Friday, February 05, 2010

Journal 02.05.10

I definitely crave for being loved, both emotionally and physically and these both aspects encapsulated in the intellectual. I wonder how many people I know that I can truly feel to have a lasting bond; the numbers are increasingly small… My best interlocutors, the dead writers, are not the greatest lovers, they´re callous and arrogant and omit so much information that the gift of friendship demands.

Writing is not only a skill, I mean, if you know how to write then you can write anything, that´s a complete fallacy. There´s a wide gap between prose and poetry, and even when one can copycat the other or imitate, they stand for wholly different categories of experience and representation. In order to be a good writer, craft is not everything… One necessarily must read a lot of literature: Fernando told me once that writing has a history – that you need to read some things in order to understand others; perhaps his example was a little bit historicist because the wisdom of every age can be approached without the wisdom of another but yet there´s no wisdom of any historical period that can either become present wisdom or decipher the encoding of our present experience. My problem is that I´m not such a good reader precisely because of the great difficulties I have in focusing or concentrating when I read and somehow I believe to have made great progress but still not enough for mastering the art. My strength and weakness is that I can´t be too bothered about bad writing and the contrast it has with my own; I seem to judge myself by the standards of the great writers who read a lot, experienced a lot and took the time to master their craft through long years of practice. I´m not saying that I wouldn´t like to have all those years of practice, my concern is that I´m not sure that I will have them. It is diaporetic: The mediation between the apparent beauty and health of my body is contrasted with the fragile and rather mad condition of my mind and what my body feels from inside out; I can´t understand what exactly is wrong and whether it is just my imagination or not, and I just can´t find out unless I will be dead already. The fact of approaching the harbor of death so close in the everyday entanglements is a double bind, because I am so much alive on account of it but I can´t be alive enough to stand it. I guess now I begin to understand in a fuller sense what Diego meant by the mere awaiting of one´s death in the rabbinic experience of the world that is as otherworldly as Christianity but less grounded in fantasies than in the confusion of tongues in Babel. One´s not waiting death per se, but he´s just being patient – what Kafka demanded! The waiting is the same in the whole of the universe, the deadly discovery of the nothing in medieval thought against the background of the Greek infinitude: Death is only eavesdropping, informing us thereof, but it doesn´t constitute the reference; whenever we turn death into the reference we´ve lost the quality of subjects and as such the ability to stand as either ones or others in love and are instead turned into the subjects around objects and the objects around objects that take pleasure in the plain sight of sexual organs alone. But this human encounter is not without mediation, it couldn´t be, because then the mimesis aspect of beauty wouldn´t matter at all; we find this mediation in the world, in the experience of time and of contingency, in the experience of not having, of becoming, of being and then not being. Moments of non-being is what Virginia Woolf called this, but is then by chance the world nothing but the array of these moments of non-being? Does the world as the sum of the aggregates of all human relationships stand for no more than moments of non-being? I don´t think so, maybe the Christian world would but not this world. The idea of splitting the varieties of self and experience into non-being and being seems a rather imperialistic and bourgeois way to do philosophy and one that has to rely so completely on the truth of the absolute; isn´t precisely the whole idea of modern art and literature and deconstruction to hunt down and subject the absolute to the myriad of possible experiences? Then I guess what this is pointing toward is not that we reject the absolute but rather that we inevitable shift its position and place it outside the limits of experience, beauty and truth – we are then locating the absolute as an inevitable burden in the possible experience of concretion. If art thinks it has a task to silence the absolute and to annulate it (Aufheben) this could only mean that place of art stands much lower in the spiral scale of the absolute than the claims of the absolute itself. To cancel out the absolute from the categories of thought means to render invalid so much of the experience of thinking and living but yet reliance on the absolute meaning cancelling out just as much. Perhaps one could conclude that the absolute is there but that it is not reliable. Santiago Kovadloff (and Levinas) argues that the absolute is tantamount to anti-Semitism ever since Plato; I like the idea but I wish at that point I had more arguments to be able to agree. The absolute doesn´t admit of aporia and is thus at odds with the simple fact of human contradiction; the absolute is a numerical scale and as such unreliable even for the most abstract categories. What will I do in case I can´t travel? How will I live? How will I go on? How could I write? Should I let myself die of mere complacent procrastination? Will I be in the exact same situation a year from now? That would be so very stupid. Perhaps I should still apply for Nottingham. I must send all the letters tomorrow morning and then I can sit and try to work in the translation of the Ark. I don´t know him, but I only can wish that Sergio will want to make love to me. I need it desperately – I guess this is a bad way to put it, it definitely sounds wrong when having love made to one, is meant as a desperate movement, but I said it so this mean something for which I have to make myself responsible. At any rate I will be a second-hand dish in lieu of the Berlin boyfriend, with less fluent German, without a German passport, an invitation to Berlin and most probably without the beauty as well.

I´m wondering now if Þór is actually somebody that can be trusted for anything at all and not just another dilettante; he does seem like a nice guy, but I can no longer afford to build castles on sand. I want to die elsewhere, if at all... and what a lively statement this is! Whatever the situation with Sergio is, I just would like to think that next time a man is going to make love to me I´m not going to be disgusted. The nice part about that night when I was cruised in the street while drunk by that guy is that I don´t remember much, but for sure it was bad sex and he was quite a failure as a person both from his speech and his beauty. I wish I had been sober, at least for the sake of the spurious guilt. Changes I must effect in my life soon: the Internet is not a place to find sexual gratification or to dream, I must become a lot more practical about it. Another good reason to leave this place is that I´m dying to read real books again... To write essay from e-books is possible, I´ve done it, but it is too frustrating. I want huge libraries with a lot of elegant beautiful men strolling around, petit bars and nightly sights. I want to be elegant and beautiful myself, or to think of myself as such without this abjection-in-reverse that binds me to a mediocre father figure in order to write beautiful texts. I want to be able to write without having to hate every moment of my life in order to accomplish it. Is this too delusional? I wonder if there´s any way I could feel myself physically better... I guess I will, next time I will be in love and next time I will be free, and for sure it will improve as soon as I can find the three dollars I need to take my glasses from the optician. Funny how the present displays itself before us – we can´t make ends meet for three dollars but we want to unearth truths for the whole world.

Another thought: I don´t miss Maria Clara at all, but I do miss Patricia very badly, not because she was a nice person but because deep down we were so similar and because I had never had a mother figure, ever... I guess having this thought now can only help accentuate my loneliness. For sure I enjoyed living like a son of the privileged class and the black maid and the laundry wash-ups everyday, but more than anything I enjoyed the deference she had for me and more than anything the soirées and dinner parties, the family-like photographs and the socialite gossipy entanglements with people. But how could I have been so naive as to think that they would be like my family? I knew deep inside me perfectly well that in the moment I would fall out with Maria Clara, I would vanish from their lives so completely in one sole second and that´s exactly how it happened. I was a political underdog used only in order to monitor Maria Clara´s life and shape it after their good judgment and in turn I received free lodging and ocassional love. They can´t say I wasn´t successful at my job nevertheless.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Fluoxetine Journal 03.02.10

The more time I spend with my younger brother the more I realize I love him, and each day I happen to love him more, I would like to spend with him every hour of my life and I know I can´t; my love is unconditional and this is something I hadn´t experienced before, at least not this way. Everything about him makes me feel happy and even when I discipline him, I feel my love is still pouring, and why not say it, even criminals can love their brothers, can´t they? He gives me so many sources of joy, when he smiles, his questions, his hesitations, just to lay next to him, to tend to him. I also wonder about everything I missed in the years of my absence. This makes me so curious about something that I will most likely never find out: What is it like to be a parent? I assume it should be something a hundred times higher than what I feel for my brother, but then at the same time I can´t understand why anyone would be a parent like my father, or how does it happen along the way although most likely I do have the answer, but am unwilling to toy with it. I don´t know to which extent this has to do with my age, probably in nothing at all… In some respects I´m very immature for my age and in other respects, the total opposite is true. I remember my conversations with Levy years back about the kind of parents that we would both be, and hell, that´s another guy I love, a real brother of sorts and the companion of very important years in life; that´s of course from long before he came out, and that was a hell of a surprise to me although it just happened because I didn´t want to see it, all the signs were out there and they were crystal clear, it was perhaps my choice not to see any of it. I think there´s something deep inside Jewish society about being a parent, or well, inside every human being I suppose, but it´s much stronger among traditional Jews, but I suppose traditional Christians don´t divert so much from the idea. I dreamt too often about the house and the children themselves, their names, their schools and their education; their adult life and my later years. It was so beautiful the way I saw it, but then my own life at home with parents didn´t seem at all like what I thought or what anyone who knew me thought. This isn´t an official complaint about dissatisfaction with a service delivered, but more like a free-spirited statement about how usually things are not the way you would want them to be. Those parenthood dreams of course were from a time now lost into the past when I didn´t fall asleep several times a day because of neurological unbalance, when I could get up from bed without 20 mg of something, when I didn´t spend two weeks without being able to focus on a single page, when I didn´t stop seeing people all of a sudden for weeks. Again this is not a complaint, only because right now I seem to have the ability to live my own life acceptingly and that´s something that was so much missing in my life before and the source of so much helpless and useless anxiety. But as far as parenting goes, it seems I will have to be satisfied with being a good brother, even when I know so well that I will be away for most of his lifetime, even when I´m not away. I´ve been absent from my own for long periods, that´s how I know. Note: If I had known when I was 18 that this is actually what a chronic depression would come to mean at the age of 25, I would have certainly done something about it. But this is to no avail now, not that this is something terminal, without a possible solution; but the way back to cope normally, or at least to cope sober, is very difficult and I must accept it for the first time. To accept that this is a little big for me, the way I feel now, it is a little big for me. And what do I know, maybe I´m exaggerating because after a bath then always everything looks so normal, well that´s when I remember to have one. This is of course speaking only of the last weeks. I haven´t loved myself too dearly and this is completely consistent with a chronic depression, isn´t it? It´s not a bad time to start over, I guess that´s a great wonder about mankind: They can always create a new beginning.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


To Santiago Munévar

“I want an absolute transformation –however minute. I want the encounter with a person or a work of art to change it all” –Susan Sontag

Nowadays a screeching silence almost celebrated has taken over the space that there is in between people, and what is that space where human beings dwell if not the world –there´s a popular idea among political scientists that it is human discourse what construes the concept of action in public life and it is the lack of (public) space in between the core symptom of worldlessness and the primary symptom of the destruction of the human world such as in the totalitarian movements. The silence between likeminded people is also a symptom, if not of disdain then of shame or of shameful disdain: the empathy of the skeptics. I will not run the risk of writing an apology of silence because it would sound rather ridiculous in my position; neither will I indict anyone, for this could only furnish doubtless evidence of my ignorance and even when that is unequivocally the world´s way of judging, I will not assume a position with which irreparably I would have to abandon the community of sinners, “impatience is the worst of all sins, even worse than arrogance”[1]. Apologetic texts after the fashion of Socrates trigger a sense of mistrust in me; it is that kind of teaching with universal ambitions freely imparted to the mobs with an already familiar method –find the logical fallacy, never mind the ambiguity! Lastly in the syndicate of sinners I feel the least comfortable, for the only stylistic resource available for confessions is actually confessing, and “every confession of love is a betrayal[2]”. If I knew how to write –“anyone who refuses to be praised just wants to be praised twice[3]”, I would do it in the style of Lessing and Montaigne; my text would resemble the polyphony of a theater play or a Biblical tale, an only character split in various marks but keeping the pitch of one only voice, “for Walter Benjamin, truth is an entirely acoustic phenomenon, so that for him, it was Adam and not Plato the first philosopher[4]” and leaving enough space up for commentary. What is peculiar about this common place is not the systematic exposition of a difficult topic but rather that something interesting philosophically is happening there in the text that might lead to the desired suspension of judgment[5], but it might as well net –this task belongs not with the writer but with the reader and interpreter. “It is not the truth that someone possesses or believes he possesses but the honest effort he has made to reach the truth, his search, what causes his mental faculties to be enlarged, and is only this what perfection means. Possession makes us passive, lazy and haughty[6].” Here there´s also a narcissistic instinct on the table, for even when all works by an author or an artist are works of empathy, the need to hold onto them as works in spite of the existence of a real recipient, informs us subtly that the empathy is also directed toward ourselves, be it in the form of consolation or reconciliation with the story itself that is being told, “all sorrows can be borne if they are put into a story or tell a story about them”[7].

Not long ago I heard a musical piece that led me to somewhat materialize things I had been thinking through in the course of some weeks, but unable as yet to reach concrete ideas, “I only realize the past is beautiful because one never realized an emotion at the time. It expands later, and therefore we never have complete emotions about the present, but only about the past”[8]; this piece was a composition by Wojciech Kilar, titled “Love Remembered” (1992), in this piece the present materialized temporarily as if in an image against all odds and prohibitions, especially counter to the fact that love as a sentiment alien to the world but socializing par excellence, and the refusal to let the present be destroyed by human constraints on history -“time and tense are not the same[9]”, is to choose without leverage the destruction of the objective personality and the individual person; through this process the human person turns himself in to being the self, that is, to the oblivion of himself within the vast fields of the memory in function of remembrance. This alone is a paradox within the composition, for love is always a memory and an immediate reference –“Hegel determines being as the immediate indeterminate”, to an original image prior to the repository of memories, to an absolute past that precedes all earthly experience; the image can be always repeated and is repeatable in the specific course of a life but it is not a trustworthy image insofar as it is itself part of the immediacy of this existence, and the original image is unrepeatable and unreachable –just like an epiphany, it is a total objetivation of life. “Existence, unlike essence, can´t be relied upon… Life exists in the mood of relation. It doesn´t possess Being or nothing, but exists in relation to both[10]”. This is in the sense that this existence or whatever we do in it is not reliable as experience for eternity or for the grasping of the original image of memory´s archives, since our life experience is not reliable we can´t mature our attitudes too much, nor do we have access to our essence in quantitative terms –all what essence can do for us is to qualitatively validate an specific hunch, a moment of intuition as absolutely true or absolutely false, terms barely applicable to the everyday reflex of our activities. Considering this all, I feel not ought to apologize for my interpretive failings notwithstanding, and my intention is to essay something more than just a hope and desire –“intellectual desire is just like sexual desire[11]”, to understand specific life situations and not value it but validate it as human experience; it is my opinion that this is what all the philosophy of our age has so vehemently aimed for. The immediacy of any life situation makes one think with secular grace about the inherent fragility of all human bonds… The path of everyday contact leaves us with nothing but vague and unrepeatable but strong, then in casual contact we are still not at the level of empathy but merely in recognition of the other –and all specific persons are “the other”, the principle of alterity; then at last the fragile human bond that through love releases man from his fundamental solitude and turns the world over to him for his pleasure and enjoyment. Through the human bond we turn over to the world a non concrete object of our belonging and become one with the world, leaving behind the essential original images. “When I tell someone “I love you”, my emotion becomes external to myself, it is set free to enter the individuality of another person, and it can transform its course in the future regardless of whether that love is accepted or not, and at the same time it transforms my own individuality. A specific love with specific moral and emotional content, with specific attitudes and behavior, is related to an order of the objetived world, to the erotic conventions of the age, emotional expectations, etc.[12]”-

The human bonds at the same time destroy the tissue of the world, and the question that flabbergasts me is that if love is that socializing force that turns the world over to us, and at the same time succeeds in destroying the present –the present of the world in which we ought to live and upon which we find our temporary dwelling conditioned by a possible and ineludible death, this present tense works under the assumption of mutability, whereas the image previous to all concrete experience created by the human bond is essential and eternal, we´re condemned to the indeterminate and never concrete remembrance of an image. It is virtually impossible to provide a possible interpretation of a text that could save the human bond in the social and private realms without surrendering to something completely transcendental and to cultural pessimism, or to the tragedy of fundamental loneliness –“My pessimism is scandalously frivolous, now I perceive it clearly: the fact of stepping back becomes tragic; to establish in advance my own limitations because of sheer laziness; to say that things can´t go on like this –so that I can go sleep in peace, and on top of everything respecting myself for such sincere and profound self-consideration.[13]” But as the Rabbis say, when a Jew doesn´t know the answer to a question he can always tell a story.

“My faults: To censor others for my own vices, to make my friendships into love affairs, to demand that include (and exclude) everything.[14]” In the encounter with another human being, people tend to establish parallel motifs without being aware of their intentions: they want to create a character, a “dramatis persona” and to transform an everyday situation into universal experience. It is a matter of essence: The legitimacy of the human bond consists in recognizing himself abstractly with another person, recognize his ideal being while acting it out, the blurring of the line between a creative act and everyday life; without indulging to commit the worst aesthetical sin of which Lessing warns us –that there´s nothing easier to represent than extremes, that is why the painter of the scene where Pentheus is sensually devoured by his own mother will only have reached its authentic reflex if it succeeds in capturing the moment right before he is devoured when the eyes of the mother are still loving and full of grace. Only one moment later the hero will be already dead and the temporal sequence of the painting will have lost all capability to evoke anything. This reminds me of Edward Hopper, the American abstract expressionist, whose magic is found not in the lasting duration of an image as in the case of the French expressionists in which the image alone was a constant commentary on reality; Hopper´s secret is the anatomy of the second, a Messianic moment that avoids at any price the destruction of the present even if only possible at the price of a radical loneliness, and this is not just chosen solitude of the ascetic or the philosopher but an imposed loneliness without negative emotional content and it is a great burden for everyday men and women.

During human encounters, suspended hours in the waiting room of the human bond, there´s zeal and desire in people to hold onto some specific images of the encounter and make them essential, throwing them back to an absolute present. The human expectation for inter-subjectivity is always concrete and constant but it refers to something in essence not concrete, the expectation is a radical need that can´t be satisfied without transcending existing social structures, the radical in that need can´t objectived within a determinate temporal index or be used to lessen the importance and legitimacy of non-radical everyday needs, a radical need is a constant and never immanent need. “I think this is the cause of la debâcle: Not only as a scholar am I weaker than I thought –however this is possible and even probable- but also as a person. There´s something missing in me. I need people –and even need warmth. And warmth is something that comes about in me only with great difficulty (contrariwise to the easiness with which I start a conversation or being a superficially intimate relationship with just about anybody) so that it is practically impossible to find it. And I miss it badly. It´s not true what I´ve been repeating for years: That I need nobody, that I can live anywhere. I don´t think anyone can. The question is: Could I take advantage of this malaise I feel in order to higher my intellectual productivity? I´m afraid not. And with this the verdict would be already pronounced. There´s only one thing I don´t understand: Why didn´t I need here Baumgarten and Leo? Why didn´t I care that they´re gone? Deep down I think I´m even glad that they´re gone. The truth is that it´s not them what I´m missing. Neither someone determinate, it is something not concrete, warmth. It seems that I am cynical to the point that this warmth could come no matter from whom. But there´s something missing to make this happen; maybe that I wouldn´t show myself so indifferent not only in the metaphysical sense in regard to where I live and with whom, but also in empirical reality. But this is how things are: In the metaphysical sense I am absolutely unfaithful, stateless, etc.; however in reality I am loyal and down to earth. Of course –because in his external relationships every person acts with the metaphysical essence of his being (it is well expressed: ens realissimum) –everyone behaves toward me as if I were unfaithful, whereas in reality I´m a loyal and disgraced lover…[15]

What is most radical about Hopper´s painting and the reason why I turned to Lukács (and will return to him later) is that it is this silence precisely, and the silence of any inter-subjective experience in always Angst-ridden but people are able to draw from those isolated and almost alienated images great knowledge about their lives, and in that sense the people embalmed in those images remain a constant aesthetic motif for life, regardless of the silence. People tend to question themselves about the nature and effect of other people´s absence in their everyday lives and the flow between altering the future with the imagination in order to destroy the present and hold onto the Hopperian moment –at once lonely and nourishing; that is how I came to question the nature of love in the public and private realm, after realizing the toxic effect of people´s absence in my own everyday life, but this was only so when in the company of other people. In the privacy of my solitude, I was part of that imaginary community of friends, dead and live philosophers and other experiences always present in one´s work and the only acceptable public of one´s queries. The invisible witnesses of creation. The question found no possible but the motif remained timeless, “you have become the eternal motif of all my paintings”. The everyday was temporarily suspended by the absence of images that could evoke the original experience, and by the frustrated desire to know more, to enter the acoustic phenomenon of dialogue, of which the end of an encounter leaves us bereft from. The images and the bodies turned sepia and then vanished, not without previously having captured a moment or two for the repository of the memory about one´s own life. What remains is not concrete, the radical solitude in Hopper´s painting, and a whole world built on the basis of that dialogue went up in smoke without leaving traces, a letter or an specific conversation (perhaps a note already lost); there might be an indirect dialogue through other people and other channels. This hasn´t been the by-product of lie, because a lie is aesthetically false, but rather the absence of an authentic dialogue by means of which the channels of the human bond might be left temporarily open or close up for good.

But no matter what, I kind of dislike the idea that a person be an aesthetic motif and not something sufficiently concrete –this is in itself a contradiction; I will illustrate with a commentated story: In an interview from the year 1964 Hannah Arendt was asked about her decision to study philosophy and she explained that that decision had been clear to her since she was 14 after the experience of having read Kant, Jaspers and Kierkegaard; it wasn´t a decision about choosing a career but between either studying philosophy or throwing herself into a river. Everyone who has traveled the path of philosophy seems obvious that has abstained himself from choosing the river, but even during and after (I´m not sure there´s an “after” and the “before” I omitted allegedly –“a man of seventy years must have many things to tell about his life, but if he has been a philosopher all his life soon he realizes with surprise that he has no past[16]” –all moments of thought are always in the present tense) one realizes he hasn´t actually understood much and advises others with certain haughty reservation about the advantages of having thrown himself at the river. Sometimes it is the person himself that is transformed into the river and not without risk because in choosing the river we confuse aesthetics with beauty and eventually drown because the only consolation of aesthetics is the turn toward one´s own death. The decisionist jump at the river must be moral in nature, for there´s no such a thing as collective conscience and every person is summoned to make individual choices, the moral jump (or lapse of faith) is the only way available to find reconciliation and not only consolation, in having lived our own lives. The experience of silence to which we referred before is a form of self-imposed solitude, and probably also of cowardice. When we close the door to the possibility of transcending from the basis of those moments cut out from reality itself. In this sense all fundamental experiences: birth, freedom, love, death, pain; turn into images unattainable to everyday experience and thus we tend to replace the totality of human experience for sheer moods –in a present tense emotionally abstract and sensorially empty.

Modernity didn´t live up to its most fundamental tenet and promise: That of creating a wholly human world independent of the natural forces and of God by fully transcending the fragility of human bonds. “I live in frivolous withdrawal, focusing on problems exclusively intellectual –and I await a miracle. But everything results empty and too intellectual: a spiritual soothsaying and not a humble and altruistic wait. That´s why the miracle can´t come. I feel that this whole situation is nothing but the temptation to dwell on the inessential, because I wouldn´t be able to bear the despair that would follow the essential[17]”; and this form of waiting is a Messianic charade, in which having failing is an incontrovertible situation, “I want to be able to be alone, that I find it nourishing and not just a mere waiting[18]”. This kind of solitude seems at first frivolous and narcissistic, following up to here the genius of Sartre: the gates to the world are in principle locked, there´s no alternatives, no viability and everything is in principle lost; we´ve created the world from the unilateral perspective of its ultimate final term and this idea is already too redundantly Christian for my taste.

In the antinomies of melancholy we release ourselves, but we´re not as yet redeemed and it´s really this lack of concretion of the object of our searches what alienates us from other human beings, we become unable to create strong bonds with the world –or at least strong enough to pass through the world, leave it and then enter it once again; and that´s how once upon a time I started to inquire about the nature of radical politics and the failure of utopia as a grand narrative, everyday men forced to be happy at gun point. Perhaps the denial to the tragic sense of radical individuality in its relation to others comes from a frivolous and rather comic anguish: We want to remain alone in hell with the radical need of non-redemption as an open bruise, we want to be alone and without waiting and without hope. “The way Kafka puts it, there´s an infinite amount of hope, but not for us”. This affirmation to Max Brod really contains all of Kafka´s hope; it is the source of his radiant serenity[19]”. When the radical individual internalizes hell (this is basically the earth, or an earthly life deprived from expectation –Kafka´s world) he´s not open to take in roommates. When a person throws himself at a river (especially when his motif is negative, that is, aesthetic alone) and he turns himself in to sublimity, to unmediated and tragic experience in the classical sense –in a world prior to the loud words of the one god, having a roommate in the infamous hotel this world is for them, means to accept heartedly the triviality of his own experiment and also to accept that one´s failed by becoming a victim of his own devises. “The Archimedean point: He was permitted to find it only under the condition to use it against himself[20]”. The search for the transformation is in all likeness legitimate but probably useless outside the aggregate of all modes of production and social representation that we call everyday life –this is unavoidable but as a paradox it sets free the forces of the memory. The everyday reflex –that is, the orientation toward the non-extreme is, in Lukács´ aesthetics, a step forward in the return to concretion, something that of course the author himself never experienced in the course of his life. “So it seems that Lukács alienation from the world wasn´t only a consequence of the failure of his relationships with the world, but it was rather constant in spite of his success. Lukács perceived the ideal relationship as one between two individuals that stems not only from the recognition of the capabilities of the other person in his respective life world –poetry, theater, music, philosophy, etc. –but it also had to do with a very metaphysical notion of mutual disclosure. But the satisfaction of Lukács often froze when his ideal wasn´t reaffirmed in the course of a particular relationship. Young Lukács often made this relationships too complicated by elevating his friends to positions of statute much above himself. A very strange cycle of overestimation and eventually deception can be found in all of his personal relationships as it appears clearly evidenced in his journals and letters[21]”.

Bearing in mind all the previous considerations on the basis of which I can´t reach a verdict, be it on the ground of my ignorance or mere procrastination, I still consider that every human encounter, however brief, is fortunate, and it serves as a bridge to return to the world, even if the casuistry of such fortune is not always shared, but that is external to the seed planted in the contingencies of history. Beyond the aesthetic motifs, we are all wandering in the dark, but the affirmation itself of the undesirable playmate inside the private world, still tells us something about ourselves, about the nature of fear, of shame and also of justice. I turn to Hopper in order to leave it at this point, saying that the silence doesn´t devastate everything but it does turn the images in the painting into something secondary –it is like having a painting still after having lost the canvas and the passé-partout but holding onto the whole conceptual world, of before and after the creation of the work. The same way one chooses a river or a river-person, that´s how we come to choose philosophy, or the friend, what is important here is to make the decision. You can learn many things, even learn to forget, but whenever you return to thinking this is not only an intellectual exercise but a concrete choice on the basis of which nothing ever changes –just like in the case of the essential non-concrete image. There´s no possible quantification here, for whenever we´re touched upon by the everyday reflex and then by a silent robbed moment, there comes about a qualitative change, whether it is saving the present or one´s personality, the future and the past, both absolute and immediate, will have changed forever. A person´s story just like the history of philosophy can never be seen as the accumulation of previous mistakes –that would be making of experience and wisdom nothing but recycling. Perhaps it is truth, not as an aggregate of arguments, but as a singular common effort what can save the aesthetic momentum of death and transform it. The transformation goes far beyond human interests; it concerns the totality of the person. I don´t think that Lukács melancholy is in anyway contradictory or harmful, it attests to a honest and integral effort that accepts paradox and doesn´t deny the anxious wait –it rather finds its foundations in every human contact.
This is precisely what we learn from human encounters: The denial to wait in function of a higher and more sublime, less restricted and less mutable form of life, is doubtless a brave decision and typical of the Greek tragic hero, but empty of all content in the sense that it´s not temporality, it is not an anxious wait: It simply is the slow lane of biological processes. Every human contact by means of which we abandon the loneliness of our thoughts, is in itself a possibility to found the radical of the wait in just about every person without worrying about the consequences that are historically beyond the world and far beyond human reason –we have here made the bond external to ourselves.

This foundation is short of all possible perfection and is necessarily mediocre and absolutely contingent, so that it involves some of Susan Sontag´s poetic resignation, but it is in this resignation that the world is given back to us and what keeps human bonds in their fragility from being completely destroyed, because at all times keep the immediate reference to our own failure and that of all human bonds. All those postmodern men and women that can´t enter (or at least not yet) the world naturally because they´re not thrown in the world to build a home to give the world a child as a reconciliation between biology and existence, will necessarily always remain alienated in bonds that shift in between the erotic and the non-concrete, for life as such as impossible to concretize in such worldless situation. This is why Lukács project will be always frustrated; the reconciliation between form and soul, represents the most sublime and truthful of all human efforts, but we must at this point put it asides, because the melancholy of Lukács without Sontag´s hysterical laughter –that freedom to laugh even about the good god, is an indictment to eternal ennui and an unequivocal turn to one´s own death. But the laughter, when shared, is the most radical transformation possible –In it we keep our own being in fragments, in shreds, and those little fragments however not whole, save us from the anguish of an image we can never again repeat and in giving back the world to us, it gives as a free gift from nowhere an existence that is temporary and incomplete, however bearable. Solitary reconciliation can never laugh, the other as a witness, is always needed.

[1] Franz Kafka
[2] Rahel Varnhagen
[3] La Rochefoucauld
[4] Hannah Arendt on Benjamin
[5] Itzhak Melamed on Lessing
[6] Lessing
[7] Isak Dinesen
[8] Virginia Woolf
[9] George Simmel
[10] Heidegger (and Eugen Fink)
[11] Susan Sontag
[12] Ágnes Heller
[13] George Lukács
[14] Susan Sontag
[15] George Lukács
[16] Etienne Gilson
[17] George Lukács
[18] Susan Sontag
[19] Walter Benjamin
[20] Franz Kafka
[21]Levee Blanc


…Obituary of a Writer friend: “His wasn´t the life of a saint and it wasn´t his love of God what impressed one the most -they just happened to mock each other like friends from olden days- but rather that he couldn´t hold anymore his hatred for the world and himself –they were both committed to consume each other so completely! So profound was the mark of his asceticism that Judaism did not prove worldless enough a valley that he had to look up to something more radical such as monastic Christianity, his desire to leave the world was so intense! On the rise of dark times, one might think he could have also jumped off a cliff but he was too determined to learn from virtue so that he just let himself die and that death lingered for many years more than he had hoped. So much of his philosophical talent was wasted this way but the failure of the enterprise was his first and foremost theological achievement; his way wasn´t that of surrender but rather an absolute lack of protection from the world and it is in that encounter that his life and text found the pleasure of life on earth –if anything his vocation was the truth but the truth wasn´t, the truth IS”.

I insist on the sense of personal achievement attained when one knows at last how to tell a story and a story is always a tale about somebody, about somebody you know. Ingará is like the dream place to live: a community of practical faith, theoretical knowledge, political action and living together; I wonder if Judaism might ever have the ability to produce something like that, but I doubt it. The fascinating temptation of Christianity for the Jew is in the possibility to live freely on the earth without crossing through the human world. There´s more: The community is the most fundamental emotional need for the Jew, whereas it is not fundamental for the Christian faith although it is certainly preferable. At the same time, Jewish society resembles more a scene than a community, no sense of belonging and too much sense of the spectacle, be it power or piety, the show must go on. My case I am not sure whether it is about loving God or abhorring the world –two very serious theological problems that have so little to do with faith.

Political philosophy is constantly advising us against loneliness because in loneliness we can´t even keep company to ourselves and will in all cases turn to despair and from despair into suffering; the ability to suffer can´t be too bad for life and it is in the default hardware of the human condition but it does turn subjects and people into objects and things. The possibility of happiness and the life in community is the only insurance of truth.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Fluoxetine Journal 01.02.10

Trustworthy: History, Theology, Ontology, Hermeneutics, the idea of Religion, Mathematics, Literature, Political Science, Anthropology, Philology, Modernity, Ethics, Beauty, Essays.

Untrustworthy: PHILOSOPHY, psychology and psychoanalysis, social science, advertising, the idea of Science, Jewish studies, Political Science, Linguistics, Modernity, Technology, Aesthetics, Rhaetorics.

Beautiful breakfast by myself at the Opus Dei residence, my first happy breakfast in a few weeks: Strong coffee with milk, mesmerizing orange juice probably blended in with grenadine or some weird syrups, arepas and cheese. No people watching over. A certain sense of personal achievement which I badly needed: I finally managed to finish the article but is still due to be reviewed by those vampires that work under the cover-up name of editors, that might just ransack anything valuable, but the point is that I finished up even in the middle of a crazy depression onset and a long list of other radical distress factors. This might be a good start for a really bad month.

Surprisingly I didn´t dream about being killed, thus I was disappointed about my own reactions.

Death: When I was younger I used to think much about it, when I took a stroll in the city I thought about all the possible places where I could be run by a car, stabbed by a robber or just murdered with vicious violence somewhere; that is when I lived in a rather safe place, where the only risk was something I never considered: A bomb attack by a suicidal jihadist. I really lived completely stressed about because of the constant thoughts about my death which almost never left me. Then behind closed doors in the safety of one´s home, my fear was about a terrible disease, any sudden change in my body, from a hair to a bruised arm meant to me immediately terminal cancer, hospitals, morphine and eventually painful death. Of course when one thinks about his death, then he thinks as well about suicide but not without irony. People would laugh a lot if you´d kill yourself, you think. Then now neither thought tortures my mind, I think it´s so much more brave to await patiently your death, it´s a philosophical position against life, or not even against life, but against the odd stuff of life that eludes the precision of thinking. An odd fact: Sometimes when I touch my flat stomach I think it feels like a female womb, there´s nothing sexual or gay about it, it´s just a weird feeling.

Desire: I think there´s no sensuality in the world anymore, but only sexuality. Besides sexuality there´s food, booze and shopping. And all of it performed in the most screeching silence. Everything is but an ersatz replacement of sex, and sex is surrogate love, "love for dummies". I´m not criticizing or preaching: It´s a feeling inside me too. And it´s bad. There´s also sleep and using the toilet: Pleasures.

Fluoxetine Journal 01.02.10

Great ways to start out the month: Martino threatens to kill me. If I would try to say this in a less serious way, less literal, less vague, people would think I´m trying to be funny. But no, I am shooting at point range. Especially because it is the first time someone has threatened to kill me. I´ve received threats for many years: First from parents threatening to withdraw financial support and all that jazz, also threats from teachers (in particular I remember Maribel, that scary Spanish governess) that everyone´s received once in a while. Then in Ramat Gan, threats from my landlord´s son-in-law because I was late with the rent and threats from another landlady´s attorney, that rich bitch (the attorney, not the land lady who was an elderly Holocaust survivor that could barely remember her name); threats from the cops who arrested me once in Tel Aviv in compliance with Atalia´s complaint –and this was no superstar arrest, threats from Ralf Balke –this couldn´t be too serious because he was in love with me and then I turned my friendship into despise but his threat resulted very harmful for the subsequent years and I kind of deeply regret this. I was also threatened once by a bank manager, then by some ghost landlord in Bogotá that I never saw or heard (I usually don´t take e-mail threats from unknown people too seriously); and now threats from a former flat mate. If I happen not to end up dead because of this not funny threat, I am curious to find out how this will eventually end. Actually I am not. I need another pill and coffee too; this is going to be a long night. My own chapter of “Law & Order”: Tomorrow ringing up Dario to get some legal counseling, get my pay check and sort out my debts before they take me out in a bag, it´s better to be timely even under distress, and I´m not too well known for timeliness, then talk to Aura and try to get as well counseling from his father (a former cop). New order of priorities: First, second, third, fourth and fifth priority: Immigration. Then all the rest.

I´m hooked on soap operas, probably the only thing I´ll miss from this city (another angry lie). First soap operas that are like soap operas, then medical funny dramatic thrillers followed by more fictional stories of cops, lawyers, mentalists and the like. My exercises with soap operas are as follows: In the first place I try to empathize with the feelings portrayed in order to avoid my own scarcity thereof at present and then when I´m disappointed about the failed task, I succeed in guessing the next lines in the conversations, only a way to prove the mediocrity of either the script writers or of life. Someone must be guilty here.

At last I gain a sense of personal achievement which I so badly needed to pick myself up from my knees. I am happier about the article´s section on freedom than of the section on truth which I might have to reduce a little. My style of writing is different from others: I often need so much time of experience, reflection and why not say it, of idleness, in order to be able to produce something, but most likely I produce the whole thing over a couple of days, love it so badly for the next following days, then loath it and hardly ever look back at it. I´m so happy to listen to Radiohead again, music and solitude is so much missing in my life now, although I think solitude isn´t too good now because I couldn´t distinguish it from loneliness and my mind could play an awful trick. I don´t have too many ideas now, but at least I know I can think of something. I can´t imagine how can I speak so cool about writing in the face of a death threat, but then maybe it is because I need to analyze the seriousness of the threat; what shocks me and causes me despair is the mere idea that it is a threat if nothing else. I think I need to learn English again (or instead, to read literature) because my vocabulary is like that of a 10 years old. It didn´t use to be like that and I can´t blame it all on not writing about philosophy. I should weep now if I would read my journals from 4 or 5 years a go, that is why I won´t do it now. Only three hours until I have to get up but I have some sense of personal achievement, all mixed with my crazy depression, my irrational fear and tiredness.

Fluoxetine Journal 31.01.10

Either/Or: It is one of two choices, either I am too stupid and cynical about my use of time or too self-assured of my capability, because the very moment I manage to defer my deadline half a day more, I decided to quit writing, go for fruit shopping with father, take my time for carefree lunch and then movies. Both instances are very delusional but I´m grateful that at least my sense of humor is never failing me, except when I sleep, time during which it´s not failing me, just mocking me.

Love: I have to change my mind. I don´t dislike both brothers the same, the older one I like much less because I can´t accept such grumpiness and lack of culture at the age of 12; when I was that age I was interested in too many things, at least in too many books. He doesn´t have the profile to become in the future a twink or anything like that, so he should at least pretend to hide behind the genius figure, but then TV is too engaging, it makes me furious to think he´s that way. The laziest bug on earth, so full of wordy statements and speeches and know-everything attitudes; the part that angers me the most is that the verbal excesses are mixed with so much ignorance. Then I accept I am being so cruel, but what is family good for if not for letting things out of our system? How odd it is that I am speaking this way. It seems organic ties are still somewhere out there. Homelessness was both spiritual and physical, now it is only spiritual, that makes it so much worse because there´s so much I have no justification for. The younger brother is so sweet and witty, but receiving all the wrong intellectual education, not even that, the wrong education altogether. Some weeks back I realized he had never seen a world map and couldn´t locate his own country in one when I showed him a world map. That´s not funny, but how do I turn this into a story? Of course I can´t blame them, there´s much genetic material to draw from but that´s no excuse, in fact this should be another reason to rise.

Intellectual work: The most part of my eternal dissatisfaction with life is that I´ve taken my work not seriously enough in spite of being completely aware of my talent, and this is why I´m so materialistic and worried about being able to afford my expensive leisure life; so that I´ve compromised endless times for comfort and white collar jobs in which I can barely survive and the suffering accumulated has been so severe that I´ve ended up just misspending most earnings and living exactly in the same way as if I were devoted only to intellectual pursuance. I hate the word intellectual and philosopher is too ambitious, writer too bohemian. How unimportant is to state things out at this point, yet with the depression or without I am now struggling to finish my assignments even when I´ve already fallen out of love with them; this can certainly give me a sense of achievement to which I´ve renounced so many times in the pursuance of some higher spiritual landmarks. None found. Keywords: Theology, History, Ontology, Politics, Aesthetics, Anthropology, Beauty, Ethics. Bad words: Sociology, Rationality, Philosophy, Eschatology, Epistemology, Literati, Dilettantes, Intellectual circles, Protestantism. I want to write a journal more like Susan Sontag´s and less like Arendt, but I´m so much more like the latter, I definitely lack some intellectual cool wave which I´ve confused with sense of humor and it´s definitely not it. But Sontag is far more the spirit of my age, that´s why I tend to pay her a lot more attention but less seriously so. When I say I want to write a journal like Susan Sontag´s this is absolutely false, the truth is in the keywords: want, writing, a journal and famous celebrated writer. Sigmund Freud and Sarah Kofman: All biographies and autobiographies are false because of their mendacity. Worst sin of the age: Stealing. It is the beginning of all modern crime. Worst of my shortcomings: No patience about love and no tolerance for the beloved.

Inwardness: I don´t think I´ve experienced love as fully as many people (by no means most), I mean, I´ve definitely been in love but hardly been loved back or at least for long enough to call it a love story and I´m not necessarily frustrated by it, because I´ve gained so many other things. Yet it doesn´t mean I don´t crave, but in the world of ambiguity chances are seldom, let´s quote Augustine now “in the sense that all things are true is the same sense in which they are all false”. Perhaps the person who loved me the most has been Vitaly, but all too short. Fire still alive after 5 years. Time to pick things back.