Ktismatics

14 March 2007

I Erased You

Filed under: First Lines, Movies — ktismatics @ 3:29 pm

I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product… of me.

– William Monahan, The Departed screenplay, 2006

I’ve been exploring the impact on postmodernism of Hegel’s “master-bondsman” discourse. Hegel talks about the ways in which selves attempt in vain to attain self-sufficiency from others. But Hegel says he’s really talking about an internal division, where the self and the self-conscious compete for dominance, only to come to the realization that what they’re fighting over is an emptiness at the core of the self, an emptiness that serves the ultimate Master, who is death.

The Departed centers around two main characters: Colin is a cop who is really an operative of Costello, an Irish gang boss who speaks the film’s opening line cited at the top of this post; Billy works for the gang boss but is really an undercover cop working for the head of the organized crime division. Colin and Billy are ambivalent bondsmen, seemingly serving one master while really serving the other. Each is a kind of mirror image of the other. But each is also his own double: both cop and criminal, a servant both of the Law and of Transgression. These two worlds aren’t just opposites; they too are mirror images of one another in structure, in language, in internal codes of honor and corruption. And within each of the two characters is a divide. When he tries to discover a united, coherent self he discovers that he is simultaneously a loyal servant and a traitor, a violator of the code and a subject to the code of violation. In serving two masters does he serve no master but himself? But in his self-mastery does he discover that he really is no one, a servant of Death who rules all and who spares no one?

I’m reminded of another, very different movie on which I once posted: It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey, at the end of his rope, is ready to kill himself. His guardian angel Clarence tries to talk him out of death by showing him what things would have been like if George had never lived. Clarence reveals an alternate reality, a mirror image that’s different only in that it lacks George. It’s a disorienting experience to visit a world defined by your own nonexistence. It’s uncanny. And it’s an inner split: am I the self who observes the mirror world, or am I the non-self that is the hole in that world?

And now I recall Freud’s essay on “The Uncanny,” in which he recounts one of the Tales of Hoffman, “The Sandman,” about a nighttime visitor who throws sand in children’s eyes until the eyes, bleeding, jump out of the children’s heads. This too is a story of death, of selves who are divided and mirrored, of the uncanny. Freud elaborates:

These themes are all concerned with the phenomenon of “the double,” which appears in every shape and in every degree of development. Thus we have characters who are considered to be identical because they look alike. This relation is accentuated by mental processes leaping from one of these characters to another — by what we should call telepathy –, so that the one possesses knowledge, feelings, and experience in common with the other. Or it is marked by the fact that the subject identifies himself with someone else, so that he is in doubt as to which his self is, or substitutes the extraneous self for his own. In other words, there is a doubling, dividing, and interchanging of the self. And finally there is the constant recurrence of the same thing — the repetition of the same features or character-traits or vicissitudes, of the same crimes, or even the same names through several consecutive generations.

Freud says that in traditional cultures the double — the mirror image, the dream self, the shadow, the guardian spirit, the soul which inhabits the body, the image of the dead person that decorates the Egyptian sarcophagus — serves as a protector of the self against death. Later, with the emergence of self-awareness, the double becomes a harbinger of death: the doppelganger, the voodoo doll, the zombie, the ghost. When the self as subject looks upon self as object, what it sees is a self rendered inanimate, dead, subjected to the ultimate Master.

Think about Hitchcock movies: Vertigo, Strangers on a Train, Psycho — the uncanny double drives the story toward the ultimate Master. The divided selves, and the doubled worlds they inhabit, reunite only in death and madness. In more optimistic movies like It’s A Wonderful Life the doubling reunites around an awareness not of self-as-dead but of self-as-alive. I suspect that for Hegel the tragic and the comic resolutions are equally based on a self-deception that short-circuits a more profound, more spiritual synthesis.

Eventually Colin is assigned to find the rat in the police department who tips Costello off about impending raids. The irony is that Colin himself is the rat. I’m looking for myself, Colin tells Costello. Finally Costello gets killed, ratted out by the rat himself. Billy the undercover cop comes in out of the cold. I want my identity back, he tells Colin. I erased you, Billy tells him. Eventually everyone is erased by the ultimate Master.

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44 Comments »

  1. ktismatics says….And within each of the two characters is a divide. When he tries to discover a united, coherent self he discovers that he is simultaneously a loyal servant and a traitor, a violator of the code and a subject to the code of violation. In serving two masters does he serve no master but himself?

    My first thought is Jesus’ words that “you cannot serve two masters. Either you will love the one and hate the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

    Yet there are many Christ-followers who seem to have the best of both worlds. Who seem to be serving both God and money. Was Christ crazy? Did he draw a false dichotomy? Or perhaps he was saying that service to multiple masters fragments the self in a way that leaves one reeling and spinning, heading towards…well, heading towards death…

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 14 March 2007 @ 5:45 pm

  2. I suppose one happy strategy is to merge the two masters: the God of money, who blesses his followers with material well-being. I think a lot of people worship this God, don’t you? It’s a win-win scenario.

    Paul always drives these external master-servant relationships into the self, and the split between the old man and the new man. Probably Hegel, who went to a Protestant seminary after all, based a lot of his thinking on the New Testament. I’ve been trying to merge the old man and the new man into middle-aged man.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 March 2007 @ 6:23 pm

  3. Whereas social psychologists come up with the idea of cognitive dissonance, not so new when we consider what you wrote in this post, I don’t agree there is a problem when you are undecisive about questions.
    I think there is no need to solve all cognitive dissonance.

    Divides refer to not being one.

    There is the earthly struggles and motivation and there is the relationship to one’s belief system. But there are also external belief systems: of society.

    Does “I erased you” refer to losing oneself when participating in a belief system that is far from one’s deepest feelings and beliefs?

    I often feel divided because I can see so many aspects of reality as it happens, and I managed to incorporate many belief systems.

    Amazing how many possibilities there are to interpret this text.

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    Comment by Odile — 15 March 2007 @ 9:14 am

  4. Odile –

    When I started doctoral study of psychology, the chairman of the department told us that the key to enjoying the program was having “a tolerance for ambiguity.” I think that’s what you’re talking about. I think also it’s important to introduce ambiguity into situations that seem too clear-cut, too rigidly structured. However, I believe there a crisis can arise where you realize something that doesn’t fit in the world or in yourself, an incompatibility that you hadn’t seen before and that you are unable to reconcile. So, for example, the soldier in Vietnam who has survived day to day in a lethal world suddenly finds himself back in America. Which world is true? Which self is really me?

    In this movie, the true identity of the undercover policeman is known by only two people on the police force. One is killed, the other quits the police force. The man who replaces them is the “rat” who is really a gangster. He systematically removes information about the undercover cop from all the computer databases. “I want my identity back,” says the undercover cop — I want to return to who I was before I became a spy. “I erased you,” says the rat — I deleted all information about who you really are from the police records. From the police’s standpoint, that means the spy becomes only a criminal, with no secret identity as a policeman. So this is the story as it’s told. But as you say, Amazing how many possibilities there are to interpret this text.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 15 March 2007 @ 12:12 pm

  5. I just realized something else. “I want my identity back,” says one guy. “I erased you,” is the response. This is a direct example of Hegel’s proposition that the self depends on the other person for self-validation, making self the servant of other. If I”m not recognized by the other, then I have no identity.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 16 March 2007 @ 8:00 am

  6. John,

    I saw “The Departed” tonight. Very interesting. Leaves me with the same empty feeling I get reading (about) Deleuze. I find it interesting, in light of the moral picture presented by the film, how it presents Colin at the end of the film. He wants to pet the little doggie, but the dog nor its owner want anything to do with him. Nor does his girlfriend, who has his baby with her. Here he’s killed his Father, lost his son, and is then killed by his Nemesis, who has also been alienated from the only world he knows and values. The moral horizon in “The Departed” isn’t as open as the horizon of identity in Deleuze.

    Jason

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 9:23 am

  7. Very good analysis. The moral horizon in “The Departed” isn’t as open as the horizon of identity in Deleuze. Deleuze and Guattari contrast paranoia with schizophrenia, neurosis with psychosis, territorialization with deterritorialization, structure with flow. The Departed is definitely on the paranoiac, neurotic, territorialized, structural side of the house, but it’s slipping over to the other side. Deleuze almost romanticizes schizophrenia, turns schizoanalysis into a praxis of creativity. A more open horizon for sure, but it seems to be attainable only by leaving identity behind. Identity=sameness with itself; maybe that rigidified structure just gets in the way.

    Oh, and also related to the Baudrillard discussion, The Departed is a simulacrum, a remake of a Hong Kong film. But the whole Hong Kong genre is in part a simulacrum of a cinematic world originally created by Scorcese among others. So what we’re left with is a second-order simulacrum that’s indistinguishable from the original. When Scorcese does his remake he’s looking at himself in the mirror, wondering which image is real.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 18 March 2007 @ 10:10 am

  8. That’s freakin’ crazy about “When Scorcese does his remake he’s looking at himself in the mirror, wondering which image is real.”

    I’d like to learn more about paranoia and schizophrenia, neurosis and psychosis, terrirtorilization and deterritorilization and structure and flow.

    About identity, closing and opening:
    http://www.msu.edu/user/schmid/greece.htm
    “The palace commands a fertile plain and harbor. It has been sited in a sheltered valley with its north-south axis aimed toward a high point in the distance that is shaped like a baby’s desire. To the left, the mountain slopes down to a V cleft. The cleft is repeated in the bull’s horn sculpted at the far end of the courtyard. The king knows that ruling by fear and force only goes so far. You need some legitimation, and the strongest comes by reference to nature. What appears natural is reason for being. The natural order of the mountain is repeated in the palace design and the king is the embodiment and interpreter of the earth mother goddess.”

    The horn-shaped mountain is something that appeared at every Gk. temple sight on the horizon. The horizon itself is a bit of a limit; it gives limits to our existence (where would our existence be without that!?). But the horn-shaped mtn.s are called “cleft mountains”. They are the openings on the horizon. At the Acropolis the cleft mountains face the openings of the temple. Also at the following “temple” site of Corbusier’s (Notre Dame de Haute, at Ronchamp):

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 7:35 pm

  9. I just realized that I’ve already shown you that site on the cleft mountains. I was thinking that I had tried to post on it beofre, but it didn’t work…which did happen once, but I just saw that I posted about it on your “Scanner Darkly” post. Sorry; I was confused. But there are cleft mountains at the Ronchamp site as well…they determined where Corbusier decided to put the OPENINGS to his building.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  10. Openings, cleft mountains,… definite sexual imagery. The idea always seems to be to penetrate these openings rather than to be an opening. Western male instrumental sensibilities. Still, the whole paradigm works for me in either valence: either being the opening/portal/difference/gap/void or going into it.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 18 March 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  11. I think of the myth of Orpheus, which is definitely sexual. But I think of something deeper though that is more primal, of a “higher” or more “first” order, as well. Hence my reference to stone masonry. Which can be interpreted as sexual, particularly if nature is sexualized (heaven and earth)…Father and Mother. But somehow I think that sexuality is in imitation of something that came before, and not the other way around. In other words, everything for me doesn’t revolve around sex, but God. And sex revolves around God.

    Question. You said, “The idea always seems to be to penetrate these openings rather than to be an opening.” Please explain further. I think I see what you’re saying, but would like to hear more. I mean, at Ronchampe, you can think of it as either your own entering of the building, or you can think of the building itself as a mountain that is given openness with Light. In fact when you approach the chapel from the bottom of the mountain, it appears as like a capital of a column, like a crown, as if the mountain were the column and the chapel were the prefect little completion of it perched atop it…giving it a relation to the Light above, like the highlight on a face or the twilight in someone’s eye.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  12. Instrumental rationality, pragmatism, the will to power — these seem like masculine images; as opposed to more receptive, contemplative, responsive images which are feminine. So does a cleft mountain create an image of breasts or of female genitalia? So when you “erect” a building in view of the cleft mountain is it some kind of penetrative masculine act? On the other hand, a building is entered, so it has a femininity to it. How do these images play out?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 19 March 2007 @ 1:05 pm

  13. Oh, that! Le Corbuseir’s first mega-famouse building…everyone had lots and lots of questions, but he would only speak publicly about a small and limited number of metaphors or analogies. One primary one was that of a vessel. But yet the building definitely has a maleness to it, in its “instrumental rationality” (both functionally and for “elevation” or “edification”). Corbusier is often mis-translated in America as saying “The house is a machine for living.” He meant something more like “instrument” or “organ” than “machine”, but your point remains. “Organ” though, implies a femininity. There’s a line in a famous poem of his, “The Poem of the Right Angle”: “I recieve, and then I give.” Buildin realy does mirror sexuality and giving birth in many ways. Technology is the extension of “man”.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 19 March 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  14. Ex. – if earth is “mother” – the building process begins with violent and abrasive opening up of the earth…tearing away some dirt. This has been referred to as sacrafice as well. Then the “foundation”, the “tabula rasa” as referred to in that paper on Deleuze and Eisenman…in Gk. MEANS “placenta”. Then of course you build up. An enclosed room can have the comfort of a womb. Or a public room for gatherings can orient more outward, toward male political action in the polis for glory.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 19 March 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  15. These symbolic values are ancient, not just Freud & Jung. I’m not sure I’d look at topographic features and see sexual symbols unless I was already clued in to them. Maybe you already have to have an animistic sense about earth, sky, river, etc., then you start looking for clues as to which gender you’re dealing with.

    I have an architect friend from Hong Kong who used to work in the States. Clients would ask her to feng shui her designs. She’s not a Taoist at all — in fact she’s a direct descendant of Confucius — but she read the books and played the game even though she didn’t believe it.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 19 March 2007 @ 7:27 pm

  16. Sounds like the soul of your friend from Hong Kong must have been pretty urked, to say the least, considering her Confuciusism. Interesting that she’s an actual descendent.

    And I’m not necessarily an animist. Actually, I’ll just say I’m not. But I am a bit of a mystic. And I have a problem when the only meaning “nature” has for us is some glorified romantic version of a rich American vacation. At which point the meaning given to “nature” is really given by the stress of a work place whose meaning is totally self-contained with no reference to actual “nature”, as such. There’s so much that gets left out of the picture…much of which we’ve talked about before.

    But yeah…with Freud and Jung and their descendents…I wonder about that. How much is the meaning of “Phallus” and “Mother” in reference only to something going on in my head and in my body, or in a web of human social relations? What’s its relation to something beyond, or outside? Is all this madness (by madness here I mean some extremely questionable relation between inside and out) talk a product of itself? Deleuze’s talk of “release of flows” is probably a direct result of such a line of questioning…maybe…maybe indirectly. By “flows” maybe he’s making exactly such a reference to “nature”.

    Maybe it simply comes down to my belief in a Christian God. If I have my facts straight, Freud didn’t believe in the Fella. Lacan certainly didn’t. Deleuze certainly doesn’t, at least not in that way. But they also don’t seem to have the relationship to nature that the Greeks had. I wonder how much this loss is due to the cogitification of modernity, and how much of it is due more specifically to a religious “animism” that might be able to be attributed to the Greeks, to some degree.

    I also wonder how much of it is due simply to the closing of all the gaps…a quest for meaning related to that of the posotivists (although probably not necessarily the same thing?). “Placenta” is that stuff in a woman…what on earth does that have to do with what makes a building appear to us!?…might be such a line of questioning. And if we accept the “placenta” as having anything to do with buildings…is that because of some bigger spirit/truth outside of both human interaction and non-human beings or objects (animals, buildings, “nature”, “earth”)…or is that because of a human quest for some wholistic meaning to all of his endeavors, including both giving birth and building public communal buildings?

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 19 March 2007 @ 9:44 pm

  17. I’m sure I’m just not as in touch with nature as I should be. Mostly nature made me sneeze and wheeze as a child, so I never became very fond of it. You do wonder how insulated the European psychoanalysts were from nature, sitting in their Viennese salons. Still, perceiving meaning in the world is something we’re good at, and we are still natural beings underneath it all. So I should give more creedence to a kind of instinctive resonance with natural phenomena.

    All these ideas deserve consideration, from the ancient animists to the postiest of the postmoderns. Every thought and feeling and creation is both gravitas and levitas.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 19 March 2007 @ 10:45 pm

  18. The Dao would say that nature is the solution to your wheezing problem with nature…some harmonious counter fource or something of the sort. Us…just go inside to our self-made centralized A.C. “unit”. Then become self-contained “units” who complain about our lack of connection to nature, in various ways. I stand guilty, your honor. Besides that, go to work, one person gets a cold, and then its the “same” story for everyone at the office…”society”, lol. We are like a family. And we complain about that, too.

    And I don’t know what the positivists have to say about man as a political anmial, but “demos” in Gk. means BOTH “man” and “land”. “Both”…that’s one violation of positivist doctrine. “Resonance” – I like that word. And speaking of “repition” (Deleuze) – the columns of the Parthenon that are repeated are political figures representing the free citizen…made of “earth” (land), I mean, umm…stone.

    And are we natural beings underneath it all (Freud, I suppose), or is it all piled on top of (or extended from – McLuhan the Catholic) us who are natural beings? “Seek ye first the kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is because the Master who replaces Hegel’s when we give our will over to Him created everything.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 20 March 2007 @ 1:20 am

  19. Nature has always been both friend and enemy, a source of nourishment and of famine, of comfort and danger — this too is the Tao. Air conditioners and antihistamines are pretty darned good balancing agents. Nature underneath with culture piled on top — but as you said elsewhere, the artifice piled on top is an extension of the natural man made of all-natural ingredients.

    I think I’ll have to come back to Hegel at some point. I certainly wasn’t intending to endorse his position; I just wanted to track its mutations through modernity into the postmodern. The whole master-slave paradigm is probably a cultural artifact.

    If the master is nature I have no intention of submitting myself to it. And nature didn’t create this thing I’m typing on and that you’ll soon be reading. Even if you’re a Christian I’m not sure why you’d want to assert that God creates everything. If you’re created in the image and likeness of the Creator, then you too can create, and probably should do so in fruitful multiplicity.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 March 2007 @ 1:38 am

  20. Interesting about A.C.s and antihistamines being good balancing agents. I think maybe its a different question or issue when the “central” air conditioning is meant to be an entirely separate and enclosed system…which also drastically effects the design of the rest of the building (particularly the “envelope”). Which is I think the same issue all the postmoderns are dealing with anyway…

    “If the master is nature I have no intention of submitting myself to it.” Wait…uuhhh…I don’t understand. But you’d be happy to do so if the master was a cultural artifact? I don’t think that’s what your saying…I don’t think…I’m just asking. Well, you did say you weren’t intending to endorse Hegel’s position. But you also said that your negative emotions had to do with Hegel’s master-bondsman discourse. Which leads me back to my question of submitting to nature. Do you intend on submitting to death? That’s where things in nature are heading…?

    And I love art, and am an artist. But I don’t create anything. I make things, poesis. Nature may not have created this thing I’m typing on, but man molded its ingredients from nature (although it has come quite a distance, lol). “Silicone valley”. For me to try and reach down to some unknown shadowy abyss or up up to some white frontier and “create” someting new or novel would be maddening – literally. And I in fact DID used to think of it that way, until after my Gnosticism studies (that’s partially why I would want to think of God as Creator). I don’t think that’s what Nietche was saying…but what he was saying certainly didn’t presuppose the “Creator” I know.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 20 March 2007 @ 5:17 am

  21. I do believe that many artificial environments are created with the intention of establishing a buffer from the natural. Perhaps this was of even greater value when nature still tyrannized humanity, such that if you were wealthy enough to create a chateau you’d make it as unnatural as possible: rococo furniture, formal gardens, the wearing of wigs, and so on. I find the idea of alternate spaces appealing, personally. The idea of a “nature preserve” moves us into Baudrillard’s territory, where segmented nature now is the artifice, a protected island in an otherwise artificial reality.

    Creation is artifice, and perhaps it must be recognized as such to “count.” A bird builds a nest: is this a creation or a manifestation of locked-in instinct? I think to the bird it’s just what you do; we, on the other hand, can admire its artistry, assigning it to the created world. I disagree fundamentally that creation refers only to de novo conjuring of something physical from nothing. Territorializing nature — by arranging it into a building, say, or inventing a taxonomic system to describe it — is imposing order on raw stuff, an order that wouldn’t have happened otherwise through spontaneous natural processes. That is creation in my book — literally, too, ’cause that’s the case I make in my Genesis 1 book.

    I believe in Hebrew too the word for man — adam — is related to dirt or dust, which makes sense in light of Genesis 2.

    I do believe my own difficulties have a lot to do with master-bondsman and whether I can sustain a sense of personal plenitude without it being recognized or bestowed on me by others. The question is whether the idea of personal dominance is a paradigm that can be escaped altogether; i.e., can I just be, speak, listen, create in a way that’s engaged with others but doesn’t rely on others hearing me, agreeing with me, praising me, reading my books, etc. I think the marketplace remains enmeshed in master-bondsman: being customer-driven becomes a strategy for enslaving yourself to demand and thereby achieving financial mastery over the customer. Working for a boss also entails this sort of master-servant thing. There’s a long history of hierarchical relationships that’s hard to leave behind, but leaving it behind seems like a good idea.

    Which gets to this sense of emerging territorialization in Judeo-Christianity. In the Old Testament God is consistently territorialized as Lord; Jesus refers to God as our Father. Does there ever become another reterritorialization that avoids hierarchy altogether, where God is brother, neighbor, friend, whatever? That the whole dominance-submission paradigm is embedded in a historical era that we’d be better off leaving behind?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 March 2007 @ 11:14 am

  22. OK, I know you better now. That’s cool. Lets aknowledge that I believe in creatio ex nihilio, and you don’t (apparently), and go from there.

    1. The Bible talks about us as God’s friends and lovers.

    2. Who among us doesn’t long for a teacher, a model? Somenone to build into us, to give us a picture of a path to take? Who among us doesn’t feel lost without that? Who among us has forgetten about it or never had it and feels lost, lol? John – do you have a Father wound (I’m learning a whole new language here recently – “father wound”, lol)?

    3. So what’s your picture, then? I mean…you said you have no intention of submitting to nature…and you said that Hegel’s master bondsman discourse is probably an artifact of history (that would probably be best left behind)…it sounds like there was something “natural” embedded in the making of the artifice of Hegel’s master bondsman discourse to which you refer when you say you don’t plan on submittin to it? But that refers back to Hegel’s “absolute master”, no? To which I’m assuming you do plan on submittng.

    4. When I said I like the “mythic” meaning of creation, I meant something like the above. I observe that people seem to long for a model, teacher, mentor. I observe that Robert Venturi worked with Lou Kahn, and then W.G. Clark worked with Robert Venturi, and then my professor worked with W.G. Clark (my professor and W.G. Clark are about the same age, I think), and then I was taught by my professor. So to me I look to something original to give meaning to these observations.

    Master-bondsman might be partially artificial, but there might also be something behind it. This I think is part of the original ancient notion of taxonomy in which the world is One. I’ve heard of a theologian (forgot the name) who counts the work of human hands as not so separate from the work of God. But that’s different from counting the work of human hands AS the possible future emergence of God.

    Besides, when I said I like the “mythic” meaning I partially just meant mythic in contrast to the literal or scientific meaning, which I do not like so much.

    5. It seems that there is a tension in you between your individuality and your longing for community. And they are related to each other, of course. I think it was you who talked about Heidegger and how our relation to our death is a purely individual relationship. You seem to have a little of that in how you desribe your hoped-for lack of dependence on others. But Heidegger wasn’t much fun at parties; and we all have a longing for true community, true love of sorts, trust, friendship, connection. Why is THAT? What is the meaning of this observation? Part of God’s covenant with Abraham…so we are talking about what is written into the sacred scripture of the world here…is that Abraham would be gathered together unto his people.

    Where are we left without dependence or interdependence on others and yet a longing for true communion, if in fact that longing is in some way “natural”?

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 20 March 2007 @ 4:30 pm

  23. And wait…mister mister…besides all that…didn’t you say yesterday that you feel like you aren’t connected enough to nature?

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 20 March 2007 @ 5:19 pm

  24. 1. Right; various relationships are put forward between man and God in Scripture, many of them incompatible with each other on the surface. It gives you a sense that God can be whatever you need Him to be.

    2. God as teacher is also a good relational arrangement. Does student/teacher necessarily imply servant/lord? My best relationships with teachers were ones where there was no question that the teacher was master of the material but not necessarily master of the students. Then again I’ve always been someone who learned better from the books than from the teacher. Father wound? Maybe, although it was my mother who was the teacher. One of the things she taught me, and that I’ve taught my daughter: the teacher isn’t always right. I do, however, respect expertise and ability and would gladly learn from them.

    3. I guess I like Heidegger’s framing of it better: the human condition is intrinsically mortal. Is death my master if I’m aware of its presence and its inevitability, but I both fear and resist it, if knowing there’s an end motivates me to attempt certain things before I get there, while at the same time recognizing the futility of such a gesture? I’m not sure whether there’s master/bondsman involved here — it’s certainly not that personal, as if death were somebody. It’s like gravity — an impersonal force that pulls you down to the grave.

    4. Mythic meaning — I spent a long time here and elsewhere trying to thrash out what myth means in the context of truth. In my “literal” reading of Genesis 1 God is a teacher explaining the universe to somebody who writes it down. So I’m perfectly willing to go with that idea: the creator creates an understanding of things, teaches it to a student, the student adds a little wrinkle to it and passes it on to his student, etc. etc. It’s how architecture works, and science, and philosophy, and just about anything else that on a human scale we’d call creative; i.e., adding to the cumulative artifice of human culture.

    5. Individual in community: I would like to see this work. Interdependence and independence: yes. I worry that too often individual in community = herd of narcissists. Again, I’m not that upbeat of a character. A cynic is a disappointed idealist, they say.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 March 2007 @ 6:44 pm

  25. 1. Either God can be whatever or whoever we need Him to be, or our being His friend and love is why we are each others’ friends and lovers. The things that distinguish one interpretation from the other are things like the Cross, the Year of Jubilee, the prohibition of idolatry, care for the poor, the “paradigm of brokenness”…things like that. These things, as I see them as Revelations, are different from my deeply seeded annoyance with the world’s lack of acceptance of my gifts.

    2. “My best relationships with teachers were ones where there was no question that the teacher was master of the material but not necessarily master of the students.” This sounds modern, and easily fits in with modernity’s abstraction of personal, intimate and relational things as they appear to us (uumm…”concrete”). Jesus is “personal”. And I think this gets at our need to be a person…again, first because he is personal and not because that’s what we want.

    3. See above. I myself generally think pretty figuratively. Partially because I’m a poet, and partially because of who God is to me. This is what Carl and I have been discussing at Churchandpomo, I think.

    4. I came across your blog really just as you were finishing up that discussion on the interpretations of Genesis. Maybe I should go back through it. It sounds to me though like how you are explaining “literal” is compatible with how I think of mythic, at least to a degree (although, again, see above about God’s being whatever we need Him to be). I think of the problem with “literal” coming into play when “on the first day” necessarily means what we now think of as “one day” when we write “one day” on a sheet of paper. Case closed, meaning defined. No opening(s). Literacy draws on the distinction between the balck and white on the page. Mythic oracles speak from a well whose source goes down deeper than the range of our vision. Maybe we’re speaking across each other about different things?

    5. Narcissus…see my “freedom shines” comment I just left. Me? I’m a screwed-up Christian who believes in the fulfillment (although I myself typically suck at it…am working on that!…slowly). You actually seem pretty good at it…although I wonder (? – NOT trying to push or pry) if you’re telling me what you think I want to hear sometimes…to your own detriment…which is different from healthy community (but great for ME, lol). WAIT…when I say “telling me what I want to hear”…I don’t mean that you are just making crap up just to appease me, but that you are…just a little too much for ease’s sake maybe…weighing what you are saying more on the side of not disrupting my feathers too much and holding back how radical and different what you have to say actually is (I often either do that or the COMPLETE opposite…both unhealthy). Anyway…but I do think of the fulfillment of community as very related to the fear of or freedom from death.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 20 March 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  26. Is God anyone we want him to be because He’s God and really can be anyone, or because we are able to project our imaginings and fears outward onto a territory we call “God”? When our imaginings and fears change, the territory projected onto the God-screen changes too: from creator, to other, to lord, to father, to lover, to brother, to self. Image and likeness says Genesis 1, setting up the two poles of who God is to man: totally other yet identical. Every other image of God finds a point on the continuum between these poles. And perhaps there’s the inner relationship of self to self: I am myself; I am totally other than myself.

    Jesus does it too. “Son of man” he consistently calls himself: “son of adam” in Hebrew; his father is Adam. But his father is also God. The resolution: he is man; he is God. He presents himself as the firstborn of the god-men who are both to themselves and to one another.

    As for the Genesis 1 thing, you might want to look at the page titled “An Alternative Literal Reading of Genesis 1,” over on the upper right of the blog. It’s a brief intro to where I go in much greater detail elsewhere.

    So yesterday my wife Anne and I had lunch with a couple who go to her church. I’m that guy on the left, yelling and cursing, putting his jacket on to leave, having to be persuaded to stay. Community? My Ph.D. is in Community Psychology. They say you study what you’re troubled with. The issue, by the way, was the other guy’s insistence on reducing every interesting possibility to marketplace and money.

    So you’re saying you don’t want to hear what I’m telling you? Here, how about this: I look for community on a high bridge rather than on common ground. So I’ll trot out possibilities like Caputo’s God of the weak force as a wobbly plank that might support a few people’s walking across the abyss together. You might entertain the weak force as a subset of the strong force, whereas I’d do it as something slightly more than nothing. Or my literal reading of Genesis 1: can Christians live with a God that might not have had anything to do with creating the physical stuff of the universe, a God who could make sense of the things that surround him, a God who could teach this sense-making ability to others? Then maybe there’s a point of agreement, even if we can’t agree about what that God is like. Can’t buy the idea that God didn’t make stuff ex nihilo? Well can you buy the idea that he also created the words for the stuff of the universe, that those words are recorded in Genesis 1 to show God as creator of cognitive-linguistic signifying systems that map onto the universe? That sort of thing. Otherwise we have to fight it out over whether God is or is not.

    Is this an unhealthy approach? I dunno. I’m trying to focus on the content rather than the people. I do try to adapt the way I express myself and the concepts I use to the people I’m talking to. Sometimes it doesn’t work; sometimes the edges of my own idiosyncratic point of view get blurred. Sometimes if things aren’t going well I relapse into attack and withdrawal. Basing what one says on smoothing versus disrupting feathers seems like another variant of the servant-master dichotomy, to which I admit I’m susceptible. Can there instead be individuals who as equal co-workers try to build the rickety high bridge?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 21 March 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  27. Good stuff…again, I’ll have to get back to you. Same on your comment on my “Freedom Shines” blog. These conversations have gone to very interesting places.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 21 March 2007 @ 3:20 pm

  28. 1. I’m glad you got rid of the whole numbers 1-5 thing. Lol. OK, uummm, moving on without freakin’ numbers…

    I’ll have to get to the liberal Genesis stuff tonight or tomorrow probably.

    As for your dinner, I’m left handed, so in my head you’re on my right. Except I’d be yelling and cursing too, so, well, you’re on my left. I have a feel for what you’re saying, for sure; but I’d be interesting in hearing specifically which possibilities he wanted to reduce to money and market. You need money to build a church, right! (That should get your gourd, ha ha…damn sure would get mine…what you need money for is to kill a church, shit) – speaking of side places – Anyway…

    “So you’re saying you don’t want to hear what I’m telling you?” I think this was comedic, cause then you proceeded to write your longest paragraph to me yet. I HOPE it was comedic, because I actually did want to hear it.

    And “the idea that he also created the words for the stuff of the universe, that those words are recorded in Genesis 1 to show God as creator of cognitive-linguistic signifying systems that map onto the universe” is very interesting. I don’t know if I would put it quite like that. I mean, what of Sanscrit, which isn’t even dead like Latin, like underground; but like gone, vacumous, empty, unknown? But like I hinted at earlier, I think of the works of the “hands” (mouths) of man as not so separate from the work of the “hands” (mouth) of God. People think that only (true) prophets speak from the mouth of God, but then where is God in the babbling brook of the mouth of drunk Britney wondering whether the problem is that empty bottle of Vodka or her own inherent retardation? He’s still “present”…and even speakING. But I don’t think I’d say He “created” the words for Britney to speak, the way He “created” “earth” for a man to make a chair. He’s only “not with her” in the specific sense that He’s not destructive, in the sense that the destruction itself of her specific and particularly-timed-and-placed path doesn’t belong to who He ultimately is.

    I mean, for me the idea of God is so tied to the idea of origins…a map is obviously not original. Although its obviously connected to that which is. Of course some would say that the map makes the territory. And I’d say that to a degree, or in a sense it does, for sure. But this is why I was asking on my just-now-posted “Freedom Shines” comment about the Ground. I don’t think there’s anything special or not special about believing in God or gods. It was something that, when there was still a Ground, was taken for granted. And I don’t think of that as a cultural condition. I thikn of the LOSS of the ground…and of God with it…as a motion that either is the same motion as or fits in with the motion of man’s over-extension of himself into his totalizing technologies. The Ground remains, as does God the gods, in the same relationships with each other as before. Its all the same as it ever was.

    I think of Borges’ parable as a good encompassing of all this. Of course the Empire goes to ruins; everyone is enamored with the daang map. But if the map is weathered and tattered and sitting over off to the side in the wilderness, would we rather be on it and with it, consoling it; or would we rather be rebuilding the Empire?

    Whether or not there is a God is not my fight. We can agree that God gives meaning…sort of. But its just different for us. I mean, you don’t really actually think of “God” as the giver of meaning…its a speculative imagining, like a thought-experiment, a la Umberto Echo’s fun travels (no really, I really do enjoy them immensely). Am I wrong there (or grossly oversimplifying)? They can give meaning, for sure. Not only do I enjoy the travels, but I get a lot out of them. But they don’t give ground(ing).

    And speaking of Grounds…I don’t know enough about Caputo…but it sounds like…as with Deleuze who has to go around his modern elbo to get to his post/pre modern ass…Caputo is simply talking about God’s presence in and through “weak” relationships between actual and very complex and very broken human beings who die. I definitely like that. But I’m not sure if that’s what he’s really getting at; and I THINK that’s what you’re getting at (sort of), in terms of community. Which leads me to…

    “Sometimes if things aren’t going well I relapse into attack and withdrawal.” That’s my general mode, if I’m not paying attention..if, I suppose, I’m not “self-conscious”, “one” might say. But how can there be community without Ground…community that isn’t organless, amorphous and propogation of the problem? I suppose this is where the value of morality comes in. But then is morality then self-referential just as is the artificial system; does morality become an artificial system? From here, I suppose, we find the value of Pragmatism? But this is my problem with Pragmatism; it has no power to say anything about the bigger things beyond itself (particularly death). And ultimately our value system would in fact be determined by something beyond itself (as Pragmatism states, I think).

    For the sake of clarity…the way I see it…modernity’s special authoritative focus on “ideas” or “truths” instead of actual people was a step in the direction of the loss of the ground; and it was a step initiated with the Romans with their “rule of law” (and their philosophies), unless it was actually initiated long before that without my knowledge. This truth that I hold is why Locke’s tribal-like flag in the dirt relational struggle is interesting to me. Modernity was a project…but it was in the works.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 21 March 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  29. “…liberal Genesis stuff…” – slip of the tongue (finger?). Lol.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 21 March 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  30. I asked what you meant by the Ground on your blog. Is it the foundation on which man builds? I think the foundation is still there if you mean the material universe and humanity as a biological species. I think man has built up so much culture that it’s become nearly impossible to say what’s instinctive versus what’s learned. Besides which, I think a lot of what culture does is both extend man’s natural abilities and to compensate for certain built-in weaknesses. So I suppose I’m more interested in what we can build on the foundation than in getting back to the foundation itself. For example, I wouldn’t want to rely on built-in evolutionary criteria for making ethical decisions or dietary choices. I’d rather impose cultural criteria for overriding the foundational biases.

    Returning to the original discussion of master-slave, is this hierarchical relationship foundational to the way humans interact with each other? Even if it is, do we say that since it’s biologically foundational to human relationships, we ought to enshrine it in our laws? Aristotle did: he said that the purpose of non-Greeks is fulfilled by their being Greek slaves. Locke did: he said that personal liberty is a property that belongs to the strongest in battle. The Old Testament Law regulates it: right after the Ten Commandments in Ex. 20, you get the “eleventh commandment in Ex. 21 — If you buy a Hebrew servant… I’d say we can do better by recognizing that this human tendency to enslave his brothers, be it genetic or cultural, ought to be rejected as unjust. Some parts of the foundation add support, others are unstable; it’s our job to make the best infrastructure we can.

    Ideas or people? I think if you’re creating an idea, then you focus on the idea. If you’re creating a relationship, you focus on the other person. Pragmatic hybrids like laws have to focus on both. The right tool for the job.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 22 March 2007 @ 1:46 pm

  31. What do I mean by Ground? OK, I think I’ve mentioned that Le Corbusier feared Michelangelo, because Michelangelo had a ground which was the last of the ground that our Western society has seen, known or heard from. So let me see if I can elaborate a bit.

    Here are a couple of Michelangelo examples…of the work of a man living just on the threshold of ground-no grond:

    The Medici Chapel – can serve as sort of a general introduction or doorway into what I mean. Check out the tomb itself. The figures on it appear to be contentedly about to fall off. And this isn’t just because its a tomb. Sarchophogi from previous times didn’t look like they were about to explode. And you can’t really see it so well in this photo, but if you see up close photos of the figures in the very corner of the room, the portalic/window figures and the accompanying columnar/base/capital figures…but speaking of “type”…those figures leave the impression as well that they are about to explode. But they haven’t yet. There’s still a togetherness about them. Also note the scrolls on top of the tomb itself on which the human statue figures sit. Scrolls always present the possibility of being rolled up or unrolling. Here they appear relatively content rolled part way just the way they are.

    Another Michelangelo example, on the threshold between ground and noground.

    Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library. Carrying on from above, note the scrolls. They leave the same impression. Overall the general impression is the same. Its like Michelangelo is saying, “Hey guys, things are starting to go wacky here, to fall apart (political upheaval and the invention of perspective as two examples); so watch out. There a large whackyness potential in us humans, partially due to the great power embedded in our souls, and partially just because of the capability of our minds, so…watch it.” Additionally, note that IF there were a whole lot of scrolls as part of architectural compositions prior to Michaelangelo, they either weren’t as prominent, or didn’t seem to stick out so much from the rest of the composition and say, “Hey guys, I’m about to come unraveled.”

    Keep in mind as I say these things about the relatinship between mind and body that writing is a top-down exercise.

    My next example is St. Peters. I’ll assume you know what the interior looks like. The folks mostly responsible for St. Peters and its interior were exactly one genration after Michelangelo. There things aren’t about to fall apart, but they have fallen apart. Things are whacky. Here’s a link, though, showing an image of the “plan”. http://www.scholarsresource.com/images/thumbnails/192/m/mib0900.jpg

    Interestingly the darker square portion at the top of the image was designed originally by Michelangelo. A generation later it was extended to accomodate for the growing predominace of the influence of “perspective” and modern science. Additionally, in Michelangelo’s design, the courts around the building were pretty much just a bigger square around it. Now its a big ellipse in front of the building (meant to apporximate or replicate the scientifically known motions of the heavens)…for the “view” of the “facade” of the building (now having taken on new significance after first apepearing on the scene, interestingly, right about the time of Giotto)…with an Egyptian funeral obilisk in the middle of it.

    Additionally, the next generation of architecture after Michelangelo saw a great increase in the predominace and animated appearance of the scroll as an architecutral element.

    Either that or you ended up with funny “literal” things like this:

    Anyway, eventually then we ended up with the following kinds of wackyness:

    And yet just ONE generation prior to Michelangelo was this:

    It seems to happily and contedly bored to us now! Lol. But in reality its just so anti Soap Opera. Soap Operas feed off of things falling-apart the way a dog goes back to its vomit.

    Interestingly, the corresponding developments in painting to the above story go like this: Brunelleschi designed the Duomo the generation before Michelangelo; then the famous paintings to come out of Michelangelo’s generation are the anonymous “Ideal City” paintings, great perspectives wich only have, however, humans as little shadows far away down on the ground; then the generation after Michelangelo saw humans in the foreground of perspective paintings, mostly in the context of making a political statement in a great attempt to find something to hold onto.

    A lot of the above probably requires some translation in order to relate it to your previous comments or questions, but this comment is already WAY long, and from your past readings of my comments, I have a feeling I’d be wasting my finger-typing energy anyway. Not to mention that I’d be giving away the blind-spots in my knowledge field, lol.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 23 March 2007 @ 9:27 pm

  32. I just tried to post a big huge long post and explanation, but I don’t think it worked. So I’m going to have to come back to this later. Crap.

    OK, I’ll just do a way shorter version with fewer links and see if you connect the dots and know what I’m talking about when I refer to certain architectural works:

    Michelangelo living in the threshold time between ground and no-ground. As I’ve mentioned, Le Corbusier was afraid of Michelangelo becasue of his ground, as someone said to me once.


    Michelangelo’s Medici chapel. Here things leave an “about to fall apart” or explode impression (speaking of type). Note the scrolls on top of the tomb itself on which the figures lay or sit. Writing is top-down, remember.

    http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/arts/Architec/RenaissanceArchitecture/RenaissanceBaroqueArchitecture/
    MichelangeloBuonarroti/micha6.jpg
    Same thing, basically.

    Now, I’ll assume you know what St. Peter’s is like. I’ll provide a link for the “plan”:

    The folks responsible for St. Peter’s were one genration after Michelangelo. Interestinly, in that drawing, the darker square at the top is Michelangelo’s design. His cours around the building were basically a bigger square. Instead what’s there now is a building itself that is extended further out and has a “facade” to accomodate for the growing significance of perspective (invented the genration prior to Michelangelo) and modern science. The couryard – situated out front for a “view” of the “facade” (having now taken on new significance since first appearing on teh scene around the time of Giotto) – is a big ellipse, as a projection of the paths of the heavenly bodies as known by the new science onto what appears to us. In the middle of the ellipse is a big Egyptian funearary obelisk!

    Soon thereafter we ended up with funny things like this:

    As I said, note the scrolls. Now much more predominant and animated.

    Either that or we ended up with funny “literal” things like this:

    Anyway, after things had fallen apart well and good, we ended up with the following kinds of whackiness:

    And lets go back to just ONE generation prior to Michelangelo:

    It seems to contentedly bored, lol! But in reality its just not interested in the animation of the Soap Opera, which goes back to things falling apart like a dog to its vomit. Also interestingly, it was Brunelleschi who designed the Duomo…and invented perspective.

    So speaking of perspective, lets track the developments in painting in relation to the above story. So, Brunelleschi invented perspective. One generation later, Michelangelo’s genration, the famous paintings were the mostly-anonymous Ideal City paintings, with humans only far far away and way down there little shadows down on the ground. At eye level of the painting, however, is the “vanishing point”, or “point of flight.” One generation later saw the emergence of the human being into the foreground of the perspective painting, mostly to political ends as a great last ditch effort to hold things together.

    So…part of what I mean by the existence or sighting of a Ground is a truth that exists prior to the argument between nature and nurture, God and atheism (it was just a matter of which God/god you wroshipped, the image you had before you that you followed after)…as part of the very thing that makes civilization/”a city” (now lost, gone, kaput, “in flight”) what it is. Although I’d be interested in hearing more about “I wouldn’t want to rely on built-in evolutionary criteria for making ethical decisions or dietary choices. I’d rather impose cultural criteria for overriding the foundational biases.” Sounds like there’s a lot there of which I’m not necessarily entirely aware?

    As for master-slave…??? But see my last paragraph. Also, I would note that the troubles in the O.T. came not when the kings were such, but when the went worshiping Baal and Astare, or murdering their 70 half-brothers, and such things as that.

    Sorry, some of that might have sounded a bit abrupt or short. It was the second time around…I’m at work…my fingers actually hurt…I’m a little annoyed that the first one didn’t work (but not at you).

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 23 March 2007 @ 9:34 pm

  33. OK, a bit more explanation. For one, when I said “see if you connect the dots” between what I’m saying about architecture and your own language, my assumption was that you would. You usually do.

    Now…ground…”you can see things that I cannot”, as you said…imagine a couple of detectives come to a woman’s home to discuss with her the murder of her husband. In their mind she is a suspect, and she knows that she didn’t do it, but she also knows she’s a suspect. Of course at the same time she’s totally emotional and distraught that her husband was murdered. The detectives’ and woman’s experience of that conversation will be quite different. But everything about every aspect or nuance of each person’s experience in that situation will owe something to how man is “beautifully and wonderfully made” from the beginning…”in the image of God.”

    So, to a degree, by Ground I do mean “the material universe and humanity as a biological species.” But minus the evolutionary connotation. That story about the woman and the detectives was to illustrate a particular point…not to have universal significance, BTW.

    Additionally, for another aspect of what I mean by Ground, check out Judges 13. That has a lot to do with how I think of “the ground above and the ground below. “As the flames leapt up from the altar to heaven, God’s angel also ascended in the altar flames. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell facedown to the ground. Manoah and his wife never saw the angel of God again.”

    “Manoah said to the angel of God, ‘Please, stay with us a little longer; we’ll prepare a meal for you—a young goat.’ God’s angel said to Manoah, ‘Even if I stay, I won’t eat your food. But if you want to prepare a Whole-Burnt-Offering for God, go ahead—offer it!’ Manoah had no idea that he was talking to the angel of God.” “…You will be like unto the angels. You will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Nor will you die.” Implication…you won’t NEED to eat to live. Necessity is death…”that which is inevitable.”

    So, when I make reference to Hegel’s Absolute Master and to the angel’s ascenstion in the fire, I am speaking about God’s relationship to “nature” and “the elements”, to how we are made. Gravitas and Levitas. But in the context of what is SENSIBLE and not in the context of what is logical and scientifically known.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 24 March 2007 @ 7:57 am

  34. The contours along which Florence’s Duomo holds together, or along which Michelangelo’s works look like they are about to explode, or along which Baroque architecture is coming apart at the seams appear on the faces of the buildings themselves, but also in the “attribues” (to quote Deleuze, sort of) that make man, or in the elemental make-up of the cosmos. Where’s the joint or gap between Gravitas and Levitas? It’s on the horizon! Which is exactly where the “point of flight” is in perspective! Architecture is either a void or a joint between heaven and earth.

    Void:

    then same building from a different angle

    (Caltrans building, by the infamous Thom Maine)

    Joint:

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 24 March 2007 @ 8:13 am

  35. One more thing: when humans came into the foreground of perspective painting, the vanishing point disappeared. We disappeared into it.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 24 March 2007 @ 9:01 am

  36. Keep in mind that Gnosticsm appeared on the scene soon after the Romans had conquered the whole of the known world in their own speical fashion unlike that of Alexander. The Greeks were anthropocentric, but not Gnostic. Even those initiated in the Eleusinian mysteries…that wasn’t Gnosticism. It was more like a sub-politic of folks with a shared “ethos”, you might say…an “ethos” being critical to the grounding upon which a city stands or falls. Sodom and Gomorrah…Jeruselem…

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 24 March 2007 @ 9:09 am

  37. So I’m trying to let the Ground settle around me as I look at the images and read the words. The Ground physically seems solid, but with some sort of “joint” with the sky. The joint is an overlap, or interpenetration, of spirit and matter. Or rather this is some intermingled substance that is later separated into layers by some kind of modern engine. The Soap Opera is what, the human participation and eventual domination of the joint, the sense that humanity is the self-transcending? But there was a return to a Greco-Roman soap opera, the heroes who tricked the wicked and fickle gods and became masters. And this return, this rebirth, is the beginning of the end a golden medieval age that’s Christian with somber and stately Greek overtones but no self-transcendence or intermediate Gnostic sedimentary layers. The Ground is a human place that expects and welcomes superlunary beings but doesn’t try to build a Tower of Babel to meet them or aspire to other forms of ascendancy. But this medieval age also reaches back to an ancient age not just of Greece but also of Israel and Ur and a world that understood the horizon as a meeting-place visited from above. Somewhere close, anyway?

    And master-bondsman constitutes some sort of blurring of the horizon, or perhaps a drastic flattening whereby small relative differences among the mere earthlings becomes magnified as the humans step into the foreground and the sky, the home of the real lords, disappears from view?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 March 2007 @ 4:03 pm

  38. Amen. Praise the Lord.

    Interestingly, Isreal spoke of unjust and oppressive rulering powers as mountains. “…the faith to move mountains…”

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 24 March 2007 @ 6:26 pm

  39. Shall I look to the hills from whence cometh my help? No: my help cometh from the Lord, who rules heaven and earth — including the hills.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 24 March 2007 @ 7:07 pm

  40. Amen. Praise the Lord. Give glory to the Lord almighty.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 25 March 2007 @ 1:48 am

  41. Well, at least I’m seeing some of where you’re coming from.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 25 March 2007 @ 2:46 am

  42. :)

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 25 March 2007 @ 5:00 am

  43. My thanks to ktismatics for the comment on my blog post on “The Departed” in relation to Chomsky’s views on US foreign policy –

    http://nice-jours.blogspot.com

    which is also at:

    http://www.eurotrib.com/?op=displaystory;sid=2007/4/8/152244/3726

    where it got a lot more comments – but I suspect that it and the comments on it there will be of little interest to the people who post comments here.

    I recomend “Why Freud was wrong” Richard Webster,

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Freud-Was-Wrong-Psychoanalysis/dp/0951592254/

    and

    “Intellectual Impostures” by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intellectual-Impostures-Alan-Sokal/dp/1861976313

    As for Christianity – try Nietzsche :-)

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    Comment by Ted — 12 April 2007 @ 9:04 pm


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