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Showing posts from November 19, 2023

The ordinary shipping of the mind

  “But the moon is not to be judged alone by the quantity of light she sends us, but also by her influence on the earth. No thinker can afford to overlook the influence of the moon any more than the astronomer can. " The moon gravitates towards the earth, and the earth reciprocally towards the moon." This statement of the astronomer would be bald and meaningless, if it were not in fact a symbolical expression of the value of all lunar influence on man. Even the astronomer admits that " the notion of the moon's influence on ter restrial things was confirmed by her manifest effect upon the ocean," but is not the poet who walks by night conscious of a tide in his thought which is to be referred to lunar influence, in which the ocean within him over flows its shores and bathes the dry land ?   Has he not his spring-tides and his neap-tides, the former sometimes combining with the winds of heaven to produce those memorable high tides of the calendar which leave thei

Racism, atrocity and the eternal return of the same

  I was raised by white parents in the suburbs in the South in the 60s, when apartheid was beginning to crack. These facts in the background – both the apartheid that made enormous room for white people like my folks in the post-war years and the crumbling of apartheid that allowed Northern businesses to move into the south as it became a more normal part of the country – benefited me. What does it mean then if, as in that moment that Nietzsche scripted in The Gay Science, I “affirm” myself within the universe of eternal returns? It means that I am confronted with the problem of what to do about the injustices, the atrocities, in which I am existentially implicated. I, an old white guy, cannot pretend that I am not part of the universal jelly – my tongue, my way of looking, my taste, my money, my food, all of it is unsegregated, cultural and economic appropriation out my bungus. My strategy is one of critical affirmation, if that makes any sense. This is not just an individual prob

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike

  How many rainy days have I lived through in my life? I’d guesstimate more than 2 thousand. Not days of perpetual cloudburst, which are rare, but days of off and on drippiness, of drizzle and low clouds, of looking out the window and saying, “It’s raining again?” All those days. Yet what do I know about rain? Know, here, is an ambiguous word, reflecting both acquaintance, a poetics of familiarity, and logic, or the science of geography. From the point of view of the latter, rain is an effect of the complex atmospheric system, composed of one form of matter, and in no way organized by its own intelligence or life. The smallest microbe has the advantage of self-organization and reproductive capacity over the largest cyclone. But from the point of view of familiarity, this doesn’t seem right. From my acquaintance with rain, it seems, if not wilful, at least on the order of other non-domestic beasts and plants. It is above all the negative of shelter. Bachelard, in the Poetics of Space, m