Unreal Nature

July 30, 2017

In the Voice of the Other

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… What renders the hero so weak internally (so unserious, one might say)?

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):

… From within itself, inner life is not rhythmic and — we can put it even more broadly — it is not lyrical. Lyrical form is introduced from outside and it expresses the axiological relationship of the other as such to the experiencing soul, and not the relationship of the experiencing soul to itself.

… Almost all object-related and meaning-related moments in the hero’s lived experience that could have persisted against the fullness of aesthetic consummation are absent from the lyrical work — whence the ease with which the hero’s self-coincidence, self-equivalence is accomplished. (Even in the philosophical lyric, meaning and object are rendered totally immanent to lived experience, are contracted into lived experience, and as a result leave no room for noncoinciding with oneself and for going out into the open event of being; the thought here is thought that has been lived through, thought that believes only in its own factual existence and neither supposes nor sees anything outside itself.)

What gives the author such full power over the hero? What renders the hero so weak internally (so unserious, one might say)? What makes the isolation of lived experience out of the event of being so complete?

… [There is] the illusion that the hero preserves himself and preserves his own inner position — the accumulated stock of pure self-experience; it produces the illusion that in a lyrical work the hero has to do only with himself and for himself, the illusion that he is solitary, and not possessed. This illusion makes it easier for the author to penetrate into the innermost depth of the hero and take complete possession of him. It enables the author to permeate all of the hero with his own, i.e. the author’s, self-activity: the hero is pliant, yielding, and surrenders all of himself to the author’s self-activity of his own accord.

… Lyrical self-objectification is a seeing and hearing of myself from within the emotional eyes of the other and in the emotional voice of the other: I hear myself in the other, with others, and for others. Lyrical self-objectification is a being possessed by the spirit of music (a being permeated and saturated by it). The spirit of music, the possible chorus — this is what constitutes here the firm and authoritative position of being the inner author, outside myself, of my own inner life. I seek and find myself in another’s emotional-excited voice; I embody myself in the voice of the other who sings of me; I find in that voice an authoritative approach to my own inner emotion or excitement; I sing of myself through the lips of a possible loving soul.

… Distinctive forms of “playing a fool” are also possible in the lyrical mode. In all cases where the hero begins to free himself from possession by the other — the author (i.e. the author ceases to be authoritative); where meaning-related and object-related moments gain immediate validity for the hero, that is to say, where he suddenly finds himself to be in the event of being, in the light of to-be-attained meaning — in all these cases, the ends of the lyrical circle no longer meet, and the hero can no longer coincide with himself: he begins to see his own nakedness and to be ashamed, and paradise is lost.

… Such, then, is the essential character of lyric and of the author-hero relationship in it. The position of the author is strong and authoritative, whereas the independence of the hero and of his directedness in living his own life is minimal: he does not really live a life of his own, but only reflects himself in the soul of the active author — the other by whom he is possessed.

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

-Julie

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