Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blues Face

At the risk of veering off into something that's not quite philosophy I must forward the argument that the ultimate dimension which makes the world intelligible is provided by the face of the Beloved, understood as a person. Concomitantly, irreplacability of the singular face rather than the reversibility of relationship to the world characterizes the drama of existence. It must be acknowledged that not everybody knows the Beloved, or any beloved of any kind. Existence on this planet is such that faces may become strange and even horrible and still possess the semblance of being faces, appearing to possess the power, even in shock and pain, of calling upon an ethical, indeed a loving relation. Are we dealing with masks or faces, persons or persons? If faces change, how do we know which face is deepest or truest? Is it a question of which face calls for love? How do we recognize the beloveds of this earth?


In one aspect the problem of the world of the face has everything to do with persons (personae). It is the face who speaks, the face who expresses, and the manifestation of the face within the visible is only this inchoate power of dramatic expression. The face is always on the verge of saying something. But why should that something be "love me" much less "I love you"? What does the inchoate have to do with love? We risk confusing what we wish the face would say with what the face means stripped of our narcissisms—is this, though, realistic, this stripping away of narcissism from reality? Quite possibly it is. Somehow we find ourselves taking responsibility for faces as if we could love them in spite of any realities to the contrary, in spite of other feelings that more or less directly contradict love. Does the world laugh at the sense of responsibility engendered by the face of the beloved? Only love would allow such a stupidity as responsibility for an other to be tolerated, and if love didn't enable such stupidities it wouldn't be love. It should be of the utmost concern to philosophy to know whether the absence of love indicates something like a hard, cold reality or, rather, something like the blues.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:46 PM.

11 Comments:

Blogger Dylan Trigg said...

"It should be of the utmost concern to philosophy to know whether the absence of love indicates something like a hard, cold reality or, rather, something like the blues." Quite. A very lovely post, thank you.

I am digesting your question regarding the deepest and truest face. Which face? Yes. The face that is inscribed in our memories or the face one stands before? And what happens when a face becomes strange - does love "fall" from a state of unity? Does that then have rippling effect with the world as a whole? The answer is clearly yes. The desires that augment our experience of reality reach their apotheosis in the face of the beloved. A whole life-world is in the face.

I suppose the question could be thought in musical terms. The symphony is the world, Mahler says correctly. And the symphony is also pure narcissism - a world, but a world alongside another world. An experience of oneself in the world, already in the world. What is the world prior to the symphony in Mahlerian terms - cold, brutal, indifferent? I don't know, that requires a return to a world that is strange to conceive in abstraction.

October 21, 2009 2:08 PM  
OpenID kvond said...

On this issue you may find interesting Nicholas de Cusa's mediations that stem from his gazing at the face of an Icon image, what is calls the "Face of faces":

"0 Lord my God, the longer I behold Your Face, the more acutely You
seem to me to cast the acute gaze of Your eyes upon me. Now, Your
gaze causes me to reflect upon the following: that the reason this image
of Your Face is depicted in the foregoing perceptible way is that a face
could not have been painted without color and that color does not exist
apart from quantity. But the invisible Truth of Your Face I see not with
the bodily eyes which look at this icon of You but with mental and
intellectual eyes. This Truth is signified by this contracted shadow-like
image.22 But Your true Face is free of all contraction. For it is neither
quantitative nor qualitative nor temporal nor spatial. For it is Absolute
Form, which is also the Face of faces.

- Chapter 6, The Vision of God

Here is the pdf, chapter 6 is where it gets interesting: http://cla.umn.edu/sites/jhopkins/dialecticalmysticismq(1).pdf

October 21, 2009 3:09 PM  
Blogger amarilla said...

A true absence of love is a rare thing, I think, but distortions and maladaptions of it are common, and its atrophied anatomy wreaks havoc on the world.

October 22, 2009 5:51 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

You all raise good points. I am particularly interested in music's capacity to be a world, which is perhaps not unrelated to the power of the face. Dylan, have you ever run across Schutz's idea of "growing old together," i.e. intersubjective or esp. consociative attunement, through music? I almost feel as if the narcissistic aspect of enjoying music could only ever be one side of a coin--a thoroughly necessary side if we are to understand enjoyment of music, or life, but only one side, the other side of which is the consociative and its reverberations.

Kvond, I feel a need to stop just short of the ineffable, to listen for the voice in another manner of speaking, to see the face for its thusness, such as that might be. But the Face of faces, or more really the problem of form that could stand for, certainly occupies my thoughts.

I'm so maladapted it's not even funny. Havoc must be my middle name. I say I'm so maladapted it's not even funny. Havoc's my middle name. I ain't going to finish that rhyme for fear of hurting someone's feelings.

October 23, 2009 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Mikhail Emelianov said...

Fido, sorry to use this comment box - I cannot for the life of me remember that book we both read about listening habits and opera and how it was appropriate to talk during opera and then slowly it became a no-no. Do you remember that book? It had a word "listening" in the title I think...

October 30, 2009 10:22 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Listening in Paris: A Cultural History, by James H. Johnson. Hi, Mikhail.

October 30, 2009 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Mikhail Emelianov said...

Awesome - thanks a lot! How's life in general these days?

November 02, 2009 8:32 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Life in general is I feel anxiety about becoming a mentally ill homeless person, off medication, with only hallucinations to insulate me against a cruel world. On the bright side I'm temporarily escaping into music, playing like mad and actually improving. There's a constant flow of music in my head. It's comforting and exciting at once.

November 03, 2009 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Mikhail Emelianov said...

No shit, well I hope that things look up for you - music is indeed one of the constants for me as well, I think I'd rather go blind than deaf...

November 03, 2009 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why homeless, or 'off medication'? Are either of these things very likely or necessary? I just get anxious 'in general' which I'm told by some well meaning people is not worth the trouble.

November 04, 2009 11:15 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Homeless and off medication because I don't have an income to pay for those things. It's not an irrational concern, though there are other possible outcomes.

November 04, 2009 4:15 PM  

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