A Room with a View

If there is nothing to see looking forward, we will look behind. Old age loves to reminisce. If the past is too tender a sapling, young eyes delight early on future fruits– and without the bitterness of impotence. Where neither forward nor backward is pleasing, we fall into conceits of our own justices and revenge: the power- and pleaure-less become impassioned of opinion and prophecy, that they too might have a view that captures their interest.

Life persists because it’s interesting? Because it finds itself interesting? Are the two the same?

The soul lives only through some view on life, cannot tolerate no distant horizon or no peek on some yard. Yet it is not possible to see from any other vantage point but through our own window; each of us is prisoner to ourselves, however hospitable or royal the quarters.

The necessity of, the usefulness of being interested for life’s sake demands that some details of the view from every cell window become of interest. Nobody finds his view without some quality of beauty, the essence of which is interest (since everything interesting can be reasoned to be beautiful; or everything beautiful, interesting).

Each of us, our souls, are a strained self looking out; one ought to evaluate a person’s opinion (i.e, “view”) based not only on what that person sees, but is constrained to see; not only on what he finds interesting, but on what he has to find interesting and how he must see to make it so; what we say judged not just by what we say, but by what our seeing says and how our saying sees.

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The Greek text of this line is uncertain

“For all things cannot be in men.”

According to the Book of Sirach, “flesh and blood devise evil” as a consequence of man’s desire to contain the whole. The desire of philosophy is, at the very least, the desire to see the whole. But is seeing not always a form of owning, of trying to own?

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From a walk

“It’s beautiful out tonight” the stranger tells– doesn’t ask– me. It’s beautiful out tonight, why does she inform me and not inquire? We are typically not in the habit of foisting our evaluations on random passersby.

But don’t I want to be told? And don’t I want to tell? And why are we suddenly friends? (And are we? Is that what this is? ) And why are you speaking to me? And does this mean you would help me in a moment of need?

As if in telling me, asserting at me gently, she’s touching the outlines of a long-lost but distantly familiar face, and saying ‘is it really him? It’s really him! After all these years!’ and I respond: ‘my goodness, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see him again,’ and we rejoice at his homecoming.

Beauty has made us into compatriots of a country whose territory is nowhere but here, in this shared pleasure that gives itself to both without diminishment or partition. So suddenly we saw our camaraderie, and so suddenly we forgot it, forget it.

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To Men of Inaction

A minor thought in favour of men of inaction:

Richard Gloucester (Richard III): “talkers are no good doers, be assured we go to use our hands and not our tongues” (I.iii.350).

–Some of the most wicked deeds come from “men of action.” Having the power to have a will and put it to action, to be a “straight shooter,” is not a sufficient criteria of the admirable (the praiseworthy)  if the admirable is also opposed to the damnable (self-enclosed, self-consuming).

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A Sort of Revenge

There is a sort of revenge vented on the progressive spirit for the fact that its proponents deprived one of one’s faith; one’s intuitive, therefore spontaneous, natural-feeling, instinctual–and so, by some account, health inducing and health sustaining relationship to the world around them. At the core of progressivism is the operation of a basic dis-embedding gesture; horizons, which are assumptions, which are prejudices, which are the clothing of a secured and self-confident life, have to be dispelled and one’s simple trust in what they know (and perhaps what they are and know themselves to be) has to be broken. Why? So that the tenets of the progressive faith can have room to be planted, grow, and feel plausible. If delicately done, one faith can be gradually supplanted with another without the organism’s over exposure to the cold, chilly winds of the Nothing that are necessarily, if but momentarily, felt in the exchange. Values in general are suspended through the operation of the scientific mode of knowing, but only in order that some select, un-progressive values can be finally neutralized, while others must be put in their place, and then be given sunshine and rain to grow as impartiality is cast off and a moralizing/ valuing posture resumed. For example, the historical critical method is employed to disabuse Christ of his divinity, but quite another method used to preserve his status as moral exemplar; in this case, morality had to be separated from worship so that it could be purified of transcendence but not itself destroyed.

Often indelicately done, by unskillful surgeons with blunt knives, there are subjects in whom the process is simply an abortion. Do these doctors know what they are doing, sewing together limbs? Oh how these fish will resent being plucked from the water and yet not given legs like the other new amphibians around them! But when such a one realizes that the progressive spirit is its own creed, has its own simplicity, its own secretly self-pleasing faith, he might begin to take his revenge through the same operation– perhaps with the wish to implant back in values precisely opposite to the progressive creed out of a love of irony. If this is not possible, he will delight in drawing attention to the baselessness of this politic faith, he will want to make the believer see not only the great abyss around him, but also the fact that he has wings, and that they’re delicate, and feathered with the unhistorical, unnatural, and unreasonable. He will perhaps want to make him wonder if the part can be sustained, if it is sensible; he will want him to become afraid and doubtful and, like Peter, suddenly begin to sink. He will want to hear him cry “Lord!” so that they may follow the direction of his voice and see who this Lord is– that the question of the principalities, powers and dominions may once again be heard aloud.

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Whose Voice is This?

A: I detest sports, all this flowing, excited chatter of sports. Sports! They do nothing but make a completely meaningless thing seem meaningful.

B: Well, what do you like?

A: Intellectual conversation: the making all this meaningful stuff of life now trivial, now putty, now play.

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On Youth

A: Consciousness is the mother of judgement.

B: But was there not a time, then, when she was just a girl?


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With attentive appreciation, how inwardly differentiated and ambiguous becomes a given moment that had deigned to please!

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The Difficult Thing

The difficult thing is to save yourself without forcing the world to admit that it too is caught up in your dilemma, and therefore in need of your cure. That it needs your cure, it will necessarily deny, and so force your good heart to make an evangelist out of you.

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The Sicknes of Health

Perhaps the last– or is it the first?– place from which one will have to expel one’s sickness is one’s very idea of health. In our idea of what health is, even there we must overcome what ails us.

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