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On dealing with the death of a parent

Jan. 26., 2008 | 04:23 am

One of my friends on livejournal (as well as a friend in real life), posted what I took in some ways to be a scathing attack on her own friend who left for some island paradise with the wrong type of boyfriend, while her mother was dying of cancer.

The day before my dad died of cancer, I hung out with my high school buddies.

I regret doing that. I regret running away from what the pain I saw my dad in. I regret shielding myself from my feelings. Still, I did it.

My friend cannot know what it's like to deal with death on the level that her friend and I have. In fact, it really gets to the point where there is no "dealing with" death. Death just is.

I'm reminded of some passage in the book of James, where the earnest disciples are promised that they will never be forced to deal with something that they don't have the capacity to deal with. This passage has always amused me, because what it really does, is make every possible scenario endurable (as long as you believe the words of the Bible, that is.)

The fact is, there's nothing heroic about dealing with this stuff. There's nothing noble, or knightly. It just IS. Das Sein. Dasein.

Life, in many circumstances, is really nothing more than being thrown into wild situations like a baby into an ocean. And the injunctive is: DEAL WITH IT.

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Dez. 20., 2007 | 11:59 pm

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On Holy Writ

Okt. 9., 2007 | 12:56 am

I dip into the Atheist-intellectuals (Sartre, Camus) every once in a while to pull from their works the dignity of man as master of his own fate.  And at the same time, as the sterility of their ideas enters me, I long for more.  And so it is that I view the Atheist-intellectuals' writings as valid scriptures for me.

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I wrote this at three thirty in the morninig and posted it in my philosophy class's forum.

Sep. 25., 2007 | 04:07 pm

Does one's choice, one's choosing perhaps depend upon some sense of "the immediate"?  Part of the confusion in thinking on the matter raised by Spade may be due to the standard interpretation of Kierkegaard having some trouble here in trying to separate the notion of immediacy from the aesthetical perspective.

The two concepts are very plainly interrelated as can be seen in Kierkegaard's choice for the title of the first essay of Either/Or -- "The Immediate Erotic Stages" or "The Musical Erotic" (Erotic here being a codeword for 'aesthetic').  In this essay, Kierkegaard seeks to explain why it is only in music that the story of Don Giovanni can be properly experienced, and moreover, why it is only in Mozart’s opera that the story has full shape.  I make no claim to truly understand what he is getting at here, as I am not much of a musical critic, but his argument seems to run along the lines that music is the only force that can properly express "the immediate".  On my reading, I interpreted this to mean that music somehow taps into a form of language that is separated from the traditional discourse heard in the street; somehow, music conveys "feeling".  "Music always expresses the immediate in its immediacy" (Either/Or p. 70).  This seems to firmly land music in the category of the aesthetic, if we're interested in pigeon-holing Kierkegaard's terminology.

The immediate, however is also a codeword for the concealed, as far as I can tell.  In some sense, I think it can also be read to refer to the anxiety filled, uncertain stage before Macintyre's criterionless choice.  The very word "immediate" seems to point to a type of existence characterized by pure-being, sans any mediating agent, such as language.

Kierkegaard, around page 70, sets up a dichotomy between music and words. Words are seen to encompass everything that music does not, and music is a mysterious realm that words cannot really grab at.  In one crucial passage there seems to be an inverse relationship:

"If I trace religious fervor on this point, I can broadly define the movement as follows: the more rigorous the religiousness, the more music is given up and the words emphasized." (72)

I read this as an attempt at analogy.  Kierkegaard is setting up a metaphor trying to relate the notion of disclosed/revealed to the setting up of dogmatic structures over charismatic ones, which appears to take place in early religious movements, most notably Christianity.  Whereas the charismatic is often the source of power in the beginning stages of religion, that power eventually is seen to wane and give over to structure in the form of a hierarchy.  The immediacy of the charismatic with his or her powers of speaking in tongues and so forth seems analogous to the emotional forces of seduction that the "demonic" in music possesses.  Music, like any art, has a way of clouding the reason and drawing one into views one should not (from an ethical perspective) agree with.  The total skeptic witnessing the ravings of the religious man may be momentarily drawn into his web.  But if the religion should eventually hold any real power, it eventually must give way to hierarchical systems protected by complex dogmas.  However, in investing power into such dogmas, religions lose much of the spontaneity which brought in members in the first place.  In diverting too much power to words, the musical loses out on something too.

If the views of Mozart’s music were expressed in the simple language of the street, no one would feel any sympathy for Don Giovanni.  He would lose all power, all charisma that he may be seen to possess, if you are any fan of the opera.  He would simply be a rapist of at least 1,003 women and not the glorified "seducer".

So perhaps, it is only in the immediate stage of one's existence (prior to the making of the criterionless decision) that options like the lifestyle of the Aesthete seem plausible.  If the immediate were reflected upon and debated in congress with other individuals (that is, with a group), it would cease to hold the spontaneity of its nature which makes it so seductive. 

And I'm unsure here of just how much the immediate nature of music plays on the aesthetic, pleasure seeking nature.  Doesn't the religious charismatic also possess this immediacy?  There is no logical, ethical, by the book hermeneutic to soften the religious energy of the witch-doctor.  They simply do what they do by faith alone.  Does the action of the religious zealot, in the same way as music, also play upon the goal-seeking nature of the individual in immediacy?  I question my own use of language here, for what I'm saying almost sounds like Anderson's argument that the choice is made for the individual on the basis of some inherent drive, which I heartily disagree with.  What I'm driving at is that the religious and the aesthetic inherently possess a quality called immediacy.

I think this is all very important to a discussion of Fear and Trembling as well.  Only in setting up some understanding of the nature of concealment can one begin to attack Problema III.  Perhaps the whole point of the third question is that if Abraham were to reveal his purposes to the three people mentioned, he would immediately find himself stuck in the ethical.  If he was truly interested in disclosing his purposes, he would seek to do so in a way that would make him appear to be rational to his family and servant, but to do that would take away the gut-wrenching fear and trembling that must necessarily accompany faith.


If so, there is then some quality of concealment necessary to faith as well as aesthetics.  Perhaps the whole point is to ratify the Hegelian theorem that the ethical is in fact the revealed, the disclosed, and the Universal, and to be anything beyond that, one must make oneself the concealed, the hidden, and the particular.

Augustine's notion of evil is based on a privatization of Good.  Anything separate from the Good is immediately evil.  Ergo, the devil's sin was that he sought to be particular and separate.

Kierkegaard's notion of faith requires a personal privatizatioin.  Faith must be dealt with on a completely individual level, with the individual in "an absolute relatioin to the absolute."  But he isn't so far from Augustine to recognize that the aesthete, which is as said above also a privatization, is equivalent to the demonic.


I would dearly love to hear others' comments with regards to all this.


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An Aesthetical Preliminary Invocation

Sep. 23., 2007 | 10:38 pm

The few precious hours I'm not at school or working are ones I've stolen from one project or another.

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I practice hands.

Apr. 28., 2007 | 09:03 am

taking a break to work on my Hannibal Lecter styled handwriting.

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(kein Betreff)

Jan. 30., 2007 | 08:35 pm
location: In a box, with a fox.
mood: quixoticquixotic

This Journal is friends only. I'm not too discriminating about my friends, though, so this is more a measure to force people to disclose their own journal information so that I can paw through their personal lives, even as they do the same to me...

So if you have a hankering for the mystical.
If you think Optimistic should be a valid choice of Religion.
If you appreciate legally accessible altered states of consciousness.
If you believe the Greek language is not dead, it's just sleeping baby.
If you are considering running for office as Chief Executive of your own Nervous System.
If any of the following names holds some significance to you:
Robert Anton Wilson
James Joyce
Jack Kerouac
William S. Burroughs
Al Franken and Crowley
S. Gautama
William Blake

And (most importantly)

If you Love Ranch dressing.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Then this is probably going to be a source of some interest to you, and you should make with the friendings.

-N. Marshall

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