Fünf Sonette an Orpheus

“III
Ein Gott vermags. Wie aber, sag mir, soll
ein Mann ihm folgen durch die schmale Leier?
Sein Sinn ist Zwiespalt. An der Kreuzung zweier
Herzwege steht kein Tempel für Apoll.

Gesang, wie du ihm lernst, ist nicht Begehr,
nicht Werbung um ein endlich noch Erreichtes;
Gesang ist Dasein. Für den Gott ein Leichtes.
Wann aber sind wir? Und wann wendet er
an unser Sein die Erde und die Sterne?

Dies ists nicht, Jüngling, Dass du liebst, wenn auch
die Stimme dann den Mund dir aufstösst, – lerne
vergessen, dass du aufsangst. Das verrinnt.
In Wahrheit singen, ist ein andrer Hauch.
Ein Hauch um nichts. Ein Wehn im Gott. Ein Wind.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Fünf Sonette an Orpheus, III, p.24 booklet with CD
“Rautavaara, Song of My Heart, Orchestral Songs”, published by Ondine.

[Official English translation:
III
A god can do it. But how, tell me,
should a man follow him through that narrow lyre?
His mind is torn in two. At the crossing
of two heartways you will find no temple for Apollo.

Song, as you teach it, is no yearning,
no wooing for something that can be finally attained;
song is being. Easy for a God.
But when are we? And when will he turn
the earth and the stars to our being?

This is not about your loving, young man,
even if your voice exploded from your mouth;
learn to forget that you ever sang. It fades away.
To sing in truth is a different breath.
A breath of nothing. A breeze of god. A wind.”]

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 22-07-2009. Just going through the motions, this has to have been a low point. I can only hope.]

What I wanted to talk about was ‘Mind-Mind Dualism’ but then I thought about Orpheus and remembered what is quoted above from Rilke (I hesitated a bit: Kierkegaard-Nietzsche came to mind as well, but I settled for Rilke’s Orpheus).

This godly creature could woo even the devil into appreciating the beauty of song but he was too human not to hesitate about whether his earthly beauty was still accompanying him. He was more man than a god in other words, and probably therefore as godly as can be, alive but not constrained by death.

‘Mind-Mind Dualism’! No, I’m not a dualist by any means. But given how much it
has gone out of fashion to confess to dualism, the phrase of ‘Mind-Mind Dualism’ may  just be provocative enough to make people think beyond the current status quo.

It has long been a thought with me that ‘Mind’ was treated in philosophy as too simple. And I don’t mean: ‘too simply’ because nothing has been treated as complicatedly as this. What I do mean is that ‘Mind’ is taken as some kind of simple entity, or as a simple quality common to a host of phenomena.

Let me try to be as arrogant and ambitious here again as I, hopefully,  always will be. My belief can be phrased as: ‘Mind is an ambiguous term being applied to  two qualitatively distinct phenomena, or objects.” On the one side there is the  associative Humean mind and on the other the deductive Fregean mind. The fact that we are using the same word to denote two vastly different things is not a coincidence: from the former springs the latter, and – all scientistic claims of the ‘Erreichtes’ and all the religious claims of the ‘Werbung’ can be put aside – the  deductive can can only originate in the associative.

More than this: the deductive can only continue to be if it has the associative as its continuous substratum. Leading to all positives and negatives of being ‘All too human’ – ‘Das verrinnt’ … ‘Lerne vergessen’ …, don’t think you’ll ever be beyond looking back.

If you follow my drift you’ll maybe say that this is Mind-Body Dualism all over again. The associative mind being associated to the body and the deductive mind being of eternal-soul-like qualities. You’d probably right to a certain extent but framing it as a mind-mind dualism is a clearer way of putting that, avoiding the basic known errors of dualism. It is in fact in line with my conjecture that a big part of insight in philosophy has to do with rephrasing, finding a way of speaking which enlightens what always tended to be obscure in context (with singing in fact).

This is where the ‘stepping-stone theory of language’ comes in (as I once have to dedicate myself to working out in less detail but with more clarity than in my thesis): from an initially associative background we gradually, socially construct our well-behaved languages that permit us to express things that survive our specific context. This is not a process that takes rubble from the associative side to construct clean self-supporting edifices on a logical side. This is a process that requires both elements to continuously cross-fertilize without aiming at heavens but with the natural consequence of increasing understanding and, ‘In Wahrheit singen’.

Yes, you got me, it’s very close to anomalous monism (which I discovered after
I’d grown a fixation to this theme). But still not quite, because there the muddle still persists, the muddle of ‘The Unified Signification of Mind’. It is – as far as I can see – a dogma that remains to be broken. As all dogma-breaking it is based on a hunch of association (dissociation between the paraphernalia of the Humean mind and those of the loftier, Orphean, mind). It is also a constructive thought: it demolishes all the ‘Either/Or’ to converge into an, albeit continually imperfect, harmony.

Specifically the notion, elsewhere expanded far too imperfectly, of the loftier Mind necessarily, and universally, being a Social Mind (rather than the hencetoforth used Fregean, or logical, adjectives put in at the service of clarity and provocation).

Stay Tuned.

[I said and I realized that the little hope I had for that was unjustified.]

[Whilst writing this I was listening to (yes, you can guess) Rautavaara, above for details.]

2 responses to “Fünf Sonette an Orpheus

  1. Hi, I am from Australia.
    Speaking of Orpheus please find this introduction to the Orpheum Trilogy by a remarkable author who was Orpheus, except that He returned from the underworld fully alive and Radiantly Awake.
    http://www.adidaupclose.org/Literature_Theater/skalsky.html

  2. Nice, but I have to admit I am not very keen on things spiritual although much keener still than on spiritual leaders and schools. That said, nice, I like the idea of putting the Eastern middle finger to these tragic myths of the West.

    But it would have been much nicer still if there were less mystery mumbo-jumbo (better: none).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s