Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ho eros pollachos legetai

I am enjoying this game – writing weblog entries according to the default arrangement, new entries first and then you can scroll down for previous posts – an inverted chronology, which requires an untraditional writing technique of sorts. The narrative unfolds differently. I will try not to edit the old posts too much and refrain from adding all those "P.S." and "P.P.S." self-commentaries.

In any case, I continue with the Love theme.

All You Need Is Love – the point of this quote is not that all the different and even antagonistic aspects or types of love add up into a generic universal Love, an Idea of love that serves as a governing principle, an arche-eros or arche-agape. Rather, I would introduce, even here, the Aristotelian notion of analogy – but without the presupposition of an arche that governs the heterogeny of love or loves and provides a definition (logos) for all different acceptations (pollachos legetai).

Not Just Hippy Love

Still talkin' 'bout love... It is not always happy, exclusively positive or constructive; there is possessive love, sadism, an ability to enjoy violence (at least on film or other forms of art and entertainment – but such an "aesthetic" enjoyment seems to presuppose some dark sympathy) and "understand" murderers: an understanding that is not pity but a horrifying recognition, in their deeds, of some gruesome affinities with one's own latent abilities...

Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto
. So let us not forget the dark side of love.

All You Need Is Love – maybe so, but perhaps only if you're willing to accept its many entangled aspects, beginning with the connection between Love and Need.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Another quick morning note (scroll down for more) – reviewed in the afternoon

Love as judgment is love that does not exclude critical distance or irony. "I don't hate you, I hate the way you are, instead of what you could be." Isn't this the way love can be seen as a political, democratic principle?

The "idea" I am referring to is not about imposing one's "own ideas" ("fixed" or not) on the other, or phantasms and utopias, but about maintaining a conversation – an "ideal" community is an open community, just as Aufklärung is not a status quo already reached or to be reached within a finite stretch of time, but reason's constant submission to self-criticism (my own reformulation of Kant's notion of enlightenment).

All I can do in such a quick, brief note is to indicate Derrida's work on forgiveness... some passages towards the end of Husserl's Cartesian Meditations... and more.

On Love and Understanding (a very quick morning note)

The power (Vermögen) of understanding presupposes the power of love (Mögen) and not the other way around. You can only what you will: you are only able to understand that which you are able to love. Understanding is not – or need not be – a total comprehension, possession, grasping without a remainder that which is to be understood, but a movement towards the other, towards that which remains to be understood but perhaps never totally grasped.

There is, of course, the kind of "cultivation of intimacy" that ensures a total merging of horizons, because the act already presupposed a shared horizon in the first place, a common code.

But love is – or can be – judgment. Love does not "evaluate" but it judges, having "an idea" of what the other could be, has been or may still become, beyond that which he or she is at the moment, beyond all the deeds and symptoms and indications.

Such an "idea" is – or need be – nothing determinate, not a specific content, not a "logos" in the sense of definition, but an indeterminate "possibility" (Möglichkeit), a movement towards that which is "lovable" in the other (be it human or not, animate or inanimate), but not as some "reason" – love is not a matter of "reason" or "reasons".

"I love you because..." is a horrible way to start.

P.S. I don't make references here to Heidegger's texts, for example, and I am not offering any kind of interpretation of his thought on Mögen and Möglichkeit. This quick note, written on a summer morning in a small cottage by the sea, listening to birds singing, is rather intended as a working hypothesis and thus a beginning of a dialogue to come, an incipit of understanding.

P.P.S. I wrote that "you are only able to understand that which you are able to love", but I must add that the ability to love does not exclude actual hate – or frustration, or disappointment in the status quo.

P.P.P.S. (July 1) Instead of "hate" I should probably have written "anger".

"Angry young men", for instance, are those who have a sense of injustice, and that implies a love for justice, even when justice remains beyond presence (epekeina tes ousias).

Friday, 26 June 2009

On Music as a Form of Silence, Again...

Maybe music is paused conversation?

By suggesting that, I'm already interrupting the interruption...

Led Zeppelin: "Communication Breakdown", via YouTube.

"Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar" is a Zappa title – his "lyrics" are not simply statements or participation in an argument – they are part of his music and not political rhetoric.

On Political “Leadership” – and Support Instead of “Followership”

In democracy there is no one voice that leads the nation – the voice of a leader, or a unanimous will of the people, or even a majority’s consent that has its chosen representatives – but a polyphony, polylogy of voices. There is even a silence to be listened to, the reverse side of the essential freedom of expression, namely the freedom not to “express”, a freedom to say nothing: an artistic freedom that is not just another form of communication, not another way of making statements and performative speech acts.

Quoting Al Jazeera: “While the broad-based protests have focused on the legitimacy of the entire presidential election, most of the demonstrators are supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's main challenger in the poll” (Wednesday, June 24, 2009). I wonder if that is completely accurate, if it is as simple as that. The green colour was originally Mousavi's campaign colour, but I am convinced it has become more than that. Or at least, the accuracy of the formulation depends on how we understand “support”.

When it is a question of democracy, the mandate – or whatever it should be called – is not handed down by some leader but handed upwards, with all the weight of responsibility that comes with the “symbolic” role. This is why Mousavi can be called – without pejorative or belittling intentions – a “symbol” or a “leader” in spite of himself (héros malgré lui – cf. Le Figaro, June 22, 2009).

Support can be a token of solidarity for those who will not tolerate undemocratic repression, giving the mandate but not yielding, not abandoning themselves to a “ruler”, I believe. Not being the “followers” of a “leader” but perhaps “supporters” in a totally other sense. The distinction is delicate and in constant danger of being effaced, but it should be kept clear.

The difference is, as far as I can see, that in democracy – a democracy to come, always a democracy to come – we are not following a “chosen leader”, but as voters and as citizens, we can be supporters of our representatives, supporters handing “up” something loaded with responsibility. A mandate to be constantly evaluated. Democracy as a constant “crisis”, in the sense of critical evaluation of the mandate, freedom to criticize and a freedom to re-evaluate, without the fear of repression and violence.

Monday, 22 June 2009

See Kafka – or below – for the original formula...

Musik als Form des Schweigens.

A Sleepless Night's Decision

I finally decided to publish this "Cultivation of Intimacy" and imported the more recent weblog,* "Rajan repi päristäen? N. N. ja eräs pirteä pari?" (the title, in Finnish, consists of two anagrams of my name). See below for the topsy-turvy chronology of the unfolding of this combined blog* and the pre-history of the decision.

* The online editor application underlines the word "weblog" with red dots, meaning it does not recognize it as an English term, while "blog" seems to be alright. That's funny, because "blog" is originally a "contraction of the term 'weblog'" (Wikipedia).