Unreal Nature

April 2, 2017

A Different Person

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:51 am

… it is this meeting of two movements on the surface of a human being that consolidates or gives body to his axiological boundaries …

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):

… In what way would it enrich the event if I merged with the other, and instead of two there were now only one? And what would I myself gain by the other’s merging with me? If he did, he would see and know no more than what I see and know myself; he would merely repeat in himself that want of an issue out of itself which characterizes my own life. Let him rather remain outside of me, for in that position he can see and know what I myself do not see and do not know from my own place, and he can essentially enrich the event of my own life.

[line break added] If all I do is merge with the other’s life, I only intensify the want of any issue from within itself that characterizes his own life, and I only duplicate his life numerically. When there are two of us, then what is important from the standpoint of the productiveness of the event of my life is not the fact that, besides myself, there is one more person of essentially the same kind (two persons), but the fact that the other is for me a different person.

[line break added] And in this sense his ordinary sympathizing with my life is not a merging of the two of us into a single being and is not a numerical duplication of my life, but constitutes an essential enrichment of the event of my life, because my life is co-experienced by another, a different human being. That is, it is co-experienced as a life which, axiologically, is toned or colored differently from his own life and is received differently, justified differently, than his own life.

[line break added] The productiveness of the event of a life does not consist in the merging of all into one. On the contrary, it consists in the intensification of one’s own outsideness with respect to others, one’s own distinctness from others: it consists in fully exploiting the privilege of one’s own unique place outside other human beings.

[ … ]

… Contrary to “expressive” aesthetics … form is not pure expression of the hero and his life, but an expression which, in giving expression to the hero, also expresses the author’s relationship to the hero, and it is this relationship that constitutes the specifically aesthetic moment of form. Aesthetic form cannot be founded and validated from within the hero, out of his own directedness to objects and meaning, i.e. on the basis of that which has validity only for his own lived life. Aesthetic form is founded and validated from within the other — the author, as the author’s creative reaction to the hero and his life. As a reaction, that is, which produces values that are transgredient in principle to the hero and his life and yet are essentially related to the latter.

This creative reaction is aesthetic love. The relationship of transgredient aesthetic form to the hero and his life (where both are taken from within) is the relationship sui generis of the one who loves to the one who is loved … .

Form is a boundary that has been wrought aesthetically.

… Boundaries experienced from within, in one’s self-consciousness, are experienced in a manner essentially different from boundaries experienced from without, in one’s aesthetic experience of the other. In every act (inner as well as outer) of my own object-directed life, I start out from within myself; I do not encounter any axiologically valid boundaries, any boundaries that consummate me positively; I go forward ahead of myself and cross over my boundaries as an impediment, but not at all as a consummation, while, on the contrary, the aesthetically experienced boundary of the other does consummate him, contracting and concentrating all of him, all of his self-activity, and closing off this self-activity.

… it is this meeting of two movements on the surface of a human being that consolidates or gives body to his axiological boundaries — produces the fire of aesthetic value (much as fire is struck from flint).

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

-Julie

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