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Beauty, presence and transience

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I feel tempted to analytically associate image, presence, and beauty. Images are beautiful, they are beauty itself, combining, for that matter, subjective perception and objective radiation. 
And yet, images are necessarily fugitive (as is exemplified by the digital application Snapchat). ‘Death’ may be an alternative name for the fugacity of the image. The bright minds of creative thinkers and imaginative thinkers are always on the edge of death. 
When I contend that beauty is always fugacious, I do not intend to repeat a cliché. Fugacity is not an accidental characteristic of beauty, it is the essence of beauty itself. Where there is beauty, transience and finitude are illumined; both in the contemplated beautiful ‘object’ and in the contemplating ‘subject’. 
However, ‘transience’ and ‘finitude’ are, in my view, no self-evident, self-explanatory notions; they are expressive of alterity. The passing-away of the moribund highlights beauty, presence, and alterity in one stroke – even more…

Filosofie en poëzie

Een koppig wolkje
Platform voor filosofie en poëzie

Ons initiatief komt voort uit de ontmoeting tussen een aantal dichters, kunstenaars en filosofen. En uit de gedeelde intuïtie dat die ontmoeting het begin zou kunnen zijn van meer. Maar van wat dan precies…? Van een avond in een goed verlichte zaal om te beginnen. Met op het podium een schermutseling tussen poëzie en filosofie misschien? Of een serie geestverruimende gesprekken? Een multimediaal Gesamtkunstwerk? Een wedstrijd op de plastic acht van een racebaan. Iemand dacht aan een koppig wolkje.
Waar de intuïtie heel duidelijk over was: zo’n avond zou ruimte moeten bieden aan de spontaniteit en het onverwachte. De intuïtie wilde vrij spel in plaats van voorspelbaarheid, geen droge lezingenreeks ex cathedra, eerder ontmoetingen, en confrontatie! Voordracht en discussie naast pianomuziek en beeldende kunst. Het musische naast het cerebrale. Uitgangspunt bij dit alles: nieuwsgierigheid naar elkaars werelden.
Sommigen onder ons bleken gef…

Ulysses and the Cyclops

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{This is a pre-publication from Rico Sneller, Into It: Perspectives on Synchronicity, Inspiration, and the Soul, Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2020}


NobodyOne may be reminded here of the infamous Cyclops Polyphemus, who was outsmarted by Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey. The race of the Cyclopes was notorious for its brutality and inhospitality. Reminiscent of Max Picard’s description of Modernity in the previous chapter, one might say that, at least from the Cycloptic perspective, people “treffen aufeinander im Raume ohne Sinn, durch Zufall. Die Menschen sind darum fremd nebeneinander.”[1]We will see shortly that Polyphemus is making a serious mistake by interpreting his meeting with Ulysses as Zufall, mere chance or coincidence.
In the Homeric narrative, Polyphemus had captured Ulysses and his comrades. He promises to swallow them one by one, Ulysses the last. On his turn, Ulysses had made Polyphemus believe that his proper name was Outis (= Nobody). He and his surviving friends finally man…

Suffering as resistance against subliminal enhancement

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‘Suffering’ designates an original, subliminal self-experience of the soul which may surface in limit experiences of conscious awareness. Consciously suffering pain, loss or loneliness actualises primordial suffering which confronts the soul with an original void ‘with which’ it as it were skirmishes (as though this void were an object – which it is not). This primordial suffering aggravates ‘superficial’ sorrow (sit venia verbo) by doubling it with radical despair.
Clearly, this insight is not new; it has been indirectly brought to light by psychoanalysis and existentialist philosophy. My claim, however, partly goes beyond psychoanalytical or existentialist concerns. 
Suffering, I argue, testifies to unconscious resistance against subliminal enhancement (which is my definition of 'death'). I agree with Freud, Sartre or Heidegger when they highlight the despair which exacerbates suffering. But at least Freud and Heidegger cannot do justice to suffering as inverted ecstasy. This …

Death as compression and decompression. James Joyce and Molly Bloom

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A quick glance on James Joyce’s Ulysses, in particular its notorious last chapter which consists of Molly Bloom’s endless, unpunctuated soliloquy, shows that uncontrolled self-reflection repeatedly reminisces death; remarkably often in connection with lovemaking[1]. Not only does Molly Bloom frequently refer to the death of others; for example her youngest son who died as a baby, a tragedy jointly remembered with a lovemaking scene – a scene which ‘embraces’ the burial mention:
we came together when I was watching the two dogs up in her behind in the middle of the naked street that disheartened me altogether I suppose I oughtnt to have buried him in that little woolly jacket I knitted crying as I was but give it to some poor child but I knew well Id never have another our 1st death too it was we were never the same since O Im not going to think myself into the glooms about that any more I wonder why he wouldnt stay the night”. (my italics, RS)
Molly also mentions her own prospective d…

Proust, memory, and death

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In a famous passage, Proust not only comes back to the ground-breaking involuntary memories which paved the way for his entire narrative; remarkably, he connects them with death
“[M]y apprehensions on the subject of my death [mes inquiétudes au sujet de ma mort]”, the narrator says, “had ceased from the moment when I had unconsciously recognised [reconnu inconsciemment] the taste of the little madeleine because at that moment the being that I then had been was an extra-temporal being and in consequence indifferent to the vicissitudes of the future.” 
It seems as if what the narrator calls the ”unconscious recognition” of a past moment in the present for the first time in his life illumines death for the narrator. It does so by removing his worries or uncertainties (inquiétudes). Memory takes away uncertainty, both the uncertainty about “my death” and the “vicissitudes of the future”. My death will no longer belong to the vicissitudes of the future, because my death – one could say – d…

Death as Trauma Processing

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Freud’s disciple Oskar Pfister attributes the condensed life impression which may occur due to the shock experience of imminent death to anti-cathexis; the psyche, Pfister claims, offers consolation by erroneously suggesting that the selection of contemplated experiences make up for a whole life.[1]
To Pfister’s deprecatory account of enhanced recollection at death, I prefer Bergson’s. Bergson