A secondary city

-sunrise, sunset - vacant metaphors, eroded figures of speech, ghosts in the attic? God embedded in the childhood of rational speech (Nietzsche)
-speech communicating meaning and feeling => God's presence, esp. aesthetic meaning
-when we encounter text/ art/ music (tam), i.e., the other in its condition of freedom, we find transcendence
-enigma of creation is made sensible in text, art music (tam)
-interpreter - decipherer and communicator of meanings, translator between languages/ cultures/ conventions, and executant, giving intelligible life to tam
-private reader/ listener can become executant of felt meaning when learns by heart, affording the music indwelling clarity and life-force, ingests (not consumes)

-cultivation of trained, shared remembrance (learn piano) sets society in natural touch with its own past and safeguards the core of individuality - the score plays inside us
-all tam is critical act (promesse de bonheur)
-tam - poet relates the raw material of conscious (c) and unconscious (u) to the latencies, often unperceived, untapped before him, of articulation.
-Joyce's 'reading' of Ulysses is a true 'critique' - recreation, Anna Karenina a real revision of Flaubert, variations and reprise is true 'criticism' of music
-originality is antithetical to novelty - a return, in substance and form, to beginnings
-bourgeois revolutions in politics and industry of 19thc -> dead criticism, reviews, academe, surrogates for certain modes of political action. For Plato, a true adult is one whose discourse bears on the laws and politics of his city. Such bearing is institutionalized in the ballot, etc today, but is fitful, public functions anonymous, personal commitiment to the political a stale manoeuvre of delegation. University humanism an outgrowth of German system (Humboldt). Attempt to domesticate and secularize the mystery and summons of creation. Secondary criticism (-> deconstructionism) swallows the prophetic, diminishes the meaning, embarrasses the passionate recreator, spews out the text diminished and fragmented..
-must recognize a meaningfulness which is a freedom of giving/ reception beyond the constraints of immanence
-categories of inference and felt intelligibility are theological and metaphysical, inherent in language (not excluded from language a la Wittgenstein).

The broken contract

-every human instrument and performative capability has its limitations (3 minute mile) except language
-in all serious poetry - the motion towards perfect uniqueness, absolute and seamless indivisibility between form and content. You can say anything you wish (an act of will is a dream in daylight)
-to speak is to re-invent being and the world (fiction, i.e., making)
-can say and unsay all, construct and deconstruct space and time, beget counter-factuals, to speak hope, resurrection, progress, esp. the ability to use future tenses
-sacred texts strive to circumscribe word and world by means of taboo. Each blasphemy, in turn, re-affirms the open indeterminacy of language. Judaic progibition of naming God. Once spoken, the word can be used rhetorically, metaphorically, deconstructed, blasphemed
-in myths, the foolish wish or erroneous verdict, wasted password to Sesame can neither be unspoken nor recalled
-in words as in particle physics, there is matter and antimatter, construction and annihilation, the wonder of understanding that is communion
-what defines great art? Count heads and years.
-present-day accessibility diminishes the potential for immediate encounter with the aesthetic experience and for the absolute freedom of such encounters. No civilization preceding ours, save in hieratic Byzantium, has the domination of the canonized and heuristic past lain as heavily on the innovative aspirations of the present. 90% of all 'classical' music performed publicly today predates 1900. A crisis of feeling, both psychological and metaphysical
-covenant between word and world at end of 19thc (scepticism, nihilism, materialism, psychology, relativity, black holes, principles of indeterminacy) a rev. of spirit which defines modernity itself (before, Logos). Shibboleth of "death of God". Hegel - terminal lunge towards totality
-music - conventionally organized sounds, signifying only itself. Language free to the extent that it approaches the condition of music. Mallarme and modernism call for restoration to words of their magical energies, lost potential for incantation and discovery (esp. through the unlimited creativity of metaphor). Rimbaud deconstructs ego, introducing the other, a limitless pluraity ("Je est un autre," a negation of the supreme tautology "I am who I am", and "I think (I feel), therefore I am (not I).").
-four principle revs of feeling and argument of modernism
-including deconstructionism, shift from referential to an internally-relational semantics in science of language, mathematical formalization and logical positivism. God the Father of meaning is gone. No one can determine and communicate the truth. But belief in shared truth-seeking underwrites the ideals of religion, of humanism and of communication (denied by modernism)
-but Joyce's epiphany, Benjamin's aura - such transcendental intuitions have sources deeper than language. The burning bush is a truth beyond words. Can 'talk yourself to death'.
-can never quite close our fists over meaning because language is a temporal process (Eagleton)
-meaning is indeterminate but investigable (Wittgenstein)
-the great writer will communicate with his re-creators, present and future, the mythical impression that he has somehow overcome or weakened the constraints and staleness of established alphabets and codes. The good reader or critic will aim to make the text more difficult to read.


-there is language and art because there is the other. Bison-walls at Ascaux, indeed all representations, even the most abstract, infer a rendezvous with intelligibility, qualified by observance and willed form. Apprehension (the meeting with the other) signifies both fear and perception. The modulation from one to the other is the source of poetry and the arts which aim to 'enchant'. The inviolate enigma of the otherness in things and in animate presences. We are, at key instants, strangers to ourselves. Tam tell us of the absolutely alien which we come up against in the labyrinth of intimacy, the Minotaur at the heart of love, kinship and confiding. We are monads haunted by communion. The sheer inhuman otherness of matter haunted Kant. We are transients in a house of being whose foundations, whose future history, whose rationale, if any, lie wholly outside our will and comprehension. In death the intractable constancy of the other. Narrations are rehearsals for death. The conceit of the artist that the work shall outlast his own death.
-Enlightenment and Kant - sought to remove the domain of the aesthetic from that of systematic cognition and practical morality. Kant identified truth with beauty and beauty with truth.
-tam should change your life (Rilke). The indiscretion of serious tam is total. It queries the last privacies of our existence. Tam not read or listened to, but lived. To communicate tam to another human being is a moral act. Art for art is merely a tactical slogan, a rebellion against philistine didacticism and political control. Pressed to its logical consequences, it is pure nacisssism. There is always a value-statement of the most evident ethical import in a work of art. Only trash, kitsch, produced solely for monetary or propagandistic ends transcend (transgress) morality. Theirs is the pornography of insignificance.
-concept of courtesy - root cortesia, courtly love, curiosity. Also tact, scruple and civility. An experience of communicated forms of meaning demands a courtesy or tact of heart and intellection conjoined at their several roots. The yearning towards and fear of the other come together in immediacy. Cannot be formalized or proved but are essential. Courtesy encompasses range of behaviour from toilet training to ceremonial gravities of the sacramental.
-at the root of metaphysics: why should there not be nothing? Only in the aesthetic is there the absolute freedom not to have come into being.
-We sense a lost freedom or a freedom to be regained - Arcadia behind us. Utopia before. This is at the heart of our mythologies and politics, tam.
-Most people experience high tam only very rarely, preferring bingo or TV chat-shows. This is the absolute right of the un-free, one of the laming necessities of liberal and democratic theories, bound to the freedom of the market.
-where art and poetics, contingent in their own coming into being, meet receptive potential of a free spirit, we realize freedom. It takes two freedoms to make one.
-the true reception of a guest (the other) touches on transcendent obligations and opportunities. Reception and apprehension embody an initial act of trust, the risk of disappointment. Without the gamble on welcome, no door can be opened when freedom knocks. The levels are: lexical cortesia - 1/ dwelling in the great dictionaries, 2/ sensitivity to syntax and grammars (feels the means of meaning beneath the skin, the nerve and bone structure beneath the verse, hears the key-relations and grammar of music), appreaciation of rhetoric (sequence, structural features of tam). The poetry of grammar is the grammar of poetry (Roman Jakobson). 3/ semantics with context (historical and social traditions).
-only theory of meaning is in metaphorical sense. This unaccountability (of our coming into being and dying) is the essence of freedom, the compelling licence of imagining and thought. Tam are the willed compactions of that freedom. There we see the naked presence of freedom itself.
-Ballam prophesies against his express will. An artist may deceive himself radically as to his true motives and intended effects. He may, in Aesopian strategies, seek to deceive others (the censors).
-author 'intends', social/ physical context 'contends' -> art/ transcendence through tam forms in re-creation of work (playing a sonata). Our attempts to communicate with that freedom of presence in another always entails approximation. The falling-short is a guarantor of the experienced 'otherness', the freedom to be or not be (play the sonata or not?).
-but resistance to laying oneself open to ridicule from approximate recreation. Springs are license to murmur and gush; not adults. We are supposed to be cool. But this very embarrassment and willingness to risk it that is at the source of the metaphysical-religious experience of art. We can't will the aesthetic experience (a la sex). It is a visitation, an act of grace. The musical structure, picture, form or text fulfil needs we knew not of, that complement us. We are possessed (our being). Like deja-vu or deja-entendu. We have met before. Can explain by: 1/ a slippage in our time-sense, generating an u feeling of recognition (via drugs), a transient eclipse of the ego, allowing other presences to find their luminous or shadowy way; 2/ in tam there are spoors of a presentness prior to c and rationality, vestiges of a pre-logical, pre-grammatical sedimentation of visual and auditory matter. Our modern dreams have long passed into grammatical, cultural modes, into a symbolic repertoire of a social kind.
-metaphor is an evolutionary modulation or translation into a semantic code of the arc of melody.
-Artistotle: fiction is truer and more universal than history (tam witness to that freedom of coming into being of which history can give us no account). Jung: archetypes are at the roots of human c.
-syllabus established over time, representing cultural, social pedagogic choices which aim at a stable consensus. Vs canon - a personal construct. Adolescence, with its placement of sexuality within the person, is a primary moment of canonization, of reception of the sensory and significant in discourse, music and form. In old age, the personal canon discards all but what is indispensable. Within a given culture, syllabus and canon overlap. There is a congruence between the best that is known and one's canon. We all share physical receptor mechanisms, esp. language, and experience epiphanies.
-music puts us in felt relation of experienced immediacy with the abstractly and verbally inexpressible but wholly palpable, primary fact of being, the core-mystery that we are. This energy of existence lies deeper than any biological or psychological determination. Music liberates us from the enforcing beat of biological and physical-mathematical clocks, the only free time granted us prior to death. There are cadences that break, mend or mend in the breaking one's heart.
-Why is there art? Creation and re-creation takes us out of time, promesse de bonheur. The fact is that the world is when it might not have been. It is; we are. This is the rudimentary grammar of the unfathomable. Responding to the poem, we re-enact within the limits of our own lesser creativity, the two defining motions of our existential presence in the world: that of the coming into being where nothing was, and the enormity of death. Experience of otherness, the divine, the daimonic, the affirmation of the agnostic-collaborative presence of agencies beyond the governance or conceptual grasp of the craftsman.
-Kant postulates a fundamental disposition of accord between the fabric of human understanding and our perception of things, though 'things in themselves' are inaccessible (act of faith). There is an irreducible autonomy of presence, of otherness, in art.
-music is both cerebral and carnal - a searching out of resonances in our bodies at levels deeper than will or c.
-science aims at mastery, at ownership. Tam puts us in sane touch with that which transcends. The limits of our language are not, pace Wittgenstein, those of our world. All good art and lit. begin in immanence but do not stop there, they bring together man and the other.
-ours is the long day's journey of the Christian Saturday (a la Babylonian Sat., day of penance to god of death, vs Jewish Sabbath, a day honouring the state of harmony of Eden). In the Utopia of Sunday, the aesthetic will no longer have logic or necessity.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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