January 26, 2011

War is a curiosity. War is, but needn’t be. War is a curiosity for me because I take it as bad, and thus not inevitable in a world that can be good. Another might see it as inevitable, perhaps because for them it is not all that bad. For them, war contains all of the world, good and bad: it is micro-cosmic. But would this not assume war to be a state among comparable others? Yet was is not a state. It is a concept mean to describe or name a situation of which it is a part, and which it is said to represent in comparison to another imagined state. For all practical purposes, war is something that is between us in a variety of circumstances. It is an inherently bad part of anything that is relational.

réel et irréel

January 20, 2011

La manière de former les idées est ce qui donne caractère à l’esprit humain. L’esprit qui ne forme ses idées que sur des rapports réels est un esprit solide; celui qui se contente de rapports apparents est un esprit superficiel; celui qui voit les rapports tels qu’ils sont est un esprit juste; celui qui les apprécie mal est un esprit faux; celui qui controuve des rapports imaginaires qui n’ont ni réalité ni apparence est un fou; celui qui ne compare point est un imbécile. – LIV. Sensations et Idées: l’Erreur

 

I have this tendency as well to categorise, but some people are just on another level:

“Qui de vous n’a pas regretté quelquefois cet age où le rire est toujours sur les lèvres, et où l’âme est toujours en paix?”

Laughter is actually often on my lips (or just under them, since I’m not so absurd a character). This lesson isn’t so much about how we ought to consider children, but rather how thus we ought to consider ourselves, for there is no need to regret the perpetually (though not constantly) avoidable.

a christmas carrel

January 6, 2011

Why did Scrooge change his ways? It is certainly not the fact of his having been told that he was being greedy. He had been told many times and ignored all warnings, ba-humbugging them. It was rather the fright that did it. The paranormal activities, the fact of ghosts and their magical abilities to uproot, disorient, decontextualise him made Scrooge believe. The ghosts, these metaphysic adjudicators, forces that had nothing to gain, made impossible things happen in real, tangible, undeniable life. He could feel for real, and since he really was who he was, as was made horribly evident all at once by everything he had hitherto brushed off as unrealistic fantasy, he got scared. He remembered, and it meant something because he understood now again that he did indeed have a soul. What the world told him was all of a sudden consequential.

The only equivalent replication possible (for we have our share of Scrooges in our own communities), would have to be a sort of prank, an appeal to the authorities that the rich fear. But what are these authorities? who do the rich fear that might, if awakened, shake the foundations of their disbelief? and what would these ghosts do? perhaps we could summon them, offer ourselves as surrogates, at least for some time, sometimes. We could be a part of them. I wonder whether Scrooge never saw his ghosts again. I imagine he did, every morning and every night.

I any case, however relevant this lesson may be, there might also be another one behind it. That the ghosts are meant to teach Scrooge a lesson is at least to some extent a projection on behalf of the reader, me (though I haven’t actually read the book). It could be that this fright of ghosts is something that Scrooge feels for the benefit of the Common reader. That would make him much more generous than we give him credit for. We’re so rude. A “true” Scrooge might not respond as Disney’s or Dickens’ did. Theirs might be the reader’s inner Scrooge. Perhaps culture that is meant for, that makes sense to, the “real” Scrooges would better detail their fear. But that is assuming Scrooge is different from us, or, in other words, that a part of our inner self is different from another configuration or our same self, that we are different from ourselves.