Thursday, December 06, 2007

Attali's Sensualto Guide to Life

Jacques Attali's The Labyrinth in Culture and Society: Pathways to Wisdom (trans. Joseph Rowe, North Atlantic Books, 1999) has something to say about the nomadism of the global elite and those who emulate their lifestyle. (I will likely have more to say about the nomadisms of the imminent future in the more imminent future.) I get the sense that Attali is looking to the labyrinth to make sense of his own not quite sedentary life. One of the things he feels uprooted from is the Enlightenment, which he, unobjectionably it seems to me, associates with an aggrandizement of the straight line. Attali feels that life, the world, time and perhaps being do not move in straight lines. In the first place then his study of the labyrinth is a celebration of the meander, and the philosophy of the meander must be understood as a critical alternative to an inherited metaphysics of straight lines. Attali tells us that "time itself does not flow but is spread out in space with comings and goings, with spirals and blind alleys, and distant proximities as well as illusory distances," and he goes on to say that "nothing is more urgent than the learning of patience and the pleasure of losing oneself, of ruses and detours, dances and games, so as to discover oneself as capable of fashioning one's life as an ironic work of art–before one is able, if ever, to pass on its secret" (p. xxviii).

Sensualto has not previously existed as a word except as a typo. Henceforth it describes a style of movement that meanders or gently wavers, and also a style of warm melismatic singing. It also describes anything suggestive of sensualto forms or gestures, for example, "A sensualto minotaur was engraved on the ewer." As a direction in music it means exactly "softly, with gusto." It connotes sinuosity and masonry. The philosophy of sensualto reveals that it has no end; it's history is labyrinthine and has nothing to do with its origin. For all that, sensualto is frequently unicursal.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:02 AM.


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