Unreal Nature

July 9, 2017

When We Dream of Glory

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:34 am

… In our ordinary recollections about our past, it is often this other who is active, and it is in his value-tones that we remember ourselves …

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):

… By biography or autobiography (the account of a person’s life), we understand the most immediate transgredient form in which I can objectify myself and my own life artistically. … [W]e shall consider it from the standpoint of a possible coincidence within it of the hero and the author or, to be exact — from the standpoint of the special character of the author in his relationship to the hero.

[line break added] For the coincidence of author and hero is, after all, a contradictio in adiecto: the author is a constitutive moment of the artistic whole, and as such he cannot coincide, within this whole, with the hero, who represents another constitutive moment of that whole. The personal coincidence “in life” of the person spoken of and the person speaking does not nullify the distinctness of these constituents within the artistic whole. After all, it is still possible to ask “how do I image myself?” as opposed to the question “who am I?”

… we are … not interested in the present context in the purely scholarly-historical purpose of such biography.

… The author of biography is that possible other by whom we are most likely to be possessed in lived life; the possible other who is with us when we look at ourselves in the mirror, when we dream of glory, when we make plans for our life, the possible other who has permeated our consciousness and who often guides our acts, our value judgments, and our vision of ourselves side by side with our own I-for-myself; the other in our consciousness with whom our external life can still be sufficiently active (whereas an intense inner life, when we are possessed by another, is impossible, of course, and it is here that a conflict arises and a struggle begins with the other for the liberation of my I-for-myself in all its purity: confession as an account rendered to myself for my own life).

[line break added] This other, however — the other in our consciousness — may also turn into a usurping double, if we give him free rein and suffer defeat, but a usurping double with whom, in return, we can live a life that is immediate (naively immediate), intense, and happy (to be sure, it is this same other who delivers us into the power of fate: other-possessed life can always turn into fated life).

In our ordinary recollections about our past, it is often this other who is active, and it is in his value-tones that we remember ourselves (in remembering our childhood, this bodied-other within ourselves is our mother). The mode of tranquil recollection of our distant past is distinctly aestheticized in its character and, formally, it comes close to being a story (recollections in the light of the meaning-governed future are penitent recollections). Any memory of the past will be somewhat aestheticized; memory of the future is always ethical.

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

-Julie

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