A Critique of Pure Reason

Asking a question could be the most terrible thing.

Suddenly, what was once Now, is suspended into perversion, what was once yours transforms into something alien. Odradek, be gone!

In asking a question, one expects an answer.

One expects to enter into a new world, one unknown, but this world is well guarded, and entry is no menial task.

To enter this world one must resist all temptation and look headfirst at that which is beyond gaze. One must think the unthinkable.

The guard was always there, waiting for you, the world beyond is unknown to him as well.

How terrible this agony which fills my bleeding heart, in my dying will, my unending strife!

For what? That which I do not know, and that which I cannot grasp.

This question takes many forms, the question is always open and seeks fulfillment, it seeks redemption, it seeks love and the holy!

How can thou redeem through that which is beyond?

The answer, being truly beyond ones reach, how does one come to know it, and how can this Other bring one to redemption? For this other is truly Other, the answer is not implied by the question, as the old tend to think.

An interruption, an answer is an interruption, understand this clearly and escape childish fables.

Understand this clearly; suspend thy soul in front of the gate of wisdom!

Anxiety arrives on stage, seeking an unsuspecting victim.

(crying out): Show thyself immediately, I do not fear you,

I have encountered many Devils and Demons throughout the years an you are nothing new,

I do not fear barbarism for I am well trained in Rhetoric!

Make amends and I shall spare you,

Plead for justice and you will find my mercy.

Anxiety (in laughter):
Mere mortal!

Understand who thee speaks before, remove thy shoes in admiration,

Standing before God,

Ageless and Deathless,

You will find no comfort in my presence,

My presence which you will forever fail to grasp,

Which will forever be before and beyond your grasp.

End.

Thus
Oedipus had his eyes gnawed out as Hubris ensued his soul!

In gaze into the greatest question, through the childish works of
Rhetoric, reveals the true evil of the world and leaves one blind.

Dear friends,

Stay away from the Gate!

Peering through, one is illuminated by a light of great strength and power, but do not go without a prayer, keep the great terror, the unknown, keep it close to thy soul and tender heart, you will find this tension liberating, I assure you.

For to leave the gate open would be a great mistake, the terror will creep out, but to leave it closed would be no less foolish for the light within will only force itself through in terrible proportion.

So stay away from the gate, my friend, keep a distance, do not leave it, but keep adistance.

Sincerely,
and with the gravest of fear, yours truly.

For further Reading:

The Painting; Improvisation 28, Wassily Kandinsky: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/1861

Before the Law, Franz Kafka (inspiration for this post): http://www.kafka-online.info/before-the-law.html

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Yom Kipor: Start from the End

Yom Kipor. The most sacred day of the year, a day of repentance, a day of change, change not in the sense of changing upon what is, but rather, a change into lucidity, a crystallization. There is a proverb which teaches that before Yom Kipor ones house must be clean, the significance is immense, in cleaning ones house, the most repugnant of all spaces reveal their past glory, their shining grace and temper, a house goes through “teshuva”. Teshuva is a basic concept to understand Yom Kipur, translating it in literal from Hebrew it means; to return.

And thee return from whence?

Only to thy inception that thou art abandoned, and return thee to thy home.

This starting point, this beginning, is what is referred to when one says that man was made in the likeness of God. To return to God is to return to ones Derech, ones path, and there are plenty paths. Thus is the story of Jonah, who was sent by God in order to bring the city of Ninve into Teshuva, but Jonah left his Derech and thus he became repugnant internally and externall, as God punished him to be swallowed by a fish (an external sign of alienation), Teshuva means vanquishing the follies and the cage one is trapped within, to escape the giant fish.

But when one returns home, what hath thee suspect?

What of those who enjoy no such luxury, where must they return on the day of Teshuva?

The day of Teshuva then becomes a day of creation. The highest of holies. The day in which one seeks a new thinking, a new being, a day in which one can partake in the greatest psychosis, a space where there is no space, a space of distance. Distance from that which is banal, that which seeks to contain true possibility, the distance gives one a space to Be. This distance is, of course, the height of anxiety. What once contained is no longer grounding, and what one is seizes in appearance; for this person has no house, when all is forgotten, when all appearance can no longer be affirmed. As Gregor Samsa wakes up, he finds himself an Ungeziefer – an insect; abject and base.

Thus, alienation; not merely an external repugnance, but equally -and perhaps, more importantly – an internal lack of coherence and identity. One has no House.

Anxiety occurs when ones House is broken.

But what so, what use is such an experience? Here, we go from the Kafkaesque to the Brechtian,

for it is Brecht that showed us the great importance of alienation in order to pursue a new possibility, Teshuva is done via retreat, as it was for Jonah as well. In short, all sin, all opposition, all archaic principles, that which is translucent, which escapes the totality. By doing so, ones world is not resolved, but something new occurs, a realization he was off the Derech, revolt commences and thus the space of possibility is created, Yom Kipur – for me – is this space. The day of Kapara – the day of Atonement and Teshuva.

The white Tallit, worn at night, by those taking the solemn service of the Kipor, the white Garment, in all its glory, opposes the darkness which the night so quickly enforces, one wears such clothing to Create the space of Difference, the space where one can be To be, one must first negate nothingness and the night as such. There are three actors in this scene; the white armor of the Tallit, piercing the darkness of the night; but most importantly, and that which is behind this interplay of contradiction – there is Difference. True creation is done via Difference, thus, “Elochim Yatzar Bereshit (Elohim created the beginning)” – Genesis 1;1. Elochim, not YHWH, Elochim creates Difference, it is an “El” on something, in creating Difference he thus creates the Beginning. In wearing the Talit one seeks to be akin to God, as God brought light from darkness through the inception of difference, one seeks to dispel folly through alienation from that which is Toho Vavohoo (nothing of nothings) and thus find a new start by way of God. A new path towards a divinity, through the space of difference erected by the Tallit.

All this articulated; the process of Kipur being that which attempts to create a space of Difference from the world of folly and thence create a new Beginning of their old Way.

With these concepts in mind, one is asked to revisit the prayer “Kol Nidre”, a prayer which is considered to be of the highest status by many, this prayer is the first prayer of Yom Kipur and is recited three times (written in Hebrew-Aramaic):

כל נדרי

“All vows, {self-imposed} prohibitions, oaths, consecrations, restrictions, interdictions, or {any other} equivalent expressions of vows, which I may vow, swear, dedicate {fore sacred use}, or which I may proscribe for myself or for others, from this Yom Kipur until the next Yom Kipur which comes to us for good, {from now} we regret them all; all shall be hereby absolved, remitted, canceled, declared null and void, not in force or in effect.” Let our vows not be considered prohibitions; and let our oaths not be considered oaths.”

Sources and Further Reading:

Art: http://www.leedsartgallery.co.uk/gallery/listings/l0002.php

Kol Nidre: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/2702442/jewish/Text-of-Kol-Nidrei-Prayer.htm

More on Yom Kipur: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/prayer-services-for-yom-kippur/

Theological Niceties

 

"A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties." Marx, Capital One, 4; 4.

A child is born into the world. At the first stage there is a perception, things are taken to be, simply to be. Without further inspection of subtleties, there is only it and I, there is only a nothing short but infinity, a surface of finite objects to be taken and… and lost. The moment one grasps one looses their apprehension, a child grows tired quickly and in short notice, everything is forgotten. A child is utterly lost, a myriad of things but all is forgotten, a myriad of things but nothing apprehended, what is apprehended is quickly eaten up and forgotten. A river cannot be stepped into twice. Everything is here and now, nothing beyond this moment.

“‘‘What is Now?’, let us answer, e.g. ‘Now is Night.’ In order to test the truth of this sense-certainty a simple experiment will suffice. We write down this truth; a truth cannot lose anything by being written down, any more than it can lose anything through our preserving it. If now, this noon, we look again at the written truth we shall have to say that it has become stale.” – Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit, 95.

Alas, writing, ones moment is suspended, the fleeting object is actualized, actualized into what? Into the complete antitheses of it. The childs parents, they were there all along, guiding and nourishing, in the background and unconscious. In ones experience of the world, empirical observations reveal themselves to be. Not in flux, not in constant forgetfulness, but in a form, “this tree” is perceived, but the child is not aware of the language he is contained within, he is not aware of the forces which govern his sense experience. But in writing there is a difference, a suspension, a rupture or cut, there is a perception which is beyond daily life, amnesis, the forms appear, the complete opposite of what the child was familiar with reveals itself to be the truth behind his experience. This truth, what is it? The river remains, not as a river, a particular river, but the river, this river is unchanging, this river is necessary and actual.

And the child’s parents? They too are opposites. The parents ascribe meaning, contain power over the world -the child’s world- they are rational and their way is of truth, anything otherwise is hubris. Painful hubris. But the child develops and seeks to become God, seeks to participate in the forms, seeks to ‘live as an immortal’. The child gains an identity. An identity is not something immediate, it is acquired through a totality, the world is not seen as flux but as particular individual things; I am the son of my parents who are part of a household which is within a community subordinated to a state, nay, republic, a republic which is the opposite of the people; it is governing, inflicts justice and the good.

Identity implies so much more than action, than praxis, one attempts to function, acts within the boundaries, but there is necessarily a lack between the theory in practice. Between math and empiricism, observation can only hope to meet the precision of mathematics,  the difference is forever there, however. This is the castration which Freud speaks about, that lack which permeates, which is so deep within the subject, the new subject, the subject after identification and language, the subject is fractured. As it pierces through the walls that contain it, what is  left is anxiety, nausea, one is embarrassed of their lack and struck by a loss of meaning.

How can we reach truth?

For truth is that very antithesis to our perception which we are stuck in, truth is that divine unchanging universality, that which is beyond our experience, beyond contingency. Perhaps we should do away with truth, instead focus on experience, on probability, art and myth. In doing so we succumb to finitude, to our perception, we are bound by the language we speak, no universality can be found.

Let us go back to our starting point, the commodity, our little object, our mediator, not a mediator which is accessed by mere sensory apprehension, but which in essence reveals it’s deep theology, as Levinas put’s it, in his essay on “Revelation in the Jewish Tradition”;

“A Revelation that can also be called a mystery; not a mystery that dispels clarity, but one that demands great attention.”

Such is the net, such is meaning and the dialectic, it reveals itself through progression, through introspection, and when given proper attention, one does not find Reason, one does not find laws, rather; the mysterious, the nothing. The nothing permeates, at the highest level it is grounding, at the lowest level it is a very trivial thing.

Beginning with a Question

In this blog entry (which is my first blog entry), I would like to ask the question, “what should a blog be about?” or rather, less dogmatically, “what should my blog be about?”

Now this question might seem trivial, but I take it that all writing attempts to expose a condition, a condition that in some sense is of a truth, a truth that is not so much universal but introspective, a truth which is not necessary but ripe and actual through the cognition of possibilities within the subject. This truth could be expressed through poetry, critical analysis, or simply the discussion of an experience, and every experience is revealing of something, every experience assumes a genealogy, something which grounds it and gives it weight, something which makes it unique but yet also governs it within its laws, such is the truth expressed in writing, a truth of symbolic function predicated on the primordial axioms or the genealogical basis of the condition, this need not become explicit, but it is implicitly the case. Both socially and categorically.

But my blog, which seeks to be a philosophical blog, is a blog that attempts to articulate, not merely the explicit appearance of a truth, but the inner cord and essence of it, the gneral governance of the prior function. My problem is that of Hegel’s in his preface to the phenomenology, how can I expose a truth in a blog? For to expose is not merely to express. In any ones musings, however imaginary, there is a prior governance by its own condition, a condition which must include the totality of the essence.

Let us take an example, for instance in analyzing a film, take it to be Charlie Chaplin’s “Great Dictator”, in doing so, one must expose the essence of the particular movie, now one must also analyze the particular scenes and the relation of the particulars to the whole, the relation of the first instance to the last and all that is in between, to reach the last point one finally arrives at the culmination of the particulars into the whole, there is a film analysis. A resolution. Chaplin arrives at a destruction of the lie of fascism, through the dialectic portrayed within the film, there is therefore a clear ending and an implicit whole, a structure,  to analyze the whole of the film is to reduce the particulars to a greater region of study, that of the whole, which is exposed by a principle (“the contradictions of fascism lead to the inevitable result of democracy”, if one were to give a more Utopian reading).

Similarly, in geometry we proceed from what is ready at hand, what is implicit, in observing the particular triangles we arrive at a principle; that shape which has three points can be seen as a triangle. But in doing so, we are pressed to ask, what is a shape? We might reply; that object which inhibits space. But what is space? And what is an object? One might conclude that these are the axioms which must not be questioned, but what if I want to question them?

There is a regress in all analysis, all genealogy, in seeking to explain the particular by the whole, or the ‘axiomatic’, one only begs the question, thus the restriction of the blog is, what? Nothing at all. Nothing in a pure sense, in a sense that leaves no limit, a sense that is boundless, one is tempted to quote the great William Blake in saying:

 “To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an Hour.”

 What has been exposed here is not so much a study of the medium – the blog- but the study if analysis itself, it leading to what Husserl defined as the “formal region”, that region which expresses all regions, that geometry which expresses the condition of geometry, that analysis which analyzes analysis, the analysis is of purely analysis and nothing more, in it’s purest sense it is an analysis of nothing, nothing that is all, of course, nothing which when comprehended reveals an infinity.

But, one cannot expose the dialectic in a preface, a blog is thus contained to the “grain of sand”, which one can only hope to perceive in a greater sense.

I would like to reflect on this and offer a counter point, surely the “sand contains the infinite”, and this is present in all things, in gender, history, film, music, etc. but the appropriate science here perhaps must remain most superficial, most exoteric, but yet not to regress to being purely superficial, to expose the outer while retaining the inner, to understand the sand while not to be lost in infinity, to incarnate the word in flesh and walk on the water, that is, to contain that beautiful balance which is most sought by all.

 

And if one were to only understand the eidetic form of the experience, the truth, what value is it to the experience? 

If one were to remain in their own experience, what value is it to others, what meaning is in their words?

As Hillel the Elder put it, “if I am not for me, who will be? And if I am for me, who am I?”

I suppose one should strive for balance, perfection or some lofty ideal etc. but who has not sinned? To seek perfection… that is too perfect. There is a Lack, inherent in writing, inherent in language, the unknown reeks into the present, forever haunting, how do we live with it? We accept it and use what we have. The task of my blog is therefore nothing, nothing at all. Only to attempt and try, try to do what? I’m not sure, but nothing noble or ideal, nothing romantic, only appearance will accompany us here, appearance which attempts to be articulate but not lost in the void, to be at peace with the unknown. To do nothing is therefore a struggle, not a rest. But I suppose even that is too much to say. As again, such a striving, a striving for peace with Nothing, one attempts something too great, I and for one am not a person of greatness.

“What should my blog be about?” 

But how can I even ask this question, as the question presumes a start, must we now question the question? What can one suppose to find in cutting the very log they rest on…

We will find no end here, or perhaps we already have and it is to simply stop. Have I condemned my blog to death? How can one proceed when their start is the end?