Workout 1 Feb 2013: This and better may do

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Blew it today by working out too soon after a heavy lunch, barely able to complete 20 minutes.

“This and better may do, this and waur will niver do” – George MacDonald Fraser’s strict granny

Made it to the Circle K in the morning. Using less breakout painkiller (in which the patient can at any time ask for and receive 10 mg morphine sulfate in joy juice form).

My ability to walk and dance seems to be a pearl now of great price but perhaps in part due to a passage in Adorno (Minima Moralia) I can come, not so much to “resignation” but to North American (Canadian and American) Native American gratitude. And oddly in Adorno this is coupled with and reinforced by the imperfections of the glorious gift. Sure, I was blessed by being able to take the children to La Push but the blessing was made more whole, more real, by Peter’s (junglee Peter’s) calm announcement in the car, after Peter learned that there was no McDonald’s in La Push: “La Push sucks”.

Here is the Adorno passage. It’s a forced march but the truth is buried there.

At the end (Finale). – The only philosophy which would still be accountable in the face of despair, would be the attempt to consider all things, as they would be portrayed from the standpoint of redemption. Cognition has no other light than that which shines from redemption out upon the world; all else exhausts itself in post-construction and remains a piece of technics. Perspectives must be produced which set the world beside itself, alienated from itself, revealing its cracks and fissures, as needy and distorted as it will one day lay there in the messianic light. To win such perspectives without caprice or violence, wholly by the feel for objects, this alone is what thinking is all about. It is the simplest of all things, because the condition irrefutably call for such cognitions, indeed because completed negativity, once it comes fully into view, shoots [zusammenschiesst] into the mirror-writing of its opposite. But it is also that which is totally impossible, because it presupposes a standpoint at a remove, were it even the tiniest bit, from the bane [Bannkreis] of the existent; meanwhile every possible cognition must not only be wrested from that which is, in order to be binding, but for that very reason is stricken with the same distortedness and neediness which it intends to escape. The more passionately thought seals itself off from its conditional being for the sake of what is unconditional, the more unconsciously, and thereby catastrophically, it falls into the world. It must comprehend even its own impossibility for the sake of possibility. In relation to the demand thereby imposed on it, the question concerning the reality or non-reality of redemption is however almost inconsequential.

Now, this passage seems like gibberish to many ordinary people and many academics: indeed it may at least elicit more violent reactions from those academics who think that the truth can be expressed in “simple” aphorisms where this view,carried to its natural extreme, favors the sound byte and the tautologies of mathematics over anything irreducible such as the above.

Syntactically the Adorno passage isn’t gibberish. I could formulate a sentence diagram or Chomsky parse tree for every sentence and the fact that Adorno probably wrote or at least reviewed is a rebuke to native English speakers.

For example, “The more passionately thought seals itself off from its conditional being for the sake of what is unconditional, the more unconsciously, and thereby catastrophically, it falls into the world” “means” (“what does a poem mean?”) that thought’s desire for the “unconditional” (the status of necessary truth whether “synthetic” (telling us necessary things about the world) or analytic (true by virtue of its logical form)) atrophies “thought’s” ability to change.

But my butt hurts. The rephrase is worse than the original. I conclude that there’s a special type of reading comprehension skill for texts like this, one my late Father said he had to cultivate when in retirement he returned to university to study philosophy including Hegel. Ultimately on a first or even second reading you scan more or less mindlessly trying very hard to stay awake (Mom said that Schopenhauer was better than a sleeping pill) and sooner or later things will clear up.

The theme of Minima Moralia is how society works to make us cling to oversimplified, “reductionist” accounts by re-presenting truth as unlike falsity in that truth can and must be clear; but logically speaking, there is no reason why this must be so.


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