Anderes Präludium zu einer Notiz über Kiekegaard

Ach ja.

(Joakim Garff: Sören Kierkegaard. Biographie)

Philip Hautmann So finde ich ja auch nicht den Faust als das eigentliche Menschheitsdrama, sondern den Peer Gynt (von Ibsen als eine „bizarre Satire“ auf den Faust geschrieben (wobei mein Rompf wiederum eine bizarre Satire auf den Peer Gynt ist und daher wahrscheinlich einen noch höheren Grad an Realität aufweist ☺️)).
Philip Hautmann Faust, Peer Gynt, Ishmael, K., Malone oder Yorick der Narr sind literarische Figuren, in denen sich die Menschheit individualisiert. Faust erscheint als die übergreifendste und dramatischste, aber beim besten Willen auch als die bizarrste und inadäquateste, auch Nietzsche denkt laut nach, was vom Faust eigentlich überbleibt und was er letztendlich sein soll als halt die Entartung des nach Erkenntnis strebenden Menschen. Die radikale Transzendenzbestrebung des Faust hat man im Allgemeinen ja nicht unter Menschen, die radikale narzisstische Immanenz, die über nichts hinausweisen will als sich selbst, dann schon eher, oder zumindest hin und wieder. Der Faust hat aber Substanz, ist vielfältig verwend- und interpretierbar und macht uns ahnen, während der Peer Gynt keine große Substanz aufweist und uns nicht ahnen macht. 

Meta-Philosophen

Die Intelligenz von Meta-Philosophen wie Sokrates, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein oder Otto Weininger ist so hoch (oder zumindest so radikal), dass sie auch die der großen philosophischen Systematiker wie Hegel, Heidegger oder Marx übersteigt – weswegen es eben keine Philosophie mehr ist, was sie machen, sondern Meta-Philosophie. Ihr Denken findet auf einem höheren Level der Analyse und Integration statt, der Abstraktion sowie der Fähigkeit, Individualitäten und Aberrationen wahrzunehmen (und durch sie beunruhigt zu werden); es bewegt sich entlang einer Fluchtlinie, die negativ gekrümmt ins Unendliche und Unbekannte verläuft; das Erstellen von (notwendigerweise beschränkten) Systematiken ist nicht mehr möglich oder findet nicht mehr statt, und wenn, dann nur um gleich wieder subvertiert zu werden. Hegelsch gesprochen hat man da die Realisierung des Absoluten Geistes, allerdings in seiner absoluten Form. Die Realisierung des Absoluten Geistes in seiner absoluten Form wird keine Philosophie mehr sein, sondern ein Bewusstsein über alle Philosophien. (Ob sich die Realisierung des Absoluten Geistes in seiner absoluten Form für dessen Träger im Leben auszahlt, ist freilich eine andere Frage.) Jemand, der sowohl Kafka als auch Otto Weininger gekannt hat, hat gemeint, beide wären „verrückt“ gewesen: Beide hätten einen Satz bereits durchgestrichen, bevor sie ihn überhaupt erst niedergeschrieben hätten. Rimbaud hat gemeint, sein Zeitalter sei zu dornig gewesen für seinen großen Charakter und seine Weisheit werde „ebenso verachtet wie das Chaos“. Hell yeah!

The enduring brilliance of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Remarks on the Relentless Honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Additional Remarks on the Relentless Honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein

Präludium zu einer Notiz über Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard, eigenartiger Schreiber, sage ich mir wieder als ich die „Philosophischen Brocken“ durchgehe; jeder andere hätte das nicht so geschrieben, wie er es schreibt, vielleicht liegt die „Ironie“ darin, denn dieser K. ist ja aber nicht jeder andere, sondern der Einzelne. Seltsame Mischung aus anziehendem und abstoßenden Stil – was hat er da eben geschrieben? Und ist es überhaupt wichtig? Ja und nein. Man wird leicht unaufmerksam bei der Lektüre, am schlimmsten bei der „Wiederholung“, aber das macht nichts, denn man kehrt immer wieder zu Kierkegaard zurück und liest ihn immer wieder (Ironie der „Wiederholung“). Vollständige Originalität und creatio ex nihilo bzw. aus sich selbst heraus, kaum referierend auf irgendwas anderes – wo hat man das schon? Man ist hier an den letzten und ersten Dingen. Wir sehen uns wieder im Kontinuum.

 

http://mentalfloss.com/article/535132/facts-about-soren-kierkegaard 

https://aeon.co/essays/happy-birthday-kierkegaard-we-need-you-now

 

Quentin Meillassoux, Lee Smolin and Rick Rosner (and the Problem of the Finetunedness of the Cosmos)

Quentin Meillassoux is an interesting and original contemporary philosopher from France; since new philosophy is probably the slowest thing to diffuse and penetrate the minds of the more educated population, not very much is known about him at present in the German-speaking world (although, taking the usual standards into consideration, he may actually already be quite popular). I got me an anthology of him, Trassierungen, and read an article by him in Realismus Jetzt – Spekulative Philosophie und Metaphysik für das 21. Jahrhundert (with many of the other contributions in this volume referring to Meillassoux), both published by Merve. Meillassoux argues that since all attempts to ground our fragile existence in a (metaphysical) necessity (e.g. God) have failed time and again, our existence is necessarily a contingency, with the only thing being absolute being a Hyper-Chaos as a grundloser Grund from which that what is factual derives. From the Hyper-Chaos all things and the (natural) laws that govern things emerge without specific reason, and could also be changed without specific reason. This sheds a new light on an number of philosophical problems, i.e. Hume´s problem of induction/causality, the question whether the „Copernican revolution“ in philosophy by Kant wasn´t actually a mistake, the problem of the event as well as problems of religion, the existence of God, the afterlife, and ethics. The existence of God, for instance, is rather ruled out by Meillassoux, since, upon reflection, God is obviously a perverse God (i.e. via the problem of theodicy) – which, however, does not rule out that God, heaven, the afterlife may come into being in the future, due to Hyper-Chaos (and there is still, if you want, a reason to be a believer (respectively, it is not much different from what many religions propose, e.g. via the Last Judgement, resurrection of the dead, the hidden Iman, etc.)). Likewise, as he does not rule out that natural laws may change, there is an indication that natural laws have changed or evolved in the past. One of the biggest mystery in physics is indeed the finetunedness of the universe, the fact that natural laws, constants, forces, dimensions are so incredibly finetuned that such a finetunedness, enabling life, a stable cosmos and stable matter is actually very, very unlikely – giving an indication that our universe may have well been made by some sort of „intelligent design“.

(Reading Meillassoux is somehow pacifying and comes in as some fresh air, I like to follow along the trajectory of his thinking, and he also says other things I like, for instance about the necessity to do away with ideology in order to progressively achieve clarity in order to gain wider competence (which I, on a more extreme level call the White Lodge). He also talks about the coming into being of the divine human being due to the partly divine nature of man (which I, on a more extreme level, call the overman). And he speaks about the virtual in existence which opens the possibility of introducing something really new and qualitatively different (which relates to genius, respectively the Chaosmos).

Lee Smolin is an eminent physicist, with his most well-known contribution to physics is being a pioneer in the development of „loop quantum gravity“, an approach to quantum gravity rivalling string theory (according to which the universe can be described as a network of abstract quantum states, indicating that spacetime itself is not a continuum but discreet and made of „atoms“ of Planck length and Planck time). There´s also a popular science book by him, Time Reborn. From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe which is also about the problem of the finetunedness of the cosmos and in which he argues that time is an actual entity: From Galilei to Newton to Einstein an understanding of physics has solidified that physical processes can be described by mathematical equations in which time does not play a specific role, indicating that time is not „truly“ out there in this world – of course, we experience time via the presence of clocks i.e. the earth revolving around itself, the moon revolving around the earth, the earth revolving around the sun or our bodies that are born and die away serving as clocks – which nevertheless does not mean that time is also „there“ when clocks are completely absent (I also recently read a book about Einstein and Gödel by philosopher Palle Yourgrau which mentions that Gödel found a proof that time travel (into the past) is possible – by looking at a somehow eccentric universe (which can, nevertheless be translated into our universe) time travel into the past is possible by moving across space with high velocity: (since that might violate causality, as we could manipulate the past then) indicating that time itself does not exist. Yourgrau mourns that Gödel´s proof has hitherto been largely ignored by both physicists and philosophers (and, indeed, it is not mentioned in Lee Smolin´s book)). Smolin argues that time is a true category (challenging our common understanding the other way round for instance as he suggests that space is not a true entity, but something emergent from a network of relations), and that natural laws may have evolved in time, hence have become ever more finetuned: unfortunately he does not give much indication how such a „meta law“ that governs the evolution of natural laws can come into being, but he says that in the 21st century cosmology will revolve to a good deal about that question. Concerning the mysteries cosmology proposes I at any rate happen to see an article about a new approach every once in a week on Facebook, and in that fashion I just happen to ran into this and that (where another pioneer of loop quantum gravity, Carlo Rovelli, proposes the opposite to Smolin, i.e. that time does not „objectively“ exist). (Concerning loop quantum gravity I read an article in Sterne und Weltraum some years ago about how experiments – measurements of signals of very distant gamma ray bursts which would be refracted if spacetime consisted of „atoms“ – nevertheless failed to indicate that spacetime is granular – despite also failing to explicitely rule out that possibility.)

Rick Rosner is an American known for having achieved some of the most astounding results in the history of high range IQ tests. With an IQ that is probably 192 he is often considered to be the „second smartest man in the world“ (after Evangelos Katsioulis who probably has an IQ of 198). In the recent issues of Noesis – The Journal of the Mega Society (an IQ society for which you need an IQ above 175 to get into, where only one person out of a million can be expected to be this intelligent) there is an ongoing extensive interview with him (which unfortunately has not been printed in its entirety yet). In his eccentricity Rick Rosner occasionally has been calling himself „physics genius – or deluded about everything“, and as such he presents his theories on cosmology in the interview. According to his „informational cosmology“ the universe is information sharing and processing – to an extent that it is probably a conscious entity (though with a consciousness that is likely vastly different from our own). He says that the Big Bang did not actually happen but that the universe recycles itself in „ultra deep time“ around an „active center“ of active galaxies as opposed to the „outskirts“ of the universe where died out galaxies and matter reside, and where the current 14 or so billion years since the „Big Bang“ are more or less only a step in information processing of a universe gradually optimising itself. Protons that enter the active center and „light up“ new galaxies may have been formed from neutrons in collapsed matter or come from an „unstructured primordial matter“ from T=0 (i.e. the center of the „active center“ of the universe, mistaken as the Big Bang), therein forming „new information“, while collapsed galaxies gradually become re-ignited via particle exchange. The universe, Rosner says, has three dimensions because information is generally limited to holding open three dimensions; space seems organised so as to minimize the total distance traversed by particle interactions; time seems oranised to maximize the number of interactions per unit of time. Cosmic Background Radiation is „noise/uncertainty“, and that its temperature is 3 degree Kelvin means that for the universe it is much easier to organise itself than if it would be a higher temperatures. Dark matter is, in essence, collapsed matter, and collapsed matter is what stores information, is the „memory“ of the universe. Irrespective of that, up to now, Rosner did not say much about how the finetunedness of the universe came into being (which is obviously there irrespective of the universe existing in „ultra deep time“), however he says that there are (kind of) economical reasons for it, respectively reasons of consistency. I am, at any rate curious about the remaining parts of the interview to be published in the future.

William James Sidis (1898 – 1944) likely was even more intelligent than Rick Rosner. He was a star as the greatest child prodigy America has ever known but descended into oblivion later in life, which unfortunately also accounts for probably a lot of his work, and making it difficult to distinguish between myth and reality concernig many aspects of his biography. There are, nevertheless, indications that his cognitive abilities were so high above even the most intelligent people on earth that his IQ was suspected to have been between 250 and 300, and already at age 11 (when he gave lectures about mathematics to them) he had been hardly comprehensible even for the finest minds of his time (which likely explains his descent into privacy and opting out of academia, since there was practically no one able to „translate“ his thoughts to a more general audience and serve as a bridge). At the beginning of his twenties he published a book about cosmology, The Animate and the Inanimate, which failed to gain recognition. In this book, he argues that the universe is infinite and eternal and consistent of „positive“ and „negative sections“ which gradually turn into their opposite in ever repeating cycles. Unfortunately, most of Sidis´ writings can hardly be retrieved anymore. Some day, when I will be grown up, I want to write a note about Sidis, titled „The Transbodhidharma“.

In general, there is something brooding in me about those issues, which is, however, so embryonic that I cannot explicitely tell. Maybe I also refrain from sharing some thoughts in order not to possibly embarrass me, though I do not think this is the case since I am Yorick, the Fool and I can say whatever I like. I wanted to find an article about how supposedly improbable patters often arise since they aren´t improbable at all (due to some kind of path-dependency or so), but I cannot find it right now (fuck!).

Acts of the Unspeakable

In some of the more recent notes (about e.g. Malevich, Mondrian, Minimalism, in some respects also them about Tapies and Sheeler) you have meditation about art in which there isn´t much in it, or so it seems. Sedlmayr (a conservative/Nazi) is quite aware of progress in art, which to him is exemplification of metaphysical regress throughout modernity nevertheless, he does not deny the innovativeness of Malevich´s Black Square, but he says that it is „untersprachlich“ (sublinguistical), and not „übersprachlich“ (i.e. portraying the Gottmensch, which would be, according to Sedlmayr, the purpose of art). But I like it because of the eloquent silence that it carries. It is meditative, quietist, Zen-like, it confronts you with the mysterious materiality/spirituality of the world, with otherness about which you have to figure out about how it can be adeqately captured, with something that seems both beneath you as well as beyond you, younger than you as well as much more ancient, harmless and inanimate as well as seemingly carrying deadly potential, etc. It refers to the Nullpunkt of creativity as well as to the infinity of universe and things, the pseudo-tabula rasa of mind, the ontological potential of the Matrix. It does not come as a surprise that in your metaphysical quest you come across (and have to go through) the Black Square tunnel, in a quest for purity, originality, being able to construct new forms and the like. In the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking, which is about that quest, I wrote a lot of somehow abstract (and seemingly silly and/or funny) texts (which they are, but they are also dead serious and indisputable). As you may remember, I was also fascinated by the task of how to describe how animals think (intelligent crows for instance), or how children learn language – and how is language formed at all? According to a universal grammar (as proposed by Chomsky), or as a quasi-emergent phenomenon that is based on some more primitive primordial tools and man´s situatedness in a social context (i.e. the more Wittgensteinian proposal)? How does protolinguistical experience look like? Is it right to describe the mind of a crow or newborn as a corner of a white space, then there comes some dull and vague sound, maybe also an orange flash? Very interesting to temporarily inhabit the sublinguistic lodges! I guess a creative person will be fascinated by it. It is about the (lower) edges of thought, beyond/below that of what is graspable for us. It signifies a horizon, respectively something beyond the horizon, hence it has to be explored.

Getrude Stein (a genius) was a pioneer in a modernist experiment to subvert language. She took „stream of consciousness“-writing to an extreme insofar as she tried to evade (not only stringency and conclusivenss of plot but) meaning as much as possible, by just writing down what immediately came to her mind. The result were voluminous books full of sentences largely free of meaning – but, as Jonah Lehrer (in his super book Proust was a Neuroscientist) explains: she found out that she could not evade basic grammar! Also other experiments/observations – like, for instance, deaf people developing a sign language, or immigrants developing a pidgin/creolian language: whereas these languages will be primitive in the first generation, the subsequent generation will make it more sophisticated and introduce grammar – seem to indicate that there is actually a universal grammar as something innate to humans in the Chomskian sense. Chomsky´s concept of universal grammar however has always met criticism as well, and for instance more recent research seems to imply that language, and the way infants learn a laguage, is a kind of emergent phenomenon that comes into being via the use of several „tools“, like ability to make analogies, to categorise things, recognise things via schemes (a dog is not likely to have a concept of a steak, but it is likely that a dog will recognise his environment via proto-conceptual schemes) or the reading of communicative intentions. I also consider that likely to be that way, and whether there is a universal/deep grammar or need for universal/deep grammar appears doubtful to me, since the grammar of sentences just reflect the way things are, respectively how man can act in the world – it reflects the structure of our actions and intentions (which would be a somehow empiricist notion, respectively a contact theory of grammar and linguistics) (however, since I am not an expert on liguistics, but it must´ve been that someone has thought about that before). And the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking is full of texts that celebrate the chaosmotic architectural/iconoclastic processuality of creative enterprise. (And if there is a deep grammar, why do languages frequnetly happen to be so different and distinguished from each other?)

Concerning the Untersprachlichkeit and the „fascination“ of being inside the mind of animals et al., more recent research (respectively an activation of more ancient knowledge/understandings) seems to indicate that plants are „intelligent“, respectively that they aren´t as „vegetative“ as it may seem. Plants adapt to their environment, they „communicate“ with their environment and with other plants, different species of plants have different „character“ (i.e. plants „fairly“ rewarding insects that carry their seeds, while others, like orchids, tricking them in a nasty way), they have more senses than humans do, and the like. Is it adequate to think that they are conscious and intelligent? Animals are, in a reduced sense, intelligent and conscious, it amazes me to see them play (for what purpose?), to see how eels can „befriend“ humans, or how one of Liliana´s gatas, Lorenzo, has a quite distinguished (and somehow sociopathic, or – to do more justice to him – adventuruous and challgening) personality. Maybe – given the extreme inprobability that our universe can be as fine-tuned as ours – even the universe, and everything in it, is a conscious – there are arguments for and against pan/cosmopsychism.

Then there are people who think that animals are better or more innocent than humans, dolphins more intelligent, etc. However, pigs ( = very intelligent animals) have the cognitive abilities of an average three year old human. Think you are inside the mind of a trout! A trout has an IQ of 4! What would it be like being a creature with an IQ of 4? Think of being a cockroach! AI has invented a creature however that superbly is able to act like a cockroach – the algorithm is: 1) Take flight from bright light 2) If there is not light, take flight from sound 3) If there is neither light nor sound, wait a while, then move. With that program, the behaviour of a cockroach can (basically) be captured. However, hopes that animals can teach us something are likely to be disappointed. Michael Tomasello writes in his book A Natural History of Human Morality how apes are morally quite inferior to men, and basically egocentric, whereas in humans you have a genuine sense for cooperation. Also Laland – in an article about what distinguishes humans from animals – notes that if Apes could talk, they would make poor conversationalists: while they are able to understand (a limited range of) sings, they cannot produce grammar, and their conversation would be utterly egocentric – the longest „translated“ statement by a chimpanzee goes: “Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you” (which, however, carries some resemblances to conversations on social media or Youtube comments). When I gave my text about the trout and its 4 IQ to my friend Dagmar, she responded that it made her think about humans (having an IQ of 4, going with the crowd, being only interested in eating, fucking, sleeping, having no higher moral sense, being envious and egoistic, etc., with women often being the worst to each other)*. In a way, if you think about the subliguistic and its magic and mysteriousness, you frequently have it quite next to you; go, for instance, to the opera and try to empathise with how many of the folks in the opera house have their higher sentiments triggered, their catharsis and the like – when being exposed to the Gralserzählung or the Karfreitagszauber they may actually think about their business or so. Going to the netherworld, where no meaningful thoughts are formed isn´t actually that difficult, it happens all the time around you <3

In Sedlmayr´s opinion, the purpose of art is portraying man made in the image of God. He is aware that this is not a modern option, nevertheless his history of art is a history of a long decay (a quite intelligent and empathetic one however). His hope is that, after a long agony, art of the future will be about the portrayal of the Gottmensch, the divine human being, the finally fully accomplished man, furthermore his hopes adress those who have suffered most from the (modern) human condition (on a metaphysical level) i.e. individuals like Goya, Kleist, van Gogh, Hölderlin, Stifter, Nietzsche et al. to be able to erect or embody the image of the Gottmensch. The Gottmensch is baptised by fire. Kierkegaard, whom I happen the read at the moment (since I want to write about him), on the other hand shortly adresses at the end of his magisterial thesis about the concept of irony with permanent reference to Socrates, that the defining quality of the Gottmensch will be (metaphysical) humor (as something much more skeptical than irony but also containing a much higher positivity than irony) (unfortunately Kierkegaard´s ruminations enter quite abruptly at this point (with the excuse that humor is not a topic in a reflection about irony), yet, upon reflection, although Kierkegaard was among the species of overmen, he actually was overly ironic himself – but not actually funny or humorous, i.e. irony was the realm where Kierkegaard was king, but humor was a demarcation where Kierkegaard ended). I say, the Gottmensch will be so comprehensive as that he reaches into the lowlands and netherworlds as well as into the spheres, as mind and soul of God contains everything. Therefore the übersprachliche Gottmensch will also try to adress that which is untersprachlich, try to put himself inside the mind of a crow or a trout; the untersprachliche Black Square will be the eternal tunnel to wander through the white light from infinity, the silence you can hear from there is message from base. Listen to the voice of nature (which doesn´t really talk of course).

*„Die Forelle finde ich klasse wobei ich für mich den Gedanken weiter spinne… ist nicht die Allgemeinheit wie eine Forelle (4 IQ essen trinken in die selbe Richtung schwimmend wie die anderen Forellen ) … Moralisches streben in der heutigen zeit ist ein sehr löbliches Ziel und du bust wahrscheinlich einer der wenigen menschen auf.diesem durchgeknallten planeten der es wohl schaffen könnte. Der rest der menschheit ist neidisch verschlagen link nur auf seinen vorteil bedacht prakmarisch materiell und wirtschaftlich ausgerichtet … Und zum.teil oft so dumm in seinen ansichten und oberflächlich ich bin.oft so froh wenn ich mich nicht damit auseinandersetzen muss … Und frauen sind mit abstand oft am ärgsten zueinander und das meist wegen einem.mann wie grotesk ist den das könnte bücher füllen mit geschichten darüber glg sent from mobile“

Minimalism and Object Ontology

„Now the world is neither meaningful nor absurd. It simply is… In place of this universe of „meanings“ (psychological, social, functional), one should try to construct a more solid, more immediate world. So that first of all it will be through their presence that objects and gestures will impose themselves, and so that this presence continues thereafter to dominate, beyond any theory of explication that might attempt to enclose them in any sort of a sentimental, sociological, Freudian, metaphysical or any other system of reference.“

 (Robbe-Grillet, cited in Barbara Rose: „ABC Art“, an influential article about minimal art published in „Art in America“ in 1965)

Call it the Apollonian, but reduction to essence, bringing into form, carving the unnecessary out, introducing some silence, being elliptic is a major element within the art conquest; in becoming ever more minimalistic, stuff seems to become ever more invincible and undisputable – think of a child wrapping a box up respectively making something like the box via minimalistic wrapping, busily and affirmingly it says „So!“, „So!“, „So!“ when completing each step towards perfection, finally there is this silly, silent box and the child standing there, looking up to the grown up (or to deity), arms crossed behind the back: as if it says: „I have done everything right! There is nothing to be disputed anymore! You cannot catch and nail me anymore! You can groan and moan as much as you want, but…“, etc. Hail to the child! Likely, within all that the human child is a bit unsure, as it lacks orientation in the world, and eschatological knowledge, but in wrapping up the minimalistic box it has come up with something assertive and is aware of that; the adult-deity may rejoice or at least twist his mouth and move his head back a bit, as he is defeated, at least for a while. Hail to the child! It has achieved some manifestation in the world. Take a look at Robbe-Grillet´s statement there above! Aaahh… the world, and its metaphysics not being made by reference to the celestial world, but by the blunt encounter and relationships between subjects and objects within the world, maybe unforeseeable in their implications, yet often, and normally, to remain only a reference to an empty potential! Minimalists challenged the notion of sculpture and object in the 1960s as they placed some minimalistic forms in space, opening the possibility of interaction with the recipient (for instance also to be experienced as an obstacle that stands in the way)! The grid of the world as a relational structure! By reducing stuff into minimalistic forms that, due to their sharp and essential geometry, are both more real and less real than the objects you encounter in the world, you have, in minimalism, the disposability (and Zuhandenheit) as well as the unavailability of things, and of the things that make up this world. Remember that numbers or ideal geometric forms refer to the virtual, and therein also minimal art refers to the virtual via a paradoxial intervention, as, by taking out any specific content, those artworks actually refer to nothing, they´re neutral and inexpressive. But what they are is that they are present, and therein, you encounter presence in both its most manifest as well as elusive form. You have a metaphysics of pure presence, as well as a metaphysics of neutrality and a metaphysics of boredom. Somehow, those minimalist works seem to be so autonomous (and, as feminist critics claimed, masculine-sharp-assertive, whereas in the works of female artists somehow linked to minimal art, like Eva Hesse, you have some quasi-organic, soft, biomorphic forms and flows and the like). Due to not having much in them, minimal art refers to quietism, to Zen, to a transsubjective world-continuum – and Lucy Lippard calls Robert Morris a „master of formal silence“. For the creative mind, silence contains the virtuality of the clamour of being, therein, minimal art indicates the possibility of all creation. Those minimalistic forms are enigmatic, as they both refer to basal elements of construction, yet also to virtual ideals that are beyond any construction. Ahhh, what a dialectics! It brings opposites together, the small and the infinite (?)! Pseudo-immanence and pseudo-transcendence! Those squarelike forms of minimal art adress the square in me! The boxes of Donald Judd are some kind of rivets that hold the subjective and the objective universe together, they´re an encounter (like the installations of Sarah Sze)! Very mysterious, all this! In another context, there may be a trajectory from minimal art to degeneration of art via the growing preeminince not of the artwork but of the kunstähnliche Gegenstand (artlike object) from the 1970s onwards. Finally, indeed, there is actually not so much to say about them minimal objects, but that is good, since it binds the hallucinatory endless depths of imagination back to something solid and concrete, an anchor. In a world of ambiguity, objects attached with meaning etc. you encounter pure, literal forms that have nothing to tell and signify and you can endlessly explore what they speak to you. Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory!

Minimalist sculptures somehow challenge ancient notions as they are not, tradionally, sculptures, also not, traditionally, objects – they are rather forms and work as systems or systemic inventions in environment (or carry within themselves the possibility of their own extension or reduction like in the cases brought upon by Sol de Witt).  However, they create the impression of dumb objects, of materiality, or of ideal forms, to try to push and slide and emerge into this world, make themselves important, underline their presence; seem to say „Here I am, man… what will you now do against me?“ They´re there. They´re, maybe, middle-range objects that came to inhabit this world as well, out of unknown reason and for unkown purpose, and where dialogue and domestication is, to some degree, possible, to some other degrees not (check out also the note about Charles Sheeler and his eloquently silent industrial architectures). They seem to be vivid, stupid, and mysterious, follow their own (reduced, but also ungraspable) logic, like Kafka´s Odradek. In Realismus Jetzt, a Merve book edited by Armen Avenessian which is about speculative philosophy and metaphysics for the 21st century, there is a contribution by philosopher Graham Harman about his „Object Orientated Ontology“ (OOO) in which he wants to give dignity to things and tries to introduce an understanding of things being an essential element of metaphysics and to be philosophised upon (he even says that, corresponding to the „linguistic turn“ in 20th century philosophy, we´d need an „object turn“ in our century). He makes reference to Heidegger´s tool analysis (which he claims to be the hidden truth of all Heidegger´s metaphysics), and also to the „humming universe“ of the friendly metaphysicist Whitehead. Remember that Heidegger speaks of zuhandenem Zeug, objects/tools that are there in the world and, as tools, may change man´s possibilities of access to the world, respectively the world itself, implicating that objects/tools is stuff that is metaphysically relevant, that seem to be somehow autonomous, carry potential and may be game-changing (what is not mentioned in the short article is Heidegger´s philosophy about technology, as a force that, in a somehow conservative fashion, he saw as alienating and incorporating a life and logic of its own that is somehow stronger than that of man and therefore, finally, a heteronomy upon the man´s world). (Opposed to other philosophical traditions, Heidegger´s philosophy does away with a lot of categorial stuff and focuses on man as being rather „spontaneously“ in the world and navigating through the world, and changing it, i.e. Heidegger´s man is not a well-defined (and therein limited) man, but a rather fluid creature, i.e. Heidegger´s epistemology is rather a contact theory, like the one I have recently encountered in the book by Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Taylor.) Whitehead, as we remember, develops an ontology where everything (every single entity, as basal elements of reality) is connected in a network that makes the („humming“) universe. That is nice and friendly. However, says Graham, where Heidegger does not have a lot to say about things as that they both reveal (entbergen) and conceal (verbergen) themselves, Whitehead somehow implicates a notion of an instable or overly colourful universe that can be changed every instant, which is rather not the case: in doing away with the notion of substance – which seems to implicate a stickiness that isn´t exactly there –, network ontologies like that of Whitehead seem to do away with structure and seem to implicate a flexibility (or creativity) that is also not exactly there (although there is only an indication but not necessarily a reason for coming up with such a critique since substance-ontologies may contain network-notions and vice versa, and if I remember correct, Whitehead is not stupid or one-dimensional in his thinking). At other occasions (lectures to be found on Youtube) Graham Harman stresses the importance of an object orientated ontology by saying that if we reduce (meta)physics of objects, we could not explain phenomena of emergence, whereas if we put to much emphasis on substantial notions we could not explain change (hm…). OOO introduces some mysteriousness into the world, a notion of the cryptic potency of inanimate things that is potentially much more potent than pure human potency, and he also makes reference to aesthetics and the arts – that the notion of a world that is not completely „given“ at any moment, but a world that is partially withdrawn is actually what is captured/reflected in the arts, respectively illuminated in the multidimensional mind of the artist that „reveals“ the hidden truths of man and the universe (Graham, by contrast (on that occasion) says that in the arts objects become „mysterious“ and „withdrawn“ —– let us remember that in art the place of objects and the meanings of things become dislocated and put into other context, therefore you may have a certain disassociation: but for the reason of showing how the thing actually works and to reveal its existential ontology and its meta-noumenon!). (Graham also discusses minimalism shortly in here (47:30) <3 although the connection between minimalist art and object ontology sprang to my mind independly.) In diving into the hidden depths of the „withdrawing“ world, Graham Harman also mentions the „negative theology“ of Pseudo-Dionysius (i.e. that God indicates himself in this world via an absence that can be mystically approached and experienced, and that the light of God is a „dark“ light).

Very interesting and metaphyscial! I have got me some books by Graham Harman and want to get more closely in touch with OOO and then maybe write a note about it (which could make a Postscript to the Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal). I think with his notion of a „withdrawing“ world that is never fully given he may refer to complexity – and it may be that complexity is a true phenomenon there in the world i.e. that is ontologically given (complicatedness means: something is more or less complicated and difficult to see through, but can be solved and defined; complexity means: you have an ever changing system whose interactions cannot be entirely foreseen — in his lecture Graham Harman refers to the social sciences as a science that has to operate with a complex flux, but also economics may come to mind (or meterology, or hydrodynamics, etc.). In his paper The Trouble With Macroeconomics Paul Romer explains how describing and computing an economic system involves a matrix of mxm parameters, but their interdependence is described by only m equations; hence complex systems probably cannot ever be captured by mathematics, implying that mathematics is not the deep/universal language of the universe, etc.) I also ask myself the question what is the Ding an sich of a car? Or of petrol? Or of a toaster? Or of an institution? That is relatively easy to say, think however of how the ancient wheel relates to the car etc. Feynman says, what we can construct we understand (with reference e.g. to the brain or consciousness which we cannot construct so far and probably never can), does that mean we see the thing in itself of the respective issue? I also wonder how potent things/objects/tools ever are; some popular notions, like that of McLuhan describe medias/tools as extensions/protheses of man; however when I read ancient Chinese literature like the Classic novels of China, I am astonished how similar people actually are across time and across culture; also Stanislaw Lem mourns or satirises about far (technologically) advanced future civilisations which are, to considerable extent, primitive and childish nevertheless (i.e. maybe tools and machines aren´t actually that important).

 

Dear Phillip:

Thanks for the nice post! It is well-written and well-informed. And I share your instinctive liking for minimalism.
There are only two points where I disagree. Or rather, one where I disagree and one where I sort of disagree.
The first: „whereas if we put to much emphasis on substantial notions we could not explain change (hm…).“
Actually I defend substance. The philosophy that cannot explain change, in my opinion, is the philosophy of actions or events that does not allow for an underlying hidden substance.
Also, complexity theory isn’t quite what I’m doing. Objects can be quite simple, where complexity theory talks about the complexity of relations, and OOO is above all an anti-relational philosophy.
Anyway, thanks again for the interesting post.
all the best,
Graham

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

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