Monday, August 23, 2004

Feeling more like myself again. An incredible process, one whereby my body just cannot maintain certain basic metabolic necessities such as body temperature, easily. So brain powers down, and immune function, and digestion sometimes, while I recover. I’m so much better than I was, which means the process is not so severe/painful as it used to be. And this time it took a few days, which is heaven. In the beginning, a misstep (and they were impossible to avoid, some days getting up to go to the kitchen would do it) might take months to recover from. Eventually that turned into weeks, which has now, since the break of winter passed, become days.

Need I say, I look forward to the ‘hours’ period of my journey?

So I’ve had a few ideas, I guess I’ll just put them here and sort them as best as they allow, using discretion so as not to take any reader's time (overly) for granted. These are probably just some version of the usual getting-to-know-Heidegger thoughts, common, so I make no great claim to their depth or originality. Still, they have something of me, interacting, in them, so they seem to me yet interesting. I’ll lay them out more-or-less chronologically, there’s a telling chance in thought which may expose for any onlookers where I’m coming from/going with my thought process regarding all this. They are probably more a reaction to myself than to Josh, and I am going to go back and revisit the conversation in the next few days, to see again what's there.

Here goes:

I am remembering now, in the class in which I learned of de Saussure’s theories (the same class, btw, which touched on the nation-state and its reliance on the printing press for cohesion I mentioned weeks ago), we moved from him on to Clifford Geertz, who postulated that social and biological evolution are inseparably intertwined. That language has shaped our brain’s evolution as much as our brain has shaped our language’s. It makes perfect simple sense. It also complicates de Saussure’s idea that signifiers are arbitrary, in that speech is thus connected to the natural world—sound to meaning (onomatopoeically as well as perhaps synesthaestically) in ways too elemental for us to even comprehend, shapers of our anthropological experience as much as the reverse—if on long stilts through time which eventually, extended beyond reasonableness so as to not see one’s footing, must topple or collapse as one moves along the way on such abstracted words (that last part’s my apocalypse and Orwell’s perhaps, but not, from what I remember, pragmatic Geertz’s). And that brings us back (commodius vicus) to Vico, who I find evocative in similar fashion to Bruce Chatwin—useful beyond the verifiable reality of what he says—which is to say, poetic.

I’ve actually read a very little on Heidegger now and its funny, when I’ve considered poems as autonomies (‘objects’) my frame-of-reference has always been Paterian, with his trope of density, brilliance, and energetic purity, of ‘burning with a hard gemlike flame,’ or the idea (Collinsean?) of a poem as a living entity, this second one kind of melding in with Buber’s division of interactive perception into a language of two words. I’m going to go get “Being and Time” and see what I can make of it; I do wonder, in a work as subtle as this is reported to be, how much gets lost in translation, though.

As far as the quantum mechanics I mentioned in the discussion posted on Josh’s site, I know such things can be the (well, one) domain of contemporary crackpottery. My intended use of it was Ovidean, an etymology of becoming, process(ion) of being through being. Or Being through Time, mebbe, in the terms I’m coming to understand.

One misconception I can now see, the result of my unfamiliarity with Heidegger. “Refer” doesn’t mean “connected” or “distantly part of.” I was confusing it with such. What it means is ‘to not be part of and yet direct/motion (cognitively?) towards.’ Always a complicated situation, since something can’t refer without also being (John Barth makes much of this; so do the mechanics of metaphor, which is I think where my conceptual (con)fusion came from). But in a discrete universe, or at least a discrete frame-of-reference, such bottoms don’t have to always drop out (‘eternity in a grain of sand’ is only every grain always if you’re as gifted as Blake), as Josh Hanson discussed earlier too. That post brought to mind the book Godel, Escher, Bach, and the concept of sets which contain more than themselves perpetually, which brought to mind college and its excesses. And I think I’ll leave off there, burgeoning references.

And a note to notes (trivia): In regards to my previous misprisioned understanding of reference as a concrete connection, I was trying to get at the distinction between absolute (i.e. divine) and relative transcendence. That’s what the use of understanding space having multiple dimensions is—like two buildings connected by a skybridge. From street level, they are two discrete buildings, but on the fourth floor, they are contiguous. This is the transcendence of reference, as I understood it being used. Conversely, intermingled roots, ground and biological process, could be. Or would that be sublimity?

I’ll close with no particular logical connection to what's come before with this quote from the introduction to The Mountain Poems of Hsieh Ling-yun, translated by David Hinton (suggestion of Loren Webster’s blog):

"The traditional terms of enlightenment such as Hsieh came to in his Yung-chia exile can be found in the spiritual ecology of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, the originary Taoist sages. We might approach their Way . . . by speaking of it at its deep ontological level, where the distinction between being (yu) and nonbeing (wu) arises. Being can be understood provisionally in a fairly straightforward way as the empirical universe, the ten thousand living and nonliving things in constant transformation; and nonbeing as the generative void from which this everchanging realm of being perpetually arises. Within this framework, Way can be understood as a kind of generative ontological process through which all things arise and pass away as nonbeing burgeons forth into the great transformation of being. This is simply an ontological description of natural process, and the Taoist sage dwelt as an organic part of that process. In this dwelling, self is but a fleeting form taken on by earth's process of change--borne out of it, and returned to it in death. Or more precisely, never out of it: totally unborn. Our truest self, being unborn, is all and none of earth's fleeting forms simultaneously."

And that's kind of where I was going or coming from, I think, with my sense of what Josh & Josh meant by 'reference.'

This reminds me that I promised to get into Buber last year before I somehow got sidetracked by the Taoists and Chinese and Japanese Poetry.

Of course, pursuing Buber's ideas led me to Rexroth, who I promised to pursue furher last year, too. There's simply too many intriguing ideas to keep up with all of them.
Welcome back. I really should get around to reading Poetry, Language, Thought. I remember in my philosophy class in college, I was taken by this thought of Heidegger, which was, I believe, a quote or paraphrase of Keirkegaard: "Why is there anything at all and not rather nothing?"
Loren: I didn't know there was a Buber-Rexroth connection. I don't know Rexroth well enough, though.

Haring: Thanks!

&, why is a difficult question. Probably let the answer come before the question in cases like this is the pragmatic path. I just don't know. But I have thoughts, here's one (response to Heidegger, who probably knew already): unless this ^is^ nothing, which is a line of judeo-christian thought--we are where god withdrew, made an absence of himself; thus free will.

But these kinds of words can mean anything.
Actually, I haven't read much Rexroth, either; a local poet keyed me in to both Buber and the Rexroth connection.

You can actually find Rexroth's essay on Buber online, as I remember it.

Oh, yeah, Rexroth is on my reading list, too.
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