Saturday, October 20, 2007

Doing, Saying, Thinking: Three Diganoses, One Body

"The scission in question is that between poetry and philosophy, between the poetic word and the word of thought . . . The scission of the word is construed to mean that poetry possesses its object without knowing while philosophy knows its object without possessing it. In the West, the word is thus divided between a word that is unaware, as if fallen from the sky, and enjoys the object of knowledge by representing it in beautiful form, and a word that has all the seriousness and consciousness for itself but does not enjoy its object because it does not know how to represent it . . . In our culture, knowledge is divided between inspired-ecstatic and rational-conscious poles, neither ever succeeding in wholly reducing the other . . . What is overlooked is the fact that every authentic poetic project is directed toward knowledge, just as every authentic act of philosophy is always directed toward joy . . . Criticism is born at the moment when the scission reaches its extreme point . . . this situation of criticism can be expressed in the formula according to which it neither represents nor knows, but knows the representation" (Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture, trans. Martinez [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993], xvi-xvii).

"Practice and it alone, because it constitutes the original dimension of being, can reveal in itself and in the actuality of its doing what being is about. In prescription, theory says the last word, it negates itself and leads outside itself to a being that it summons, invokes, and does not contain. This is why the claim made by Husserl to reduce all normative science to a theoretical science manifests the very illusion of theory. Of course, every normative proposition can be converted into a corresponding theoretical proposition, and instead of saying 'a warrior must be brave,' one can always write 'only a brave warrior is a good warrior,' or another similar statement. By closing itself up inside itself, however, theory loses, when it no longer takes the form of normativity, the only tie it can maintain with the original truth of being. Because normativity -- when it is not reduced, as Husserl precisely will do, to the apodicticity of the principles of reason -- expresses, on the contrary, the decisive limitations of theory; as Idea, it continues to have the value of an ontological index. . . . But if the ethical imperative is vain so long as it leaves reality unchanged and remains itself no more than an empty wish, it at least indicates as a simple proposition at the very heart of theory that the place of reality is not be found here. Inasmuch as the normative principle is indeed presented as a prescription, inasmuch as it is addressed to a doing, it signifies that the place of reality which transcends all theory is precisely that of praxis." (Michel Henry, Marx: A Philosophy of Human Reality, trans. McLaughlin [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983], 157-8).

"If two persons have had headaches they can co-operatively examine their experience of headache and make it explicit to themselves through the work of the intellect. If a person has never experienced a headache, no amount of intellectual explanation will suffice for making him understand what a headache is. Intellectual explanation can never be a substitute for spiritual experience; it can at best prepare the ground for it. Spiritual experience involves more than can be grasped by mere intellect. This is often emphasised by calling it a mystical experience. Mysticism is often regarded as something anti-intellectual, obscure and confused, or impractical and unconnected with experience. In fact, true mysticism is none of these. There is nothing irrational in true mysticism when it is, as it should be, a vision of Reality. It is a form of perception which is absolutely unclouded, and so practical that it can be lived every moment of life and expressed in every-day duties. Its connection with experience is so deep that, in one sense, it is the final understanding of all experience" (Meher Baba, Discourses, I.20-1).

1 comment:

IndieFaith said...

Your Agamben quotes continue to be taunt for me to get in gear and read some more of his work.