Flotsam 3

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 AM


More Obvious to Some Eras than Others

As they should say (but don’t), dissatisfaction with life is one of the soft signs for sanity among one’s higher-order powers.


The Too-Real Force of Unrealisms

Knowing the shoreline of society as well as one can, being canny about the zones where one force-field saws across another, still one can lose one’s equilibrium in the currents of mania, the undertows and riptides of some stampeding Many or other. Trying to think in modern life is greatly impeded whenever one has to pause to consider, on so many significant issues, whether the automata-paranoiacs and the “irrational exuberants” might not be in spite of everything “the smart money” — and how they react is how one ought to assume the future climate of society and media will become.


Eyeless in Gaza

Not to be cultured or competent to see the always-insinuating currents of fate is how moderns are fated by their “culture” to be. This fatality is the price constantly being paid by a more and more stupefying form of “freedom.”


A Family Resemblance

The ancients in their prescientific worldview had an enormous boon, a great advantage over us: The domain of instinctual nature was not just a warehouse of abundant resources and a warfield of behaving mechanisms to them, but a basic archetype of autonomy. It was the moral key in which all healthy life was composed, a realm of organisms that were self-directing, an instinctual union of active form intuitively married to passive matter.

Not just in their physical formliness but also in the grace of their fluent purposing and action, animals exemplified imperatives and bodily architecture orchestrated together as ends and means. They are the wisdom, subtlety and economy of nature made graphic. Healthy psyches recognize and prize the speechless communication of exemplary forms of life across the chasm between animality and humanity. The aristo-pagan poet-philosopher Novalis saw this incandescently: “Every disease is a musical problem, every cure a musical solution.”

Hegel insisted that for anyone who looked rationally at the world, the world would look rationally back, but this reciprocity is true of all strategies of perception and interpretation. Whoever looks at the world soulishly and sympathetically will find a world of fellow creatures, self-intelligent and self-active lives, looking soulishly and sympathetically back. But the modern “alienativity” and “objectivity,” the modern soullessness of scientism and capitalism, are programmatically deadened to all such modes and possibilities: What moderns define as most essential in their selves is just what makes them “metaphysical outlaws,” orphans and aliens in a hieroglyphic and oxymoronic “cosmos of accident” that necessarily makes humans look like Nature’s non sequiturs.



I knew a bold and entrepreneurial creative spirit, now gone, whose Orson-Welles-like voice even when he whispered could fill all space with his certainties and energies, his enthusiasms for his many-handed projects. None of these works ever took the full measure of his pools of potential. In straits to pay his medical bills at the end of his life, he must have taped a prerecorded message for some insurance group, for ever so often I have answered the phone to hear his distinctive timbre still haunting the planet that had such wretched ideas of what to do with his talents and genius. It is the only robo-call I listen to down to the last syllable.


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