From: Kenneth Johnson <kenn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 09:49:14 -0800
One very influential and powerful orthodoxy I received from my early
encounter with Heidegger was his dictum to "Think Being". I was deeply
captured by it and spent thirty years with this idea as one of the first to
respond with to anyone who asked me anything about philosophy, which
admittedly wasn't that often.
Living in Utah and product of its predominant culture, I also tried to
impart this idea whenever someone tried to "call me back to the faith",
which _was_ often. My argument went something like: is God a being? Then
if he is a being, that means he has being, so the more important question
is, what is this being that both god and you partake in? And since Being is
more primary than god, therefore, before you begin to think God, you should
first 'Think Being'.
I'm far more wary of the nature of concepts today, but still this concept
of Being is perhaps the most dazzling of all the noun concepts to be
created by philosophy. It seems to me that currently, and perhaps so from
the beginning, all philosophy stands on this one concept. As attempts to
answer the question, What is the nature of Being?, or, What is the Being of
Today I would only change it into "Think Becoming", but here I grant for
the sake of this the small point that Being is Becoming. Small, because
Nietzsche's Eternal Return, which is the only way Being could become
instated from out of Becoming (except for merely axiomatic purposes,
because one needs the unmoving point in abstract grammatical calculations,
i.e. a 'noun'), is, as H. and Dr. Eldred pointed out, a concept that today
is 'beyond physics', a metaphysic, something we cannot know outside of
speculation at this stage of our enquiry. ( I would also grant that Will to
Power is a metaphysic, but only if you think it as something that includes
Force but is really in itself beyond, or more than, force. If Will to
Power's only attribute is force, however, how much more physics can you
get? But it is the 'Will' part that probably takes it into metaphysics).
On the question of Eternal Return, I have another 'odd' story on that one,
perhaps another time.
On another matter - a list member asked by private email what the origin
was of the Checkhov instruction. In case others are confused on this as
well, I'll relate it here in more detail on list:
One warm afternoon in late December 1995, I was at a friendly neighbor's
house, a retired casino showgirl but with real culture and talking about
her career. In the course of our conversation she said, "You're a bit of an
actor yourself, aren't you". She said it unrancorously and I took no
offense, replying something like, "maybe", but next time I was at the
University of Nevada Reno Library, I remembered her remark and decided to
check out a few books on the dramatic arts, a subject I knew little about.
I perused them at home later with some interest and in one of them, an
actors manuel written by Michael Checkhov, a particular hands on
instruction caught my eye and I decided to try it out to learn something of
movement in the actors art.
As I mentioned another post, Michael Checkhov was a nephew to Anton,
studied under Stansislavsky at the Moscow Theatre, differed with the master
on some points, emigrated to Hollywood, and became respected in actors
circles there, appearing in films and teaching acting.
Now the main current dominating my thoughts at this time was thinking
through all the implications of Deleuze's formulation of the two radically
incommensurable kinds of knowledge, the "seeing and the saying", or, "there
is light and there is language", and based on his readings of Foucault,
especially 'The Order of Things', his own book was entitled: "Foucault". I
was particularly fascinated with the visual knowledges because I had spent
quite a bit of time several years earlier working through the distinctions
in a phrase I'd come across in some philosophy book on metaphysics, one
that said there are two suns, the sensual and the intelligible. The purely
sensed one and the intelligized one. I looked at the afternoon sun a long
time that day, sorting this phrase through with some amazement. No doubt
I'd not have spent so long on it had I read Merleu-Ponty's Phenomenology of
Perception or Deleuze's Logic of Sense, or phenomenology in general, etc.
but hadn't and for the next several days I worked through all the sensory
transfers of images, the 'visual' sun etc., realizing in the process that
you can never see a tree as it really is but only the light waves that
bounce off it. Or that is to say, the image of the tree in your mind was
not the tree itself but an image. Our habit however is to unconsciously
assume we have the tree itself somehow captured there. There are other
implications too long and in a way all rather mundane - and since my posts
are always far too long I'll leave this part here as is.
Just to say that one particular formulation of this idea by Deleuze, which
at first seemed the most enigmatic of the several he used, turned out to be
the clearest when connected with my workings through of the implications of
the two suns. This formulation was, "You can never say what you see, nor
can you ever see what you say, they are incommensurable" (I don't presently
have access to my book Foucault, so this may be reversed or not exact, but
it is essentially right).
And on and on - ok, I'll quit, end by saying that this and many other
similar swirlings were there, in background, when I followed that little
instruction, and which in the process turned sensually (seeingly - not
sayingly) into a big thing, and the most amazing day of my physical life!
ps - I have a few things I'm putting together now that will help a great
deal for those still following this thread.
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