Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Cultural Psychopathology of Don Juanism


"Gaze steadfastly at stars which though distant are yet present to the mind."

"When attachment arises wisdom is shut out."

I am in your eyes for others to see.

Bodies mediate the meeting of souls; but souls meet each other immediately when eyes meet. The depth in the pupil of the eye is the quiet place that gives meaning to such encounters. Just a glance into the eyes of another is to directly encounter the depths of the abyss rendering attachment impossible. Creatures are often startled by another's gaze, and rightly so, for at that moment infinity looks into infinity.

___________

Eroticism, Music, and Madness (Cont'd)

Meaning presupposes itself. Formal activity in the human mind has its roots in the form paradigmatic for an individual, namely, the body, and the paradigmatic act is speech, utterance, giving of the word, rooted in the Greek, Logos, reason, the word; controlling principle of the universe manifest by speech. From the Bible, John 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the word was made flesh.." Giving of the Word, the first principle, is like the axle of a wheel, all meaning, movement, is presupposed, sensible, in so far as the center, the first principle, the axle, is stationary.

Language has a way of assuming the form of its objects. We say chair to reference a real thing. Math and music have an abstract relationship to existential mass. Mathematics has in common with music the fact that it does not have reflex pronouns, egocentric particulars; it has no terms like speech. But music has element in time, mathematics not. Music and mathematics take us out of the world; attending to them in a sense places one in a non-material place. But mathematics is static as a medium while music is a dynamic medium. Mathematics takes us out of the world in the Cartesian sense that it is of the mind which is separate from body. Mathematics joined with science and technology becomes a dynamic which hurriedly takes us out of the world, much more than music; consider nuclear weapons, e.g.  People aren't careful with their speech as in times past and as speech has become less responsible music has taken over, it is that by which we are encouraged to fulfill, or rather escape from ourselves.

What about expression in architecture? Architecture employs the concrete medium of existential mass. Look at the endurance of the thrusting movement of architecturally rendered faith, the leap toward edification seen in a great Gothic cathedral. Architecture is concrete by virtue of its duration in time; it endures of itself. Words must be spoken, mathematical formulas contemplated, but music is the true contrary of existential mass in respect of being the most abstract medium. It does not endure by itself in time, but only by virtue of its being played. Architecture endures by itself in time because it also exists in space; music has no existence in space, and thereby lacks the characteristic of enduring in time, so we can say that music is the most abstract medium.

What does it mean for a medium to be the most abstract? It means, simply, that it is most minimal. Don Juan seeks immediacy. He minimizes the mediate. Mystery, discovery, the sense of being on the brink of life fulfilling experience grows with increasing economy of means, and increasing risk.  Musical life has the highest economy; it only exists in time and abstracts the soul thus from the material.  Ambition is alien and confining to the basic truth of reality for the sensuous genius, which is openness or vulnerability itself.   Music minimizes the mediate, and in this respect it is the ideal expression of Don Juanism. The apparent flow of time is the most essential characteristic of immediacy. In mediation there are varieties of things which come to us one at a time, sequentially. Remove the sequential aspect of the world of objects as they pass in the stream of consciousness and you have immediacy. In immediacy sequentiality becomes secondary to the ostensible flow of time just in itself thus obviating the intentional thickness of consciousness which results from the repression of unselective consciousness in favor of selective consciousness. Music carries us away, out of ourselves, destroying intention. Architectural expression of Christian faith points to the heavens as where the human soul will find completion. Music likewise expresses a reaching for what is impossibly beyond grasping. The word was made flesh and flesh artificially separates itself from that paradigmatic act that is lost in the spirit of the sensuous. Soren Kierkegaard thought that Christianity brought sensuousness into the world by excluding it; it is the contrary of spirituality.  The long sabbatical from language and the descent into the musical expresses the urge for immediacy, to be in the world but not of it. Self gratification regardless of the consequence is the hallmark. Don Juanism is cultural psychopathology. Narcissism, confusion, estrangement, dread, and self loathing are its fruits.

The implications of unrestrained sensuousness date from the romantic period, the revolt of the 18th and early 19th century against the artistic, political, philosophical, and religious principles associated with neoclassicism. It is characterized in literature and philosophy by irrationality, fancy, fabulousness, impracticality, and emphasizes above all else feeling and originality. It is of the heart, not of the mind. Everything is transitory, the individual self is the only certitude. The most valid response to anything is the emotional one. From the religious to the political, from the artistic to the scientific, this error of elevating feelings above all other consideration reigns. The wheel has come off the axle.  Emotion has its place but when conflated with faith whether in religion, science, or anything else, and sought as an end in itself, when this attachment arises, wisdom is shut out and spiritual devolution follows. One hears in the exhortations of fanatics whether religious, scientific, or whatever, that they are addicts of their own pathos.  One hears in their tearful, dolorous, apocalyptic prophecy a music of exhortation calling us to their version of the only dance there is.  They have completely lost sight of Truth.

There are real consequences to having a false concept of reality.  I like to say the world is infinitely malleable; we get to make of it whatsoever we wish.  That is, in fact, our commission.  But without a solid foundation it gets increasingly difficult to keep the thing from collapsing.  We can't continue forever to conflate the axle with the wheel; man, still in his infancy, if he is to remain sane, must not fail to appeal to that Primal Spirit we call G_d.  To believe only in himself as mere mortal man is to believe in nothing and by my metrics believing in nothing will in the end get you exactly that.  Nothing.  So take heart.  The Sun will supposedly be here for another four and a half billion years and continues to orbit the hub of the Milky Way every 280 million years.  That wheel goes round and round while false religion, science, politics, and philosophy will have their day and in passing give sustenance to new growth.  Christianity merged the principles Greek Logos and Hebrew Davar, Word, action of God in space time.  These and other expressions of the first principle endure forever and when you look deeply into another's eyes you can see forever the stars there which though distant are yet present to the mind.