Friday, February 13, 2015
OPM 356(366), February 13th (2015) Meditation, Being and Learning, pp. 389-390
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.