Friday, February 22, 2008

The Apophatic Detective

Pseudo-Dionysius: "Here, renouncing all that the mind may conceive, wrapped entirely in the intangible and the invisible, he belongs completely to him who is beyond everything. Here, being neither oneself nor someone else, one is supremely united by a completely unknowing inactivity of all knowledge, and knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing" (Mystical Theology, 1.3)

Inspector Clouseau: “I believe everything. And l believe nothing. I suspect everyone. And l suspect no one. I gather the facts, examine the clues . . . and before you know it, the case is solved!" (A Shot in the Dark, 1964)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Funny How? Very Funny

A priceless circular hermeneutic moment from last week's Italian American Lit and Film class:

Me: The depth and significance of the Italian American as buffoon stereotype is perhaps best illustrated by the scene in Goodfellas where the Joe Pesci character simultaneously takes offense at being perceived as funny and turns that offense into a joke. In effect, Pesci both fulfills and kills the stereotype.

Student: But the other characters in the scene are Italian American, so that doesn't make sense.

Me: Must the significance, meaning of a scene be limited to the "contents" of the minds of the characters in it? What about other agencies, artistic, cultural, interpretive, bla bla bla?

Another Student: But we know that Pesci improvised that scene, it wasn't in the script.

Me: So you think that Pesci doesn't know what he is doing, that he's just there to amuse you, that he's funny?


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The fact of our being here is so spiritual

The fact of our being here is so spiritual
That there is no word worse for it than spiritual.

Like the signature of someone walking, the way
You happen to be, now, yourself, is spiritual.

I would never the mind the robes, the haircuts, the beads
If their wearing was not so goddamn spiritual.

Our eternal contract to meet in true friendship
When all is said and done is sort of spiritual.

At the electric limit of my hand, a voice:
The foundation of all touching is spiritual.

Text, entering the eye, opening memory,
Moves lightly like a shadow of the spiritual.

Nicola, forgive yourself for failing to say
As its own negation exists the spiritual.