Saturday, 10 September 2011


Physically upright but morally crooked – a strategic phrase to unlink a systematic chain of unwarranted or dubious connections – not a metaphor, or a pair of metaphors, but a counter-metaphor, a backward twist, reductio ad absurdum.

. . .

Yet, "physically upright" was never just "physical", pure and simple, in the first place. "Upright" was never an exclusively "physical" concept, and there is no such thing as an exclusively "physical" concept. This is not to say that "uprightness" was always already "moral", but rather that the perception of "something upright" would not take place without "theory", or "ideas" and concepts. "The visible is pregnant with the invisible" (Merleau-Ponty, positively commenting on Heidegger's refutation of the concept of metaphor).


Daß es wirklich einfache Bedeutungen gibt, lehrt das unzweifelhafte Beispiel Etwas. Das Vostellungserlebnis, das sich im Verständnis des Wortes vollzieht, ist sicherlich komponiert, die Bedeutung ist aber ohne jeden Schatten von Zusammensetzung.

– Edmund Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen. II/1: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis, siebte Auflage (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1993), 296.

I am marking this passage just because I find it powerful and fascinating (as I see it, intellectual insight need not be severed from aesthetic pleasure), and a sort of condensation of Husserl's critique of psychologism.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A note on forgiveness

[...] le prochain, mon frère, l’homme, infiniment moins autre que l’absolument autre, est, en un certain sense, plus autre que Dieu : pour obtenir son pardon le jour du Kippour, je dois au préalable obtenir qu’il s’apaise.

– Levinas, Quatre lectures talmudiques (Paris: Minuit, cop. 1968, repr. 2002), 36-37.

An approximation in English: My fellow man, my brother (yes, it is a good question to ask: why always or most often in Levinas the masculine gender, why "brother" and not "sister"?), the human being, infinitely "less other" than the absolutely other, is, in a certain sense, "more other" than God. To obtain God's forgiveness on the Day of Atonement, it is required that we are at peace with our fellow man.

Doesn't this mean that the "cultivation of intimacy" – whose preëminent figure is the intimacy with God, in prayer, for instance, or the silent negotiation with one's conscience – is always, always already interrupted by "a third party"?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

"To a green thought in a green shade"

Reading – very slowly and too absent-mindedly – Husserl's Logische Untersuchungen, the two verses that end the following stanza of Marvell's "The Garden" came to my mind, as they often do:

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness :
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas ;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Green is not green – the green, namely greenness, being-green, is not itself "coloured" – a Heideggerean reminder. The green of all greens is not green. Colour is colourless.

Helen Frankenthaler, A Green Thought in a Green Shade (1981)

An abstract expressionism that seeks for the essence of colour – say, green, the green of green, the green-ness of green – is therefore a splendid failure.

Emphasis on "splendid".

* * *

A green thought must inhabit – take repose in – a green shade, "withdraw into its happiness" there, and acknowledge its constitutive différance.

* * *

Every green thought that takes repose in a green shade, every representation of "green", is an allegory of "green".