The letter of Lord Chandos

Morning mystery

Morning mystery

Hugo von Hofmannsthal

The Letter of Lord Chandos

This is the letter Philip, Lord Chandos, younger son of the Earl of Bath, wrote to Francis Bacon, later Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, apologising for his complete abandonment of literary ac­tivity.

…To sum up: In those days I, in a state of continuous in­toxication, conceived the whole of existence as one great unit: the spiritual and physical worlds seemed to form no contrast, as little as did courtly and bestial conduct, art and barbarism, solitude and society; in everything I felt the pres­ence of Nature, in the aberrations of insanity as much as in the utmost refinement of the Spanish ceremonial; in the boorishness of young peasants no less than in the most deli­cate of allegories; and in all expressions of Nature I felt myself. …

Abundance

Abundance

…For what had it to do with pity, or with any comprehensible concatenation of human thought when, on another evening, on finding beneath a nut-tree a half-filled pitcher which a gardener boy had left there, and the pitcher and the water in it, darkened by the shadow of the tree, and a beetle swimming on the surface from shore to shore, when this combination of trifles sent through me such a shudder at the presence of the Infinite, a shudder running from the roots of my hair to the marrow of my heels? What was it that made me want to break into words which, I know, were I to find them, would force to their knees those cherubim in whom I do not believe? What made me turn silently away from this place?

July quiet

July quiet

Even now, after weeks, catching sight of that nut-tree, I pass it by with a shy sidelong glance, for I am loath to dispel the memory of the miracle hovering there round the trunk, loath to drive away the unearthly tremors that still pulse around the nearby foliage. In these moments an insignificant creature – a dog, a rat, a beetle, a crippled apple tree, a lane winding over the hill, a moss-covered stone, mean more to me than the most beautiful, abandoned mistress of the happiest night.

Drenched

Drenched

These mute and, on occasion, inanimate creatures rise toward me with such an abundance, such a presence of love, that my enchanted eye can find nothing in sight void of life. Every­thing that exists, everything I can remember, everything touched upon by my confused thoughts, has a meaning. Even my own heaviness, the general torpor of my brain, seems to acquire a meaning; I experience in and around me a blissful, never-ending interplay, and among the objects playing against one another there is not one into which I cannot flow.

Falling

Falling

To me, then, it is as though my body consists of nought but ciphers which give me the key to everything; or as if we could enter into a new and hopeful relationship with the whole of exist­ence if only we begin to think with the heart. As soon, how­ever, as this strange enchantment falls from me, I find myself confused; wherein this harmony transcending me and the en­tire world consisted, and how it made itself known to me, I could present in sensible words as little as I could say any­thing precise about the inner movements of my intestines or a congestion of my blood. …

Busy as

Busy as

…For my unnamed blissful feeling is sooner brought about by a distant lonely shepherd’s fire than by the vision of a starry sky, sooner by the chirping of the last dying cricket when the autumn wind chases wintry clouds across the deserted fields than by the majestic booming of an organ. And in my mind I compare myself from time to time with the orator Crassus, of whom it is reported that he grew so excessively enamoured of a tame lamprey – a dumb, apathetic, red-eyed fish in his ornamental pond – that it became the talk of the town; and when one day in the Senate Domitius reproached him for having shed tears over the death of this fish, attempting thereby to make him appear a fool, Crassus answered, “Thus have I done over the death of my fish as you have over the death of neither your first nor your second wife.”

Luminescence

Luminescence

I know not how oft this Crassus with his lamprey enters my mind as a mirrored image of my Self, reflected across the abyss of centuries. But not on account of the answer he gave Domitius. The answer brought the laughs on his side, and the whole affair turned into a jest. I, however, am deeply affected by the affair, which would have remained the same even had Domitius shed bitter tears of sorrow over his wives. For there would still have been Crassus, shedding tears over his lam­prey. And about this figure, utterly ridiculous and contempti­ble in the midst of a world-governing senate discussing the most serious subjects, I feel compelled by a mysterious power to reflect in a manner which, the moment I attempt to express it in words, strikes me as supremely foolish.

Complicated

Complicated

Now and then at night the image of this Crassus is in my brain, like a splinter round which everything festers, throbs, and boils. It is then that I feel as though I myself were about to ferment, to effervesce, to foam and to sparkle. And the whole thing is a kind of feverish thinking, but thinking in a medium more immediate, more liquid, more glowing than words. It, too, forms whirlpools, but of a sort that do not seem to lead, as the whirlpools of language, into the abyss, but into myself and into the deepest womb of peace.

The price of gold

The price of gold

I have troubled you excessively, my dear friend, with this extended description of an inexplicable condition which is wont, as a rule, to remain locked up in me.

You were kind enough to express your dissatisfaction that no book written by me reaches you any more, “to compensate for the loss of our relationship.” Reading that, I felt, with a certainty not entirely bereft of a feeling of sorrow, that neither in the coming year nor in the following nor in all the years of this my life shall I write a book, whether in English or in Latin: and this for an odd and embarrassing reason which I must leave to the boundless superiority of your mind to place in the realm of physical and spiritual values spread out har­moniously before your unprejudiced eye: to wit, because the language in which I might be able not only to write but to think is neither Latin nor English, neither Italian nor Spanish, but a language none of whose words is known to me, a lan­guage in which inanimate things speak to me and wherein I may one day have to justify myself before an unknown judge.

Glow

Glow

Fain had I the power to compress in this, presumably my last, letter to Francis Bacon all the love and gratitude, all the unmeasured admiration, which I harbour in my heart for the greatest benefactor of my mind, for the foremost Englishman of my day, and which I shall harbour therein until death break it asunder.

This 22 August, A.D. 1603

PHI. CHANDOS

red-star

Source

With many thanks to Steven Baird for his permission to use his images

A fundamental difference between China and Australia: vision and the lack of it

Sydney-light-rail1

‘Light rail construction in the CBD. Secret document warns vision for Sydney’s light rail ignored realities.’

Sydney-light-rail2

Chinese-passenger-drone

2018-Range-Rover

red-star

Images: 1st/2nd/3rd ‘China Watch’/China Daily, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26.10.18/4th

 

The aesthetic relation of art to reality – design in the Sistine Chapel and in the storms of Jupiter

JupiterComplex_JunoMarriott_2324

Jupiter’s zones and belts dominant near its equator decay into a complex pattern of continent-sized storm swirls

sistine-chapel-ceiling-flattened-3

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling, 1508-1512, Vatican City

red-star

Images: top/bottom

NASA and a disk, science and art

Seven_Dusty_Sisters

Seven Dusty Sisters – the Pleiades star cluster.

1024px-Pleiades_large

A colour-composite image of the Pleiades from the Digitised Sky Survey

220px-Nebra_Scheibe

The Nebra sky disk, dated circa 1600 BC. The cluster of dots in the upper right portion of the disk is believed to be the Pleiades. Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

red-star

Images: top/middle/bottom

‘Massive stars form and explode, and brown filaments of dust are strewn about.’

Antennae_HubblePestana_960

Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision

‘Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite. We have before this (§80) identified Understanding with what is implied in the popular idea of the goodness of God; we may now remark of Dialectic, in the same objective signification, that its principle answers to the idea of his power. All things, we say – that is, the finite world as such – are doomed; and in saying so, we have a vision of Dialectic as the universal and irresistible power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself.’ G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, Trans., William Wallace, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, Remark to §81, 118.

The hostility towards Neoplatonism and dialectical materialism by the learned servants of the bourgeoisie and their inability to embrace them are for the same reasons – both the prime importance to this current of what they have assigned to ‘the feminine’ – the ephemeral, the creative, that which resists control and particularly, its recognition of the engine of contradiction with its resultant flux. Everything but change itself will pass.

The ideological silence for so long in academia with regard to the pervasive impact of mysticism on Western culture, particularly its primary Western form Neoplatonism and the distortions and fluff written and spoken in the attempt to explain that influence away can be compared with the erasure of a two thousand year history of materialism from Indian philosophy. The only place where this ‘survives’ is in the writing of those who hated it. Some of those in the West who built their careers on never using the word ‘mysticism’ other than disparagingly or on explaining it away are now teaching it as though it has been ever thus. They make a mockery of philosophy and excellently exemplify the early stages of a major adjustment in capitalist ideology – from ‘modernism’ to ‘postmodernism’ to…? What will the new ‘ism’ be that denies or instils doubt regarding the primacy of objective reality? 

shell-spiral

red-star

Images: top/bottom

The difference between what is best in U.S. culture and the culture of the U.S.’s fearful, servile client state

As with their post (twice) on Hypatia the mystic and Neoplatonist, it is again to NASA’s credit that they put the above video on their website (also for a second time). I recommend the text below the video on that page, particularly the link ‘no one can know the future’ which leads to the abstract for the article ‘Searching the Internet for evidence of time travellers’.

No science website of the Australian government would dare to display, discuss and encourage such expressions of eagerness for intellectual creativity and the future. In Australia we march forward facing backwards, gagging on our ‘laid-back’, authoritarian, consumerist ‘decency’.

I post this on the day there has been yet another round of navel-gazing and spin in the media about why education in Australia continues to fall behind that in other developed nations.

red-star

What is primary for truth and art?

PIA21983JupiterLundh1024

Painting with Jupiter

Materialist dialectics, a philosophical method for investigating nature and society, holds practical activity to be the basis of our relations with the world and therefore of cognition. Praxis is thus a criterion of knowledge. Only when practical activity confirms the coincidence of ideas and hypotheses with reality can it be said that they are true. Since practical activity is relative to the level of technological development, truth can never be that absolute ardently sought and equally trembled before by the idealists, rather, it is a deepening relative in relation to an absolute which can only ever be theoretical. Lenin wrote:

’From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice, such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality. Kant disparages knowledge in order to make way for faith: Hegel exalts knowledge, asserting that knowledge is knowledge of God. The materialist exalts the knowledge of matter, of nature’, V.I.Lenin, Collected Works, Vol., 38 (Philosophical Notebooks), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, 171.

red-star

Image

A nebula, its pulsar and a top – from Plotinus to Marx, the epistemology of the future

The_Crab_Nebula

The Crab Nebula and its pulsar

The greatest activity in the greatest stillness

CARDINAL: I shall try [to show you such an image]. I will take [the example] of boys [playing with] a top—a game known to us all, even in practical terms. A boy pitches out a top; and as he does so, he pulls it back with the string which is wound around it. The greater the strength of his arm, the faster the top is made to rotate—until it seems (while it is moving at the faster speed) to be motionless and at rest. Indeed, boys speak of it as then at rest.

So let us describe a circle, b c, which is being rotated about a point a as would the upper circle of a top; and let there be another circle, d e, which is fixed.  Is it not true that the faster the movable circle is rotated, the less it seems to be moved?

BERNARD: It certainly seems true. And, as boys, this [is how] we saw [it].

Nicholas of Cusa, De Possest (‘On Actualised-Possibility’), 1460, in A Concise Introduction to the Philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa, Trans., Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1986, 914-954, 18, 923-924

Image

red-star

Stormy weather and a ‘peaceful’ waterfall in context

PIA22335_1024c

Cyclones at Jupiter’s North Pole

waterfall2_kpno_900

HH-222: The Waterfall Nebula

NGC1999_Hanson_3847

Arcs, Jets, and Shocks near NGC 1999

Images: top/middle/bottom

red-star

Magnolia

Magnolia

When I first saw this I thought someone familiar with magnolias (one of my favourite flowers) had got creative and stuck pink material (a pink cabbage?) in the fork of a branch – but it’s real! Wikipedia states ‘Magnolia is an ancient genus. Appearing before bees did, the flowers are theorised to have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles. To avoid damage from pollinating beetles, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are extremely tough.’ Those beetles must’ve been big! Imagine how this plant will look when it flowers as a mature tree (if it lasts in this spot that long, which, given this is in Australia, I sincerely doubt…)!

red-star