Litopia

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Reality Check Dangers of the Absolute

Status
Not open for further replies.

Tom's House

Basic
LV
0
 
The Quest for the Absolute is what writers and musicians and painters do when they're aiming high enough. It is a perilous path to set out on.

The quest is the attempt to capture in art a perfect, ineffable utterance—that which cannot be known or said in any language. It can lead to silence and even death, though this does not stop some artists from trying to say it or write it or sound it out in music or paint it.

When Hart Crane wrote that

“And then a perfect cry/
Shall string some constant harmony”

he was talking about a hoped-for success where, as he was finding out day by day, no success was possible. When the critic Harold Bloom said that Crane wrote “each lyric in such a way that you literally feel he’s going to die if he can’t bring it off,” he was right.

Another poet, Stephane Mallarme was haunted by “le vide papier que la blancheur défend (the blank page defended by its whiteness).” For him the first black marks (words) that any writer puts on that page blemish its purity and move away from the absolute, not toward it. Hemingway spoke of the need to write “one true sentence.” In his own mind, he never achieved this.

And so one night in 1932 Hart Crane leapt from the deck of a passenger ship into the dark waters of the Gulf of Mexico and drowned. Mallarme retreated into a virtually impenetrable obscurity in his search for the transcendent Book (written with a capital B). Hemingway blew his brains out with a shotgun blast.

I think, too, of Charlie Parker trying to squeeze the perfect improvisational phrase out of Lover Man in a Los Angeles recording studio not long before he finally succeeded in killing himself with heroin. Tenor saxist Sonny Rollins followed Bird five years later. A young Stan Getz was luckier. After time in prison for robbing a drugstore he continued on a longer career. Yet for all its lyrical beauty the music he created thereafter lacked the terrible intensity and metaphysical splendor of his early work. He gave up the absolute to live life within the confines of the possible.


(Excerpt from The Editor, a novel in progress)
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
Byron also complained of the Muse. 'If I don't write to empty my mind I go mad.' Apart from that, to be a bird that sings because it must, they're trying to bottle the genie, and they don't seem to have realized...or else they did but couldn't accept it - they were doomed to fail by their own standard. The absolute is inimical to all nature. The truth in a line of writing is something that can only be apprehended by the reader. For the writer to think it is for them to do all alone is hubris. Mozart's music calms animals, so they say. The genius...and that word does mean spirit not skill...was his, but the response is the animal's.
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
That's so well put Kirsten. Mirror, mirror.... Man learns nothing by gazing at his own reflection. Self- consciousness is a disease of our times. The Enlightenment over-elevated reason at the expense of understanding, and meanwhile, like some desert religions, had the wicked arrogance to assert the downgrading the birds and beasts as nothing but moving bits of meat to be enslaved, because it suited, and for no true reason but vanity and in the service of agriculture.
 

Marc Joan

Basic
LV
0
 
Konx. Quest for the absolute -- or quest for absolution? If people run to the Absolute, are they really running away from themselves and their memories?
Om. Quest for absolution or quest for dissolution? If they find the Absolute, are they sucked in and crushed (or liberated) by its singularity?
Pax. What's harder for them to bear -- the face of God or the grin of a demon? Truth hurts.
Excuse me -- I hear the sound of one hand clapping -- think I have a visitor. Better go.
 

Amber

Basic
LV
0
 
Quintessential maybe — not absolute. Absolutes are boring.

Oh. I guess you mean something which is universal. A whole hell of a lot is universal.

I actually don’t agree that artists are looking for what is absolute. Or, that they’re looking for truth. Or, even that the examples you’ve given are examples of artists who suffered for their search for the absolute, as your post appears to imply. If I recall, Hemingway was a drunk. A drunk because he was a writer? Or a writer because he was a drunk? Or, just a drunk. Would or romantic sensibilities collapse if we let drunks simply be drunks?

There are probably lots of reasons why people write or do anything creative. I can’t help resisting it when artists are put into any sort of box, even if it’s a pretty one. We’re not the same. I was raised by an artist. But I’m different from my mother. I know lots of artists, We’re different. We have a lot in common, but there is much which is universal. My favorite artist isn’t temperamental at all but rather intuitive and introverted.

It’s not so great when anyone is put in a box but I feel there’s something slightly pretentious about saying ‘This is what a writer is’ . It never ceases to annoy me. This is what a writer drinks...wears... this is their temperament... this is what drives them... the reason they write... this is what they eat ... this is how they sleep.... the pretentious part has to do with affectation. But no one here does that, I’m sure.

I don’t always know why i write, but i don’t ever stop writing, even when I don’t write what I feel I’m ‘supposed’ to write. I do have what some might call an artistic temperament, being moody and over dramatic, but I am not an extrovert. I do always have pen and paper with me, but I’d be lying if I said I use it for moments of inspiration. However, I don’t actually lack for inspiration, as far as I can recollect, i never have. Which, is a totally different issue than being able to exercise some discipline and organization. I’ve never stared at a blank screen. i have written all night long, but I don’t know if that’s because I’m a writer or because I’m an insomniac or because i simply felt like it. I tend to do what I want to do and while I certainly felt driven the nights I’ve stayed up writing, i’ve often felt driven in my life. I follow things down rabbit holes all the time. I don’t drink. I’m not in search of truth because after thinking about truth for about ten years, truth and i came to an understanding. I don’t have a writing hat or a lucky troll and i don’t need a cup of coffee or tea before I write. I don’t chew on cigars, dip, or shoot heroin. I do often forget to eat, but again, is that something i do or is it because I’m possessed by the muse? No. It’s something i do. I’m not so at peace with truth that I’m willing to create a character of myself when I’m supposed to be creating characters. Artists would be doing themselves and all future artists a favor if they didn’t attribute every mood swing and affectation to their needs as artists.

And after saying all that, which I’m sure you did not ask for, I do know one good reason for people to write. Write if you have a story to tell that no one else can tell. It might be the best reason.
 

Amber

Basic
LV
0
 
Cogito ergo sum.. It was a simple in-loop/out-of-loop feedback problem. Complete self-knowledge is never possible in-loop, so you look out-of-loop. God creates man or man creates God to serve as his mirror so that he can judge whether or not what he is doing is Good. When God disappears in a technological transformation, we search for him in the mirrors we create within our machines. Deux ex machina.
(for a writer, the 'machine' is the work in progress.. for a doctor, the 'machine' is the human body, for a physicist, the 'machine' is the cosmos)
Am I suffering from the Causubon delusion that there is a key which will decode all of these reflections and reveal them all as one and the same?

Oh. I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with ‘Cogito, Ergo, Sum’. Although, there might not be all that much right about it. I think it’s useful in the way simple things can often clear the head. It’s not so comprehensive as to mean complete understanding but the exact opposite. Part of what he was saying was that, ‘This is all i can know for sure.’ So. Very little.

We’re going to talk god tonight? Is that a good idea? Just saying....

It’s possible we make god in our own image. It seems to me god has very little say in it.

Deus ex machina translates as ‘god in the machine’ but it seems to me you’re using a different definition than what is usually meant. It means taking the easy way out and giving your characters a power up to get out of trouble instead of having them earn their way out of their troubles.

I don’t know if you’re deluded. Probably not any more than anyone else. Metaphysicians believe everything is connected and there is some evidence in the field of quantum physics which suggests everything is connected. In fact, you can find connections between most disciplines, principles which unite. The Fibonacci sequence is one I can think of off the top of my head. Good stuff for sci-if.
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
Very interesting @Amber. And true. If one looks for connections, they will be found. I find this all the time in doing any piece of research. Whatever you seek, you will find reinforcement, so you need to look for a longer run of data. Never less than 3. Mankind's got binocular eyes like the owls. We've got the crappiest claws and teeth now, but still we're built along the lines of a hunting animal as much as a gathering or prey animal. Our eyes are pretty good though, better than many other species, made for seeking pattern, and that means a knee- jerk reaction to a sudden break in pattern.
 

Amber

Basic
LV
0
 
Very interesting @Amber. And true. If one looks for connections, they will be found. I find this all the time in doing any piece of research. Whatever you seek, you will find reinforcement, so you need to look for a longer run of data. Never less than 3. Mankind's got binocular eyes like the owls. We've got the crappiest claws and teeth now, but still we're built along the lines of a hunting animal as much as a gathering or prey animal. Our eyes are pretty good though, better than many other species, made for seeking pattern, and that means a knee- jerk reaction to a sudden break in pattern.

I have to admit I'm always slightly nervous when reading your responses. You might be insightful. Of course I can't disagree with anything you've said but I'm left with the sense there's something I should be learning.

Anyway... aren't owls the deadliest animals? I've never seen one live but I can't get over the sense that they would calmly and quietly swoop down on an elk and swallow it whole.
 

Amber

Basic
LV
0
 
Doesn't luck always feel unearned? In that sense, Deux ex machina luck is something that we all deal with in our lives and work. We all are blessed and cursed in various ways, yet when we reap the fruits of our lucky works, we are often unsure if we alone are responsible for the work.

While a group of people can't collectively will a living breathing giant spaghetti monster into existence, they can will the idea of a spaghetti monster into existence and that idea is just as real as any physical thing if it influences how people behave. Can such a spaghetti monster create physical objects like people or robots? Why not?

Luck is a little bit like god. I don't know if I believe the hype and I'll stick to my own ideas. And no, I've never been unable to not find a pattern in real life. Usually I can find more than one. They become clutter. For instance, Trump. So many possibilities as to what went wrong. Do we have time for this? No. Keep moving.

You could say an example of luck is that my parents always had enough money to feed and clothe me. So, luck of birth. But was it luck? Mostly, it just is or was. There are benefits to every circumstance and often unexpected negatives to situations which are normally termed positives.

Metaphysicians absolutely believe you can will a spaghetti monster into existence. I'm not going to say all of them any more than I would say all Christians (and there are Christian Metaphysicians). But that's the deal with metaphysics, we create the world in which we live. Some believe it in a more metaphoric sense. Others, believe it is a literal possibility. I'm so glad I don't have to decide.

And.... well I didn't mean to apply deus ex machina to real life. The terms applies to fiction and I think has its origins in Greek theater. Yes, fiction needs to be plausible. I'm sure of it. 100%.
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
Nervous? @Amber. Why so? Nay lass. There's lots I don't say but the same goes for everyone. I protect myself and maybe others by not 'looking' at people or situations in that way, not unless I sit down to do so, or I have permission. I would never trespass.

Metaphysics. Dion Fortune created a thought form. A wolf. She was angry but didn't mean to. And I wouldn't have thought it was possible to do any such thing, except I created something once, only a cat, but it was blooming alarming at times, and became more real over time, so that it had weight if no measurable mass. These things may be consciously created by prayer, ritual etc. All I can say about that, is that it was entirely unconsciously created but consciously banished, for which I was both relieved and regretful afterwards as it did no harm whatsoever, except startle me, and the family member who witnessed it early one evening as we lay on my bed chatting, watching the evening news. Trapped energy can build in unexpected ways. Immobility traps energy.

Owls are vulnerable to getting wet if its cold, they don't withstand that too well, but they're supreme hunters, and so beautiful aren't they? This was me meeting a Little Owl, only 5 inches high. Dudley the Deadly. He'd got the tiniest and therefore the worst peck, max pressure per square centimetre. The rascal.

Dudley.jpg
 
Last edited:

Amber

Basic
LV
0
 
Owls are vulnerable to getting wet if its cold, they don't withstand that too well, but they're supreme hunters, and so beautiful aren't they? This was me meeting a Little Owl, only 5 inches high. Dudley the Deadly. He'd got the tiniest and therefore the worst peck, max pressure per square centimetre. The rascal.

View attachment 2257

They look so cool. Birds don't like me but I enjoy looking at them and it seems I've put them in a world I'm writing stories in so... surprised the hell out of me because I know next to nothing about birds.

I'm going to put an owl in the story too. Only one so it will stand out and it will do unexpected scary things.... sit around looking cute while being totally deadly. Maybe I'll make it a fat owl.
 

Marc Joan

Basic
LV
0
 
Cogito ergo sum.. It was a simple in-loop/out-of-loop feedback problem. Absolute self-knowledge is never possible in-loop, so you look out-of-loop. God creates man or man creates God to serve as his mirror so that he can judge whether or not what he is doing is Good. When God disappears in a technological transformation, we search for him in the mirrors we create within our machines. Deux ex machina.
(for a writer, the 'machine' is the work in progress.. for a doctor, the 'machine' is the human body, for a physicist, the 'machine' is the cosmos)
Am I suffering from the Causubon delusion that there is a key which will decode all of these reflections and reveal them all as one and the same?
The brain is hard-wired to look for patterns, all the way from the electrophysiology of the retina back to higher-order processing. Do the patterns it detects actually exist? The best answer is that some probably do and some probably don't, maybe. There's not much we can be sure about when so much of what we perceive is a construction of the mind. Hence Descartes' attempt to get back to basics with 'Cogito ergo sum', as you mentioned. Poor Casaubon.
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
Very cool. Are they owls which have been rescued or owls that rescue?

@Amber Rescued. Though they're rescuers too, in a sense. One's a Barn owl and one's a Little Owl. Last summer, driving back from my parents late evening, the moor was absolutely alive with owl. They were hunting in pairs, criss-crossing, quartering the road which was teeming with rabbits. Short- Eared owls. over a dozen sweeping low across the windscreen.

We see patterns in the stars, call them constellations, name them and know their stories. Does that pattern exist? It both does and doesn't. Anyone can see it, if it's pointed out, but Orion's belt for example, is made of three stars at vastly different distances from Earth. Never mind, the ancient Arabs saw that belt and named it so. Alnilam, Alnitak and Mintaka.

Perception is one thing. Perception that you can act on in immediate practical terms another, but meaning is where you find it.
 

Marc Joan

Basic
LV
0
 
But when they found it, it was probably somewhere else -- ditto the Greeks and Babylonians before them. Precession, I think it's called? Constellations move over time, anyway. The ancients' spheres rolled to a different music.
 

NickP

Basic
Banned
LV
0
 
My understanding of the "objective correlative" is that it is an attempt by a poet or writer to use, essentially, a metaphor to conjure up a specific (emotional) response. So a novel is an extended metaphor, and seeks to shed light on an aspect of being human.

A novel is healthier than a poem from a writer's point of view because it a monster rough hewn from a big chunk of granite. A poem - a poem is dangerous because it should be just so, that exact word, like the exact note in music, hard to pin down , get in order and the whole has to work to create that desired response.

Unless you buy into the jot something down and let the the reader work it, sort of thing.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top