Tuesday, October 9, 2012

All Things Shining (Excerpts/Highlights)

All Things Shining - Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly
Habitual actor vs. Heroic Actor
To experience your surroundings directly
Shakespeare’s Hamlet – “whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles./ And by opposing, end them?”
The Modern West no longer lives in a culture where the basic questions of existence are already answered for us.
David Foster Wallace – Good writing should help readers to “become less alone inside.” Infinite Jest, is a stylistic emodiment of modern self-consciousness…undermining…question…to eat their own tails…without resolution. The inability of our culture, or certain segments of our culture, to confront the deepest questions of who we are. Society’s increasing devotion to the perfection of distraction. It depicts our world as devoted to the perfection of an entertainment in the face of which we will necessarily annihilate ourselves. DFW – “It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master.”
Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” can be read as a story about the continually unsatisfied hope for God’s return.
“God is dead,” wrote Nietzsche, “but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown.” “We have left the land and have embarked,” Nietzsche writes. “We have burned our bridges behind us-indeed, we have gone farther and destroyed the land behind us… Woe, when you feel homesick for the land…there is no longer any land.”
To survive the breakdown of monotheism while resisting the descent into a nihilistic existence.
The Romans took very seriously the importance of luck in their lives, and they personified this force in the goddess Fortuna. Often represented as blind–indicating that her choices are indifferent to those whom they affect.
Match Point 2005 – “People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control.”
The modern idea that to be a human agent is to be the sole source of one’s actions…almost an axiomatic truth of modern thinking
The nihilistic burden of our secular age undermines the idea of progress. Caught between two conflicting sets of demands…this tragic conflict
David Hume – “Reason is the slave of the passions.”
The most powerful thing a god can bring about –reconfiguring a culture instead of merely articulating it. Hebrew culture and the Classical Greek.(mix) Dante – “that without hope we live on in desire”
Dante looks back toward the earth and reports: “I saw this globe so lost in space that I had to smile at such a sorry show.” He sees that everything earthly, even politics, is trivial.
Herman Melville – Moby Dick The Whale is a mystery…it verges on meaninglessness…facelessness…it is this unrelenting but also unyielding mystery that stands at the center of the universe.
“Call me Ishmael“…different ways of seeing the world…outcast…wandering. Ishmael is the character who is friendly not only with all the niceties but also all the horrors the world has to offer. “Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it.” Leaves the certainties of one’s own civilization.
Queequeg tells Ishmael that the practices of whalemen soon convinced him that even Christians could be both miserable and wicked, infinitely more so, than all his father’s heathens…Thought he, it’s a wicked world in all meridians; I’ll die a pagan.
“No hopefulness is in it,” Melville says, “no despair. Content –that is it.” Ahab – “If man will strike, strike through the mask!"
If you tried to listen to all the sounds of the universe at once it would be deafening. All the various meanings would cancel each other out. You would hear the chaos of white noise instead of the single, hidden truth of a rational universe…Because when it is universal it is deafening, it is a chaos; and although this chaos is itself the ultimate nature of the universe, you can only fathom it from one perspective at a time…The multiple meanings of the universe simply don’t add up to a single, universal truth. Our only hope is to engage in each of them fully.
Pip confronts the possibility of becoming a castaway, of losing all connection with human beings, of becoming completely isolated on the infinite sea. “Out from the centre of the sea, Pip turned his black head to the sun, another lonely castaway, though the loftiest and the brightest.” “heartless immensity” looks up and sees the sun as “another lonely castaway”
A sense that even the Sun (the symbol of the Good in Plato and of God in Dante) has lost its place at the center of the universe.
Either we become crazy at the recognition that there is no such truth, or we drive ourselves crazy trying to prove there is.