Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Fast and Loose Boethian Gloss on Black Sabbath's "Paranoid"

Finished with my woman 'cause she couldn't help me with my mind

While with success false Fortune favoured me / One hour of sadness could not have thrown me down, / But now her trustless countenance has clouded . . . While I was quietly thinking these thoughts over to myself and giving vent to my sorrow with the help of my pen, I became aware of a woman standing over me.

People think I'm insane because I am frowning all the time

Now see that mind that searched and made / All Nature’s hidden secrets clear / Lie prostrate prisoner of night. / His neck bends low in shackles thrust, / And he is forced beneath the weight / To contemplate – the lowly dust.

All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy

‘If I have fully diagnosed the cause and nature of your condition, you are wasting away in pining and longing for your former good fortune. It is the loss of this which, as your imagination works upon you, has so corrupted your mind.’

Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify

Rid yourself / Of joy and fear, / Put hope to flight, / And banish grief. / The mind is clouded / And bound in chains / Where these hold sway.

Can you help me, occupy my brain?

‘All that you have said,’ I began, ‘is certainly plausible and well sugared with the sweet honey of rhetoric and music. But it is only while one is actually listening that one is filled with pleasure, and for the wretched, the pain of their suffering goes deeper. So as soon as your words stop sounding in our ears, the mind is weighed down again by its deep seated melancholy.’

Oh yeah

O happy race of men / If Love who rules the sky / Could rule your hearts as well!

I need someone to show me the things in life that I can't find

When she saw that it was not that I would not speak, but that, dumbstruck, I could not, she gently laid her hand on my breast and said, ‘It is nothing serious, only a touch of amnesia that he is suffering, the common disease of deluded minds. He has forgotten for a while who he is, but he will soon remember once he has recognized me.’

I can't see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind

‘You would be more eager if you knew the destination I am trying to bring you to.’ I asked what it was and she told me that it was true happiness. ‘Your mind dreams of it,’ she said, ‘but your sight is clouded by shadows of happiness and cannot see reality.’

Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry

‘All pleasures have one quality alike: / They drive their devotees with goads. / And like a swarm of bees upon the wing, / They first pour our their honey loads, / Then turn and strike their victim’s heart / And leave behind their deep set sting.’

Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal

‘But the greatest cause of my sadness is really this – the fact that in spite of a good helmsman to guide the world, evil can still exist and even pass unpunished . . . That this can happen in the realm of an omniscient and omnipotent God who wills only good, is beyond perplexity and complaint.’

And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state

This picture warns – except to the witless earthbound men -- / ‘You who raise your eyes to heaven with thrusting face, / Raise up as well your thoughts, lest weighed down to earth / Your mind sink lower as your body rises high.’

I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it's too late

‘A great necessity is laid upon you, if you will be honest with yourself, a great necessity to be good, since you live in the sight of a judge who sees all things.’

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thrownness, Exhibit A

"Where am I? What does it mean to say: the world? What is the meaning of that word? Who tricked me into this whole thing and leaves me standing here? Who am I? How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it, why was I not informed of the rules and the regulations but just thrust into the ranks? . . . . And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager -- I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?" (Kierkegaard, Repetition, cited from John Caputo, More Radical Hermeneutics, 12).

"My appearance in this world has been a hard fall" (Kaspar speaking, in Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser).

To all who feel and want to express the import of these statements, for all who face and need to speak the absurdity of their existence, to all who are not absolutely heedless (i.e acephalous), I highly recommend getting your embodied self in a "Life, I Can't Believe It's Really Happening" T-Shirt. I have worn mine only a handful of times and not once has it failed to produce wonderful encounters and communions, from the understated - "cool shirt" - to the confessional - "I feel that way all the time" - to the dialectical: "Have you read Camus?"