When did it begin? When did we depart?

When did it begin? When did humankind depart from the path of thinking wisely instead of glamorously? And easily moving on the margin of faked realities!?
Well, apparently ist was not before 1927-28, the year of the
GIFFORD LECTURES DELIVERED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH BY ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD.
In the book emerging from there:
PROCESS AND REALITY. AN ESSAY IN COSMOLOGY
we read on page 39:
There is no point in endeavouring to force the interpretations of divergent philosophers into a vague agreement. What is important is that the scheme of interpretation here adopted can claim for each of its main positions the express authority of one, or the other, of some supreme master of thought-Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant. But ultimately nothing rests on authority; the final court of appeal is intrinsic reasonableness.
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradi- tion is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the. systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. His personal endowments, his wide opportunities for experience at a great period of civilization, his inheritance of an intellectual tradition not yet stiffened by excessive systematization, have made his writings an inexhaustible mine of suggestion.

May be at some stage then some people thought they can write a new body text, leaving the area of footnotes. Seeing posters, advertising a new Amazon Echo, I was getting curious what this is about – and looking it up here, I read
Amazon had been developing Echo devices inside its Lab126 offices in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts since at least 2010 in confirmed reports.
And I am wondering if they don’t have any better ideas about spending their time there …? Maybe reducing rubbish heaps instead of filling them up?
Sure, you may thoughtfully ask if I do not have anything better to do than commenting on it. – Yes, I do, and yes I can do and think other things – from a lovely lunch with friends, making jokes while going for a walk to tackling more profound questions, actually trying to define questions and problems instead of providing solutions to problems we do not have.
Hey, listen Mr Steve Amazon Gates, but that is exactly the point: creating and duplicating text blocks, and pretending they are more than footnotes to Plato. They are not more, they are just a stupid way of distracting reading the original – even if we are told we can make things our own.
And they are ways of distracting from reality, whitewashing as it was called, photoshopping as it is called.
Without distraction, we may then read in Plato’s Republic:
If the entire soul, then, follows without rebellion the part which loves wisdom, the result is that in general each part can carry out its own function—can be just, in other words—and in particular each is able to enjoy pleasures which are its own, the best, and, as far as possible, the truest. … When one of the other parts takes control, there are two results: it fails to discover its own proper pleasure, and it compels the other parts to pursue a pleasure which is not their own, and not true.
It continues:
In which case, I imagine, the tyrant will be furthest removed from true pleasure – how own proper pleasure – while the king will be the least far removed.
  • We have to add: there and then the king, the ideal king, was understood as philosopher.
  • We have to ‘complete’ from today that the market is our contemporary tyrant.
  • – it is surely worthwhile for everybody to read a bit further, to be ore precise to read what had been written before the quoted conclusion had been made.
So, looking at Plato’s teacher, we may have to accept the following:
Standards of beauty are different in different eras, and in Socrates’s time beauty could easily be measured by the standard of the gods, stately, proportionate sculptures of whom had been adorning the Athenian acropolis since about the time Socrates reached the age of thirty. Good looks and proper bearing were important to a man’s political prospects, for beauty and goodness were linked in the popular imagination. The extant sources agree that Socrates was profoundly ugly, resembling a satyr more than a man—and resembling not at all the statues that turned up later in ancient times and now grace Internet sites and the covers of books. He had wide-set, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass. Socrates let his hair grow long, Spartan-style (even while Athens and Sparta were at war), and went about barefoot and unwashed, carrying a stick and looking arrogant. He didn’t change his clothes but efficiently wore in the daytime what he covered himself with at night. Something was peculiar about his gait as well, sometimes described as a swagger so intimidating that enemy soldiers kept their distance. He was impervious to the effects of alcohol and cold, but this made him an object of suspicion to his fellow soldiers on campaign.
We still speak of them, admiring, criticising and even with this acknowledging their ongoing meaning. We will not know, but may ask: who will really admire, criticise and with this acknowledge Mr Steve, when possibly standing in about 2500 years at some gates that open the way across the amazon.
For my part, I am happy coexist merely as footnote, even as footnote of footnotes – and of course, I am happy when I can help students and scholars a little bit to understand the body texts of humankind and their meaning [for] today.
Annunci

Elite or Common Sense?

It is, sometimes, difficult to draw a line between elitism and common sense. Especially when the elite is just a pretension, a claim that has no legitimate foundation in reality but is established on the pillars of imagined rules of which the validity is only …, the claim of their legitimacy, presumed to be unquestionable. those are claims of conventional wisdom, of which J.K, Galbraith writes

Because familiarity is such an important test of acceptability, the acceptable ideas have great stability. They are highly predictable. It will be convenient to have a name for the ideas which are esteemed at any time for their acceptability, and it should be a term that emphasizes this predictability. I shall refer to these ideas henceforth as the conventional wisdom.

(Galbraith, J.K., 1958: The Affluent Society; London: Hamish Hamilton:6)

‘Religious rites’ as he calls them a page later.

And they could also be seen as rules or hegemonic setting – we believe in them because …, we believe in them as all believe in them. And they are used to misguide the future generations.

The paradox: the elite turns into an ‘un-elite’, not knowing what they are doing but just doing what they don’t know. some time ago I read in an interview with the conductor Philippe Herreweghe the following lines, making me thinking about a strange reversal of elite and common sense we face in today’s algorithm society.

Ich bin beispielsweise der Ansicht, dass Beethoven seine Musik für eine kleine, hochgradig künstlerisch veranlagte Elite komponierte – diese Zuhörerschaft war mit seinen Werken vertraut. Fast alle spielten selbst ein Instrument, häufig auch im kammermusikalischen Rahmen, oder gehörten sogar einem Orchester an, welches diese neue Musik interpretierte. Und genau aus diesem Grund konnten seine Zeitgenossen den etwas später so genannten »armen Beethoven, der von niemandem verstanden wurde«, durchaus sehr gut verstehen. Das Niveau seiner Zuhörerschaft war schlicht und einfach um ein Vielfaches höher, als wir es heutzutage erleben. Heute kann es vorkommen, dass manche Zuschauer begeistert ein Tennismatch verfolgen, ohne dabei die Spielregeln genau zu kennen …

 translated:

For example, I think that Beethoven composed his music for a small, highly artistic elite – this audience was familiar with his works. Almost all played an instrument, often in a chamber music setting, or even belonged to an orchestra, which interpreted this new music. And precisely for this reason, his contemporaries could quite well understand the so-called “poor Beethoven, which was later understood by nobody.” The level of his or her audience was simply a lot higher than we do today. Today it can happen that some spectators enthusiastically follow a Tennismatch without knowing the rules of the game …

(Ich habe mir meine Neugierde bewahrt. Philippe Herreweghe im Gespräch mit Louvres Langevoort/
I kept my curiosity. Philippe Herreweghe in conversation with Louvres Langevoort; in:
Kölner Philharmonie; Das Magazin. Nr. 3; Jul/Aug 2017: page 19; 18/08/2017)
Time to get back then to another common sense – that of asking what the rules are about, demanding to understand and not simply accepting acceptability.

Vie veritable

I was actually looking for the reference to this quote:

“Our life is part folly, part wisdom. Whoever writes about it only reverently and according to the rules leaves out more than half of it.”

A sentence I found in a review of Bakewell’s Montaigne-review. and I failed. But I found huge pleasure in reading Montaigne then, and just a bit for you to look for.

For instance looking at the question of true life – pouvons-nous encore le trouver?

Numbers and what cannot be counted // nombres – et ce qui ne peut être compté

Quel que soit le moment où votre vie s’achève, elle y est toute entière. La valeur de la vie ne réside pas dans la durée, mais dans ce qu’on en a fait. Tel a vécu longtemps qui a pour- tant peu vécu. Accordez-lui toute votre attention pendant qu’elle est en vous. Que vous ayez assez vécu dépend de votre volonté, pas du nombre de vos années. Pensiez-vous ne jamais arriver là où vous alliez sans cesse ? Il n’est pas de chemin qui n’ait d’issue. Et si la compagnie peut vous aider, le monde ne va-t-il pas du même train que vous ?

Montaigne: Essais. Livre Premiere: 116

Feet of Clay

This morning, while walking as I usually do, I have been accompanied by Fontane’s ‘A Summer in London’, the audio-book-version, to my knowledge unfortunately not translated.

In the chapter

Very, le Pays und die »Tönernen Füße« Englands

it says:

At all times, trade made large, but also small: large towards the others, but small in the heart. It buys courage; courage is not its inherent nature – and this is the danger. … Trade has never higher ambitions than its own being and its ultimate condition is – calmness. Hoping for profit and the City of London joins any dynasty.[1]

This morning I arrive in the office, going through the news, one of the headlines:

Dove Slammed for Racist Ad Featuring Black Woman Turning White

Trade wars and slavery …, of course they have new faces …

….

Well, to be added: The Britain Fontane was talking about, exits Europe … one may ask, of course, if Europe didn’t already exit itself.

*******

[1]            Der Handel hat zu allen Zeiten groß gemacht, aber auch klein: groß nach außen hin, aber klein im Herzen. Er kauft den Mut; er hat ihn nicht selbst – und hier liegt die Gefahr. … Der Handel hat nie größte Zwecke als sich selbst, und seine erste Bedingnis ist – die Ruhe. Ein Gewinn in Aussicht gestellt und die City von London geht mit jeder Dynastie.

small print

Sure,elections – and results matter. Still, one may dare to ask how much. Merkel in a speech, opening the recent G20-meeting came back to my mind – you can watch it here. The really interesting part can be found at the and of the video:

I ask the members of the press to leave so that we can start to do our serious work.

Well, that is transparency -masterpiece behind the closed rhombus.

speed …

… the way we seem to live today.

From Alice, Through the looking glass: page 32 f:

Alice looked round her in great surprise. ‘Why, I do believe we’ve been under this tree the whole time! Everything’s just as it was!’

‘Of course it is,’ said the Queen, ‘what would you have it?’

‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else—if  you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’

‘A slow sort of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get some- where else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

Corridors and Fields

It sounds a bit like an empty statement: I like concert halls as much as plenary parliamentary meeting halls, lecture theatres and rooms for seminars and intensive debates.

It fills with so much substance by the sentence Alvin Ailey contended:

I want that everybody understands that dance is not about wind-up-dolls. I am interested in ensemble-dance and human personality – that is the most important. Whet makes it really interesting is when a dancer can reveal something of him- or herself by the dance.

You can turn it as you like, never loosing, though always specifically gaining meaning:

Life is a dance – dance is living – political and learning stages are dance floors – all those theories and political strategies and studies make only sense if they reflect such dialectic that makes the apparent main actors to mere servants, keys opening gates to spaces, more than unlocking doors to corridors – allowing inner beauty to unfold … –

– … so strange, remembering dancing with the European Commissioner and heads of the “DG V”, many years back?

– … so strange remembering dancing with the young cygan woman, many years back? What went wrong that we dance less and less instead of more, and instead of all of us dancing together?

– … so strange, remembering the para from the German Ideology, that is dealing with [overcoming] the division of labour?