Saturday, February 14, 2015
"To great writers," Walter Benjamin once wrote, "finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives."
Fifty Years Ago this month of February, John Coltrane released A Love Supreme, and this is precisely what I’ll be writing/thinking along with on this final day of 2.0! John Coltrane le saxophonist!
A Love Supreme is made through the following performances:
“A Love Supreme Part 1: Acknowledgement”
“A Love Supreme Part 2: Resolution”
“A Love Supreme Part 3: Pursuance”
“A Love Supreme Part 4: Psalm”
The music was made by Coltrane’s classic quartet
John Coltrane (leader): vocals and tenor sax
Jimmy Garrison – contra bass
Elvin Jones – drums
McCoy Tyner - piano
[--I have found a publicly shared file that has both the recordings that were released on the original album in February 1965, as some live performances of the music from Paris. The music was recorded on December 9, 1964 in Rudy Van Gelder’s studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey [another testament that great things do indeed happen in New Jersey!], and the composition was written by Coltrane in his home in Dix Hill, New York [another testament that great things can indeed happen on Long Island!].
“A Love Supreme Part 2: Resolution”…might be the principal hymn of 2.0
First, in order to recollect myself viscerally with the very first steps I want to begin by retyping the first paragraph of the original piece of writing that got this project originally underway, back in Fall 2003, and then the abstract for that paper “Tune In, Turn On, Let Learning Happen”:
In the sixth book of the Republic Plato describes the philosopher as the real lover of learning (Rep 485) In book seven, he argues that every human soul is capable of learning how to contemplate Being. Thus, the real lover of learning is the learner who desires to behold Being. In the seventh book he says ‘Just as one might have to turn the whole body around in order that the eye should see light instead of darkness, so the entire soul must be turned away from the world of becoming until it is able to endure the sight of being and the most brilliant light of being; that supreme splendor which we have called the Good’(Rep 518-519) Further along, in book seven, he identifies authentic education as an art of circumturning or conversion, an art that turns us toward the Good. Education is not an art of putting sight into the eye that can already see, but one of turning the eye towards the proper gaze of Being. ‘That’s what must be managed!’ Plato insists.
Before moving on to retyping the Abstract to the paper that got it all underway for me, I have to note that from the very beginning, the first step, there is a syncretic exegetical/eisegetical methodology put into play, one that forces the text to move in a particular way. This is what post-apathetic reading yields: a conversion of the text in order to establish the possibility of a conversation with the text, that is, with the author. The reader must force the text to turn around so that we can hear the voice of the author, and so that the author can hear our voice, which is to say, our questions, that will push further life into the text, and thereby re-call the voice of the author, the thinking, the writer. This is what our writing, our poetic phenomenological writing makes happen. ‘That’s what must be managed!’
The Abstract for the paper, which is also the first paragraph in Being and Learning:
In what follows I offer an account of teaching as the art of turning on the desire to behold Being. This account rests on a particular understanding of contemplation, and, what’s more, an account of Being itself. I depart from the traditional reading of Being as Plato’s Good existing in another heavenly realm, and (re)read Being through a deconstruction of Aristotle, and describe it as the permanence of presencing. Once established, contemplation is then described as a matter of attunement, of being in touch with what appears before us. The next step offers a reading of what Plato identifies as our power of learning as the capacity to respond to Being, as our capacity to attend to the matter that stands before us, or, in Arendtian terms, to love the world. Once I have shown why we are always potential lovers of learning, I can then describe teacher as a matter of activating this latent passion to attend to what appears before us, namely: the excess of Being. I name this attunement poetic dialogue.
And, finally, the epigram for the version of the paper when it was presented a second time in Madrid, in August, 2004, during that trip when I saw Jacques Derrida onstage with Ornette Coleman…that is I heard Derrida recount the calamity of his attempt to join Ornette on stage during a performance in Paris. Here’s the epigram:
The mythos is that appeal of foremost and radical concern to all human beings which makes man think of what appears, what is in being.
Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?
And, now, without commentary, here are the FINAL SENTENCES I am going to distill from the meditations that were originally written between February 2004 and February 2005, which were edited and published in 2012 as Being and Learning, and that have been revisited each day this past year, for 367 consecutive days, in one way or another!
1. “The dialogic relation between Being and learning unfolds as the poetics of human existence.”(BL 391)
* “[the] being of hu-man…(re)presentation of the Way of Nature…Life itself that (re)produced the dynamic becoming…improvisational making…”(BL 391)
1.1“Lao Tzu suggested to us that the hallmark of the sage is spontaneity.”(BL 391)
1.2 “The ‘hallmark’ of the teacher, the sage, is the distinguishing characteristic of the modality of one moving in the Open, guiding others through the boundless boundary.”(BL 391)
1.3 The hallmark of the sage “is exemplified by Socrates, who stands ‘in the draft,’ perplexed, with the wisdom [σοφια] of the one who ‘knows’ that he ‘knows no-thing at all.’”(BL 391)
1.4 “This ‘no-thing’ [the sage] ‘knows’ is the silence of the emptiness of steadfast openness…that remains ready to receive the contra-diction with the difference that is made in the artwork of learning.”(BL 391)
2. The sage ‘teaches’ via “(re)collection…by (re)calling (announcing) the originary dispensation [ceaseless nativity] of Being’s becoming with the questioning: ‘Freedom for what? How is it with the No-thing?”(BL 391)
3. The sage ‘teaches’ through the questioning that “(re)calls and turn around, again and again, to the futural, to the ineffable ‘not yet’ said that ex-ceeds and remains, still to come in the ceaseless nativity, the ongoing liberation…”(BL 391)
4. The sage “remains most teachable insofar as [he] resides, or ‘lives,’ at or near the beginning, in the nearness of Being, attuned to learning as it unfolds with [his] students who [he] affirms as learners, moving with them in the dialogue [he] initiates, again and again, with the invocation that poetically says, ‘I would like to say something about my beginnings – in which I am still, because I always am in the beginning, as you.”
· “…(re)calling of the originary hallmark…the welcoming gift of compassionate listening that makes ready the arrival of the novel by downbeating the groove that clears the en-opening for the improvisational performance that brings forth the new.”(BL 392, (re)typed exactly at the moment when Jimmy Garrison was laying down the beginning of the alternative take of “Resolution”)
· The sage, with his downbeating setting of the groove enacts “the readiness of the life-stance that receives the learner as the worker of art, maker of difference…”(BL 392)
· “…teaching, the affirmation of originality brought forth by each learner be-ing in/with Being.”(BL 392)
[-- marginal note written at the bottom of final page 618, on 4/10/07: “nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile”--]
I will conclude 2.0 with a set of fragments, and thereby, in the spirit of originary thinking, conclude by way of gesturing towards the not yet said, which has always already been heard
· Being…that supreme splendor…
· Being….that supreme splendor…A Love Supreme…
· Being….that supreme splendor…A Love Supreme…
Being….that supreme splendor…A Love Supreme… making its eternally recurring offering…
· A Love Supreme… ceaseless nativity….becoming
· …when we are beheld by Being, by that Love Supreme, we hear the call to Make Music!..
· Make Music! How do we respond?
Friday, February 13, 2015
Art, Bakhtin tells us, “is too self-confident, audaciously self-confident, and too high flown. And of course, life has no hope of ever catching up with art of this kind. ‘That’s too exalted for us’ – says life. ‘That’s art, after all! All we’ve got is the humble prose of living.’”(cited BL 390)
I returned home last night to Portland…here are the vestiges of my return
First things first, and there will be a few firsts before I take up the writing from this day ten years ago, the penultimate day of 1.0, and, likewise the penultimate day of 2.0!
First thing is just that: to note that I started this commemorative project exactly one year ago today, and thus exactly 11 years ago today. A year ago I was in my old home, 29 Sunset Drive, where I continue to abide now on work days during the academic year. 366 consecutive days of taking up that hour of consciousness, as Camus calls that respite where Sisyphus goes each day during his descent. I'm completely energized by the experience, and can’t wait to share it with others by way of making presentations. And I’m even more excited to revisit all that was documented over the past year, which, if I’m at all disciplined enough to do it, I’ll return each day to read what’s been documented in 2.0, either by way of video and/or writing. In fact, I want here to share the video I made this day ten years ago, but I’m only going to post the link after I have completed today’s commentary.
Next, appropriately, and with no shortage of inspiration, the book that was waiting for me on my kitchen desk when I returned home to Portland last night is the birthday gift I gave myself that was delivered when I was down at Hofstra: Badiou & Žižek Philosoph in the Present. I don’t even recall how it was that I cam across the title last week, although I do recall Rocha mentioning the book to me at some point last year. At the suggestion of Jane Hubbard, my HUHC colleague who is a pastor and also works on sacred music, I picked up Badiou’s book on Paul in the fall. Anyway, on a whim I required my students to purchas Philosophy in the Present, because it’s been some time since I’ve read a new title in my intro to philo ed course. It will be their mid-term project to read this book while I am away in mid March at PES Memphis. And it turns out, from the very little I’ve just seen when I flipped through the book, that Badiou has organized his part of the book around Theses! I’m sharing this in my ongoing effort to offer some context, but there’s more to it. There’s always more to it! There’s the title itself, Philosophy in the Present, which speaks to the originary, and, specifically, to the category of ceaseless nativity. I’ve read not a word of the book. Only the title. And the title has reminded me that the work, the project, is always happening in the present, and yet somehow this kairological present, that Agamben describes as a time borrowed from the chronological, has a strange hidden syncretizing logic happening behind our backs. Yes, Hegel, Reason is cunning! So, indeed, we find ourselves in that hour of consciousness, in a kairological time that we have absconded from the chronological. And absconded is indeed what is happening at a fundamental leve, especially when we think the present as a presencing of Being qua becoming that arrives from a place of hiding, from Being, the Being that remains for us the Nothing, empty, but also the Open, the Fecund Silence, and so too ineffable. When we abscond from the chronological and enter into the work of philosophy in the present, as I want to describe that work, we are ‘hidden’ and ‘concealed’ (abscond from Latin abscondere ‘hide’; from ab- ‘away, from’ + condere ‘stow’). When we take up the hour of consciousness we have taken up the time of meditative thinking, which is this time, this moment, the time of writing/thinking in the studio, that work in the study, and we seem to have been gathered into that place that Nietzsche describes as the Eternal Recurrence: high point, closest approximation to Being and Becoming. In the time of meditative thinking we ‘approximate’ that place where Being arrives as Becoming, and this is what is denoted by the work of the proverbial ‘estimated prophet.’
But what of this cunning of Reason, of this syncretic work happening seemingly behind our backs and thus through us? I want to make mention of this here without taking it up at great length, so only as a promissory note. Here I am describing the truly uncanny moments that have happened again, and again, and still again when I was writing. Call it Jung’s synchronicity, or Hegel’s cunning of reason now disclosing itself. I borrow the term from the Kierkegaardian lexicon and call it poetical actuality, and thus the first sentence: Learning is the poetical actuality of Being. The category designates the movement of this ‘hidden presence’ making its appearance to us, in us, through us, and with us. And it is the essence of the relationship of Being and learning, with thinking manifesting as both the phenomenological description and hermeneutical interpretation of the event of Being’s showing. But here I want to return to the end of yesterday’s commentary, which was the last full day writing of 2.0 [I started on the 6:33am train from Summit to Penn Station, continued on the 7:39 LIRR out of Penn to Mineola...picked up again around 3pm in the studio at WRHU...continued on the 6:33pm from Mineola to Jamaica Station...and then completed it during dinner at JFK Terminal 5 Piquillo restaurant]. The writing at the end, which raised the question concerning everyday and the appearance of the unexpected signs that point us to thinking, or gather us into thinking, or perhaps only remind us that thinking, as an educational endeavour, keeps us attuned to the appearance of life itself, which is entirely different matter than simply existing. The point is obvious, and almost a cliche but needs to made nonetheless. A version of Arendt’s being a someone rather than a something; a who, and not simply a what. To be alive and to exist are not the same, and when Heidegger describes the primordial intuition as the phenomenogical position, the sympathy with life itself, he is indicating precisely what I am talking about here when I am referring to as the awareness, and consciousness (dare I retrieve a word from my lexicon that has not been used in over a decade?), the attunement to the coming forth of the new, which is to say, the attunement to becoming in everyday life. This could only be shown to me in the train stations, the terminals, platforms, airport terminals, etc. [I’m now sensing some solidarity with Walter Benjamin whose arcade project is resonating with me big time at the moment!]
Indeed, one can move through these spaces alongside ‘the people’. But one can also be moved through these place along with other persons, in a world repaired and renewed by human hands that are inspired by human hearts. And, again, these reminders come when what seems to be just another day unfolding is interrupted by mysterious presence of a flower, offered as a gift and placed on one’s library desk, as happened to one day when I working at Drew University:
So, perhaps, the next phase of the project will include something like Benjamin’s experiments? Or perhaps one of the take aways from 2.0 (not that there has to be any doggie bags gathered at the end, but nevertheless) is this relationship between first philosophy and practical philosophy, with the later unfolding in the flow of everyday life, the rails, streets, the parks, the transit hubs, cafes, etc., etc. How it is ‘practical’ and how is it ‘philosophy’? Those are still to be taken up, but I can claim here to have understood that too often I am described something that is happening in the formalized setting of the university and the dedicated studio spaces therein. To be continued...
The preceding mediation on the philosophy of everday life is one way of describing the ‘intrusion’ of the marginal notes written on page 614, where the mediation from 2/13/05 begins in the original manuscript. They read:
cosmos & chaos....Grateful Dead? [top 614]
life, learning, art [side 614]
life is art, art is life [side 614]
Life óArt !! [bottom 614]
The marginal notes are responding to the meditation on 2/13/05, the penultimate, that begins with quotation from Bakhtin: «When a human being is in art, he is not in life and conversely.»
I begin the beginning of the end – that’s what happening on 2/13/05 – by way of contrast, and by re-writing Bakhtin’s claim: «When a human being is in art, he is in life.» It is this re-writing of Bakhtin’s claim that underlines the first Sentence: Learning is the poetical actuality of Being. Because to be in life – life itself, and not simply existence – is to be in art. This is the artist becoming the work of art. Here, it is important to cite, again, that crucial passage from Birth of Tragedy: “He is no longer an artist, he has become a work of art: in these paroxysms of intoxication the artistic power of all nature reveals itself to the highest gratification of the Primordial Unity.”(BT 4) The primordial intuition that Heidegger identifies at the fundamental stance of phenomenology, the sympathy with life itself, is precisely the modality taken up when we are working out the fundamental existential question through originary thinking, which, as I mentioned to Rocha yesterday, is the working out of the Socratic music-making philosophy that Nietzsche prophecized in Birth of Tragedy. In turn, on 2/13/05 I write: «if learning identifies that special modality unfolding from steadfast attunement to Being, then we must, against Bakhtin, insist upon a distinct event in which the be-ing of human is received with its life giving force, and released from the confines of the mundane, taken-for-granted, circulation of the same. When the human being is in art, s/he is in life, and thereby released from the bonds of the mechanized and routinized circulation of the same, where humankind is commodified and reified, rendered an object of the marketplace.»(BL 389) And thus, today, I can, in light of the places I have been moving and the place I have been moved into, describe practical philosophy as the philosophy of the marketplace; the acting out of the inter-subjectivity that is rehearsed in the studio spaces. This is not to delimit learning in any way, but, rather, to do the opposite, which is only to emphasize again the ubiquity of learning, which is always only an attunement to the fundamental onotlogical situation that we are in the midst of things (in media res) that are always in flux (παντα ῥεῖ).
Here then, the Sentences from 2/13/05
1. “Teaching offers [a] releasement from the bondage [of the marketplace] with the evocative invocation that beckons the ‘standing forth’ that appears in the work of art, and empowers the turning around to ownmost possibility, freedom, and inspires the ongoing labor of learning.” (BL 389)
2. «The response of the learner, her ‘answer’ to the call of Being is the creative act.»(BL 389)
3. «Art expresses the attunement to Life itself.»(BL 389)
4. «Learning unfolds from the attunement to the call of Life itself.»(BL 389)
5. «Learning is the affirmation of Life itself, and art is the expression of this affirmation.»(BL 389)
6. «The liberation of the be-ing of human through learning, the work of art, disrupts the mechanization of life...that enframe humanity within logic of administrative system.»(BL 390)
7. «Life does not stand before, nor after art, but co-arise with the creative and improvisational work that falls under the general title ‘learning.’»(BL 390)
8. «The en-joinment of life and art, in the performative work of learning, produces the be-ing of human, the liberation of the being whose be-ing is the creative becoming of freedom.» (BL 390)
9. The production happening with learning; this is the working out of the fundamental existential question; poetical actualization.