Unreal Nature

February 19, 2017

A Hollow, Fictitious Product

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… What occurs here is something in nature of an optical forgery: a soul without a place of its own is created, a participant without a name and without a role — something absolutely ahistorical.

Continuing through the essay ‘Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity’ in Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays by M.M. Bakhtin edited by Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov (1990):

… Something like a transparent screen has to be inserted between my inner self-sensation (the function of my empty seeing [see previous post]) and my outwardly expressed image: the screen of manifestation — his possible enthusiasm, love, astonishment, or compassion for me. And looking through this screen of the other’s soul (whih is thus reduced to a means), I vivify my exterior and make it part of the plastic and pictorial world.

This possible bearer of the other’s axiological reaction to me should not become a determinate human being, for, if that were to happen, he would immediately exclude my outward image from the field of my representation and assume its place: I would see him with his outwardly expressed reaction to me, when I would already be in my normal position on the boundaries of the field of vision; and, in addition, he would, as a participant with a definite role, introduce an element of a particular story into my dream, whereas what is really needed is an author who does not himself participate in the imagined event.

The point at issue here is precisely how to accomplish the task of translating myself from inner language into the language of outward expressedness and of weaving all of myself totally into the unitary plastic and pictorial fabric of life as a human being among other human beings, as a hero among other heroes.

[line break added] One can easily substitute for this task another task which is entirely different in kind, namely, the task accomplished by discursive thought: thinking has no difficulty at all in placing me on one and the same plane with all other human beings, for in the act of thinking I first of all abstract myself from that unique place which I — as this unique human being — occupy in being; consequently, I abstract myself from the concretely intuited uniqueness of the world as well. Hence, discursive thought is unfamiliar with the ethical and aesthetic difficulties of self-objectification.

Ethical and aesthetic objectification requires a powerful point d’appui outside itself; it requires some genuine source of real strength out of which I would be capable of seeing myself as another.

Indeed, when we contemplate our own exterior — as a living exterior participating in a living outward whole — through the prism of the evaluating soul of a possible other, then this soul of the other — as a soul lacking any self-sufficiency, a soul-slave, as it were — introduces a certain spurious element that is absolutely alien to the ethical event of being.

[line break added] For, inasmuch as it lacks any independent value of its own, what is engendered is not something productive and enriching, but a hollow, fictitious product that clouds the optical purity of being. What occurs here is something in nature of an optical forgery: a soul without a place of its own is created, a participant without a name and without a role — something absolutely ahistorical.

My most recent previous post from Bakhtin’s book is here.

-Julie

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