly; I move only through your beauty which draws me nearer to you with the close of ever-y-day."

080514 - fashion: mere collectivity & conformism to a mass hysteria?  or could there possibly dwell some hermetic esoterica within?  a prodigious intelligence--not of the mind, but of the body, whose crystallization may be the mind--and its infatuation with the mask.  for a mask never lies, it only paints  sensations.  fashion: a code about the code--a metacode--of the body's impersonal knowledge, hence mute, cannot be stripped to its "Truth."  has nothing essentially to do with the disavowal of individuated thought -- rather a radical thought's subterfuge, half-assured repose -- under the veil of a blanket obscurity in whose embrace may possibly reside an affirmation of a world that is in want of a name destined for secrecy -- a metacode of the neuroses, as Jung may have called them,--or fetishes-- whose symbols of transformation carry the motive forces of unconscious desire, to propagate the species, and life, at just about any cost, not barring humility, humiliation through a device, magical  -- art, fashion, and appearance, through their absence of words, as an assemblage of mass, mobile army of desires to procure and resurrect every positive power of the lie, voiding any  indignity or offense entailed at the latter's ignoble expense--

phusis kruptesthai philei - "nature/becoming/emergence loves/tends to hide/bury itself/adorn itself" - (Heraclitus)
Shadow Play
01 May 2008 @ 02:41 am

Every man 'seen distinctly enough is abnormal, for the normal is only a name for the undifferentiated, for a failure to see the inescapable nuance.' - Edwin Muir

Another trip to Seoul today, on the express bus, to the crowded area where the three storey music arcade happens to be—

On the way, a defining trait of this country revealed itself, amidst the endless flow of salary-men, secretary-women, students in uniforms and funny glasses, in sparkly suits, heels, in this better part of Korea, where unlike Incheon, dust from construction is actually prevented by enormous walls from scattering across into traffic, often into one's eyes; such atrocity that plagues my neighbourhood—dust everywhere; mountains razed, butchered—such lamentable sights; in Incheon, of course.  What is this trait I mentioned?  Homogeny—in this nation, they don't say 'my mother.'  She's 'our mother,' they say, which is to say she's the nation's mother.  "Your mind is my mind" is a catchphrase one hears here, often.  Differences between persons is treated with suspicion, if not scorn or utter xenophobia.  There is an old Confucianist saying: "the nail that sticks out gets hammered in."  But where is the divine hammer today?  Surely not in the impotent Buddhist temples, nor the raving lunatic Churches.  One hammers oneself in, but how could one, without the aid of one's family?  But there is no honour in families today, anyway.  If there's honour in yours, count yourself lucky then.

A herd of school girls huddle around an aloof puppy confused by such attention during midday on the sidewalk (it is exam week), and the girls are giggling the same giggle—everyone seems happy.  One feels justified in stereotypes, prejudices, here.  And it's no surprise that communism thrived in Confucianist nations whose monarchies became weaker by the rise of industrial classes who challenged them.  Confucianism justifies the natural hierarchializations that occur in an equalized community whereas Communism masks it under the so-called "dictatorship of the proletariat."

Confucianism without a monarchical framework, or centre, of symbolic power (as in Japan for instance), appears prone to corruption in the middle and upper classes, whereas it tends to keep the lower classes spirited and content—or at least, it helps them to believe.  I find myself giving only half-bows to most of my elders, in the school for instance, because I'm sure they know as much as I do, there is no real or authoritative basis from which they actually derive their rank. 

A venerable age may trump the younger, but the heart of the Confucianist ideal, one surmises, was laid such that the inferior always bends to the more powerful.  The wheat in the field, when past its prime of life, will bend too for the young—such is nature's law.  The clash of democratic liberalism, with its nauseous clamouring for (economic) equality, with that of Confucianist hierarchy—without a monarchical centre—is bound to prove worthless.  Without the affirmation of natural rank (as opposed to societal, professional rank—a bourgeouis invention), the Confucianist ideal is already mired with the uppity values that characterize the aspring rabble.  There will come a day here, as in the West, when social status will mean nothing with respect to the hierarchy of Being which is the more real as it becomes invisible.  South Korea remains today a hermit nation, and this was echoed by my vice principal when he said at dinner one night: "Why should we speak English here?  This is Korea!"  (what a pathetic parody it would be!)  I didn't answer to him that English is first of all the contemporary distilled language of the multitude of European languages of at least the past millenium, and the late bearer of the values of Western civilization, which is responsible for the very fashioning of his daily material life.  There is no point in trying to aid a buffoon whose very job is to conceal ignorances, injustices, anyway. 

Regarding art
—my thoughts on art and on necessity are finally seeming to bear fruit.  I oppose Rilke's letters entirely, there is no necessity in creation, simply put.  Desire suffices, and what—oh—what now, is a human need, essentially?  What else is it than a kind of secondary, extrapersonal, disowned desire—twice removed—hypostatized, reified to the exacting law of a binding servitude; a projected desire whose aim is a higher but subterranean desire, whose object one dreads for fear of knowing, or masks from the gaze of oneself, so as to disown an action and thereby attribute responsibility for it on something else than oneself?
No, that is cowardly; no action is purely selfless, no action is devoid of desire, no matter how one fictionalizes a self-consistent account to rid one of the burden that such, if it happened to happen that way—given the circumstance—is what one really desires, in the form of a wish. When one dreams of a world but accedes it to an unreality of the imagination, then necessity begins to bind, the fiction produced and kept to safeguard us from ourselves.  We must return to this world, yet once again, and perhaps again after that.

take on a Vedic riddle: "Why should he desire eternity, whose soul is the world?"

A note on the cosmopolitan versus the doctrine of cultural relativism: cultural relativism assumes the existence of singular forces, and moralizes that each singular force must be preserved, and respected, for the sake of human values.  Whose values?  Singular or universal?  If this is a singular value then which can't refrain from imposing itself upon the totality which is not a count (therefore not at all a ONENESS), a natural rule then comes to surface, which unsurprisingly happens to be the rule of the powerful.  Is it more powerful then to have to hide one's suppositions, or perhaps rather to affirm, and declare by poeticizing them—with persuasion!—perhaps even as a secondary effect even to weed out the buffonery that masquerades as the Good?    Not because we need to, but because we desire the elusive cause and the source of it, not necessarily its ends.  Would you rather be someone who is needed by someone, or could you live with just being one with the power to stir desire in another?  Re-echoing the cosmopolitan versus the insular:

"Where force is, there becometh number the mistress: it hath more force." - Zarathustra

It is true that Korea's lack of knack for the English language, in part, 'protects' it from Western culture; but tragically, in the process, this land ends up anyway adapting Western ways simply through unconscious osmosis, which is to say, through the body and its nonverbal desires, on shopping networks, inane comedy shows, 'K-pop' and otherwise, which are near unbearable.  Korea ranks 1 in the world today in terms of its funding of English programs and teenage suicide, or so I've been told.  My job for now, so it seems, is to work on these national problems, perhaps so as to not allow the former to have any sway over the latter. (They really should be paying me a lot more than this.)

PS - I bought a new 12-string guitar today, and my fingers have recalled the song I was working on just before I left Canada, instantly.  And so it's so far been a good night.
Shadow Play
03 April 2008 @ 09:17 am

res severa verum gaudium.  (all true joy is serious) ~ Seneca

How ignorance consecrates the unholy heart of comedy--one laughs only as one learns the irony--a primordial ignorance is necessary for the minute ecstasy of laughter, hilarity.  Hilarity depends upon ignorance, how the needless delight of the sage seems to occur only long after the giddiness of laughter has dissipated.  Perhaps this is why those aspiring for sagacity have usually considered nothing more offensive to them than the hysteric...

Yet insofar as sagaciousness remains ideal  (some humanity remains in us), we learn to laugh again and only through forgetting.  By forgetting again and with a fleetingness of mind we discover again an originary meaning of innocence--the ability to laugh again.  But if, as Locke said, identity is constructed only by memory, the loss of memory is revealed as the death of the self.  Opposed to this, sagacity as the fullness of memory’s plenitude, aliveness through pure knowing, true joy of seriousness.  But wouldn’t that just be another form of Aristotle’s notion of ’the good life’?  Laughter sometimes manifests itself as a hidden lament, a secret mourning.  Choruses of dirges screaming past on every channel, but lamenting what, then?  A death, a dying?  Then a collective death or a singular?  Is impersonal mourning possible?  Or are all such expedients merely unconscious forms in lieu of a displaced and personal mourning of the self?  I have my temporary guesses.

I saw my bedridden grandmother two Sundays ago, as the trip to the temple was cancelled due to rain.  The place where she stayed was occupied by corpse-like torsos with skeletal heads barely protruding from the stumps of their feeble necks, eyes mostly closed, sustained surely only by medical vacuum tubes and the pity of those capable of attending to them.  One such woman resembled a mummy I once saw in a museum, so shrunken her torso was, reminded me of someone I did once know.  But where, I wondered, are this woman’s limbs?  I saw they formed small ridges against the sheet that shielded her, like the overground traces of the decaying roots of an old tree, her foundations having already disappeared in eternity’s eyes though she was the very image of persistence in that same instant.

Though smitten with amnesia my aunt was able to procure from her a few words, through saying such things as: "Do you remember ____?"  "He came all the way from Canada to see you."  "Do you remember him?" 

My grandmother, who surely raised me until I was seven, though at first she thought I was someone else, and though Alzheimer’s disease has very far advanced throughout her neural system, went on to speak my name.   This stunned us, as she is not known to be able to put words together easily anymore.  It took her several tries, several minutes, at first only mutters, stutters, incoherent concatenated syllables that resembed either that of an epileptic or a holy man speaking in tongues.  Though this would have troubled me many years ago I found it not disturbing in the least.  "Where else is a lad like this one?"  she asked, then went on to say, looking at me, "how pretty."  My aunt asked, "who’s prettier?" protruding her face, to which my grandmother replied to her, "this one."  My stupid uncle took his baseball cap, bending over her, looking up at her like a retarded child trying to play with someone.  Then he put his hat on her frail head, making all my hairs stand.  This man cannot drive..... He runs every red light, nearly got us killed, twice, in one day....  Back to this visit to grandma, though I was the one in thanks, even as I sensed she would pass away not long from now, it was her before I who said to me "I’m thankful," and the best that I could say at that time was "me too," and promising to bring her some tangerines next time we bowed politely, said our farewells, and we departed.

I barely have enough time to write anyone these days, even at this instant class is starting within minutes, kids are already flooding in, I am nearly ashamed to say they’ve resorted for now to assaulting me with their cameras.  I’m covering my face as I write this, this is indescribable, this insanity, this hysteria!  Hysteria, and not delirium I say, as I suspect the latter belongs to yet a different kind of innocence--one not based in ignorance, nor derived from forgetting, but that which spontaneously erupts rather from a suspension, an apatheia, an absolute defiance made possible through the active indifference to all knowledge, against all knowing, despite that knowledge (a second innocence?)--what is imperceptible, hence most difficult (for most), that forever secret union of play and ritual.


"for there is no great experience of life that is not finally the calm experience of disillusion." - Fernando Pessoa

If illusion is the free play of ignorance in a necessary condition of life’s spring that is innocence, disillusionment with regard to amnesia can be, it seems, like the circular detournement whose meaning, returning to an originary uncertainty, is rended and scattered like Dionysus, whose death, in forgetting, will provoke lament and hilarity, but whose body--under the aegis of a different dream to come--is said to persist.  "the dream has gone but the baby’s real--"

Lately I’ve taken a little easy solace in the fact that every poor sod and spinster walks these streets with unjustifiably sophisticated cellular phones and mp3 players.  Mine was really fabulous, had an English-Korean dictionary (and vice versa, with Chinese characters) built in with a full QWERTY touch-screen keyboard built in, but I smashed it accidentally when it fell from my inner pocket down two storeys, falling on a marble surface, though it failed to keep working only two months after this tragedy!  Well, everyone has their little gizmos now, every grandma and her grandchild, I have to confiscate about 3 or 4 per class these days.  I don’t feel as strange now as when I ride on the bus or walk listening as I do to my brother’s IPod he gave me, through perhaps one of the best earbuds available on Earth at this instant... intact with memory-foam ear-inserts, a dual subwoofer and a balanced tweeter delicately but firmly resounding in each earpiece, with a vented and inconspicuous shell, not at all too flashy --good thing too I got in in Canada before I came here--I’d probably have to go quite far into Seoul to find any good audiophile-grade gear, as I did the other day, when I ventured out to a three-floor musical department store looking for a decent MIDI controller and a monitoring system, to realize they had just closed-- but they did have all the guitars for the most part I was looking for, the Gibson SG, the Fender Vista series, a good range of hollow-body blues-guitars with F-holes in them, which I love to death (why did I ever sell mine nearly a decade ago?  ah I remember now--I’d sold it so that I could buy a new Vista series, the now-out-of-production Supersonic. I should have to have it shipped to me soon, but I’m afraid, because it’s very rare, that it will be mishandled in transit)... I’m saving up at present, everything good seems a little too expensive here.

Speaking of which, imagine my surprise when the Buddhists urged me to pay up $350 for the ritual we participated in-- this would ensure, so they said to me, that the ancestral spirits would safely travel from purgatory (this world, in which they linger as ghosts) to the heavenly realms.  And I recalled how on the first night I was there, how I was to be mindful of my dreams during the next twenty-one days--as it would be during these days that my ancestors, my family spirits, would communicate with me. 

The first of my memorable dreams during this time was an intensely erotic one, having nothing at all to do with any of my ancestors--just imagine the most erotic dream you can imagine, and then let it be surpassed--that is how it felt to me, charged with symbol, passion, desires; a whole universe resonates from it still.  Then in the second dream, about a week later, my mother appeared at a kind of family party, telling me of how relatives will soon arrive, presenting gifts there, and how I should remain polite to them.  Then she disappeared, leaving me with relatives now, aunts, uncles, in Canada that is, who went on to shower praise for my mother, who they said lived happily and full--but in my heart of hearts I knew the hypocrisy of it all, and of course this was nothing more than the empty ritual of a predictable funereal ceremony, and upon waking up I could see through all the lies of parenthood--they say that youth is deluded, but I could see then how in a world of illusions, one can be compelled with fervor or without--that one could be selfish for one’s own reasons, own’s own unreasons, or those of (in)significant others.  It was already 5am when I awoke, and I began my train ride to the airport to catch the shuttle bus to see my mother’s mother, who else but this great eluder of imminent death whom my little girl cousins today call ’the Phoenix,’ grandma.

I finally met Leonard, another teacher in Incheon from Toronto, we’ve both been too busy to meet, and at dinner I slipped some details about the ritual I wasn’t supposed to.  But already in my heart I’d decided, I was sure, this betrayal would be imminent, that in a dilemma between eternal life, happiness, for the loss of my soul, and eternal suffering, eternal exile in being true to a religion that’s mine, the question would be redundant, just a useless joke. 

What then was the purpose of the ritual, the initiation, the exercise?  Dressed in Han-bok, traditional Korean silk robes, attended by two priestesses I followed all the protocols necessary to them such that my desire for the expiation of the sins of the ancestors will be heard, honoured, moreover that their curses be lifted from my life, my family too, which would be all fine and good--but the Buddhists asked more still--they desired eternal life, told me I too should want it, and they wanted magical powers, to become the special elect of their messiah. 

According to the Samguk-Yulgi, an authoritative native history text concerning the Three Kingdoms, there was born a Buddhist cult in the 12th C, in the Silla kingdom, in which the "Hwarang"-warrior monks, devout Buddhist soldiers trained in foot, hand, and sword combat, desired for their Maitreya to appear, their saviour.  Some legends have it that he did in fact appear, as a young warrior-monk boy, and some began to worship him as the final incarnation of the Buddha, a veritable god made flesh.  This type of Buddhism, a fusion of Confucianism, Shamanism, Taoism, nationalism and Buddhism, was later known as the "Mireuk cult," and I discovered only last week that it was into their welcoming arms I found myself, only to find their love wanting, and their values, hopes, and dreams, worthless and pitiful to myself.

That night, having divulged a few things to Leonard, I woke in sweat, surely from a nightmare, and in it my family, all of them, even my little brother, in strife, were locked in a deadly fight with each other, punching, kicking, screaming, like the blood of Cain.

A week later now, having visited the temple, having gone through the rituals, having seen the eastern sea and paid my respect to the innermost chambers of the temple in Gangwon province this past Sunday in the sacred halls of the ancestors, which, to be sure, was an experience like none other I’ve had, as far as a "do" is concerned, which is to say, a "path" or a "way" that can be named, I’m happy to say I’ve found a "Kumdo" hall just blocks from my house, an art whose name translates as "the way of the sword"--a tradition which arguably goes back to the Hwarang warriors of the Silla kingdom or even earlier to that of the more militant Kyong Dang warriors of Koguryo, and which resembles Kendo in many of its aspects (attesting to the notion perhaps that Japan was formed by Korean immigrants in the 10th C), something I’ve wanted to begin to learn for a very long time.    

the longswords of Admiral Yi Sun Shin (197.5 cm, 5.5 kg), preserved at Hyon Chung Sa

Admiral Yi Sun Shin, "Duke of Loyalty and Art of Chivalry," 1545-1598, commander of the first armored, cannon-equipped, warships

The image above displays the construction of the Geobukseon, a turtle-shaped armored vessel with a dragon’s head.  I’ve lately resolved that the simulacrum who used to chase me in my nightmares when I was six years old in my school playground, threatening to take me to the underworld with him for being ’such a bad boy’ was none other than Yi Sun Shin himself, whose statue I discovered lately still stands in the same spot in the playground where I played when I was little.  He might have taken me away in those dreams actually, if my grandmother didn’t appear strangely from out of nowhere in them, to whisk me away, insisting to him with the utmost nonchalance-- ’he’s alright, he’s a good kid.’


I’ve lately only been reading Pessoa; of writers he interests me the most these days.  He said it well, I think, when he considered reading of all kinds to be a certain kind of slavishness, and "if all reading is dreaming, then why not my own dreams?"  Probably won’t get to read him much again until the weekend, going to Seoul again tonight by myself for Hangul classes as I did for the first time on Monday... What a night it was, perfectly alone as I was, in this nation’s capital, passing along in the shadows of royal walls, still standing, which remind that one treads on sacred land as lovers stroll by in the soft hues of lamplight, grounds on which the strange kingdom’s palaces once proudly stood.  I do like that city, Seoul is indeed gorgeous, I’ve been entertaining the thought of living and teaching there next year.  

I’ve lately been discovering this is a very strange country, and I’ll be writing a bit about this peculiar strangeness soon that unsettles everything I seem to know about the world, after I weigh such experiences I’ve been having against the swerving diversions of my own thoughts.

Shadow Play
01 January 2008 @ 04:21 am

is, historically speaking (which is to say, in my opinion of things), just a very barbaric and primitive form of what military strategists have in this century called '
psy-ops', rather than calling it propaganda and mind-control, which is to say, psychic warfare, whose remnants still persist today for similar reasons as they may have been used back then, namely for the stockpiling of wealth and empire.  Surely I'm not the first to say this, but I'm adding weight to the number of persons fervently entertaining this notion, such that perhaps very soon these numbers will begin to have a massive effect.

For instance, it says, in Ephesians 6:12

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"

in other words, perhaps this is an allusion to a battle between proto-ideologies, world-views on the rise and in conflict; spiritual manifestos, for instance that of a cyclical universe of antiquity versus the linear, progressive model, which took reign and still purports to rule today, incessantly crying, marching: 'progress, evolution, industry, utility, a universal happiness only for those who believe...'  (but perhaps the time is nigh we renounce all happiness that is purportedly universal?... heaven knows)

(the swastika, many know, far precedes its use by the Third Reich; it's a pagan symbol, exemplifying the circular path of all things, the eternal recurrence of all natures, returning to the same, and a vindication of all life, and all death, in perpetual re-synthesis.  its opposition, in the Nazi regime, to the Judaic tradition, is particularly revealing, since many Jewish scholars claim, as a token of cultural pride, that the very notion of Progress itself which we today take for granted--the very concept of linear time--is an invention of the Jews.  Christianity purports to fulfil the linear progress implied in such a belief in the messianic legacy bequeathed by them, but as we know, the Judaic tradition strongly disagrees.  Nietzsche's opposition of the doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence, against Christianity's Final Judgment could be interpreted as a sort of renaissance of the notion of cyclical time in the West, and nothing less than a literary declaration of war against the linear model of time, adapted by the generation following him, but this remains to be shown. 

Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again; eternally runs the year of being. Everything breaks, everything is joined anew; eternally the same house of being is built. Everything parts, everything greets every other thing again; eternally the ring of being remains faithful to itself. In every Now, being begins; round every Here rolls the sphere There. The center is everywhere. Bent is the path of eternity. - Nietzsche

There is a Great Year, whose winter is a great flood and whose summer is a world conflagration.  In these alternating periods the world is now going up in flames, now turning to water.  This cycle consists of 10,800 years. - Attributed to Heraclitus)

contemporary politically motivated religiosity, I argue, is barbaric because it villainizes every notion of civic virtue not reliant on their peculiar and vacantly authoritative frame of mind.  and it is primitive because its fundamental beliefs, structures, tactics, and assumptions, have not evolved with the progress of scientific knowledge (which, vindicating Socrates, has shown in recent years, we don't know with certainty regarding much at all about the deepest and most fundamental natures of the universe, actually).  these beliefs, whether forced by shame, guilt, threats, or  police brutality, are on par with a Stone Age-grasp of nature and our supposed place in it, which thrived in the darkest, superstitious, and most psychotic eras in the history of what is often shamelessly still referred to as 'humanity.'  its message is 'progress' but its means are clearly antithetical to such ends.

according to the late historian of Neo-Platonism Pierre Hadot, the genealogy of a peculiar form of magic as a way to persuade the masses, originates in mechanics,  which etymologically refers to trickery (mekhanika).  the dreaded dramatic phrase Deus ex machina still carries this connotation of forgery or travesty as a cheap remedy to a genuine problem.

the "indian rope trick" is a good example of this, a trick that relies on bright torches placed in front of the audience to blind their range of sight, or the pulleys and levers attached to the doors of pagan temples in antiquity which, upon opening, were connected by clever engineers to sound trumpets, create fire, smoke and other divine spectacles, to amaze the followers into believing in their purportedly divinely sanctioned power (and as the cult of Hollywood still shows today).  as the author Arthur C. Clark put it, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."  and Aleister Crowley, the self-described "beast 666" defined "magick" as "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will."  fair enough, I say, but is there a chance he might have confused the art of science (the inquiry into knowledge, for knowledge's sake) with the art of technology (the concern with effect, appearance, and utility)?  I propose this tangent could be pursued at another time.  yet the poetry of Goethe is prophetic.

You instruments, you mock me, I can see,
With wheel and pulley, cylinder and cords:
I faced the gate, you were to be the key,
But cannot lift the bolts, however shrewd your wards.
Mysterious in broad daylight, never
Will Nature be defrauded of her veil.
What to your spirit she reveal not, that you fail
to torture out of her with screw or lever.

Goethe - Faust

to return to the issue, the pervasive connection between miracles and divinity is moreover clear in the Gospels, and strangely, also the use of miracles as 'proof' for belief, despite their insistence on 'blind faith' for anyone clearly born unfortunately after such purportedly miraculous events.  (i.e. 'doubting Thomas', who believes in the resurrection only after poking the spear wound in Jesus' side with his finger tips)

yet we ought not to forget how the supposed modern 'greatest magician of all time', Harry Houdini, revolted by the manner in which local practicianers of magic fraudulently robbed the bereaved by using such deceitful means to purportedly communicate with their dead loved ones, made it his life's work to expose the fraud of practical magic in his own time, knowing very well the trickery involved in such shameless, shady, business.

what is reasonable to decide for the moment is that yes, we ought not to rule out magic in the universe, as a rare event, a prodigious happening on earth which can eternally shatter belief (and how many beliefs must be shattered, if not every last one?).  but whoever depends on miracles would seem a pathetic soul, for any reasonable being, like the poor factory worker who gambles away all his hard-earned savings, or spends it on the lottery.  whoever preaches magic, the uncanny, the unlikely, and the seemingly impossible, by principle, we ought to treat with caution and skepticism, which only means the capacity for inquiry--there may be magical beings in the world, yes sometimes even I entertain there truly may be... but history shows thus far it has only been through nothing less than a kind of baptism by fire, suffering, torture, insufferable anguish, and mayhem--against infinite odds--that such magic ever was revealed, to be hidden forever again.  magic comes at a high cost it seems and it has always been the task of humanity--its only birthright one is tempted even to say--to resist its precariously delicate advent by every means it can conjure, until the day that humanity itself is shattered and broken in the very attempt, at long last to clear the way for something unarguably and truly great standing in its demise.  then it should all probably happen again, in undue course as always been, and perhaps
even ought to be.
Shadow Play
28 December 2007 @ 05:08 am
despite all the outward signs, outspoken proclamations, and ways we consciously mold ourselves, for us and for others, what good is any of this if it doesn't affect the attention we give to the trivial things?

"all is vanity," I once read, and was saddened by the thought.  but one day, it dawned on me, this could be actually good. 

how the most serious and important things have a trivial surface, are taken trivially, daily.  how the moment of trivia becomes the occasion to spark inspiration necessary for a plunge and a dare into the heart of things.  how every profound spirit has a face that conceals, on the surface of the body, an unspoken glory--cues to an insoluble riddle, emblazened on the skin--mute and forever invisibly.  and how the smallest gesture of the face, and faintest intonation of the voice, shelter, adorn, and carry--for the care-ful reception by perceptive, aesthetic, kindred sense--every marvel of the whole--animated--in one fleeting grace.

all is indeed vanity, in this regard; and every vanity, a herald and symbol of the deep. 

and the reason why, it seems, we pay attention to the little things, must be because only the little things are small enough gestures to allow the invisible grandeur of the depths to suddenly flash in an instant and become known, or at least glimpsed... the grandeur that is not a thing, but which the small gesture, in its very disappearance, through its affinity with nothingness, gives way to.... the splendour of a fullness, conveyed only by the emptiness of all gestures, in the absence of all signs, realizable only through re-cognition....re-collection...

 re-membrance of a gesture in another, given as a veritable fiction, a creative gesture as a picture in our mind; perhaps communication (unlike information) happens only in such a manner, through the little things--where force tends not to overpower, but is magnanimously regathering, drawing being homewards and simultaneously toward otherness.
Shadow Play
23 December 2007 @ 02:48 am
If, as according to the Judaic tradition, "I am that I am" is the name of a god fashioned for human ears, then wouldn't "I am not that I am" be
a delimited name possible for the modesty of a humanApart from that this definition of a human is the negative statement differentiating a human from divinity (which remains to be shown, if both share in consciousness), is there still another sense in which human being is distinguished from the order of being of things--of the what, that, and the it--and furthermore differentiated from the divine? 

According to Derrida's theory of love, human love is "always" caught in a struggle between the "who" and the "what."  Is it "who" a person is, in their irreplaceable singularity, to whom we dedicate our peculiar and incomparable way of love?  Or is it always "that" which they temporarily embody, the "what" characteristics they possess, that we desire for, that draws us to them, and to whom we wake up one morning confronting the possibility it was never that other strange kind of love in the first instance?

Derrida gives no answer to such a dilemma.  In every case one seems to "love" either the ways in which a person embodies one's own ideal traits, characteristics, ways of being; or one seems to love "unconditionally"--no matter how the other is, whether in health or while crippled, young or as old, beautiful as the silence of daybreak or ugly as the "face only a mother can love," because after all it is only who you are that means to another you are loved--in human affairs there seems to be no middle ground--but seeming's  always just believing--is it always really so?

But "unconditional love", agape, is Biblically attributed only to the divine, and to parenthood--eros is always procreative (whether of offspring or of becoming), and lesser in such schema--it never redeems--it is always superfluous, autonomous, and untrustworthy in this schema.  But to what extent does contemporeity derive its table of values from the Judaic one?  To what extent does the notion of love's blindness today give reflection to the tradition of foundering the distinction between the loves of the who and for the what?  Are eros and agape then distinct and incompatible--or do they originarily derive from the same singular passion, as the outcome of a singular will, and of a clarity of sight?

These questions give way then to another, concerning a possible third in-between, a who that always draws forth the corresponding what...  a what  that is always the natural will-to-appearance of a (s)he, never faltering from who one is essentially, never capable of disguising to the one that knows, who one is, what one is, what one will become.  For satiation is the death of the desire of things.  Does there appear a spring of desire that does not ever run dry, does not ever falter, does not ever demand, but draws forth willingly, and is it ever a desire for a mere thing (because if it was, then it would be categorized, and hence also found in other things.........), or is it always forever an I, a (s)he, a You, a who....  Who I am, Who You are? 

Are we things just like other things, things which ordinary people everyday 'love' only until the moment they receive? 
Does eros partake in this, or is it ever in televised media anything but such immortal idolatry, devotion, and worship--'love of convenience', 'love of safety', 'love of consequence'--when love is suddenly everywhere, can love, as a singular passion, ever be the sameBut it may persist in dreams, in fiction and in art--visions of what's to come.

But usage does not guarantee meaning, meaning is always shared, or speaks the potential thereof--if one previously thought they "loved" someone, but really one only loved the "what" the other person possessed, was ever such love the ambrosia of the gods, holiest of mysteries, the baptism of fire intended only for the destruction of  the transient, suffering for the loss of ever lesser things, "as the best and the purest essence to prepare the strong for holy ecstasies"? 

Thus, when one utters the holy name, "I am not that I am", one seems capable of renouncing every thing one appears to be, every world one enters into, insofar as they infringe upon the identity of the who one is, ineffably, unmistakably, unrelentingly.  All mistakes, and shamefulness, and detours, misuses of words, but every desire, appearance, worlds, and visions unfolding therewithin--in short, all things one embodies--seem not to be things one claims as properties in order thereof to give--but to give oneself, who one is (an unknown quantity), irrevocably to an other (a strange attractor), for the duration of all known ways--the possibility with a who of the communion of the mystery of not-things (not-things, and therefore uncompromised by the reap of time, ulterior ends)--if that can't be the elusive kind of love we have in mind, then what could possibly ever be? 
Shadow Play

this opposition is an odd one, because it's not so much an opposition in language between a dichotomy--for instance between cold and hot, evil and good, left or right--but between being and nothingness, or the very possibility and necessary condition of a choice between a dichotomy, and the impossibility thereof; one versus alterity ('otherwise than being'-Levinas).

one can be selfish and selfless, it seems then, consequently--in respect to the difference between where the self begins, and where the self ends.  where the self ends, the limit, and where it is in fact possible not to expect us to be there--we are self-less, and the persistent emptiness and silence of the self's absence is acknowledged either as an unconditional liberation or an unconquerable anguish--and where we can be us, and us only, and where it would be ridiculous for us to pretend otherwise, where selfishness is the condition and essence of what(and how) a self is, actually.  there is no contradition here, only a below and above perspective of the same being's horizon.  selflessness as the understanding of the finitude and limit of the ego cogitans.

consequently: the 'sinner and the saint' has been a useful fiction (to those who need it?   or those who want it for some ends?  unless it is aesthetic, in which case it would be an end in itself first, and an accompaniment to life, second, only as consequent and symptom, like Plato's The Good, whose 'end' is in itself, but whose overflowing emanation of excessiveness becomes the fictional cause and condition for an accidental world, at last entrenched in the anthropocentric belief in its own false, teleological, destiny--just like Darwinism (and liberalism/Marxism), whose doctrines seek to place naive man at the top of the banality of the grocery food chain/evolutionist conveyor belt, forgetting the source, the useless, the good in itself, as opposed to the good for some thing.)

the useless fiction as the superior force, against the 'useful and productive' whose value is obscured by one purpose, then destroyed---  (just like the 'environment?'  if this proposition is true, the overzealous economy of contemporary (useless) video games versus that of (useful) ecology seems a prophetic forecast of things to come).  we have not yet learned (or when did we forget how?to love nature for itself, over, beyond, and before what benefit or end it serves for us--always a preoccupation of the impoverished, desperate,and  vulgar, therefore the already destroyed, never as an ascendent force self-confident in itself.
Shadow Play
17 December 2007 @ 10:45 pm
time is going by slowly, again.
though seemingly not enough time for everything still, slower nonetheless, and that is for sure.
still will be a while yet 'til things are at last in their own place.
but judging by the rate of change, which is to say, acceleration, of pivotal events, with respect to the passages of time, it may be possible to do so much more in such less time, eventually.  not the acceleration of time for the achievement of final ends, but this--now this--(if it can be anything) just might be progress after all.
Shadow Play
29 November 2007 @ 02:31 am
If pornography is the hyperrealization and site of sex's official disappearance, then fetish--in a very special case, anthropologically, in a society contemporary only with itself, in its most extreme case--may possibly constitute and become the pornographication of pornography, which is to say, a symbol of the obscene's disappearance, following the decline of sex as sex, perpetuated only by the alibi of a pure abstraction--an aesthetization of the erotic, as pure and symbolic form, as artifact, far beyond tittilating novelty, transmuted as idol, reified in worship.  It would perhaps comprise sublimation in the extreme but classic case (which classicism always is, has been?)--the function and locus of the orgasm freed from all nominal and arbitrary constraints, lost for a time in indeterminacy and ghostliness and the void--but reborn at last in symbol, as the inhuman or non-animal, avatar of Eros.  Is such an abstract art possible today?  If a symbolic return of things is possible--if art indeed is the engendering of new, unknown forms, into life--perhaps.