Monday, July 2, 2012

the pleasure of obscure circular elegance

illustration by leif parsons


interesting piece by jim holt for the stone in new york times.

according to holt, following novelist evelyn waugh, literature is "the right use of language," and must exhibit "lucidity, elegance and individuality." he then defines elegance as "the quality in a work of art which imparts direct pleasure." am not so sure how to neatly fit "direct pleasure" with elegance. there are so many things not necessarily elegant that elicit direct pleasure.

while holt goes for the elegance of analytic philosophy. i prefer the redundant obscurity of german idealism.

like in w. f. hegel: isn't this cogitation darkly pleonastic
The Idea can be comprehended as Reason, as the Subject-Object, as the unity of the ideal and the real, the finite and the infinite, the soul and the body; as the possibility that holds its actuality in itself, and thus as that whose "nature" can only be grasped as "existing."  (...) The Idea is itself the dialectic which eternally keeps the self-identical apart from the different, the subjective from the objective, the finite from the infinite, the soul from the body, and precisely because of this dialectic is eternal creativity, eternal vitality, and eternal Spirit.
how about this circular brainy morsel by hegel's friend (and later rival) f. w. schelling, on reflection
If reflection is expected to restore the finite particular to the All from which it has been derived, it recognizes the nature of its task, though it does not know how to bring it about; it does not comprehend that in this renewed dissolution what is being restored will lose precisely what reflection had obtained only through and in the process of disjunction. For reflection, then, this identity of the finite with the infinite remains a mere synthesis and no genuine dissolution of one into the other. 
care for one more, by schelling's teacher, the alleged atheist, master of self-awareness, j. g. fichte?
The self posits itself, and by virtue of this mere self-assertion it exists; and conversely, the self exists and posits its own existence by virtue of merely existing. It is at once the agent and the product of action, what is active and what the activity brings about. Action and deed are one and the same.
i could go on, but as with acquired tastes, prefer to leave you wishing for -more of- this kind of obscure teutonic elegance.

nota bene: no wonder that brilliant cold-blooded misogynist from königsburg, immanuel kant, always argued that the self cannot be an object of awareness. this is why: to make the subject (self) an object of categories is to reason redundantly since it is this very subject that makes it possible for anything to be the object of the categories, kind of self is selfhood, a kantian insight that unraveled the romantic revolution in philosophy.