Unreal Nature

July 16, 2017

The Adventurer

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:03 am

… The adventurer’s individualism is unmediated and naive; adventure-value presupposes an established world of others, in which the adventure-hero is rooted …

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 the first type of biographical value] I come to know a considerable portion of my own biography from what is said by others, by people close to me, as well as in the emotional tonality of these others: my birth and my descent, the events of family life and national life in my early childhood (that is, everything that could not have been understood or simply could not even have been perceived by a child).

… Without these stories told by others, my life would not only lack fullness and clarity in its content, but would also remain internally dispersed, divested of any value-related biographical unity. The fragments of my life as I experienced them from within myself (“fragments” from the standpoint of the biographical whole) are, after all, capable of gaining only the inner unity of my I-for-myself (the future unity of a task), or the unity of confessional self-accounting, and not the unity of biography.

[line break added] For only the yet-to-be-achieved unity of the I-for-myself is immanent to the life that is lived and experienced from within. The inner principle of unity is not suited to biographical narration: my I-for-myself is incapable of narrating anything. But the axiological position of the other, which is so indispensable for biography, is the position closest to me: I immediately become involved in it through the others who are the heroes of my life and through the narrators of my life.

… Striving for glory organizes the life of the naive hero, and it is glory that also organizes the story of that life — its glorification. To strive for glory is to gain consciousness of oneself within the civilized mankind of history (or within a nation), it means to found and build one’s own life in the possible consciousness of this civilized mankind, to grow in and for others, and not in and for oneself; to assume a place in the proximate world of one’s contemporaries and descendants.

… In rendering others heroic, in establishing a pantheon of heroes, I seek to become a participant in such a pantheon, to place myself in it, and to be guided from within it by the longed-for future image of myself that was created in the likeness of others. The heroic constituent in biographical value is characterized by this organic sense of oneself within the heroicized mankind of history, by the organic sense of being a participant in it, of experiencing one’s essential growth within it, of taking root in it and gaining full consciousness and understanding of one’s own works and days within it.

… The second constituent in the first type of biographical value is love. The thirst to be loved, the consciousness of oneself, the seeing of oneself, and the forming of oneself in the possible loving consciousness of another; the striving to turn the longed-for love of another into a force that impels and organizes my life in many of its constituents: all this, too constitutes growth in the atmosphere of another’s loving consciousness.

… My body, my exterior, my dress, various inner-outer particulars of my soul; certain details and particulars of my life that cannot have axiological significance and cannot be axiologically reflected in the historical-heroic context — in mankind or in a nation (everything that is inessential historically, yet is present in the context of my life): all this assume axiological weight and gains meaning and form in the loving consciousness of another. All narrowly personal moments are organized and regulated by what I would wish myself to be in the other’s loving consciousness — by the anticipated image of myself, which must be axiologically created in that consciousness.

… Let us now turn our attention to the third constituent in biographical value: the hero’s affirmative acceptance of life’s “fabular” possibilities. This is the thirst to live life’s “fabular” possibilities to the full — not a definite and distinctly completed fabula, but the manifold fabulas inherent in life; the thirst to live and experience the ontic particularity of life’s situations, their variability, their diversity, although this is a diversity that neither determines nor consummates the hero; life’s manifold fabulas that complete nothing and leave everything open.

… The adventurer’s individualism is unmediated and naive; adventure-value presupposes an established world of others, in which the adventure-hero is rooted and by the valued being of which he is possessed. The moment you deprive him of this soil and this atmosphere of otherness (of this earth, this sun, these human beings), adventure-value dies (for it has no air to breathe). Being adventurous and critical is impossible: what has the validity of meaning undermines adventurousness and breaks it up, or, alternatively, it becomes a desperate adventurousness (a matter of capricious contortions and excruciating strain).

… Biographical life of the first type is like a dance in slow tempo (lyric is like a dance in rapid tempo); everything inward and everything outward strives here to coincide in the other’s axiological consciousness — the inward strives to become the outward and the outward the inward.

… We turn now to the analysis of the second type of biography …

… that will be next week.

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




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