Why Are Avant-Garde Philosophers So Difficult To Be Understood By Their Contemporaries?

„Most philosophers are so politically incorrect—challenging the status quo, even challenging God. Nietzsche’s my favorite. He’s just insane. You have to have an IQ of at least 300 to truly understand him.“

 „Iron“ Mike Tyson

I have read somewhere that „Iron“ Mike Tyson has a below-average IQ, however what he says here is more accurate and pays more tribute to how things are in reality than that what many more sophisticated people (or analytic philosophers) say when they judge Nietzsche as a „weak“ thinker. It is amazing how today bachelor theses at the universities are written about Wittgenstein (or even at school: I once met a girl who told me her project for the great final exam at school was to write about the Tractatus) and everything seems to be full of Wittgenstein, of Nietzsche, of Goethe, of Schiller in this world, while during his lifetime Wittgenstein was not even understood by most of the finest minds in Cambridge or the Wiener Kreis. Reading Wittgenstein or Nietzsche is challenging for the first time, yes; but it is not actually that confusing. (Even more obscure it is in the case of artists: beautiful pieces of art are usually immediately recognised, nevertheless it may take a long time until the artist and his art become respected and established.) The question seems to refer to some kind of mystery: Why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?

I have read in a book about Whitehead (an underappreciated philospher) that someone said that „nothing is so difficult to understand as is a new philosophy“. I do not quite understand that, since I find philosophy relatively easy to understand. However, I do not understand other things, I am not good at maths for instance, so it is all a game and life passes out individual cards, I suppose. Apart from that, philosophy, like everything else, is not even for the master understander something that is immediately to be grasped: it needs to be learned, and its quasi-fractallike depth something forever to be explored. To try to make sense out of that, let us start with the rumination that: Like poets, but at a higher level of intellectual reflection (which adds to the confusion in others), avant-garde philosophers have thoughts and inner experiences no one else had before – and you actually can understand stuff only when you have experienced it yourself. Without experience, you may have intellectual knowledge of stuff (if the stuff even interests you, which is, unless there are personal experiences, not so frequent), but you do not actually, and deeply, grasp it. Without being member of a minority, or a woman, you do not really know what discrimination or phallocratic sexism is – if you are sympathetic, you will try to understand it, if you are not sympathetic, you will call them hysterical feminists or impertinent immigrants – likewise, the experience of discrimination can produce some hysterical feminists or blackies that are racist against whities – just like as the experience of a mankind indifferent to his teachings may produce an overly grouchy and pessimistic avant-garde philosopher: Let the avant-garde philosopher behold to fall into the trap of ressentiment (which is what Nietzsche said despite falling into that trap himself to some degree): And, truly: Who could ever understand Nietzsche´s overman when not being an extremely intelligent outsider (with a splendid psychology), who understands Kierkegaard´s theological stadium, Wittgenstein´s radical quest for truth via radical scepsis (that, in its inner dynamic and outer form, is without predecessor) or Otto Weininger´s quest for the ethical self (das sittliche Ich), when one is not some kind of very extreme person himself that effectively lives on the margins not only of society but of humanity and the human experience all alike? They are, more or less effectively, beyond the margins of current human thought. The avant-garde philosopher explores the margins and the outer limits of human tought and inner experience and effectively pushes them a bit further into the exosphere. Therein, the avant-garde philosopher is, most effectively, likely to be alone in his contemporary world (instead, has to try to establish connection to other avant-garde philosophers via the Continuum – the sphere where the great ideas dwell). People do not understand very well things that appear in a framework that is alien to them, or for which a true framework does not yet exist: And the avant-garde philosopher usually comes up with entire new frameworks people cannot really relate to. Within that, avant-garde philosophers are kind of confused themselves. They are so singular and work at such a high level of abstraction and insight that insight becomes confusing and they do not immediately have an instrument to adequately reflect themselves and their situation in the world. They see through other philosophy but in a kind of space that is largely uninhabitated. Their philosophy often is the instrument with which they try to understand themselves. Since avant-garde philosophers (and artists) are usually the ones most eccentric and working at the margins and exurbia, but also the most normal and working most at the center of humanity, the paradox may appear to them that they´re living in two worlds (and not actually living in any of them neither – respectively, the „paradox“ is that not only exurbia but also the center of the human experience are both sparsely populated places). Since the problems of the avant-garde philosopher (and artist) are too far away from people, people are not interested in them, although they are the most interesting of all, and the avant-garde philosopher has to deal with the paradox that, in the end, respectively also among his contemporaries, folks like Iron Mike will dig and – somehow – understand him, whereas, on the other hand, hardly anyone finally does. He has to deal with the paradox that his mind is the most powerful while also being quite powerless all alike (nevertheless, also big business tycoons or politicians have to confront themselves with the same kind of thing). If the avant-garde philosopher is desperate that people aren´t interested in his most interesting philosophy, he may find consolation that most people aren´t particularly interested in most other things neither. (And concerning Whitehead and his unpopularity someone else said that the reason for Whitehead´s underappreciatedness lies, particularly, in the greatness of his metaphysics.)

The intellect of the avant-garde philosopher operates at the highest level of abstraction and it works very quickly, hence stuff other people discuss will not deem him stupid but irrelevant and slow food. The inner life of the avant-garde philosopher will try to mirror the great whole (in his own idiosyncratic form and understanding), so what other people discuss will deem him fragments and he will prefer to be a silent listener and witness (although, due to his intense perception, a considerable amount of stuff he seems to be indifferent to will hit him with considerable impact – which is usually not the case among normal people). However, there are people that do not especially like that, they´re afraid that the avant-garde philosopher will look upon them as if they´re stupid, especially as the avant-garde philosopher´s behaviour will usually be a strange mix between fineness, empathy and sympathetic concern, and bluntness and harshness and apparent sarcasm towards others, as his inner drummer is different from his surroundings and it is quite difficult, sometimes impossible, for the avant-garde philosopher to synchronize himself to his surroundings. The avant-garde philosopher will, in turn, only be understood and perceived in fragments – and it occasionally turns up that people do not particularly like what they do not understand, even if they understand at least (important) fragments of it! For some biological reason, humans (and obviously also animals) like it when they master something: and it depresses them to find out that they do not, or cannot master a thing. So-called ego isn´t something that is necessarily there in the first place, but it may come into being when someone is deprived of his illusion that he masters something. Therefore, he may react with hostility and envy to that thing (i.e. to the avant-garde philosopher and his avant-garde philosophy). As the avant-garde philosopher is, in the words of Iron Mike, challenging, he may well be a nuisance, even a fucking nuisance to others. „Challenging God“ or „challenging the status quo“ might deem others (correctly) as a challenge to the established order and to those who profit from the established order, therefore those who profit from the established order aren´t likely to welcome the avant-garde philosopher so warmly…. In our times God may be dead and everything seems to be allowed, so the avant-garde philosopher or artist may appear to be accepted, however, mediocrity may also be an established order and the status quo, and someone who challenges mediocrity considered an enemy. Füssli/Fuseli says (in his Aphorisms about Art), that in a world where everyone strives for perfection, a genius need not expect to actually be welcomed or celebrated, but for him it may be true that he will be born posthumously. What is more, there are people that appreciate stuff, including the intellect of others, only when they can make a toy for themselves and for their ego out of it; due to his independence the avant-garde philosopher is not likely to become a toy of anyone, and so to some people only a dead avant-garde philosopher will be a good avant-garde philosopher.

Philosophers are appreciated, at least, by sapiosexual people. Sapiosexuality however in the usual case refers to what people can more or less truly understand, and that is stuff operating at maximal two intelligence levels ( = about 30 IQ points) above or below their own intelligence level. Maximum of persuasiveness of a leader (of any kind) can be expected to come into being when the leader´s intelligence is between 15 and 30 IQ points higher than that of the lead. Of course, people of much higher intelligence may be recognised and respected as such, but they are not likely to be accepted as leaders, buddies or lovers. They are foreigners and, maybe, outsiders. In the more depressing case, people´s sapiosexuality may beam when they see that they can mirror (or aggrandize) themselves in someone else´s intelligence, but implode when they find out that they cannot. In general, people like and accept people and stuff in which they can mirror themselves and may become hostile when they see they can´t, and when someone is vastly dissimilar from them. People also constantly and seemingly endlessly need something to talk about, as they are obsessed with talking and trying to make themselves important in relation to others. That seems to be a general human feature; the avant-garde philosopher may be in the splendid position that, with his stuff, he is elevated above the rat race and the sometimes brutal competition between those of roughly similar intelligence, but also excluded and ignored, as he does not deliver stuff people can talk about and make themselves important (therefore the avant-garde philosopher may mistake himself as a kind of egoless saint and „not affected by the trivialities of human struggle“ where in reality he is just a lucky bastard who is not challenged himself by it). – I am a very intelligent individual (and an avant-garde philosopher) and I could not say that I have met many sapiosexual people in my life. Actually I should attract sapiosexual people and people interested in intelligence like a magnet, but it rather seems I repel them like a magnet. At least, they´re not very interested in what I have to say, and they do not appreciate it so much. For instance, I can post very intelligent and beautiful (and funny!) stuff on social media and get, on average, 2 „Likes“ for it. I do not take that personally as I guess that Leonardo could come today and post his „Last Supper“ or Raffael could come today and post the Sistinian Madonna, to then get 2 „Likes“ as well – but that is even more depressing to see for the avant-garde philosopher: to see that there is something not exactly right with humanity. One would think that writers like Joyce, Beckett or Jandl, who had to suffer: that, with their art and effort, they opened up new spaces alongside new coordinate systems – but when the next Joyce appears, it may be revealed that they have opened nothing and that the new Joyce gets rejected like the old one had become for many years: So what is the purpose of art or the avant-garde and the suffering of avant-gardists, the avant-gardist may ask himself, as you frequently see that it is all for nothing and there is just eternal recurrence of the same? Of course, that isn´t the whole story, but a substantial amount of the story, and that is, for the avant-gardist, often quite difficult to bear.

In order to be an avant-gardist you have to stand at a higher level than the lead. – There may be narcissistic avant-gardists who find it funny to stand higher than the lead and to provoke envy in others, the true avant-garde philosopher will usually be above that level, and at least I could not say that I find it very pleasing to potentially subdue others – as I want everyone to be happy. Nevertheless, in order to be an avant-gardist you have to stand at a higher level than the lead. Avant-garde philosophers are usually so different from men that Nietzsche legitimately comes up with the question whether they´re human (all too human) at all. And actually: David Wechsler, a pioneer in the research of human intelligence, proposed that at an IQ level of 150+ actually a new species comes into being, different and distinguished from common man, the Homo sapiens sapiens. Let us say, they´re Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens. Their cognitive, mental (and psychological/interpersonal) processes are qualitatively different; tbere has been some stuff written about it; I say that with a highly gifted/IQ150+ person it is possible to develop thoughts in conversation at the level of theoretical abstractions, that can be scientifically and intellectually relevant. The great genius is a different species even from them (a Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens sapiens) as he can develop the most sophisticated theoretical thoughts that no one else can, also his psychology is likely to be different and distinguished and more refined than that of others. – Of course, making such distinctions and segregations is not likely to make you very popular, and I, as a good socialist and adherent of the notion of communion of creature, do not like it myself; however, it somehow resemblant to truth and I cannot help that either. People usually think they´re very smart, so when they see someone distinctly smarter coming around, they often are not very pleased, especially when they´re high IQ guys themselves who usually like to think they´re on top of the food chain. People appreciate the genius when they´re under the impression that the geniuses´ intelligence is one or two levels above theirs, which seems tolerable and reasonable to them; but when they see that the geniuses´ intelligence is ten levels above theirs and the genius, in general, is a quite different personality from them, they sometimes aren´t likely find that so funny anymore. – I think it was Enrico Fermi who once tried to measure the abilities of physicists, and he found out that while great geniuses of physics like Einstein and Newton would range at a maximum position of 100, most emiment physicists, like Fermi himself, would cluster at around 70 (note that I have to recall that from memory, it is likely not to be exact, nevertheless somehow similar to that Fermi (?) originally came up with). Maybe it can be said that the cognitive abilities of the great genius (i.e. in the case of the genius: cognitive as well as creative intelligence amplifying each other), his ability of intellectual penetration, resembles an IQ level of 200+, and is therefore out of ordinary human reach (therefore, Iron Mike was somehow correct with his estimate).

Again, I do not recall it at the moment whether it was Duchamp, Picabia, or a brother of Duchamp (or maybe still someone else) who said that expecting (immediate) success as an artist comes close to playing roulette. Apparently no laws can be extracted why something becomes a success and other stuff does not, or takes a long time to do so. Likewise, there are popular and unpopular geniuses, and for every Einstein or Picasso, who became successful and established relatively early in their lives, there is a Nietzsche or van Gogh who were born posthumously (or, in the more depressing case, an Ignaz Semmelweis or Giordiano Bruno, who were actively and purposefully punished for their contributions to mankind). Nietzsche said that nothing about Schopenhauer was more offensive to professors of philosophy as that he did not look similar to them. Amanshauser ruminated that fellows like Goethe or Thomas Mann would always be accepted without too much trouble during their lifetime, while freak geniuses like Nietzsche, Baudelaire or Edgar Allan Poe would always be met with resentment during their lifetime because they are too challenging for the bourgeois (an uncanny perspective for those who are, even they do not want it, trapped in such a life: that the only way to become accepted is actually death). Of course one could say that geniuses like Einstein and Picasso are, while fascinating, easy to understand, while Nietzsche or van Gogh are not; but actually, for the moment, I feel the trajectory of thought about the subject „why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?“ somehow becoming useless; consider that most people do not even come to the idea to evaluate things under the consideration „is it right or wrong?“ but „is it left or right/Christian or Islam/etc?“, it is alien to them that truth could be found outside such frameworks at all. Alpha and Omega about the question „why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?“ is that one does a good thing to write a couple of pages about it, since some things can be said about the subject, but finally it cannot be explained thoroughly; that, in many cases, avant-garde philosophers are not understood well by their contemporaries simply is a recurrent phenomenon in the world, and an expression of this world. My propositions serve as eludications that anyone who understands them finally, understands them as nonsensical when he has used them as steps to climb up beyond them (he must, so to say, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up on it). He must transcent these propositions in order to see the world rightly. So we may conclude that to the question „why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?“ there might be no rational and sensible answer at all. Genius is mysterious. Life is a mystery as well.

„Do you know what this summer has been to me? An endless ecstasy over Schopenhauer and of mental experiences such as I had never experienced before … I don´t know if I shall ever change my opinion, but at present I am convinced that Schopenhauer is the greatest genius among men … Indeed, I cannot understand how his name can be unknown. The only explanation is the one that he so often repeats, that is, there is scarcely anyone but idiots in the world.“

 Leo Tolstoi

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was one of the most ultraintelligent painters, his intelligence supposedly relates to an IQ score of 180, the world he inhabitated, perceived and computed was extremely vast, his epistemology comparable to that of Goethe, his art reaches the supreme goal of being, finally, inexplicable, incummensurable and not to be translated into other languages of thought without losing power and coherence, strange celestial and (un)earthly realms. It is not easy to say where the final conclusion about Bruegel´s oeuvre may be situated, it is always evasive, eternal sunshine of the spotless raving mind. Says his friend Abraham Ortelius: „He painted a lot that cannot be painted. All the works of our Bruegel are more thoughts than pure painting.“ Which is true, in some cases explicitely, in all cases implicitely, the lines between the sensual, the (subjective) thought and the (objective) idea are blurred in the most profound way as they are (in some way) mirrored in each other; as is the line between the subjective and the objective in general; (spiritually) Bruegel is both a nominalist and a realist, and he neither is a nominalist nor a realist (and probably you can shed some new light on the problem of universals by meditating about Bruegel); there is no exact monadology or harmony, but of a perception of disharmony in the world he creates an (idiosyncratic) intellectual and spiritual harmony of vision.

Bruegel´s life remains in obscurity, he was born between 1525 and 1530 and he died 1569 in Brussels. Despite his interest in peasant life it is likely that he was an educated townsman and, as a common thing for painters, he traveled through Europe to get impressions from nature and learn from other painters. He lived in a time of upheaval at the dawn of modernity: Nature had become tacitly manipulable, for very far-seeing eyes God was about to become gradually dethroned and the understanding of nature and the cosmos as an eternal and static order gradually shattered, you had religious wars and violence alongside political upheavals, the gradual formation of the nation-state and struggles for independence. Bruegel seems to be concerned about situating man in his environment, and a general message seems to be that man should not leave his individual place in society and disturb the natural order, else he gets punished (like Icarus or the Babylonians): Note that Bruegel lived at the very dawn of modernity, and innovations are usually not welcomed in traditional societies that have learned some humble ways how to wrest humble meals from nature and therefore view novel ways of doing things as dangerous experiments that lead to bad harvest (which they often are, or had been) – and note also that disorder and destruction of harmony is what the genius abhors and fears (see also Newton´s stubbornness concerning religion, Einstein´s stubbornness concerning refuting quantum mechanics or Goethe´s stubbornness concerning his theory of colours). And so you have most eccentric visions in the works of Breugel, an extremely vibrant force in everything that comes out of itself, seems to try to transform, maybe only to be thrown back onto itself and its own incapability to trancend itself on the one hand, and the extreme need for frame and order and meaning on the other hand („Dionysian“ vs „Appollonian“, if you like): Corresponding to his ultraintelligence and fine genius, Bruegel does not only depict the vastness of the world but tries to give meaning to it by tacitly moralising and trying to give it a moral framework. He is very concerned about the world as a moral phenomenon, desperate about the obvious inexistence of the world as a moral phenomenon or at least the lack of moral in it, therefore eager to make his art carry moral instruction and elatedness. He is very concerned about the cohesion and coherence of the world, the vast heterogenousness of the world, and of man´s insufficiency, nevertheless always escapes the unifying vision of the genius – and so you have both ecstasy and raving out of joyousness over the geniuses` own ability to perceive and give meaning to the world and to share it to others, as well as ominous depression and near-psychosic neurosis about the final inability to do so and being, like a neurotic, trapped in his own world (in the case of the genius, the world of his own inner riches that he tries to project into the world).

While Bruegel depicted the horrors of religious persecution of his time (the persecution of the Protestants in the Netherlands by imperial Catholic Spain as Spain feared to lose control over them, executed by the brutal and sinister Duke of Alba), it remains even unclear whether he was Catholic or Protestant himself, what is clear, however, is that Bruegel was that kind of man who transcend such limitations and make them look stupid, instead, they make religion by themselves. Religion, however, is rather present in the work of Bruegel via the sacred individual, in the Conversion of Paul or The Sermon of Saint John the Baptist (which indicates that Bruegel at least had sympathies for the Protestants and their proclamation of a new religion), apart from that religion rather is presented as a dangerous thing that leads to manslaughter, atrocities and violence (Massacre of the Innocents) or ridiculous hybris and self-aggrandizement of man (The Tower of Babel). Not only in The Sermon of Saint John the Baptist but also in the Procession to Calvary Bruegel however depicts a human race largely indifferent to the suffering of others and to the spiritual, but people (pseudo-)immersed in their own, more or less, serious affairs. Many listen to John the Baptist for entertainment purposes – although Bruegel usually depicts that it is not their fault: they are, more or less, innocent as they simply cannot be reached and touched by the spiritual. As there is nothing truly divine to be found in this world, or there may be just a deus absconditus that becomes deus relevatus only to the artist and the exceptional individual, Bruegel throws back man on himself and frames nature in itself: therefore you have the impression of everything being made of forces that are eager to unleash. In the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking I made some buzz about the great genius always seeing an eruptive, if not explosive vision before his inner eye, and also in Bruegel you always have eruptions (most explicitely, the tower of Babel erecting and growing into the sky).

In Bruegel´s vision, you have a communion of creature. Peasant and noble man are alike, they are of the same flesh and moral status, maybe they both are cripples, either as a punishment for sin, or due to the indifference (or meanness) of nature itself. Therein you may both sense a democratic and philantropic vision as well as a warning against hybris – as well as a vision of everything mirroring everything else as you have it in great art. (Why does hybris seem to be a topic that Bruegel so prominently depicts (a notion that forgets, however, that hybris isn´t such a prominent topic in Bruegel´s oeuvre, in which you have the entire spectrum of human (mis)behaviour, as kind of implicitely explicited in the Netherlandish Proverbs or the Children´s Games)? Bruegel was depicted as a very calm man, and boastfulness usually is alien to the genius – the fight against hybris and all other sins, in order to get rid of them, the quest for moral perfection is however the geniuses´ quest, and his achievements, talents and visions surely went to the head of that calm man, which surely embarrassed him and made him uneasy every once in a while.) In Children´s Games he portrays children as somehow grown up, indicating that they are, in the end, alike, and the affairs of grown-ups comparable to child´s play. Likewise, you have Blind leading the Blind as a vision about humanity.

Bruegel´s vision of the world is not a pleasant one, and you have landscapes of death or horror or of hell in his oeuvre. It is an egoistic world of Big Fish Eat Little Fish with man topping all the other fishes (and the vile and resolute look of one of the fishermen, with a knife in his mouth, indicates that some of men seem to sadistically enjoy it (with animals actually not being much better, nor man being much worse)). You have mourning about the Treacherousness of the World and an obvious fine man turned into Misanthrope (leaving open the possibility of weakness in the misanthrope himself and an implicit warning that a truly noble heart cannot be corrupted). You have hellish visions, that are, nevertheless, populated by clumsy demons that do not seem to be real or harmful, indicating that the true hell may be the man´s world. Divine spheres are more or less absent, although Bruegel made an iconic depiction of the Land of Cockaigne – as a narrow garden of largely earthly delights. Celestial heaven, as a sphere where you can see and feel all the beautiful things maybe is not a tangible place for men who are largely not able to see, feel and experience much with their hearts. The seperatedness between the artist (or the saint) and the world is also a latent topic, most prominently depicted in The Painter and the Connoisseur where behind the contemplative, concentrated, helpless-melancholic-unnerved artist there is the bourgeois who is impressed by the magnificence of the artwork and instantly opens his purse to buy it – and ironically, the bourgeois in his naiveté looks more likeable than the somehow grouchy artist.

Bruegel is famous for the depiction of peasants and peasant life. Although the peasant was a subject of mockery to the more educated people at that time, Bruegel´s depiction of peasant life is – although of course not free from depiction of human error – empathetic and it does not come as a surprise that he enjoyed attending peasant festival, weddings and funfairs. I also get immersed into watching children playing, their innocent but powerful movements that seem to actualise the full potential of gesture and immersion into itself. The innocently raving mind is the geniuses´ mind, and it does not come as a surprise that by watching children playing or peasant´s dancing, the genius feels that such must be heaven! Of course the genius knows that those gestures are, to a considerable degree, empty and behind the seeming ecstatic creativity there frequently is no creativity at all – however, he gets a very pleasant impression, also of human innocence, of humans enjoying themselves and being immersed in themselves – and it is a vision of the self-sufficiency of creature that he enjoys as well in it. In Bruegel´s peasants you often have vulgarity or an expressionless physiognomy due to the absence of soul, but there usually is no meanness (although of indications of meanness there is no shortage, of course).

Bruegel´s physiognomies are a mix between individuality and idiosyncracy, typology and caricature, all mirrored in each other at once, and the richness of how to depict it in always new ways is another expression of Bruegel´s overabundance. Bruegel does not depict humans as truly vile, instead there is dignity in most of them, it touches the heart to look at the personnel of the Peasant Wedding being content with themselves while eating, even if it is animal-like and there seem to be no higher interests – but they are not to blame and the genius usually rejoices when he has the possibility to watch someone innocently enjoying something and, therein, fully actualising himself in his own self-containedness and immanence. Look at how the aberrations from beauty, like the physiognomy of the bag piper and his friend at the Peasant Dance, are giving identity nevertheless, although the tastyness of it seems to predominantly lie in the carefulness (and empathy) of artistic execution. Even the many demons like in the Dulle Griet or in The Fall of the Rebel Angels look like funny little animals, and they provoke some sympathy as they are obviously cursed to a ridiculous existence for their lack of character and their debasedness, and they actually look harmless and neither affect the Saint Antonius and not even the Dulle Griet. In some paintings, mostly those portraying peasants at the harvest, you have an absence of physiognomy, and the rather uncanny Beekeepers are defaced – people reduced to their social role (the Beekeepers are a late work and it is curious to think how Bruegel would have developed had he lived longer). Facelessness, however, is also a good principle, as it indicates the concilliation of the subjective and the objective, the individual and society, etc.

As it was about situating man in nature, Bruegel was also (kind of) revolutionary and hugely impressive as a painter of landscape: Karel van Mander noticed that Bruegel, on his journeys through the Alps, seemed to have „devoured all the mountains and rocks, to spit them out as paintings again – that close he had been able to get to nature in this respect, and in others“. It is true that the productive mimesis of the genius goes that far: he internalises things in his mind and soul and recreates them. Bruegel´s landscapes usually are extremely vast, diverse and depicted in great detail, most prominent to be seen in The Tower of Babel or The Hunters in the Snow. They are neither real nor overly surreal, they are neither an abstract „idea“ of landscape nor an exact realisation, they aren´t exactly sublime nor are they indifferent – again it is difficult to find out how Bruegel actually situates man in nature, or nature in nature, or nature in a divine order. The hunters seem to have, in a humble way, captivated and domesticated a bit of nature but seem to be far from the dominium terrae and the cultural mandate expressed in the Old Testament („Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.“). In the vision of Bruegel the Elder, there seems to be some tacit symbiosis, some possibilities of exchange but also a vast indifference and impossibility of communication and communion between man, animal and nature. Man and animal in nature and nature in nature – a story of heterogenousness, as told by Bruegel.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a famous and respected man during his lifetime, and after his death his sons carried his legacy. Nevertheless he had not been very prominent for centuries afterwards and came to be misunderstood, for instance, as a minor copycat of Hieronymus Bosch in the 19th century even by respected art critics – LOL, what a stupidity – but this often happens to the most intelligent people. In the 20th century the implications of Bruegel´s worldview and artistic vision became honoured and broadly understood, and it is actually difficult to fully understand and appreciate Bruegel before our own age (concerning Bruegel and Bosch, it needs to be said that Bosch lacks Bruegel´s humour – and in Bosch´s world evil is not man-made — whereas in Bruegel´s world of man and deus absconditus it is man who is responsible for evil: that is not to be taken as a derivativeness but there is actually a broad spiritual and cognitive distance between those two visions – apart from that, when a genius seems to copy another genius, it will not be because of lack of own imagination, but because there is a familiarity of mind and competence – and because to honour the predecessor and to establish another mirror view).

To sum up, in Bruegel´s vision you have ecstasy, eccentricity and eruptions of overabundance and a strong sense of connectedness and how stuff is mirrored in other stuff. As it had been frequently said in those notes about artists, art is about revealing the existential ontology of a thing via presenting a thing mirrored in different or in dislocated contexts that shed new light on the thing. Bruegel, via his omega mind, more or less shows the existential ontology of the entire world! He is able to investigate relationships and interrelatedness of any kind, and then to ironically question them, respectively, via irony, add an additional point of view to the entire structure. Bruegel´s vision, and Bruegel´s mind, is, more or less, complete and Bruegel´s world floats and stabilises itself via the solidity of its own endogenous set of equations. See how you have everything, or may see with your inner eye, as a burning chamber, every person, every peasant or demon, throwing some light on his surroundings – without, however, illuminating the whole world. It isn´t the case that „every thing mirrors everything else“ or that the world is an „endless network of jewels“ or a monadology where every monad contains everything else and the complete history of the world, including the world´s future, as the enlightened mind often claims it is: it is a world of more or less limited areals, where some connections are possible (to some), others aren´t. And, as it seems, if the enlightend mind is honest to itself, that is how the world truly is. Endless and without limits (?) is the mind, heavily bumping into each other and blocking themselves are the objects of the real world. Bruegel the Elder depicts the world, in general, as a kind of purgatory. Which, however, means that it is up to the individual itself and the duty of the individual to make a good impression via catharsis, reformation and refinement.

P.S.: That I said in the introduction that Bruegel´s intelligence relates to an IQ of 180 is a personal guess at the moment, maybe Bruegel´s IQ was only 160, but, given the vastness and sophistication of his intellect and the total inner cohesion of his vision, I guess it was considerably higher – and actually as high as human intelligence can ever get (note that this does not mean that Bruegel would have scored 180, or even 160, at an IQ test, since especially an artist´s intelligence is not what IQ tests adequately measure and represent – however I try to estimate a person´s intelligence via the level of analysis and integration, abstraction as well ability to see individual aspects to a thing, and in such respects, Bruegel´s intelligence is hardly ever reached and maybe only in the case of Leonardo only ever truly topped). I do not come up with this out of an intelligence/IQ fetish, which is viewed with suspiction in our society, but as a matter to achieve clarity about the Bruegel case! Having said that, it may come to mind that maybe Bruegel even had an IQ of 200! Note that very high intelligence and creativity will come in as a kind of psychosis to others, due to the extreme throwing up of heterogenous and diverse material at once and the eagerness to establish hardly intelligible connections between all of it, however, only as a kind of psychosis, since, to the sympathetic observer, it will reveal itself as a vast cosmos of sense and meaning, not the collapse of meaning as you have it in psychosis. There´s no abnormality to it, but hypernormality. As I follow along these lines of thought and establishing perspective, it comes to me that Bruegel the Elder depicted the psychosis of the world! Jiiiiiii! A completely rational depiction of the psychosis of the world! Finally, maybe the ultimate fulfillment the human mind can reach is that it is not an („enlightened“) mirror image of an „endless network of jewels“ that would make up the real world (a vision that is a lie!), but that it is the endless hall of mirrors (ego should also evaporate when a stage like this is reached). Bruegel´s interior is the endless hall of mirrors. So you see, it is not meaningless when reflecting about things with the help of IQ scores.


Update about Extreme Metal (Architects and Iconoclasts/Morbid Angel)

„Kingdoms Disdained“ by Morbid Angel is (once again) unbelievably strange and otherworldly death metal, this time from 2017 Chaos A.D. Guitar riffs that have no resemblance to guitar riffs, song structures that are incomprehensible, nevertheless architectures and structures that stand erect, tall, upright, intimitating and as ancient relicts from the future, it reminds of Kataklysm´s opus magnum in aloofness from anything commonly accepted, „Temple of Knowledge“. As you gradually awaken, it appears to you that even the solipsistic production seems to make sense. Architects and Iconoclasts. I am very happy with it, and that it took them 17 years to actualise a really good album since „Gateways to Annihilation“ can be forgiven as you see them opening another gateway to strange dimensions and stranger aeons and giving new impulses to the most philosophical genre in popular music – extreme metal – and paving ways for a bright future (although the album is, of course, and as always, about world downfall caused by the resurrection of the Ancient Ones blabla). „Kingdoms Disdained“ is a major event, almost like their first two albums, centuries ago. Hell yeah, death to false metal. 

Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal

Update about the Fourth Dimension

I have repeatedly stated that the genius sees things in an additional dimension, as there are no conventions how higherdimensional objects are to be seen and recognised in society, he has no true instrument to figure out and has to rely on his own „intuition“ and „vision“ (respectively rationality). That is, originally, private and primordional, I have spoken about how the genius sees a field of intensity (as the soul-like abstraction of an entity he wants to describe), and then wants to move through this intensity and let the intensity shoot through itself, to, somehow, turn the field of intensity inside out and open it into a space of negative curvature (at least in the case of the transcendent genius as opposed to the immanent genius) – that is an immediate expression of the intellectual and somatic processes that happen in the mind and the body of the genius if he deeply thinks about something. In the note about Giacinto Scelsi I think I have illustrated that, whose „compositions“ where vibrating spheres of an extreme interplay of intensity and stasis, etc. – it was the intensity shooting through itself. Intensity vs form you have, prominently, in Beethoven´s music, and that kind of inversion and erecting a somehow paradoxical structure that opens into another dimension in some of John Lennon´s compositions like Strawberry Fields Forever, I am the Walrus and, most perfectly, Tomorrow Never Knows, or in the entire The Piper at the Gates of Dawn album by Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett.

When I read that Duchamp was keenly interested in the „fourth dimension“ respectively in painting how fourdimensional bodies would appear in a threedimensional world, how their „shadow“ would be, or how it would be if a threedimensional object took a ride through the fourth dimension, it said that if a threedimensional object would take a demi-tour through the fourth dimension, it would return mirror-reversed and inside out. (That is to say, the genius intuition proves correct or adequate.) If I remember correct, that is also how Cube2 – Hypercube can be interpreted, the sequel to Cube, an enigmatic mystery/horror film where people are trapped inside a gigantic cube-like structure for unknown purpose: In Cube2 – Hypercube they are trapped inside a hypercube/tesseract! Despite the dramaturgy and grouppsychological dynamics are a bit of a cheap copy of the original (which is why it got largely dismissed by the audience, including my friends), I found the enigma of the hypercube (and of the conspiracy behind it) extremely immersive and, as also quantum physics got mentioned, it made me think a lot about it. In that respect, Cube2 – Hypercube was one of the coolest films I´ve seen.


UPDATE 011518: LOL


Francis Picabia

One of the coolest and most stunning exhibitions I´ve seen was the Francis Picabia exhibition at the Kunsthalle Krems in 2012 – Krems and the Wachau region is by the way considered one of the most beautiful places in the world, it is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and the train ride from Vienna to Krems is something I find extremely pacifying. – Picabia was one of the greatest talents among the painters of the 20th century, and he had one of the most unusual visions. A permanent experimenter and close friend of Marcel Duchamp, he emerged from impressionism and would subesequently touch upon many streams and possibilities of art/painting, he had an influence on Dada, ironically hailed the machine age, he painted a beautiful series of portraits of Espanolas, in the Transparences he painted in multiple layers, he was a painter of nudes as well as of portraits that are, well: proto-pop art? Or just unintentional, immediate art?, and finally he would turn into abstractionism.  What he did is not something you would expect. Picabia´s paintings are all immediate and well-formulated, nevertheless you are always under the impression that they are on the run and there´s irony to them: Product of a very quick and malleable mind. It is difficult to put into words what makes their metaphysical quality (i.e. showing the possibility of another world in the world that you immediately present), when I look at Picabia´s paintings, they suddenly collapse into themselves, into a (pseudo) singularity and from there form anew, probably into something completely different, but no less (meta) ironic, a hasty child laughter accompanying the process. – You´re under the impression that Picabia created no great masterpieces although many pieces like Femme à la cigarette, La Femme au monocle, Mardi Gras (Le Baiser), Femme nue, Ganga, L´élégante, Petit soleil, Cynisme et indécence, Espanola à la guitare, Nu devant un paysage et al. are very cool, and in fact it is the entire oeuvre that galvanises. Picabia´s oeuvre is extremely vibrating in being such an expression of – art … and the spirit of art – I reiterate, I am very happy that I have seen this grandiose exhibition! – Some (like Marcel´s brother Gaston) said that the permanently experimental nature of Picabia´s oeuvre is because – while being a major talent – Picabia would, in reality, lack depth and personality, but as I state once in a while, escaping the boundaries and bondages of personality (and depth) is not necessarily a bad thing as it makes you more flexible and fluid and a better human being (it is true however, that, upon reflection, Picabia´s Transparences, alluding to the possibility of experiencing the multilayeredness of the world, do not acually reveal metaphysical depth or a deep structure of the world, rather an indifferent togetherness if not juxtaposition (also his writings are, well, a juxtaposition of superficiality and depth (which is, however, not uncommon among artists (and one of his aphorism says: „What widens our personality is good, what can do harm to it is evil, therefore God has no personality.“)))). – Despite the appearance of a jovial hedonist, Picabia was described nihilistic and profoundly negative; an eminent mismatcher like Duchamp, he was likely to reply to anything by saying „Yes, but…“ or „No, but…“. Of himself he said, he is the anti-artist – and signed many of his aphorisms with „Francis Picabis, the funny chap“. Indeed, he was a kind of a joker in the art world, as he was actually more evasive than Duchamp: Whereas Duchamp was more radical concerning the means of doing art, Duchamp´s urinals etc. are profound oeuvre-like manifestations; Picabia´s paintings are somehow more difficult to grasp, they have a vanishing point in the creative implosion of painting and somehow contain their own swansong just to immeditately rise anew, fresh and impudent (though no less unstable; respectively it is that very specific mix between masterful, apollonian erection and chaotic, dionysian destruction/evasion that establishes a unique Picabiadian viewpoint on the usually contained inner forces of any great art). Going from floor to floor of the art palace, Picabia seemingly stops his paternoster always in an eccentric entresol respectively between two floors and then laughs from half below or three-quarters above. Hans Art called him a „Columbus of art“ (who „sails without a compass“), and Picabia had an influence on postmodernism and, specifically, Sigmar Polke. When Picabia was terminally ill he received a note from the aging Marcel Duchamp that simply said: „Cher Francis, à bientot.“

The Genius of Marcel Duchamp and its Disastrous Consequences

Some say he was the most intelligent man of his century, others call him the artist of his century, Breton said he was the most unique man of his time: And it is true that, if a man can ever do that, Marcel Duchamp carried the infinite; even when he (relatively early) ceased to produce art to play chess instead (it was a profound and supremely honest artistic statement), or when his final piece of art after thirty years of eloquent silence, revealed posthumeously, (Etant donnés) became an infinitely entangled mix of seriousness and silliness, of recollection and abandonment of his own cosmos, of bringing together the most profound and elementary (the Eros, the Great Mother, desire etc.) and revealing its possible banality (or construction via the voyeuristic gaze or the human mind/imagination that obviously, at large, has nothing better to come up with), etc. Genius spiritualises everything, says Dali, and everything Duchamp did was art – what is more, it was an artistic statement, and the way Duchamp spiritualised everything (in such an unexpected way) was that, via apparent dislocation, Duchamp gave meaning to everything and established an infinite space of context: to be correct, he established a new coordinate system within which objects can be located within an open infinity. – And what a guy he was! Everybody loved Duchamp! Journalists where very fond of him early on as he never gave them the impression to ask stupid questions, but instead unassumingly and in an uncomplicated way explained them the most avant-gardist art and the most avant-gardist ideas, and, therein, never seemed to be keen to promote himself and his own art: Instead, he rather liked to talk about art in general and expressed interest in all kind of things. He had the most profound innate understanding of art and the many divergent trends of his time, and other artists and collectors relied heavily on his opinion even though he was an obscure figure for the most time of his life and achieved international fame only as a senior citizen. He did not search for fame, rather, his quest was an inquiry into the possibilities that art may provide (like in the case of van Gogh) – and when he ceased to find further meaningful possibilities for himself in that respect, he ceased to produce art (so as not to replicate himself). There is this bonmot that he considered himself to be just „a breather“, as the elderly Duchamp would respond to a journalist´s question about his occupation, and he would also say that the entire undertaking of his life was to „get away from himself“ i.e. to move on to new territory: A mismatcher par excellence (like his friend Picabia), he was on the other hand always extremely centered and grounded in himself and fiercely identical to himself (in seeming contrast to the more extravagant Picabia). Although he was kind of a pessimist he was jovial and constructive. His intelligence was very extraordinary (and easily relates to an IQ of 160) but not monstrous and instead able to relate to anything; his genius did not express itself in a spectactular, theatrical ego of a great synthesiser as e.g. in the case of Dali, but in analysing and sorting things out in an unassuming way and with a somehow ironic, but for the most part complacent and self-satisfied smile that is at peace with itself. Despite his vast mind and triumphant knowledge, Duchamp was not an avid reader though, although he liked to listen to other artists when they intellectualised and internalised what they said and told him. Art dealer Sidney Janis said that Duchamp was nearly the only artist he had ever met who had the „inner security“ so as not to constantly feel the need to defend his art against the art and the approaches of others, who was open to everything and who also enjoyed art vastly different from his own – the only other artist of this kind was, in Janis´ experience, Mondrian (there is, however, the rumination that Duchamp did not read a lot because he eagerly wanted to defend his own vision and territory and not let other thinkers conquer or colonise it too much). The magic of Duchamp was that you had complexity in him as well as simplicity, elistism as well as populism, and not much by calculation but as a natural phenomenon. – If there is the question for the artist of the 20th century, the trinity Picasso-Warhol-Duchamp may come to mind – with Picasso the Father, Warhol the Son, and Duchamp the Holy Ghost. Duchamp was a meta-artist.

I am afraid I do not have the knowledge to adequately understand and evaluate Duchamp´s paintings (or I do not feel that I do). Duchamp´s major paintings are considered major by everyone – but the question remains whether most of them are truly Ivy league art of the 20th century. Greenberg, for instance, said that it is apparent that Duchamp left painting and revolted against „retinal art“ as his genius was „too mechanical“ to adequately dive into the depths of Cubism or, more bluntly, that Duchamp made „readymades“ and became innovative in other domains of art was due to the circumstance that he wasn´t a truly genius painter (Greenberg, though at large respectful with Duchamp, however was likely also a bit frustrated seeing how Duchamp invalidated his theories). I am rather under the impression that Duchamp´s genius was above painting and therefore it might be true that his paintings are somehow eccentric or may appear as if they would not rest in themselves (I reiterate, I cannot adequately answer that at the moment, I would need more expertise about painting and need to see the originals, I am not a painter myself and probably others are better suited to judge that in any case) – yet remember Dali when he said that he, Dali, was not a good painter himself because: „In order to be a good painter you need to be a bit stupid“ („And I, Dali, am too intelligent to be a good painter!“), so that it is simply a natural and structural issue that Duchamp was the painter he was and fully realised as the painter he could have been: since he was, in his way, too intelligent to be a „good“ painter. Duchamp´s major paintings – from Jeune homme est triste dans un train, Nude Descending a Staircase, The Bride to Tu m´ and the Large Glass look like a (meta-) reflection upon painting and upon the different styles of his time. He later would say that, for instance Nude Descending is not so much a painting to him but „an organisation of space and time via an abstract expression of movement“ or he would say that in La Roi et la Reine entourés des Nus vites he would „allude topics like King, Dame, act, velocity without actually painting them“ and approach them in an „unpolitical, humorous way“ and also as a potshot against then contemporary trends – there is no true „metaphysical“ depth in it (which Duchamp´s fanatic exegetes came to suspect in everything he did and to overinterpret into his art), no reflection about (as it is alluded) the „original sin“, the painting is just to be understood in an aesthetic sense and as an aesthetic experiment. – And it is true, that Duchamp´s paintings had the character of permanent experimentation and carrying a DeleuzeGuattarian„line of flight“ within themselves (that is their metaphysical structure/gleam). Duchamp was never a member of schools and movements (and he would later say that the rejection of Nude Descending by the avant-garde artists of his time for the, in today´s world unimaginable, reason that a „(lofty) nude cannot descend a staircase“ (i.e. do such a trivial thing) made him very sceptical about art movements and the avant-garde in general). He was only interested in a true „creatio ex nihilo“ (and when he later found out that it wasn´t possible for him to do so anymore he would abandon art to play chess instead, so as „not to repeat himself“ as an artist). Probably expressing the usual feature that genius can see „in an additional dimension“, Duchamp, in the 1910s, was eager to paint the „fourth dimension“, respectively how a fourdimensional body would appear in our threedimensional world (therein also extenting the major problem of painting: how to project a threedimensional spatial reality onto canvas) – and he would say that The Bride was the painting where he was actually able to see the fourth dimension (to obviously lose interest in the fourth dimension as an explicit problem afterwards: His last painting, Tu m´ (obviously alluding to „tu m´emmerdes“ (you annoy me) or „tu m´ennuies“ (you bore me), looks like an impatient gaze into the fourth dimension, with the attached bottle brush as an object reaching into a additional dimension, somehow (not so) ironically alluding to King Arthur´s sword Excalibur or Wotan´s sword Notung rammed into the treedimensional world that will give him able to handle it the magical and mystical powers of the fourth dimension and make him the overman). Already in his paintings Duchamp expressed his innocent joy about puns and wordplays – which can be regarded as an expression of Duchamp´s ability to make (paradoxical) associations, also between remote concepts, and to permanently shift from background to motif: Associative horizon, as it is called by Paul Cooijmans, is an ingredient of genius and the ability to actually see in an additional dimension respectively to establish a n+1 (or n+x) dimensional perspective upon things regular people can´t. „There is no solution as there is no problem“, Duchamp would say concerning the fanatic exegesis concerning his major work, the Large Glass, that would come into being late in his life: And it is true that great artworks (or, at least, great meta-artworks) are free-floating associative structures or association-fields that establish and stabilise themselves via their quasi-endogenous equations (and therein, they imitate life, as life itself is a conquest for establishing relations and connections that establish endogenously meaningful structures and personal environments). Most of Duchamp´s major paintings carry explicit erotic content (though they are about (egoistic) desire, not love), that is to say, they are about the „big things“ in life – and the great artist is he who identifies the „big things/subjects/topics“ of life. The Large Glass was Duchamp´s most major work, he worked 8 years on it, including writing reflections about it, only to lose interest in advancing further and leaving it unfinished (and when it broke to pieces years afterwards, Duchamp wasn´t shocked but calmly restored it, diligent craftsman that he was). It truly carries the insignia of a great artwork/“masterpiece“, it is large and overdimensional, it is painted on an unconventional medium (glass), it is about an archetypical subject, it is enigmatic, it is both static and dynamic, it is highly original and unparalleled and incomparable, it is „infinite“. In the Large Class as well as Etant donnés (and many others of his artworks) Duchamp seemed to revolve around libido or desire as the prime mover of the world, but rather in a pessimistic and nihilistic way – and the Large Glass is a reflection that the desire of both the boys and the girl are nothing but egoistic – so that the question arises whether Duchamp understood so much about love at all (since, to some considerable degree, love, and the world in general, is not egoistic). At any rate, even when apparently fixing the „deep ground“ of the world, Duchamp obviously remained no metaphysicist, but a metapyhsical ironic, who would distance himself from what he just said in a minute (without, however, losing what he just said).

(Duchamp was a master womanizer and they were all very fond of his both sharply contoured as well as soft personality. However, if you consider the short-time marriage to Lydie Sarazin-Levassor and read Lydie´s sad memoirs (written decades after the marriage, but however very balanced, apparently free from hostility and obviously doing justice to Marcel) you will get the impression of a crack in Duchamp´s alleged lofty personality – and commentators to the memoirs would rather not see an art monk or saint in Duchamp but rather a somehow narcissistic and egoistic maverick devoid of true feelings for others. Remember that the reasons for the short-time marriage, orchestrated by Picabia, are somehow obscure: most consider money the sole motive, others suspect a dadaistic joke by Picabia – however it obviously was an experiment to truly settle the nomadic (and impovershed) Duchamp (who was, at the age of forty, already an ex-artist with no true plan in life) in ordinary life, by marrying him to the (intelligent, but young and naive) daughter of a wealthy man, but not least as the wealthy father did not support the young couple a lot, the marriage would not last long. Duchamp was, at first, very charming and natural to the young Lydie, but gradually became more emotionally withdrawn and increasingly emotionally cruel to her – maybe calculatedly, to drive her away from him, despite, however, also showing signs of friendliness to her. At least Lydie´s memoirs show that Duchamp was not completely an elevated monk but could become truly angry and frustrated by the upheavals of everyday life that was not dear to him or when it came to voice resentment against the art market – moreover they reveal that Duchamp´s gentleness as well as his (justified) fierce struggle for independence was kind of paradoxical as they seemingly involved some indifference towards other´s feelings and egoism: Max Stirner was one of the few authors Duchamp really had read and obviously embraced: the notion of the aristocratic individual that deserves to be fed by others and the (productive) egoism involved. Other exes, like Mary Reynolds, thought that, while being a nice guy, Duchamp was not able to truly love and surrender to a person. Consider however also that most women – including Lydie – Duchamp met in his life were not exactly of the kind that Duchamp could take them very serious (which does not excuse his behaviour of his potential for emotional coldness towards others), it seemed to be the extraordinary Maria Martins to which Duchamp somehow felt ready to surrender for the first time and his late marriage with the unconventional and natural Teeny was happy ever after (i.e. Duchamp was able to truly love when finding the right one). – When entering the marriage to Lydie, Duchamp wrote to his motherly friend Katherine Dreier that he is aware of what he is doing and it seems ok for him – if it would turn out sour, he, however, could change and rearrange things again (i.e. get divorced): Indeed, even it may have been natural to Duchamp as womanizer to leave many women with bleeding hearts respectively since Duchamp never felt heartbroken a lot and obviously had difficulties to truly imagine too much of respective emotions in others, there was no deep consideration of what his actions would do to Lydie and her family. The marriage with Lydie was no heroic episode of his life, but how much it truly invalidates the hero within Duchamp cannot be told.)

Duchamp lost interest in painting and „retinal art“ (i.e. art adressing the eye) and moved into art that adresses the intellect. He would later say that the „readymade“ was probably his most profound invention and his most important contribution to art – although he would feel to never have managed to give an exhaustive interpretation of what the readymade actually is and implies. And this is justified, because the readymade is the infinite as (the idea of) it establishes a new coordinate system within which objects in open space can be located. It was a new paradigm. It can be stated that in a world of manufactured urinals, manufactured urinals sooner or later will be reflected in art, just like in a world of Campbell´s soup cans, Campbell´s soup cans will become an object of art (i.e. there is some immediacy and simplicity in the readymade). Duchamp was avant-garde when he early on (in the 1910s) said that the bridges are the true objects of American art, the readymades he started as an intellectual game and experiment, the expostion of the urinal in 1917 was a metaphysical event that, in depth, was recognised decades later. Immediately the urinal is both a dadaistic debasement and calling-into-question of art, but also opens the possibility of extension of aesthetic perception and reflection as one is forced to recognise the inherent beauty of the urinal and of (manufactured) objects that now have become part of our world, and therefore also deserve to be recognised (and dignified) by artists. In a more general sense, with the readymade Duchamp did what an artist does: opening up new possibilities for the imaginary, but not only pronouncedly for the aesthetic imaginary but also the intellectual imaginary, adressing also the question of how the sensual and the intellectual can be truly seperated, respectively how profoundly they are ever interlinked. There is a reassessment of what the artistic/aesthetic/intellectual imaginary actually is or can be. As we have, referring to Agell de la Sierra, repeatedly stated, great art is metaphysical as it reveals the existential ontology of a thing (i.e. the possible aspects and connections of a thing) and replaces the desired vision of a thing-in-itself with the meta-noumenon of the exposition of the existential ontology of a thing – and the readymade is, so to say, the meta-noumenon of even that and, therein, the true and final statement a meta-artist could make in the 20th century. Other statements of the post-retinal Duchamp, besides playing chess, was introducing the „art coefficient“ as a (somehow democratic) measure and acknowledgement that creativity and judgement of art also lies in the audience and the eye of the beholder and that there is constant reevalutation of art – respectively the art coefficient is the relation between that that is openly expressed in an artwork, and that which is unexpressed, or maybe its subconscious, that is more subtly and permanently revealed. There also was the interlude with Rose Sélavy where Duchamp mimicked a woman – somehow expressing that the creative person is usually ambiguously gendered and has both „masculine“ and „feminine“ personality aspects. And then (by drawing a moustache on the image) he revealed that Mona Lisa probably was actually not a woman but a man – with the enigmatic smile being due to the secret the homosexual Leonardo would share with his model, therein shedding a new light (or maybe giving the answer) on the probably most emblemic (and enigmatic) work of art ever.

Duchamp and the afterlife and the legacy and the funny eyecatcher headline concerning his „disastrous consequences“: Duchamp was bitter about the art market and that he did not get his share during most time of his life (where he, as his initial paintings already began to sell at considerable prices, stopped doing art and feeding the art market, however), and later in his life he became sceptical about the commercialisation of art (including, however, recognising also the ever more limited obvious possibilities of creating truly original and „shocking“ art and be so staunchly innovative as it was possible for him and his contemporaries in his younger years at the turn of the 20th century) (including also the acknowledgment that the bulk of even the great artists is not out there primarily  for introspection and meditation in the first place, but for making money and achieving fame). He said that the true artist of the future would „go into the underground“. Superficially (and maybe also deeply) it can be said that Duchamp destroyed beauty and destroyed standards and paved the way for an „anything goes“ in art. An artwork is some peculiarity in the world, but at art fairs of today you are surrounded by stuff that seems just empty and meaningless peculiarities (respectively you are more or less excluively surrounded by urinals). His intellectualism (paved the way e.g. for Concept Art but) destroyed standards concerning craftsmanship (although, ironically, Duchamp was a very skilled craftsman). His own standard, that art, in the first place, has to be intelligent, is undermined by art that is unintelligent. His inclusion of the living world and its objects into art is now a typical artist who is overly contemporarian and makes something trendy without the metaphysical effort to reveal not only the contemporarian structure of society but also the deep structure of all society. Granted, that this is somehow polemic (and that Duchamp cannot be actually blamed for such things is apparent – although it raises the question about how constructive the influence of the innovative genius ever can be? Maybe life would be better if geniuses would not bother the world!) – there will be a sober note about the most contemporarian art somewhere soon. As for now, we will grant Duchamp absolution. Duchamp was a man who had simple but astonishingly great ideas, who were both the most eccentric and the most obvious. Everything he did and his mere existence as a „breather“ was art, respectively it was even the center of art. This is very rare and, at such a level, probably happens once in a century. If you think that contemporary art is stupid, remember that de Kooning said (to David Sysvester) that artists usually have stupid ideas and that also, for instance, Cubism (today widely regarded as one of the apexes of painting) was based on a stupid idea („… I don´t think artists have particularly bright ideas. Matisse´s Woman in Blue – Woman in a Red Blouse, or something, you know – what an idea that is! Or the Cubists: when you think about it now, it is so silly to look at an object from many angles. It´s very silly.“). That may give you some sense for relativity (however also of de Kooning´s erratic statement) and you may meditate about that. – Concerning Duchamp himself, his influence is not as direct and obvious as it may seem: The paradox of the most intelligent and original creators is that they, often after a prolonged period of incubation, become hugely influential, but also then also are actually never copied and they do not have true successors. They remain singular (and, as Einstein said: „It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely“). Such is also the case with Duchamp. Duchamp isn´t actually copied, and there is actually no one who truly tries to imitate him. In the Continuum, the realm where the spirits of the great ideas dwell, there is immediate connection with Duchamp possible, but not in the real world.

There is the question: If Duchamp came today, what would he do today? The possibilities of expressing his specific creativity seem long superseded (as you cannot shock anyone with a urinal anymore, etc.). Even if you think a lot about it and try to concentrate on it, no answer seems possible – in terms of content (or concerning the question whether Duchamp would become an artist at all in times like ours – but, as I guess, of course he will!). What can be said however, is that Duchamp is an avatar of Yorick, the fool/the trickster. The Yorick has always been there since the dawn of time and across cultures (think of Socrates-Diogenes or the Heyoka-Shaman), and he will always recycle himself until the end of time. This is also an aspect of the „eternal recurrence of the same“.


Additional Remarks on the Relentless Honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Consider Wittgenstein´s chief philosophical problem was how logical sentences can be translated into ethical sentences (and the impossibility of that). The Tractatus was an undertaking to reveal the structure of the world which ended with the conclusion that a logical analysis cannot account for the „mystical“ aspects of our existence, i.e. the truly interesting ones. The philosophy of the elderly Wittgenstein was then to undermine and deeply question the foundations of the supposed logical structure of the world (i.e. whereas the Tractatus and related philosophy would imply an ideal language and ideal logic, the Philosophical Investigations shatter such a notion and imply that there is no deep structure of language but that language evolves via practice and is prone to produce misunderstandings, etc.). In between there was Wittgenstein´s Lecture about Ethics (held when he came back to Cambridge in 1930) where he stressed that stuff like „the supreme good“ are not logical expressions but metaphors and, within a logical language, „unreasonable“ – that´s their nature. – Colin Wilson remarked that Wittgenstein was an odd fellow who was keenly aware of the problem of ethics in philosophy and that it cannot be resolved by logical „talking“, only to evade it and spend the rest of his life (logically) „talking“. Wittgenstein´s „nephew“, Paul, remarked that the two elder brothers of Ludwig, who (apparently) commited suicide, would have been even greater geniuses than Ludwig, for instance more poetically talented etc. – Remember, however, that, according to the Tractatus, the meaning of a sentence cannot be said, the meaning of something can only „reveal“ itself. And so, while Wittgenstein was silent as a moral philosopher, it was the way he lived his life with which he gave example and illustration of the ethical that is of objective importance (same can be said of Kafka and Beckett). Intentionally or not, this illustrates the great man. Talking about ethics or moral systems sooner or later leads to dead ends or contradictions, but Wittgenstein´s ethical conduct of life was (largely) free of contradictions.

Ethics and logics: There are things I am responsible for. If I take care for the things I am responsible for, I am ethical. If I deny it, I am unethical. If I take care for things I am not responsible for, my ethical conduct is superior. If I take this notion of ethical supremacy to its logical consequence, I will always be a failure, since the limits within which I can operate are narrow (which often produces crises within ethically supreme individuals). Maybe the categorical imperative of the supreme good is to treat the other better than he treats you.

Whether the universe is ethical: I think Einstein said our most basic choice is whether we think we live in a benevolent or a malevolent cosmos. The concept of Shakespeare´s/Verdi´s Jago or of the sadistic raisonneurs in the novels of Marquis de Sade of a malevolent, malicious God who creates things only to destroy them cannot be ruled out logically – however, they´re the cosmology of sociopaths. The philosopher and metaphysicist will be very interested and likely to get immersed into the stuff he investigates and he will develop high empathy for them (as a common characteristic of the exceptionally gifted). Therefore the philosopher will be a kind of ethical enthusiast. Let us generalise the ethical into „constructiveness“. It is, maybe, a transcendental principle, or a Transzendentalpragmatik, to think of a deep ground of the ontological as well as of the epistemological as something that is based on constructiveness. Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas comes up with the idea that the ethical is primary to anything else. To him, the ethical is respect for the other and the face of the other which is (as it is not identical to my face) the infinite. That we confront the other in this world, respectively our worldview and any knowledge of the world can only (effectively) constituted via the confrontation with the other, is something primary, and that we have to get along with the other is something primary. However, if the other is full of shite, my patience will sooner or later come to an end; apart from that some others are more proximate to me than other others, and great hostilities and wars are not caused by human hatred or disrespect for the other´s face but by natural interest conflicts. Friedrich Nietzsche, probably the most intelligent of philosophers, remarked (in the subsequent introduction to Morgenröte) that all philosophers have tried to make ethics the foundation of their work and their systems – and every time, it collapsed! Hence, he began to question ethics and moral themselves. Otto Weininger, who was probably even more intelligent than Nietzsche, wrote the probably greatest work on Individualethik which is, however, remembered as fiercely antisemitic and misogynist today and shot himself dead at an early age for obscure reasons: one of his final conclusions was that the supreme good cannot be achieved by the individual, what remains is the idea of the supreme good, as a guiding light. Wittgenstein was very fond of Weininger, but for obscure reasons considered his work as a colossal though grandiose mistake later in life.

Not long ago they had a Henry Fonda retrospective at the Filmmuseum Wien. There I saw The Grapes of Wrath (1940). The Grapes of Wrath is about uprooted and impoverished farmers who fall prey to obscene capitalism in the depression years. The film opens as Tom (Henry Fonda) is released from prison and tries to go back to his family´s farm (only to find it sold to capitalists). On the way he meets former preacher Jim Casy (John Carradine), who once baptised him but now has ceased to be a preacher as he had „lost his faith“, and refrains to make ethical judgements anymore since, as he found out, people are just doing what they are doing (and there is probably neither sin nor virtue). Unassuming and friendly, and somehow carrying silent wisdom, he joins the family as they move to California to find work. Shocked by the conditions impoverished farmers/proletarians fall prey to, he courageously helps a person that is persecuted by the law and finally dies as he tries to organise a strike against inhuman conditions (something that Tom opposed in the first place but later finds out that Jim was right to do – Tom´s history somehow repeats itself as he unintentionally kills the person that deadly hits Jim, and although the government becomes protective of the workers, Tom has to flee and leave his family again in the end). Jim Casy is a Christ-like figure, he has ceased to preach, he has ceased to judge, he just helps and supports and he does the right thing even if it means self-sacrifice. He has a calming presence. Occassionally there are people with such a calming presence, like Wolfgang, or Erich. At any rate, I want to dedicate this note to the memory of ex-preacher Jim. And as I can see on Wikipedia, the real-life inspiration for the character of Jim Casy was Ed Ricketts. So I also want to include Ed Ricketts in that.

Remarks on the Relentless Honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Personality disorders and emotional biases are something that does not evaporate at the higher levels of cognitive ability, as far as I can see. Whereas the main philosophical subject of my first book (Yorick) was the prison of subjectivity and the downsides of principium individuationis, the subsequent (and considerably less successful) ones have been about breaking the flesh prison and transcend personality to get an unbiased look at the world – they followed immediate bodily urges headed towards transcendence, quite painful ones, like my chest breaking open due to high internal pressure (i.e. there are internal states that are truly (and universally) meaningful and that cannot be philosophised away as a (mis)reading of Wittgenstein might imply). The transcendent mind is the honest. Yesterday when I started writing this note and wrote most of the subsequent paragraphs I intented to write about honesty in intellectuals e.g. Freud and, more significantly, Marx, both strong and determined and humanistic Aufklärer who however also were mystifiers and fanatics due to their emotions i.e. dishonest, but now I don´t feel like doing that at great length and in general I do not like it to be overly critical of others, not least I wanted to write about the biases and dishonesty of their followers which lies in that they have a (usually above average-penetrating) insight into a fragment of society which they then mistake as a glorious insight into the whole and want to spill it over the whole and they aren´t good at distinguishing descriptive from normative shit, etc., however it came to my mind recently that politics is an arena where forces (motivated by various interests) clash anyway, not a sphere of harmony and stability of reason: it is agonal, history, at large, a somehow mitigated chaos anyway, it is just that the Absolute Mind will be a somehow detached observer of that all. (That politics is agonal is something Marx said and where he clarified something, however he mystified it when he reduced it to the primacy of class struggle and when he said that the stupid proletariat is the locus of absolute truth; I wanted to say that it is, on the whole, amazing how a person as intelligent and seemingly sober as Marx who could generate powerful insights on the one hand could be so blind to the shortcomings and the reductionism in them on the other hand … probably because of this he became a much less productive intellectual in the second half of his life; there are assumptions that the elderly Marx ruminated a lot about whether his framework wasn´t somehow too simplistic and for instance he ruminated in a conversation about the possibility that it wasn´t class struggle as the supposed prime mover of history but rivalries between nations, but nowhere he systematically elaborated on that (and other stuff) and he does not even seem to have systematically thought about that (and other stuff); he had written the voluminous Grundrisse within months because he anticipated a crisis of capitalism and wanted to have a theoretical framework ready, the crisis came indeed but, however, was not an indication of a final cataclysm of capitalism, thunderbirds in the sky, as he had thought/hoped, but just a cloud that passed; in the latter part of his life he endlessly wrote on Capital (and could not complete it, though much of its content is already contained in the Grundrisse), whereas in his former years he had ejected profound writings on a somehow annual basis; maybe Marx did not want to weaken the worker´s movement by casting doubt on Marxism, but what seems more apparent is that Marx was actually incapable of doing that; I need to closer investigate this and somewhere in the future will write on Marx.) The friendly Zen masters teach us that out of 10.000 people who want to reach true Satori, 3 or 4 will finally do (which however does not invalidate Satori as an ideal that gives orientation and triggers aspiration and where convergence to it is fractal-like anyway: Should the Transbodhidharma come, also Bodhidharma will look a bit stupid, etc.). Perfect Satori, realisation of Absolute Mind/Master Intellect/Omega Mind or Cosmic Consciousness, as R.M. Bucke calls it, is something individuals like Laotse or (according to Bucke) Shakespeare or Balzac have achieved, however (according to Bucke) Walt Whitman was the first one in history who did not „succumb“ to Cosmic Consciousness as a somehow supreme instance (and then founded a religion or cult, or made unearthly things next to the most rational ones, like Pascal), but made it, well, instrumental and a tool for himself. If I am correct that was what I was thinking as well when fantasising about the #whitelodge. I am aware that this paragraph, because of its density, unelaboratedness and excessive jumping between disciplines, will be a bit unintelligible to people (at the first reading, but exegesis is, of course, possible) but I don´t fucking care and I just do what I like.

Shortly after Wittgenstein had withdrawn from philosophy and became an elementary school teacher in Lower Austria he wrote to Russell that he´s under the impression that the people of rural Austria are even worse than anywhere else (Russell, however, tried to calm him and replied that he thinks that they are just as bad as anywhere else). It has been noted that Wittgenstein beated his pupils when he lost his nerves with them. He tried to be constructive with them, however. When they had a hiking day and walked through the woods and a child became scared of the scenario, Wittgenstein approached him and said: „Hast du Angst? Dann musst du nur ganz fest an Gott denken.“ After Wittgenstein turned into philosophy and had gone to Cambridge again, he became himself ethically anxious and ruminated about his „sins“ because he was such an ethically conscious person. („What are you thinking about?“, someone would ask him. „Logics, or your sins?“ „Both“, Wittgenstein would reply.) The following Christmas holidays, when he had been in Vienna again, he took the uncomfortable trip over the Wechsel (a four hour trip in the midst of winter) to offer his sincere apologies to the girl he had brutally beaten years before. Meanwhile a woman, she replied with an indifferent „ja, ja“, and Wittgenstein had to take another four hour trip back home (over the Wechsel). Such was Wittgenstein. – When Wittgenstein gradually died from cancer he wrote in a letter to a friend that he was not fond about good news that his health had become better again after the first bad diagnosis, since he „did NOT have the wish to live much longer“, because, although he wasn´t very old physiologically, he had an „old soul“. Some years later when his doctor told him the end is finally close, he replied: „Good!“ His last words on his death bed, before he lost consciousness, were: „Tell them I´ve had a wonderful life.“ Such was Wittgenstein.

As I prepare to write a note about Marcel Duchamp I have just read Calvin Tomkins` biography (now for the, I guess, fourth time) and there it is mentioned that gallerist Sidney Janis was very fond of Duchamp, as he found that Duchamp was nearly the only artist he had ever met who had the „inner security“ to tolerate vastly different viewpoints and approaches as well and who was interested in art and artists very different from himself as well – as Sidney put it, he did not consider it necessary to „defend“ his own approach all the time (the other only artist he had ever met to be like that was Mondrian). I reiterate: (According to Janis) Duchamp and Mondrian were the only two artists who had such a quality of „inner security“, which I, a worm, would not have expected to be associated with great security, honesty or bravery at all but just a natural human quality. (I also want to write a note about Mondrian because 1) his wonderful, soaring in higher regions-name 2) the harmony of his spheres 3) because in Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts edited by Walther it is noted that of all the De Stijl artists who all wanted to reach harmony, Mondrian was the only one to actually achieve it.) – Note however that artists and people in general are usually not as bad as their reputation, quite frequently they are quite ok and when you meet them personally they are nicer than their behaviour on the internet would imply.

Wittgenstein is acknowledged as being the only philosopher who has developed two different philosophies in his lifetime (as a matter of honesty). However, I do not find it outer space to develop a (seemingly) different philosophy every week. I guess if the Hegelian Absoluter Geist is realised, there will be only one philosophy, it will be a consciousness over all the other philosophies, and it will be fully identical to itself. (Whether the realisation of the Absolute Geist pays off is something I don´t know though.)

P.S.: There is an early portrait of Wittgenstein at age 1. The physiognomy is already very impressive.

The relentless honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Rationality, Hyperrationality and Metarationality

Rationality means someone acts according to reason, i.e. thinks about cause and effect, adequacy of means and ends, intersubjectivity, a favorable outcome that is understandable for anyone not deluded (i.e. somehow according to the Kantian categorial imperative). It means you are not (immediately) slave to (blind) emotions. There are different and somehow distinguished types of reason (and e.g. postmodernism and critical theory, in their attempt to liberate us, probably have denounced natural forms of reason as alienations („instrumental reason“, „culture industry“ , etc) or inflated our notion about the heterogeneity of reason too much (but that is not as much a problem as anti-postmodernists are inclined to think)). Max Weber distinguishes between wertrational (value-rational) and zweckrational (goal/instrumental-rational), where zweckrational means orientation towards a rational outcome and wertrational means acting and reasoning in a rational way according to values (which, themselves, are not rationally investigated). Other types of action are, says Weber, emotional/affective action and traditional action (which are not rational). Rationality will be the dominant thinking mode of the somehow intelligent person. How much a person can distinguish himself from the downsides of Wertrationalität is a matter of psychology. Whereas strict Wertrationalität makes the stubborn fanatic, complete ideological/emotional unbiasedness is rarely ever there among humans, and, irrespective of what Western or Eastern enlightenment (KantHegelMarxetc vs. TaoZenShankaraetc) propose, there are probably no thoughts that are not based or come in with emotions at any rate.

Hyperrationality means permanently adjusting his worldview and actions to that what the sober rational insight demands. The hyperrational person will have insight and (at least a rational) access to that that is wertrational, zweckrational as well as affectual and traditional, and overview over the grand scheme and over the fabric of society which means that in his understanding of society (i.e. of the great heterogeneity) the hyperrational person will be flexible, fluid, experienced and quick. In order to execute hyperrational understanding over complex problems (i.e. problems to which there are, opposed to complicated problems, no definite solutions) a high crystallised intelligence is necessary (that will be accumulated via a vivid fluid intelligence). Hyperrationality means a higher level of awareness than mere rationality and, at least concerning the intellectual insight, less stubbornness, but does not rule out stubbornness due to emotional reasons. High intelligence means someone is likely to draw correct rational/logical conclusions from assumptions, however this does not mean the assumptions are correct, their selection can be heavily ideologically biased, and that high IQ persons have the same petty political opinions (or petty understandings in many other domains) and use the same weak rationalisations to justify their emotional or tradition-based choices as persons with a very low IQ is quite frequently the case. The probable downside of hyperrationality are detachedness from the living world and missed opportunities, but that need not be the case.

The genius is commonly perceived as an eminently or hyperrational person who seemingly also has access to the irrational (respectively to the abstractions of the irrational and to the aesthetic realm). They develop their rational concepts by asking themselves questions like how it would be if one travels along a ray of light, or they test their hypotheses by putting a blunt needle in their eye or endanger their eyes because of gazing into the sun. While such questions (and actions) are not actually irrational, they are not likely to come to the mind of a person who has a purely rational epistemology and way to look at things. It is difficult to sort out the true nature of that (and probably it is not one thing only), but the genius thinks eminently intuitively as well as counterintuitively and (apparently) paradoxical, and, in a way, ultradialectic, as he throws up many ideas and then tries to illuminate them from all different angles, with not much propensity to favour a specific angle over others (while on the other hand usually being extremely value-oriented concerning a universe that makes sense, which made Newton a theological alchemist and Einstein opposing quantum mechanics, i.e. somehow stubbornly irrational). It is as if the genius can see into an additional dimension that is invisible to others, obviously due to capability of making plethora of (counter/intuitive) associations to any given concept (which, in a genuine way, is no necessary quality of mere intelligence and convergent thinking, but of creativity and divergent thinking, respectively, as Cooijmans calls it, associative horizon). However, it usually turns out that the genius just sees what is so obvious and rational that other people, due to their indoctrinations, don´t see it, because he brings back a very basic rationality to the perspective (that gravity is a force and means curvature is, upon reflection, actually quite obvious). Let us say the basic/dominant way of thinking of the genius is metarationality.

Spirituality, Mysticism and Religion

More recently I purchased CDs with Masses by Orlando de Lassus, Hymns and Songs of the Church by Orlando Gibbons, some cool CDs from the Harmonia Mundi label with music for Epiphany and for Corpus Christi, and some other early music. I attended Christmas Mass at the Russian Orthodox Church this year and got me some CDs with respective music, I occasionally listen to Renaissance music on the internet and years ago I bought a CD with works by Thomas Tallis (motivated by the Fantansia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams, which is very beautiful). Apart from the ethereal vibration of that kind of music, resemblant to that of Scelsi, I was always attracted by the sacral, though I am not actually a religious person and not exactly a believer. But I seem to have always liked gravitas and sincerity, and the mix of sublime and the celestial as well as piety and humility, specifically expressed in such a kind of music. It gives me a sense of the gravitas and sincerity, the depth of the world – with, however, the deep ground not being a hostile or nihilistic abyss, but something that cares and protects, unobtrusively, even if that is only a mirror image of myself amidst cosmic indifference. Think of darkness in a late november evening, there is a cabin in the woods where inside there is a subtle light that illuminates and warms. That is the religious deep ground of the world.

Spirituality means a heightened and intimate intellectual/ethical/emotional attachedness to the world, somehow resulting in transcendence of personality and a transcendent perception of the world. There is a notion of a certain amalgmation of subject and object/world, respectively with the transcendent (God, infinity, nature, Tao et al.). It should bring about tenderness and familiarity with all that exists. A spiritual disposition can exist in a person per se and need not be something difficult to achieve; spiritual attachedness can be to anything, there is also superstitious or occult spirituality, or it can be a tool for a person´s narcissism.

Mysticism on the one hand refers to a deep (and very sincere) connection to the world, but to (aspects of) a world that is not immediately there but that are concealed, mysterious, deep and profound. The true mystic experience is considered to be a matter only for a very elevated mind, the mystic´s path usually involves pain, profound life experience and some sort of asceticism. Mysticism also refers to the unio mystica, i.e. the becoming one with God or with the supreme or primal instance of existence (e.g. infinity or Tao). It is not as plebeian as „mere“ spirituality, but maybe invokes false sense of grandiosity and megalomania. Mysticism involves some potential for obscurantism and diverse hallucinations, or it can be a tool for a person´s narcissism.

Religion etymologically refers to „careful consideration“ and devotion to the commandments. Unlike spirituality and mysticism it primarly refers to awe and deep respect for a higher instance that is forever out of our reach, and that is, finally, intangible. Although I am not exactly a religious person I referred elsewhere that I appreciate the idea of gravitas involved in that sentiment and that, although not exactly a believer, I like the idea of thinking of an instance that is forever more intelligent and better than myself and considering what it might say to me and how the instance would judge me, somehow like Kierkegaard´s jubilation about the idea that „against God we are always in the wrong“. Religion is a means for imposing power of a ruling class over people and also a means for giving an identity to people and a collective. Holding on to religious beliefs may be primarily based on lack of creativity and need not change or elevate a person very much (i.e. a paranoid person will have a paranoid understanding of religion, an anxious person an anxious one; good and altruistic persons will see it as an amplifier of goodness and altruism, etc.), or it can be a tool for a person´s narcissism.

To truly experience spirituality, mysticism or religion i.e. to increase attachment to the world and establish communication with the horizon of the world (i.e. the transcendent), it needs to involve the fundamental aspects of spirituality, mysticism and religion. Spirituality, mysticism and religion is a kind of trinity. Einstein´s „Cosmic Religion“ (based on awe for the sublimal depth and harmony of the universe and the quasi-sanctity of the truth-seeker) is like that and an expression of the extreme „mystical“ immersion and empathy of Einstein´s scientific mind and may be the expression of a religious sentiment in a modern, scientifically enlightened age, and gives a sense of how correct balance of the individual and the (horizon of) the world can be achieved, and, bearing that in mind, on rare occasions even be transcended: Extremely sophisticated and pure individuals like Sufi mystics Attar of Nishapur or Bayezid Bastemi are even in the position to argue and express anger (however: not revolt) against God, due to his shortcomings, occasionally they win the argument, occasionally they lose.

I see the spirituality/mysticism/religion trinity as a kind of sun before me, however it shrinks to a shining sun (or white dwarf) in my hand, maybe I move along, there are other planets surrounding me as well, but that one is, of course, important.