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Back to the Future: Musings on Time and Utopia 2/3
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2007-11-14 09:33:31
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Let us therefore test Thoreau’s experience of the “auroral hour” with the Derridarian critique. This is not easy because Thoreau does not describe it literally but simply evokes it through hints and intimations, for he believes that it cannot be rendered any other way. We do not awaken to it by opening our eyes, but by becoming wonderers. Amazement attends to what is right here in front of us. This is in contrast to the attitude of practicality which notices nothing of the present except to achieve future goals.

When wonder arrives however, it interrupts everything else. This is the experience we lived once as children, but eventually lost when we fell prey to the restlessness of practicality. Wonder is wholly absorbed in and by the presence of that is present before it, and appreciates it for its own sake, instead of profaning it as a mere means. All genuine philosophy begins in wonder, for immanent within it is an awareness of the world as sacred; implicit in that sacred character is the imperative that it be reverenced. This is the ab-original religious experience and without it no civilization is possible. The child in us is aware that there is more than what is right in front of us; there are intimations that move us and transport us out of ourselves.

It is like falling in love with the world the way a St. Francis of Assisi fell in love with it in total self-abandonment. What did Francis abandon himself to? To the “more” that is both immanent within the present and other than it, the not yet, a wholly unknown and unforeseeable future. Far from fixating us in the present, original amazement transports us beyond itself. As Thoreau renders it: “when we are really walking, we go forth…in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return…” (From Walking). So the deconstruction of the present is the very condition for the possibility of ex-static wonder. The metaphysics of presence causes us to misconstrue this experience.

Thoreau helps us to deconstruct it by evoking the experience in such a way that the deconstruction immanent within it is allowed to emerge. For humans, there is no original presence, no being antecedent to temporality, no time except from historicity. The breakthrough into the unpresenceable future is what is ab-original for us in as much as the very nature of our being is to be wonderers.

What becomes then of the dichotomy between “natural time” and historicity on which Thoreau’s spirituality depends? To answer the question we need to look a bit more closely at what Thoreau sees as the characteristic of our historicity: goal seeking. When we are working toward a goal we subordinate the present to the future. When goal achievement becomes a way of life the danger is that each goal becomes a means to another goal and no arrival is ever final. Goal seeking approaches the future with a destination in view and a plan for reaching it.

This meticulous measuring and planning is the pride and joy of all rationalists. The planning prescribes the shape of our historicity. It aims at controlling the future. Paradoxically, the achievement of any particular goal becomes less important than the overriding project of control itself within the assumed framework of “inevitable progress” and its corollary belief that what is newest is always the best. What will matter the most is not so much getting to the goal but making progress and “getting ahead.”

However, the unforeseeable future usually intrudes. It is radically heterogeneous from the present. We approach the future with a master plan in the hope of repressing this heterogeneity and obtaining a future that will not be destructive or deconstructive; that is to say, one that we can control. In other words, goal-seeking wishes to prevent the future from breaking upon the present in a way that would deconstruct it. Implicit in this desire to prevent this deconstruction is a nostalgia for a present insulated from the future. Working hard to get ahead is a way of trying to bet back to a present that the future has not yet deconstructed.

Thoreau would have us withdraw from historicity in order to immerse ourselves in an undefiled present. But that risks confusing the attempt to control the future with living in relationship to it. For to live wholly in the present means exactly to be caught in the unforeseeable which is immanent within the present as a disruption, i.e., being present to the future. A present insulated from the possibility of this fracture would not be a temporal present; it would be outside or before time. This longing to immerse ourselves in such a present is the equivalent of a desire to control the future. In both case we seek to escape temporality.


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Sand2007-11-14 16:05:27
This proposal to adulate the immediate moment and despise any attempt to anticipate and confront the future is an advocacy of stupor. Primarily it assumes that the present moment is a static delight, any disturbance of which destroys an assumed perfection in the immediate moment. Any living being exists in an industrious dynamic which must weigh current conditions, moment by moment and use this ongoing analysis to, at minimum, maintain a homeostasis which is necessary for the very preservation of life which is a very dynamic process. Beyond that the capabilities of any good advanced intellect utilizes the analysis of current conditions to project the multiple possibilities that the future may contain for to neglect this capability is to put life itself in danger as the universe through time is can generally not be counted on as being beneficent. To sink into, what seems to be advised in this article, some sort of trance of wonder is more in concert with the use of narcotics than a viable system of sustaining and advancing existence.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-14 16:42:44
Quite predictable! Confronted with a new challenging paradigm of reality the barbarian of the intellect will immediately proceed to cast aspersion on it. But one can blot the sun with one's hand but the sun remains there and we will be reading Thoreau in one thousand years when those barbarians who conceive of the body as nothing but a mechanical complicated machine will be long gone. Indeed to under-stand is different than to explain, the I-it relationship is different from the I-Thou relationship and to over-stand an issue is to make sure that one does not understand it. True to form, without waiing for the final posting of this article, it has been judgeed, condemmned and disposed of by the self-proclaimed guardian of current political correcness intolerant of any new idea. Here is an easy prediction: the third posting will receive the same habitual aspersion. Thoreau must be turning in his grave.

Sand2007-11-14 17:33:33
As usual you have confronted none of my objections, merely objected that I had the temerity to pose questions at all and, fulminating at your most violent, predicted what the world might be like one thousand years hence when I doubt you have the capability to look forward even ten minutes (or is your spirituality inclusive of a crystal ball?). I especially have doubts of your including yourself (in the use of "we") in who will be perusing Thoreau after the next millennium. Considering your demonstrated incapability to understand even the simplest realities, if you were granted the thousand years to mull over Thoreau's intents but I wish you all the luck in the attempt.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-14 17:39:32
Thank you for the good wishes which are reciprocated in your construction of a "viable system of sustaining and advancing existence," i.e. "getting ahead" as Thoreau intimates...I think he too, with Rumi and Vico would say: "good luck!" and walk away...

Sand2007-11-14 18:47:23
Since you make no attempt to answer or counter my queries I must only conclude you have no answers. It may be revealing as to your ineptitude, but frankly I wish you had just a speck of integrity.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-14 19:12:35
As customary, the argument ends with an argument ad hominem. Have you ever thought what that may say about your own integrity? One wonders if you have consulted the dictionary yet about that word, as a good rationalist. Unfortunately ingegrity is more than a definition as put forth by those men whom C.S. Lewis calls "men without chest"; it is a holistic experience and it goes together with a holistic conception of what it means to be a Man. Neglecting the ethical component is to become a rational robot and sell one's humanity for a dish of lentils, or perhaps beans in your case.

Sand2007-11-14 20:00:52
Since you have done nothing but dump your own personal brand of shit on my head I wonder why you take such offense at my asking pointed questions about your submission which you completely ignore.
Ad hominem indeed!

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-14 21:05:56
The poetics of defecation again? Try Thoreau's poetics of wonder. You may like it better and may not have to eat too many beans.

Sand2007-11-15 06:39:34
It's very revealing that the essence of your whole carload of arguments is that you are entranced by the huge mystery of the universe and you are adamant that it should remain a mystery in order to preserve the awe that you claim your God requires. What offends you more than anything else is that the huge mystery should be assaulted by reason and untangled to permit the understanding of mankind to use the knowledge to make a better life. This attitude goes all the way back to the original mythical conflict between Adam and God where Adam bit the apple to know what the hell was going on and God said "No no baby, get get out of Eden". Religion loves this mystery, loves that the masses of humanity remain ignorant so that they can be kept frightened of the unknown and controlled. This is a straight line of control from the originators of religion right down to the religiously driven Bush administration to keep the USA scared of whatever the hell is handy to keep the populace under control. This is why the first printing of the Bible was condemned by the church because it didn't want the people to be able to read the book themselves and perhaps figure out that much of it made no sense and a lot of it was self contradictory. This is why the mass was in Latin because most people don't understand Latin and are impressed with undecipherable babble. This is why you adore the childlike "wonder" of the unknown and hate those who can reason with causes and effects because it kicks God out of the equation and your God loves a dumb populace and the church likes to keep people scared of an ultimate hellfire end so they can be pushed around. Your God and the church that invented it simply worships ignorance and, in the end, stupidity, and you are a prime example of that. This is your message and I want no part of it.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 07:46:50
Had you proffered those ravings of yours, redolent of a religion-bashing fanatic to Eistein he would have probably have replied: but Sir "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING WE










You need to straightern him out on that or they may revoke your self-appointed title of intellectual pooper scooper and guardian of the gates of rationalism.

Sand2007-11-15 08:01:54
And again , Paparella, you reveal that you prefer to remain in an ecstatic stupor over the many mysteries of the universe. No doubt Einstein was fully aware of the many impressive mysteries of the universe but decidedly unlike you and religious adherents, he did not stand still in naive paralysis at this impressive display but vigorously attacked it with his powers of reason and produced revelations as to the basic nature of space and time which changed the world as opposed to your church that took centuries to apologize to Galileo for condemning him for showing realities of the universe.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 13:14:57
To paraphrase Einstein, those who do not experience the mysterious as a source of art and science are blind, they are dead and don't know it yet.

Logic 101: if you wish to understand a phenomenon begin with its origins and first cause. Ah, the strange paradox that is rationalism!

Sand2007-11-15 13:54:26
I don't need to paraphrase anybody to note that you, Paparella, have caged yourself into a petrified condition of insensibility to reality.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 15:02:40
Which projecting voice did you get that from? The monster Medusa perhaps? Beware of her arrows. They petrify the mind for good. Oh. sorry, I meant the computer of meat called the brain!

Sand2007-11-15 15:28:32
I can easily concede, Paparella, that whatever computational machinery may be operating in your head is decidedly incompetent. No doubt you must, unfortunately, judge other people by yourself, a basic error and it's time to reboot.

Sand2007-11-15 16:04:40
But you do surprise me, Paparella, in your ignorance about the mythical snaky headed lady. You do apprise yourself of being competent in your adored myths but the Medusa needed no arrows to turn people to stone. A mere glance in her direction would do which is why the hero that slayed her required a mirror polished shield to gauge his sword action. So, it seems even that competence in mythology has evaded you.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 17:48:15
Thank you for the information. How she petrified people does not change the basic metaphor behind the myth. So the question is: did you understand that metaphor? It would appear you did not since you are merely intersted in information and misguidedly consider myths mere lies.

Sand2007-11-15 17:53:10
On the contrary, Paparella, I do not consider myths mere lies. I respect them as truly imaginative and entertaining lies whereas it is obvious that you consider them as absolute truth. I would appreciate your point of view a bit more if you could produce this snake headed lady and persuade her of her military capabilities. I'm sure the US military industrial complex would eagerly add her to their capabilities.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 18:12:45
I have sent your request to Medusa’s two sister Gorgons Stheno and Euryale who will come and converse with you as soon as you have the next conversation in your head and then consider your request for helping the Department of Defense. Be advised though that unlike their sister Medusa who was mortal and beautiful originally but was changed into a monster by Athena, these two, as per Hesiod, were Gorgons from birth and are immortal. So don’t try any smoke and mirror and sword tricks with them or you’ll be changed into a statue of stone sword in hand attempting to slaughter the poetic in the world.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 18:23:12
By the way, it was not looking at Medusa that petrified people but looking at the snakes on her head. But you are still in the fog about the truth of the metaphor that is expressed in that myth since you have not revealed it to us yet.

Sand2007-11-15 18:29:38
Us? Damnit! I thought you were merely paranoid. I see you are schizophrenic as well. It is nevertheless something of an accomplishment for a stonehead like you to use a computer. Unless you have persuaded your snake coiffed girlfriends to wear hats. Anyway, you can tell a man by the company he keeps.("and the pig got up and slowly walked away")

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 19:36:27
Once again you forgot God before damn it. You are slipping Mr. Sand. Schizophrenia and paranoia are usually projected on somebody else by rationalists since they are "enlightened" and connot possibly suffer from a lack of reality. Here is another mythical metaphor for you contemplation, or better your projection: the snake eating his own tail. What do you suppose that is a metaphor for?

Sand2007-11-15 19:47:28
No, no. It's you projecting me projecting you. And the snake business, which you brought up is also slightly off base. It's not the snake eating its tail, you have confused your openings and entrances. Both you and the snake have your heads up your asses. I guess that settles that.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-15 20:46:00
Of course, the poetics of defecation always settle any issue. Even Decartes the rationalist must be turning in his grave.

Sand2007-11-15 21:03:51
You are putting Decartes before the horse which is the traditional animal for overturning the earth. Perhaps all these revolving philosophers might prove useful for plowing up a bit of truth in these interchanges. I'm certainly getting little enough sense out of you.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-16 09:27:44
Try speaking to them without bias and condescension nest time you converse with them in your head. To under-stant them you need to give up your "enlightened" hubrist and desist from the "over-standing."

Sand2007-11-16 10:55:13
All those strangely spelled words! Are you foaming at the mouth! Relax! Get someone who hates technology less instruct you in the use of a spell checker.

Sand2007-11-16 11:08:05
It's only natural you should march Whitehead out onto your stage. Not only did Russell deep six him out of Principia Mathematica but his attempt to tangle with Einstein on gravity proved a total loss. And, of course, as with all your other puppets, he was deep into theology. I therefor take his comment on Plato with much salt.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-16 14:53:07
It appears that any author at variance with your restricted point of view, mostly derived from rationalism, is a “puppet,” while those who agree with it are the great men to be eulogized and applauded. You have asked aspersion in some form or other, mostly crude and rude as seems to be your style, on generally acknowledged great men such as Jung, Vico, Whitehead, Santayana, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Dostoyevsky, Thoreau, just about anybody who does not share your ideology.One has to wonder as to how many books would you proceed to burn did a modicum of authority or political power come your way? The mere fact that you wish to reassure that you have no such power is already a hint.

As you know, or perhaps don’t know yet, on May10 1933 in Germany, reputedly one of the most civilized countries in Europe, a total of 20,000 books were put to the torch in a public burning by students in Nazi uniforms while some of their professors looked on uncomplaining. Among the authors burned were Hemingway, Heine, London, Mann, Freud, Bretch, Dostoyevsky, Marx, Remarque, Wells; just about anybody who disagreed with them, never mind their fame or reputation as a scholars or authors or philosophers. It made the bonfires of Savanorola, Torquemada and De Landa look like a pick-nick in comparison. The barbarian of old burned books out of ignorance and lack of intellectual sophistication, the new “barbarian of the intellect” as Vico dubs him, does so for ideological reasons and therefore the cultural damage is greater by far.

Sand2007-11-16 15:11:44
As usual, your paranoid hysteria seems to have taken over. Nobody is burning any books, but you take any criticism of yourself or anybody else as a move to destruction or censorship. I have welcomed open discussion and I doubt that you are so impressed with my analysis as to believe a few of my doubtful words in the direction of any of the authors you have mentioned would destroy the respect that the world has given them. But even the best of them deserve critical inspection from time to time as they all (as have you and I) have said foolish things on occasion. Unlike your God, they do not pack thunderbolts for a raised eyebrow and if they have made mistakes their integrity would no doubt prompt them to be grateful for the revelation so that they could be corrected. Who is this guy Bretch?

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-16 16:57:43
As I fully expected, the nexus beteen rationalsm, intolerance of others' opinions and book burning is lost on you. Or could it be that it has been understood only too well and found an inconvenient truth?

Sand2007-11-16 17:21:31
Since you are too lazy to write out an original post, see the other thread.

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