Saturday, March 06, 2010

dESIRE Gloss 003580 N

[caveat lector: this is a commentary on a photograph that you cannot see]
WINGS OF DESIRE. ‘The children of men take refuge in the shadow of thy wings. / They feast on the abundance of thy house, / and thou givest them drink from the river of thy delights. / For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy light do we see light.’[i] Do not ask about this desire—‘Love’s pain, I have endured to such a degree—that ask not. / Separation’s poison, I have tasted in such a way—that ask not’[ii]—about what is clear—‘Beauty [claritas, splendor formae] re-spects the cognitive power, for things which please in being seen are called beautiful’[iii]—about what comes seminally with its own commentary—‘all our so-called consciousness is a more or less fantastic commentary on an unknown, perhaps unknowable, but felt text’[iv]—about what I cannot not gloss: ‘the phantasm generates desire, desire is translated into words, and the word defines a space wherein the appropriation of what could otherwise not be appropriated or enjoyed is possible.’[v] There is no answer, only translation, repetition of the question. That is enough, everything. For it is exactly the no-thing between things that is all in all, the line that, being entirely nothing in itself, omnipresently touches each. That is what image is. Whence eros (love demanding the presence of the loved) as enlightening, levitating entanglement in something essentially linear—‘Fortes tresses, soyez la houle qui m’enlève’ [Strong tresses, be the swell that lifts me away][vi]—and desire’s imaging as art of lineation: kohl = focuser/refractor/deflector of ocular rays (NB: pupilization of the eye’s outside, precise inversion of the veil’s solar border); Pondus meum amor meus[vii]—love as gravitational alignment (NB: black heart/dark star at bottom center); seductive collusions between writing, covering, and gaze, activator of eye as follower (line-linen-lingere) . . . Beauty is a total barzakhification of being, absolutization of the (in)visible line between light and dark: ‘The created realm is the barzakh between Light and darkness. In its essence it is qualified neither by darkness nor by Light, since it is the barzakh and the middle, having a property from each of its two sides. That is why He ‘appointed’ for man ‘two eyes and guided him on the two highways’ (Koran 90:8–10), for man exists between the two paths.’[viii] ‘Such a one, as soon as he beholds the beauty of this world, is reminded of true beauty, and his wings begin to grow.’[ix] N

[i] Psalm 36:7-9, The New Oxford Annotated Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977).

[ii] Hafiz of Shiraz, The Divan, tr. H. Wilberforce Clarke (London: Octagon Press, 1974), 313.1.

[iii] ‘Pulchrum autem respicit vim cognoscitivam, pulchra enim dicuntur quae visa placent’ (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I.5.4), <>.

[iv] Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, eds. Maudemaire Clark and Brian Leiter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 2.119. Whence philosophy as essentially the practice of consciousness. Cf. “the genuine philosophical element in every work, whether it be a work of art, of science, or of thought, is its capacity for elaboration, which Ludwig Feuerbach defined as Entwicklungsfähigkeit” (Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of All Things, trans. Luca D’Isanto with Kevin Attell [New York: Zone, 2009], 7-8. Photography is the technical apotheosis of developability.

[v] Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture, trans. Ronald L. Martinez (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 129.

[vi] Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil (New York: Oxford, 1993), ‘La Chevelure,’ line 13.

[vii] Augustine, Confessions, 13.9.

[viii] Ibn Arabi, al-Futûhât, 1911 edition, 3:274.28, cited from William Chittick, ‘Ibn Arabi,’ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, <>. ‘Know that the word barzakh is an expression for what separates two things without ever becoming either of them, such as the line separating a shadow from the sunlight, or as in His Saying--may He be exalted!: ‘He has loosened the two Seas. They meet: / between them a barzakh, they do not go beyond’ (55: 19-20)—meaning that neither of them becomes mixed with the other. But even if our senses are unable to perceive what separates those two things, the intellect judges that there is indeed a divider separating them--and that divider grasped by the intellect is precisely the barzakh. Because if something is perceived by the senses, it must be one of those two things, rather than the barzakh. So each of those two things, when they are adjacent to each other, have need of a barzakh which is not the same as each of them, but which has in itself the power of each of them’ (Ibn Arabi, al-Futûhât al-Makkîya [The Meccan Illuminations], chapter 63, trans. James. W. Morris, forthcoming).

[ix] Phaedrus, 249e, cited from The Collected Dialogues of Plato, eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), 496. Plato elaborates: “For by reason of the stream of beauty entering in through his eyes there comes a warmth, whereby the soul’s plumage is fostered, and with that the roots of the wings are melted, which for long had been so hardened and closed up that nothing could grow; then as the nourishment is poured in, the stump of the wing swells and hastens to grow from the root over the whole substance of the soul” (251b). Cauda pavonis, Melek Taus, elaboration of the colorful space between dark and light, nigredo and albedo, opening up of the original-final relation between wings and eyes: “And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind . . . And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within” (Revelation 4:6-8).