Sunday, May 11, 2014

days of laughing

May 13: revised and expanded

[May 11} A gorgeous day, especially on campus. At the Faculty Club (traditionally “The Men’s Faculty Club,” no more), I got a tickle noticing newly that a tree beside the patio shades nearby tables perfectly: The tree was planted by design, of course. Yet, the planter would likely never enjoy his (her?) result, because the slow growth of trees doesn’t afford shade soon. Perhaps the planter was very young and now, very old, she enjoys seeing the comfort she caused. But likely not. The planting was a gift to the future, a little like building a cathedral (or striving to help Us all undo risks of climate change).

O, the history that the trees could tell.

Soon after I got home from my daily walk, I wrote a little poem for my Facebook Heidegger page [May 13: Little poem now deleted], there linking to a page, which of course links [would, if I’d kept the posting] to the entire Website, for whomever cares to venture. [Monday, 5/12: Ha! Then tonight I attached a “Comment” there that’s a little essay introducing more. The whole event—largely unseen, fine—was fun. [May 13: Now gone; Comments disappear with deleted postings. So, I’ll put it all here, after…]

What’s so funny is, well, a long story, which should be made shorter than longer. I am learning to curb my verbosity, gradually—unforgettably thanks to your presence.

May 13

Sunday, after leaving the Faculty Club (i.e., just standing around—but connoting that I’m a member of that is fun. Actually, it’s not even a “club” anymore, rather a general campus dining/meeting place with academic guest rooms on the second floor)…After leaving there, I went to my daily spot by the creek, behind the so-called “Women’s Faculty Club,” a misnomer holdover from days of male exclusion by the other club, it too now being a dining/meeting place with guest rooms—with a decided bias for women’s interests, sort of a feminist resort; cozier, too.

So anyway, the day was very breezy, which dramatized the sway of deciduous branches high and beyond the shade of the redwoods that the deciduous branches grew away from, in order to thrive, which they do impressively in the wind.

I made a note about how their bent trunks and main limbs look like intentional reaches around the high redwoods’ shade. Certainly, their growth was drawn by the light, with very dramatic, sometimes very bent result.

Back home, some lines came to mind (first stanza below), which reminded me of Heidegger’s affection for Hölderlin’s symbology of a fourfold, which fascinated me years ago. So, I added lines, referring to Rilke (“Rainer”) and Heidegger (“Martin”), then posted it:
Imagine, as the trees cannot, yet their high
swaying limbs in a balmy, breezy day, have reached
for enough light and found it enough.
They’ve left the rooting earth for sky.

How many homologs of Hölderlin’s
fourfold—earth, sky, divinities, mortals—
can you find?

Rainer duly heard the trees,
and Martin duly heard Rainer.

I’ve found over 50 homologs of his fourfold.
Conceptual prospecting is such
a happy thing.
I’m tired of referring to balmy breezes. After posting that, I wondered about an example of conceptual prospecting that I might add. I quickly found something, added a posting link to it, and felt satisfied—happy to be forthright on Facebook about the existence of work.

But the next day, I realized that I’d linked to something very much in the middle of a discursive venture that no one, unfamiliar with my projects, could possibly want to read far into. So, I posted a “Comment” on my own posting “Act” that became a little essay (Below, I’m inserting some footnotes by using ‘[#]’s—see the end area of this indented block—because my commentary presumes some familiarity with Heidegger’s work):
I know that “once upon a time” is incomprehensible. So, I should not have shared where I was “At” back then?

Following back into pages linked from there is altogether unmanageable for a reader. (Time passed allows me to read “once…” as someone who didn’t write that, though I’m glad I did.) One wants to know where the pathway really begins. One stops reading rather soon.

It’s unsurprising that one would write something such that the next thing written links back to what came before. But later reading backwards in the sequence is no fair experience of phenomenological reduction.[1] In the latter instance, a narrative moves forward in overt concern for methodic presentation of methodic reconstruction.[2]

But conceptual prospecting itself isn’t trying to be presentational. So, what’s to be done with the result? Private use. Otherwise, all I can do with having experimented is to share it, implicitly saying: This is what I was dealing with some years ago. You want systematic presentation? You want to not be faced with pre-presentational work. It’s an affront?

I see what I need to have done, for the sake of presentation. But I wasn’t earlier thinking of presentation.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a moment by a creek where amazingly bent tree limbs have grown through the years under giant evergreens hiding the light from little deciduous trees trying to survive, to thrive; and the branches of the dead are there, too. I thought of Heidegger’s late-life return to his youthful inspiration by Rilke, which—you must understand—preceeded his presentation called Being and Time (no longer a History of the Concept of Time)[3]. The necessary publication was premature, but he pressed on: lectures on foundations of things, etc. Elderly Heidegger found calling in the reach of “What are poets for?”[4], which became part of me decades ago—to some good end? Who knows. I’m in good health! I’m in love with conceptual prospecting.

What I wrote years ago, I hadn’t returned to. I write and move on, like the assemblage artist who forgets what was done in order to do something else that must be open to changing horizons, changing path.... Yesterday, I wrote a little poem in honor of Heidegger, skimmed a list of things I’d “forgotten,” enjoyed the quaint beginning of “once upon a time,” didn’t read more than a couple of paragraphs into it, and linked to that, to what is really (I see now) impossible to understand apart from the background it presumes. The Act seems to express desire to draw experiments of recent years into what’s to come. Yet, going forward precedes looking back, so the Act expresses desire to go forward authentically.

Onward, then...

I could delete the link and the little verse improvisation (and this Comment would disappear, too). But I can’t delete the appeal of conceptual prospecting.

Seeing my experiments like someone coming to them for the first time (then presuming you don’t read far), I also see opportunity to trace back through my own links to where from which (such affectation![5]) a general era of my development was emerging. But that feels egoistic. I’d rather—as I intended way back then—use that prospecting for later presentation that intends to be cogent (as this is). Linking to it yesterday was premature, and sailing forward has much to weather. Pathmaking on a sea navigates by the stars. [6]

By the way, I’ve read that Heidegger’s gravestone has engraved “To head toward a star, only this.” In any case, he was indeed on a sea.

Cogency is a choice. When I read Heidegger’s “Essence of Truth” (1930), I see him balancing the “innerworldly” appeal of conceptual prospecting (“setting forth”) with the “outerworldly” intent to lecture cogently (“setting up”). He risks non-cogency in the balance (granting and bearing of “setting forth” and “setting up” of things) in the liminal condition of his presentation that is about a balancing act called to en-site “where” he “is” at the time. (In 1945, facing the de-Nazification judges, his explanation ultimately directed their attention to his 1930 “Essence of Truth,” re: what he was thinking in trying to be an emancipatory administrator. [7] )

I know how conceptual prospecting can call for an audacity that the prospector exposes at risk of undermining credibility. Heidegger surely lived with that (and I am no Heidegger!—just a student of prospecting). With Heidegger, we have the unbearably experimental, unpublished Contributions to Philosophy [8], which might be a title almost tongue-in-cheek to the prospector himself beyond the grave (if there were some Heaven for entertaining one’s legacy as it unfolds).

One muddles along in experimentation. Conceptual explorations require a courage of seeming foolishness, pending the better angels who may arrive. Heidegger emphasized that he was a “precursor.” Each of us in one’s own way, anticipating the future we’ll never witness, can only be a precursor.

[I delight in writing like this in a “Comment” that almost nobody will see. I copy all I do to offline notes, so this isn’t useless. It’s fun.]

Here: This is accessible: “phenomenality.”
[1] Like a narrative psychoanalysis that works back to generative beginnings. For phenomenology, classically, it’s a matter of disclosing conceptual, constitutive commitments that became presumptions going forward.

[2] Phenomenological reduction enacted by an analyst—a conceptual analyst, in this case—then would present his/her work as a discursive presentation that needs to have a methodic clarity different from the methodic efficacy of the analysis that’s the topic of the discursive presentation.

[3] Being deeply affected by strong poetry before publishing methodic philosophy can imply a status to the conceptual work that is more analogous to the character of literary tropes than scientistic aspirations, which philosophy historically tended to become, thus the critique of metaphysics that is a hallmark of Heidegger’s career. That’s not to reduce conceptuality to poetic figures, but Heidegger in late life proffered a sense of “poetic thinking” that was pre-figured in his development before publishing formalistic philosophical work.

[4] This is the title of his late-life great essay on Rilke, written soon after the Holocaust.

[5] That’s grammatically more succinct than otherwise, but I smirk doing it, actually feeling your presence, which is with me whenever I post to this blog, but other times, too.

[6] ...which is to say that a tempestuous development may have to rely on abstract orientation. But I sound sentimentalist there; I’m not. The Odyssean trope was understood in an embodied way by Homer, I presume, as well as by James Joyce. Remember my young (25 year old!!) beginning to “As: a history, an outline”? Made entirely of my weaving together of my favorite lines from others’s poems (from a specific anthology of the time): “Welcome home, sweetie. Welcome / Home from the exhausting voyage on the savage sea.” If you knew what I’d already been through at that age, you might be amazed—not that I would wish to trade on that, which is why I don’t, and you never knew what my “25 again” fetish with you was about.

[7] I’m alluding to a keynote of the Facebook/Heidegger project: linking there to my blog essay “Heidegger and reading political times.”

[8] This was a collection of dense reflections that weren’t published until after his death, but led to his work that was published after the war.

Well, that’s that. By deleting the Facebook/Heidegger posting and my commentary from that site, then reproducing it here, I can feel assured that it’s even less likely to be read.

Fine. The material is here. Doing it all (including the coding and editing here) was worthwhile.