Sunday, November 29, 2009

still enhancing my own humanity, so far

A while back, I had a near-term plan for 40+ topics. I transposed that into about 28, one of which was (is) “living well,” as rubric, as well as boundless topic. Boundless, indeed: Seeking much delimitation (a long webpage, I anticipated), it’s become notes for 42 postings! Maybe I’ll cover the other 27 topics before I die. But that was supposed to be a long detour from a larger project that has been ongoing for some years (which the prospected “conceptual adventuring” of the website is supposed to supplement). Talk about flourishing. I’m ready for biomedical enhancement of longevity to 120+ years. Just keep dementia at bay.

But all the inflationary “delimiting” has made me bored with the topic. I know what I want to do with it. Now, I want to move on to crystallize what I want to do with something else.

I know the dynamic here: I’m the perpetual student—which is a good thing, if you can afford it. However, it doesn’t educe esteem, let alone influence. So, should I care less about recognition than about furthering my own understanding of, say, The Poem (as genre) or deep friendship (offline) or happiness (finding the essential distillation and synergy of recent literature on the matter)?

Actually, this kind of question is central to my interest in living well: balancing Self interest (and inner-directedness) with the great value of interpersonal life—and showing useful appreciation of our planetary humanity, at least as a good voice in The Conversation of Humanity, which I’m very thankful to have had so much time to enjoy.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

the fabric of our lives

Narrative adjacency is not always narrative continuity.

That’s important—or rather, it reminds me of something very important to me: The narratives that we do provide as stances of continuity and coherence are always selective. That allows for the coherence of the story, a sense of singularity of narrativity or integrity of the narrating, for there is no story without coherence which expresses the integrity that the story is a story. So much literary writing plays with this presumption (or can) only because the desire for coherence is so normal. (Nowadays, a strong plot can feel like an assertion against a normal incoherence of life.)

So, to have the securing, if not soothing, story, there’s often an at-least-implicit desire to exclude from one’s sense of the day or era of one’s life what will not be remembered to have been apposite, because the desire for resolve and moving on is so compelling. The desire to have continuity—to have “the” explanation—is often emblematic of need to assert a—some (final)—sense of what happened. What really happened? That’s not so important in the short run.

Often, we eventually come know what really happened. But not in the first draft of telling (the diary, the letter, the journalism). The invalidly excluded does return someday—often with happy meaning or pleasure earlier unforeseen. (It’s not all about negation gaining revenge in shadows.)

Being exclusive—a resonant disposition—secures a coherence of inclusiveness that is necessary at the time: deadline for publication, getting on with one’s life usefully, (re)affirming who belongs, if not that “we” are most important or most valid.

Friday, November 27, 2009

bibliotrOpographical enchantment

The library as...

myth, order, space, power, shadow, shape, chance, workshop, mind, island, survival, oblivion, imagination, identity, home.

That’s the “Contents” page listing of the chapters in The Library at Night, by Argentine writer Alberto Manguel, Yale UP, 2009 (2006).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

things as looking up

Not “things are looking up.”

As a kid, I liked to sit on a high branch in a large old tree, quietly as someone walked below not noticing I was there. All I had to do was move or say something, and I’d be discovered. The stealth, the power of secreted presence, was thrilling. I didn’t yet anticipate the archetype, from the cyclicality of life to figures of evolution (invalidated by “lateral gene transfer”) and relations of knowledge infusing one’s subconscious.

Imagine that all the branches are an elaborated website with tens of sections (branches) and tens of pages in each section. Having the tree flourished out before I say I’m here is thrilling. It will be as if I sprang fully formed from the branches, amazing you and a whole netweave of people.

Miranda July, Venice Biennale, 2009

What other reason should one need for loving to write in solitude, obscurity, freedom from the temptation to presume or cater to a given audience? Here, it’s just the things themselves, the light of their appeal, a self-formativity of things—his little cosmos.

John Hundt, “Boy Genius” (2010)

These are the days before—humble, funny, androgynous.

Monday, November 23, 2009

tweeting in the Milky Way

I immerse myself in news every morning. I keep a thematized archive of articles that has been growing for many years.

Days go by. What’s interesting now?

Living well; and ethical, cultural, epistemic, philosophical, artful, political, and progressive life—Attachment, Engagement, Involvement, Habituation, Securing, Dwelling, Belonging....

Are we somehow on the way to governing our evolution?

What happens after SETI succeeds? Will we have reached Contact competence?

Do we write life to silent Awaiting?

Friday, November 20, 2009

the dead

When someone you know well dies, it matters to you immensely. You feel the loss. You appreciate the life lost. You “appreciate” the death as death. It may be life changing.

We know in the abstract that those near to others dying are at least equally affected by those deaths. But those deaths don’t usually affect us, except when the numbers for a deathly event get large. We don’t appreciate those deaths. We can’t suffer every death. But the suffering daily is incalculable. It’s an abstract fact. We may be sobered. We may be pensive. But we do not appreciate the suffering of any given day.

Daily, we live a whispy phenomenality of awareness and attention, focused on what’s controllable. Our lives are relatively self interested and self esteeming, even in a rewarding or praisworthy devotion to others. We are fulfilled, but know little of what the global day is about. The newspaper carries a relatively few high points in an accepted topography of importances that define the public sphere.

A new day awakens another suicide bomber. What else is new?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

human flourishing is ideally “Self” interested

We want a fulfilling life, genuinely with others while giving fair time to self development. It’s a balance. Happiness is an art. But “ethical” life is dominated by interpersonal relations. I contend that the basis of ethics is best thought relative to self development.

longing for peak dwelling

I haven’t read Magic Mountain, but the figure of cultural heights where somehow the upshot of all humanity is brought to dwell in itself appeals to me deeply. On the peak, the view is of other peaks.

Is history our preferred gathering of peaks—conceptions of the past with respect to conceptions of who we were to become? Were they as different from our reconstructions of them as we are relative to their anticipations?

Human evolution is the story, some rhizome, some weaving we make by dwelling among the peaks?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

art as ethical transgression

Transgression is integral to the history of art, as ethically-transgressive art (from the allure of dark spirits through contemporary performance art); but commonly as formally transgressive: Once upon a time, perspective in art was transgressive. Pointillism was transgressive. The notion of avant garde was inherited from aspirations to be “revolutionary.” A history of art in the ‘60s and ‘70s, written in the ‘90s, was titled Shock of the New. That’s apart from overtly political art. Google ‘art and transgression,’ you get a list of directly-related results (with “transgressive art” at the top of the list).

So, “human flourishing implies a “Self” interested ethic&rdquo implies a mode of transgression related to art itself, just by being a dramatic element of the discussion of ethical self-distancing or self-differentiation relative to interpersonal (sociocentric) life. It might be no surprise that devotion to an art could be transgressive just in the sense that questioning common presumptions is integral to artistic motives. This was actually the kind of thing that first came to mind when I brought in the theme of one’s devotion to an art being “unacceptable” to one’s near-and-dear. In the beginning of a partnership, let’s say, one’s devotion to an art was quite valuable to one’s intimate other, as part of who I/you are. But the art, given its ownmost way, draws one into itself, commonly unanticipated, sometimes transforming oneself (oneself in itself) and sense of life. The artist is forever changed. The journey of developing the partnership becomes a challenge for both. Usually, it works out. Sometimes not. How valuable is the devotion to the art for someone feeling transformed?

There’s a mode of this whereby the artist just needs to get the message “Grow up!” Find a way to make it all work. That’s part of the art! Making it all work. Cut the shit—right? I know. I know good sense. But the history of art easily comes back to haunt. We read of persons who quit corporate careers to wander archaeological digs—that kind of thing. This fascinates me. The human condition, human potential, what is becoming of our species, fascinates me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the daynote convention

I’ve been away. But no longer.

That’s not something you’d care to read a month from now. But you might be interested to see this blog become a daily-changing thing and going through lots of changes through the week. My intent is that new things—notes, comments, opinion—will be here daily.

You might be interested to see me stumbling around with bad ideas that get revised through the week, ideas that disappear to become titled postings here (or are deemed best to disappear altogether, absent your valuable comment; but you get to see the disaster).

Writing-in-process that becomes annulled by time can be interesting in the short-term, as part of my development of Website material. However, neither I nor you would be interested in a big archive of ephemera (or “prattle”; thanks, B). Opinion about current events can be interesting, but stale after a week or so (which fills up so many blogs forgettably).

revised 2/6/10 — 11:21 am

So, the “[day]note” is for ephemera and ideas-in-process. It’ll change daily, but there will be only 7 [day]notes. A fresh [day]note for a given day each week will post at the top of the blog, and the [day]notes will recycle. Last week’s [day]note for today will be replaced. (This will cause the URL to stay the same, so the date on the URL will be irrelevant. E.g., the URL for a Friday note next year will always be .../2009/11/fridaynote.html.)

During the day or week, I may change previous notes: expand, revise, or delete. The time line of today’s [day]note will change—frequently, I hope. Again, new postings may result during the week from [day]note paragraphs, in which case paragraphs will disappear, and a new posting that day will be below.

The main purpose of this blog continues to be a supplement to Website material, noting new material and roughing out ideas for Webpaged discussions. I expect that sets of postings will be merged (edited, expanded) into Website pages. Eventually, the Website will read like (and look like) a singular thing (if not a book online—several books in gestation?)

I realize that I’ve not made heavy use of this idea. Indeed, I’ve been absent from posting here altogether. But I’m determined to not stay away entire weeks any longer.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

contracts of body vs. freedom of mind?

Problems associable with the difference between ethical interpersonal relations and aesthetic Self may originate in the natural difference between necessary bodily attachments and freedom of mind. I don’t know. I’m trying to work it out.

The selfish gene wants to reproduce, but evolution didn’t anticipate modernity and its lovely alternatives. (Actually, evolution doesn’t anticipate anything; it’s an incomprehensibly aggregative notion, the upshot of millennial nature.) So we are what we are: a legacy of self-organizing iteration that happened to evince free minds.

Reproduction, though, favors attachments, lack of imagination about what to do with one’s life (as well as one’s spending), and common society that sustains the cycles, from the way we parent aspirations through the fashion industry, as if our inherent psychology is by nature meant for reproductive attachments and doesn’t often know what to do with non-reproductive attachments (e.g., love between hedonists who also responsibly sustain careers), wanderers, etc. “Isn’t the order of nature that one cares for kids, so as to have the kids care for us when we’re old?” “Keep the population growing.” (It helps to be Catholic—or poor; the selfish gene especially favors both.)

The wanderer is an anomaly of nature. The scientist is likely doing something good for industry, but funding for too much “pure“ science is not in the social interest, let alone the arts. The mating mind supervenes on a reproductive machine whose grand pleasure is functional. “Let us take a dim view of non-functional pleasures.” A free mind supervenes on the mating mind, finding pleasures of imagination and body, adventure and transgression, enthralling, which the mating mind does’t find especially valid.

This includes arts, as well as rather hedonistic leisures such as revery (better than ‘reverie’), sitting on the edge of cliffs above expansive valleys, and sexual pleasure for its own sake.

Down the road of my venture with the Website, entanglements of evolution and artfulness, eros and creativity, intellectual love and elated embodiment will find some weave.

what’s important?

With Bernard Williams, I like to understand values as importances. The discussion I have online today isn’t substantially related to his work. It’s introductory for my sense of valuing. But I do want to give much attention to Williams down the road.