Saturday, November 10, 2018

the possibilities

 This from, “Ipseity and Illeity, or Thinking Ethics without the Other of the Other,”
 by Taylor Adkins:
The conversation about the “there is” begins with a contrast between the conceptions of Appolinaire and Heideggerian ontology: it designates neither the abundance or joy of being nor the ‘es gibt’ of Being to Dasein. Going beyond the limitation of givenness to Dasein, a conception which could very easily found a humanist Heideggerianism, Levinas stresses that there is no “generosity” in the “there is” because the latter constitutes an impersonal dimension of being, a silence that is simultaneously a noise: “neither nothingness nor being” (48). 
One of the most fascinating statements concerning the “there is” occurs very early in the conversation and posits its primacy in relation to the conditions of existence: “[The “there is”] is something one can also feel when one thinks that even if there were nothing, the fact that “there is” is undeniable. Not that there is this or that; but the very scene of being is open: there is. In the absolute emptiness that one can imagine before creation—there is” (48). What can we unpack from this passage?
To begin with, what should first be identified in this concise passage is the presence of the “there is” as a feeling, an affect, but also a faith based on an ontological claim. The scene of being is open and not foreclosed means: existence necessarily is. This statement is undeniable in two senses: first as objective claim or matter of fact, then as the basis for a belief or matter of faith. Levinas is trying to describe an ontological state of affairs that is not reducible to any particular thing but is the pre-individual, impersonal, and universal permeation of existents by existence. Yet the belief in this ontological claim almost seems to turn Being into the always-already given, and thus to save it from any real disaster that would threaten the sustainability of this givenness. In other words, it seems to be a faith in the fact that things will always exist, and that even if the existence of particular things is contingent, existence itself is necessarily absolute. 
It would be wrong to see this ontological belief as an argument based on a personal God. If there is a God in Levinas, it comes through the Other’s face or leads beyond Being. What I mean to say is that the thought of the “there is” is meant to be the horror that the persistence of impersonal existence wreaks upon the individual. This impersonal aspect bears affinities with Heidegger’s thrownness, in that existence only comes to the things that are thrown into the totality of the “there is,” as though gladiators into an arena to wage the war that existence demands of itself. This is the Heraclitean/Nietzschean image of Being as the cosmic struggle where things are always ontologically at war through their own becoming and struggle of forces. If ontology’s prerequisite is the war of existence/being, what leads beyond this struggle and allows an access to the requirement of ethics as first, indeed as first philosophy that henceforth subordinates ontology to it?
The Other’s face.

Seen through No Other’s face.

The possibilities!

object permanence

This poem, at Friday Evening Conversation, captured our attention:

Object Permanence
      —By Nicole Sealey  
(For John)
We wake as if surprised the other is still there,
each petting the sheet to be sure.

How have we managed our way
to this bed—beholden to heat like dawn

indebted to light. Though we’re not so self-
important as to think everything

has led to this, everything has led to this.
There’s a name for the animal

love makes of us—named, I think,
like rain, for the sound it makes.

You are the animal after whom other animals
are named. Until there’s none left to laugh,

days will start with the same startle
and end with caterpillars gorged on milkweed.

O, how we entertain the angels
with our brief animation. O,

how I’ll miss you when we’re dead.

how to be annihilated

“Nothingness is who God is".

"Nothing is one of the greatest activities there is."

                   (—Thomas Keating, OCSO. 7mar1923–25oct2018)

(—from “A Life Surrendered to Love “ — Thomas Keating). (Time: 18:58)

Friday, November 09, 2018

as if words mattered

I can’t tell who wrote this.
Been thinking about civility. Looking forward to the next president. It will be good to see ‘civilitas’ — conversational integrity — revisit American politics again. Let’s disagree with an intelligent person again, and not be saddled with snide apodictic arrogance prevaricating. 
(—tweet, Friday morning, 8:16am)
 Who quotes Latin words with loose translation inerudition?

what do poets know

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. 
(—opening lines, Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman)

There is no unconnected separate self.

We are each other attempting to become what and who we are — distinctly, alone, together.

worlding, unity differentiates

This, from  Cynthia Bourgeault on Teilhard and Rilke:

We can look to our own hearts to tell us more about what Teilhard sees as the essence of the complexification/consciousness process—hence of evolution (and hence, of love): his insistence that “union differentiates. 
We often think of love in terms of merging, uniting, becoming one, but Teilhard was wary of such definitions; his practiced eye as an evolutionist taught him something quite different. True union . . . doesn’t turn its respective participants into a blob, a drop dissolving into the ocean. Rather, it presses them mightily to become more and more themselves: to discover, trust, and fully inhabit their own depths. As these depths open, so does their capacity to love, to give-and-receive of themselves. . . .
The poet Rilke (1875–1926), Teilhard’s contemporary and in many respects kindred spirit, is on exactly the same wavelength. He asks in his Letters to a Young Poet:
. . . [F]or what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished, and still incoherent? It [love] is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person. [2]
To become world in oneself for the sake of another. . . .” Hmmmm. Does love really ask us to become world? Does love make worlds? Is that what love does?
(—from, Unity in DifferentiationFriday, November 9, 2018, by Cynthia Bourgeault)

Thursday, November 08, 2018

all alone

I look forward to the Mueller hearings before a House Committee in January 2019.

I’ll wear a grey beret, hand grind coffee beans by stove, toast an English muffin, take from new refrigerator an individual Yoplait yoghurt, and settle back into blue recliner in front of glass door showing birds swooping in to feeder hanging on line stretched between barn and kitchen.

Yesterday three cord of wood were dropped in dooryard by Belfast woodman. We talked about his dad, 90, now in mechanized wheelchair, cancer spreading, dispirited at not being able to assist with wood deliveries.

For the current president there will be no graceful way to exit the office. He will, no doubt, slam and slander, mock and maul any and everyone he perceives as threat to ego, business interests, family members, and, least of all, his version of America held tightly among a wider circle of xenophobic and racially alert loyalists.
Love Poem 
It's so nice
to wake up in the morning
all alone
and not have to tell somebody
you love them
when you don't love them
any more. 
(—poem by Richard Brautigan)
All things change. All things end. All things lack a separate self.

And as for greed, anger, and delusion — their poison swiftly course through bodies unaware.

Let us pray, therefore, for an awareness that recognizes, and is equanimous with, the passing of our fragile existence!

Poem at dawn’s twilight:
Alone in kitchen,
scent of coffee, toasted bread,
the wonder of birds
flying with seed 
to cedar branch
over dropped wood!   

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

selective service

Fear turns and stares at the president.

War is declared on justice.

The draft begins.

that’s that

Let no one commit seppuku. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

nameless, imageless, going somewhere else

 As if.

Something might change.

And yet, we vote.

Love [people] even in [their] sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov [1]   
God refuses to be known in the way we usually know other objects; God can only be known by loving God. Yet much of religion has tried to know God by words, theories, doctrines, and dogmas. Belief systems have their place; they provide a necessary and structured beginning point, just as the dualistic mind is good as far as it goes. But then we need the nondual or mystical mind to love and fully experience limited ordinary things and to peek through the cloud to glimpse infinite and seemingly invisible things. This is the contemplative mind that can “know spiritual things in a spiritual way,” as Paul says (1 Corinthians 2:13). 
What does it mean when Jesus tells us to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind (not just our dualistic mind), and strength (Luke 10:27)? What does it mean, as the first commandment instructs us, to love God more than anything else? To love God is to love what God loves. To love God means to love everything . . . no exceptions.
 Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation

The lad writes from Vermont with some trenchant advice:

Keep all media turned off for 48 hours. Take some nice walks, read books no more recent then 300 years old. On Thursday, take fifteen minutes to scan the internet to take stock of the landscape. Then shut everything off for another two years.
The invitatory for divine office plays. “Give thanks to him and bless his name.” 

I wonder — what is ‘his’ name?

I also wonder what your name is? Or mine?

Write-in the nameless.

Look at, and as, the imageless.

My vote goes to love.

Raindrops fall from roof edge onto sun porch clear see-through ribbing. 

Tires splash road water. 

Everyone is going somewhere else.

Monday, November 05, 2018

to fight this hatred

Philosophy could help.
Letting the other be other in the right way is, of course, no easy task. Our contemporary culture in particular exploits our deep ambiguity towards the death instinct, displacing our fearful fascination onto spectacular stories of horror, monstrosity and violence. Julia Kristeva captures this point well in a dialogue we conducted on the subject in Paris in 1991:  
The media propagate the death instinct. Look at the films people like to watch after a long tiring day: a thriller or a horror film, anything less is considered boring. We are attracted to this violence. So the great moral work which grapples with the problem of identity also grapples with this contemporary experience of death, violence and hate. 
And Kristeva goes on to suggest, quite correctly in my view, that this expresses itself in extremist forms of identity politics:  
Nationalisms, like fundamentalisms, are screens in front of this violence, fragile screens, see-through screens, because they only displace that hatred, sending it to the other, to the neighbour, to the rival ethnic group. The big work of our civilization is to try to fight this hatred. 
(—from Strangers, Gods and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness, by Richard Kearney)
 Tuning out could help.

you can live transparently

Amid so much to rue, the Dalai Lama brings us through:
Be honest, truthful, and altruistic. If you concern yourself with taking care of others, there’ll be no room for lies, bullying and cheating. If you’re truthful you can live transparently, which will enable you to establish trust, the basis for making friends. (—Dalai Lama tweet, Monday 5nov18, 05:29)
Tomorrow is Election Day.

Would that transparent decency were our first place pick.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

nuff said

Duterte, Trump, Kim Jong Un, Bolsonaro, Putin, Xi Jinping, Orban —-

Fill in commentary

at your peril

haruspicating time

Where did that hour come from?

Someone said, let there be one hour earlier placed into our agreement about time.

And there it is.

Words, again, haruspicate our being-in-the-world.