The Ontological Boy
Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.
|WHOEVER you are, holding me now in hand,|
|Without one thing, all will be useless,|
|I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,|
|I am not what you supposed, but far different.|
|Who is he that would become my follower?||5|
|Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?|
|The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps destructive;|
|You would have to give up all else—I alone would expect to be your God, sole and exclusive,|
|Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,|
|The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the lives around you, would have to be abandon’d;||10|
|Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further—Let go your hand from my shoulders,|
|Put me down, and depart on your way.|
|Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial,|
|Or back of a rock, in the open air,|
|(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not—nor in company,||15|
|And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)|
|But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watching lest any person, for miles around, approach unawares,|
|Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea, or some quiet island,|
|Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,|
|With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband’s kiss,||20|
|For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.|
|Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,|
|Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest upon your hip,|
|Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;|
|For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best,||25|
|And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.|
|But these leaves conning, you con at peril,|
|For these leaves, and me, you will not understand,|
|They will elude you at first, and still more afterward—I will certainly elude you,|
|Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!||30|
|Already you see I have escaped from you.|
|For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,|
|Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,|
|Nor do those know me best who admire me, and vauntingly praise me,|
|Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a very few,) prove victorious,||35|
|Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as much evil, perhaps more;|
|For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit—that which I hinted at;|
|Therefore release me, and depart on your way.|| |
Thursday, April 17, 2014
6734 The created and the Uncreated. That is a famous distinction from the Middle Ages. The created is what the ordinary writer is writing about, while the Uncreated unwrites itself in a work of genius. The first, when done well, is clear, lucid and easily understood. The second is almost impossible to understand. Permit me to give a simple explanation.
If we divide our ontology into simple things and clear complexities smoothly made from those almost invisible simple unformed forms, we have the Uncreated. If we rush about unconcerned with such a nice analysis we are in the created. The part-whole, simple-complex, one-many divide is of heaven. Here it is a muddle. Analytic philosophers reach for the divine essence. They end up with a job at a community college and a bunch of sweet, idiot students who don't care about the created-Uncreated distinction. The truth is that almost no analytical philosopher really does either. Why am I writing about this?
Let's suppose those simple, uncreated things really do exist. Maybe as Platonic Forms. Let's say you are writing about suffering and pain. How do you write Suffering and Pain as simple Forms? First you give up trying to show that they are there for a purpose or that there is some sort of redemption from them or that they are caused by such and such. What you want to display is just suffering and pain by themselves. Just That. Not human or animal suffering. Not the suffering of the earth or even the universe. Just suffering and pain. You are now outside the realm of meaning and context. Only the thing itself, the timeless thing before creation. Before understanding. Before lucid explanation and clear contextual description. Just That. Impossible writing. It's Him.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
6733 In our world magnificence is dead, just as Nietzsche said. Now we have to look outside the world for enchantment. But how? We could jump into the anti-magnificence of Cioran or Genet. There man is negatively magnificence. I do enjoy reading that. But where is magnificence itself? Look at one of those lowly human beings that litter the forgotten streets of forgotten cities. My favorite is a street boy in Kathmandu. A dirty, pugnacious, skinny waif. Fall in love with one. He becomes the incoming of eternity. You know what I mean. He is nothing, he comes from nothing, he is going back into nothing. A nothingness so fine it is refined transcendence. And he will take all your money and never look back. That is God for us. A magnificent dialectic is at work here. If you but believe. The apocalypse just as prophesied.
6732 Physics studies the material world, not the mind. Today that material world has become ten dimensional with time being reversible. It contains all possible states of all possible universes. Nothing is left out. We observe and live in one of those possibilities. Moreover, our view of that one possibility is limited to three dimensions and only half of the fourth, i.e. time for us is not reversible. Why do we have such limited vision? Are there minds that see more of the Great Ten Dimensional Thing? No doubt there are. This is The Great Chain of Being Amplified. The philosophical question concerns limitation.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
6732 I always say that the mind knows the world directly. That is my Direct Realism. But what is the world? I agree with Wittgenstein that the world consists of facts, not of things. Therefore, the mind or a thought directly knows or intends facts, not things or objects.
Sitting here I see a clock next to a window. To be more exact I see the fact that a bare particular exemplifies the Form of Clock and another bare particular exemplifies the Form of Window and those two particulars together exemplify the relation “next to”. Symbolically, Ex & Ey ( C(x) & W(y) & N(x,y)). Everywhere only facts; all objects have disappeared. The world consists of facts, not of objects. The mind directly knows the world of facts. And there are Oh so many to know.
You should find that vision slightly terrifying. Slightly nauseating. The stillness of Eternity.
You should find that vision slightly terrifying. Slightly nauseating. The stillness of Eternity.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
6731 Nietzsche wrote, “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” It is of course impossible to know what Nietzsche really meant by that, though many have tried to guess. Here is how I understand it, which is no doubt not what Nietzsche meant at all. According to my interpretation, it is a true statement.
The heart of grammar is the subject-predicate connection. A particular has a form. Grammar presupposes the difference between the particular and its form. The particular and the universal tied to it. Grammar speaks of and by means of universals. And particulars. Therefore, we can change that statement to read, “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in particulars and universals, their difference and their joining.”
To get rid of God one must learn to see a world without universals. The most urgent question is. "Do universals exist?"
Monday, March 31, 2014
6730 There are function ontologies and there are thing ontologies. Let's say a function is a mapping. That's a rather vague definition, but I think understandable. A more precise definition probably cannot be had. If we map red onto blue, we get purple. If we map mass onto acceleration we get force. F = ma. If we map sunbeams onto a person walking in the open, we get a shadow. We are here defining one thing as the ratio of one other thing to a third. That word ratio is Latin, but it is from a very old root, the meaning of which is fairly known, but which is only vaguely stated. It seems that here we must rely on some sort of intuition.
It is common today to think that in order to get at the being of something z, to say what it is, we must take it back to is origin as the coming together of x and y. We even say that z emerges out of x and y somehow together. That use of ratio is called being rational. It's really rather anthropomorphic. A child somehow is the joining, mapping, of two parents of opposite, but complementary nature, who in turn are a further joining all the way back. It's a messy idea, but familiar.
Now for a thing ontology. Take a function apart. Separate out all the individual pieces that will come together to make a world. Go right down to the simplest simple element. Do you believe there are such things? Or do we always encounter more and more complex mappings? A function ontologist thinks that there are really no such simple things, that it is functions all the way down and down and down to infinity. Or at least as far as we can ever go. They will say that extracting a piece in an act of abstraction is to hold in your mind a dead thing. A piece separated from the whole cannot live. It is a nothing. At most, a trace, a shadow, a longing to be united with the great body. A thing ontologist has a slightly different take on what's going on here.
Let's say for the sake of simplicity (already a killing abstraction) that there are two kinds of painters. One paints in the finest detail, to the point where people marvel at how lifelike it is, how real! He is a realistic, representational painter. The other wants to "capture" the simple essence of the thing. He takes out all inessential elements. Constantly removing this piece of clothing and that, trying to get closer and closer to the naked thing itself. He is an abstract painter, and we all know how far that can go. So tell me, does the abstract painter finally ever arrive at the essence, the pure simple thing? I say yes. Others disagree. I love minimalism. I see something strikingly there. A Thing.