Happy Mediums

The writing mentor I had in my undergrad years encouraged us, at that young and only cockily experienced age, to write from the first person. That has proved to be one of the hardest habits to break: that, and the notion that one is to be intimate with an interlocutor if one expects sincere engagement.
Yesterday in Gadamer, I read, "the focus of subjectivity is a distorting mirror."
He writes so clearly that it is possible to learn about human experience in Truth and Method. His description of Romanticism is the best I have read thus far, and in it, I found an unexpected mirror. Not through subjectivity, but the analysis of belief.
Romanticism, instead of seeking the perfectibility of reason, sought mythical consciousness reflected in a paradisaical prime state before the "fall of thought" - wherein this mythical collective conscious was as abstract as the state of perfect enlightenment and abstract knowledge. Mythical consciousness, he writes, is still knowledge - for example, it knows about divine powers, so that man does not merely tremble before them. By contrast, as per the Enlightenment, the poet - "in the old quarrel between poets and philosophers in the garb of belief in science" does not tell lies because he is incapable of saying something true but has only an aesthetic effect. Except that the Enlightenment's wish as such to overcome all prejudices turns out, itself, to be a prejudice.
What I take from this is what Gadamer argues for: the truth is in both logos and mythos. To argue for exclusivity within one or the other is to be blind to areas where they are mutually implicit. I have added this to the post on academia I wrote yesterday, and edited many times. I am beginning to see how many of my old posts were not clear on this issue, so I may be editing them, or I may leave them to show the distance I've come since starting this blog - initiated to garner conversation, which I have now achieved.
Gadamer also writes about authority, the conferral of which is not based on an abdication or subjection of reason but on an act of acknowledgement and knowledge that the authority is indeed superior. In this way, authority is bestowed, not earned. He explains how the Enlightenment denigrated authority by prejudicially viewing it diametrically opposed to reason and freedom, which he notes is the argument used against totalitarian states today.
Sometimes, we are not to insist on authorities lavishing us with personal attention: we must content ourselves with our own work by consulting the texts that authorities have left us. To truly seek growth means being patient and doing all of the work - sometimes going down the wrong path but not to be discouraged by this - with persistence and belief that we can cultivate understanding. But belief can stand some criticism.

Brush link no longer active. Book in background.

No comments:

Post a Comment