Monday, 15 September 2008

The paradoxical character of the truth is its objective uncertainty. This uncertainty is the expression for passionate inwardness, and this passion is precisely the truth.



  1. God says to Rumi: Even though I know thine inward secret, nevertheless declare it now in your outward act.

    So, I'm not sure about this inwardness or the use of the word 'passion'. It's a bit like saying a blog represents my inward life..but what if in reality we're not actually like that?

    And I think the uncertainty is perhaps still within the circle of faith, not the desert outside it.

    Hope all is well, roxana.


  2. I also think that uncertainty is within the circle of faith. But I am not sure about your blog analogy. You seem to redefine Kierkegaards statements along a different line, the opposition between inward and outward, you focus on a problem regarding expression/representation but I don't think this is what he is trying to say here [ar least not in this quote]. and no, who would say that a blog represents the inner life? I mean, I have something against the concept of expression/representation used in this way, it is much too simple to assume that such a transposition is ever possible [I have had a very interesting and long conversation with Marta on this topic, but she is much more radical than me :-)]. not only when it comes to blogs, but even in the case of a work of art, we use to say that a painting or a poem expresses the poet, but what does this mean? pretty much nothing, I am afraid, of course if one believes in psychoanalysis one can think that one can 'explain' the artist through his works, but I don't and I strongly dislike any psychoanalytical approach :-)

  3. Well, I don't know waht K is saying but I was just trying to make sense of what is meant by 'passionate inwardness' and was wondering if that is related to the world and existentialism : we are thrown into a hostile world (the external) or what is most real is the spirit, the inward , the "inner life"..a sort of modern day gnosticism, as Jonas might call it.

    Perhpas youre right roxana, blogging doesn't 'represent' our inner life (I used the word casually)..but it does seem to be connected, like the writing of a diary, with our inner thoughts or reflections. (and isn't its appeal that people can connect with like *minded* people?).

    My point/question is, though, are we connecting with the best thoughts of a person and is this very different from when we see the real face of the person-warts and all-in the real world?

    I don't know about art and yes, I agree with you: there is an overemphasis on the psychology of the writer/artists. But my point was something else: beauty is the splendour of the true or, more prosaically, is there always a disjunction between our hands, our gestures, our face and what we think (Clarke on Leonardo's hands in the last supper: the self-revealing gestures of the soul or the position of the hands in Buddhist art as representing a state of the soul).

    In the end, don't we want to see *and* feel the stars? The painter must "express" /communicate something to be a painter, no? I guess what I'm trying (clumsily) to say is : can we, should we think of ourselves only as this inward being with private thoughts, endowed with free will and rationality, independently of 'the other' (other people , the life she lives or her world, and God).

  4. I don't think you can explain an artist through his/her works. The artist looks for something inside, tries to understand his/her world, but you never know if he/she succeed in doing so... Uncertainty... indeed

    Your reflections make me think

  5. Uncertainty is a necessary precondition for the eixstence of faith, surely. Faith in fact, is born out of it. But Kierkegaard is much more profound than that. You can read him in many ways and on many levels. In general I agree with Roxana.

  6. all this talk...

    and i was only going to say it seemed the house of self was floating away... delighting me --

    (sometimes its too much seriousness, too much looking under a rock; sometimes its just that the birds are singing, it delights me (as with a text or an image) but then (i) (attention) move on...a poem may not move me today, but tomorrow i may fall into it; its all available and all there or not there (depending on where)
    self is?

  7. even in hinduism and buddhism, there is this view that only through inner contemplation the essence of truth is manifest; though the conduit is calmness and not passion (unless there is such a thing as a calm passion ;-))... i think there the stress is on the fact that the world as we experience is nothing but a product of our over-worked five senses. The essense of yoga, Lord Krishna says, is to train the mind to see only the essential truth or dharma. your excerpt on the other hand focuses on the idea of truth being a subjective experience, to the extent that the force of faith behind it, in the face of objective uncertainty,, is its badge.
    i have to agree that a blog or work of art could never capture the essence of inner selves any more a normal conversation can - sometimes you get a peek, but there are always so much smoke and mirrors. art is conversation too. and its a good thing you were there in japan on that sunset, to tell us about it so vividly ;-)

  8. As T. S. Eliot: "Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion ; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."

    And surely the model of the "self" provided by psychoanalysis is too small and reductive to be of much use outside of therapy (if it is of use even there).

    Psychoanalysis is always an account of the past, but an artist is not merely the resumé of her or his past.

    I like this image very much, and its dialog with the Kierkegaard quotation. At first it seems a whimsical, Chagall-like floating-off into the dissolve of the sunset (though Chagall is never only whimsy, I know). But then, I'm not sure. This lantern (lantern?) could be silhouetted agasint a destructive blast, for example. The dark square and the bright circle of sun (or is it moon?) seem to offer alternatives: formal options for the photographer, options of reading for the viewer. Is not this hesitancy between alternatives what K. means by "truth"?

    K.'s quote also implies a corollary that would be so very useful in everything from science to politics: "The paradoxical character of the lie is its objective certainty."

  9. oh thank you everyone for taking the time and commenting so much, I haven't expected that at all...
    I've just returned from a trip and I am too tired to answer [or at least try to answer, you raise so many difficult points] - but I will come back to it soon.

  10. Beautiful picture, it somehow reminded me of Chagall's paintings, with their floating characters...

  11. thank you mary-laure, it is interesting that you and james talked about chagall here, I hadn't thought about that before.

  12. passionate inwardness may very well denote a passionate attention to the outward world, trying to "understand" it and to give uncertain outward things a more permanent shelter within oneself.

    the Chagall association seems so apt - the outward floating linked to passionate inwardness - as he wrote about the 'homeless' figures of his youth: "les habitants vagabondent dans l'air - à la recherche d'un abri, ils habitent dans mon âme"

    ahlalala Roxana - your 'visions' are just too rich with ideas ... & thus have us all commenting like crazy :-)

  13. Je suis littéralement tombée en arrêt devant cette photo. Elle est sublime Roxana!

  14. Being a partial Hegelian I don't agree with Kierkegaard on this, but I love this picture and I can't explain why!

  15. b: you raise so many interesting points about blogging, and I don't have any answers myself. It is very difficult to make such general assumptions because there are so many different types of blogs, not all of them dealing with 'inner thoughts and feelings'. And in the latter case, yes, of course there is a connection between the blog and our inner world, but who can define what type of connection and to what extent? I don't know about seeing the 'real face' of a person in the 'real life', sometimes it can be easier, sometimes it can be more difficult than in the blog world - and again the question, who is to say what the 'true face' is? And no, I don't think there is 'always' a disjunction between our toughts and face and gestures and words, but there isn't always a conjunction either [again, it is difficult for me to think in the absolute, general terms that you seem to prefere]. The same person can spend hours to save ants from a flood, you told me the story, remember? and then he goes home and hits his wife, which gesture is the self-revealing gesture of the soul? [I was sure you would use this word here again :-) it is one of your favourite]
    as for the rest, I think ffflaneur said what I also wanted to say, I don't see the necessary link between 'passionate inwardness' and excluding the outward world, as you seem to do, it is not about some kind of solipsism here. I know this is another problem which is central to your reflections, so maybe that is why you automatically 'read' the quote like this.

  16. james, thank you for quoting Eliot, I wanted to do so myself :-)
    and you always seem to go right to the centre of what I try to express: for example, I didn't know why I chose this image for this quote [marta always wants to know how I proceed to make the associations :-)], it was just that aha!feeling, no reason involved, it is like when you write a poem and search for something which is not yet clear but only dimly anticipated and suddenly the right word strikes you, and you know it is right but you cannot tell why and it doesn't even matter. You made me understand more about my own choice here.

  17. mansuetude, sorlil: 'I can't explain why' is indeed a very good thing :-)
    yes, too much explaining and talking, 'it delights me' or 'I love it' is all that one needs :-)

  18. yes, zuma, exactly my point, and so beautifully expressed at that: there are always so much smoke and too many mirrors :-) you should paint this someday, this smoke and the mirrors.
    If you talk about buddhism, yes, then one has to transcend our western concepts of subjectivity and objectivity, neither of the two can be attributed to the Self which sees the essence of truth.

  19. la source:
    tu me rends heureuse :-), merci!!!

  20. ffflaneur, what a beautiful quote, thank you. If you see chagall here too, then so be it, I have to rejoice :-) I love Chagall.