Wandering Star

What true lovers are committed to, the consummation of their quest… thus becomes admirable [when the beloved is treated as if he (or she) were treated as a god] and a way for someone who is maddened by love, to secure the happiness of the object of his affection, if he captures him [or her].

I will describe how a captive is caught. Let’s stick to the threefold division of the soul we made at the start of this tale, with each and every soul consisting of two horse-like aspects and a third like a charioteer… So when the charioteer sees the light of his beloved’s eyes, his whole soul is suffused with a sensation of heat and he is filled with the tingling and pricking of desire. The horse that is obedient to the charioteer restrains himself from leaping on its beloved, because as always it is held back by a sense of shame. The other horse, however, stops paying any attention to the charioteer’s goad and whip; it prance and lunges forward violently, making life extremely difficult for its team-mate and for the charioteer, and compelling them to head towards the beloved and bring up the subject of the pleasures of sex. At first, these two get annoyed at being forced to behave in a way that seems dreadfully wrong, and put up some resistance, but eventually, finding no end to their troubles, they let themselves be led forward, and they passively submit to doing as they are told. And so they come close to their beloved and see the lightning-bright beauty of his [or her] face. At this sight the charioteer’s memory is taken back to the nature of true beauty, and he sees it again in place on a holy pedestal, next to self-control.        (Plato, Phaedrus)

God and a woman who is loved are parallel.    (Bataille, On Nietzsche)

It is the love for a woman that causes doubt in us.    (Nietzsche, The Gay Science)

Of late, given the tumultuous state of affairs in my (ex-)love life, I am emale – being Muli’s alter-ecko –  came back to this post, on the “pedestal.”

The object I have in mind is the love object on a pedestal.  Plato dances around this pedestal in a type of madness – a good, divine madness as an aspect of the divine is discovered in the mortal being of the beloved. A memory of the divine flight of the soul up to the heavens beyond the stars in the cycle of a Platonic year. This idea denies freedom and reflexivity in the subjectification of the beloved – a deeply ego-centric love and perhaps one born from the mirror stages of our infantile development in modern psychoanalytical terms. I always liked Zarathustra’s appraisal of “soul”: Every soul is a world unto its own; for every soul, every other soul is an afterworld. Even though the end of my relationship with my beloved has occupied my thoughts for the better part of my recent history, I am emale has remained resolutely silent upon the matter, closing all dialogue upon the matter.  The bad conscience (and the acts born out of this con-science, the unhappy consciousness) is the internalisation of these unspoken forces.  Alone and abjective, I am being e(x)male, serving a Fn(x), unable to make the movement, overcome by gravity of internalised matter.

So the knight makes the movement, but what movement?  Does he want to forget the whole thing?  No… Only lower natures forget themselves and become something new…  There was a person who also believed he had made the movement, but time went by, the princess did something else, she married, say, a prince, and his soul lost the resilience of resignation.  He knew then that he had not made the movement correctly; for one who has infinitely resigned is enough unto himself… What the princess does cannot disturb him, it is only lower natures who have the law for their actions in someone else, the premises for their actions outside themselves.      (Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling)

Kierkegaard is speaking of his broken-off marraige to Regina.  I can’t directly compare my situation to Kierkegaard – he broke off his relationship with Regina, I was broken off. But still I follow his movements, the traces he left under the pseudonym of John the Silent One, of a faith (in this world – every soul being a world unto its own) he never had but could only admire in Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (who did not speak to his beloved Sarah of his intention/”divine command” to sacrifice their son, Isaac). In the real world, one cannot help but make a sacrifice.  It happens every day. In economic terms, its called the opportunity cost.  But in the spiritual world – an afterworld – all things are possible.  Desire flows. Closed systems die. Plato-Socrates placing his beloved on a pedestal and making a tribute to memory, was a decadent type.

The art of love as ekstasis (to be thrown outside one’s self or state of being) necessarily involves the rituals of sacrifice. How to make the sacrifice is what counts.  But to avoid the barbarous acts of humankind in its infancy, attempting to mirror the gods’ power over life and death, play-acting, fictions, become our modern means of causing pain.  But the actor never shows the pain.  He suffers to perform.  Nijinsky’s bleeding feet… As Muli noted, the knight of faith is an actor and in the double sense of the word and in keeping the double sense of the Word open (but this is painful, this lack of unity, of wholeness), we can begin to interpret ourselves. Alone in our sufferring, what does this tragic artist communicate of himself?

Currently we take pride in this – that nothing can be understood till first of all deformed, emptied of content, by one of two mechanisms – propaganda and writing! Like a woman, possibility makes demands, makes a person go all the way. Strolling with art lovers through the galleries and across the polished wooden floors in the museum of possibilities, inside of us we eventually kill off whatever isn’t grossly political, confining it to sumptuous dated and labelled illusions. Only when shame brings this home to us do we realise it. To live out possibility to the utmost means many will have to change – taking it on as something outside of them, no longer depending on any one of them. Nietzsche never doubted that if the possibility he recommended was going to exist, it would require community. Desire for community was constantly on his mind.  (Bataille, On Nietzsche)

Alone, Kierkegaard sufferred. He even wrote in his diaries noone will ever know the truth of his feelings for Regina by reading these pages. He wrote Fear and Trembling in silence, under a pseudonym, leaving the tracks of his love for her in history and a testament to a new faith that every generation must renew (“faith has never existed because it has always existed”) in the interpretation of the story (“what is left out of the story of Abraham is the anguish”): the collective (un)conscious must be created (Durkheim’s functionalism is aimed at the big picture, the large object, society – but then there is the individual and somewhere in between – community). 

Reality does not pre-exist us in the Idea or Form, the beloved to be put upon a pedestal. Even today stoachistic concepts like spontaneous self-organisation and light ravelling both as wave and particle, are still ideals of continual processes in a scientific theory.  But still we must make a choice – there is still sacrifice.  Otherwise we would never act.  Kierkegaard chose to let go.  Desire flows and irrigates the wings of our souls. 

Having said that, the memory of her still burns in my mind.  I’m even fanning the flames of sacrifice, acting impulsively.  I am e(x)male – I cannot let go for fear of falling (desire is not to be confused with truth).  I recognise the impulse to reach out for my beloved upon a pedestal as decline – it requires a tremendous effort, it takes a lot of work, this speculative act –  let the fear persuade before I act: I am not sovereign being but the site of experimentation.  My body is a temple to the Law’d. Mind breathes invisibly. The object lives in my mind, idea of an idea, impossible to possess and grasp this object of my heart’s desire with both hands but in my “divine madness” I try: the “I” – self-possessed pro(-)noun, a world unto its own – was not made for seeing.

The world is a cell for citters to cit in.
  (Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake)

I have found it necessary to speak, to open up to another or be crushed by the reality of my solitude (which is where the Real lies?).  When the two is reduced to the one, when I only see one possibility for action, then I know I haven’t made the movements correctly, the sacrificial ritual. The Jewish princess is another barre by which I have measured my movement, keeping the emptiness inside mirrored without.  My wings are clipped.  I come back to earth, cracked quantum shell of my eggsistential self, fallen off the wall, broken upon the ground. And all the King’s men and all the King’s horses, couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Thus reminded of my finitude by a childhood nursery rhyme, I am emale writing off my losses and letting go.  If the love is true, the beloved will return though I cannot count upon it. Faith in performance requires passion, spontaneous and true.  That is the chance one takes in elevation, the lifting of the spirit, dancing with the feet of a wandering star; the instant of decision (and God’s love) is incommensurable with reality-presence-being.

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5 thoughts on “Wandering Star

  1. Dear Ecko, my friend,

    It’s only when you feel this pain, that you live. if you don’t feel the pain, you’re nothing but a vegetative being. Bataille, in his intro to “the impossible”, sees in pain and desire the only two indications for living, and I believe that Borroughs would have signed it too.
    And this pain should be present, as long as you’re alive, along with the memory of your beloved and the desire. With this three, repeated within every new time capsule – all being equally mandatory – you can beat the system.

    But here’s one thing Kierkegaard didn’t mention – I think it can be useful in the current situation – maybe it was lost in translation:

    I don’t find Isaac in Fear and Trembling; but one shouldn’t ignore the role given to Isaac, as expressed in his name. “Isaac” in Hebrew is the future tense of “to laugh”. It has a direct and explicit allusion to Sarah’s laughter upon hearing that she’s going to have a baby at the age of 90, but the future tense insinuates something more, I believe.

    It’s Isaac on the altar, facing the knife of Abraham coming down – and what I hear at this exact moment is not a cry, nor a silent tone, that which is part of Jonathan de Silencio – what I hear, and I assume you can hear very well just the same – is a great, spontaneous, rolling, shocking laughter.

    Laugh, my friend.

  2. Thanks for your kind and wise words, Muli.

    Isaac is the future and I like that his name means “to laugh.” The laughter comes at a price (pain is an indication of the living) – Isaac (to laugh) ‘died’ to Abraham on the day God told him to sacrifice his son. The laughter, the future joy, was resurrected three days later – and now I see a new meaning.

    Laughter overcomes death – lightness, spirited, elevated. I am reminded of a story by Balzac, Old Goriot, when Eugene’s cousin is heartbroken by the announcement of her lover’s betrothal on the day of her party, one of the biggest events on the social calender in the Paris society of nobles. She does not show any sign of weakness but enjoys the ball, smiles genuinely at all the guests the whole, long night and maintains her nobility.

    I’ve not had the strength to realise the change brought on by this little death I’ve suffered. I’ve failed the challenges and acted ignobly. Past expectations weigh down upon me. It is a repitition of our whole relationship but this break is final and its hard to reconcile myself to the difference. I take strength from your words, Muli, and rejoyce that in the knowledge you give me, I renew my reason to laugh and to love, to write and keep company in my circle of fine friends.

    “Hohohoho, Mister Finn [fine – finis – finish – end], you’re going to be Mister Finnagain.”
    Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake

  3. Hey,

    Thank you for your very interesting answer to the article about Blanchot/Bataille!
    I will answer it another time, maybe with an own posting.
    Anyways, the concept of “community” is very interesting to think about and even to reconsider, what it was, is, could be … if it’s good for a society or not, and, according to Blanchot, if it’s even possible. Bataille was in need of the idea of community. Lacan, who I think also was a friend of Bataille, also could be read as very pessimistic when it comes to this possibility of a real community (in his theory of desire). Adorno/Horkheimer are quoting a sentence of Nietzsches “The Gay Science” in their book “Dialectic of Enlightenment”: “Where are lieing my biggest dangers?” Nietzsche asked himself, “in compassion”. I think this quote is very near to Blanchots work and also very near to the idea of the “death wish” you mentioned in your posting.

    thank you again for reading,
    best regards!

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