“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, September 07, 2009

a traveller in a wood

Both Gilles Deleuze and Stephen Gould had trouble with structures that were perfectly tree-like. The central trunk of a theme, and then subsidiary branches, diminishing towards the top. Gould objected to the old tree of evolution, which put man on the very top of the tree (although his superiority consisted in coming down from the tree altogether – and yet, in dreams, yes, he wants to be at the top). Deleuze objected to universal history erecting its tree on every shore of every ocean, Europe, or the West, on top, encouraging the other branches to follow – and in the meantime, boosting their fruit. Such were the problematic trees.

Of course, both wrote in the shadow of the flaming Christmas trees, Yggdrasil, of the great echt deutsch Christmases remembered by Sebald, ah the advent calendars with the pictures of ss men, ah the chocolate swastiksa, the address by Rudolf Hoess with the family gathered around the tree, all hope and purity upon which were hung, as ornaments, the fates of the peoples, Jews, Gypsies, Ukranians, Serbs, burning away until Goethe’s death cry rang out – more light! – and so it was, so it was, trees of flame lighting up all the cities, Hamburg, Hannover, Leipzig, Dresden, all must celebrate Christmas and the tree, all must be part of the communal ash, all must sacrifice. Gunter Grass knew what he was doing when he made Santa the Gasman in the Tin Drum.

Still – the human limit is arboreal. Two trees stand in this wood – the tree of happiness and the tree of this world. Branch enjambs with branch. By 1815, the planting is dome. Comes the growing.

And me, the chronicler of this two tree forest that grows over the face of the world – I’ve gone from trunk to branch and root to twig, tree drunk, sap blessed. As the artificial paradise is laid down (and what is paradise without the tree?), those in the branches experience the most curious feeling of ilinx – as though the world were not under the trees at all, but somewhere in a crook of the branches. This is the effect of the artificial paradise, and it is compared by all who resist it – from Marx to Tolstoy to G.B. Shaw, among so many others – to intoxication, vertigo, opium poisoning.

I have a long way to go. The branches are so thickly clustered that I can’t see the stars.


northanger said...

you smushed together a lot of stuff in here. is this a tree?

northanger said...

reason i ask is some think some of this is aligned with stars.

roger said...

Ah,North, you riddler you. Well here'a s riddle back. What are we to make of this tree?

"Lord Krishna said: The universe (or human body) may be compared to an eternal tree that has its origin (or root) in the Supreme Being and its branches below in the cosmos. The Vedic hymns are the leaves of this tree. One who understands this tree is a knower of the Vedas. (15.01)

The branches of this eternal tree are spread all over the cosmos. The tree is nourished by the energy of material Nature; sense pleasures are its sprouts; and its roots of ego and desires stretch below in the human world causing Karmic bondage."

northanger said...

i knew it was a tree! thanks!

Anonymous said...

LI, well I can't resist quoting this:

...Les Français semblent des guenons qui vont grimpant contremont un arbre, de branche en branche, et ne cessent d'aller jusques à ce qu'elles sont arrivées à la plus haute branche, et y montrent le cul quand elles y sont.

Montaigne, Essais, II, ch. XVII