Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sorrow, Funny

"Alle men han mater of sorow, bot most specyaly he felith mater of sorow that wote and felith that he is. Alle other sorowes ben unto this in comparison bot as it were gamen to ernest. For he may make sorow ernestly that wote and felith not onli what he is, bot that he is. And whoso felid never this sorow, he may make sorow, for whi he felid yit never parfite sorow. This sorow, when it is had, clensith the soule, not only of synne, bot also of peyne that he hath deservid for synne. And therto it makith a soule abil to resseive that joye, the whiche revith fro a man alle wetyng and felyng of his beyng." (Cloud of Unknowing, 43: 1554-61, my italics)

“Existence is an absolute that is asserted without reference to anything else. It is identity. But in this reference to himself [soi-même], man perceives a type of duality. His identity with himself loses the character of a logical or tautological form; it takes takes on a dramatic form . . . In the identity of the I [moi], the identity of being reveals its nature as enchainment, for it appears in the form of suffering and invites us to escape. Thus, escape is the need to get out of oneself, that is to break that most radical and unalterably binding of chains, that fact that the I [moi] is onself [soi-ême]” (Emmanuel Levinas, On Escape).

"I imagine a small organ, neither inside nor outside myself, like a polymelic phantom limb, a subtle psychic appendage implanted at birth behind my crown, during the moment of my coming to be, whenever that was. This organ (or appendix, or tumor), whose painful inflammation is despair—‘despair is the paroxysm of individuation’(Cioran, 1996, 59)—is like a strange supplementary bodily member, intimate and inessential, which I can feel yet not move, barely move yet without feeling. . . . A very special monstrous growth then, means of the apotheosis of monstrosity, something whose troublesome spasm is really the vibrational awakening of a primordially inherited perfection . . . penumbra of whatever being, like the distorted self-shadow that a lamp casts by its own light" ("Individuation: This Stupidity").

Funny how things come together. Someone (an unalterably binding I-me chain) will be speaking on these subjects next week:

Thursday, November 12
NYU English Medieval Forum [at NYU]
"The Sorrow of Being"
19 University Place, room 224. Visitors from outside NYU should bring photo ID.

photo courtesy of Liza Blake

1 comment:

anna klosowska said...

I feel sorrowful at *not* being, then and there . . .have a wonderful time, appropriately sorrowful, elegant, and refined