an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

. . . .


Del Rio, Garden #5


I know I know. The mind "is merely the dupe of its own categories" and "all structures are unstable," and "the (sometimes) subjective nature of reality" is an affront to what you think I'm saying--and Derrida, and de Man, and Lacan, and all the rest. Don't think I didn't say the same to anyone in monkland who would listen. And they did listen, though they've heard it all before.

I did say the first hurdle is not God , but reality (and the "shoulds" of reality). You would have me qualify it, put it into quotation marks, account for what I mean when I use a term that is far too tenuous on its own terms to toss around like salad. I know. I asked the same of myself. Of them.

The short version is this: if I am convinced that the slippage between the real and perceptions of the real are too great to allow for more that a very warped disfigurement of what I am, what spiders are, what protons do, I may as well stay at home and read books. Or go to school and teach books. Or stay in bed and dream. Or blog. Or watch Buffy episodes on DVD release, and let the cancer become inoperable rather than give up smoking, and stay drunk in the evenings and write poems, why not, and stop short of marveling at trees, why not, and be done with the question. But I look on while some of us make an 8 billion dollar why machine in the search for dark matter. What am I looking to confirm if I believe I am beyond confirmation? I believe I am my own mind's dupe. I believe I forget daily I am not living in reality but within an infinite chain of unstable signifiers through which "the real," if there is such a thing, can never shine through. I believe objectivity is nostalgia. Substance is nostalgia. Soul is nostalgia. I believe this is closer to the truth than truth itself. "Truth itself" is ever a distortion, a suspension of disbelief, I believe.


Maybe the only "real" crisis arising from this view is in friendship, for if I am isolated from myself and all the world by the dis-figurations of consciousness, I am isolated from you too. Putting aside the mystery of you as a person for the less mysterious limitations of my duping mind, our friendship is an approximation of friendship. Not more.


What the monks say will not convince you. I am interested in what they have to say, it soothed me, but it did not convince me to hear it. I was drawn in by watching them live in attentiveness and reverence towards the world they touch. By coveting what I saw, which cannot be attained through an approximation.


"In such a climate of incessant, very tangible transformation, it is difficult to discover in human reality anything other than that which is subject to change, that which is relative. It is very difficult to discern that, at its root, the human intellect is made to go beyond such scientific and technical knowledge, to discover truth of another sort. In short, it is difficult to discern that the human intellect, where it is most 'itself,' is made to attain to that-which-is, existent (or existing) reality in all its depth."


"A psycho-sociological anthropology is thus elaborated which claims to be both exhaustive and philosophical. Man, in his proper reality, is considered only in his psychological and sociological aspects. Thus, in the name of a psycho-sociological anthropology which considers only man's behavior and 'existential situation,' the philosophy of reality (beyond the psychological and sociological aspects) is rejected; and the metaphysics of that-which-is, considered from the point of view of being, is deemed outdated."


"I know that some will object that to return to metaphysics is to return to the past, to be fixed in immobility, isolated from the modern world, and set outside evolution, for metaphysics immediately places us beyond the directly observable and measurable."


"Philosophy cannot be satisfied with describing what is seen and noticed. It cannot be satisfied with measuring observable reality. It seeks (and this is its proper task) to analyze an experienced reality and to grasp it in all its dimensions. It especially seeks to know man, who is not and cannot be a 'one-dimensional being.' This is what I would like to show--going beyond the objections, which stem from ideologies which, no longer distinguishing between idea and reality, cannot know real, existent man as he is. They relativize him in reference to an a priori." (2-5)

Retracing Reality: A Philosophical Itinerary, Marie-Dominique Philippe OP ("former Professor of Philosophy at Fribourg in Switzerland and founder and Prior of the Community of St John")


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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