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Showing posts from August, 2011

On Writing (II)

A few more I recently shared:
1. Strings and bows Decorate your writing with colorful details. When you write about a person give little anecdotes, minute eccentricities, tidbits of otherwise unimportant information. This is when reading biographies can be helpful. I like noting down the habits of people, what they owned, their favorite meals, the name of their pets, those little things that make stories real.An example. I had a talk with a "stranger" a few nights ago. He's a headwaiter in a dim sum restaurant I frequent. He's been there since I started going to the place five years ago, and got promoted around a year ago. He wears the same olive green or peach shirt every time I'm there, and from the looks of it owns the same number of ties. He smiles a lot, asks me about the same things (if I still go to the bar next to it), and already knows what I order (hot congee and pork buns). Over a cigarette a few nights ago, he shared his problems with me (I don't kn…

Of Eternal Will to Joy

Of the Love of Eternity Oh mankind pray! What does deep midnight have to say? “From sleep, from sleep—From deepest dream I made my way—The World is deep, And deeper than the grasp of day. Deep is its pain—, Joy—deeper still than misery: Pain says: refrain!—Yet all joy wants eternity—, wants deep, wants deep eternity!”

(III “The Other Dance Song,” 2, pp. 183-84)
A question of happiness. An urgent question must be posed to the overman: Can the overman ever be happy? Can there be a place for happiness for him who wills his own tragedy by affirming and loving it? What joy can there be for a man who wishes to repeat “again and innumerable times more” even his suffering and pain?      Richard Hollingdale offers a neat answer to this question. He says that the overman, in affirming his fate however pleasant or crushing it may be, recognizes that both the misery and happiness he experienced in the past were not only necessary but also essential to being what he is. The overman reaches that great …

Of Recurrence Regret Revenge Redemption

Everything is empty, everything is the same, everything was!
(TSZ II “The Soothsayer,” p.105) To redeem those who are past and to recreate all ‘it was’ into ‘thus I willed it’—only that would I call redemption!
(TSZ II “On Redemption,” p.110)
Nietzsche would unabashedly declare that the thought of the eternal recurrence of the same—what he would later call “the highest possible formula of affirmation” (Ecce Homo, p. 123)--was his greatest discovery and contribution to humanity. Why would he think highly of the eternal return? What did he see in this thought that could summarize his philosophy in the simplest yet most powerful way? Let us see.
First announced in the section “The Greatest Weight” in The Gay Science (341, p.194-95), the eternal recurrence of the same declares that all things and events repeat themselves endlessly. “The eternal hourglass of existence,” as the devil proclaimed, “is turned over again and again” (Ibid., 194). More than being a metaphysical and cosmolog…

Phenomenology and Painting Research

"Philosophy cannot refrain from finding itself, when it comes to painting, permanently. . . . The exceptional visibility of the panting has thus become a privileged case of the phenomenon." —Jean-Luc Marion, The Crossing of the Visible

ABSTRACT. Far from merely being a reproduction and representation of visible things-in-themselves (Husserl), a painting can make manifest what we precisely otherwise do not see: beings in their emergence and coming-to-be (Merleau-Ponty), Beingin its hiddenness (Heidegger), and even what is able to see us—the Other (Levinas) and, possibly even, the Deity--the invisible par excellence (Marion).

On Writing (I)

Some advice I've given students in a writing course:

There are only two things you need to do in order to be a good writer: You have to read, and you have to write.
Write in white heat, edit in cold blood. When you write your first draft, don't think; thinking comes later. Let your fingers do the thinking as there are times they're smarter than ourselves. Write first out of the fire of passion, the rush of ideas. Then after your work has cooled down, put on your editor's cap and if need be be ruthless in editing what you wrote.
Write your first draft for yourself, and then your second draft for your reader. Being wary of whether or not what you are writing will be agreeable to other people can paralyze you. In contrast, when you write without considering others, what you write is agreeable, and even beautiful, to you precisely because that's what you put down and not another thing.When it comes to the second draft, put on your reader's hat and try to take his pers…

Beethoven's Famous Heiglnstadt Letter

For my brothers Carl and [Johann] Beethoven.

Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you.
From childhood on, my heart and soul have been full of the tender feeling of goodwill, and I was even inclined to accomplish great things. But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible). Though born with a fiery, active temperament, even susceptible to the diversions of society, I was soon compelled to isolate myself, to live life alone. 
If at times I tried to forget all this, oh how harshly was I flung back by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing. Yet it was impossible for me to say to people, "Speak louder, shout, for I am deaf."…

Memorial Prayer

The last end of being is the darkness or the unknowness of the hidden divinity, in which this light shines that darkness does not comprehend. Therefore Moses said: "He who is sent me" (Ex 3:14), he who is without a name, who is a denial of all names and who never acquired a name. And therefore the prophet said: "Truly you are the hidden God" (Is 45:15), in the ground of the soul, where God's ground and the soul's ground are one. The more one seeks for You, the less one finds You. You should so seek him that you find him nowhere. If you do not seek Him, then you will find Him. That we may so seek him that we may eternally remain with Him--may God help us to this. Amen.Meister Eckhart

Of Friends and Neighbors (and Women)

Do I recommend love of the neighbor to you? I prefer instead to recommend flight from the neighbor and love of the farthest! . . .
    . . . One person goes to his neighbor because he seeks himself, and the other because he would like to lose himself. Your bad love of yourselves makes you loneliness into a prison.
    Those farther away pay for your love of neighbor; and even when you are together five at a time, always a sixth one must die. . . .
    . . . I do not teach you the neighbor, but the friend. The friend shall be your festival of the earth and an anticipation of the overman.
    Let the future and the farthest be the cause of your today: in your friend you shall love the overman as your cause.
    My brothers, I do not recommend love of the neighbor to you: I recommend love of the farthest to you.
(Thus Spoke Zarathustra I “On Love of the Neighbor”)

Nietzsche overturns the Christian commandment of the love of one’s neighbor, seeing in it a hidden longing to escape one’s self…