Monday, August 10, 2009


So io che parla di quella gentile

THAT (che), extraordinary magic of whatever happens (see n.7). “Now I am tempted to say that the right expression in language for the miracle of the existence of the world, though it is not any proposition in language, is the existence of language itself.”[i] Whence I, tress-bound—“Fortes tresses, soyez la houle qui m’enlève” [Strong tresses, be the swell that lifts me away][ii]—am further tempted to say that quella gentile IS language’s that as the world’s miracle, that Dante’s “nuovo miracolo e gentile”[iii] is the miracle of language, its witnessed (So) aura, not in the shallow sense of a special supplementary happening inside or outside world, but in the only sensible sense of the inexplicable happening of world itself. Knowing that the sigh speaks of that blessed one is the word-index of the world as miracle. Beatrice =halo of the wor(l)d. I mean this, not (only) in an auto-reductive intellectual way, but in a post-abysmal A.K.-inspired way that knows how to have it both ways, namely, that a Wittgensteinian reading of the poet’s beloved only belongs to her being an all-the-more real, live woman. Cf. R. Benigni’s gloss on Mary as a maiden God cannot resist being made by. “Quel ch’ella par quando un poco sorride, / non si pò dicer né tenere a mente” [What she seems when she but smiles cannot be said or held in mind].[iv] But that she appears, this is inevitable: “the strongest magic of life: it is covered by a veil of beautiful possibilities, woven with threads of gold—promising, resisting, bashful, mocking, compassionate, and seductive. Yes, life is a woman!”[v] That is the lovely net we are entangled in, the turning maze which is the way of real guiding: “Within the curl of Thy tress, went Hāfiz / In the dark night; and God is the guide.”[vi] So io che . . . curves (volte) with the silent power of a sweet conviction, a pure secret surmise that “between Nirvana and the world there is not the slightest difference,” that in Paradise—the good thief’s today (Luke 23:43)—“everything will be as it is now, just a little different.”[vii]

[i] Ludwig Wittgenstein, “A Lecture on Ethics,” Philosophical Review 74 (1965), 11.

[ii] Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil (New York: Oxford, 1993), “La Chevelure,” line 13.

[iii] Vita Nuova, 21:4.

[iv] Vita Nuova, 21:4.

[v] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 4.339.

[vi] Hāfiz, Divan, 572.8.

[vii] Agamben, The Coming Community, 52, citing Nagarjuna and Ernst Bloch (citing Walter Benjamin citing Gershom Scholem citing a well-known Hasidic parable), respectively. In other words, the indifferent difference between the world and paradise is identical with the space of the that.


Heather Bamford said...

This is so wonderfully dense, my brain aches, but I try to eek something out. Now I am beginning to understand what you were saying about “not inside and outside” but rather the thing itself (the bullsye, or the only eye?, is in ontology?). I am wondering if it is possible to differentiate between things that happen inside or outside world. Even though these aren’t where the miracle is, are those two spaces, because it seems that they could not be things, from the same school or way of thinking or being? Lately I am obsessed with this feeling of “more real” or “really real” that might be some of what you say with ”the poet’s beloved only belongs to her being an all-the-more real, live woman.” I am wondering at what point the woman is recognized as being more real and we hit the eye? Hmmm. A lot to think about! Thank you!

amarilla said...

Nicola: "Mary as a maiden God cannot resist being made by."

One of the most beautiful things I've ever read.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Amarilla, I think so too, and somehow perfectly Italian. I looked in vain for a version with English subtitles.

Heather, thanks for these questions, which make me want to clarify, as much for myself, what I am packing into the commentary on this line. As you know that is one of the most enjoyably difficult things about this project, physically fitting our comments onto to the page, which pushes me further into a kind of telegrammatic style. The image of stringing beads together comes to mind, with a little too many beads and a slightly short string, so they have to be strung very tight. So the beads are:

1) Wittgenstein's language as the expression of the miraculous *that* of the world;

2) Dante's experience of Beatrice in language (the speech of his thought/sigh which he does not understand but knows *that* it speaks about her--the line that follows this one literalizes this as the name, so its like hearing someone speak in a foreign language but knowing what they are talking about, which also raises the idea of language itself as *name*, cf. Heidegger's what does language speak?, whence we could translate Wittgenstein as saying that language names the inexplicable fact of world, that there is something rather than nothing. Cf. Agamben on deixis as "the category through which language refers to its own taking place."

3) My own erotic (foolish, poetic) conviction/insistence that these two ideas do not collapse into each other onto some 'common sense' ground but rather produce an even more wonderful third term, that that world-miracle IS a woman, both in the narrow sense that I am not deconstructing Dante's Beatrice into a conceptual figure (his entire experience being centered on the fact that Beatrice IS, all the more so after death--which itself must also of course be understood in the context of generally medieval ideas of the reality of the poetic image as something even mysteriously more real than ordinary reality--like you I love the idea of an ontological inversion where what appears most real is sort of hollowed out from within by a superior extremity of its own qualities, "something so real densest stone is a dream")AND in the universal sense that world/life/cosmos whatever somehow actually is a woman (i.e. to hang on to that idea/perception, whatever it might out to mean). And furthermore the even less 'rational' notion that the wondrous event of world may even be identical (just as universal and particular logically must be) with a singular, specific woman. Which of course is obvious within the experience of love, wherein another person is seen as world. Cf. Zizek's comment about love as the investment of the singular, the individuated with infinite significance, and the doctrine that an enlightened or perfect one sees the universe as continually springing from a source (om-point) that is within each being. Hence . . (cont'd in next comment)

Nicola Masciandaro said...

4)Benigni's explication of Mary, as human individual that divinity needs (to manifest, to exist, to be conscious of itself, etc), whom has 'waited' all eternity for, who could say 'no'. Cf. theologies of the 'weakness of God' (Derrida, Caputo et al) and old idea that the cosmos is an illusion that sustains reality, lila etc.

5) Nietzsche's life is a woman.

6) Hafiz's dark night, blind insight. Cf. John of the Cross et al. What I love here is the image of the curl or twist or spin on things that the tress embodies, the magical potentiality whereby the tress is always simultaneously something else, a noose, net. (cf. vedantic metaphor of rope and snake--the gap between the two, neither rope nor snake yet nothing other than both, is like the space of the *that* and the subtle displacement that makes paradise of the world without changing anything).

7) The arguable but undismissable (impossible-inevitable) intuition that this is already paradise (which is my reading of the good thief moment, *today* you will see that you are 'already' in paradise, paradise is the *today*, nunc stans etc.). That is, I am interested in the unaccountable logic whereby this jewish/buddhist doctrine can be thought, whereby, somehow, it makes *sense* despite it not being the case bla bla bla. This sense, then, I am equating with the *that*, a perception which is strangely other than but wholly fused with the world. Agamben, in coversation with W., says things like "How the world is--this is outside the world" and "What is properly divine is that the world does not reveal God". So I am moving towards the potentiality of saying this as a place where the world/God binarism remains but no longer obtains, a kind of quixotic assertion which I wrote in a poem as "facticity is God." Agamben also goes there, but in a more ponderous, qualified way: "The world-insofar as it is absolutely, irreparably profane--is God."

More a repetition of what I wrote than an answer to your questions though.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!



Heather Bamford said...

Thanks for another great post, this one within a post. In the moment of commentary, I totally agree, they those beads get packed in, or in my case, the ends sometimes break apart and the beads end up in all the wrong places. What you said about Dante’s experience of Beatrice reminds me, sort of ironically, of Lukács’ idea of the concreteness of language. I will have to check the Agamben, but for now I am thinking of the something you describe as the fullest point of language, or when it knows it exists. In thinking of names, I am always thinking a little about Derrida’s small book On the Name. That and that probably considered totally mundane chapter of Lévi-Strauss when he gets to the proper names of the Nambikwara.

I love your: “ontological inversion where what appears most real is sort of hollowed out from within by a superior extremity of its own qualities.” Why is it so hard to tell this real? Now I think I see why this problem is so much in language.

What you are saying about the rope and snake makes me think of one of my friends who works on the belly button as a sort of space like _that_.

“where the world/God binarism remains but no longer obtains,” that is a great bead. I am not sure what Agamben means by that, but I mostly would want to think something literal, kind of on purpose: the world in itself (to the things themselves!) in its most unbroken state (here come the horses...) is where we can see big knowing (God).