Search results for "dialogue "


Author: joe

Wednesday, 17 November, 2010 - 22:32

- on distant sounds

By now I have to think of things from an artificial space, with neither place nor time; a space only of words, phone-calls, meetings, timetables, politics, waiting, failures. By now I'm a professional acrobat, actor and tightrope walker, for an audience that I invent, that I describe to myself, a remote audience with whom I have no contact, stifled echoes of whose talking, clapping and disapproval reach me, whose wars, catastrophes, famines, suicides, escapes, poverty or anxious restings along crowded beaches or inside smoky stadiums I read about in papers; how can I know who are the ones expecting something from me?
When I Was a Very Small Boy by Ettore Sottsass

The capillary spaces through which the sounds and sensations of the others reach me disperse the messages in the matter and deaden the effect. This gap is no longer an empty abyss but a mediating field which distorts, hinders, dampens, and strangles.

What do those sounds signify? Distant armies? Cries for help? The unheeding continuity of a world carrying on about its business? All the rich and kaleidoscopic variety one imagines lies beyond is homogenised into a confused, thudding, constant drone. The voice that I hope asks, "who are you?" may all too easily be an inscription into the sound, all of my own making, a product of my desire.

And yet, does a modulation break through, intermittently, briefly, a chink in the proofing, where the high tones penetrate? Is a rescue mission underway, drilling through the dead rock, reaching out with an answer to the yearning?

Categories: Ettore Sottsass, distance, alienation, sound, Matthew Arnold, dialogue,
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Who are you?

Author: joe

Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 - 21:15

- on a mighty entreaty.

We are called into society by a mighty entreaty, "Who art thou, man, that I should care for thee?" And long before our intelligence can help us, the new-born individual survives this tremendous question by his naive faith in the love of his elders. We grow into society on faith, listening to all kinds of human imperatives. Later we stammer and stutter, nations and individuals alike, in the effort to justify our existence by responding to the call. We try to distinguish between the many tempting offers made to our senses and appetites by the world. We wish to follow the deepest question, the central call which goes straight to the heart, and promises our soul the lasting certainty of being inscribed in the book of life.
Modern man no longer believes in any certainty of existence on the strength of abstract reasoning. Yet he is dedicated, heart and soul, to man's great fight against the decay of creation. He knows that his whole life will have to be an answer to the call. The short formula which we have proposed ... may be of some use to condense our whole endeavour into a sort of quintessence: "respondeo etsi mutabor" - I respond although I will be changed ...
We are swimmers in a buoyant and everlasting medium. The dawn of creation is upon us, and we await our question, our specific mandate, in the silence of the beginnings of time. When we have learned to listen to the question and serve towards its solution, we have advanced to a new day.
I am an Impure Thinker by Eugene Rosenstock-Huessy

I love this writer's existential Christian mysticism, even though I shrink form quoting lines about God. Immediately preceding the paragraphs above, Rosenstock-Huessy writes, in refutation of Descartes' exaltation of pure thought in "cogito ergo sum", "We do not exist because we think. Man is the son of God and not brought into being by thinking." But we are called into existence through the calling, the hailing of the world. The words it uses are formed from senses and appetites, imperatives and offers: "who are you?"

With these entreaties the world inserts itself between the mother and child, the individual is formed, and the melancholic yearning begins - for the Other to care for me, a care that manifests itself in the specific question the world asks of us. Central to Rosenstock-Huessy's "metanomic" approach to understanding the world is that dialogic interplay between the self and the "superhuman power" that precedes and interrogates it. We do not discover the world, it addresses us. We do not know the world, we respond to it. We don't just be, we change.

I'm trying to start to form an outline of the gap - the "abyss of nothingness" which separates knowledge from the world, language from reality, consciousness from being. For Rosenstock-Huessy the gap is bridged by speech itself, co-constituting world and self. "Speech conquers all the disintegrations and fissions which abound in nature and of which death is the most drastic form." I don't know if I advance to the new day of speech conquering death, but I do like the thought that the gulf disappears in the dialogue of calling and responding, hailing and hearing, addressing and answering.

Categories: Eugene Rosenstock-Huessy, dialogue, speech,
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