Wednesday, August 5, 2009

perspectivism in Nietzsche and Hawthorne

                Someone recently asked me why I bother writing book reports about Hawthorne on a Nietzsche message board. Indeed, why do Mexicans paint Jesus hispanic? and Japenese an asiatic Christ? Why did the ancient Greeks speak only Greek, and translate all the world’s literature back into their own tongue? Because what I am is central, and who I love are my limbs, and this stage, and this language, is all that rightly matters to me. If I am to love Nietzsche, I will find how he has already spoken through Hawthorne, Emerson, and Whitman --  I will see what Mencken has done with him, how we’ve taken him. He will become not merely the good European, but the good American, an honorary citizen along with the other greats – Emerson called himself a Kantian transcendentalist! – and this is what Dante meant when he put all the great philosophers together in limbo the after life – though they they are the crown of heaven, not the crown of hell – but so Dante fails.

            How else will I wrap my mind around the encyclopedia unless I reduce all things to my own terms? Why bow to your way of saying and believing, since I am not you and have no wish to be? The work of art is infinite – it gives light to all who read, me the light I am able to see, and you the light you are able. The book has infinite and limited interpretations, as there are infinite numbers even if limited by a divisibility by the number four.

            You read, you study, you come to realize that no man can read a book better than you, for what he finds he needed to find. Ignore that. I read Carlysle’s critique of Emerson’s paragraphs that “each sentence was beautiful but unrelated to the others.” Emerson conceded – what did you he know? Emerson can give no theory of Emerson! – and so again did Charles Ives mistake the sage, who ought to have known much better, given his gifted ear. The adventure of reading Emerson is discovering how his paragraphs, how his sections, and how his essays cohere – and this from a sophisticated art of structuralizing, the mastery of outlining – and this will grant vistas and visions beyond what the mere quotidians can find. Emerson was a Concordance of Coherehence.

            And so a great work of art is the infinite crystal onion – you can see the world through it, straight through, and chew on its savory sweetness enough to swallow it and let it work you from the inside. Or you can return to it bit by  bit, nibble a little, get a different lens on the world by the light of the inner leaves, and infinite procede to sink deeper. Interpretation is miracle, and the greatest miracle of all time is that people believe in miracles in the first place.

            Interpretation, powerful and controlling, is necessary and integral to America, lest we become another India, which has millions of Gods and each year more. We assimilate – one language, one nation, and no God beyond our Oversoul. The American power of assimilation, which yet respect and preserve the democracy of various views, is the greatest intellectual force we have developed, more so than pragmatism, which is merely one light of this, refined by James, but heard as early and earlier then Emerson when he said, “All truth is practical, leads and impels to its embodiment or incarnation in facts and institutions,” yet adds, “Then the best part of it is—not in the fruits or facts, not the profit—but the mind’s part therein” – namely, interpretation: “Tis a lesson we daily learn in conversing with men that it is not so important what the topic or interest is bout which we deawl as is the angle of vision under which the object is seen—that is, that it be seen in wide relationships, seen with what belongs to it near and far, and the larger the mind the larger the truth.” James preserves and telescopes but a part of this insight.

            “The brain is a lens for the soul,” James said, which moves the body by neurons. We might as well say that this life is infinite, that every second, every decision, every twitch of the finger, in this little life, eternally recurs in the infinite dream within, that we came here to learn, and will repeat our lessons infinitely, and yet each time with a modification of interpretation, like the wise sophists who knew how to see the weaker argument stronger.

            Interpretations summarize, and summaries are the only way to abbreviate the world to the size of an apple bite. Internalize the world, ingest and impregnate, and give birth to your own universe. Take it in, and with some salt (salt the symbol of balance, as the salt sea that is the neuronic brain).

            A single sentence if wrought right can by punctuational structure mirror the full work. Likewise, each man is a microcosm of the whole. The fewer differences between men, the more important they are, like the New Mexico Church where eternal hatred broke apart a small church over the mystery of whether Adam had a belly botton or not. However, the greater the differences between men, the more the few similarities must be emphasized.

            All things are readable, all things relatable. All is one, but only if you can metaphorize well. If you simply see ONE with mystical eye, it has done nothing more than a drug trip.

            Thus we say that mankind is obsessed with the story of the terrible infant. Heaven was castrated by Cronus, and Cronus smashed up by Zeus, and Zeus was destined for the same, until he tortured Prometheus – with no results – and finally sent his son to end his suffering.

            Yahweh breathes in the spirit of his father El into Adam, into the mud, as Egyptian gods also loved to do, and thus was conflicted over both a father and a terrible infant in the person of Adam, whom El said “he is my image.” Yahweh threatens death if man learns knowledge, man learns it anyway, God’s bluff is called. Afraid, he sends fire and sword to block the tree of immortality. The greatest consistency of Yahweh is his terror and distrust of man – till he jumps in the mirror sphere to escape. But that is another story.

            We tell the same sort of thing with movies like the Matrix, and hundreds of others, where our terrible infant the machine turns against us. With Frankenstein’s monster, this was coupled with the terrible idea of a man giving birth to a child – a sort of homosexual anamolie, as in the cockatrice, born from a rooster upon a dung hill, who kills everything he looks upon. So too, Frankenstein plays mama, and regrets his success.

            I interpret, I write my words over the face of the creator – by and by I will have her womb, but I wish the words to sink in first, to see how I love her and why.  I butterfly by sexual touch taste a feat of joy in helping others impregnate themselves. For as woman makes a man and unmakes a man – Shivat is a woman presenting as a man – so the butterfly helps all men and women make themselves. For the self made is indistructable. I recall my parody of this make/unmake of woman, when at six years old, unable to punish my mother for punishing me, I drew instead a beautiful picture for her. Presenting it for her admiration, I witheld it at the last minute and before her eyes tore it to pieces. As the government report formally relates: “we tore down your house to make room for the torn down house.”

            All can be read, all things must be continually read, for even language is money, and money is language. The city is a mind, and the soul of the city is her heart. The rhythm of a city is in all her activities, the opening and closing of her stores, the cadence and rhythm of each member. Cities also think, ponder, fight, discuss. I recall falling asleep with a song stuck in my head, and upon waking that same song was there. Following that thread inward, the labyrinth of my dreams became accessible: I had grabbed the sphinx by her tail!

            Everything is everything, that is the secret of our metaphoricity. And some things are more like these than like those. Cooking is self mutilation, and cooking for others is offering your body for consumption. The original transubstantation was the trick of turning grain into bread – one had to put his heart into it.  This takes us back to Nietzsche, with his perspectivisim, which I described aptly in reporting Hawthorne’s democratic perspectivism in the Scarlet Letter. Perhaps an event like 9-11, with the official reports, the yearly vigils, the various conspiracy theories, the celebrating in the streets of the Muslim countries, the thousand patient surplus in mental wards in each state of America – all this together speaks of an event which opens an epoch: the consolidation of all world religions, and the establishment of one world security. That final result comes from the myriads of personal, private, ideosyncratic interpretations.

            It is best if these different view points do not conceded too much to each other. For bridges and relationships alike can be destroyed with the right tone of resonance. A whole nation can go crazy if you sing a certain song in the right key and scale. We must be ready for that, we must go gentle into that good day. Every work, every machine, every activity, has a certain number of effective rhythms, beautiful songs to hum while you perform your work, that will inspire your work, ease the labor, and shine a harmonic charge throughout the world. “The life of the All must stream thorough you for your greatness to shine” said Emerson, America’s son. Well yes – but when you get right down to it, and ask, what exactly does that mean – I doubt if but 10 people since have known.

            So we have both Nietzschean pespectivism and antidemocracy. What does this mean? That is the question I pose. Perhaps I should be more abrupt and rudely obvious?


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