Unreal Nature

April 30, 2017

At Home in the World of Other People

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:31 am

… The first and foremost condition for an aesthetic approach to this world is to understand it as the world of other people …

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):

… The other always stands over against me as an object: the exterior image of him stands over against me in space and his inner life stands over against me in time. I myself as subiectum never coincide with me myself: I — the subiectum of the act of self-consciousness — exceed the bounds of this act’s content. And this is not a matter of abstract discernment, but a matter rather of securely possessing an intuitionally experienced loophole out of time, out of everything given, everything finitely present-on-hand: I do not, evidently, experience the whole of myself in time.

… The life of a concrete, determinate other is organized by me essentially in time (in those cases, of course, where I do not abstract his actions or his thoughts from his personality) — not in chronological time, nor in mathematical time, but in the emotionally and axiologically ponderable time of lived life that is capable of becoming a musical-rhythmic time. My own unity is a unity of meaning (transcendency is given in my intellectual experience), whereas the unity of the other is a spatial-temporal unity.

… The first and foremost condition for an aesthetic approach to this world is to understand it as the world of other people who have accomplished their lives in it — that is, to understand it as the world of Christ, of Socrates, of Napoleon, of Pushkin, etc. One must come to feel at home in the world of other people, in order to be able to go on from confession — to objective aesthetic contemplation, from questions about meaning and searchings for meaning — to the world as a beautiful given.

[line break added] One must come to understand that it is the other, as an other capable of being justifiably consummated, who constitutes the hero of all the positively valuable determinations of the world as a given, of all the intrinsically valuable “fixations” of the world’s existent makeup: it is about the other that all the stories have been composed, all the books have been written, all the tears have been shed; it is to him that all the monuments have been erected; it is only with others that all the cemeteries are filled; it is only others who are known, remembered, and recreated by productive memory, so that my own memory of objects, of the world, and of life could also become an artistic memory.

[line break added] It is only in the world of others that an aesthetic, plot-bearing, intrinsically valuable movement is possible — a movement in the past which has value regardless of the future and in which all obligations and debts are forgiven and all hopes are abandoned. To be artistically interested is to be interested, independently of meaning, in a life that is in principle consummated. I have to withdraw from myself in order to free the hero for unconstrained plot movement in the world.

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

-Julie

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