Wednesday, December 21, 2005

authenticity reflux

Via wood s lot:

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Goethe describes the process of gaining knowledge in the following way:
When in the exercise of his powers of observation man undertakes to confront the world of nature, he will at first experience a tremendous compulsion to bring what he finds there under his control. Before long, however, these objects will thrust themselves upon him with such force that he, in turn, must feel the obligation to acknowledge their power and pay homage to their effects. When this mutual interaction becomes evident he will make a discovery which, in a double sense, is limitless; among the objects he will find many different forms of existence and modes of change, a variety of relationships livingly interwoven; in himself, on the other hand, a potential for infinite growth through constant adaptation of his sensibilities and judgment to new ways of acquiring knowledge and responding with action. (Goethe, 1807; in Miller, 1995, p. 61)
In Goethe’s view science entails “mutual interaction” with the phenomena. Engaging in this process we discover the “limitless” nature of connections and relationships in the world but at the same time our potential to continually grow and adapt ourselves to new, more adequate ways of knowing. Doing Goethean science means treading a path of conscious development. The question accompanying every aspect of the work is, “How can I make myself into a better, more transparent instrument of knowing?” In traditional science, we are much more likely to ask, “How can I find ways of adapting the phenomena to my specific approach so that I can answer my question?”

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The above is from Doing Goethean Science, Craig Holtrege, in Janus Head: Goethe's Delicate Empiricism. Holtrege goes on to tease out a not unfamiliar model of science as conversation, citing others including Husserl.

What Goethe is getting at sets the knower/known, container/contained, model of static "stuff in the box" on its tin ear.

In a way, he's articulated the romantic epistemology of knowledge that courses through the early 19th century before being crucified on the X of science, "data," and the instrumentalities of early geekdom.

Underneath this mode of cognition is the signature of the unique, transformative exchange the produces something, or should one say, gives birth to some third thing, at every moment of genuine cognition. Which is where authenticity enters in. Also, it's a poetic mode.

So, one mode of knowing the authentically known is to know that it is not repetitive. This moment of knower knowing is different from all other moments. Does that mean it has a history? If so, than what emerges is no longer an organon of the known, but a story of the knower knowing. Implicitly with a certain incommunicable remainder.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Tutor said...

Dang that is good.

Romanticism, indeed.

Does the authentic enter as an impotant category only when simulacra, phantasms, and willed-into-being lies becomes an issue?

The authentic is, as you said, in an earlier post, origin and end. Where we came from (a lost paradise) and where we are going (redemption from division and our fallen nature).

We locate the authentic in the voice, the holy spirit, the muse, the orator whose word galvanizes us upon first hearing, and blows through the crowed like that correspondent breeze of Romanticism among the waving fields of wheat - the stadium of armed men who are united as one.

The authentic is the peasant, whether or Tolstoy, Wordsworth, or Heidegger. The authentic is the village and the mud stained boots.

The authentic is always found in conversation with rhetors, for it is what they have lost - their primal innocences, as they learn to do, as TS Eliot said, "the police in many voices."

12/21/2005 1:16 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

When have simulacra, phantasms, etc. not been an issue? Viz: Plato's cave. Or: the via negativa - how do we unbecome the nonentity we cannot not be? We are shades of images, made in the image of God. Gad. Zooks.

On the other hand, you find, lurking just the other side of Tintern's hedgerows, the army of chaff. Perhaps in the exact spot where Billy opined a hermit might squat.

Are the romantic voice and the fascist mob the recto/verso of a single circulating token of the currency? Legal Tender and criminal slug in one thin dime?

You as satirist must rely on the simulacra, the eternal return of the ephemerally bogus, for your fare. But that's merely another Cartesian abstraction. Your unalienated labor - your only such - creates what passes for proof of the power of intellectual knifeplay.

Is that practice yet another simulacrum?

12/22/2005 7:56 PM  
Blogger Juke said...

Metaphysicians seem to consistently and repeatedly denounce the thing the subject of "authenticity" has for its backdrop - the locus of space-time through which we mark our anniversaries, and most especially our own arrival and departure - as illusion, a seductive not-thing that takes its substance from our credulity, that will disappear when we at last get through the veil.
Authenticity to the time-traveling mortal is one thing, to an eternally-in-place being quite another.
And we can divide the immortal further still - into those who've gained immortality, those who've lost and/or regained it, and that which has always been.
The alternative conceit would be that nothing animate is or can ever be eternal, that certainly no one is eternal as person - even if some things may be said to last forever, no persona does.
Against that is a position of abject unknowing, vulnerable and bewildering, that necessitates a dialogue of enquiry in which we, as humble temporary creatures speaking toward the ineffable, have no more immediate weight than do ghosts conversing with a living man.
What Shakespeare delivered was the tension of temporal living, that brief arc in-between the poles of fully-realized immortality and the void of non-being.
This. Us.

Extract from Numinous Recension: Authenticity and Subtextual Dialogue in "King Lear", Master's Thesis in Library Science submitted March 1987 to Barnum University by Anonymous, Fool.

12/22/2005 9:36 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

I hope you'll undertsand this .. I do, but then that's because it's in MY head as related to the comments above ...it's what came into muy mind.

"Turtles .. all the way down"

12/23/2005 3:25 AM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

Aha ... here it is .. knew I had read it somewhere before. Wikipedia to the rescue:

"A version of the story also appears in Clifford Geertz's, "Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture," in his 1973 book The Interpretation of Culture, with the scientist and old woman replaced by an Englishman and an Indian respectively. This version may be a reference to various Hindu beliefs, including the myth that Vishnu's second avatar was Kurma, a tortoise on whose back the Mandara mountain rested, or that the tortoise Chukwa supports the elephant Maha-pudma who upholds the world."

According to Wikipedia, one interpretation (Geertz's) of the story is that the myth is patently wise, teaching us that we will never get to the bottom of things.

That's what came up in my mind reading the above elegantly yet densely crafted comments. I suppose i think that I can only begin to perceive and grasp at authenticity if I sense deeply that at some level I am definitively not a simulacrum.

Whenever I see the word *authenticity*, i think of this poem:

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat ?
Then crouch within the door -
Red - is the Fire's common tint -
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame's conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.
Least Village has its Blacksmith
Whose Anvil's even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs - within -
Refining these impatient Ores
With Hammer, and with Blaze
Until the Designated Light
Repudiate the Forge -

12/23/2005 3:49 AM  

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