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

Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal

More recently I purchased the following CDs:

  • Abyssal: Antikatastaseis
  • Adverserial: D.E.N.A.T.B.K.O.N.
  • Mitochondrion: Archaeaon
  • Pyrrhon: Growth Without End
  • Sarpanitum: Blessed Be My Brothers
  • This Gift Is A Curse: All Hal The Swinelord

I welcome it that after a period of stagnation there are fresh and fruitful developments in extreme metal again! While extreme metal bands of former generations like Morbid Angel or Meshuggah sounded like if they came from another planet, bands like Abyssal, Pyrrhon or Mitochondrion sound as if they directly came from the depths of outer space (maybe from close to the region where Azathoth dwells). I call this progressive. Within those song structures we have nice chaos invocation and abstract beauty amalgamated with uncanniness giving an impression of the sublime. It gives you a sense of place – of belonging and forlornness. Of your attachedness and your seperatedness in the universe, etc. It´s a borderline, exurbia and edge phenomenon; look at how ambiguous it is and how much enigmatic meaning it carries, permanently shifting the Great Frontier! It´s metaphysical.

What I always liked about extreme metal is that it definitely confronts you with other, strange worlds (that aren´t so strange after all and for instance the occasional lyrics about Satan etc. are much more realistic and less phony than the love songs you hear on the radio). – It is both strange and surreal, and hyperrealistic and more human than human. It adds a (or multiple) dimensions to your perception. It confronts you with that that is the other and that that is unexpected. It unites the hemispheres.

„WESTERN“ METAPHYSICS

Let us, ideally, say that the „Western“ mind is analytical, scientific. It is about isolating and analysing things to gain rational knowledge about the thing, with the possibility (or the permanent horizon) to get to know the „thing in itself“. It strives for knowledge to manipulate things and transform civilisation via technology. It is concerned with the possibility of solid knowledge.

„EASTERN“ METAPHYSICS

Let us, ideally, say that the „Eastern“ mind, exemplified e.g. in the metaphysics of Zen, is more about getting to know and experiencing the faculty of perception and rationalisation itself. It is about dissolving the subject and amalgamating it with the object world, into a state of (for the sake of simplicity) productive mimesis. However, this state will involve serenity and sedateness, an acceptance of a certain resistance of things against manipulation and an acceptance of fate. It is concerned with the possibility of solid awareness.

UNPRODUCTIVE SYNTHESIS

Bhagwan says, people in the East have soft, fragmentary egos, and they are able to surrender and devotion (Hingabe) easily – yet their surrender is not very deep: it remains superficial. People of the West have strong and solid egos, and they are resistant towards surrender and spirituality. He concludes that a person that synthesises East and West may become something that is really interesting and transformative, but that is difficult.

„Eastern“ metaphysics somehow was designed as a pacification from unproductive upheaval and turmoil in a pre-scientific age i.e. when things could not fundamentally be changed. „Eastern“ metaphysics does not „solve“ the metaphysical problems but dissolves them, but unfortunately may also dissolve physics respectively the scientific mind, and its relaxedness may result in apathy, the insight that some things cannot be changed may make people forget to try to. The „Western“ metaphysics of the rational mind may lead to a tunnel vision and feelings of estrangement and disconnectedness from a greater whole, a disrespect for „soft“ sciences and arrogance. The „Eastern“ downside is being unscientific, the downside of the „West“ is being soulless. From a sociological point of view, Eastern societies are collectivist societies whereas Western societies are individualistic societies (with both easily abhoring each other or finding each other uncanny, although the productive synthesis includes the better elements of both).

THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE OVERMAN (PRODUCTIVE SYNTHESIS)

It is said East and West are very different and difficult to unite. They are respective others. However, if you approach the other you can gradually internalise it. The trick is not to make the other a toy of your ideology and accomodate it to you, but to take it serious. The full internalisation of the man´s world is the overman. It can also be described as the so-called unitary consciousness where all forms of life, where reality, dream, fiction, time, space, matter unite into a single, fluid, penetrating experience, where contours of individualities do not dissolute but become osmotic. The analytical mind is not pacified but intensified and empowered. There is not perfect exchangeability of background and motif as you have it in the vision of Zen, rather a fractal geometry of the universe, i.e. where the „deep structure“ can be progressively revealed and calculated and where there is no stubborn resistance against „inconvenient“ truths or discoveries, since nothing is truly „inconvenient“.

By permanently approaching and confronting the other, you increase your experience and widen your perception. By trying to integrate the other and internalise it, you widen your intellect and your personality, and you reduce your indoctrinations and your ego (if, however, you don´t have much of an ego in the first place). You transcend personality into the transpersonal and become open space. It is very profound.

Meaning of life – and meaning in general – lies in establishing connections (and pathological/endogenous depression means inability to establish true connections to anything). By connecting to the other, the most wide-ranging and permanently evolving connectivity is possible. Overmen usually appear „otherworldly“ (whereas they are also the most realistic persons) because they primarily relate to the other and to their respective counterpart (Socrates and Kierkegaard talked to anyone in the streets, T.W. Hickinson noticed that obscure Emily Dickinson was very aware and concerned about him as her counterpart, Shakespeare is hardly tactile as an individual but rather seems a transpersonalised consciousness over the tapestry of life, Wittgenstein, Kafka and Beckett were also very concerned about others including the possibility of self-sacrifice, etc.). Therefore, they include otherness and the Great Other in themselves and therefore they carry and execute the so-called divine law in themselves. They appear „alien“ as nothing is alien to them. And why? Because they actually relate to the other!

 

(Written 2015-2017)

Postsciptum: If you think this is stupid and esoteric wait for the various Postscripts to the Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal which shall appear over time since of course I am able to discuss Kripke and Quine as well, as well as Gadamer and Ricoeur et al.

Prelude to the Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal

Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss Meet the Hipster

Carl Schmitt has to be understood as a guy obsessed about order. As a young conservative intellectual in the Weimar Republic he was concerned with the question how a modern state derives its legitimacy, as the influence of religion and the church had waned, monarchies had been overthrown, no consensus and self-conception of democracy had been established and (bourgeois, capitalistic) democracy was under siege from left and right – in such a turbulent age it was actually no mean question about how the modern state could actually be grounded. After the Nazis took power, Schmitt became a member of the NSDAP and although his career suffered a major setback already in 1936, he remained „Kronjurist“ of the Third Reich. After the defeat of the Reich he ruminated, somehow enigmatically, about himself and his role in history (with important writings that expose the core of his thinking been published posthumeously). At the core, Schmitt was a conservative Catholic and his central obsession was that human action had to be grounded in the divine relevation, i.e. in the law of God. He opposed relativism, liberalism and modernity and held antisemitic views. One of his best-known concepts is that the political is about the relationship between friend and foe, and therein an autonomous, and primary, sphere of human existence. In a modern, „pacified“, democratic world, the primacy of the political would easily be forgotten, but could easily break into reality again, as a principal, fundamental conflict within the community (or between communities) of what is, fundamentally, right and what is wrong (respectively about who is friend and who is foe). As tensions mount, the sovereign could call for emergency rule (and, to Schmitt, he is the actual sovereign who can impose emergency rule). Schuh once called Schmnitt a „razor-sharp“ thinker: that is actually what he was – with the apparent consequence that Schmitt was rather not very vocal when it came to think about nuances and that plurality and vagueness are things that make up reality as well (also he was not very vocal when it came to depict what a friend is, but concentrated on outlining the qualities of the foe). In such respects, liberal, postmodern thinking is a nemesis on Schmitt – but Schmitt is also a nemesis for the liberal and postmodern approach. At any rate, Schmitt was a relevant and original political thinker – and when Kojève visited Germany once he said that he would only go to Plettenberg, as Schmitt was the only person in Germany worthy of intellectual conversation. When he was examined after the second World War about his collusion with Nazism, Schmitt describd himself to be an „intellectual adventurer“.

Leo Strauss has to be understood as someone concerned about the role of philosophy and the philosopher vs the realm of the political. That is, in fact, the central question of the oeuvre of Strauss. The political/public realm is where faith and opinions (and, notably, interests) dominate and complexity is not very well understood nor welcomed – the zeal of philosophy is to find out and establish truth (which the public sphere of course also wants and needs), hence the relation between the philosopher and the political is a potentially conflictual one: And Strauss` work mainly elaborates on that conflict in its many facets. Strauss placed great emphasis on the hermeneutic principle that a thinker has to be understood the way he understood himself – and not be abused as a toy to underline one´s own peculiar opinion. Likewise, Strauss also considered the philosopher, and the role of philosophy in the political realm, as one of questioning authority in order to search for truth, to escape from a Plato´s cave of wrong our outdated concepts and perceptions – therein, Strauss also had some reservations against political philosophy as establishing conclusive theory (that somehow longs for totalitarianism of itself and may be supportive to authority) but rather was affirmative of philosophy as a permanent questioning: Socrates was an important figure for Strauss. Strauss´ works were comments on other philosophers and he refuted „originality“ in favor of adressing the great and everlasting questions and truths which are, therefore, anonymous (he said that the gravity of a thinker does not lie in his originality but in his capability to adress the great fundamental questions). Like Schmitt, Strauss was a conservative who opposed liberalism and modernity in favor of divine revelation which alone can be absolute guidance for human action. Law also had to be based on natural law, a sentiment that includes elitism. As a community is made out of individuals of different talent, Strauss voices for a meritocracy of the most talented individuals, of „gentlemen“, as democracy leads to populism and decline – the philospher is not wanted by the hostile and envious masses, so the spirit of the philosopher has to be institutionalised by enlightened leaders. The American neoconservatives drew some inspiration from Strauss, although also Strauss, like Schmitt, is a more comphrehensive guy. Strauss commented on Schmitt´s book about the political as realm of distinction between friend and foe, largely favorable (Strauss was a Jew and Schmitt a Nazi at that time) and tried a synthesis with Hobbes´ political philosophy (i.e. that order has to be imposed on a state of virtual anarchy among humans). Both Schmitt and Strauss saw conflicts between men as something unavoidable and profound, as inescapable and out of man´s control, hence as something „metaphysical“.

The hipster cannot be adequately understood. Despite it is being claimed that this phenomenon with its allegedly striking appearance is the big thing of our time (although his heyday he may have already had in the past of the last decade), I cannot sense it so easily. I deliberately walked through hipsteresque places like Neubau or the Museumsquartier recently again, and then there is also the Brunnenmarkt or the Karmelitermarkt and stuff, and although it is frequently quite fancy there, I cannot see stereotypical hipsters (supposedly with beards, undercuts etc.) there, nor even bobos (Vienna is, of course, not a hipster capital like Berlin or, as they say, Portland, Oregon, but if I understand this correct we are talking about a cultural phenomenon that has allegedly spread at least over the Western world). Of course, I do not see hipsters, nor people in general, I only see Buddhas when I look into the world =“> And it annoys me how negativistic people are of each other: Georg opens a new bar and S. and O. and, and, and… spread negativity: Look at the shitty bobo bar! – although it is a quite casual bar and not specifically boboesque! Such a thing happens all the time among humans! – Of course, upon reflection, I also do not feel completely at home in diverse fancy places, although they are not hipsteresque to me; as far as I can see it is where a younger and relatively educated audience dwells, which, however, cannot be subsumed to be bobo or hipster – with the indication that the bobo and the hipster do not actually exist. I find it sad that I do not have a true overview over the social realm, but if someone claims he has, it might just be a hallucination, for instance people complaining about other people, that they are under par where, in reality, they just do not conform to their worldview, the old generation complaining about the youth, and the like… What I hear about the young generation is that they are indeed unpolitical and quite focused about their career and their looks and their lifestyle. It is not a rebellious but quite conformist youth (which doesn´t mean that such a thing would be completely wrong). Bertl, who is a bit older than me but studies at the university now claims there isn´t much to conversate with the youngsters: Though they are pessimistic about the future, they are optimistic about their personal future (which might be accurate) and, in general, „bei denen geht´s um nichts mehr“. They are not rebels, do not adress society at all, like we did, they are private and bourgeois and they do not have any message to tell. – Then there is this thing called hipster black metal! I also cannot sense the vital ingredients of metal – like obscurity, challenging attitude, schizotypal creativity, antisocial stance, outsiderdom and individuality et al. – in there. It is (hipsteresque) independent musicians that have conquered some metal style but do not transport a metal message! It is, obviously, about individuality, but not about an obscure and rebellious, truly schizotypal individuality of the outsider! It does happen at some fancy, elitist margins of society, not outside society, like a concert of a true band like Rotten Sound or Brutal Truth. Hence, it is not actually a metal culture. (Note also that the hipster does not want to be a hipster and when he asked whether he is one, he will decline.)

If we try to understand the hipster however, we refer to the common narrative of the hipster being someone who tries to pronounce his fancy individuality in a millenial age. He is, and wants to be, socially included as well as excluded. In reality, he is socially included and has no desire for true outsiderdom although usually comes up with such a style as a means of elitist, dandyesque destinction. He is avant-gardist as he longs to be the first to spot new, fancy trends and he wants to be cool. He usually does not create art but longs to work in the „creative industry“ and likes to see himself rather like a curator or an initiated consumer of art. He embraces both high and (supposedly) low level art and culture, is heterogenous and eclectic, but not as a natural manifestation of true creativity but as a means of distinction. He opposes the „mainstream“, not because of the void it carries but because he wants to be special. He is not very political and career-motivated – which need not be a bad thing, but often is. He is flexible and, actually, gas-like, as he does not stick to anything in substance and everything becomes exchangeable and disposable to him and he does away with things when they cease to be regarded as „cool“. As he is not fundamentalist, he is ironic – in a likeable way as irony is intelligent, resisitant to a totalitarian and absolutist sentiment and pluralistic, and unlikeable as it runs against true commitment and true intelligence which is about sorting the real thing out. Despite his ironic attitude, the hipster may be quite arrogant or at least blasé (like the avant-gardist or dandy, but without creating true elite culture). He cares about quality of food and may open up fancy restaurants (which is also a plus) but may not care much about animal rights. Sociologically, the hipster may be interpreted as an expression of a homogenisation of society because of increasingly blurred traditional (class) distinctions and stratifications (i.e. the hipster actually being bourgeois, bohemian and exploited proletarian all alike) while, however, distinctions and stratifications are still in place (and are, on the one hand, denied, but also fiercely affirmed and established by the hipster). In terms of gender the somehow feminine/androgynous appearance of the hipster signifies the softening of traditional gender roles. Someone has said, with his zeal for individuality, the hipster is an expression that true individuality is less and less common (or more and more difficult to achieve, or that true or aristocratic individuality or genius is not what is wanted in our time). – As far as I can see there are friendly hipster (?) bars/shops etc. with extremely friendly hipsters (usually females) as well as there are arrogant and unfriendly ones. I recently read a book by Philipp Ikrath (Die Hipster) in which he ruminated that the hipster (who is a youngster now but may occupy positions of power in society in the future i.e. be the coming ruling class and therefore is a relevant object to study) with his non-binding nature is the end of all politics – as solidified positions do not really matter anymore and everything becomes exchangeable, politics in the traditional (and, maybe, any) sense loses its meaning or at least significance. And that was the main motive for writing this note as it sprang to my mind how this would relate to a view on politics as we have it with Schmitt (and Strauss)! 

To philosophise about the hipster, Ikrath comes up with Richard Rorty´s ideal type of the ironic. Opposed to the metaphysicist, who sticks to a concept of absolute truth that governs it all and of life being subjected to subjugate to that absolute truth, including the possibility of personal sacrifice, the ironic denies that there ever is such an absolute truth. Which does not mean that the ironic is a nihilist, just that he would refute absolutist claims. The ironic is constructivistic, embraces plurality and is lenient and tolerant. He is aware of the relativity of all being, and there is no „jargon der eigentlichkeit“ as something the metaphysicist strives for so deeply. Irony works against usurpation and absorption (Vereinnahmung), also against oneself´s possible claims of usurpation, on the other hand there may be a loss of standards, liability, resposibility and true commitment. So much for the philosophy of/about the hipster.

Think of, now, how especially Carl Schmitt would react and what he would do if confronted with someone like the hipster! – I had to smile into myself when I read Ikrath´s book, and the rumination that the hipster is the end of all politics: Indeed, Schmitt with his pronouced (and, I guess, somehow narcissistic and edgy) friend-foe dichotomy and his admiration for hard and sharp decisions! How would he try to grasp the hipster when the hipster is evaporating, or just innocently smiling to him, like a different life form, and then innocently escape like a colourful and innocent butterfly from Schmitt´s angry and nervous grasp, with his latent indecisiveness and not actually knowing pronounced friend and foe demarcations as he embraces everything that is cool at the moment and just opposes anything that is uncool, without regard to the substance so that things are all the time in flux? Schmitt was vocal against „the Romantic“ i.e. a kind of aetheste who is fond of the colourful multifacetedness of the world and his own genius subjectivity that embraces this colourful multifacetedness without, however, engaging into the realm of authentic decisions (i.e. the realm of politics) – there is some allusion to the hipster in there. While such an existence may be pleasant for itself and intense, the political life is actually more intense since it is about profound decisions. In general, the self-empowerment of man is to Schmitt the original sin, and through his eyes the constructivistic hipster with his genius subjectivity may be a false replacement of the true God (again, without however possibly the hipster ever coming up with such an idea and therefore being very confused about Schmitt). Schmitt and Strauss are „metaphysicists“ par excellence and directly opposed to the ironic (hipster). Both were opposed to modernity and the state of bourgeois „security“, i.e. that life has become merely a quest for a pleasant, consumerist life. Both thought that would deprive man of his true inner essence, and of his nobility. A central idea/sentiment of Schmitt was that there should be space for the „anspruchsvolle moralische Entscheidung“ (sophisticated/challenging ethical decision) in which the individual reveals his competence and nobility. Unfortunately, in the case of Schmitt his „anspruchsvolle ethische Entscheidung“ was joining the NSDAP, and his quest for a „Jargon der Eigentlichkeit“ made him, and others like Heidegger or Marinetti, prone to suspect that „authenticity“ and profoundness in Nazism/fascism because they thought that within modernist „confusion“ it is a „real“ thing. Strauss will not be likely to view the hipster as an elitist „gentleman“ who should govern, I guess he would be unhappy about the hipster, yet probably more interesting and open-minded in what he would have to say about the hipster. If I am correct, Schmitt admitted that modern democracy and the Weimar Republic in fact weren´t so bad after all. And, under neoliberalism, the hipster does not actually live in a state of „security“.

A Guide to Fucking Hipster Girls

A while ago I started to write my fourth work of literature, „Die Reise nach Süden“ (Journey to the South) which is about a dream-like scenario in which I, the genius writer, am commissioned by transcendent authorities to go to Ebelsberg/exurbia of the town in the south to teach the people there „the word“, some kind of ominous lesson (I have not yet figured out, and I also stopped writing on it soon thereafter since time and the book market isn´t ripe for a work like the Journey anyway – and me neither (since the message probably will be my final conclusion about life at all which I have not reached so far)). In this place, people live in three blocks of flats, there is an eternal day; it is, allegedly, the end of culture and the triumph of pleasant civilisation, where nothing meaningful about man can be said and no meaningful culture and art is possible anymore. An allusion that may be to Nietzsche´s „last man“ (and Schmitt, Strauss and others say respectively on that behalf), a type of man whose goal is to live a pleasant life, in a levelled, homogenous society, and who is culturally impotent since he does not want to transcend himself anymore and to bring sacrifices to his art; a human being that has lost his connex to a greater cause, or to a great other (be it God, the nation, communism or transcendant art), solely revolving around himself and harmless self-actualisation devoid of true substance, as the triumph of Western enlightenment (people from more collectivist societies may critisise it from a collectivist sentiment). You have „Ich-Verpanzerung“, that Schmitt depsises (and human subjectivity, for itself, if it does not relate to something bigger than itself, is actually in a number of cases quite feeble). – Nietzsche however said that the last man will be a kind of negative of the overman, and in the realm of the last man there will be the incipit Zarathustra. Let us assume that the overman will be a genius subjectivity that embraces the colourful multifacetedness of the world (the „Romantic“, as described by Schmitt) and will be above politics, yet also able of „anspruchsvolle moralische Entscheidung“ as he embodies the quasi-divine law, as he naturally sticks to what is right and opposes what is wrong, socratically, as he does not have a particular ideology and is an ironic as well as a metaphysicist all alike (since the relative and the absolute mirror each other in a multifaceted and occasionally contradictory realm of being and absolute moral asks for some moral relativism, etc.) (Kierkegaard, an overman, was both a staunch metaphysicist as well as a distinct ironic, which confused people so much that they slightly began to understand him only thirty years after his death). Concerning real dichotomies and the question of friend and foe he will acknowledge that in the human realm and as a motive and movens in history you have both (as probably metaphysical categories, as Schmitt said), but he will, as the wise man, and as the Weltgeist (= as the virtual fulfillment of history) never speak himself out of hostility (as Kojève wrote in letter to Schmitt (without however going as far as to reflect that question on the overman). He will stabilise himself in his own complexity and, as he embraces all otherness, he will be his own Great Other within himself.

Neither the hipster nor the metaphysicist nor the ironic nor the overman are completely there in reality, they are some kind of abstractions and ideal types with which we can philosophise about relationships between things and write casual-serious notes like this one.

Apology of Socrates and Crito

Like Kafka, Wittgenstein, Emily Dickinson, Bodhidharma or Heinrich von Kleist, Socrates was an overman. The overman is someone who is affected by the totality of human/existential problems – the extreme quasi-nervous affectedness and being agitated by the totality of human/existential problems is quasi the essence of the overman – and handles them at the highest level of analysis and integration (commonly referred to as the meta level). Being the conscious reflection of the totality of sets of human/existential affairs, he is the hyperset. Think of some kind of smoke emerging from the flat surface of the populated earth, in apparent serenity, and diffusing into the air, as a cloud of smoke, then gradually diffusing into ever more transparency, and you have the overman (for instance, as a mental image that may come to mind). No one will be more located and more dislocated on earth than the overman! No one will find human/existential affairs more silly and absurd and not be affected by them, and no one will clinge to them with greater sincerity and gravity and be more affected by them. No one (unfortunately) will escape the grasp/embrace of institutions and institutional logic more, but also recognise the depth and profoundness of institutions and of the law like no one else does than the overman (with Melville for instance being the only honest and uncorrupted person in his office in which he had to work after his career as a writer came to an end due to human ineptitude).  At some point there will also be some coolness towards the science, philosophical, escatological stuff, as at the overman level there is not so much anymore at stake and as he has become medium and instrument of sticking to escatological etc stuff, and that is enough – science and philosophy and the growth of knowledge will go on, fractal-like, the individual overman cannot foresee what will be 3000 years in the future, at any rate he will not be surprised by it and that is what matters. He lives both in the Weltzeit and in the Heilszeit – respectively in what I called a while ago the Continuum (of the spiritual essences of the great ideas of man). As he clinges to truth, he becomes depersonalised and objectified. As he finds out, establishes and holds truth, he becomes transpersonalised and extremely idiosyncratic in his subjectivity. The nebulousness of ego allows a much higher level of psychological integration. Due to his fluidity, the overman might clash with the man´s (intractable) world.

Socrates was put on trial at the age of seventy for „corrupting the young“ and „not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel“. To understand this, specifically, one has to know that – as one of the odds that usually characterise societies and that may become contradictory in critical situations – Athens at that time was a very rational and progressive, democratic society – but also very traditional when it came to clinging to its own religion and mythology; in that respect Athens was backward to more peripheral regions of Greece or Asia Minor (which probably triggered feelings of inferiority within a superiority complex) and Socrates was not the first person to be put on trial for religious reasons, there had been examples before. Five years before Socrates´ trial, Athens had suffered defeat in the Peloponnesian War which triggered insecurity among the population, conservatism and hostility towards experiments and a challenging, adventurous spirit like that personified by Socrates. The main prosecutor, Anytos, obviously was free from mean-spirited motives, but actually believed Socrates to be a danger to religion and social cohesion. More generally, Socrates explains in his apology how his quest for truth, sincerity and human betterment had to a significant degree always been met with hostility and envy by those whose feebleness he exposed and, as such, cannot be turned into anything better („to his grief and to his heartache“ he found out that he made himself unpopular by the learned and educated as he exposed their lack of substance, and, furthermore, that the common people – whom the intellectual outsider may come to regard as more pure and authentic than the pretentious intellectuals – in reality are not any better – and neither are the artists). Socrates´ tragedy was that in his quest for grace of man he put disgrace over many people. Someone like Socrates stands in a certain opposition to society, that may become lethal. – After Socrates was sentenced to death his friend Crito tried to persuade him to flee. Socrates, however, refused. The main argument was that in doing so he would cease to be a law-abiding citizen, and even if the law may be(come) problematic or conflictual, the law is older than the individual, an order ancestral and higher to the individual that should not be refuted for egoic motives (other aspects were that Socrates would lose his dignity if, as a 70 year old philosopher, he was so obsessed with living a couple of years more, in a foreign polis, where he likely would not be taken serious and also had spilled his reputation among the people of Athens further; as at the trial he did not try to defend himself by appeasing the others but only by holding on to the truth he would now have to bear the consequences) – on the whole, Socrates` legacy as a philosopher and wise man and as an icon would not have been as powerful and uncorrupted if he had followed Crito´s advise, indeed. Socrates died as he lived, hence his spirt became immortal.

Philosophy does not mean that someone possesses all wisdom, it means love for wisdom, and with his unpersonal clinging to truth itself, Socrates is the archetype of philosopher. Finding out and holding on to truth and knowledge and being virtuous can be seen as ends in themselves and to make up for a happy (probably socially excluded, but also self-contained) life. It is an eudaemonia. Philosophy, as a quest for virtue and truth, finally is a matter of the individual, and can finally only be reached by exceptional individuals, for a personal, subjective goal as well as for a general, objective one. Philosophy is transindividual, transsocial, and transpolitical. Philosophy can make guidance for the human/political realm but, to a certain degree, is likely to be at odds with the demands of the political sphere – pure philosophy cannot be executed in matters of politics and neither can philosophy purely be attributed to the human/political/social realm without losing its edge and sincerity (as Socrates said in his apology, he could have not remained a virtuous man if he had become a politician). These are, to some degree, heterogenous realms. In the human realm, and in political entities, you have a certain primacy of people holding to faith and to opinions, to ideologies and to emotions (not only necessarily among the populace but also among those who govern), and the philosopher, with his quest for unideological truth, is a kind of intruder who may not be properly understood and, moreover, met with jealousy, envy and hostility, as he does not flatter people´s egos. The fluidity of the philosopher meets an intractable world – and probably not without reason, since it may be the philosopher who, with his colourful mind, is detached from (a drab) reality.

Politics is about regulating and managing the affairs of people that live together in a community. It means balancing the interests of individuals and groups to which they belong. The interest of people and groups usually revolves around enabling a good life for themselves, accomodating the world to their respective worldview and maximising their profit (Will to Power, as Nietzsche remarks). In doing so, individuals and groups may be at odds with each other, how they are balanced then is a matter of their respective power (where the power attributed to them can a personal one, or attributed to them due to anonymous, unpersonal matters of fact, for instance changes in technology that produce „winners“ and „losers“). A good political system is where a maximum number of people benefit, where there are just rewards and power/interest balancing is uncorrupted and impersonal. A good political system seeks to reproduce itself at a higher level of quality (and also taking the interests of foreign communities in account). Such a community will believe in itself and act in a disciplined way and the common good will be achieved. A political system is, at first, about accomodating people´s material interests – but also emotional and ideogical aspects are important and somehow „transpolitical“ or metapolitical. They are about how a community understands itself and how social cohesion can be established. A community is based on a feeling of togetherness (Wir-Gefühl), and where such a feeling of togetherness erodes it is likely to become a political problem and to undermine trust in the political system or the whole trust a society is based on (note that such an erosion of Wir-Gefühl need not be a direct problem for the individual or a social problem, as for instance the Islam of immigrants need not affect anyone in Europe but themselves, but will be articulated as a political problem of identity politics). The ancestral is a primary source of identity. Nationalism, religion, ideas like „liberté, egalité, fraternité“, communism, being a member of Nato or a neutral state, etc. are such ideological/mental brackets, whose sources need not necessarily be a simple emotion, but heavily involve emotions, amalgamate emotions, interest and rationalisation and reduce complexity. They are a substitute for the philosopher´s usual awareness of feeling integrated into a greater whole of a (transcendent) order, and they are not necessarily an extension of a person´s ego, but of the persons´s heart and mind. Therefore, such mentalities are important to people and important when it comes to political discourse (and, as rulers know (?), in the name of „religion“, „the nation“ and the like it is relatively easy to make people bring sacrifices or even sacrifice their own lives, whereas altruism or reason per se are not). Political discourse is relevant as, in a maybe-contrast to the wise man who prefers inner mono/dialogue, people like to talk, usually all day long. It is vital for them to talk and chat and make themselves feel know-all. Eventually, such attachments to mentalities/ideologies/cultures, designed to embed the individual in a greater, meaningful whole, are, to some degree, also an alienation of the individual or a diversion from his own emptiness, as the understanding of people of the ideologies they clinge to or may even defend with tooth and nail usually is feeble and shallow and phraseological: Socrates, who clinged to nothing but the truth, even at the cost of his own life, exposed that – incipit tragoedia. The philosopher, however, has the power to give new meaning to the human realm or the specific requirements of his age and plays therefore a vital role in the history of mankind, be it an asynchronous one.

All people are equal, and no one ever is (and thus Thus Spake Zarathustra a „Book for All and None“). Lacan once said in an interview the „average Joe“ would not exist to him, respectively is not something he could observe in reality – as all people that consult him as a therapist and doctor do so because of very specific and individual problems that are their own. The overman´s problems are also problems for all and none. Basically, the overman is the individual in its own idiosyncracy and trying to make sense out of it. In so far, as one never is a complete conformist, free from alienation, sorrow or things that personally matter to oneself, somehow always is a bit detached from society and is born and dies alone, and in between tries to make sense out of his own, there´s an overman quality in everyone. Eventually, the overman is the perfect individual and full realisation of human potential, hence transhuman, and very eccentrically located in society. – There may be the question about how politics among a population of overmen-geniuses would be. Contrary to what one might think, geniuses often are not particularly fond of each other if they inhabitate the same space/time. Maybe for low reasons (jealousy and the like) or disagreement, but also because they think that they have to protect their own work and their own message from the message of the fellow genius, as an act of more or less legitimate self-defense. The overman however will not be very apt to have a specific message to transmit to mankind at all, since he´s too comprehensive and transgressive. The overman will like to put intellectual things/messages at disposal. Let us say the defining characteristic of the genius is originality – i.e. there´s some self-referentiality in it which might clash with other self-referentialities. The characteristics of the overman are openness, humility and humour, i.e. characteristics that evade everything. Whether there can be war and hostility between overmen cannot be said, since they are too infrequent and hardly ever have the possibility to meet personally in their lifetime. They are alive and well in the Continuum (in the Q-Continuum of the Star Trek series btw, a habitat for some kind of overmen, there has been a civil war once nevertheless upon a question that is actually undecidable based on logics but can only be decided via personal preferences (the question whether it would make sense for the nearly divine Q to make contact with other species at all, or not) – consider that individuality seperates us from each other, hence is potentially conflitctual, and also that the persistent and hard problems usually are dilemmas, i.e. they cannot be solved but only managed, or, as Kissinger says, politics is a choice between two evils, so that there is actually not so much hope that between overmen such things would be completely absent). Great thinkers, as is usually observed, carry contradictions – and it may be the privilege of a great thinker to carry contraditions – respectively the internal consistency of their stuff is usually achieved by excluding stuff that happens in reality nevetheless (external consistency) – the overman will not carry contradictions, due to omniscience, fluid psychology and clinging to unpersonal truth (hence Socrates did not carry contradictions). As he encircles the earth however, the overman might be not very communicative and (in contrast to the example of Socrates) hate long conversations. So that a community of overmen might rather resemble Mycroft´s Diogenes Club in the Sherlock Holmes series. – Nietzsche however was right to criticise morals, the law, religion, institutions etc., not least if they may produce shit like the Socrates trial, and he was right that they require a truly fundamental critique: In his deep affection for everything that is sincere and binding and profound (in his natural, well, catholicism) the genius/overman habitually clinges to religion/the law/transcendent stuff, and may produce stuff that is alienating for him and for others. It is interesting what would have become of Nietzsche if he had not died so early. Before that, his mind and spirit was permanently evolving like hardly any other. (In Schopenhauer as Educator, a key writing to understand Nietzsche, he rumintated that in his time and age, Socrates would have not become 70 years old btw.)

 

 

Chaosmos and the White Lodge (Third Note about Robert M. Pirsig)

When something has „quality“ it means it has „the right fit“, and when something is of very supreme quality it means it has even more than the right fit and/or it does so in an unexpected way – it is transcendent.

Based on an investigation of „classicism vs romaticism“ (and somehow mirroring Nietzsche´s Apollonian vs Dionysian principle and other juxtapositional stuff that may come to mind in this respect) Pirsig speaks of „static“ and „dynamic“ quality. Static quality refers to the quasi-conservative principle of form, dynamic quality to the transformation and extension of form. Dynamic quality is „the conceptually unknown“, or, as Pirsig scholar Northrop says, „the undifferentiated aesthetic continuum“. We may also call it ontological potential.

Indeed, everything in the cosmos is about establishing and transformation of forms (at least seen through our humble perspective). At the ultimate level what you will see is the chaosmos, the permanent interplay of form and its aleatoric transformation; the interplay of the static and the dynamic; the classic and the romantic; art, philosophy and science. I have from time to time explained it as having before my inner eye something rotating with many chambers, with one or some of it emerging, destined to give a new sense to the whole; or now many small squares and now suddenly a lightning shooting from the horizontal towards me, etc. It all happens very quickly and is elusive, forms falling apart to give place to new forms. And it is finally the end of vision. The highest artistic vision is to directly gaze into the chaosmos. Ultraintelligent poet Arthur Rimbaud reached such a level of vision, also Lautréamont and Büchner. Taken to this extreme, vision finally might evaporate and art becoming irrelevant (or whatever). Ultraintelligent engineer Nikola Tesla also liked to entertain himself with such visions before his inner eye (as tells Clifford M. Pickover´s Strange Brains and Genius).

Chaosmos is the synthetic vision of everything, of the whole. I have also spoken about the White Lodge. With the White Lodge I was somehow referring to a state in which you experience yourself after you have analytically figured it all out.  You experience that the space of knowledge isn´t anymore made of dialectics, oppositions and the like, it has all dissolved into a white light, or white space, with entitities that instantaneously affect you floating as a kind of a bit grey rippling alongside you. Brecht says intellectual superiority means being able to hold two contradictory concepts in the mind at the same time. I say it is about holding five or so concepts in the mind at the same time, so as that you finally see they may not be contradictory, instead they hold various versimilitudes and truth contents. If you see things that way and have established that kind of vision your mind is free and free to navigate through intellectual space, and your ego has evaporated as it is not tied anymore to any preference to any (ideological) (half-) truths.

Chaosmos and the White Lodge means that you see it all as well as that you permanently sort out things anew. It is not some self-sufficient state of enlightenment. It is progressive. It refers to infinity, and the vision of infinity, being fractal-like, as well as progress of knowledge being fractal-like (or semi/pseudofractal-like). Chaosmos refers to the synthetic, the White Lodge to the analytical; respectively that such distinctions have become superseded in the eye of the respective beholder.

Klara and Perla and an Inquiry into the Metaphysics of Quality (Second Note about Robert M. Pirsig)

When I studied at the University of Basel, in 2004/05, I was lucky to live in a funny house, not in a student living community. The person living next to me was Perla from Slovakia. I swore I shall never forget how at one of my first days in Basel I went home in the evening, after having a beer with a fellow student, and found Perla having a small party in her room. She was very responsive to alcohol, but in a cool way, she was very funny, laughing and joking all the time, dancing, singing, falling down at her room divider; at 2 in the morning she cooked me something to eat, even later I looked after her and found her pseudo-dancing in the staircase with a cool look on her face (I loved her saturated smile and her glassy eyes). She was a cool dancer, both elegant and gracious as well as flamboyant, and inspired me in this respect. Her girlfriend Zlata also was at the initial party, as well as Ian and Dave from upstairs, two roamers from England who earned money as street musicians. Back then, I also used to become somehow bizarre when I was drunk, but Perla topped me in this respect. Perla had quality and especially I liked her Slovakian accent. Should I have two daughters I will name then Klara and Perla (Klara was the name of my artist aunt). Pirsig named his second book Lila (with Lila being an example of dynamic quality, falling prey to insanity however, as she lacks the stabiliser that intellect provides).

Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality has not entered mainstream philosophy and many people who read Lila did not „understand“ it, or got a sense what Pirsig is actually up to. This also somehow accounts for me. Pirsig acknowledges that his refusal (or inability) to actually define quality may be the reason for the ignorance. That may be quite right, but the more general problem is that Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality can neither be verified not falsified. „Quality“ both refers to the consistency of something as well as to the way we perceive something based on how we resonate to it and therefore attribute a certain value to it, and that double nature (respectively that we don´t know whether „quality“ refers to anything outside our perception) establishes some kind of inner conflict within Pirsig´s metaphysics that is finally irresolvable.

Pirsig dissolves „quality“ into something abstract, somehow resemblant to that what Schopenhauer did with „will“ when he put Will as the ontological foundation of everything. Remember how Nietzsche tried to make Schopenhauer look stupid when he said that there is no „will“ per se, but just a „will to something“ (leading him to think of the „Will to Power“ as the Ding an sich). We may think that Nietzsche´s argument does not destroy Schopenhauer, maybe not even affect him, for there may be an abstract „will“, as well as there may be an abstractum of quality (yet need not be). Schopenhauer´s metaphysics of a will per se, a self-referential strive of self-actualisation as the prime mover of everything (resemblant to Whitehead´s „creativity“), may be quite right, but, from a scientific point of view, deems us as primitive and unexplicative. The same thing may go for Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality.

As mentioned above, Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality can neither be verified nor falsified. That is not uncommon for metaphysics (and likely eventually necessary since science operates within our epistemological limits whereas metaphysics tries to grasp ontology beyond our epistemological limits), and Pirsig himself notes that the endeavour to construct a perfect metaphysics equals constructing a chess strategy where you always win (i.e. any argument in favor of your metaphysics will eventually get confronted with something that either proves it wrong, undecidable, state-dependent, etc. … therefore we have to hold on to a kind of ad hoc metaphysics (as also Whitehead says)) but Pirsig´s metaphysics seems a bit too elastic in this respect (although we have to take into account that a very potent metaphysics may just be kind of tautological and trivial and, since it operates at a very high level of abstraction, unexplicative).

The problem of Metaphysics of Quality is also that it is not a tautology but self-sufficient (respectively self-serving). Everything may be explained as a quality phenomenon as long as we do not know what „quality“ actually is and how it may affect us. Things that are full of shit may be taken lightly in this paradigm and explained away as that, via the butterfly effect or so, they do something good elsewhere. Pirsig accounts that different quality patterns (inorganic, biological, social, intellectual) may actually be at war with each other, refuting our perceptions of harmony and compensation in the cosmos, but he gives (and cannot give) no outline how they actually interact and what their (scientifically graspable) patterns of interactions are and can be. And while Pirsig is fond of anything of quality, both of his books are full of examples how actual and true quality or creativity is a rare thing in the world, and under constant threat, so that the world may rather not appear as a quality phenomenon but as a lack-of-quality phenomenon.

In his efforts to prove that a „metaphysics of quality“ is the most ancient metaphysics of all and an understanding that is established across times and across cultures Pirsig ruminates about whether quality relates to the Tao – or is the Tao – (he also makes comparisons to the concepts of American Indians as well as the Rig Vedaic wisdom of India), but his metaphysics is not as enigmatic as Taoism and therefore does not produce the same undertow, and although Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality may be Taoism at a higher level of clarity there is no actual stuff concerning spiritual transformation involved – as well as no moral code and no actual ethics. Metaphysics of Quality may implicate a higher level of awareness and tenderness we should cultivate in ourselves, but it does not implicate any guidelines of what we should actually do – and it does not rule out that a superintelligent replacement species based on AI will make the human race extinct … because, quality.

Pirsig says that the order of the world is, in itself, a moral order, and the notion that the order that makes the world is a moral order or that there is an inherent link between metaphysics and ethics (respectively that they are about one the same) is common among philosophers, i.e. gentlemen who strive to establish connection and have eminent constructive abilitities. Plato, the initiator of systematic philosophy, substantialised moral. Nietzsche, a kind of revenant of Plato, shattered systematisation and rightfully noted that philosophical buildings erected upon confidence in morals have all collapsed across the centuries and millenia. – It is ok to ground one´s metaphysics in an admiration of constructiveness, nevertheless substantialisation of constructiveness is problematic, and a nihilistic worldview is logically quite consistent as well, or the notion that „deep reality“ actually consists of an evil, malicious god, and that everything constructive, beautiful, ethical or full of quality is just there to fool us in making us strive for it in a vain attempt (as is the credo of sociopathic Iago in Otello or of the anti-heroes of de Sade).

However, it is still a mystery why the cosmos is a fine-tuned as it is, or why life and evolution came into being on our planet. These phenomena are highly unlikely. Of course that could be explained with our universe, and our planet, just being the lucky guys within an infinite amount of possibilities, but the mystery still remains – and maybe there is some kind of quality behind it as the source of selection.

And while Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality may be ? for a human, it might be an adequate metaphysics of someone who has achieved cosmic consciousness. In his valuable book Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (1901) Robert Bucke says that what we commonly refer to as enlightenment or Satori refers to a universal experience across times and cultures: spiritual, intellectual and personal transformation of very advanced individuals to a state of „cosmic“ perception. Someone who has achieved it ceases to view the cosmos as dead and inorganic, but as spiritual and enlivened, with living beings rather being faint dots in a great living ocean; his behaviour is highly ethical; he is aware of his immortality; he is in suberb control of himself and his personality radiates harmony, dignity and grace. Individuals who have achieved cosmic consciousness include, according to Bucke: Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tse, Johannes vom Kreuz, Pascal, Shakespeare, Balzac, Dante, Ramakrishna, Whitman or Thoreau. The ways and fashions these individuals express their inner experience varies through time and through cultures in which they are, after all, embedded. So maybe the Metaphysics of Quality may be the (or: a plausible) metaphysics for someone who has achieved cosmic consiousness.

UPDATE 24/05/2017:

A Theory of Consciousness Can Help Build a Theory of Everything

Design Theory and a Changing Scientific Worldview

Huitzilopochtli and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance (First Note about Robert M. Pirsig)

Longseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance was written by Robert M. Pirsig. Equipped with a 170 IQ young Robert enrolled at the university at age 14 only to get expelled a while afterwards as he found the scientist´s mindset inadequate, feeble and incomplete, which also led to mutual personal alienation (respectively animosity) between Pirsig and academia. People of very high IQ think in much larger patterns and especially if they are divergent thinkers they may get very confused since they have little idea what they actually see and envision and then they have to synthesize a lot to come up with a conclusive intellectual framework that works to their satisfaction (usually erected upon vast intellectual experience and life experience which they also intellectualise). As his assumed skyrocketing career as a scientist did not work out Pirsig became a kind of a drifter through life. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance was a kind of semi-fictionalised intellectual autobiography, half a novel, half a philosophical work. It got rejected by more than 100 publishers but became a huge, and lasting, success after it came out in 1974. The mixing up of „Eastern“ and „Western“ thought was unorthodox in academic philosophy then but hit a nerve in the later hippie era, respectively Pirsig´s investigation into the possibilities of expansion of the human mind and its possible failures could have been taken as a kind of intellectual resume of the initial spirit of 1968. In ZMM Pirsig voted for a metaphysics that has quality as its central value. In 1992 Pirsig published his second book (of similar fashion concerning genre mix), Lila; An Inquiry into Morals, in which Pirsig tried to solidify his original arguments, and he said that Lila is the more profound book than ZMM. Lila did not become a huge commercial success like ZMM. It is said you should read ZMM before you read Lila. I read Lila before I read ZMM (last year) because I was interested in WJ Sidis and in Lila Pirsig writes a bit about Sidis (I knew about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance before but thought it to be a kind of introduction into Zen Buddhism for Westerners). In 1995 Pirsig gave a lecture Subjects, Objects, Datas and Values in which Pirisg tried to show that his Metaphysics of Quality was a coherent philosophical framework to interpret quantum mechanics. I read this lecture yesterday. Pirsig has long retired, in his (obviously) most recent interview in 2006 he said he does not read much anymore but still likes to sail. Despite the success of his books Pirsig´s Metaphysics of Quality has not entered mainstream philosophy so far.

More recently I also read Laura Ibarra Garcia´s Das Weltbild der Azteken, a book about the worldview and metaphysics of the ancient Aztecs. Marx says „Sein bestimmt das Bewusstsein“ (being determines consciousness) and that when we look at ancient cultures we look into our own past (and infancy, as we might add). Yet sensitivity to psychology is certainly not a strength of Marxism, respectively to the question how and why man creates and manipulates his world exactly the way he does. Jean Piaget on the other hand investigated the cognitive and psychological development and ontogenesis of the infant and how it relates to cultural development (with, on the other hand, being a bit lenient on how cultural norms massively predate the individual´s development). The infant tries to master objects and subjects which he initially views as unstable (with the possibility of neuroses and personality disorders as a cognitive and psychological result when the infant gets permanently frustrated by the outside world). As the infant gains some mastery over the objects and is happy to establish a friendly and constructive relationship to fellow humans he learns that he is able to manipulate and influence them, and vice versa. At this level the cognitive understanding of the infant is subjectivistic (i.e. reflects how he can manipulate the environment and how the environment will react to him is based on individual behaviour). In addition the infant is in a dyadic relationship with the mother, respectively in a relationship with the competent Other and he tends to view objects and his surroundings as enlivened, translating into an animistic worldview in very ancient societies where man cannot dominate nature very effectively (and therefore considers nature and animals and himself as a sort of equals). – The Aztecs were an ancient class society based on agriculture. Their origins were obscure and their original position obviously was very disadvantaged in regard to the culture and civilisation of the Toltecs over which they finally took over however. The Aztecs worshipped Gods, had a foundation myth involving a cultural hero, viewed the world as unstable and finally destined to fall apart again (alongside a kind of cyclical understanding of time), believed in life after death (with the individual´s fate in the afterlife however being largely determined by the circumstances of his death and not by his personal achievements or ethical behaviour) and they tried to master chaos through rites that implicated sophisticated method as well as devotion (so as to adress the Gods/the irrational forces of nature both intellectually as well as emotionally). Surrounded by uncertainty and lack of insight into the world the Aztects had a mythological worldview, which, instead of a logos, was grounded in a (more or less sophisticated) narrative. Although the higher points of Aztecian culture (e.g. architecture) required formal-operational knowledge the worldview of the Aztecs remained at the level of concrete-operational knowledge, i.e. they could manipulate objects but did/could not generate formal abstractions about that knowledge. Inside the horizon of an agrarian society human mindsets use to remain pre-logical and pre-scientific and subjetivistic. The ancient Greeks were the first to operate at the level of formal-operational knowledge and to have a scientific mindset which epistemologically however could not reflect itself at a meta-level. That came about with the Copernican revolutions in science, knowledge and philosophy in the early modern era (note that regardless of level of cultural evolution only the more (or most) intelligent individuals of the respective society carry the most advanced mindset with, for instance, many people still being superstitious or believing in esoterics in the most advanced societies today). As we live in a new axial age today it is likely that we will progress into new stages of cognitive development and metaphysics which may supersede the rationalist subject-object-dichotomy worldview of modernity, i.e. where a very competent subject exercises mastery over a rather dull and helpless object (which, as it turns out in the atomic age and the age of climate change, isn´t so helpless after all).

Pirsig, as a very advanced individual nowadays, somehow eclectically developed a metaphysics designed to supersede the modern rationalist metaphysics that is centered about how (abstract) subjects relate to (abstract) objects. Unhappy with the scientific approach but confused about how to grasp things instead he began to ruminate about how quality is something that would define entities (not as an accident but as substance). Some entities obviously have higher quality than others, and while the perception of quality is to some degree in the eye of the beholder, true quality refers to something that is inherent in the object and independent of subjective perception. Pirsig then says that quality is an event that happens when subject and object interfere and relate to each other, potentially both changing the object as well as the subject. He then says that quality is the more profound reality than both object and subject – without, however, defining what quality, taken at this level of abstraction, actually is (making a virtue out of necessity he stipulates quality as undefineable, which then of course makes his entire framework inherently wobbly). Instead he approaches quality from several perspectives and, for instance, says that interactions between animate as well as inanimate things perform in this and that fashion because they value certain interactions over others. He concludes that the entire physical world is based on morals and that natural law is also an expression of (some) morals (of constructiveness). Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance refers to a quality relationship being inherently at work when we do „Western“ „analytic“ shit (perception of quality rather is something synthetic) and the Buddha being present in it all alike – that is to say Pirsig refutes purely „analytical, Western“ approach as it is cutting off many aspects from the relationship under investigation as well as the „Eastern“ quasi-meditative mindset as it remains unprogressive, static and self-sufficient when relying solely on itself. He differentiates between static and dynamic quality with the static giving form and the dynamic providing change and progress (and he often elaborates how both the agents of static quality and dynamic quality need each other but also often are very hostile towards each other (and, as he somehow forgets to mention, may transform into each other with the former dynamics becoming dogmatic and the like)). Likewise, according to Pirsig the world composes of inorganic, biological, social and intellectual quality patterns and they´re an expression of an evolution to ever higher patterns of quality (therefore also often at war with each other). Pirsig´s metaphysics is a kind of processural and evolutionary metaphysics of a universe striving to reach ever higher levels of quality.

As far as I am concerned, when I was 11 or so we used to have fun in a weekly group meeting of friends – yes, those were actually good times! At one occasion we were playing ping pong and I accidentally shot the ball in Helli´s balls. He humoristically dramatized the pain, and I said Scheiß Eierspeise („fucking scrambled eggs“) as a comment to the pseudo-malheur. Helli found this so funny that he nearly fell down. So I used Scheiß Eierspeis as a salutation and a code for our community and further investigated what Scheiß Eierspeis could all be about and what secrets it could contain. I then founded a movement and wrote a manifesto at age 15 or so in which I declared that everything is Scheiß Eierspeise, respectively that Scheiß Eierspeise is the mutual quality all things share and have in common. In doing so I tried to establish some kind of community and collegiality between things and a kind of universal nexus, a premium quality of everything. Although it was intented to be a joke the manifesto also contained serious intellectual/scientific ruminations and later in life it came to my mind that it was actually a kind of „theory of everything“. (Trying to come up with a „theory of everything“ is a common endeavour among hyperintelligent youngsters as I later found out, but I did not know that then, as I did not know much about philosophy and shit back then and was quite stupid in many respects). – Maybe I should look after my manifesto and tell you something about it; maybe I should revitalise the Scheiß Eierspeise movement and elaborate on the framework, it could actually be the thing, yet for the moment mankind does not seem to be ripe and mature enough for this level of analysis and integration, respectively to take the responsibilities involved. While Pirsig called himself Phaidros later I called myself Yorick.

(The abovementioned William James Sidis was the person with probably the highest IQ ever recorded, likely well over 200, but much of his biography and his achievements remains clouded and obscure, triggering speculation about whether the man with the highest IQ on Earth is just doomed to be the ultimate reject on Earth. I want to write a note with reference to Sidis, titled The Transbodhidharma, somewhere in the future.)

 

Deleuze, Leibniz, Whitehead

Referring back to the interrupted note about Pinsel and Deleuze and the fold a while ago we conclude that the Deleuzian fold is a somehow fuzzy concept, but that is usual business when Deleuze comes up with concepts. Deleuze´s concepts are open-ended and inexhaustive, non-exclusive and intensive, a kind of virtuality, since his philosophy is a metaphysics and cosmology of transformation, evolution and potentialities. Some (like Rancière) fail to appreciate this since Deleuze´s concepts (and his whole philosophy) is linked to a semi-private imaginary that may be alien to some, notably those inclined to more analytic philosophy. Deleuze is a synthetic philosopher and a primarily associative thinker. Despite that Deleuze´s concepts/philosophy are, of course, clear-cut and precise and well-defined, respectively they are purely analytic concepts when viewed from the perspective of the phase space (not the quasi-static metaphysics related to analytic philosophy). – The concept of the fold was first introduced by Deleuze in his book about Foucault (1986) with reference to Foucault´s philosophical investigations of how subjectivity is constituted by power (outside forces) and his final ruminations about how autonomous existence would be possible. In contrast to Foucault´s somehow staunchly hermetic perspective Deleuze refers to the fold as how the „outside“ constitutes an „inside“ but may include autonomy, potentiality and variation („differentiatedness“ in itself). In his subsequent book about Leibniz and the Baroque (1988) he refers to the fold as a monad although it becomes a much more dynamic concept and rather the constituent of a monad. The fold is a relationship upon itself, both static and dynamic, in flux and self-preserving and it is constituted via prehensions, pre-individual singularities, events. It is transsubjective. Folding means making something implicit, via unfolding it becomes explicit. The fold is a „point of view“ upon existence and its „subjectivity“ does not primarily refer to idiosyncracy but objective vagueness and variety of the world. Once again, Deleuze tries to think and illustrate the univocity of being and how the One relates to the Many and how both are interrelated.

Such was also the undertaking of Leibniz, indeed. Leibniz refers to monads, single, atomised beings as the final substance of the world beyond which there are no emanations of existence i.e. no „truth“ beyond their ontological scope. The „dark fond“ (i.e. both potentiality and lack of consciousness) is inherent in the monads themselves, and is their own primal ground upon which they may actualise themselves. Monads are embedded in a universal interrelationship of cause and effect, with God being the primal (and final) cause and each monad being a „mirror of the world“. There is a kind of hierarchy among monads with only humans capable of apperceptions (as elevated upon mere perceptions) and soul. The higher the monad the clearer and more comprehensive are the apperceptions and the awareness of being a „mirror of the world“ and the more elevated is the soul. Despite offering a relatively static paradigm Leibniz emphasises that monads contain entelechies and are subject to change. The highest goal of life is to gain the highest awareness possible of the „harmony of the world“ and being as a divine monarchy. Alongside this trajectory the monad does not progress to rational vision of the „thing in itself“ yet breaks through the material hyle and becomes maximally competent (as it, as we may say, becomes the „suject/monad in itself“). Leibniz´ Monadology and related writings are, by the way, cool the way they are sharp and precise, anti-logorrhoea and without word vomit. That is not of necessary occurence in philosophy.

In his major work Process and Reality Whitehead occasionally mentions Leibniz though not extensively. Yet the parallels to Leibniz and his monadology are striking, so much as that Deleuze bluntly refers to Whitehead as a „diadoche“ of Leibniz. Whitehead takes „actual entities“ as the true substance of the world, they resemble monads but are inherently more dynamic. They´re embedded in a universal process of becoming (not merely „cause and effect“) under which they finally constitute themselves as monads. Whitehead refers to intensity of perception as the highest value: the more intense the perception the more qualities the perceived as well as the perceiver accumulate. Whitehead´s ontology does not refer to a specific beginning or a specific end of the world process and embraces a higher notion of chance and the merely processural as a value in itself: creativity as the ontological principle upon which the world unfolds. In his notion God is the primal ground of all possibilities and potentialities and via processural reality God actualises himself (which puts Whitehead´s philosophy in an apparent relationship to pantheism respectively panpsychism though it is not the same since Whitehead´s God is rather to be understood as an ontological substrate as well as a reflection which relates to the univocity of being and the harmonious interrelatedness of a heterogenous world). Embedded in processural reality actual entitites, like monads, are a reflection of the whole world and nothing that has ever happened ever gets lost. However, no actual entity, and not God himself can have a divine universal perspective on being since it progressively unfolds and actualises itself, constituting actual entities and constituting God. Whitehead is aware that there truly is negativity and destructiveness in the world but sees them as a necessary emanation or by-product of creativity. The quality of the world is rather aesthetic and probably should be seen as an artwork by God, through which God, however, preserves the actual entities and the process of the world. The ethical implications seem to indicate the need for a filigrane percpetion and understanding of the manifoldness of the world and an awe for the creative process. Despite being acknowledged as one of the most eminent metaphysicists of the 20th century Whitehead is not very well known, and they say Process and Reality is terribly opaque. However, I cannot sense that, it is quite accessible. The thing may rather be that we do not really know what to do with a metaphysics that abstract (or so I guess), respectively Whitehead´s metaphysics and its apparent implications partially relate to both Western and Eastern mindsets (as they are about the progressively competent individual (Western) in a harmonious whole (Eastern) which is not transcendent (Western) but immanent (Eastern)) and we don´t know how to think them together, but we may learn to do so in the future.

The debated philosophies are about how to understand heterogenousness and oneness, epistemology and ontology, the subject-object dichotomy, relentless creativity and harmony, the relationship between man, world and God. Leibniz presents are relatively static, quasi-feudalistic world with harmony the supreme good, Whitehead modernises and cracks the monad up into the progressive and democratic, Deleuze comes up with the postmodern fold and transgresses the monad/monadology into nomad/nomadology. Whitehead emphasises that philosophical undertaking and approach cannot be absolute but is limited by our contemporarian understanding or the eternal limitations of the human mind and has to operate with concepts which may be both to abstract and too precise to fully comprehend realities. Nevertheless one has to do something philosophical to make us understand the (current) situation. It is apparent how these three metaphysical approaches are grounded in the supreme, gentle and creative human mind, somehow becoming its own theophany. Despite it is also my own intuition I doubt whether a monad is a mirror of the all, or whether things are preserved. Maybe chance and vagueness are inherent qualities the world (enabling „creativity“?) and being is not univocal. Of course metaphysics has to aware of what physics does reveal. I am quite curious about whether we live in a holographic universe, how the quantum realm relates to the macrorealm, how the different macrorealms relate to each other and how emergent phenomena can be explained. – Via Deleuze´s immersive writing metaphysics becomes a sexy and colourful thing. Leibniz makes me think of an elevated silver sphere which is stabilised in its own harmony, floating a little bit above me. Whitehead´s metaphysics makes me think of a giant web of little golden balls with flashy golden beams connecting between them. But reflecting about them all the vision of gazing into the metaphysical structure of the world now becomes one of quadratic zones, honeycomb-like, that fall into an indefinite ground of which you don´t see much and, presumably, does not carrying much to see. To save the vision and elevate it to a new level, respectively open it up into another dimension I think it is indicated to ram a white spear perpendicularly into the structure. This should give Deleuze, Leibniz and Whitehead a pause. An event has happened, a koan. After that I think all the four of us will silently smile at each other and nod in consent.

Deleuze on Whitehead & Leibniz

Nikolaus Lenau´s Faust, Gilles Deleuze´s Proust, and Second Prelude to a Note about the Hyperset

I have stated elsewhere (in the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking) that I find Faust a quite strange, annoying and unconvincing figure (as well as that Goethe < Büchner). Likewise – despite Faust is a character through which humanity is individualised (like Don Quixote, Yorick, K., Malone, Ishmael or Peer Gynt) – Nietzsche said that, upon reflection, probably all that remains of Faust is a bizarre, degenerated example of scientific man. Ibsen wrote his Peer Gynt as an allusion to Faust and someone said Ibsen´s Peer Gynt is a bizarre satire upon Goethe´s Faust. I find Peer Gynt a more convincing, direct epitome of humanity, also given the ethical implications of Peer Gynt, although I somehow think that the mirror image of Faust (who is, of course, the much more comprehensive character) is somehow necessary to make Peer Gynt truly shine. Otto Weininger was very fond of Peer Gynt and it was Otto Weininger who made me understand Peer Gynt so that I wrote my Rompf as an allusion and a bizarre satire upon Peer Gynt. Otto Weininger (wrongly) was somehow dismissive of Ibsen´s later plays and said that, if he had wanted, Ibsen could have become greater than Goethe (because he somehow didn´t like Ibsen´s progressive attitude towards women). Otto Weininger was also dismissive of Nietzsche and called him a genius of seventh (lowest) grade (because he missed the ethical component in Nietzsche´s philosophy). Otto Weininger mourned that there was no one around like Goethe anymore in his days. I think if Otto Weininger had stayed alive he would have become greater than Goethe and Nietzsche, but he was psychologically troubled and did not survive. I partially understand Otto Weininger´s psychological troubles (in the dimension of overexcitabilities common among geniuses) and as far as I can see I am the only one around who actually understands Otto Weininger as a philosopher. I also think Ibsen was at least a more convincing and powerful playwright than Goethe. I have written one play so far and it was a bizarre satire upon theater and theater audience. I wonder what would have become of Büchner if he had stayed alive. I think Büchner would have become a major existential philosopher like Weininger or Nietzsche, not a theorizer of colours like Goethe. Enter Nikolaus Lenau.

 

Nikolaus Lenau denied Goethe possessing a „monopoly“ upon Faust, instead understood the archetype of Faust as a creative common of mankind and wrote his own version of Faust (like Christopher Marlowe did already before Goethe). Nikolaus Lenau is relatively obscure today although Wikepedia bluntly states that he was the greatest Austrian poet of the 19th century. His Faust is a somehow more dire figure than Goethe´s and is frantically and desperately motivated to understand the presumed „truth of it all“. As he gets thrown into the world of the living by the devil he neither finds fulfilment in elementary constructiveness (love, giving birth) nor in destructive passions and finally finds himself cut off from everything so that, in a metaphysically deluded reflection upon his emotional alienation, he kills himself (and falls prey to the devil´s plot). Lenau´s Faust finds himself in a heterogenous, emotionally detached world and, as long as he cannot be omnipotent, omniscient, omnisentient and sovereign rather chooses death, his endeavour to „weld together himself, world and God“ („Dich, Welt und Gott in eins zusammenschweißen“) a failure. Lenau´s Faust indeed does not have the universality of Goethe´s Faust, it is rather a reflecion upon Lenau`s inner world as he finds himself torn between a longing for a protective God and being embedded in nature and being an autonomous god himself, unable to find reconciliation and consolation between the two extremes. As Faust is an archetype for (metaphysically) struggling man Lenau was right to weld his alter ego together with the Faust archetype. I came across Nikolaus Lenau´s Faust when Alexander Nitzberg and his companion Peter Sendtko made a theatrical performance of the poem/play at Roman´s atelier some weeks ago; it was really lovely.

I still have not read Proust´s Recherche, I bought a copy of Swann´s Way when I was 19 or so and finally managed to read it some years ago. As far as I understand Proust is longing for closure within intensity too which he tries to achieve via realization of memory. Proust´s Recherche is also archetypical. Gilles Deleuze bluntly announces (in Proust and Signs) that the Recherche is not an undertaking directed into the past and into autobiographical memory but into the future and into learning where memory is the material through which the subject enriches itself and comes to itself. Neither the subject nor the world does express itself directly, the chiffres of the world are the signs (for instance social signs, romantic signs, etc.), and via understanding the signs the subject progressively deciphers the world. The purest signs are the signs of art as they are immaterial and spiritual. The signs of art are deeper than the subject or object that carries and sends out the signs and more elementary as they reveal the essence. The essence of an object is its true embeddedness in the world, that what is actualised about it and its potentialities, it is, with reference to the note about Deleuze and Rancière and as Angell de la Sierra puts it the „meta-noumenon … nothing less than the existential ontology of the object, another way of expressing its circumstantial semantic content, now and later on, a mind´s view of ,objective reality`“. The essence of the subject is to become a „point of view“ upon the world, finally, as Deleuze notes, a de/transpersonalised „spider“ which reacts to and acts upon the vibrations within the world-net. In becoming a „point of view“ the subject becomes objectified, eternal and immortal and it is eventually via the artwork via which man is able to make sense of the world and establish identity. It is associative intelligence, not logical intelligence (which is the intelligence of Faust) which reveals essence. – Trying to live in this world with a pronounced artist´s intelligence is not easy of course, but I have to say that Faust´s problems are to a considerable degree alien to me. The arid character of the world gets compensated as before my inner eye as lose graceful gestures I occasionaly witness get inflated into a graceful world and potentialities seem to pour out everywhere (despite being aware that that´s a kind of bluff package, yet only partially). I do not communicate much with people but I feel, in a way, in a communion with them much more than the chatterboxes out there commonly do. Memory is virtually present not in a fotographic, textual way but via a hypertextual monitor on which I can recall memories to a given sensual or intellectual stimulus via association, enriching both the stimulus and the memory content with additional meaning. That monitor kind of enwraps and cocoons me and gives me presence. Faust obviously lacks such a thing.

A while ago I have started to ruminate about the „hyperset“. The occasion was a diagram I saw which made me think of a, say, meta-diagram as a necessity to competently understand and process the diagram, as a, so to say, conscious reflection over the diagram. Likewise, I have observed that I seem to belong to many groups which often venn very thin and marginally, or not at all, making the final intersection a set to which seemingly only I belong, in solitude, on this earth, maybe also in this history. However, I also seem to understand all the sets at a higher level than those who only belong to the respective sets, I have higher awareness, I have higher consciousness of them. That diversification and pluralism is a good thing is commonplace, that the one who only understands a single discipline actually doesn´t understand that discipline either is what they say. Pluralistic understanding is good. Deleuze (and Guattari) refers to transversality as a mode of establishing connection between heterogenous sets that make up reality. Transversality does not try to totalize and normalise heterogeneity but is affirmative towards difference, lets them resonate and explores interdependencies. It is experimental and reflects anti-logos and becoming, the associative method of the Recherche, the instability of the world and the object as well as the emergence of essence through the process of art. Artistic style (i.e. a subjective mode of expression which is of objective substance) is what holds heterogeneity together and is the correlate to the logos (Welsch takes „transversal reason“ as a model for reason in postmodernity). This is vibrant and humming and make us think of a microcosmic reflection of macrocosm (which also Deleuze does in Proust and Signs). Remember, Otto Weininger says: „The ego of the genius accordingly is simply itself universal comprehension, the centre of infinite space; the great man contains the whole universe within himself; genius is the living microcosm. He is not an intricate mosaic, a chemical combination of an infinite number of elements; the argument in chap. iv. as to his relation to other men and things must not be taken in that sense; he is everything. In him and through him all psychical manifestations cohere and are real experiences, not an elaborate piece-work, a whole put together from parts in the fashion of science. For the genius the ego is the all, lives as the all; the genius sees nature and all existences as whole; the relations of things flash on him intuitively; he has not to build bridges of stones between them.“ That is, well, the purest emanation of the hyperset, not somehow clumsily (or, if you want, more cautiously and operational) as it appears before my inner eye or that of Deleuze, Guattari or Proust (not to speak of Faust). Unfortunately Otto collapsed psychologically under its airy weight.

Despite having written the First Prelude to a Note about the Hyperset months ago it seems that I have not progressed a lot about thinking about it further and deeper, which is, however, excusable since I have done other things. I wonder whether the „hyperset“ can be a mathematical object and how it could be modelled, maybe it could shed light on the incompleteness theorem. I also wonder whether consiousness could actually be understood as a hyperset, or what we refer to as the soul, or processes of „emergence“ in nature (which are, so far, little understood). It reflects however an elevated state of mind which is, in the same fashion, „grounded“. Maybe I also lose interest in the hyperset, though I don´t really think so because first I like the name and second I think it is actually a name and category that refers to something real and one day, after I am gone, they will jubiliatingly scream „the hyperset, the hyperset!“ when they´ve done something dilettante; but that does not differ from what I do and how I came to think of the hyperset.

Prelude to Note about the Hyperset