Archive for February 2011
My Dearest Beloved,
I just read fragments of Hegel’s work, Phenomenology of Spirit, and found out his words are not only whirling but hard to understand. And after spending time analyzing them, I found out he challenges our perception of truth, and the way we study literary works, including philosophy. I will write you what I think he tries to say, so that you also get confused after reading it, and to share with you a new thought.
Throughout the ten pages I read, Hegel talks about what truth, the Absolute, and the Whole are. He says that the Absolute is just a result “that only in the end it is what it truly is”, a truth is a whole, and a whole is the “essence consummating it through its development” (11). Now, what this means is that the whole includes particulars -details, or components- and the truth, or meaning of a philosophical work, is everything it contains and not what is contained on a generalized and biased preface or summary. That is why, he says that prefaces on philosophical works are absurd, inappropriate and misleading, because they are not the truth. The truth is the whole -universal and particular- and an opinion on it, whether to contradict it, or to agree with it, will affect the freedom it has to entail to other people’s minds (3). So, according to him, what I’m doing right now, explain you his aim and what he is trying to say is just breaking down the whole and not expounding the truth about his work.
Hegel gives an example of his truth-whole concept in the opening paragraph when he says that the only way we can learn the anatomy of a living organism (he says that Anatomy is not a science but a philosophy because it is the knowledge of the parts of the body) is by understanding its particulars, or components (1). That is, in order to comprehend a truth we must understand its whole, and not an absolute and generalized definition or explanation. I think this concept can be applied in many aspects of life, to avoid generalizations and analyze fully a philosophy, a literary work, a situation, or a thought.
I hoped you had fun reading my analysis on Hegel’s work.
Hope to see you soon.
My Dearest Beloved,
You may not know this, but it is a fact that I love you. It is a fact because I know it in my consciousness. My love for you is the result, the end of the moments where it wasn’t a fact, and now is the truth. It’s true that in the beginning, my affection for you was only a basis for the moments that have developed in my consciousness. My consciousness is the activity of my brain, and the activity of my brain proves its existence, and my mind is where my love for you was born, therefore it exists and it is the truth.
By truth I mean what exists in the whole of my consciousness. If my mind was the world, and it developed inside it that I loved you, than it would be a truth of that world. In short, our love is the truth of my mind as a universe, and you are the basis of that truth, the gathering and plethora of moments in my mind that developed from a somewhat certainty to an absolute knowledge.
The truth has been turned back in forth in my mind, and it has negated itself of all doubts, making it an absolute truth that I love you.
My Dearest Beloved,
The closest definition to our love is, as Hegel would define Truth. Our love cannot be inferred from our words and exchanges of infatuation nor by our expression of the word. Our love is as Truth, the essence of something only realized after great deliberation. Our love is the whole. My love for you is not your graceful touch, or sensuous words. My love for you is not the soft skin of your hand, nor the arm or flesh attached to it. My love for is not your name, nor is it these words that are identified with you. Our love and my love for you are all these, this intuitive realization we have for one another. Our love is not the parts of the whole, just as a fruit is not merely the single fruit or seed. The fruit is not solely the fruit, nor the blossom it bloomed, nor the tree it grew but all these as one single experience. The embracing of all these thoughts, emotions and experiences boiled down to their refined essence. Our love, like the truth, has an irrational but irrefutable intuitive strength. Truth uses Science as concrete knowing just our love is clearly revealed by affection. Our love cannot be just defined by the word love, but by what our love consist. Like the word God does not capture the essence of this being but what this being does. Our love may seem tangible to us, but, like Truth, our love is conceptual. Our love is culmination of our lives together over time. The Truth is the same, the culmination of these concepts fully developed over time encompassing all.
In Aristotle’s Poetics, Aristotle quotes that “a complex action is one out of which the change involves a discovery or reversal or both together” (Aristotle 34). By discovery the author means the realization of something that triggers the change in one self, making it something complex compared to a change that happened without realizing anything. This idea of complex action is applied in the movie Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. In Spirited Away, the protagonist Chihiro, a dull, depressed girl who is moving to a new home only to find herself in a world full of Spirits when the whole family decides to take a detour. Not only that, her parents are turned into pigs as a punishment for eating the food there. In order to save them, she has no choice but to work in a bathhouse for Spirits. There, she begins to mature and realize the courage within her that could save the people she loves. That realization that she was stronger than she imagined changed Chihiro from a dull, frightful girl to a girl with a strong heart and the courage to step up when it really mattered. This ties in with Aristotle’s idea because Chihiro discovered more in herself, allowing her to make a complex change to her mental self and have more confidence, which would most likely not happen if she didn’t walk into the Spirit world, let alone have to deal with the many problems and tasks that came with entering the world. These events that lead to her discovery of her inner strength and courage are examples of what Aristotle calls complex actions.
Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Joe Sachs. Newburyport, Massachusetts: R. Pullins Company, 2006. Print.
Aristotle once said, “These, then, are two parts of the story, reversal and discovery, and a third is suffering. Of these, reversal and discovery have been described, and suffering is an action that is destructive or painful, such as deaths in plain view, as well as tortures and woundings and as many other things as are of that sort.”
Banksy, the mysterious “hoodlum” behind the gas mask, relates to this quote very well, and even goes beyond it. Through Banksy’s crude humor and “read between the lines” messages he paints on a wall, he often shows reversal, discovery, and suffering. Banksy has even written a few books that contain his artwork, foul-mouthed quotes, and your not so average fairy tales. In his artwork and stories, people usually have to look past their noses to figure out the meaning behind is madness. In many of his graffiti pieces, there is a political meaning behind them and he usually shows this by a reversal of roles often using figures of authority and children.
There is also a discovery in his work, but the viewers make the discovery. People have to look past the paint and have a change from their own “ignorance to recognition.” Banksy wants his viewer’s opinions to be shaken up by his own opinions that grab the public’s attention immediately. He makes people really think twice about what they are looking at and maybe even consider their own beliefs.
Banksy also shows suffering in some of his work. He shows it to get his message across to the public, and I’m sure that some of the public does a little suffering of their own after seeing some of his work.
Everyone has their own views and opinions; we just choose to express them differently. Some people preach it, and others hop a fence and throw paint over an eight-foot stencil of a rat. Banksy likes to evoke more than just fear and pity in his audience. He likes to make them stop and look at his message while they are walking down the street.
Many of Satoshi Kon’s works are a mixture of imagination and reality. He creates worlds where transitions between imagination and reality are often subtle. His characters, on the other hand, feel very real. That is not to say that his characters are entirely believable but they have much more depth than the characters portrayed in the tragedies Aristotle writes about.
Aristotle would likely disagree about the success of Kon’s works. He writes “And since tragedy is an imitation of people better than we are, one ought to imitate good portrait painters, for they too, while rendering the particular form and making likenesses, paint them as more beautiful. So too, the poet when he imitates people who are quick to anger or lazy or who have other such traits in their characters, ought to make them be decent people who are of these sorts […]” (42) Kon tries to not create characters from the same “good” cast. Many of his characters are far from reinvented perfect human beings. They imitate real people of both good and bad traits. This, I feel, allows Kon to tell fantastical stories without asking the audience to completely suspend their disbelief. Kon offers his audience the familiarity of half-real worlds and characters who have dimension and feel real. The ability for an audience to relate to characters with good characteristics and flaws allows them to immerse themselves in the invented world.
Nabokov states that a good writer is a combination of being a storyteller, a reader, and an enchanter. He also states that although the author needs imagination, the author also needs intelligence, because it is the writer who creates the world that is portrayed to the audience. The writer plays the role as the deceiver by choosing how the reader develops opinions about the characters in the novel. The writer is the one who controls the reader’s attitude towards this newly created world by controlling the way the reader experiences the senses (i.e. such as pleasant or unpleasant). Aristotle similarly believed that only that which has magnitude will make a good story, but he goes further to say that a story shouldn’t have unnecessary material and a story needs a certain structure consisting of a beginning, middle, and an end in order to be good material for the reader. Nabokov speaks not so much between the aspects within a story structure in order to create a good story, but of the relationship a writer has to their story, and the relationship a writer has to their reader. He believes more in that the writer needs to create a relationship between themselves and the reader in order to create a world that the reader can easily immerse themselves in. In Nabokov’s essay, we read that a writer creates a fake reality of a world that might already exist, but because it is a portrayal of a fictional world, it will never be truly like our real world. Aristotle states the same idea, that because we are creating a new experience for a person, it is necessary to only capture the essence of the world, therefore we would eliminate all within the story and the world that is not needed in order to tell the story properly. This follows Aristotle’s belief that our ideas are not originals, and that we must try to present perfect versions, such as a perfect hero, or a perfect society, to the audience.