Metaphysical Rhizomes: East Meets West
HaikuWrimo JULY 2008
Objective: To write one poem a day in the haiku format. A haiku is an ancient Japanese form of poetry comprising of three-lines (often fragmented for effect). There are other "rules" but we tend to ignore them. Poetry has always been about breaking with tradition, not sticking to it!
Organiser: MS James - go to MS James page and check out the full list of participants here: [link]
Stamp: RetroZombie [link]
More Info: [link]
These rhizome/poems are largely the work of Phylis Johnson and Dick Whyte (although we do discuss them with Frater Taciturnus and Reginald Webber). Each rhizome/poem is based on the work of a Western philosopher.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These are not meant to teach philosophy, or anything like that. We were interested in taking philosophical words and ideas and making poems from them. We do not want them to suggest the philosophers ideas to you necessarily - in fact, we would rather you forgot this side altogether and attempted to read them just as poems. Otherwise it may feel like you "don't understand" when, in fact, there is nothing to understand (see 24/7). These are meant to be read as POEMS, rather than as PHILOSOPHY. See journal on this:[link]
We will be tackling one philosopher per day and sometimes we will write more than one poem per day (to form a small linked verse).
Preliminary Notes and Translations:-
Philosopher: Solar, Rene Magritte and Lao-Tzu.
Heh = Eternal (Egyptian)
On = Being (Greek)
Hen = The One (Greek)
Phenomen = Appearances (Greek)
On = Being (Greek)
Maya = Illusion (Sanskrit)
qua = what/question (Latin)
ontos on = real being/really real (Greek)
arithmos = number (Greek)
eidos = ideas (Greek)
epekeina = beyond (Greek)
ousia = substance/essence
aiton = cause
meson = mean-point
aitation = effect
the ten thousand things = remembering!
trias = logic of the three
Philosopher: Galileo Galilei
Philosopher: George Berkeley
esse = to be
est = is (to be)
percipi = perceived
is to be
Philosopher: David Hume
Philosopher: Rene Descartes
"The verb noeo means: to realize, to understand, to think." [link]
It is from the Greek root "No-" that "to know" and "consciousness" are derived in English.
is to be
"Consciousness, therefore existence" is an alternative (mis)translation of Descartes famous statement "cogito ergo sum." Traditionally this has been translated as "I think therefore I am," but there is no "I" in the Latin. Cogito is also closer to consciousness/conscious rather than the mental activity of thinking (remember - Descartes clearly says: "No mind," as in the Taoist "No space, no mind"). It can also be translated as "experience" (see Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Thomas Geach's translations of Descartes).
Philosopher: Immanuel Kant
Taijitu is the singular name of the "yin-yang" and roughly means "diagram of the supreme ultimate," or "concept of time from beginning to end without difference." The "yin-yang" is essentially a pictorial representation of "unity in plurality" (see "transcendental synthesis").
The term "catvāri āryasatyāni" (Sanskrit) means "The Four Noble Reals" or the "Quad Ontos On" (four that are really being). The "Four Noble Truths" (as they are traditionally known in English) are one of the most fundamental aspects of Buddhas teachings. This is also known as the "quadrivium" (the place where four roads meet).
Kant is the most complete of the philosophical systems in many respects. He maps only half the equation (that of phenomena) and leaves the noumenon emptied. Loosely, phenomenon is "appearances of being" or "experienced things" while noumenon is the "unknown" or "that which is not experienced." Given that the noumenon cannot be experienced directly, Kant discards it - though he clearly leaves a place in his philosophy for its emergence.
Philosopher: Gottfried Leibniz
The outside is not a fixed limit but a moving matter animated by peristaltic movements, folds and foldings that together make up an inside: they are not something other than the outside, but precisely the inside of the outside. (in Gilles Deleuze, "The Fold, Leibniz and The Baroque")
Folding-unfolding no longer simply means tension-release, contraction-dilation, but enveloping-developing, involution-evolution
The simplest way of stating the point is by saying that to unfold is to increase, to grow; whereas to fold is to diminish, to reduce, to withdraw into the recesses of a world. (Gilles Deleuze, "The Fold, Leibniz and The Baroque")
It is not the line that is between two points, but the point that is at the intersection of several lines. (Gilles Deleuze)
These quotes are taken from an excellent article on Deleuze, space and architecture by Mathew Krissel which can be seen here: [link]
As The San Francisco Bay Guardian writes, "The scope of Deleuze's understanding makes this book pertinent to artists, writers, architects, or anyone generally interested in ideas. The Fold attests to Deleuze's status as one of the most relevant and insightful philosophers." See a review of "The Fold" on-line here: [link]
Philosopher: Benedict Spinoza
is to be
Although there is no word for the gerund "Being" in Latin Spinoza coins the term, and single-handedly developed a tool for breaking with a transcendental, punishing, disciplining God. In his time, to be a Spinozaist was equivalent to being an athiest (in the sense that it was not Christianity, and therefore heretic). Some even accused him of a form of pantheism.
attributes and modes
Philosopher: Johann Fichte and George Hegel
"In its original German, das Ding suggests Kant's famous concept of the ding-an-sich or the thing-in-itself - the concept referring to the non-phenomenal source of all intuitions, or the world as it hypothetically existed outside of our particular way of cognizing it." [link]
This is also what Kant calls the "noumenon."
Philosopher: Soren Kierkegaard
"Found poem" from Keirkegaard's wonderful "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" (isn't that just the best name you ever heard for a book!). The subject of this book is the "subjective thinker" and the multiplicitous "layers" of subjective thought. Keirkegaard is often considered the father of "existentialism."
Philosopher: Edmund Husserl
"Found poem" based on the most famous of all Husserl's quotes - often referred to as a war cry! Te most famous of the phenomenologists after Hegel.
Philosopher: C.S. Peirce
Philosopher: Henri Bergson
Updated 25/7 with new poems.
Philosopher: Ferdinand Saussure
Saussure was responsible for the development of "the science of signs" (semiotics) independently of Peirce. His definition of a sign differs radically from Peirce's. Peirce believed that a sign was "anything which signified something to someone." For Saussure a sign was a "communication between two who are aware of a common system and storehouse of signs."
Philosopher: Albert Einstein
Philosopher: Woody Guthrie
Ostensibly a "found poem." This was written on a sticker on Woody Guthrie's guitar and sums up my feelings about philosophy/metaphysics/taoism. As Deleuze writes philosophy is a series of machines, and those machines have the power to end fascism. Woody's guitar and songs might be called a "war machine," capable of producing pure "images of thought" (as in noology).
Philosopher: Ludwig Wittgenstein
Poems #2, 5, 9 and 11 (the last one) are all found poems and are direct quotes from Wittgenstein. While writing this set tonight I was constantly AMAZED at the poetic nature of Wittgenstein's writing and thought. Everything he wrote sounds like a damn poem I could have kept composing these for ages but I had to stop somewhere so this is what I ended up with. Poem 3 is a slight condensation of another direct Wittgenstein quote (see below). Idle wheels, frictionless ice and way out of the fly bottle are all phrases from Wittgenstein. Because of the nature of this set (24/7) we feel more comfortable calling this an unwilling collaboration between Wittgenstein and us.
Betrand Russell supposedly said of Wittgenstein that he obstinate and perverse, but I think not stupid. [link]
And you wonder why I haven't done a set for Russell.
Wittgenstein: Rules of life are dressed up in pictures. And these pictures can only serve to describe what we are to do, not justify it. Because they could provide a justification only if they held good in other respects as well. I can say: "Thank these bees for their honey as though they were kind people who have prepared it for you"; that is intelligible and describes how I should like you to conduct yourself. But I cannot say: "Thank them because, look, how kind they are!"--since the next moment they may sting you. [link]
Philosopher: Martin Heidegger
Poem #1 in this set is a paraphrasing of a Heidegger quote (not a "found poem" as such, but very close to the original - I simply changed the tense of the statement into the present, rather than the past).
Philosopher: Leonard Cohen
Ostensibly a "found poem," this is a truncation of a direct quote from Leonard (who is a poet in his own right - though I don't much like his poetry, but I love his music). The original runs: "Poetry is just the evidence of life, if your life is burning well (etc.)." I simply cut the first line. I bumped Jacques Lacan for Leonard here because this quote BLOWS ME THE FUCK AWAY. I don't know why Leonard couldn't write poetry (his books really are BAD) - but his quotes and song lyrics are SO DAMN GOOD. Also Lacan is a psychoanalyst and not a metaphysician and I didn't include Freud, so I thought I'd leave them for another poem altogether (haiku does psychoanalysm anyone?).
Philosopher: Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Poems #1, 2 and 3 are "found poems" directly lifted from Merleau-Ponty's work.
Philosopher: Michel Foucault
Foucault is largely negative in his propositions but his work uncovers many basic principles of modern society and brings to light the problems with judgment.
Philosopher: Jacques Lacan
So Lacan made it in anyway. Given that we only perceive "images" with the senses (and do not necessarily experience anything which really exists - colour for example, does not technically exist, it is an affect of the brain) and that we express using "symbols" (words, facial expressions) how do we experience "the real"??? This is the central problem of metaphysics in general and has dominated Western philosophical thought for centuries. How do we experience the real?? What is real in terms of what we can know of the world?? Obviously things are "real" but how do we experience their "realness."
Philosopher: Gilles Deleuze (with Felix Guattari)
Poems #4, 6, 7, 11, 17, 27, 34, 39, 42, 43 and 44 are all "found poems" which can be located in "A Thousand Plateaus." The last section (the "philosopher's aside") is a paraphrasing from the "BWO." To see the full text "How do you make yourself a Body without Organs" (a chapter from "A Thousand Plateaus") see here: [link]
Love you Deleuze!!
Philosopher: Carl Sagan
This is a "found poem" comprising of two Carl Sagan quotes (which might be slightly paraphrased as I got them from Brady, rather than Sagan). Cosmos is the best TV show ever.