Collapse and Beauty

I am still labouring through Truth and Method, and wonder at how slowly some reading goes, in this case because of the slowness of academia: darkened with the dead-ends of ever-tenacious recent philosophy. Gadamer is dense because of the extent of the work he has done to uncover so many escape routes from the narrow blindness of modern philosophy - and, by extension, thinking in the humanities.
Thought is something I often conceive of as a physical structure, and it would follow that both are particularly revealing where they go wrong (process is then apparent). A review of To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure claims, "bridges have their beauty—but collapsed dams and fallen bridges can be more fun to describe, albeit ghoulish fun". The reviewer then quotes the book: "The best way of achieving lasting success is by more fully understanding failure." He strives for success while admitting failure.
A postmodern mistake is to look for beauty in collapse, reflecting in the wrong places, on Medusa, not her reflection. Lapses, times we fall into error, have the potential to teach us to avoid similar essence, but as things are not what they seem, constructive structures may fall. For example, many are wounded by the masquerade of love and never try to love again.
Medusa's head, once that of a ravishing maiden proud of her hair, was punished into a transfixing ugliness - this woman of writhing movement who stops the motion of those who view her evil-eye (she becomes an amulet, the Gorgoneion). But Medusa becomes a protective force only via Athena, who wears her on her breast, more precisely, her aegis, she of the goatskin windstorm.
In the modern age, man stares at the staring Gorgon, and looks not to Athena's aid. In this way, history - the history of ways of understanding the world - are left to crumble, traded for the single-eyed perspective of the Graeae.
Ruskin explains Athena's slithering aegis as turning men to stone through the outmost, superficial spheres of knowledge (the bitterness, hardness and sorrow separating man from childhood); from imperfect knowledge spring terror, dissension, danger, and disdain. Yet that outward appearance ultimately stems from the perfect strength and peace given by the fully revealed Athena, crowned with olive spray.
To see beyond the hissing mane is perhaps to understand the complication of peace, strength, beauty, turning the horrid back on itself, like in aikido. The essence of the goddess is not compromised by the fact that the badge she wears shows the κακη for what it is: suspended in the mirror of vanity. The horrific shield is of but a decapitated image 'made in Hades.' Athena, not her aegis, rewards reflection. It is not enough to reflect. There is to be discernment as to the roots of constructive meaning. Such lessons dwelt in the past that can release us from vainly gazing at our modernity, paralyzing us by restraining our imagination. To stand together meaningfully across time.



Brush. Magazine.

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