Saturday, December 17, 2011

Now but not Next


He knew that his immediate obligation was to sleep.

It does matter that the photograph be held

In an outmoded cardboard sleeve

Now defunct but held, gently

Together by the slightest of paper sleeve frame memory

This memory, which at first calmed him, ended by tormenting him. He feared lest his son should meditate on this abnormal privilege and by some means find out he was a mere simulacrum. Not to be a man, to be a projection of another man's dreams--what an incomparable humiliation, what madness!

These dual projections, your language peeled away from mine, wear away at the bridge

Held together on my face, still—in blindness.


Each projection, then, becomes the invisible mirror

On which we may place our own regrets

Without waiting for the reflection to adhere to the surface

His victory and peace became blurred with boredom. In the twilight times of dusk and dawn, he would prostrate himself before the stone figure, perhaps imagining his unreal son carrying out identical rites in other circular ruins downstream; at night he no longer dreamed, or dreamed as any man does.

The images flow automatically; the pictures follow each other now waiting

Because it does matter how the old machine holds

The ring in place—gently giving one after the next resting

Like a lens.


Every night he perceived it more clearly. He did not touch it; he only permitted himself to witness it, to observe it, and occasionally to rectify it with a glance.

This time (the last time?) I place this without writing – with another type of script. This will follow in the form of a block, in a heap. I can picture it now—two projectors held together in proximity, in their epoch through their creator. These water stains do not diminish the fading we remember through the polarity of vision. This is because we want to understand these images. The succession of pictures held together in light, close to the lens and read through pairs of reflections of frames of sequence.

These are the ways we use the apparatus. We see the machine for what it is worth. We listen to him read his own stories. How does he (in blindness?) read his own stories? Are the glasses comforting even though they do not “work”? Can the labyrinth of mirrored images fix the misunderstanding? Maybe the labyrinth itself is simply a misunderstanding?

The pictures are held together by sympathy. Light held together by image of place. Have they been repeated now? Because of the dream of an explanation. The story offered by the lens.

The envelope holds the secret. The secret is revealed in succession. The projection breaks the rule of the secret. The picture burns its memory into the mirror of the past. We traced through many of these machines. They work for as long as they can; as long as they might. Without the power of the secret we trace the legacy of these machines.

The lens does not force the time to adhere to the present—to mark our moment by stopping. Only the creator of this tree knows this to be true. We tried this in pairs: right and left, eyeglass and binoculars, earth and sky, hand in hand machine and machine, sound and image, noise and machine, light glow murmur mirror and hum.

Dedicated to the memory of Matt Hanner—passages in italics are taken from “The Circular Ruins” by Jorge Luis Borges

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On the Nature of the Deictic (Why I Write Such Good Books) The time for me hasn't come yet: some are born posthumously. --Nietzsche Installation 2011 Light fixtures, power cords, latex, spray paint, potatoes, salt, radio, casket, flour, shirt, hanger, ladder, bricks and dirt

Sunday, September 11, 2011

11 September 2011

In the year of his seventieth birthday, Jean-Luc Godard remarked that he considered himself to be a failure in the cinema because he was not able to prevent Steven Spielberg from making his film Schindler’s List. And we would be wise to recognize just what Godard might have wanted to block if he had been given the opportunity. In the wake of the horrifying tragedy witnessed on September 11, 2001, it seems trivial to quarrel with cinematic style or taste but the questions go much deeper. Adorno’s reminder of the reasonableness that “to write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” is most appropriate in light of these questions. To mark the day the of the World Trade Center bombings as the day when art making became irrelevant is to trivialize both art and the tragic events of that day. Primarily, the end of art from that day forward acts as refutation both of history and the history of art. As atrocious as these terrorist events may have been, they are merely additions to the long list of barbarous acts perpetrated by man against his fellows. And it has been, and remains to be, the purpose of art to remember the tragedies of our collective past and resist the forces that attempt to perpetuate them. Not in the form of a bleak humanism that merely represents a forgotten past and soothes our consciences, but, in the form of an aggressive art that challenges, resists and reformulates the social and linguistic structures which seek to dominate humans through violence and economic control. The wreckage of the past cannot be adequately represented by a compliant art in the face of the radical evil of everyday existence.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What does a post card want to say to you? On what conditions is it possible? Its destination traverses you, you no longer know who you are. At the very instant when from its address it interpellates, you, uniquely you, instead of reaching you it divides you or sets you aside, occasionally overlooks you. And you love and you do not love, it makes of you what you wish, it takes you, it leave you, it gives you.

My contribution to this exhibition, ghost writing, 2005 was made for the circumstances and situation found in the Durand Art Institute at Lake Forest College. The context of the piece is the dual function of the building as home to both the art and philosophy departments and the distance and location of the college in relation to Chicago. The piece is not a presentation of objects / not a container for objects nor a finished activity. The piece is instead an event, a situation—a place for an activity to take place. ghost writing uses the idea of mail and its transportation as an opportunity to interrogate the idea of art and our understanding of distance, language, presence and transparency. The piece takes as its initiating moments two work s of modern philosophical thought: “The Origin of the Work of Art” (an essay based on lectures given by Martin Heidegger in the mid 1930’s) and The Post Card by Jacques Derrida (1980) The piece does not summarize, explain, delineate or justify either of these two works. It is not “inspired” by them. Rather, it is an attempt to have them “playing in the background” as one moves through the idea of an action observed in motion against a moment of disjuncture produced by overlaying one text over another. Into and through the interrogation of the nature of communication embodied in the post card is the transposition of the American image of peasant shoes found in Walker Evans for the shoes painted by Van Gogh in the Heidegger essay. The work involved in ghost writing is the work of displacement—the shift from reading to believing. The work tempts participation, invites commitment but evades investigation. it is not an “effort” or an idea, merely a gesture.

Works of art are familiar to everyone. Architectural and sculptural works can be seen installed in public places, in churches, and in dwellings. Art works of the most diverse periods and peoples are housed in collections and exhibitions. If we consider the works in their untouched actuality and do not deceive ourselves, the result is that the works are as naturally present as are things. The picture hangs on the wall like a rifle or a hat. A painting, e.g., the one by Van Gogh that represents a pair of peasant shoes, travels from one exhibition to another. Works of art are shipped like coal from the Ruhr and logs from the Black Forest. During the First World War Holderlin's hymns were packed in the soldier's knapsack together with cleaning gear. Beethoven's quartets lie in the storerooms of the publishing house like potatoes in a cellar.

So, I will accept your gift. As one always has gratitude for that which is given freely, the gift appears as a blessing. Particularly when the gift is created explicitly for the receiver. On some occasions, the receiver of the gift is asked to comment or directly reflect on the specific qualities of the gift. But an exchange cannot be easily broken, or entered into without difficulty. They should not be taken apart. The only real product of the exchange is further exchange—the deeds producing deeds, words, acts of filiation and future refinement. The gift becomes endless commentary, interpretation and a beneficial thinking. A beneficent momentary challenge for a future—a promise fulfilled in the future of a future. The blessing of thinking is in its return. Thinking becomes thanking in the exchange. We will realize this promise in the agreement not to mend a future which has not occurred. This is because the occurrence happens only once and is never repeated the same way again. Two halves of the same variable equal size and proportion balance each other in mirror relations—one sequence overheard in secret and the other foretold by the grace of language.

This will then have been a gilded writing. Recording that which had not happened until that suggestion of the first meeting with that unforsaken last. Let’s retrace our steps and decide which line wraps most closely around the farthest reaches of the area. It was white flags out and red flags returning, correct? If only for a moment, you had to have been there, to see me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

“This is wreckage,” writes Stephen Lapthisophon toward the beginning of Writing Art Cinema: 1988-2010. “These fragments I have shored up against my ruins,” wrote T.S. Eliot toward the very end of The Waste Land. I can’t help but think that if Eliot lived in our age, an age when text is image, an age of textimagesound, he might have made art like Stephen’s and Jesse’s: elusive, fragmentary, elliptical. I am not at all certain that the library can be unpacked. Or, rather, that Unpacking My Library can be unpacked, at least in the sense of explaining it. In “Unpacking My Library,” the essay by Walter Benjamin to which this video alludes, Benjamin identifies himself “as a genuine collector” who appears to speak of his books, but who “on closer scrutiny … proves to be speaking only about himself.” The genuine collector of this film, a collector of books but also sounds and images, speaks of everything but himself: stark images of empty, open, dilapidation; bare light bulbs, unilluminated; unplugged power cords coming in and out of focus; shadows of tree branches on closed blinds, wafting in the wind, looking like a Franz Kline canvas come alive; Martin Heidegger; the this and that of everyday life given the attention it merits but rarely gets — a corrugated fence, an upside-down garbage can. We see hands and feet and finally, one assumes, Stephen and Jesse, but blurred in dirty mirrors. No, these collectors are not speaking only of themselves. Nor for themselves. And yet they are spoken for, by sounds and images. As if they and we stand mute, hoping what we’ve collected can speak for us. For whom do the automated and human readings of Derrida’s Of Hospitality speak? We are welcomed to the disorder and order we see, but by whom? Who is our host? And what norms govern our behavior as guests? Bergson’s Matter and Memory bids us to “choos[e] the key in which our own intellect is called upon to play” — but how to choose? Does anything guide our choices and render them coherent? Among the keys offered us are Dionne Warkwick singing “Walk On By,” the opening dialogue from Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, the glorious cacophony of Goddard’s Week End, Auden’s “Old People’s Home” with remembers “when week-end visits were a presumptive joy,” Sonic Youth, the weaving saxophone from Bernard Hermann’s score for Taxi Driver, a history of modern American painting and architecture, the sound of the wind, a train crossing, a carillon playing a forgotten hymn, foreign language lessons (will the lost or stolen travel bag be recovered?). And yet one does not feel lost, anchored perhaps by fragments of imagetextsound, each of which, to borrow from Auden, “has [its] own nuance of damage.” Though much of the space the film inhabits looks like a war zone, it is far from clear that the video endorses Fuller’s analogizing a film to a battleground.
And the books. Of course, the books. Their titles remain a mystery: the camera pans across the shelves, but the spines are out of focus. I can pick some out: there’s Heidegger’s Basic Writings; there’s Gadamer’s Truth and Method. I know them from their look, their surfaces — but their contents are hidden from me. Yet inside the books, we see photographs of Robert Smithson’s work, of Merce Cunningham’s, of Goddard’s. Just as the camera pans left to right across the blurry spines and later right to left in one of the video’s structuring tropes, the books are flipped through front to back and back to front — flipped by someone’s hands, but not the hands of a collector who proves to be speaking only about himself. We can see the images — but a photograph of a dance robs the dance of its very life: movement. And while we can see text, we can’t see the text, until toward the end when we are bombarded by full-screen letters and words arranged, rearranged, and deranged. For more important — or at least more salient — than the text is the sound of hands gripping and turning pages, a displacement of the visual by the tactile, reminding us of how books feel, of their materiality, their individuality, their non-fungibility for the collector, who, Benjamin tells us, thinks that “not only books but copies of books have their fates.” The only title we clearly see is Durkheim’s Suicide. And then we realize that it is a photograph, an image of the book that we see, not the book itself — as if there were such a thing. What are we to make of this? Some viewers schooled in the foundations of sociology will no doubt think of Durkheimian anomie, the rootlessness so typical of modernity, of changing orders. And some will pessimistically find anomie exemplified in the film. Perhaps, though, what’s on offer here is the strong pessimism Nietzsche wrote of in The Birth of Tragedy, an inclination for what is hard, dreadful, problematic. Following Bergson, we can choose the key in which to play, and then choose a different key. We can bemoan our world in ruins. Or we can shore up fragments against our own ruin. That is something we can do. It would be easier if we came to a world that (to echo Heidegger) is already always meaningful. But that is not the world we inhabit — at the very least, that is not the world of this mysterious, exhilarating film

Sean McAleer
Department of Philosophy
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Art Cinema 1988-2010, Stephen Lapthisophon, Green Lantern Press, Barbara E. Ladner, Professor of English and Media Studies, West Virginia State University
More than ever this spring, we’ve seen the world convulse with dislocations, ever-accelerating technological and economic shifts, and transformations that seem simultaneously to bring chaos and a promise of rebirth. How can we express experience that sometimes outstrips our capacity to comprehend it?
Stephen Lapthisophon’s Writing Art Cinema 1988-2010 courageously and vigorously joins the project—begun in the twentieth century with Dada and Surrealism and continuing in the cultural criticism of Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin—of finding words and images to grapple with, and shift our perspective on, Global Society, Inc. (I want to say emphatically NOT culture; the layers of experience reflected here have too little coherence, grounding, or meaning to be either “culture” or “ideology.” Lapthisophon drives home the idea that destroying, deconstructing received this commercial culture alone promises new life for the corpse of our current corporate existence.)
The rhythm of the sound resembling an anthem of blank assurance breaks down into fragments. The texts of identity have long become just another casualty of war. When we link arms and march through the corridors without refraining from irrational bursts of ecstasy, the collective energy is felt throughout the area. The image of a mass of individuals joined in common purpose captured in faded photographs hides a terrifying violence. This is the urge to create—to think deeply about our bodies and regret the lack of evidence for hope. Deep in the background of the history paintings of their memory lies a powdery surface. Dried pigment that no longer holds any responsibility for questions of causality or truth, Depending on the angle of vision, we will have to move the frame to accommodate the fullness of the unrelenting storm of history. This is the threat of the past. Details reach us in broken pieces. The totality of the unlicensed reproductions of these pictures fails. Beauty is an ugly thing.
Recalling at times Surrealist poetry and Dadaist defamiliarization, Lapthisophon’s writing and images force readers/viewers to question the very foundations of received knowledge and values.
Unfamiliarity creates a living force, a thirst for surprise.
Lapthisophon confronts us with startling juxtapositions and shifts of context with fragmentary snatches of text from a dizzying array of contemporary experience. (Remember—or should we forget?—Tristan Tzara’s “Dada Manifesto”: “Dada is the bitterness which opens its laugh on all that which has been made consecrated forgotten in our language in our brain in our habits.”)
. . . first free the wheel then release the frozen element from the broken spoke. coax the thinnest wires out along the back of the edge and wrap the groove around the propulsion unit, wait, do not expect to break the system all at once, underneath it all there is a deep center of grief, speak the language of a retired miner and break free from the ties to the wall of other days and dreams, attach deep meaning to every neglected grain of dirt. youth will prevail on the homefront and complete versions of the story will arrive in the morning mail. never wander across the yard for more than an hour. just keep twisting. sing and shout after the second wheel is successfully released, pull it toward you until it breaks, reach out and touch someone. reach an ending which resembles a particle. Or...“I’LL BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR!”
Lapthisophon is a multimedia artist, and many of his artistic credits are installations at major galleries and regional museums, so a book might seem an odd venue for his work. But the words and photographs here—some his own, some drawn from popular culture—effectively draw linear text (McLuhan’s bugaboo) into a multisensory nexus. They simultaneously challenge “normal” reason and propose instead an ir-rational logic about actions as diverse as achieving “firm footing in black socks,” lining “up next to your neighbor shoulder to shoulder,” and attempting “direct political action [that] becomes a matter of trying to pick poison out of a boiling stew.”
Multiplicity and speed heighten the manipulative power that McLuhan warned of in electronic media, making it fitting that Writing Art Cinema 1988-2010 comes to us from Green Lantern Press, a nonprofit paperback press “dedicated to the ‘slow media’ approach.” Green Lantern Press partners with a bookstore (for-profit) and a nonprofit performance space called “The [New] Corpse,” celebrating the integration of artistic mediums and exploring alternative models for supporting artists, writers and community and for distributing noncommercial contemporary art.
The book format, however, allows the reader/viewer time/space to ponder multiplied layers of startling juxtapositions (“exit Goethe and avoid the heavy smoke exhaust fumes”), allusions (to Lee Marvin, to Robert Musil’s fictional murderer, Moosbrugger, to Buster Keaton, to “Okie from Muskogee, to Heinrich Heine), apparent ravings on the character of modern experience (“Fix and Finks have joined the Muddites because of the attraction that the low initiation fee brings. Across the road the metaphor for translation has been brought over by our friend Laura riding a horse and speaking about the times we spent in cages wearing shoes made of rabbit and mud”), “the same cast of characters” (from “Morpho” and “Binx” to Lee Marvin and Johnny Cool), poetry, photographs (and descriptions of photographs), as well as essayistic passages.
Many of these layers serve as Mythologies—Barthes’ most iconic work—for our “information” age, but much more violent in the deconstructive force applied to the unexamined texture of our “reality.” Where Barthes points out the cynical manipulation through “photography [that] is an ellipse of language and a condensation of an ‘ineffable’ social whole, it constitutes an anti-intellectual weapon and tends to spirit away ‘politics’ (that is to say a body of problems and solutions) to the advantage of a ‘manner of being’, a socio-moral status,” Lapthisophon writes, “In the darkness, crimes will continue to committed. Guilt will continue to be a function memory and future investigations of the procedures that determine this procedure will be doubled. The following steps will follow the political: loss, cover, clear, and follow.” The readable, analyzable PR of Barthes’ age has become the nearly invisible propaganda of our own. These passages read like “notes from an underground” where multinationals function as a much more efficient “Big Brother”—they don’t need to watch us if they control our language and imagery.
Most powerful are the sections entitled “Notes on Instrumental Reason” and “Prosopopeia.” The first section of Writing Art Cinema 1988-2010, “Notes on Instrumental Reason” explores the fragmenting, alienating impact of contemporary society’s obsession with numbering, quantifying, and dividing/classifying that goes all the way back (perhaps) to the invention of movable, interchangeable type. Though divided into numbered sections, “Notes” undercuts the accounting/accountability mentality by changing what is being numbered/counted with each subsection. “PART ONE” is followed by “EDIT TWO,” “PAGE THREE (A), (B), AND (C),” all the way through “FRAME THIRTY.”
Now, that does not mean that we can see the back portion of the picture through the broken glass (because of its density). There’s too much garbage floating in the front. It’s in the way. But that can be divided into small portions so that it will be easier to discard. Dismember now. Sit down and wait for your answer. It’s the animal’s only response.
From the symptoms Lapthisophon collects, a diagnosis?
CASE SIXTEEN: These are homes for America. The alphabet of our logic has turned muscle into stone. Build on this, realize the potential danger of overfamiliarity. Knock on any door. The documentary style hides an aversion to telling stories. Every story tells a lie. Built into the structure of recollection is an authority of deceit. We will never know how these secrets came to be so deeply hidden within the American psyche. The concept of a theory of disclosure will remain open for discussion. Behind the screen lies a memory of truth.
“Prosopopeia,” which is a figure of speech that presents an imaginary or dead person as speaking, offers Lapthisophon’s most essayistic writing. In part a meditation on the nature of artistic activity, it also renders our society’s enthrallment to mechanically reproduced images. Paradoxically dead, removed from the artist’s hand, photographs also testify to the actual (living/real-“life”?) presence (then) and absence (now) of the photographed subject.
The photograph is both a record of, and cancellation of, presence.
A refrain through “Prosopopeia,” Lapthisophon’s plaint that “it is hard to ask for help” reminds us of our contemporary dependence on technologies that limit our imaginations.
We are so unknown to ourselves that any attempt to control this release of corporeal power is futile.
Lapthisophon closes this section with an anthem of sorts.
Braced against the wind, we face the passing of time and give it a name. This is not a call to action. It is not a cry for help. The illusion of image is associated with the face. The face changes, but the name remains constant. The name does not hear itself. It has the support of time.
And on the book’s final pages, he echoes this challenge to ubiquitous distortion, illusion, and lie.
Framed by our own, reflections on distance and remembrance, we argue over the veracity of our own speculative powers. Close inspection reveals little. The dispute remains. I will act as an envoy to bridge these, two forces. I shall keep to myself and not repeat others comments about me. I will not flee in the face of a dangerous mistake.
Writing Art Cinema 1988-2010 startles and provokes on a first examination, and promises to continue to do so on many subsequent readings. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the integration of art and criticism.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Everything changes today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Robert Lowell

History has to live with what was here,clutching and close to fumbling all we had--it is so dull and gruesome how we die,unlike writing, life never finishes.Abel was finished; death is not remote,a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,his baby crying all night like a new machine.As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter's moon ascends--a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull's no-nose--O there's a terrifying innocence in my facedrenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011




That song, now.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Suprematist Documents

Dont talk to strangers right up to the edge of the last phone call belligerent prayers to the end, bitter who’s talking to ? stronger than tea Im feeling left out error-filled telegram of lust stained with genre.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Raising animal Not part of the plan Bleached skin in patches of land Not worn or beaten by weather.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Suprematist Documents


The real art
Of murder comes
When old age

Capitalizes on gr[ef
Extending a hand
Drinking a flagon

Of misery combined
Without thinking about
the stage presence

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Suprematist Documents


Enabled by law to proceed
forcing meat on the others
without mention

Now seduced against preiction
willing time factors
intrusion by forcible entry papers

trying to get by
rivers of hate and futility
Now falling away without regard

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Suprematist Documents

Boats in the water

a bit longer
freely accepting this virtue
appeal to all voters

This frequency of value
arranged as a book.
Non capital offenses will be tried

Another time,
A certain formlessness
in the music

Friday, March 11, 2011

11 March 2011


Over in oblivion

based on a story from tue life

Based on a true story

from truth

bent around a tree.

with boats

away at sea

Friday, March 4, 2011

"What are we to say to this? Again, the problem resides in the implicit qualifications which can be easily discerned by the “concrete analysis of the concrete situation,” as Lenin himself would have put it. “Fidelity to the democratic consensus” means the acceptance of the present liberal-parliamentary consensus, which precludes any serious questioning of how this liberal-democratic order is complicit in the phenomena it officially condemns, and, of course, any serious attempt to imagine a society whose socio-political order would be different. In short, it means: say and write whatever you want — on condition that what you do, does not effectively question or disturb the predominant political consensus. So everything is allowed, solicited even, as a critical topic: the prospects of a global ecological catastrophe, violations of human rights, sexism, homophobia, antifeminism, the growing violence not only in the far-away countries, but also in our megalopolises, the gap between the First and the Third World, between the rich and the poor, the shattering impact of the digitalization of our daily lives... there is nothing easier today than to get international, state or corporate funds for a multidisciplinary research into how to fight the new forms of ethnic, religious or sexist violence. The problem is that all this occurs against the background of a fundamental Denkverbot, the prohibition to think. Today’s liberal-democratic hegemony is sustained by a kind of unwritten Denkverbot similar to the infamous Berufsverbot in Germany of the late 60s — the moment one shows a minimal sign of engaging in political projects that aim to seriously challenge the existing order, the answer is immediately: “Benevolent as it is, this will necessarily end in a new Gulag!” The ideological function of the constant reference to the holocaust, gulag and the more recent Third World catastrophes is thus to serve as the support of this Denkverbot by constantly reminding us how things may have been much worse: “Just look around and see for yourself what will happen if we follow your radical notions!” And it is exactly the same thing that the demand for “scientific objectivity” means: the moment one seriously questions the existing liberal consensus, one is accused of abandoning scientific objectivity for the outdated ideological positions. This is the point on which one cannot and should not concede: today, the actual freedom of thought means the freedom to question the predominant liberal-democratic “post-ideological” consensus — or it means nothing. "

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Suprematist Documents


I'm really sure that this fact
might exclude knowledge of the reason
we can't seem to get along. Forbidden to

Remember the last time something exactly
corresponding concoctions superimposed on the faces
drama. Standing alone in the rain, he went along

Thinking that we could work this thing
Out of nowhere the chords struck an
Beginning with the same thing all the time

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Suprematist Documents

Boats in the water

a bit longer
freely accepting this virtue
appeal to all voters

This frequency of value
arranged as a book.
Non capital offenses will be tried

Another time,
A certain formlessness
in the music

Green Train Triangle

The stripes on
Daniel Burliuk's face
did not match

either side vine
bursting cargo ships
docked and ready

prayer shawl draped
simultaneously flying
New books of

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Winter Studio

What Wordsworth called a diurnal urge we can merely know as a rhyming in out ears—a clamorous jangling reminder not to do that which will remind us not to listen to the reasons we tried not to listen in the first place.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Φ 309. PSYCHOLOGICAL observation discovers no law for the relation of self-consciousness to actuality or the world over against it; and owing to their mutual indifference it is forced to fall back on the peculiar determinate characteristic of real individuality, which has a being in and for itself or contains the opposition of subjective self-existence (Fürsichseyn) and objective inherent existence (Ansichseyn) dissolved and extinguished within its own process of absolute mediation. Individuality is now the object for observation, or the object to which observation now passes.
Φ 310. The individual exists in himself and for himself. He is for himself, or is a free activity; he is, however, also in himself, or has himself an original determinate being of his own — a character which is in principle the same as what psychology sought to find outside him. Opposition thus breaks out in his own self; it has this twofold nature, it is a process or movement of consciousness, and it is the fixed being of a reality with a phenomenal character, a reality which in it is directly its own. This being, the “body” of the determinate individuality, is its original source, that in the making of which it has had nothing to do. But since the individual at the same time merely is what he has done, his body is also an “expression” of himself which he has brought about; a sign and indication as well, which has not remained a bare immediate fact, but through which the individual only makes known what is actually implied by his setting his original nature to work.
Φ 311. If we consider the moments we have here in relation to the view previously indicated, we find a general human shape and form, or at least the general character of a climate, of a portion of the world, of a people, just as formerly we found in the same way general customs and culture. In addition the particular circumstances and situation are within the universal reality; here this particular reality is a particular formation of the shape of the individual. On the other side, whereas formerly we were dealing with the free activity of the individual, and reality in the sense of his own reality was put in contrast and opposition to reality as given, here the shape assumed by the individual stands as an expression of his own actualization established by the individual himself, it bears the lineaments and forms of his spontaneously active being. But the reality, both universal as well as particular, which observation formerly found outside the individual, is here the actual reality of the individual, his connate body; and within this very body the expression due to his own action appears. From the psychological point of view objective reality in and for itself and determinate individuality had to be brought into relation to one another; here, however, it is the whole determinate individuality that is the object for observation, and each aspect of the opposition it entails is itself this whole. Thus, to the outer whole belongs not merely the original primordial being, the connate body, but the formation of the body as well, which is due to activity from the inner side; the body is a unity of unformed and formed existence, and is the reality of the individual permeated by his reference to self. This whole embraces the definite parts fixed originally and from the first, and also the lineaments which arise only as the result of action; this whole so formed is, and this being is an expression of what is inner, of the individual constituted as a consciousness and as a process.
This inner is, too, no longer formal, spontaneous activity without any content or determinateness of its own, an activity with its content and specific nature, as in the former case, lying in external circumstances; it is an original inherently determinate Character, whose form alone is the activity. What, then, we have to consider here is the relation subsisting between the two sides; the point to observe is how this relation is determined, and what is to be understood by the inner finding expression in the outer.
Φ 312. This outer, in the first place, does not act as an organ making the inner visible, or, in general terms, a being for another; for the inner, so far as it is in the organ, is the activity itself. The mouth that speaks, the hand that works, with the legs too, if we care to add them, are the operative organs effecting the actual realization, and they contain the action qua action, or the inner as such; the externality, however, which the inner obtains by their means is the deed, the act, in the sense of a reality separated and cut off from the individual. Language and labour are outer expressions in which the individual no longer retains possession of himself per se, but lets the inner get right outside him, and surrenders it to something else. For that reason we might just as truly say that these outer expressions express the inner too much as that they do so too little: too much — because the inner itself breaks out in them, and there remains no opposition between them and it; they not merely give an expression of the inner, they give the inner itself directly and immediately: too little — because in speech and action the inner turns itself into something else, into an other, and thereby puts itself at the mercy of the element of change, which transforms the spoken word and the accomplished act, and makes something else out of them than they are in and for themselves as actions of a particular determinate individual. Not only do the products of actions, owing to this externality, lose by the influence of others the character of being something constant vis-a-vis other individualities; but by their assuming towards the inner which they contain, the attitude of something external, separate, independent, and indifferent, they can, through the individual himself, be qua inner something other than they seem. Either the individual intentionally makes them in appearance something else than they are in truth; or he is too incompetent to give himself the outer aspect be really wanted, and to give them such fixity and permanence that the product of his action cannot become misrepresented by others. The action, then, in the form of a completed product has the double and opposite significance of being either the inner individuality and not its expression; or, qua external, a reality detached from the inner, a reality which is something quite different from the inner. On account of this ambiguity, we must look about for the inner as it still is within the individual himself, but in a visible or external form. In the organ, however, it exists merely as immediate activity as such, which attains its externalization in the act or deed, that either does or again does not represent the inner. The organ, in the light of this opposition, thus does not afford the expression which is sought.
Φ 313. If now the external shape and form were able to express the inner individuality only in so far as that shape is neither an organ nor action, hence only in so far as it is an inert passive whole, it would then play the rôle of a subsistent thing, which received undisturbed the inner as an alien element into its own passive being, and thereby became the sign and symbol of it — an external contingent expression, whose actual concrete aspect has no meaning of its own — a language whose sounds and tone-combinations are not the real fact itself, but are capriciously connected with it and a mere accident so far as it is concerned.
Φ 314. Such a capricious association of factors that are external for one another does not give a law. Physiognomy, however, would claim distinction from other spurious arts and unwholesome studies on the ground that in dealing with determinate individuality it considers the necessary opposition of an inner and an outer, of character as a conscious nature and character as a definitely embodied organic shape, and relates these moments to one another in the way they are related to one another by their very conception, and hence must constitute the content of a law. In astrology, on the other hand, in palmistry and similar “sciences”, there appears merely external element related to external element, anything whatsoever to an element alien to it. A given constellation at birth, and, when the external element is brought closer to the body itself, certain given lines on the hand, are external factors making for long or short life, and the fate in general of the particular person. Being externalities they are indifferent towards one another, and have none of the necessity for one another which is supposed to lie in the relation of what is outer to what is inner.
Φ 315. The hand, to be sure, does not seem to be such a very external thing for fate; it seems rather to stand to it as something inner. For fate again is also merely the phenomenal manifestation of what the specifically determinate individuality inherently is as having originally an inner determinate constitution. Now to find out what this individuality is in itself, the palmist, as well as the physiognomist, takes a shorter cut than, e.g., Solon, who thought he could only know this from and after the course of the whole life: the latter looked at the phenomenal explicit reality, while the former considers the implicit nature (das Ansich). That the band, however, must exhibit and reveal the inherent nature of individuality as regards its fate, is easily seen from the fact that after the organ of speech it is the hand most of all by which a man actualizes and manifests himself. It is the animated artificer of his fortune: we may say of the band it is what a man does, for in it as the effective organ of his self-fulfilment he is there present as the animating soul; and since he is ultimately and originally his own fate, the hand will thus express this innate inherent nature.
Φ 316. From this peculiarity, that the organ of activity is at once a form of being and the operation going on within it, or again that the inner inherent being is itself explicitly present in it and has a being for others, we come upon a further aspect of it different from the preceding. For if the organs in general proved to be incapable of being taken as expressions of the inner for the reason that in them the action is present as a process, while the action as a deed or (finished) act is merely external, and inner and outer in this way fall apart and are or can be alien to one another, the organ must, in view of the peculiarity now considered, be again taken as also a middle term for both, since this very fact, that the operation takes place and is present in it, constitutes eo ipso an external attribute of it, and indeed one that is different from the deed or act; for the former holds by the individual and remains with him.
This mediating term uniting inner and outer is in the first place itself external too. But then this externality is at the same time taken up into the inner; it stands in the form of simple unbroken externality opposed to dispersed externality, which either is a single performance or condition contingent for the individuality as a whole, or else, in the form of a total externality, is fate or destiny, split up into a plurality of performances and conditions. The simple lines of the hand, then, the ring and compass of the voice, as also the individual peculiarity of the language used: or again this idiosyncracy of language, as expressed where the hand gives it more durable existence than the voice can do, viz. in writing, especially in the particular style of “handwriting” — all this is an expression of the inner, so that, as against the multifarious externality of action and fate, this expression again stands in the position of simple externality, plays the part of an inner in relation to the externality of action and fate. Thus, then, if at first the specific nature and innate peculiarity of the individual along with what these become as the result of cultivation and development, are regarded as the inner reality, as the essence of action and of fate, this inner being finds its appearance in external fashion to begin with in his mouth, hand, voice, handwriting, and the other organs and their permanent characteristics. Thereafter and not till then does it give itself further outward expression in its realization in the world.
Φ 317. Now because this middle term assumes the nature of an outer expression, which is at the same time taken back into the inner, its existence is not confined to the immediate organ of action (the hand); this middle term is rather the movement and form of countenance and figure in general which perform no outward act. These lineaments and their movements on this principle are the checked and restrained action that stops in the individual and, as regards his relation to what he actually does, constitute his own personal inspection and observation of the action — outer expression in the sense of reflexion upon the actual outer expression.
The individual, on the occasion of his external action, is therefore not dumb and silent, because he is thereby at once reflected into himself, and he gives articulate expression to this self-reflexion. This theoretical action, the individual's conversing with himself on the matter, is also perceptible to others, for his speaking is itself an outer expression.
Φ 318. In this inner, then, which in being expressed remains an inner, observation finds the individual reflected out of his actual reality; and we have to see how the case stands with regard to the necessity which lies in the unity here.
His being thus reflected is to begin with different from the act itself, and therefore can be, and be taken for something other than the deed is. We look at a man's face and see whether he is in earnest with what he says or does. Conversely, however, what is here intended to be an expression of the inner is at the same time an existent objective expression, and hence itself falls to the level of mere existence, which is absolutely contingent for the self-conscious individual. It is therefore no doubt an expression, but at the same time only in the sense of a sign, so that to the content expressed the peculiar nature of that by which it is expressed is completely indifferent. The inner in thus appearing is doubtless an invisible made visible, but without being itself united to this appearance. It can just as well make use of some other appearance as another inner can adopt the same appearance. Lichtenberg, (2) therefore, is right in saying: “Suppose the physiognomist ever did have a man in his grasp, it would merely require a courageous resolution on the man's part to make himself again incomprehensible for centuries."
In the previous case (3) the immediately given circumstances formed a sphere of existence from which individuality selected what it could or what it wanted, either submitting to or transmuting this given existence, for which reason this did not contain the necessity and inner nature of individuality. Similarly here the immediate being in which individuality clothes its appearance is one which either expresses the fact of its being reflected back out of reality and existing within itself, or which is for it merely a sign indifferent to what is signified, and therefore signifying in reality nothing; it is as much its countenance as its mask, which can be put off when it likes. Individuality permeates its own shape, moves, speaks in the shape assumed; but this entire mode of existence equally well passes over into a state of being indifferent to the will and the act. Individuality effaces from it the significance it formerly had — of being that wherein individuality is reflected into itself, or has its true nature — and instead puts its real nature rather in the will and the deed.
Φ 319. Individuality abandons that condition of being reflected into self which finds expression in lines and lineaments, and places its real nature in the work done. Herein it contradicts the relationship which the instinct of reason, engaged in observing self-conscious individuality, establishes in regard to what its inner and outer should be. This point of view brings us to the special idea at the basis of the science of physiognomy-if we care to call it a “science”. The opposition this form of observation comes upon is in form the opposition of practical and theoretical, both falling inside the practical aspect itself — the opposition of individuality, making itself real in action (in the most general sense of action), and individuality as being in this action at the same time reflected thence into self, and taking the action for its object. Observation apprehends and accepts this opposition in the same inverted form in which it is when it makes its appearance. To observation, the deed itself and the performance, whether it be that of speech or a more solid reality, stand for the nonessential outer, while the individuality's existence within itself passes for the essential inner. Of the two aspects which the practical mind involves, intention and act (the “meaning” regarding the action and the action itself), observation selects the former as the true inner; this (i.e. the intention or true inner) is supposed to have its more or less unessential externalization in the act, while its true outer expression is to be had in the form in which the individual is embodied. This latter expression is a sensuous immediate presence of the individual mind: the inwardness, which is intended to be the true internal aspect, is the particular point of the intention, and the singleness of self-existence: both together the mind subjectively “meant” Thus, what observation takes for its objects is an existence that is “meant”; and within this sphere it looks for laws.
Φ 320. The primary way of making conjectures (meinen) regarding the “presumptive” presence of mind is everyday (natürlich) physiognomy, hasty judgment formed at a glance about the inner nature and the character of its outer form and shape. The object of this guesswork thinking (4) is of such a kind that its very essence involves its being in truth something else than merely sensuous and immediate. Certainly what is really present is just this condition of being in sensuous form reflected out of sense into self; it is the visible as a sensuous presentment of the invisible, which constitutes the object of observation. But this very sensuous immediate presence is the mind's reality” as that reality is approved by mere conjecture (Meinung); and observation from this point of view occupies itself with its “presumed” (gemeint) existence, with physiognomy, handwriting, sound of voice, etc.
Observation relates such and such a sensuous fact to just such a supposed or presumed (gemeintes) inner. It is not the murderer, the thief, that is to be known; it is the capacity to be a murderer, a thief. The definitely marked abstract attribute is thereby lost in the concrete indefinite characteristic nature of the particular individual, which now demands more skilful delineations than the former qualifications supply. Such skilful delineations no doubt say more than the qualification, “murderer”, “thief”, or “good-hearted”, “unspoiled”, and so on; but are a long way short of their aim, which is to express the being that is “meant”, the single individuality; as far short as the delineations of the form and shape, which go further than a “flat brow”, a “long nose”, etc. For the individual shape and form, like the individual self-consciousness, is qua something “meant”, inexpressible. The “science of knowing men”, (5) which is concerned about the supposed human being, like the “science” of physiognomy, which deals with his presumed reality and seeks to raise to the level of knowledge uncritical assertions of everday (natürlich) physiognomy, (6) is therefore something with neither foundation nor finality; it cannot manage to say what it “means” because it merely “means”, and its content is merely what is “presumed” or “meant”.
Φ 321. The so-called “laws”, this kind of science sets out to find, are relations holding between these two presumed or supposed aspects, and hence can amount to no more than an empty “fancying” (meinen). Again since this presumed knowledge, which takes upon itself to deal with the reality of mind, finds its object to be just the fact that mind is reflected from sense existence back into self, and that, for mind, a specific bodily expression is an indifferent accident, it is therefore bound to be aware at once that by the so-called “laws” discovered it really says nothing at all, but that, strictly speaking, this is mere chatter, or merely giving out a “fancy” or “opinion” (Meinung) of its own — (an assertion which has this amount of truth that to state one's “opinion”, one's “fancy”, and not to convey thereby the fact itself, but merely a “fancy of one's own”, are one and the same thing). In content, however, such observations cannot differ in value from these: “It always rains at our annual fair, says the dealer; “And every time, too,” says the housewife, “when I am drying my washing."
Φ 322. Lichtenberg, who characterizes physiognomic observation in this way, adds this remark: “If any one said, 'You act, certainly, like an honest man, but I can see from your face you are forcing yourself to do so, and are a rogue at heart,' without a doubt every brave fellow to the end of time when accosted in that fashion will retort with a box on the ear."
This retort is to the point, for the reason that it refutes the fundamental assumption of such a “science” of conjecture (meinen), viz. that the reality of a man is his face, etc.
The true being of a man is, on the contrary, his act; individuality is real in the deed, and a deed it is which cancels both the aspects of what is “meant” or “presumed” to be. In the one aspect where what is “presumed” or “imagined” takes the form of a passive bodily being, individuality puts itself forward in action as the negative essence which only is so far as it cancels bring. Then furthermore the act does away with the inexpressibleness of what self-conscious individuality really “means”; in regard to such “meaning”, individuality is endlessly determined and determinable. This false infinite, this endless determining, is abolished in the completed act. The act is something simply determinate, universal, to be grasped as an abstract, distinctive whole; it is murder, theft, a benefit, a deed of bravery, and so on, and what it is can be said of it.
It is such and such, and its being is not merely a symbol, it is the fact itself. It is this, and the individual human being is what the act is. In the simple fact that the act is, the individual is for others what he really is and with a certain general nature, and ceases to be merely something that is “meant” or “presumed” to be this or that. No doubt he is not put there in the form of mind; but when it is a question of his being qua being, and the twofold being of bodily shape and act are pitted against one another, each claiming to be his true reality, the deed alone, is to be affirmed as his genuine being — not his figure or shape, which would express what he “means” to convey by his acts, or what any one might “conjecture” he merely could do. In the same way, on the other hand, when his performance and his inner possibility, capacity, or intention are opposed, the former alone is to be regarded as his true reality, even if he deceives himself on the point and, after he has turned from his action into himself,. means to be something else in his “inner mind” than what he is in the act. Individuality, which commits itself to the objective element, when it passes over into a deed no doubt puts itself to the risk of being altered and perverted. But what settles the character of the act is just this — whether the deed is a real thing that holds together, or whether it is merely a pretended or “supposed” performance, which is in itself null and void and passes away. Objectification does not alter the act itself; it merely shows what the deed is, i.e. whether it is or whether it is nothing.
The breaking up of this real being into intentions, and subtleties of that sort, by which the real man, i.e. his deed, is to be reduced again to, and explained in terms of, a “conjectured” being, as even the individual himself may produce out of himself particular intentions concerning his reality — all this must be left to idle “fancying and presuming” to furnish at its leisure. If this idle thinking will set its ineffective wisdom to work, and will deny the agent the character of reason, and use him so badly as to want to declare his figure and his lineaments to be his real being instead of his act, then it may expect to get the retort above spoken of, a retort which shows that figure is not the inherent being, but is on the contrary an object sufficiently on the surface to be roughly handled.
Φ 323. If we look now at the range of relations as a whole in which self-conscious individuality can be observed standing towards its outer aspect, there will be one left which has still to come before observation as an object. In psychology it is the external reality of things which in the life of mind is to have its counterpart conscious of itself and make the mind intelligible. In physiognomy, on the other hand, mind or spirit is to be known in its own proper outer (physical) aspect, a form of being which may be called the language or utterance of mind — the visible invisibility of its inner nature. There is still left the further character of the aspect of reality — that individuality expresses its nature in its immediate actuality, an actuality that is definitely fixed and purely existent.
This last relation [of mind to its reality] is distinguished from the physiognomic by the fact that this is the speaking presence of the individual, who in his practical active outer expression brings to light and manifests at the same time the expression wherein he reflects himself into himself and contemplates himself, an expression which is itself a movement, passive lineaments which are themselves essentially a mediated form of existence. In the character still to be considered, however, the outer, element is finally an entirely inactive objectivity, which is not in itself a speaking sign, but presents itself on its own account, separate from the self-conscious process, and has the form of a bare thing.
Φ 324. In the first place in regard to the relation of the inner to this its outer, it is clear that that relation seems bound to be understood in the sense of a causal connexion, since the relation of one immanent and inherent entity to another, qua a necessary relation, is causal connexion.
Φ 325. Now, for spiritual individuality to have an effect on the body it must qua cause be itself corporeal. The corporeal element, however, wherein it acts as a cause, is the organ, not the organ of action on external reality, but of the action of the self-conscious being within itself, operating outward only on its own body. It is at the same time not easy to see what these organs can be. If we merely think of organs in general, the general organ for work would at once occur to us, so, too, the organ of sex, and so on. But organs of that sort are to be considered as intruments or parts, which mind, qua one extreme, possesses as a means for dealing with the other extreme, which is an outer object. In the present case, however, an organ is to be understood to be one wherein the self-conscious individual, as an extreme, maintains himself on his own account and for himself against his own proper actuality which is opposed to him, the individual not being at the same time turned upon the outer world, but reflected in his own action, and where, further, his aspect of existence is not an existence objective for some other individual. In the case of physiognomy, too, the organ is no doubt considered as an existence reflected into self and criticizing the action. But in this case the existence is objective in character, and the outcome of the physiognomical observation is that self-consciousness treats precisely this its reality as something indifferent. This indifference disappears in the fact that this very state of being reflected into self is itself active upon the other: thereby that existence occupies and maintains a necessary relation to self-consciousness. But to operate effectually on that existence it must itself have a being, though not properly speaking an objective being, and it must be set forth as being this organ.
Φ 326. In ordinary life, anger, e.g. as an internal action of that sort, is located in the liver. Plato (7) even assigns the liver something still higher, something which to many is even the highest function of all, viz. prophesying, or the gift of uttering in an irrational manner things sacred and eternal. But the process which the individual has in his liver, heart, and so on, cannot be regarded as one wholly internal to the individual, wholly reflected into his self; rather his process is there (viz. in the liver, etc.) as something which has already become bodily and assumes a physical animal existence, reacting on and towards external reality.
Φ 327. The nervous system, on the other hand, is the immediate stability of the organism in its process of movement. The nerves themselves, no doubt, are again organs of that consciousness which from the first is immersed in its outward impulses. Brain and spinal cord, however, may be looked at as the immediate presence of self-consciousness, a presence self-contained, not an object and also not transient. In so far as the moment of being, which this organ has, is a being for another, is an objective existence, it is a being that is dead, and is no longer the presence of self-consciousness. This self-contained existence, however, is by its very nature a fluent stream, wherein the circles that are made in it immediately break up and dissolve, and where no distinction is expressed as permanent or real. Meanwhile, as mind itself is not an abstractly simple entity, but a system of processes, wherein it distinguishes itself into moments, but in the very act of distinguishing remains free and detached; and as mind articulates its body as a whole into a variety of functions, and designates one particular part of the body for only one function: — so too one can represent to oneself the fluent state of its internal existence [its existence within itself] as something that is articulated into parts. Moreover, it seems bound to be thought of in this way, because the self-reflected being of mind in the brain itself is again merely a middle term between its pure essential nature and its bodily articulation, an intermediate link, which consequently must partake of the nature of both, and thus in respect of the latter must also again have in it actual articulation.
Φ 328. The psycho-organic being has at the same time the necessary aspect of a stable subsistent existence. The former must retire, qua extreme of self-existence, and have this latter as the other extreme over against it, an extreme which is then the object on which the former acts as a cause. If now brain and spinal cord are that bodily self-existence of mind, the skull and vertebral column form the other extreme separated off, viz. the solid fixed stable thing.
When, however, any one thinks of the proper place where mind exists, it is not the back that occurs to him, but merely the head. Since this is so, we can, in examining a form of knowledge like what we are at present dealing with, content ourselves with this reason — not a very bad one in the present case — in order to confine the existence of mind to the skull. Should it strike any one to take the vertebral column for the seat of mind, in so far as by it too knowledge and action doubtless are sometimes partly induced and partly educed, this would prove nothing in defence of the view that the spinal cord must be taken as well for the indwelling seat of mind, and the vertebral column for the existential counterpart, because this proves too much. For we may bear in mind that there are also other approved external ways for getting at the activity of mind in order to stimulate or inhibit its activity.
The vertebral column, then, if we like, drops rightly out of account; and it is as well made out as many another doctrine of the philosophy of nature that the skull alone does not indeed contain the “organs” of mind (but its existent embodiment). For this was previously excluded from the conception of this relation, and on that account the skull was taken for the aspect of existence; or, if we may not be allowed to recall the conception involved, then experience unquestionably teaches that, as we see with the eye qua organ, so it is not with the skull that we commit murder, steal, write poetry, etc.
We must on that account refrain from using the expression “organ” also when speaking of that significance of the skull which we have still to mention. For although it is a common thing to hear people say, that to reasonable men it is not words but facts that really matter, yet that does not give us permission to describe a thing in terms not appropriate to it. For this is at once stupidity and deceit, pretending merely not to have the right “word”, and biding from itself that in reality it has not got hold of the fact itself, the notion. If the latter were there, it would soon find the right word.
What has been here determined is, in the first instance, merely that just as the brain is the caput vivum, the skull is the caput mortuum.
Φ 329. It is in this ens mortuum, then, that the mental processes and specific functions of the brain would have to find their external reality manifested, a reality which is none the less in the individual himself. For the relation of those processes and functions to what, being an ens mortuum, does not contain mind indwelling within it, there is offered, in the first instance, the external and mechanical relation defined above, so that the organs proper — and these are in the brain — here press the skull out round, there make it broad, or force it flat, or in whatever way we care to state the effect thus exerted. Being itself a part of the organism, it must be supposed to have in it too, as is the case in every bone, an active, living, formative influence, so that, from this point of view, it really, from its side, presses the brain, and fixes its external boundary — which it is the better able to do being the harder. In that case, however, the relation of the activity of the one to the other would always maintain the same character; for whether the skull is the determining factor or the factor determined, this would effect no alteration in the general causal connexion, only that the skull would then be made the immediate organ of self-consciousness, because in it qua cause the aspect of existence-for-self would find expression. But, since self-existence in the sense of organic living activity belongs to both in the same manner, the causal connexion between them in point of fact drops altogether.
This development of the two, however, would be inwardly connected, and would be an organic preestablished harmony, which leaves the two interrelated aspects free as regards one another, each with its own proper form and shape, without this shape needing to correspond to that of the other; and still more so as regards the relation of the shape and the quality — just as the form of the grape and the taste of wine are mutually independent of one another.
Since, however, the character of self-existence appertains to the aspect of brain, while that of existence to the feature of skull, there is also a causal connexion to be set up between them inside the organic unity — a necessary relation between them as external for one another, i.e. a relation itself external, whereby their form and shape are determined the one through the other.
Φ 330. As regards the condition, however, in which the organ of self-consciousness would operate causally on the opposite aspect, all sorts of statements can be made. For the question concerns the constitution of a cause which is considered in regard to its indifferent existence, its shape and quantity, a cause whose inner nature and self-existence are to be precisely what leave quite unaffected the immediately existing aspect. The organic self-formation of the skull is, to begin with, indifferent to the mechanical influence exerted, and the relationship in which these two processes stand, since the former consists in relating itself to itself, is just this very indeterminateness and boundlessness. Furthermore, even though the brain accepted the distinctions of mind, and took them into itself as existential distinctions, and were a plurality of inner organs occupying each a different space, it would be left undecided whether a mental element would, according as it was originally stronger or weaker, either be bound to possess in the first case a more expanded brain-organ, or in the latter case a more contracted brain-organ, or just the other way about. But it is contradictory to nature for the brain to be such a plurality of internal organs; for nature gives the moments of the notion an existence of their own, and hence puts the fluent simplicity of organic life clear on one side, and its articulation and division with its distinctions on the other, so that, in the way they have to be taken here, they assume the form of particular anatomical facts.
The same holds good in regard to the question whether the improvement of the brain would enlarge or diminish the organ, whether it would make it coarser and thicker or finer. By the fact that it remains undetermined how the cause is constituted, it is left in the same way undecided bow the effect exerted on the skull comes about, whether it is a widening or a narrowing and shrinking of it. Suppose this effect is named in perhaps more distinguished phrase a “solicitation”, we cannot say whether this takes place by swelling like the action of a cantharides-plaster, or by shrivelling like the action of vinegar.
In defence of all views of that kind plausible reasons can be adduced; for the organic relation, which quite as much exerts its influence, finds one fit as well as another, and is indifferent to all this wit of mere understanding.
Φ 331. It is, however, not the interest of observation to seek to determine this relation. For it is in any case not the brain in the sense of a physical part which takes its stand on one side, but brain in the sense of the existential form of self-conscious individuality. This individuality, qua abiding character and self-moving conscious activity, exists for itself and within itself. Opposed to this existence within itself and on its own account stand its reality and its existence for another. Its own peculiar existence is the essential nature, and is subject, having a being in the brain; this being is subsumed under it, and gets its value merely through its indwelling significance. The other aspect of self-conscious individuality, however, that of its existence, is being qua independent and subject, or qua a thing, viz. a bone: the real existence of man is his skull-bone. This is the relationship and the sense which the two aspects of this relation have when the mind adopts the attitude of observation.
Φ 332. Observation has now to deal with the more determinate relation of these aspects. The skull-bone doubtless in general has the significance of being the immediate reality of mind. But the many-sidedness of mind gives its existence a corresponding variety of meanings. What we have to find out is the specific meaning of the particular regions into which this existence is divided; and we have to see how the reference to mind is denoted in them.
Φ 333. The skull-bone is not an organ of activity, nor even a process of utterance. We neither commit theft, murder, etc., with the skull-bone, nor does it in the least distort its face to suit the deed in such cases, so that the skull should express the meaning in the language of gesture. Nor does this existential form possess the value even of a symbol. Look and gesture, tone, even a pillar or a post stuck up on a desert island, proclaim at once that they stand for something else than what they merely are at first sight. They forthwith profess to be symbols, since they have in them a characteristic which points to something else by the fact that it does not belong peculiarly to them. Doubtless, even in the case of a skull, there is many an idea that may occur to us, like those of Hamlet over Yorick's skull; but the skull-bone by itself is such an indifferent object, such an innocent thing, that there is nothing else to be seen in it or to be thought about it directly as it is, except simply the fact of its being a skull. It no doubt reminds us of the brain and its specific nature, and skull with other formations, but it does not recall a conscious process, since there is impressed on it neither a look or gesture, nor anything which would show traces of derivation from a conscious activity. For it is that sort of reality which, in the case of individuality, is intended to exhibit an aspect of another kind, one that would no longer be an existence reflecting itself into itself, but bare immediate existence.
Φ 334. While, further, the skull does not itself feel, there seems still a possibility of providing it with a more determinate significance in the fact that specific feelings might enable us, through their being in proximity to it, to find out what the skull may mean to convey; and when a conscious mode of mind has its feeling in a specific region of the skull, it may be thought perhaps that this spot of the skull may indicate by its shape what that mode is and what its peculiar nature. Just as, e.g., many people complain of feeling a painful tension somewhere in the head when thinking intensely, or even when thinking at all, so it might be that stealing, committing murder, writing poetry, and so on, could each be accompanied with its own proper feeling, which would over and above be bound to have its peculiar localization. This locality of the brain, which would in this manner be more disturbed and exercised, would also most likely develop further the contiguous locality of the bone of the skull; or again this latter locality would, from sympathy or conformity, not be inert, but would enlarge or diminish or in some other way assume a corresponding form.
What, however, makes such a hypothesis improbable is this: feeling in general is something indeterminate, and that feeling in the head as the centre might well be the general feeling that accompanies all suffering; so that mixed up with the thief's, murderer's, poet's tickling or pain in the head there would be other feelings too, and they would permit of being distinguished from one another, or from those we may call merely bodily feelings, as little as an illness can be determined from the symptom of headache, if we restrict its meaning merely to the bodily element.
Φ 335. In point of fact, from whatever side we look at the matter, all necessary reciprocal relation between them comes to nothing, as well as any intimation the one might give of the other in virtue of such a relation. If the relation is still to hold, what is left to form a sort of necessary relation is a pre-established harmony of the corresponding features of the two sides, a harmony which leaves the factors in question quite detached and rests on no inherent principle; for one of the aspects has to be a non-mental reality, a bare thing.
Thus then, on one side we have a number of passive regions of the skull, on the other a number of mental properties, the variety and character of which will depend on the condition of psychological investigation. The poorer the idea we have of mind, the easier the matter becomes in this respect; for, in part, the fewer become the mental properties, and, in part, the more detached, fixed, and ossified, and consequently more akin to features of the bone and more comparable with them. But, while much is doubtless made easier by this miserable representation of the mind, there still remains a very great deal to be found on both sides: there remains for observation to deal with the entire contingency of their relation. When every faculty of the soul, every passion and (for this, too, must be considered here) the various shades of characters, which the more refined psychology and “knowledge of mankind” are accustomed to talk about, are each and all assigned their place on the skull, and their contour on the skull-bone, the arbitrariness and artificiality of this procedure are just as glaring as if the children of Israel, who had been likened to “the sand by the seashore for multitude”, had each assigned and taken to himself his own symbolic grain of sand!
The skull of a murderer has — not this organ or sign — but this “bump”. But this murderer has in addition a lot of other properties, and other bumps too, and along with the bumps hollows as well. Bumps and hollows, there is room for selection! And again his murderous propensity can be referred to any bump or hollow, and this in turn to any mental quality; for the murderer is neither this abstraction of a murderer, nor does he have merely one protuberance and one depression. The observations offered on this point must therefore sound just about as sensible as those of the dealer about the rain at the annual fair, and of the housewife at her washing time. (8) Dealer and housewife might as well make the observation that it always rains when neighbour so-and-so passes by, or when they have roast pork. From the point of view of observation a given characteristic of mind is just as indifferent to a given formation of the skull as rain is indifferent to circumstances like these. For of the two objects thus under observation, the one is a barren isolated entity (Fürsichsein), an ossified property of mind, the other is an equally barren potentiality (Ansichsein). Such an ossified entity, as they both are, is completely indifferent to everything else. It is just as much a matter of indifference to a high bump whether a murderer is in close proximity, as to the murderer whether flatness is near him.
Φ 336. There is, of course, no getting over the possibility that still remains, that a bump at a certain place is connected with a certain property, passion, etc. We can think of the murderer with a high bump here at this place on the skull, the thief with one there. From this point of view phrenology is capable of much greater extension than it has yet had. For in the first instance it seems to be restricted merely to the connexion of a bump with a property in one and the same individual, in the sense that this individual possesses both. But phrenology per naturam-for there must be such a subject as well as a physiognomy per naturam-goes a long way beyond this restriction. It does not merely affirm that a cunning fellow has a bump like a fist lying behind the ear, but also puts forward the view that, not the unfaithful wife herself, but the other party to this conjugal transaction, has a bump on the brow.
In the same way, one may too /imagine” and “conjecture” the man living under the same roof with the murderer, or even one's neighbour, or, going still further afield, “conjecture” one's fellow citizens, etc., with high bumps on some part of the skull, just as well as one might picture to oneself the flying cow that was caressed by the crab riding on a donkey, and afterwards, etc. etc, But of possibility is taken not in the sense of a possibility of “imagining” and “conjecturing” and “picturing”, but in the sense of inner possibility, or possibility of conceiving, then the object is a reality of the kind which is a mere thing and is, and should be, depived of the significance of reality, and canthus only have the sense of it for imaginative or figurative thinking.
Φ 337. The observer may, in spite of the indifference of the two sides to one another, set to work to determine correlations, supported partly by the general rational principle that the outer is the expression of the inner, and partly by the analogy of the skulls of animals — which may doubtless have a simpler character than men, but of which at the same time it becomes just so much the more difficult to say what character they do have, in that it cannot be so easy for any man's imagination to think himself really into the nature of an animal. Should the observer do so, he will find, in giving out for certain the laws he maintains he has discovered, a first-rate means of assistance in a distinction which we too must necessarily take note of at this point.
The being of mind cannot be taken at any rate to be something completely rigid and immovable. Man is free. It will be admitted that the mind's original primordial being consists merely in dispositions, which mind has to a large extent under its control, or which require favourable circumstances to draw them out; i.e. an original “being” of mind must be equally well spoken of as what does not exist as a “being” at all. Were observations to conflict with what strikes any one as a warrantable law, should it happen to be fine weather at the annual fair or on the housewife's washing day — then dealer and housewife might say that it, properly speaking, should rain, and the conditions are really all that way. So too in the case of observing the skull, it might be said when those contradictory observations occur, that the given individual ought properly to be what according to the law his skull proclaims him to be, and that he has an original disposition which, however, has not been developed: this quality is not really present, but it should be there. The “law” and the “ought-to-be” rest on observation of actual showers of rain, and observation of the actual sense and meaning in the case of the given character of the skull; but if the reality is not present, the empty possibility is supposed to do just as well.
This mere possibility, i.e. the non-actuality of the law proposed, and hence the observations conflicting with the law, are bound to come out just for the reason that the freedom of the individual and the developing circumstances are indifferent towards what merely is, both in the sense of the original inner as well as the external ossiform structure, and also because the individual can be something else than he is in his original internal nature, and still more than what he is as a skull-bone.
Φ 338. We get, then, the possibility that a given bump or hollow on the skull may denote both something actual as well as a mere disposition, one indeed so little determined in any given direction as to denote something that is not actual at all. We see here, as always, the same result of a bad excuse, viz. that it is itself ready to be used against what it is intended to support. We see the thinking that merely “conjectures” brought by the very force of facts to say in unintelligent fashion the very opposite of what it holds to — to say that there is something indicated by such and such a bone, but also just as truly not indicated at all.
Φ 339. What hovers before this way of “conjecturing” when it makes this excuse is the true thought — a thought, however, which abolishes that way of “conjecturing”, — that being as such is not at all the truth of spirit. As the disposition is an original primordial being, having no share in the activity of mind, just such a being is the skull-bone on its side. What merely is, without participating in spiritual activity, is a thing for consciousness, and so little is it the essence of mind that it is rather the very opposite of it, and consciousness is only actual for itself by the negation and abolition of such a being.
From this point of view it must be regarded as a thorough denial of reason to give out a skull-bone as the actual existence of conscious life, and that is what it is given out to be when it is regarded as the outer expression of spirit; for the external expression is just the existent reality. It is no use to say we merely draw an inference from the outer as to the inner, which is something different, or to say that the outer is not the inner itself but merely its expression. For in the relation of the two to one another the character of the reality which thinks itself and is thought of by itself falls just on the side of the inner, while the outer has the character of existent reality.
When, therefore, a man is told, “You (your inner being) are so and so, because your skull-bone is so constituted,” this means nothing else than that we regard a bone as the man's reality. To retort upon such a statement with a box on the ear — in the way mentioned above when dealing with psysiognomy — removes primarily the “soft” parts of his head from their apparent dignity and position, and proves merely that these are no true inherent nature, are not the reality of mind; the retort here would, properly speaking, have to go the length of breaking the skull of the person who makes a statement like that, in order to demonstrate to him in a manner as palpable as his own wisdom that a bone is nothing of an inherent nature at all for a man., still less his true reality.
Φ 340. The untutored instinct of self-conscious reason will reject without examination phrenology — this other observing instinct of self-conscious reason, which having succeeded in malting a guess at knowledge has grasped knowledge in the soulless form that the outer is an expression of the inner. But the worse the thought, the less sometimes does it strike us where its badness, definitely lies, and the more difficult it is to explain it. For a thought is said to be the worse, the barer and emptier the abstraction, which thought takes to be the essential truth. But in the antithesis here in question the component parts are individuality conscious of itself, and the abstraction of a bare thing, to which externality has been reduced — the inner being of mind taken in the sense of a fixed soulless existence and in opposition to just such a being.
With the attainment of this, however, rational observation seems in fact to have also reached its culminating point, at which it must take leave of itself and turn right about; for it is only when anything is entirely bad that there is an inherent and immediate necessity in it to wheel round completely into its opposite. Just so it may be said of the Jews that it is precisely because they stand directly before the door of salvation, that they are and have been the most reprobate and abandoned: — what the nation should be in and for itself, this, the true inner nature of its self, it is not conscious of being, but puts away beyond itself. By this renunciation it creates for itself the possibility of a higher level of existence, if once it could get the object thus renounced back again to itself, than if it had never left its natural immediate state of existence — because spirit is all the greater the greater the opposition out of which it returns into itself; and such an opposition spirit brings about for itself, by doing away with its immediate unity, and laying aside its self-existence, a separate life of its own. But if such a consciousness does not mediate and reflect itself, the middle position or term where it has a determinate existence is the fatal unholy void, since what should give it substance and filling has been turned into a rigidly fixed extreme. It is thus that this last stage of reason's function of observation is its very worst, and for that reason its complete reversal becomes necessary.
Φ 341. For the survey of the series of relations dealt with up to this point, which constitute the content and object of observation, shows that even in its first form, in observation of the relations of inorganic nature, sensuous being vanished from its ken. The moments of its relation (i.e. that of inorganic nature) present themselves as pure abstractions and as simple notions, which should be kept connected with the existence of things, but this gets lost, so that the abstract moment proves to be a pure movement and a universal. This free, self-complete process retains the significance of something objective; but now appears as a unit. In the process of the inorganic the unit is the inner with no existence. When the process does have existence qua unit, as one and single, it is an organism.
The unit qua self-existent or negative entity stands in antithesis to the universal, throws off its control, and remains independent by itself, so that the notion, being only realized in the condition of absolute dissociation, fails to find in organic existence its genuine expression, in the sense that it is not there, in the form of a universal; it remains an “outer”, or, what is the same thing, an “inner” of organic nature.
The organic process is merely free implicitly (an sich); it is not so explicitly, “for itself” (für sich). The explicit phase of its freedom appears in the idea of purpose, has existence as another inner nature as a self-directing wisdom that lies outside that mere process. Reason's function of observation thus turns its attention to this wisdom, to mind, to the notion actually existing as universality, or to the purpose existing in the form of purpose; and what constitutes its own essential nature is now the object before it.
Φ 342. Reason here in the activity of observation is directed first to the pure abstract form of its essential nature. But since reason, in its apprehension of the object thus working and moving amidst its own distinctions takes this object as something that exists, observation becomes aware of laws of thought, relations of one constant factor to another constant factor. The content of these laws being, however, merely moments, they run together into the single one of self-consciousness.
This new object, taken in the same way as existent, is the contingent individual self-consciousness. The process of observation, therefore, keeps within the “conjectured” meaning of mind, and within the contingent relation of conscious to unconscious reality. Mind alone in itself is the necessity of this relation. Observation, therefore, attacks it at closer quarters, and compares its realization through will and action with its reality when it contemplates and is reflected into itself, a reality which is itself objective. This external aspect, although an utterance of the individual which he himself contains, is at the same time, qua symbol, something indifferent to the content which it is intended to denote, just as what finds for itself the symbol is indifferent to this symbol.
Φ 343. For this reason, observation finally passes from this variable form of utterance back to the permanent fixed being, and in principle declares that externality is the outer immediate reality of mind, not in the sense of an organ, and not like a language or a symbol, but in the sense of a lifeless thing. What the very first form of observation of inorganic nature did away with and superseded, viz. the idea that the notion should appear in the shape of a thing, this last form of observation reinstates so as to turn the reality of mind itself into a thing, or expressing it the other way about, so as to give lifeless being the significance of mind.
Observation has thus reached the point of explicitly expressing what our notion of observation was at the outset, viz. that rational certainty means objectivity of reason, that the certainty of reason seeks itself as an objective reality.
One does not, indeed, suppose that mind, which is represented by a skull, is defined as a thing. There is not meant to be any materialism, as it is called, in this idea; mind rather must be something very different from these bones of the skull. But that mind is, means nothing else than that it is a thing. When being as such, or thingness, is predicated of the mind, the true and genuine expression for this is, therefore, that mind is such an entity as a bone is. Hence it must be considered as supremely important that the true expression has been found for the bare statement regarding mind — that it is. When the statement is ever made about mind, that it is, has a being, is a thing, an individual reality, we do not mean it is something we can see, or knock about, or take in our hands, and so on, but that is what we say, and what the statement really amounts to is consequently conveyed in the expression that the existence of mind is a bone.
Φ 344. This result has now a twofold significance: one is its true meaning, in so far as the result is a completion of the outcome of the preceding movement of self-consciousness. The unhappy self-consciousness renounced its independence, and wrested its distinctive self-existence out into the shape of a thing. By doing so, it left the level of self-consciousness and reverted to the condition of mere consciousness, i.e. to that phase of conscious life for which the object is an existent, a thing. But what is “thing” in this case is self-consciousness; “thing” here is the unity of ego and being — the Category. When the object before consciousness is determined thus, consciousness possesses reason. Consciousness, as well as self-consciousness, is in itself properly reason in an implicit form; but only that consciousness can be said to have reason whose object has the character of being the category. From this, however, we must still distinguish the knowledge of what reason is.
The category, which is the immediate unity of being and self (Seyn und Seinen), must traverse both forms, and the conscious attitude of observation is just where the category is set forth in the form of being. In its result, consciousness expresses that, whose unconscious implicit certainty it is, in the shape of a proposition — the proposition which lies in the very notion of reason. This proposition is the infinite judgment that the self is a thing — a judgment that cancels and transcends itself.
Through this result, then, the category gets the added characteristic of being this self-cancelling opposition. The “pure” category, which is present to consciousness in the form of being or immediacy, is still an unmediated, a merely given object, and the attitude of consciousness is also direct, has no mediation in it. That infinite judgment is the moment which is the transition of immediacy into mediation or negativity. The given present object is therefore characterized as a negative object while consciousness in its relation towards it assumes the form of self-consciousness; or the category, which traversed the form of being in the process of observation, is now set up in the form of self-existence. Consciousness no longer seeks to find itself immediately, but to produce itself by its own activity. Consciousness itself is the purpose and end of its own action, as in the process of observation it had to do merely with things.
Φ 345. The other meaning of the result is the one already considered, that of unsystematic (begrifflos) observation. This has no other way of understanding and expressing itself than by declaring the reality of self-consciousness to consist in the skull-bone, just as it appears in the form of a thing of sense, still retaining its character as an object for consciousness. In stating this, however, it has no clear consciousness as to what the statement involves, and does not grasp the determinate character of the subject and predicate in the proposition and of their relation to one another, still less does it grasp the proposition in the sense of a self-resolving infinite judgment and a notion. Rather, in virtue of a deeper-lying self-consciousness of mind, which has the appearance here of being an innate decency and honesty of nature, it conceals from itself the ignominiousness of such an irrational crude thought a that of taking a bone for the reality of self-consciousness; and the very senselessness of introducing all sorts of relations of cause and effect, symbol”, “organ”, etc., which are perfectly meaningless here, and of hiding away the glaring folly of the proposition behind distinctions derived from them — all this puts a gloss on that thought and whitewashes its naked absurdity.
Φ 346. Brain-fibres and the like, looked at as forms of the being of mind, are already an imagined, a merely hypothetical actuality of mind — not its presented reality, not its felt, seen, in short not its true reality. If they are present to us, if they are seen, they are lifeless objects, and then no longer pass for the being of mind. But its objectivity proper must take an immediate, a sensuous form, so that in this objectivity qua lifeless — for the bone is lifeless so far as the lifeless is found in the living being itself — mind is established as actual.
The principle involved in this idea is that reason claims to be all thinghood, even thinghood of a purely objective kind. It is this, however, in conceptu: or, only this notion is the truth of reason; and the purer the notion itself is, the more silly an idea does it become, if its content does not take the shape of a notion (Begriff) but of a mere presentation or idea (Vorstellung)-if the self-superseding judgment is not taken with the consciousness of this its infinity, but is taken as a stable and permanent proposition, the subject and predicate of which hold good each on its own account, self fixed as self, thing as thing, while one has to be the other all the same.
Reason, essentially the notion, is immediately parted asunder into itself and its opposite, an opposition which just for that reason is immediately again superseded. But if it presents itself in this way as both itself and its opposite, and if it is held fast in the entirely isolated moment of this disintegration, reason is apprehended in an irrational form; and the purer the moments of this opposition are, the more glaring is the appearance of this content, which is either alone for consciousness, or alone expressed ingenuously by consciousness.
The “depth” which mind brings out from within, but carries no further than to make it a presentation (Vorstellung), and let it remain at this level — and the “ignorance” on the part of this consciousness as to what it really says, are the same kind of connexion of higher and lower which, in the case of the living being, nature naïvely expresses when it combines the organ of its highest fulfilment, the organ of generation, with the organ of urination. The infinite judgment qua infinite would be the fulfilment of life that comprehends itself, while the consciousness of the infinite judgment that remains at the level of presentation corresponds to urination.