Log24

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unity and Multiplicity

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM

Continued from Crimson Walpurgisnacht.

EpigraphsTwo quotations from  
Shakespeare's Birthday last year

Rebecca Goldstein
   on first encountering Plato
 

"I was reading Durant's section on Plato, struggling to understand his theory of the ideal Forms that lay in inviolable perfection out beyond the phantasmagoria. (That was the first, and I think the last, time that I encountered that word.)"

Screenwriter Joan Didion

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience."

From Thomas Mann, "Schopenhauer," 1938, in Essays of Three Decades , translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter, Alfred A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 372-410—

Page 372: THE PLEASURE we take in a metaphysical system, the gratification purveyed by the intellectual organization of the world into a closely reasoned, complete, and balanced structure of thought, is always of a pre-eminently aesthetic kind. It flows from the same source as the joy, the high and ever happy satisfaction we get from art, with its power to shape and order its material, to sort out life's manifold confusions so as to give us a clear and general view.

Truth and beauty must always be referred the one to the other. Each by itself, without the support given by the other, remains a very fluctuating value. Beauty that has not truth on its side and cannot have reference to it, does not live in it and through it, would be an empty chimera— and "What is truth?"

….

Page 376: … the life of Plato was a very great event in the history of the human spirit; and first of all it was a scientific and a moral event. Everyone feels that something profoundly moral attaches to this elevation of the ideal as the only actual, above the ephemeralness and multiplicity of the phenomenal, this devaluation  of the senses to the advantage of the spirit, of the temporal to the advantage of the eternal— quite in the spirit of the Christianity that came after it. For in a way the transitory phenomenon, and the sensual attaching to it, are put thereby into a state of sin: he alone finds truth and salvation who turns his face to the eternal. From this point of view Plato's philosophy exhibits the connection between science and ascetic morality.

But it exhibits another relationship: that with the world of art. According to such a philosophy time itself is merely the partial and piecemeal view which an individual holds of ideas— the latter, being outside time, are thus eternal. "Time"— so runs a beautiful phrase of Plato— "is the moving image of eternity." And so this pre-Christian, already Christian doctrine, with all its ascetic wisdom, possesses on the other hand extraordinary charm of a sensuous and creative kind; for a conception of the world as a colourful and moving phantasmagoria of pictures, which are transparencies for the ideal and the spiritual, eminently savours of the world of art, and through it the artist, as it were, first comes into his own.

From last night's online NY Times  obituaries index—

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11A/110503-NYTobits.jpg

"How much story do you want?" — George Balanchine

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