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Showing posts from August, 2006

The First Aporia: Absurd Love

For Jan and Sands, Ryan and Malen


"What seems easier than to let a being be just the being that it is? Or does this turn out to be the most difficult of tasks, particularly if such a project -- to let a being be as it is -- represents the opposite of the indifference that simply turns its back upon the being itself. We must turn towards the being, think about it in regard to its Being, but by such a thinking at the same time let it rest upon itself in its way to be."

Heidegger


An old song says thus:

If you truly love someone, set her free
If she comes back to you, she was yours all along
If she doesn't, it wasn't meant to be. All the three lines are as intriguing as they are confusing; each one is as difficult as the other, the other as ambiguous as the next.

Yet when seen closely, each line begins with an 'If.' It would then be easy to recognize the three statements as 'if and then' statements. Logic clearly says that 'if such and such' is the case -…

Love's Idolatry

For the sleek black cat

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."The Song "Nature Boy"


What does it mean to truly love someone?

Can love even be talked about or learned or known to begin with?

For 'to love' easily means to be loved. Hoping to be and being loved in return is just about tantamount to loving the Other -- the other side of love's token or coin. For what kind of love is this if it passess through a 'one-way street;' when it sacrifices its self to an idol on a pedestal which does not gaze back (it never can), does not see the lover (it never could) and refuses to receive the gifts or offerings the lover bestows on its feet (it never will)?

The idolatry of love: looking at and loving that which does not receive one's gaze and love; or more so, being unable to re-flect light (like a mirror) for the lover to at least experience being seen as well as to finally be loved as well.

Yet is the idolatry o…

The Eternal Recurrence of Pain

For the Essayist
who is a kindred soul


"A person who wishes to begin a good life should be like a man
who draws a circle. Let him get the center in the right place
and keep it so and the circumference will be good."
Meister Eckhart



In a letter dated 22 January 2001, the Essayist wrote:

I'm sorry to hear about you and your girlfriend. The loss of a love is really difficult, and no amount of wise words can heal such pain. What helped me during my own moments of pain was the plain belief that God was watering me, like a plant, making me bigger, stronger and more beautiful.

There is always a certain amount of sadness in my heart when I read your journal. I sense very much the weight on your shoulder with the many roles you play. I sense the deep confusion you have regarding the very essence of what and who your are. I sense you grappling with difficult questions that even I in my 'old age' have not managed to answer. Again what keeps me saf…

The Madness of Revenge

For the Teacher


"In the sleep of reason monsters come out"

(?)


If you have noticed, almost every action hero's first step would be a step toward revenge.

Take the Count of Monte Cristo as an example. Betrayed and imprisoned, the protagonist has all but one star that guided him through the endless nights inside his cramped cell: revenge to those who ridiculed and got him there in the first place. All his erudtion in both mind and body were oriented to just one single goal: how to show them that they messed with the wrong man.

The protagonist who keeps on running in "The Minority Report" also went to lead 'pre-crime' to its glory days because of one single personal experience of his only son being taken away from him without a trace. Hidden behind such an altruistic dedication to fight crime even before it happens was the worm in his heart that sought revenge for the one who erased his son's face away and placed it into mere bytes and sound clips in his h…

The Evil Riddle

For Bhon


"Why is there something rather than nothing?"

Nihil est sine rationis
(Nothing is without reason.)

Leibniz


Have we ever really pondered upon the question of evil? Its matter or lack of it; it's origin or destination?

Much ink has been spilled and much rhetoric has fallen on deaf ears throughout history to respond (for one can only respond to, and be unable answer, a riddle if one is inside it's paradoxical limits) to the problem (and not the question) concerning evil. Yet have we ever really responded to what evil calls for thought, thought through what it shows as it hides in the dead of night?

To be sure, philosophers and theologians and poets and lay men from Ausustine to Ricoeur and from students to my parents have tried to 'explain' whence comes evil and whither it goes.

Augustine said that it was a non-being (absence of good and God). Ricoeur said it is the 'fault' of men who, abandoned by God to be the mortals that they are, have absolute free…

Just When I Knew the Answer, They Changed the Question

For the Ents
who will someday come too late



"In the midst of winter,
I finally leanred there was in me
an invincible summer."

Albert Camus


Much has been said about the enlightened soul which goes out to the light coming from Plato's allegorical cave.

Alone and courageous enough not only to enter a bright new world but to leave everything he knew behind -- from the shadows to his friends and loved ones in the dark -- the one who escapes the bondage of darkness will always be the leading star among the cast of fools ("The Truman Show") , and shall always be the epitome or example of the wayfarer, the sojourner who seeks in order to find the Truth.

Yet have we ever thought thoroughly enough about those that the star or the traveller will always leave in the dark, shall always leave behind?

We, the ordinary folks with simple and bureaucratic lives (Marcel), unfortunately will never get the chance to be the brightest star or the bravest soul. Perhaps we with our penchant …

The Outstanding

For the Poet


"So our human life but dies down to its root,
and still puts forth its green blade to eternity."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

In "Decreation," (Common Knowledge 8:1, pp.188 - 203)) Anne Carson meditates on a fragment coming from Sappho -- the seventh century Greek poet of love who hailed from the island of Lesbos. In that broken fragment 31 preserved by Longinus, Sappho says:

He seems to me equal to gods that man
whoever he is opposite you
sits and listens close
to your speaking

and lovely laughing -- oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me

no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead, or almost
I seem to me.

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty. . . .While Carson first draws the figure of the triangle of jealousy -- coming from the Greek zelos or "…

[A Response to "On Tears"]

Brother Logos wrote:
Tears, in themselves, are neutral. On the purely physiological level, even animals shed tears (which is why the crocodile cries but does not weep and for that matter, the hyena howls but does not laugh).Perhaps what gives tears their value is that they are ours, and that each drop contains the very meaning of being human. Tears accompany both birth and death, marriage and divorce. They are never only for joy or sorrow, but also for relief or frustration, anger or loneliness, sometimes all of these at the same time.What lends credence to our tears, what gives them sanctity, is the fact that we are not the only ones who weep. Much has been said about the scandal of God becoming human, but what many miss is that the incarnation not only humiliates the divine but also sanctifies the human. "Nothing human is foreign to Him;" not our angers and frustrations, not our joys and hopes, and most certainly, not our tears.Tears purge us, renew us. What we think might …

On Tears

For my brother Agammemnon
who knows when to laugh
and laughs when he knows


"The world is a comedy to those that think,
a tragedy to those that feel --
a solution of why Democritus laughed and
Heraclitus wept."

Horace Walpole


"The tree of life is watered by tears of sorrow."

from Peanuts



The Philosopher wrote somewhere that the ability to laugh differentiates man from other beings.

Of course Aristotle's more popular and dogmatic 'definition' of man (where to define means to distinguish clearly from others much like a sculptor giving a statue its form and thereby knowing its limits or boundaries and ergo its possibilities) is that man's being is to be an animal which has reason; thus we have the Latin animale rationale and the more scientific (and recent) homo sapiens. Therefore, without too much fanfare and with earnest seriousness, Aristotle and the tradition's answer to Kant's fourth question -- What is the human? -- is a simple admission of a fact th…

A Death Wish

For the SMART Loraine


"So death, the most terrifying of ills, is nothing to us, since so long as we exist, death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist. It does not concern either the living or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more."

Epicurus, "Letter to Menoeceus"


"Philosophy is learning how to die."

Plato, Phaedo



We imagine not so much what happens to us when we die but what happens to those we leave and love when we do say the last goodbye.

That was the matter that was thought of last night over the quattro formaggio pizza and cold drinks: what happens to the ones 'left behind' when one dies? More interestingly and with much accuracy, the question was a question between two questions: 'Who shall go to one's wake?' or 'Who shall cry?'

The interesting (because unanimous) decision made upon the matter was that the former question was of utmost importance to men while for the ladies th…

On Asking Names

For Jaime S.
whose name I knew today and
who likes the color of a "red, red rose"


"I am Who am"

Exodus 3:14



"What's in a name? A rose by any other name is just as sweet," says the Great Storyteller. Yet on the contrary, a name is rather not arbitrary.

Just take a friend's name for an example, a rather bad one because this young man is an actual acquaintance. His name is Christian Cruzada. Perhaps unknown to him because his parents might not have thought of it (and probably rushed with a name -- any name for that matter -- when asked by the good nurse upon delivery of the bouncing baby boy), his rather common first name speaks volumes about him when juxtaposed with his last. For his name means -- in whatever way and on whatever road he is on -- that he is a Christian on a Crusade, that is, he is a soldier for the King on a rather perilous journey. As this friend told him before we parted ways, this debacle he finds himself in is merely a rest, a pause (…

On Sundays and Mondays

For San Miguel "The beginning is the result." Hegel,Science of Logic"One could know the beauty of the universe in each soul, if one
could unfold all its folds, which only opens perceptibly with time."Leibniz, "Principles of Grace and Nature""Where do I begin?" Where else but in the beginning. A Monday, for example, is a convenient starting point though some calendars have it all wrong. Sunday is the real beginning of the week and not as much the presupposed ending. Perhaps He did not rest on a Sunday, gazing at His Creation while sipping on a cup of tea-- maybe everything (literally) was done by the sixth day and the seventh marked a new beginning; hence, the 'first beginning' naturally began on the first day since that day 'contained' the blueprint of "the best of all possible worlds" (Leibniz) and the rest of the days (until the sixth) were merely the enactment and fulfillment of that plan (agere sequitur esse or "a…

The Weight of Waiting

“Openness itself would be that for which we could do nothing but wait” (Heidegger).


The ‘whiskey priest’ wrote:

You got it right when you intimated that that which eventually shows itself cannot be willed. In the same breath neither can one determine the "when." Waiting serves to bring about the clearing, the opening within that which chooses to show itself self manifests as such. Waiting brings about being-gathered-towards that which ultimately shows itself of its own accord.
Well said, as always. What he unravels from the simple act of waiting in the clearing is the element or horizon of time. The ‘when’ of that which may show itself shows itself can clearly neither be anticipated and expected nor could it be calculated. And this leads to the ‘inefficiency’ (where to be efficient is to “manage one’s time”) and ‘ignorance’ of waiting (where to know when that which may show itself shall show itself is to already be certain of its arrival, i.e., that it is only “a matter of ti…

A Clearing

Lichtung ['liktung] f (-; -en) clearing.

1. The heart of a dark and dense forest; that slight opening where the shadows of the trees do not fall and where silence reigns. 2. That to which woodpaths (Holzwege) lead; also the end of such paths -- an aporia or dead end as such. 3. Within which that which shows itself is able to manifest itself in the way of its showing -- so one is able to see what finally appears or happens; but since that which shows itself can never be willed to show at all and also in this or that manner of showness, it is in the clearing where "nothing can be done but to wait" (Heidegger).