My usual stuff
Thinking can only occur if one fails... and this is why history is so interesting. Now, typically, we would say something like, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", or something about our most well-laid out plans failing. But these are inadequate to what we're thinking about, because more important than failure in a social sense is /failing ourselves/. This is an almost oxymoronic phrase, because we do not really even have a word for this notion of failing ourselves -- because by this phrase, I don't even mean, the sense in which we do not live up to our own expectations -- since, in that case, we are merely talking about how we are not living up to what we /should be/, which is still the application of some social standard. For example, if we have a secret dream of being a famous lawyer, but we fail in this dream, this is basically still a standard, social failing, since we still judge ourselves abstractly. ("I should have what it takes to be a famous lawyer, and if society knew what I did, they would agree.")
Maybe this is something we can dwell on, for a moment: it seems as though we have no real phrase in our language to describe this sense of "failing ourselves", or a non-social sense of failure. ... Does it even exist?
... If this notion of "failing ourselves" is so rarely thought, it is probably because we treat the unexpected as something new, or some kind of learning experience. If things don't turn out the way we expect it (and it is not viewed as a social failure), we simply sort of stuff it away in our memories somewhere, we treat it as some kind of weirdness.
But, in any case, what's so important this notion of failing ourselves is the relationship between history, failure, and thinking. We must not give into the temptation to view history with /sadness/. "The saddest words are 'what could have been'" -- fine, but this is still a social failure, a kind of sentimentalism. But instead, we want to see history as an encounter with the unexpected but not novel -- which would probably well characterize what we've been trying to call here, "personal failure". There is this sense of helplessness, this sense of return and repetition ... but it might not be strictly what we would call a sad feeling.
A lot of what we've been thinking about are attempts to characterize these moments, such as in this notion of "foreign insanity", this notion of the insanity of displacement. The stranger cannot fail socially, but he still fails. But at the very moment of failure, there is also a kind of success -- there is a thinking that occurs in the very moment of failure. In other words, this failure is not strictly /internal/, it is not merely a feeling -- it is more than a feeling. But we say that the one who goes insane in a foreign land attempts to put on this show, and attempts to express that which is unexpected. At the moment when communication breaks down, there is this performance -- that can potentially be read by historians -- that is neither private nor public, and neither success nor failure.
Now, we should not be tempted to view this moment as something that can be explained away psychologically. If you are familiar with personality tests ... then there is the famous example of the Myers-Briggs personality test, which seems to provide a matrix of personality -- ie, a set of oppositions that can be multiplied, so that someone could be "introverted" x "intellectual" x "socially sensitive", etc.. The purpose of these personality tests is to attempt to account for breakdowns of communication by relating them back to incompatibilities in personality.
In other words, the personality test is an attempt to account for what we've been calling foreign insanity. This is particularly important in teamwork settings and projects, where it's obviously important to minimize anti-social behavior. I think someone once remarked about these tests, that, what's important is not so much their accuracy as the fact that people can agree on them, that people who don't really get along well can refer back to this matrix in order to attempt to go about the problem in another way. Ie, these personality tests have therapeutic purpose -- depending on how much you are committed to classical psychoanalysis, you might view the old, you know, lie down on the couch, talk about your dreams kind of therapy the same way, where the therapeutic effects of talking about something outweigh the accuracy of the analysis. But in either case, there is always the feeling that one is merely delaying, or one is merely treating the symptoms, and that these fundamental problems will continue to arise again and again, under different guises each time. In other words, trauma and it's inexplicable, incessant returns (cf, Shutter Island), whatever psychological characterizations may be available, is not really a psychological problem.
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Mar 9, 2010 [01:02]
Mar 9, 2010 [01:03] updated
Consider universal tolerance (the oxymoronic "universal difference"). The following sounds like merely a superficial point: doesn't the principle of universal tolerance show intolerance towards those who are intolerant? A superficial point, right? We are familiar with these simple paradoxes and usually push them aside -- we grow impatient at those who try sit there and try to find little flaws in our argument, via the formula, "You say that you are X, but you yourself do not-X!" -- eg, "You preach universal tolerance, but you yourself are intolerant towards those who refuse this principle!" There are a few canned responses we can perhaps give to this:
(1) "Aren't you agreeing with me, then, by assuming X?"
(2) "You find contradictions because don't understand it!"
(3) "The point of real listening, is to resolve these paradoxes by yourself!"
(4) "That's merely semantics!"
(5) "I've been thinking about this for years! And you claim you can rush in, and find a glaring hole in my life work? I am /being disrespected/ right now!"
etc. etc. etc.
In short, the responses to the "easy paradox argument" can be quite intense, quite surprising considering it's triviality. How intense? Consider that last night, in my very own home, I punched my ... I guess he would be considered ethnically... Arabic? ... roommate in the face precisely because he used this easy paradox argument one time too many. Yes, we were having an argument about the principle of universal tolerance, otherwise known as Christianity. Around a dinner table ... and he used the easy paradox argument. And I used canned response #5. And he gave me no room to back down. Push went to shove, I told him we were going to have to fight it out, he told me to throw the first punch -- I did --
-- and then he called the cops. And now, I'm moving, again.
There is something /extraordinarily/ interesting about this series of events. What, for example, is the relationship between Christianity and the /fist fight/ -- which, in retrospect, almost approaches the logic of martyrdom? (I expected to be soundly beaten -- he was about half a foot taller than me.) If there is a principle to turn the other cheek, then even earlier than that principle seems to be the principle to /put one self in a position when one is forced to turn the other cheek/, ie, "taking a stand". Aggression and ultimate passivity at the same time. Maybe turning the other cheek is the same as /insisting on a fight no matter what/, without foresight, without thought of consequence. Something absolute, in either case. (I'm no martyr of course, I only /act/ like a martyr when it's safe to do so.)
The world is dominated by /many different absolutes/ -- no, more, by many intolerant philosophies of universal tolerance. And there is no possibility of resolving this via any particular principle of tolerance, since that principle is just one of the many principles that dominate the world. Whenever we hear tolerance, our next question has to be: what kind of tolerance? Tolerance of what? If tolerance implies, human rights for all man, than what is man? As, when the principle of equality always evokes the (legitimate) question: when is someone more equal than another?
I was just talking to a Chinese friend (well, about as Chinese as I am) about this situation, who told me that there were certain things that would bring him to a fistfight. As best as I understand it, one of those things would be the kind of American (or Christian) self-righteousness, which he finds hypocritical. The argument is that history is a record of brutality, and that any claim of moral superiority is therefore shortsighted. The best course of action, then, would be to trust each people with governing itself -- some kind of /nationalistic/ model of tolerance, where each country would be free to determine the principles by which human can become the most human. (The principle of governance is not universal happiness, but making the human the most human it can be.) By this view, a universalistic human rights would be merely an excuse for one country to invade and exploit another -- which is at least partly true.
The responses to the easy paradox argument (which can be addressed to any religion in the world) call upon experience, insight, thinking, and so forth. They insist, it seems, on some path of thinking, they accuse the questioner of laziness. There is somewhere the notion that work was necessary for truth. Or, perhaps, they insist on truth as being this almost mystical, self-confirming experience: If I am not allowed to question you until I understand, then when will I know I understand? -- You will know when that moment comes. (The only way to know is to know that you will know).
When we speak of this circular configuration of knowledge (to know that one knows), we are speaking about something that is somehow very fundamental, so fundamental as to be self-evident, somehow, yet not obvious -- something that one will eventually find.
Consider the notion of the trial -- why does the trial have to be so long? It is because a trial is a seeking of something that is not obvious. This is not merely because we are uncertain whether the defendant is innocent or guilty, but, more importantly, we are trying to think about the intentions are. The trial takes place, and takes such a long time -- and yet, in the end, a judgment can always be made. Even if we acknowledge that such a judgment is not always correct, there is still the hope that it could be correct -- something on the order of a difficult but self-evident truth that emerges out of the disjoint pieces of the trial.
When we speak of intention, we are speaking of the subconscious. In the course of the trial, we are always fearing the possibility that the subconscious can be /written/, artificially. This is always the fear of the trial, that the evidence can be arranged in some way as to tell completely different stories regarding the intention, or the subconsciousness. In other words, if the trial is premised on the possibility of discovering the true subconscious (as the difficult but self-evident truth of religion), then there are always defensive policies in place that ward off the possibility that this truth will not be discovered (will not be allowed to slowly emerge or come to light) but will be written in the course of the trial.
To put it bluntly, the subconscious is written. If we discover recurring (ie, apparently "natural") structures, it is simply a matter of finding what we had planted there (ie, not during the trial itself, but before the trial, throughout life.)
It's strange how the most general and public (a mode of universal law) can also be linked with the most private and personal. This is perhaps thought of in the notion of responsibility. That which one fights for or takes personal responsibility for, that which is private and yet should be public, that which is about to emerge from the future (such as understanding, insight). What we will be interested in next is how the ghost fits into all this. The ghost makes undecidable the question of something or nothing, whether there is something there, meaningful for us and our future, whether there is an insight there. In short, the ghost calls into question our relationship to the absolute (to the self-evident truth, truth as light), it speaks the undecidable -- ie, self-evident but unverifiable -- truth of truth.
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We've probably all experienced this, or have been in the presence of someone else who has, the sense of insanity that comes from being displaced. For me, when I occasionally have to live in the midst of people I have nothing in common with, I become extremely performative, I start waving my hands and making speeches, I make scenes, and so on. I'm not proud of it, I've gotten into stupid fights for absurd reasons. Or, if I'm friends with a foreigner, I will see him make these inexplicable scenes, much ado over nothing, apparently. There is this cool scene in the Heart of Darkness about this, where Conrad tells us that a Swede named Fresleven, "the most peaceful man you'll ever meet", feeling himself cheated over a deal involving two black hens, "finally felt the need to assert himself or something", went to the village chief and started beating him mercilessly with a stick. "Everyone stood by awestruck" ... until the chief's son, finally feeling the need to do something, "made a tentative jab with a spear, which of course went right through the ribcage." The storyteller says something to the effect of, "perhaps the weather got to him, or the land".
What keeps us sane, when we are at home? Maybe it's a sense of being able to analyze the situation, of being in control, despite whatever may happen. There is this coolness, for example, which says that boys will be boys. People fight it out, knowing all the while not to hurt each other too much, or knowing that there is some kind of catharsis there, and that it will be over tomorrow. Whatever the conflict, there is perhaps a sense that we can understand each other, and we can even understand the various performances being made -- so, for example, in Hollywood movies, although there is conflict, there is still meaning there, and what we would call a "good movie" is basically on where all the sides of a conflict appear reasonable.
Now, there is something still honest or genuine about domestic insanity, but there is also the sense of the people knowing too well what to do, and that it's just a big conspiracy. This is why male aggression is sometimes associated with homosexuality, since there is the sense that there is always a deeper level of understanding underneath the fight.
But if you have ever caught this strange, foreign insanity, then it is as though you have become /possessed/. The genuineness is still there it seems, but you are speaking, on and on, in the midst of people who do not respond. What seemed so interactive in the native land becomes based primarily on /memory/ in the foreign land, as, basically, you put on this one man show -- ie, you speak like a man possessed or a man traumatized.
In the domestic scene, we view intention as arising from the person, and we make an effort to understand that person. But, in the case of the foreign scene, attempting to understand the person would be the wrong approach to take. We always tell the person to be cool, and we try to make sense of the situation in the terms that we are used to, and we feel we have reached some understanding, until the whole thing happens all over again, as if to mock us. There is indeed a sense of helplessness there.
Our goals are no longer therapeutic, because therapy can no longer reach a deeper understanding or a resolution of the situation, but can, at most, treat the symptoms -- because, basically, therapy is unable to deal with foreign insanity. If we return briefly, to our spoiler-free analysis of Shutter Island, then we would have to say that, despite the fact that the film is about the failure of therapy, it still does not think the full foreign insanity because, in the final scene, it pins the problem on /transference/ -- which is the process by which the therapy becomes helpless because the patient expects the therapy and works the therapy into his insanity. But transference, an interesting hypothesis, still sees everything in terms of cause and effect -- it still sees a "fight", an explicable one, between the patient and the therapist. In other words, trauma, possession, or foreign insanity is a condition that therapy fundamentally cannot deal with -- and transference is merely an attempt to account for the unstoppable returns that keep on coming.
The most we can do, I argue, is to attempt to understand foreign insanity (rather than treat it)... if we define foreign insanity as the condition of being haunted, then that would mean allowing ourselves to be haunted in turn.
What's interesting about this foreign insanity (and all of the Heart of Darkness is in fact about this insanity, not merely the scene related to Fresleven -- perhaps the very book itself can be said to be written by a man possessed) is that it gives us a chance to think about the nature of intention.
The subconscious is a text. The resolution of a domestic dispute involves the interpretation of the text in a way that satisfies both parties -- so that, even if the problem returns, we can at least be satisfied that there has been progress, and that it is a /different/ issue we are now dealing with. "Look, all you are trying to do is ... and all you are trying to do is ... but in the end, you can both get along, because ..." I say "text" here, merely to point out that there is nothing "immediate" about the subconscious, that it is not causal. When you get in a fight or an argument, the predominant feeling is one of speaking /very fast/, without thinking. This is not so much because the animal instincts take over the rational instincts, but rather because /we are performing from memory/. The thinking, at these moments, is not the thinking of reasoning, a step by step thinking, but more like the slow buildup of one who revises -- the thinking of a painter or a composer, who steps back from the canvas or the piece and adds a bit there, or alters a bit there, and so on -- in short, it is based on /perfection/. Arguments are like a /recital/ (in the sense of, a piano recital) of a perfected piece, that we have been nursing for a long time, and -- if they are so meaningful -- it is precisely because they are a result of /too much thinking/ rather than any kind of "immediacy or passion".
In the analysis of what we call foreign insanity (which is perhaps equivalent to "literature"), our goals are no longer to give the illusion of progress and difference, but rather to read this perfected piece. The question now is, what is the piece /about/, what is the person speaking /about/? It is impossible to answer this question without being haunted in turn ...
TBC: Ghosts and the Haunted
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I just got back from Shutter Island (I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum), and my friend and I were talking about the relationship between that movie and Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily". There is a sentimentalism in that movie, even to the "twist ending" in the final line (that seems to resonate with the final line of A Rose for Emily, the final mark, the single hair on the pillow), that we would probably associate with the "incorrect, romantic" interpretation of Don Quixote.
But let's talk about this final line: it is meant to blur the distinction between insanity and sanity, it is meant to make the state of delusion /undecidable/. This /undecidability/ is really what what we've been talking about all along, with the /split/ of the knight. The most radical implication of this is not really the weird, "Are we in the Matrix" type feeling, but rather -- the question of what constitutes thinking. Ie, the undecidability that we are speaking of here, when speaking of knights (Shutter Island is about a knight) is not really -- what we would be tempted to say, in a preliminary analysis -- whether the world is real or an illusion, but rather, but rather whether the knight is sane or insane. The knight always lives on the very border of sanity and insanity.
Recall here that insanity is related, fundamentally, not to perception but to intention: insanity is /the absence of intention/. This is an example that my friend came up with (just based on what was lying around at the time): if one keeps pressing the "9" button, on the microwave, hoping that it will open the door, time and time again, then that is insanity. Well, it is not so much the absence of intention, as the absence of any "worthwhile" intention -- thus, we treat the insane person with condescension.
But there are two ways we can think of to complicate this situation, which arises from the following hypothesis: What if the person that presses the button over and over again were not trying to merely open the door, but rather saying something, perhaps in Morse Code? Or, alternatively, what if he were trying to reproduce the tone of a childhood melody? In the former case, we would say that he is not insane at all. In the latter case, we would say that he is traumatized -- which is on the border of sanity and insanity. In the case of Morse code, the person would be attempting to say something to the world. But in the case of trauma, he would be living in his own world, and thus affected by something earlier. But what if this earlier childhood song were meant to be a commentary on his current situation?
Thus, insanity, which is characterized by the absence of "worthwhile" intention, which we can define as /thinking/ in the strong sense, an intention that speaks to us, questions us, is directed at us -- then insanity is always troubled, from the beginning, by either /trauma/ or the /code/. Insanity is always undecidable, precisely because there is always the possibility that /someone looks at us/, /sees us/.
So this is something that every story about a knight plays with. But the major difference between Shutter Island and A Rose for Emily is no doubt the /female/ -- the female plays an absolutely central role in A Rose for Emily, whereas she is a relatively minor character in Shutter Island. The difference between the male and the female knight is /extremely significant/ -- it has to do with the location of the undecidable: whereas the knight always makes undecidable the distinction between sanity and insanity, delusion and clarity, the female makes undecidable the distinction between /something/ and /nothing/, between presence and absence.
Let me just illustrate this with a short reading of if the final line of A Rose for Emily -- which describes the moment when the speaker reaches down and lifts up a /single grey hair/ from the pillow. This line is way to significant (being the final line in the story) to be merely an accident. But this line is about the undecidable: was this hair left there on purpose? It was a /single/ hair, in a very prominent place -- did she simply miss that hair, while cleaning up? Or did she put it there? Because at stake is whether this hair rests in a /house/ or in a /museum/: whether the final "scene" (literally -- she sets up a scene ... or did she "set it up", or is the scene simply a slice of her life?) is merely a common, insignificance (in the sense of everyday -- in other words /unintentional/) occurrence, or is it something highly significant, something placed there, arranged?
Of course, these are the very questions that Faulkner himself wanted to ask. Within the story, the scene is undecidable, but it is most certainly something that Faulkner wanted to think about. So it's significance is not really undecidable -- it's philosophical stakes. So, instead of asking questions, we can speak in statements, and speak about the stakes of this undecidability: Whereas the knight, traditionally, has called into question the nature of the intention, as in, what kind of human the knight is, the woman here calls into question the very possibility of significance -- before the human, before personality, normalcy, or psychology -- she calls into question the nature of significance itself. With this hair, which is no longer "ambiguity" or "multiplicity", but, undecidably, either something or nothing: the something or the zero.
From this point, we come to realize the significance of this feminine element in the rest of Faulkner. We could still say earlier, with confidence, that this hair is "most certainly" something that Faulkner wanted to think about -- being, after all, the final sentence of the story -- where the signature would traditionally lie. But now we are not so sure -- or, at least, other things begin to come out. We are not quite so sure that Faulkner was interested the question the way we have laid them out above, as a set of clearly defined stakes, as a philosophical point that combines surprise and understanding, which (like terror and pity) feels too much like the elements of a /Homeric/ drama -- recalling here the name of the man (the manly man) in that story -- Homer Baron.
Alright, I don't mean to be needlessly complicated here, since we really need to focus and think about the stakes, but the point is that we can no longer be content with saying that Faulkner has something as concrete as an "argument", when we consider the possibility of this "the female knight" (Emily was said to be the last an old aristocracy), this thinking hair, and her relation to the zero of significance.
We should pause here, in order to think about the philosophical stakes here -- ie, what this thinking implies about ourselves and the world -- since, after all, our aims are philosophical rather than historical -- we have very little interest in finding the "correct" interpretation.
First of all, I want to talk about the difference between the ends and the means or the process. We have been, so far, talking about what seems to be a "new interpretation", beyond the traditional one. But this seems to have only artistic, rather than philosophical, significance -- ie, a new art beyond the old one. But, in another sense, we seem to be returning to the very beginning of history, before everything became so humanized -- when intention was no longer a matter of personality but of the yes, no, and the in between -- of Gods, ghosts and spirits.
Let's consider the nature of insight. By insight, we mean that sense of "getting it", that sense that there is an argument there, that there is something significant here. The word insight already suggests something a bit more vague than the concrete "truth" or "idea" -- in speaking of insight, we are already taking a step beyond method and reasoning. But insight, in the most radical sense, must be essentially /random/. Now, I don't mean here, that 2+2 = 5, or that any random combination of letters (ie, "adf werunv") can be truth -- since, already, in speaking of insight rather than truth, we are already taking a more holistic view of truth, so that truth is not merely the statement but at the very least includes in addition the person, memories, the world. So it would simply not make any sense to ask whether a statement were true or not.
Basically, we will argue here that insights are both necessary and unimportant. First of all -- do they even happen? An insight is always something in the past, that has happened -- and this corresponds, perhaps, to the feeling of the ineffable, of being unable to write that which we know. And second of, above and beyond the fact that we do not really experience insights, an insight is merely an end, or a random stopping point. We can call this the fundamental principle of aesthetics, which we can here define as the technique of generating -- not so much the good or beautiful -- as the /meaningful/. (For what is, in the end, something that you like? It has everything to do with meaningfulness, if not entirely "understanding"). This is why aesthetics is fundamentally divorced from (and is in fact more profound than) logic: because it knows that meaningfulness has nothing to do with any synthetic notion of truth.
But there is one further element beyond aesthetics (or perhaps, what we can call "science"), which we can probably call /politics/. Because aesthetics, recognizing the independence of reason and meaning, is still too pragmatic, being interested in various historically contingent techniques for the generation of meaning. In politics, we are in the unusual position of declaring at once the arbitrariness of the insight and recognizing the necessity of working with insights, or really, of /writing/, by which I mean, /production/. The "politician", or the political writer, is always, then, is always in the midst of declaring that nothing he writes is important...
1) Negation and politics as the combination of the mark and historical understanding
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Mar 5, 2010 [17:14]
Mar 5, 2010 [23:54] updated
This is my first entry. Blogging is a way for me to relax, but it's also genuinely useful to me, since it's what I'm most interested in at the moment. So the tone of these entries will not really be cathartic, confessional, expository, polemic, etc., but it will be a kind of curiosity, since it will be something that I'm genuinely interested in and that I'm even somewhat confused about myself.
Let's talk about the knight. The knight is someone who, paradoxically, seeks the unexpected. This is a paradox: one cannot seek the unexpected.
The knight (we have in mind Don Quixote and the knight from Keats's poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci) is a figure that combines romanticism and folly. The romanticism of the knight is his /honesty/. It is the way in which the knight commits his body or his spirit. So, in Keat's LBD, the knight is genuinely in love -- there is a sensuality there. In Don Quixote, there is always the emphasis on how much the knight suffers -- he is beaten, bruised, and so on. This sense of honesty is that which is missing from modern "romantic" interpretations of the knight (such as the Man of La Mancha) where Don Quixote is able to gain a certain intelligence only because you get the sense he never really commits to what he says, that the whole thing is a well thought-out lesson.
This sense of folly is related to the /seeking/ of the knight, the one who does/does not find what he seeks. Or, we can say, he finds two things. The first is the object of folly. Don Quixote finds the giants in the windmills, the knight in LBD finds true love in some random spirit he meets in the woods somewhere. This first finding is at once a fulfillment and leaves one with a sense of emptiness. It is both unexpected (in the sense of -- fantastic -- we did not expect giants to be there, or for some beautiful girl to be in the meads) and, of course, entirely expected.
But the knight is cleverer than this -- he finds a second unexpected thing, in the emptiness left by the fulfillment of the first. Thus, there are two things that are found, which we can call: the strong and the weak sublime. The strong sublime is the giant itself, the breathtaking experience, the unexpected but entirely expected. The weak sublime is that which remains in the sense of emptiness left by the strong sublime -- something like the Wordsworthian "shock of mild surprise".
Let's talk about this weak sublime, in the context of La Belle Dame Sans Merci. This poem is either a very bad poem by Keats, or it is about the weak sublime. The weak sublime is not the mourning of the knight, or the sense of failure or depression. Because even that is the strong sublime, one finds a tragic failure there, and one is even content with this tragedy. Thus, it's important to realize that LBD is about /success/ in this traditional reading, the success of failing the right way. We can imagine, for example, the knight overcompensating, in this sentimental poem, in order to control a situation that he did not really understand. This corresponds with the observation that -- no matter how loudly one complains, and how "clearly" the depressed person claims to see their position (as if pessimism were a form of truth), this loudness is always "successful" in that it covers up something deeper that is not understood.
Our argument here, however, will not be to simply assert that the knight is overcompensating, but we want to ask what exactly is being covered up at this moment. The intelligence and the awareness of the knight is always undecidable -- he is either an enormous idiot, or far more clever than we had imagined. And far more clever than the stupid "romantic" interpretation of Don Quixote of The Man of La Mancha. In other words, we will be claiming that this stupid complaining is related to the weak sublime.
Thus, the knight does/does not find what he seeks. The knight is /split/: there is one component of him, the honesty, romanticism, and folly, that rushes on forward and honestly commits to the situation of nobility and romanticism, that one that fights and overcompensates, and so on. But there will be a second component to the knight that has always known that the foolishness of the first moment, rushing forth, is the only way to get to that /weak sublime/ -- which has always, from the beginning, sought that weakly sublime moment, left by the sudden emptiness of the strong sublime.
This /split/ is probably the way to understand Kafka's famous one-paragraph interpretation of Don Quixote, "The Truth of Sancho Panza", where he asserted that Sancho Panza and Don Quixote where not in fact two but one (ie, one split into two) and that Sancho Panza followed his "personal demon, Don Quixote", and "gained a great many edifying lessons".
Let's talk about the weak sublime, and why we are so interested in this. I want to talk about two things: first, an interpretation of the weak sublime, as it appears in LBD. Second, I want to argue that this is a kind of "origin" in some way, and that the weak sublime will be related in a very fundamental way to how we experience the world.
Basically, in La Belle Dame, the knight falls in deeply in love with this girl and then becomes genuinely melancholic when she leaves. There is always an "honesty" here, which is figured by the body -- sweat, lethargy, listlessness -- even if the overall poem is "ironic" in some way. I keep on having to insist on the "genuineness", on the difference between a "split" Don Quixote and merely a romantic but internally consistent "romantic" misunderstanding of Don Quixote.
But can we even name a moment when this "weak sublime" appears? We cannot: there are no traditional clues that would indicate that this poem is ironic -- there are no explicit declarations, no moments of laughter, and so on. Of course, we have plenty of clues, based on what a typical Keatsian poem looks like. But this inability to name is part of the rigor of the poem -- the poem does not resort to the traditional divisions that result in an /internally consistent, but "deep"/ character, rather than a true split.
1. Further readings of LBD
2. Randomness and the world
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