Thursday, July 21, 2011

There is No Beauty without some Strangeness of Proportion/ Part 4

By Brian George

Apophasis/ Or the "uncanniness" of the Sign

‘There await men after death such things as they neither expect nor have any conception of.”—Heraclitus, Fragment 35

Hi Septagenetic,

I had written, "It is this field that creates the circles, which speak to us in a forgotten and yet somehow familiar language."

In response, you said that this statement "doesn't seem to me like someone solidifying their point; rather, it seems like someone grasping.  I really don't get this point at all. It seems to appear suddenly and with no attempt at an explanation."

The only thing wrong with this statement is my conviction that you have also had this experience. You have, but it is hidden inside of a cloud from which I am powerless to retrieve it; for, absent your cooperation, only death will be able to do so. Aside from that, I will stand by what I have said.

And if the idea of my “grasping” for a connection seems somehow inappropriate, I would refer you to Montaigne, the first author to describe his investigations as “essays”—from the French “essayer”: “to attempt.” The word also has a secondary meaning of “a trial,” which, it would seem, is what my RS mini-essays are to my detractors.

In any event, the concept that I am playing with in this statement is a very old one indeed, and refers back to the root meanings of the word "education." This word derives from the Latin "educere," to "bring out" or "lead forth"; thus, to "educate" is to "bring forth" knowledge that is already in existence.

True knowledge is uncanny; we feel that we have seen a thing before.

To "rear" a child is to bring him/ her back to an earlier state of connection—to what existed before the drinking of the waters of Lethe, before the cutting of the umbilical cord, before the separation of the person from the daimon.

In this classical view, we are not empty vessels that a teacher must fill up; we are preexistent knowers, now amnesiac, for whom a sign might serve to reactivate the once common "art of memory."


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