And Still Not Found The Answer

May be it is as simple – perhaps not telling the entire story though at least a major chapter. Tantalus and Eros – Sigmund Freud and his followers first excited us with the analysis of the adversaries, and reached boredom with the exaggeration of such claim to sole representation. The entire life subordinated under the unconsciousness and the fight of these apparently insoluble contradictoriness.

And still, we come across it again and again – and if we are open enough we see it not so much and not primarily as personalities (and the lack) but also and predominantly as matter of social interests, of social patterns reflecting different interests and powers. Sure, the short version is the individual interest against the interest of social interests. The dissoluteness, set free at a stage where people lost any hope, where they draw back from a society which lost the capacity of providing anything: Like the pure lust of the seven young women and three young men, who wanted to escape the black death, left Florence and emerged in the telling of stories, overcoming the restrictions of a society that lost the power over them, positive and negative, supporting and controlling power … .This apparently generic struggle of the two different patterns of control: instinctive acting on one’s feelings, standing in such detrimental way against society can also be seen the other way round: the oppression of individual lust by a society that actually lost control over itself – I quoted earlier Immanuel Kant and his rejection of pure reason.

It may look far-fetched and may still be also reasonable – the pure reason as control of a society that lost any true reason, that lost cognition in a wider sense. This gives another background then for the vendetta of which we learn in Alighieri’s canto 6 of the Purgatorio: two families, Montecchi and Cappelletti, standing against each other and the tension overshadowing the love of a couple that we may consider today as one of the most famous couples in literature: here in the purgatory we find the origin of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare, surely without that we should accuse him of plagiarism, took up a story that originated in Italy – and he took up a topic that went much beyond the love of the couple, went beyond a family feud, reflecting the different patterns, the different leading morals that up to then and thereafter shaped in totally different ways the process of civilisation.

By way of soci(et)al development and personal sensations alike we can see Romanticism as one of the forces taking up the ‘spiritual level’, frequently reappearing and not least carrying with it egocentric notions: like George Gordon Byron: Don Juan of his time, living the lost paradise and making it up for himself, rejecting any claim as it is still brought forward in Milton’s Paradise Lost where we read:

What in me is dark

Illumine, what is low raise and support;

That to the highth of this great Argument

I may assert th’ Eternal Providence,

And justifie the wayes of God to men.

Milton looking for the solution in God (1667), Bryon suggesting the ego as the ultimate solution (in the early 1800s) and today the new romanticism in painting, perhaps a little bit reflecting 19th-century impressionism in the widest sense – from Goya to Cézanne, as a frequent guided tour in the New Pinakotek shows. – But let us not forget the difference. May one see impressionism as a specific reflection of romanticism (though one does not have to follow this interpretation) looking very much for a retreat, whereas today’s romanticism being more an audacious, desperate cry for help of those who lost hope?

And although these romanticisms in their different appearances and meanings are not simply about the too often kitschy love relationships, they find a battleground that expresses the entire story from an unexpected side: finding its one pole in the mariage de convenance and its counter-pole in the emotional devotion – both actually very specific, very different expressions of both: equality and otherworldliness in the here and now. The formal equality of the law, the otherworldliness of an entirely formalised system of pure reason on the one hand – the equality of love, of understanding, going hand in hand with the otherworldliness of absorption by the rapture of blinding affection. – Una poetica della meraviglia as Rudolfo Celletti termed it, bringing together the contradictions in only one tense time. And expressing it in the compositions by Bellini: mellifluous melodies, still absorbing us in permanent tensions.

A ‘timeless’ piece: Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi obviously something that gains its value, its inspiring character not least by being inspiring for so many times.

And We Still Did Not Find The Answer


On Reason and Peace

Something we may have to think about as well when we look at the terrible incidents that happened in Norway the last days – I had been re-reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason while working on defintional issues of law. I found something that is important enough to be thought about, also as matter of thinking about the connection between ‘managerialism’ (as another form of ‘pure reason’) and the (re-)emergence of (here: Christian) fundamentalism and neo-fascism:

Philosophical cognition, accordingly, regards the particular only in the general; mathematical the general in the particular, nay, in the individual. This is done, however, entirely a priori and by means of pure reason, so that, as this individual figure is determined under certain universal conditions of construction, the object of the conception, to which this individual figure corresponds as its schema, must be cogitated as universally determined.

The essential difference of these two modes of cognition consists, therefore, in this formal quality; it does not regard the difference of the matter or objects of both. Those thinkers who aim at distinguishing philosophy from mathematics by asserting that the former has to do with quality merely, and the latter with quantity, have mistaken the effect for the cause. The reason why mathematical cognition can relate only to quantity is to be found in its form alone. For it is the conception of quantities only that is capable of being constructed, that is, presented a priori in intuition; while qualities cannot be given in any other than an empirical intuition. Hence the cognition of qualities by reason is possible only through conceptions. No one can find an intuition which shall correspond to the conception of reality, except in experience; it cannot be presented to the mind a priori and antecedently to the empirical consciousness of a reality. We can form an intuition, by means of the mere conception of it, of a cone, without the aid of experience; but the colour of the cone we cannot know except from experience. I cannot present an intuition of a cause, except in an example which experience offers to me. Besides, philosophy, as well as mathematics, treats of quantities; as, for example, of totality, infinity, and so on. Mathematics, too, treats of the difference of lines and surfaces—as spaces of different quality, of the continuity of extension—as a quality thereof. But, although in such cases they have a common object, the mode in which reason considers that object is very different in philosophy from what it is in mathematics. The former confines itself to the general conceptions; the latter can do nothing with a mere conception, it hastens to intuition. In this intuition it regards the conception in concreto, not empirically, but in an a priori intuition, which it has constructed; and in which, all the results which follow from the general conditions of the construction of the conception are in all cases valid for the object of the constructed conception.

Kant, Immanuel: Critik der Reinen Vernunft; Zweyte hin und wieder verbesserte Auflage; Riga: Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, 1787 (erste Auflage: 1781); Wiesbaden: Insel Verlag: 1956: 614) (I did not check the English translation reproduced here.)

enlightenment too – and the irony of historical un-reason

If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

As wise as it is, it counteracts its own claim of reason and enlightenment: Why are individuals only men?

No, I don’t claim to be better as the master – we are children of our time, caught in the language of the time … – and criticising those times and words may evoke the hope that our own limitations and errors are less bold, less harming, less offending …

Surely Provocative – The Staging of ‘Rusalka’

A Retrospect – surely provocative (and from my side I mean it quite positive) – the staging of ‘Rusalka

by Marin Kušej, part of this year’s Munich Opera Festival.

And joining the guided exhibition on Rusalka – ‘watch and listen’ – the afternoon brought me into a specific mood to take up the provocation.

Generally it is seen and emphasised as a kind of psychodrama, focusing on the incestual rape as such. Surely a serious enough topic.

1901 is the year of the first staging – in Prague. It would take less than 15 years that in that region the first world war would find its point of departure: initiated by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the thrown of Austria-Hungary. Here is not the space to discuss details – as for instance the meaning of initiating the war by the deed of a Yugoslav nationalist. A bit more interesting is that it had been the first war that had been explicitly called world war, thus understood as ‘global’. It took about 13 years from the rape to the war – a ‘bewitched rape’ if one wants: the husband of the witch, with the knowledge of his life, had been the perpetrator. Rusalka became speechless, mute – and debarred: after having been exposed to, touch by a human being the other mermaid did not allow her to return. The division between worlds clear-cut, rigid and becoming more rigid again: the political and more: the economic opening, emerging from the young industrializing, capitalist world smothered by the new nationalism. More and stronger again than before.

– The son of the emperor dead …

Much earlier stood a ‘divine rape’ – the abducted young Europe, taken and raped by Zeus:

According to the Greek myth, Zeus, the Thunder-God residing on the Olympus, in the shape of a bull abducted Europa, the daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor and carried her over the sea to Crete. Agenor sent his sons out to search for their sister. One of them, Kadmos, landed in Greece and was told by the oracle of Delphi that he should wander around, armed with his spear till he reached the cowherd Pelagon in the land of Phokis. He should kill Pelagon – the man of earth, “born to die” – and choose the cow with the sign of the moon on both her flanks and follow her, till she would lie down, with her horns on the ground. On this hill he should kill and sacrifice her to the earth Goddess and then found a big city on this spot, Thebes.

Kadmos followed the oracle and became the founder of Thebes. He married Harmonia, the daughter of Ares, the War God, and Aphrodite (…). It is not clear from the myths whether he killed the moon-cow, obviously his sister Europa, or not. In any case, one does not hear of her again. She, the raped and abducted woman was only the means to lead the warrior and new culture hero into the foreign land and to his greatness.

(Maria Mies: Europe in the Global Economy or the Need to De-Colonize Europe; in: Peter Herrmann (Ed.): Challenges for a Global Welfare System: Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; 1999: 153-171; here: 160 f.)

A ‘divine rape’ – bringing unity: by exclusion and oppression and division. It is in some way the emergence of the world system that finds its roots here – also in some way of ‘the other’. Please note: the other within which is different to the total exclusion: the slave as ‘non-being’, ‘non-human’ gained (though surely not absolutely) a new status: being human and gaining a quasi-citizen status. Of course, all this needs qualification – the US maintained slavery (in historical terms) until recently; the ‘total exclusion’ had not been overcome just by establishing the then new European order …. – but it surely had been a ‘divine rape’ with the major consequence of establishing a new world order.

– The emperor, not yet born, had been conceived.

So far raped individuals, generations to suffer. This reversed: a generation had been raped – it had been a purely secular rape, and one that tried to disguise itself: seductive promises after WWII: reconstruction (sic!) at least in the Western hemisphere, development at least as promise. On the other hand, demon and Lord standing outside: actually already after WWI the emperor had to go – Dr. Franz Matfried had been born; at birth his name had been different: Seine Kaiserliche und Königliche Hoheit Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius, Kaiserlicher Prinz, Erzherzog von Österreich, Königlicher Prinz von Ungarn (His imperial and Royal Highness Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius, imperial prince, archduke of Austria, royal prince of Hungary).

Had he been god or demon? On the other side, the constructed god or demon: communism as danger of becoming real, playing at least as such an important role as incitement: “we” have to be better – we the West, we, the capitalist, now striving for what had been advertised as social market economy and welfare state (somewhat a contradiction in terms as the welfare state had been a child of Mr. Keynes, whereas Ludwig Erhard and Alfred Mueller-Armack had been children of Mr. Smith, their children and grand-children fro instance Mr. Friedman and Mrs. Thatcher.

With latest with the succession of those mentioned just before, the debauchery mutated, became pure self-rape. For some possibly and for a while bearing the virtual pleasure of masturbation on form of consumerism, the success of ‘young-egomaniac professionals’ and masochist self-exposure of a new mannerism oft post-modernist freedom without democracy, without society. After a while – and from the beginning for most people a real self-exploitation: alienation, loss of confidence and moreover: loss of any foundation on which confidence could be erected. ‘There is no such thing as society …

In analytical terms surely not entirely wrong …

 – The emperor, chased out of office after WWII … – his son is buried now, and hopefully his spirit left.

Rusalka – A Lyric Fairy-Tale. Let us be that … – a provocation in its positive sense, encouraging to a new Kandinsky, a new Composition V.

Sure, much can be discussed on Kandinsky, the Blue rider and The Almanac and the transcendence (actually I did this today during a couple of hours in the Sammlung Schack attending a course. But equally sure is the need of courage to look in a constructive way forward rather than moaning about past and presence.

Friday, after the afternoon’s exhibition I talked on the way back to the guide – she asked me what I am doing – I told her a bit about this and that: economics, law, social policy and occasionally traveling  a bit here and there. “Such a variety. And then you still go to such an exhibition -make such a distinct step into an entirely different world …” – Not really though it looks at first glance – it allows me to look upon the forest – the vast area and array – and I step back then into the forrest, its different parts, touching the single trees. Don’t believe if anybody wants to tell you: “You cannot have it all.” It is the other way round: You cannot have one only, without taking all, without delving into the entirety.

Yes, she asked me what I am doing – the shorter answer: just enjoying life of work – just working through life ….

Human Rights – Law and Economy

But I wouldn’t start from here … – Contribution to Theorising Human Rights

Indeed, it is easy to say what we frequently suggest as solution to some of the problems – the Irish way: “But I wouldn’t start from here!” And indeed, it seems to be a simple thing, just starting from somewhere else and going a smooth part, just forward. The one thing is, of course, that we frequently do not really have a choice: we are just thrown into something, 18th Brumaire: history as nightmare, made by us but under conditions we find, that out of reach for us. But for the sake of truth, don’t we have to admit that we don’t think much about from where we start – not taking account of the variety of options as conceptualised by way of a counter-reality by Musil in his  “Mann ohne Eigenshaften” (“The Man without Qualities”)?

Human Rights – Law and Economy

is the title I gave to a public lecture I had been invited to give in the series of lectures at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, a lecture which is part of my stay in Munich – generously supported by the MPI (and giving work-opportunities in the library that are tempting to stay there over night) – will present some of the tentative results of the on-going research. The aim is to see the connection between Human Rights (legislation) and economy not in terms of the need to strive for just distribution of the wealth of this planet. Rather, at the core of the work are conceptual considerations. Sure, it is correct to say Human Rights begin at the breakfast table, the need to avail of sufficient resources for everybody. But we should not forget that the greatest ‘injustice’ is a system that can claim justice on the formal level. Although this is an underlying topic of the current research – and the presentation – at its heart stands the question of different modes of production and the way in which this has repercussions in the reflection on human rights and vice versa: in which way human rights perspective may impact on developments of the mode of production.

On a very pragmatic and really trivial level, working here again for a while, one has to strive with the every day’s decision from where to start: the library, the desk work (including the need to do the homework, following from teaching in Finland, Hungary and Ireland) or with meeting colleagues for shoptalk or simply for gossiping.

For those who like arithmetic problems: calculating the environmental meaning of a law … ;-)

Recently somebody, i.e. a surely historically meaningful figure passed away – his name at birth reads as follows: Seine Kaiserliche und Königliche Hoheit Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius, Kaiserlicher Prinz, Erzherzog von Österreich, Königlicher Prinz von Ungarn (His imperial and Royal Highness Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius, imperial prince, archduke of Austria, royal prince of Hungary). There is some evidence from Historical Research by Andrea Maria Dusl, an Austrian multiple expert, writing for Falter, giving evidence to the fact that the actual and final name of this person had been Dr. Franz Matfried. This subsequently follows from the following: the Austrian ‘law abolishing nobility’ did not allow further use of any titles and reference like this. Also: The Habsburigan root actually died off in 1740; Lorraine had been governed by the house of Châtenois, bearing since 795 the family name ‘Die Matfriede’, thus the name Dr. Franz Matfried. [Franz recently spoiled a little bit my lunch here in town – well, his last visit in town (i.e. currently Munich) meant that I had to make a change in my lunch plan as if the world would not be turbulent enough without such things]. Anyway, the arithmetic problem now: The name at birth (German version) has 225 characters (incl. spaces), the final name has 18. Calculate the meaning of the environmental of the Austrian law abolishing nobility under the condition that the person in question would have signed just two letters per day during his adult time.

Science and Truth

Ed elli a me: “Ritorna a tua scïenza,

che vuol, quanto la cosa è più perfetta,

più senta il bene, e così la doglienza.

Tutto che questa gente maladetta

in vera perfezion già mai non vada,

di là più che di qua essere aspetta.”


And he replied: ‘Return to your science,

which has it that, in measure of a thing’s perfection,

it feels both more of pleasure and of pain.

‘Although these accursèd people

will never come to true perfection,

they will be nearer it than they are now.’

(From Dante’s Inferno, scene VI)

But should these people walk each on his/her alone – ON THEIR OWN? True knowledge is only knowledge owned by all – and can only emerge from collective and cooperative endeavour.