Tuesday, April 26, 2016
In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.from Wikipedia
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Sphinx"
The Sphinx is drowsy,
Her wings are furled:
Her ear is heavy,
She broods on the world.
"Who'll tell me my secret,
The ages have kept?--
I awaited the seer
While they slumbered and slept:--
"The fate of the man-child,
The meaning of man;
Known fruit of the unknown;
Out of sleeping a waking,
Out of waking a sleep;
Life death overtaking;
Deep underneath deep?
"Erect as a sunbeam,
Unspringeth the palm;
The elephant browses,
Undaunted and calm;
In beautiful motion
The thrush plies his wings;
King leaves of his covert,
Your silence he sings.
"The waves, unashamed,
In difference sweet,
Play glad with the breezes,
Old playfellows meet;
The journeying atoms,
Firmly draw, firmly drive,
By their animate poles.
"Sea, earth, air, sound, silence,
Plant, quadruped, bird,
By one music enchanted,
One deity stirred,--
Each the other adorning,
Night veileth the morning,
The vapor the hill.
"The babe by its mother
Lies bathed in joy;
Glide its hours uncounted,--
The sun is its toy;
Shines the peace of all being,
Without cloud, in its eyes;
And the sum of the world
In soft miniature lies.
"But man crouches and blushes,
Absconds and conceals;
He creepeth and peepeth,
He palters and steals;
Jealous glancing around,
An oaf, an accomplice,
He poisons the ground.
"Out spoke the great mother,
Beholding his fear;--
At the sound of her accents
Cold shuddered the sphere:--
'Who, has drugged my boy's cup?
Who, has mixed my boy's bread?
Who, with sadness and madness,
Has turned my child's head?'"
I heard a poet answer
Aloud and cheerfully
"Say on, sweet Sphinx! thy dirges
Are pleasant songs to me.
Deep love lieth under
These pictures of time;
They fade in the light of
Their meaning sublime.
"The fiend that man harries
Is love of the Best;
Yawns the pit of the Dragon,
Lit by rays from the Blest.
The Lethe of Nature
Can't trance him again,
Whose soul sees the perfect,
Which his eyes seek in vain.
"To vision profounder,
Man's spirit must dive;
His aye-rolling orb
At no goal will arrive;
The heavens that now draw him
With sweetness untold,
Once found,--for new heavens
He spurneth the old.
"Pride ruined the angels,
Their shame them restores;
Lurks the joy that is sweetest
In stings of remorse.
Have I a lover
Who is noble and free?--
I would he were nobler
Than to love me.
Now follows, now flies;
And under pain, pleasure,--
Under pleasure, pain lies.
Love works at the centre,
Forth speed the strong pulses
To the borders of day.
"Dull Sphinx, Jove keep thy five wits;
Thy sight is growing blear;
Rue, myrrh and cummin for the Sphinx,
Her muddy eyes to clear!"
The old Sphinx bit her thick lip,--
Said, "Who taught thee me to name?
I am the spirit, yoke-fellow;
Of thine eye I am eyebeam.
"Thou art the unanswered question;
Couldst see thy proper eye,
Always it asketh, asketh;
And each answer is a lie.
So take thy quest through nature,
It through thousand natures ply;
Ask on, thou clothed eternity;
Time is the false reply."
Uprose the merry Sphinx,
And crouched no more in stone;
She melted into purple cloud,
She silvered in the moon;
She spired into a yellow flame;
She flowered in blossoms red;
She flowed into a foaming wave:
She stood Monadnoc's head.
Thorough a thousand voices
Spoke the universal dame;
"Who telleth one of my meanings
Is master of all I am."
Posted by Thersites at 8:13 PM
Thursday, April 21, 2016
- Christina Rossetti, "In An Artist’s Studio" (12/24/1854)
One face looks out from all his canvasses,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans;
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,
A saint, an angel; – every canvass means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
Posted by Thersites at 11:27 AM
Sunday, April 17, 2016
-Winfield Townley Scott, "Dream Penney in the Slot at 6 A.M."
Dreaming, he turns the crank to wind her
Through his own eyes that he looks into, and
The girl moves toward him through going mist
Neared and clearer as though through unwound days and
Slowly; and veil after veil slides apart and behind her,
Veils moving over and away from her, ankle and wrist
Breaking the dark dominion. Then the spolight finds her,
Traman sees the long aisle of crushed flowers behind her,
How even now she stands in trampled flowers.
But then he looks again through the small
Slot; keeps busy with the crank's turning (tired)
And sees that it is not flowers at all:
Running in flickers of light at him (not
Tired) she kicks the fallen leaves in the road hollows:
Hot against him now, laughing (this is fun),
Her hair sweet like grass that lies a day in the sun.
She runs away from him. He follows
We will lie in the sun, Traman yells at her. He shouts
We will lie a long time in the sun. But then he sees
The sun going down between his knees: so he props
Her, very solemn, against a haystack and whispers
That the sun isn't going at all down now, anytime ever down;
and the sun, sure enough, stops.
Light flares. Traman is alone, blind,
And will not remember how he got out of the place.
Not clearly what happened; nor will he greatly mind,
Being stunned and bewildered, his ears ringing with the terrible
thunder of all those suddenly collected veils fallen between
him and her beautiful face.
Posted by Thersites at 11:22 AM
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
- Dante Alighieri, "Inferno" (Canto VII)
The water was a deeper dark than purple dye,
and we, with its somber waves for company,
made our way down along a rough, strange path.
This sad [tristo] stream, when it has reached
the bottom of the gray malignant slopes,
becomes a swamp that has the name of Styx.
And I, intent on looking as we passed,
saw muddy people moving in that marsh,
all naked, with their faces scarred by rage.
They fought each other, not with hands alone,
but struck with head and chest and feet as well,
and with teeth they tore each other limb from limb.
And the good teacher said: "My son, now see
the souls of those that anger [ira] overcame;
and I ask you to believe me when I say,
Beneath the slimy top are sighing souls
who make these waters bubble at the surface;
your eyes will tell you this -- just look around
Bogged in this slime they say, 'Sad [tristi] we were
in the sweet air made happy by the sun,
continually carrying our depression [accidioso]
now we lie sadly [attristiam] here in this black muck!'
This is the hymn they gurgle in their throats
but cannot sing in words that truly sound."
Then making a wide arc, we walked around
the pond between the dry bank and the slime,
our eyes still fixed on those who gobbled mud.
“In romantic longing ..the subject strives for an impossible object. ..The ..perverse reversal [of this] most elementary matrix of desire [is acedia]” – [in boredom + acedia] the desired object is all too close, intrusively imposing itself, but the subject now no longer desires it, the object gets desublimated, deprived of the objet a. Laziness, boredom, disgust are all secondary particular forms of this. ..Acedia explodes in a permissive superego society, when ..one suddenly becomes nauseated by the saturation of objects offering themselves to us with the promise of satisfaction. ..The ultimate gesture of reconciliation is to recognize in this threatening excess of negativity the core of the subject itself.– Slavoj Zizek
Posted by Thersites at 1:50 PM
Friday, April 8, 2016
What is your meaning, Zeno? Do you maintain that if being is many, it must be both like and unlike, and that this is impossible, for neither can the like be unlike, nor the unlike like—is that your position?- Plato, "Parmenides"
Just so, said Zeno.
And if the unlike cannot be like, or the like unlike, then according to you, being could not be many; for this would involve an impossibility. In all that you say have you any other purpose except to disprove the being of the many? and is not each division of your treatise intended to furnish a separate proof of this, there being in all as many proofs of the not-being of the many as you have composed arguments? Is that your meaning, or have I misunderstood you?
No, said Zeno; you have correctly understood my general purpose.
I see, Parmenides, said Socrates, that Zeno would like to be not only one with you in friendship but your second self in his writings too; he puts what you say in another way, and would fain make believe that he is telling us something which is new. For you, in your poems, say The All is one, and of this you adduce excellent proofs; and he on the other hand says There is no many; and on behalf of this he offers overwhelming evidence. You affirm unity, he denies plurality. And so you deceive the world into believing that you are saying different things when really you are saying much the same. This is a strain of art beyond the reach of most of us.
Yes, Socrates, said Zeno. But although you are as keen as a Spartan hound in pursuing the track, you do not fully apprehend the true motive of the composition, which is not really such an artificial work as you imagine; for what you speak of was an accident; there was no pretence of a great purpose; nor any serious intention of deceiving the world. The truth is, that these writings of mine were meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides against those who make fun of him and seek to show the many ridiculous and contradictory results which they suppose to follow from the affirmation of the one. My answer is addressed to the partisans of the many, whose attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the being of many, if carried out, appears to be still more ridiculous than the hypothesis of the being of one. Zeal for my master led me to write the book in the days of my youth, but some one stole the copy; and therefore I had no choice whether it should be published or not; the motive, however, of writing, was not the ambition of an elder man, but the pugnacity of a young one. This you do not seem to see, Socrates; though in other respects, as I was saying, your notion is a very just one.
Posted by Thersites at 1:08 PM
Thursday, April 7, 2016
- Anthony Raymond, "Caught Inside the Frame"
We see the man; not the pain
As in a picture within a frame
On the surface all seems well
Caught inside a frame of hell
No one can see inside the heart
Or imagine it being torn apart
We see the tears in others eyes
But do not hear their silent cries
Out of the blue you get a call
The tone in the voice says it all
The bad news quickly settles in
That you have lost a dear friend
Many question the reason why
That one would say goodbye
Make the choice to end it all
Allow the curtain of life to fall
Let us lift our prayers for a man
That held his life within his hand
Then attempted to ease the pain
Of a man caught inside the frame
Posted by Thersites at 2:52 PM
Saturday, April 2, 2016
- John Donne, "No Man Is An Island"
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
Posted by Thersites at 6:56 AM
Friday, April 1, 2016
This passage quotes a "certain Chinese encyclopedia" in which it is written that "animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (1) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off" look like flies".- Michael Foucault, "The Order of Things" (Preface)
Posted by Thersites at 11:07 AM