Log24

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday December 16, 2007

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:09 PM
 
Mad Phaedrus
Meets Mad Ezra

 

"Plato's Good was a fixed and eternal and unmoving Idea, whereas for the rhetoricians it was not an Idea at all. The Good was not a form of reality. It was reality itself, ever changing, ultimately unknowable in any kind of fixed, rigid way." –Phaedrus in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This apparent conflict between eternity and time, fixity and motion, permanence and change, is resolved by the philosophy of the I Ching and by the Imagism of Ezra Pound.  Consider, for example, the image of The Well

as discussed here on All Saints' Day 2003 and in the previous entry.

As background, consider the following remarks of James Hillman in "Egalitarian Typologies Versus the Perception of the Unique," Part  III: Persons as Images
 

"To conceive images as static is to forget that they are numens that move.  Charles Olson, a later poet in this tradition, said:  'One perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception… always, always one perception must must must move instanter, on another.' 80  Remember Lavater and his insistence on instantaneity for reading the facial image.  This is a kind of movement that is not narrational, and the Imagists had no place for narrative.  'Indeed the great poems to come after the Imagist period– Eliot’s The Waste Land and Four Quartets; Pound’s Cantos; Williams’s Paterson– contain no defining narrative.' 81  The kind of movement Olson urges is an inward deepening of the image, an in-sighting of the superimposed levels of significance within it. 82  This is the very mode that Jung suggested for grasping dreams– not as a sequence in time, but as revolving around a nodal complex.  If dreams, then why not the dreamers.  We too are not only a sequence in time, a process of individuation. We are also each an image of individuality."

80  The New American Poetry (D. M. Allen, ed.) N.Y.: Evergreen, Grove, 1960, pp. 387-88. from Jones, p. 42.

81  Jones,* p. 40.

82  H. D. later turned narration itself into image by writing a novel in which the stories were "compounded like faces seen one on top of another," or as she says "superimposed on one another like a stack of photographic negatives" (Jones, p. 42).  Cf. Berry,** p. 63: "An image is simultaneous. No part precedes or causes another part, although all parts are involved with each other… We might imagine the dream as a series of superimpositions, each event adding texture and thickening to the rest."

    * Imagist Poetry (Peter Jones, ed.) London: Penguin, 1972

    ** The contrast between image simultaneity and narrative succession, and the different psychological effects of the two modes, is developed by Patricia Berry, "An Approach to the Dream," Spring 1974 (N. Y./Zürich: Spring Publ.), pp. 63, 68-71

Hillman also says that

"Jung’s 'complex' and Pound's definition of Image and Lavater's 'whole heap of images, thoughts, sensations, all at once' are all remarkably similar.  Pound calls an Image, 'that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time'… 'the Image is more than an Idea.  It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy'… 'a Vortex, from which and through which, and into which, ideas are constantly rushing.' 79 Thus the movement, the dynamics, are within the complex and not only between complexes, as tensions of opposites told about in narrational sequences, stories that require arbitrary syntactical connectives which are unnecessary for reading an image where all is given at once."

79  These definitions of Image by Pound come from his various writings and can all be found in Jones, pp. 32-41.  Further on complex and image, see J. B. Harmer, Victory in Limbo: Imagism 1908-17, London: Secker & Warburg, 1975, pp. 164-68.

These remarks may help the reader to identify with Ada during her well-viewing in Cold Mountain (previous entry):

"She was dazzled by light and shade, by the confusing duplication of reflections and of frames. All coming from too many directions for the mind to take account of. The various images bounced against each other until she felt a desperate vertigo…."

If such complexity can be suggested by Hexagram 48, The Well, alone, consider the effect of the "cluster of fused ideas… endowed with energy" that is the entire 64-hexagram I Ching.

Related material:St. Augustine's Day 2006

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday December 14, 2007

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 AM
“Well, it changes.”

Nicole Kidman at a press conference
for the London premiere of
“The Golden Compass” on November 27:

Nicole Kidman'-- kittens and tiger

A related Log24 link from
that same date, November 27:

Deep Beauty

See also Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance

“Plato hadn’t tried to destroy areté. He had encapsulated it; made a permanent, fixed Idea out of it; had converted it to a rigid, immobile Immortal Truth. He made areté the Good, the highest form, the highest Idea of all. It was subordinate only to Truth itself, in a synthesis of all that had gone before.That was why the Quality that Phaedrus had arrived at in the classroom had seemed so close to Plato’s Good. Plato’s Good was taken from the rhetoricians. Phaedrus searched, but could find no previous cosmologists who had talked about the Good. That was from the Sophists. The difference was that Plato’s Good was a fixed and eternal and unmoving Idea, whereas for the rhetoricians it was not an Idea at all. The Good was not a form of reality. It was reality itself, ever changing, ultimately unknowable in any kind of fixed, rigid way.”

— as well as Cold Mountain 

Page 48: “It’s claimed that if
you take a mirror and look
backwards into a well, you’ll
see your future down in the water.”

“So in short order Ada found herself bent backward over the mossy well lip, canted in a pose with little to recommend it in the way of dignity or comfort, back arched, hips forward, legs spraddled for balance.  She held a hand mirror above her face, angled to catch the surface of the water below.

Ada had agreed to the well-viewing as a variety of experiment in local custom and as a tonic for her gloom. Her thoughts had been broody and morbid and excessively retrospective for so long that she welcomed the chance to run counter to that flow, to cast forward and think about the future, even though she expected to see nothing but water at the bottom of the well.

She shifted her feet to find better grip on the packed dirt of the yard and then tried to look into the mirror.  The white sky above was skimmed over with backlit haze, bright as a pearl or as a silver mirror itself.  The dark foliage of oaks all around the edges framed the sky, duplicating the wooden frame of the mirror into which Ada peered, examining its picture of the well depths behind her to see what might lie ahead in her life. The bright round of well water at the end of the black shaft was another mirror.  It cast back the shine of sky and was furred around the edges here and there with sprigs of fern growing between stones.

Ada tried to focus her attention on the hand mirror, but the bright sky beyond kept drawing her eye away.  She was dazzled by light and shade, by the confusing duplication of reflections and of frames. All coming from too many directions for the mind to take account of. The various images bounced against each other until she felt a desperate vertigo, as if she could at any moment pitch backward and plunge head first down the well shaft and drown there, the sky far above her, her last vision but a bright circle set in the dark, no bigger than a full moon.

Her head spun and she reached with her free hand and held to the stonework of the well.  And then just for a moment things steadied, and there indeed seemed to be a picture in the mirror.”

— and Log24 on December 3 —

I Ching Hexagram 48: The Well
The above Chinese character
stands for Hexagram 48, “The Well.”
For further details, click on the well.

Powered by WordPress