Friday, March 11, 2011


July 2020 note

This old posting happened near the time I began the confessional blog. Once upon a time, this posting linked to a page that linked to that other blog; but now that page links to a contact point for anyone interested. The confessional blog is unlike here: a self-possessed prelude to doing conceptual literary studies (or maybe a parody of such desire).

March 2011

I welcome stances toward other work he puts online, finding himself in sites of contextual obsession, ephemerally framing himself as textual other instanced with reflective expression as well.

“Most all I have to say to you is accumulating elsewhere, somewhat regardless of whether you ever ask to read it, since it grows in any case.”

Such pretense would invite curiosity, as if he weren’t transparent, as if she secretly wanted to know a transgressive freedom otherwise unavailable to her.

So, he was without a clue about the pathos of his belief in his own appeal.

He says “the surreality of writing you almost daily online is simple fun,” but he lies.

“Also fun is the idea of strangers reading here, now, that I do it (not that anyone else has a chance of ever reading any of it).”

The boy, filled with a sense of his own audacity, would have her believe that someone else is reading, as if that verifies a gravity of dark secrecy.

“But that’s a mode of life whose details will remain absent here.”

So, she would be compelled to ask (he thinks), as if he’s to win some episode of competing plays for control, taunting and taking her desire to surrender, as if some game begun years ago continues into a horizon.

“Yet, the relations of different modes of life are generally interesting to explore.”

I was academically introduced to the phenomenological notion of lifeworld through translated work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty when I was 20. This continued overtly (“horrible” mark-ups of his Phenomenology of Perception and copious journal unseen since) at 22 on the road in The Hotel Carlton, Telegraph Avenue, between chapters of Tropic of Cancer and whatall.

“My various blogs and website areas are allegorical of my fascination with lifeworldly modalities, so to speak—as if one’s life is essentially textual (before death leaves its traces), a manifold of genres.”

She lies on a floor eying him. She’s not yet touched, for she’s seen it all: death, canons, resort to gardening.

The prevailing difference (tacit to him, but thematic to me) is between inworldness and outworldness, self inhabited vs. inhabiting, e.g., re: numinous reserve dressed in so much cute sensibilty, he’s left lost to polite deception.

“In particular, I’m regularly startled by the differences between my sensibility and the ‘sensibility’ of organizational life—”

But how would he know the difference between the sadness of some great talent that doesn’t find magical recognition and a tragic reach for sensibility that’s beyond him as others’ calloused stances toward him?

“—or better: its dissociativeness apart from functionalistic requirements,” which might rather be his dismissal of others’ clarity he can’t find legitimate?

So intoxicated with his own capability to appreciate high meaning...

“Recall my effusive interplay in a letter long ago and far away” —such an enchanted boy lost “between aspects of departmental life and recollection of Rilke,” which turned out to be a reach for autobiographical cohering. Indeed,…

“It’s just so funny how surreality happens. Unrelated to departmental life,” but complementary (to my mind), “is a dissonance of literary desire (which easily seems like leisure) in a world of suffering so evident.”

But he’s no William Carlos Williams.

“One key motive of Literature, of course, is to instill appreciation of the distant (or very different) Other.” Yes: in oneself.

“Of course.” Of course—but what does he know?

Especially-literary desire only seems to seek a garden, as if to defend against the dark instead of working to dissolve It. What’s “literary” becomes canonical because caring for the humanity most near us is the least we must do (“Is” of The Canon—somehow there, somewhere—lords over youth its “Ought”), if we care about humanity at all—our own first, which is natural and humane (at least our own).

It’s our way to then caring for distant suffering: learning how to better care for our own. It’s no inhumanity to care most for whom or what is near.

Besides, we’re finite creatures with limited resources. It’s no flaw; it’s our nature. The point is that we care. When we’re in touch with our most-human nature, we care. That our own lives may be the most we can care for well is no flaw in our character, as long as we support—in feeling, in expression, if not in resources—those who care for the distance, no matter the distance. That exemplarity surely belongs to Literature (including an emancipatory irreverence of inspiration).

So, a Literature of suffering is only worthwhile inasmuch as it leads us away from increased suffering in good ways to prevent suffering and heal. Every “PhD” is a doctor, in the classical sense that philosophy was originally about inquiry that most highly matters, which grew partly into science ideally in service to what’s most important (including Pure Curiosity), as the inquiring mind is the condition for the possibility of realistic prospects of progress.

Yet philosophy also grew into the humanities, which embodies our nature, still hallmarked philosophically, I would argue, in literary psychology.

Learning ways to live well—enriching sensibility, disclosing manifolds of perspective, etc.—is no turning away from those who can’t afford to ask the questions. Creative inquiry into potentials of our humanity isn’t at heart leisure. It’s fidelity to our promise.

So he’s full of himself, as if aspiring to comprehend our primordial character can become lastingly fruitful. That in itself—philosophical desire—may be our primordiality instanced: How we may go on figured in how one can.

Last Saturday night in the bookstore, I happened across a paperback whose title is now more appealing to me than when it first appeared: Proust Was A Neuroscientist—which is not largely about Proust, but about an array of artists now read relative to kinds of inquiry that were implicit to their work. Artistic products can be the result of kinds of extended, meticulous inquiry: Whitman and embodiment, Proust and memory, Cézanne and perception, Stravinsky and musical intelligence, Woolf and nature of the self—and any literary mind is possessed with issues of inwordness or the elusiveness of finding—or fulfilling joy in having been found, restrained as mere sharing what’s true or who one truly is or what really happened, as if all’s simply emerging.