Words

Life

Epicurianism

by Andrea Elizabeth

But Donna Anna and Zerlina are moved by pity for their fiances. They become maternal towards them. Don Giovanni flatters them instead, but his flattery seems sincere. The women are moved by pride and vanity in the worst sense, but if there is something glorious in feminine nature, beside maternal virtues, then shouldn’t this be appreciated? Shouldn’t a flower be happy its a pretty flower? Husbands should know how to love their wives for being women, not just stoic mothers. This reminds me of That Hideous Strength after the heroin has had a grand adventure with Ransom, she has to go back to an apartment where her husband has left a mess. Ransom tells her to be happy about it anyway.

Don Giovanni

by Andrea Elizabeth

Don Giovanni is considered the greatest opera by many great men, including Kierkegaard and Tchaikovsky. However, it ranks 10th of most performed operas. I would say that this is because women don’t like it as much. It’s not so much that it makes them look bad, but because their best and happiest choice isn’t their first choice. When the women submit to their proper lot, thankfully tension is relieved. The dogged devotion of the one available woman, Elvira, is pretty pitiful.

But Kierkegaard is about keeping the tension. I read a preview in another review of the opera that Kierkegaard tributes Don Juan with giving life to milktoast people, “The desperate Don’s comeuppance, though, strikes me as unfair. As Kierkegaard noted in Either/Or, Don Giovanni is the opera‘s erotically animating presence. “His passion resonates everywhere; it resonates in and supports the Commendatore’s earnestness, Elvira’s wrath, Anna’s hate, Ottavio’s pomposity, Zerlina’s anxiety, Mazetto’s indignation, Leporello’s confusion. As the hero in the opera, Don Giovanni is the denominator of the piece.” Take him away and you’re left with the bourgeois moralising of the opera’s epilogue – an epilogue that any director worth their salt would cut were it not for Mozart’s music.”

Further down in the same article, ” “I see this piece as a study of man’s fear of death,” said Guth, when asked what is modern about this opera about an 18th-century rake.”

Zerlina comes off pretty well since she protested before it was too late, even though she was initially tempted. She came to terms with her own thirst for fire, and through her fiance’s indignation and willingness to fight, she was convinced and found resolution. To her, being satisfied with her husband was not death. To Donna Anna, Don Juan had to die. To Elvira and Don Juan, her not having him, and his not having all women, was death. They were too far gone.

This attributing life-giving properties to Don Juan almost sounds like saying evil is necessary. It is true that conflict enlivens a story and that worthy opponents are the most satisfying. But Orthodox don’t go there. And we don’t know what the alternative could have been. But can we only enjoy heaven if we have to overcome the temptations of this fallen world? Is heaven really boring on its own? Surely not. I think boredom is also a product of the fall.

sometimes allelujah

by Andrea Elizabeth

There is a terrible paragraph in Diapsalmata (Either/Or by Søren Kierkegaard) where A says that he despises people. I’ve almost quoted it several times, but it is so horrible. It’s on page 40. Again, does he really despise people? He also says he doesn’t do them wrong, for then he would have lost. He stays aloof in order to keep from hurting them. When he’s happy, it’s as if the jinn of joy danced around him, not human people. I’ve read that he talked to people constantly, but I think he was interviewing them, actually. I saw Stephen King interviewed by Paula Zahn and he read her like a book and played her. So when relating becomes research it loses its personal connection. “You don’t want to know what I really think. To find that out, read my book.” But the writer knows that the character he creates is a morphed version, and not the essence of the inspirer, even if the person’s motivation is nailed. If it is. Therefore it is not an injustice.

Back to page 72. Writing is reflection, but not the immediate. Music captures the immediate, but it is sensual. The spiritual is also immediate, but not sensual. Words reflect on the spiritual after the fact.

“Allelujah” is the most spiritual, immediate word I can think of. But actually, it is musical. It is speaking in tongues, as it were. But one has to mean it, which makes it prayer.

But what about heated exchanges? I suppose they are reflective when one is recalling injustices, for instance. But what about reflexive outbursts? No! I suppose that is more musical too.

Words of praise are reflective, but when spoken there is an immediate effect on the hearer. But it is recalling the past. But what about an effusive verbal reaction to someone’s immediate presence? An uninhibited, Wow! Again, musical.

I am wondering if he’s separating the sensual from the spiritual too much. Yes, we strive towards imageless prayer, but yet we rely heavily on icons. We strive for silent prayer, but we unceasingly repeat the Jesus Prayer. We remove our sensual response by unemotionally chanting from our prayer books. Chanting is akin to singing. All of this is given to us, though, and we don’t rely on our senses to generate it. We use our nous to listen and obey the Church instead.

Aye

by Andrea Elizabeth

The ethicists won. Those practical, frugal Scotts.

But to the aesthetically awesome, kilt-bedecked Nessy believers, I say, do not despair! For a while it was 50/50, and everyone believed Scotland to be brave. That smaller and diverse was better and more real than a conglomerated safety net.

The queen is glorying in the democratic ideal where the people get to peacefully speak and decide. Would that the South had had that chance, but somehow Lincoln made an ocean of bloodshed glorious, and he’s Ken Burns’ favorite person?

What would have happened if the South had been allowed to make the wrong decision and there had been economic hardship? Couldn’t they have learned from experience and rejoined by their own free will? We will never know because the cold-blooded doom and gloomers say we’ll all starve to death. Not get a little hungry and adjust our plan. No, STARVE to DEATH!

The aesthete who tries to be ethical

by Andrea Elizabeth

Half-way through Don Giovanni, and a question I read on Either/Or in Wikipedia is in my mind. “Don Juan is split between the esthetic and the ethical. He’s lost in the multiplicity of the “1,003 women he has to seduce”.[21]Faust seduces just one woman. Kierkegaard is writing deep theology here. He’s asking if God seduces 1,003 people at one time or if he seduces one single individual at a time in order to make a believer.”

Then I also thought of St. Augustine, whose Confessions I am about half-way through listening to, though distracted while driving. He was a bit of a Don Juan in his younger years, but settled down with a single mistress. I couldn’t remember why he didn’t marry her, and in looking it up, I came upon this sad reflection about how he couldn’t get from St. Ambrose what he wanted:

“Nor did he know my own frustrations, nor the pit of my danger. For I could not request of him what I wanted as I wanted it, because I was debarred from hearing and speaking to him by crowds of busy people to whose infirmities he devoted himself. And when he was not engaged with them–which was never for long at a time–he was either refreshing his body with necessary food or his mind with reading.

 But actually I could find no opportunity of putting the questions I desired to that holy oracle of thine in his heart, unless it was a matter which could be dealt with briefly. However, those surgings in me required that he should give me his full leisure so that I might pour them out to him; but I never found him so. I heard him, indeed, every Lord’s Day, “rightly dividing the word of truth” among the people.”

I will not judge if St. Ambrose failed him, but maybe it is the nature of a writer to write in his frustration. Prolific Kierkegaard may have been similarly frustrated with not having the right person to talk to, so he wrote instead. And wrote and wrote and wrote. I came across a neat quote from Teddy Roosevelt about writing:

“Write no matter how tired you are, no matter how inconvenient it is; write if you’re smashed up in the hospital; write when you are doing your most dangerous stunts; write when your work is most irksome and disheartening; write all the time!” from a letter to his son, Quentin.

Back to St. Augustine, “I was enamored of a happy life, but I still feared to seek it in its own abode, and so I fled from it while I sought it. I thought I should be miserable if I were deprived of the embraces of a woman, and I never gave a thought to the medicine that thy mercy has provided for the healing of that infirmity, for I had never tried it.” The Aesthete.

But I wont dismiss it completely as that. “My mistress was torn from my side as an impediment to my [entering] marriage, and my heart which clung to her was torn and wounded till it bled. And she went back to Africa, vowing to thee never to know any other man and leaving with me my natural son by her.”

I read elsewhere that a marriage to her, after 10 years of living with her, wouldn’t have suited his station in life. While I commend St. Monica’s devotion in prayer for her son, I don’t commend her ambition for him to reach his potential. I don’t agree with him either that his bond with this woman was just an affliction. Couldn’t she have been the help-meet described at the beginning of Genesis?

my one and only

by Andrea Elizabeth

I think he’s also using as a template the idea of the exclusivity of erotic, aesthetic love. Mozart is it. Words are it. But Don Juan was not constant, yet Don Giovanni is It. Silly Kierkegaard.

unsung

by Andrea Elizabeth

up to page 70 of Either/Or by Søren Kierkegaard.

Music is posited by the aesthetic speaker, A, to be demonic in its spiritual, abstract, sensuality. Words are concrete and superior, though tend to the lyrical and musical. Indeed where words leave off, music begins. Nature, architecture, paintings, and sculpture are silent. Their medium is the sensuous, and not an instrument as words are. Music was categorized as above only after Christianity, which detached itself from the sensual.

I’ll not quibble with the possible implication of anti-material dualism, but maybe the neoplatonic law of diminishing completeness. The pro column could include that

Jesus is The Word.

verbal thought necessitates a certain detachment from what is being experienced, leaving room for a free will response.

Although we seek to put the mind in the heart, this does not include a negation of the mind, and there is also the teaching that the senses are to be subject to the rational soul.

However, and maybe he’ll get to it when he talks more about the spiritual or the eternal, and I wonder if he’s intimated at it with his discussion of psychic immediacy, the teaching on the nous is that

Human reasoning is not enough: there will always remain an “irrational residue” which escapes analysis and which can not be expressed in concepts: it is this unknowable depth of things, that which constitutes their true, indefinable essence that also reflects the origin of things in God. In Eastern Christianity it is by faith or intuitive truth that this component of an objects existence is grasped.[71] Though God through his energies draws us to him, his essence remains inaccessible.[71] The operation of faith being the means of free will by which mankind faces the future or unknown, these noetic operations contained in the concept of insight or noesis.[72] Faith (pistis) is therefore sometimes used interchangeably with noesis in Eastern Christianity.

Regarding the silent mediums, could he be exaggeratedly rendering silent meditative contemplation unnecessary?

I suppose there is a time to speak, a time for silence, a time for music, and a time for painting. Who knows what it will be like when we enter timelessness.

Healthcare 2

by Andrea Elizabeth

I started a sequel to complain about how healthcare has gotten out of hand in scale and costs because people are too greedy to always feel and look good, but it was too morbid and so sits in my drafts bin. The problem is that pain and death are not our chief ends in life. Yes, God can use them to encourage us to make good decisions, and to stop us from doing bad things, but this is because we are programmed to avoid pain and death. I reread the passage about Hezekiah begging not to die and how he was told he would have bad sons who would lead the nation into captivity to Babylon if he was given more time, and he said, Yay, I’m not going to die yet! Some people are just not psychologically ready for it. Martyrs are. They are living for a higher good. But we can’t have a universal policy that everyone needs to be a martyr. That would make one Diocletian or Oliver Cromwell.

I like that the original Christian hospitals were built on mercy. Mercy is different than entitlement, however. A person looking for mercy wants relief from the results of something that is their own fault. Entitlement says, give it to me now or I’ll sue you. The latter is my problem with American healthcare. It is why even 30 years ago I wanted to be a missionary to Africa instead of practicing nursing here. I ended up nursing here anyway for 10 years, and most were really nice patients. Hurting humbles people. It was some of the families and administrators who kept the threat of lawsuits looming in the atmosphere. Protective roles can also make people aggressive.

funny Hegel line and what makes a classic eternal

by Andrea Elizabeth

After criticizing excessive form in overdecoration, and he did live in Victorian times, he says this,

“Like so many others, however, this effort found its subduer in Hegel. It is a sad truth about Hegelian philosophy that on the whole it has by no means achieved the importance, neither for the past nor for the present age, that it would have achieved if the past age had not been so busy scaring people into it but had rather possessed a little more calm presence of mind in appropriating it to itself, and if the present age had not been so indefatigably active in driving people beyond it. Hegel reinstated the subject matter, the idea, in its rights and thereby ousted those transient classic works, those superficialities, those twilight moths from the arched vaults of classicism. It is by no means our intention to deny these works the value that is their due, but the point is to watch out lest here, as in so many other places, the language become confused, the concepts enervated. A certain eternity may be readily attributed to them, and this is their merit, but still this eternity is actually only the eternal moment that any true artistic production has, but not the full eternity in the midst of the shifts and changes of the times. What these productions lacked was ideas, and the more formally perfect they were, the more quickly they burned themselves out. As technical skill was more and more developed to the highest level of virtuosity, the more transient this virtuosity became and the more it lacked the mettle and power or balance to withstand the gusts of time, while more and more exalted it continually made greater claims to being the most distilled spirit. Only where the idea is brought to rest and transparency in a definite form can there be any question of a classic work, but then it will also be capable of withstanding the times. This unity, this mutual intimacy in each other, every classic work has, and thus it is readily perceived that every attempt at a classification of the various classic works that has as its point of departure a separation of subject matter and form or of idea and form is eo ipso a failure.” (p. 53, 54, Either/Or, Soren Kierkegaard)

Kierkegaard speaks of form and content as a marriage, and I would add, similarly to the language of the two natures of Christ in Chalcedon that I always have to look up, but love hearing, “One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as from the beginning the prophets have taught concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself hath taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers hath handed down to us.[2]

I read that Kierkegaard did not think Hegel had it, but the above is somewhat of a tribute anyway for ousting superficiality. Perhaps he is referring to Hegel’s thesis, antithesis, synthesis in that Hegel acknowledged some sort of balance? But synthesis could be likened to saying Christ is a hybrid, which Chalcedon denies. It puts two things at odds with each other and they both have to change in order to inhabit the same place. I listened to Ken Burns on NPR the other day talking about his new documentary on the Roosevelts and he said that it is better to let two contradictory things sit in tension with each other than to make a single judgment about them that is ultimately untrue and dismisses them to find a false peace or relief from the tension. In the paragraph before, Kierkegaard says, “Although paradoxes are otherwise detested, the paradox that the least was actually art was not dismaying.” In other words, less is more.

nostalgia revisited

by Andrea Elizabeth

“It will be something which will move us on a deep spiritual level – much deeper than emotion! This level of experiencing is akin to a state of NOSTALGHIA. Here the word “nostalghia”, which one of Tarkovsky’s films bears as its title, is to be understood not in the English sense of “nostalgia”, but in the sense it has in the Russian language: a state of unquenchable longing for one’s homeland. And since the homeland of the spirit lies far above this earth, “nostalghia” of the spirit for the Light is that inexplicable longing we feel when nothing on earth seems to satisfy us, nothing seems to come up to that ideal of harmony and beauty, which we carry deep inside us as a vague memory from our distant homeland. Far from being an imaginary place dreamt up by poets, it is a place as real as the earth – and it is precisely the reality of that memory, which the poets in all branches of the arts throughout all the ages have tried to convey to us. Tarkovsky himself stated that he was not satisfied with the screenplay for his film Nostalghia until he succeeded in expanding the more narrow concept of Russian “nostalghia” (the longing to return to Russia) into a more profound “global yearning for the wholeness of existence,” so that the film “came together at last into a kind of metaphysical whole.” http://users.hal-pc.org/~questers/TARKOVSKY.html

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers