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Constructing a Replacement for the SoulThe Grammars o f Self-Reflection and
Temporality as the Limits o f Language in Finnegans Wake, Philosophical
Investigations, and Cognitive ScienceA thesis presented byBrett Ryan BourbontoThe
Department o f English and American Literature and Languagein partial fulfillment o
f the requirements for the degree ofDoctor o f Philosophyin the subject ofEnglish
and American Literature and LanguageHarvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts
July, 1996Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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UMI Number: 9710397Copyright 1996 by Bourbon, Brett RyanAll rights reserved.UMI
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(C) 1996 BY BRETT RYAN BOURBON All rights reserved.Reproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Abstract: Constructing a Replacement for the Soul: The Grammars of Self- Reflection
and Temporality as the Limits of Language in Finnegans Wake, Philosophical
Investigations, and Cognitive ScienceIn my dissertation I explore how literary art
can function as a kind o f cognitive philosophy. I begin with the proposition that
Artificial Intelligence programs, and the game worlds they spawn, attempt to
articulate an aesthetic with ontological force, poems to blow our heads off. This
possibility or promise frames my examination of Joyce's Finnegans Wake,
Wittgenstein'sPhilosophicalInvestigations, and my own description of a hypothetical
machine I have designed that generates a fictional future within which it figures
itself. I analyze Finnegans Wake as a philosophical text, and Wittgenstein's
Philosophical Investigations as describing an aesthetic. Both texts do not
articulate a theory of meaning, but model meaning within what Wittgenstein called
our "forms of life," our attunement within our language, culture, history,
psychology, biology, and so on. How is it possible for human beings to inhabit this
'our' at all? How can I use an 'our' as mine? In writing towards and at the limits
of language, I am trying to speak an 'our' as our species-being, and it this
speaking enact the particularity of meaning instantiated through my particular
involvement in language. Both Investigations and the Wake explore the limits o f
what it means to be human by examining how linguistic meaning works
throughtheinteractionsbetweensenseandnonsense. Ianalyzehowtheshiftingbetween
language games, between sense and nonsense described and enacted within Finnegans
WakeandPhilosophicalInvestigationsarticulatesamultivalenttemporalsense. I
investigate the ways in which the limits between sense and nonsense construct a
grammar of temporality that is simultaneously a literary aesthetic and a theory of
mind. Time becomes a grammatical effect. The theoretical machine I have designed
pressures theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
interpretative limit between the animate and the inanimate and between sense and
nonsense toward the ontological limits described by causal languages. My
dissertation is an attempt to describe the ways in which such grammars determine
what counts as human.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
TABLE OF CONTENTSAbbreviations, iEtymologies, iiA Note on the Interpretation o f
Finnegans Wake, iii1. I.INTRODUCTION: Constructing a Replacement for the Soul, 1
FRAGMENTS: FROM SOUL-MAKING TO PERSON-MAKING 2. From Soul-making to Person-making,
212.1 Personalidentityandimpersonalsalvation, 292.2
"timeliquescingintostate,pitilessagegrowsangelhood", 382.3
Spiralingfrominterpretationtocause, 553.RomanticFragmentsandModernistMachines, 62
4. Keats' Version of Finnegans Wake, 1035. The Distance between the Soul and the
Mind, 113 6.TheWakeanGrammarof'Between', 167H. THE SEMANTICS OF IDENTITY AND THINGS
(Eliot's The Waste Land and Heidegger's 'Das Ding')m .7. Semantics of Identity and
Mind, 213 8. (How) Can things mean?, 2498.1 Matter, 2588.2 What is a thing?:
Functionalism, 2698.3 A Thing is a Temporal Condensate o f a Semantic Chain, 2758.4
The Ontological-Semantics of 'weilen', 2808.5
TeXevTTjteatevreXexeia(etverbumtemporalenomini), 2968.6 Animamundiseuorbis, 3199.
'Weileri* in The WasteLand, 328 9.1. Thunder-talk, 3289.2 On the road to
objecthood, 3489.3 The visibility of the subjunctive, 383THE SEXUAL ONTOLOGY OF THE
PSYCHE(Finnegans Wake)10. The Sexual Ontology of the Psyche, 39910.1 Conversation
with God and Self, 39910.2 "aprioric roots for aposteriorious tongues", 41310.3
"RenovetheBible":thelogicofcreationinGenesis, 424 10.4 AnnaLiviaPlurabelle, 43610.5
Masculinetautology, 44810.6 Thelimitsofwhy, 453Reproduced with permission of the
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IV. WITTGENSTEINIANTIME(Philosophical Investigations)11. The Ontology of Time, 460
11.1Knowingtime, 46511.2 Inhabiting time, 47712. The 'I* in the Nature
ofPhilosophicalInvestigations, 49313. GrammaticalTime, 53213.1 Physiognomyofasoul,
53213.2 Understanding, or not, how not to go on, 54013.3 The theology o f
57114.1. Constructing a Time Machine (the Self-Inductor) Limit between Cause and
Grammar, 571at the14.2 Time-machinelinguist, 57714.3 Generating the present from
language, 58014.4 A wink in time means two, 58814.5 "Be! Verb umprincipiant through
the trancitive spaces!", 58914.6 The logic o f short-term prediction, 59214.7 The
continuous future: hearing of and speaking in the newworldorder, 59414.8 Another
blueprint o f time, 59614.9 Mental imperialism: to make the world as mind, 59614.10
Time and the other, 59714.11 Looking for Mr. Goodmachine, 60014.12 Meta-temporal
identities: the modeling o f others as syntax,60114.13 Negative entropy, 60514.14
Re-building ourselves in the other, 60614.15 The pursuit o f death, 60814.16
Learning from the future, 60914.17 Inside a Chinese box, 61014.18 The I as the not-
I: Using the future to build other machines,61115. EPILOGUE: But what have I denied
the existence of?, 614 Bibliography, 616Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
AbbreviationsAll references to Finnegans Wake (abbreviated FW) in the following
dissertation are identifiedparentheticallybypageandlinenumber.
AllreferencestoPhilosophical Investigation (abbreviated PI) are identified
parenthetically by section number or where appropriatebypagenumber.
Otherworksfrequentlycitedareidentifiedparenthetically by the following
abbreviations:CPE BTDDNSBBEliot, T.S. The Complete Poems and Plays. NY: Harcourt,
Brace and Co., 1952.Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John Macquarrie and
Edward Robinson. (NY: Harper and Row, 1962); Sein und Zeit.(Tubingen: Max Niemeyer,
1993) Where relevant references are identified by the page number in the English
translation, followed by the page number in the original German.. "The Thing". In
Poetry, Language, Thought. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. NY: Harper, 1971; Vortrage
undAufsatze.Stuggart: Gunther Neske, 1954.1will refer to the German throughout, and
in specific cases will identify the German text as "Das Ding".Vico, Giambattista.
The New Science o f Giambattista Vico. Trans. Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold
Fisch. Rev. ed. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1984. References will be to paragraph number
and not page number.Wittgenstein,Ludwig. TheBlueandBrownBooks.Oxford:Basil
Blackwell, 1952.CV_________ _________________ . Culture and Value. Ed. G.H. Von
Wright with Heikki Nyman. Trans. Peter Winch. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1980.PGTLP
_________________ . Philosophical Grammar. Ed. R. Rhees. Trans. Anthony Kenny.
Berkeley: U o f California P, 1974._. "Philosophy" (Big Transcript) In
Philosophical Occasions, 1912-1951. Ed. J. Klagge and A. Nordmann. Indianapolis:
Hackett, Pub, 1993.. TractatusLogico-Philosophicus. Trans.C.K. Ogden. NY: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1922. References will be tosection number.Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
EtymologiesThe etymologies I use to interpret Finnegans Wake and to describe
aspects of our philosophical grammar were developed through consulting the
following works:Benveniste, Emile. Indo-European Language and Society. Trans.
Elizabeth Palmer. Coral Gables, Fla.: U ofMiami P, 1973.Buck, Carl Darling. A
Dictionary o fSelected Synonyms in the Principle Indo- European Languages. Chicago:
U of Chicago P, 1949.Gransaignes dHauterive, R. Dictionnaire des racines des
longues europeennes. Paris: Larousse, 1949.Liddell, H. G. and R. Scott. Greek-
English Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1871. Onians, R.B. The Origin o fEuropean
Thought about the Body, the Mind, theSoul, the World, Time, andFate. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1951. Onions, C.T. et al. The OxfordDictionary o fEnglish Etymology.
Oxford: OxfordUP, 1966.Oxford English Dictionary. Compact Ed. Oxford: Oxford UP,
1971.Partridge, Eric. Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary o f the English
Language. NY: Macmillan, 1959.Pokomy, Julius. Indogermanisches Etymologisches
Worterbuch. Bern, 1959. Williams, Raymond. Keywords. NY: Oxford UP, 1983.Reproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
A Note on the Interpretation ofFinnegans WakeIn my interpretations ofFinnegans Wake
I have drawn on number of standard resources. These resources will not always be
cited specifically within the text when the information is o f a general nature:
James S. Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study o fLiterary Allusions in James
Joyce's Finnegans Wake, Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1974.AdalineGlasheen.
ThirdCensuso/"FinnegansWake:AnIndexoftheCharacters and Their Roles. Berkeley: U of
California P, 1977.Helmut Bonheim. A Lexicon o f the German in Finnegans Wake.
Berkeley: U of California P, 1967.Clive Hart. "Index of Motifs," in Structure cmdM
otifin Finnegans Wake. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1962, p. 211-47.Roland McHugh.
Annotations to Finnegans Wake. Baltimore: The John Hopkins UP, 1980.Louis O. Mink.
A Finnegans Wake Gazetteer. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1979. Brendan 0 Hehir. A
Gaelic Lexiconfor Finnegans Wake. Berkeley: U ofCaliforniaP, 1967.Brendan O Hehir
and John M. Dillon. A Classical Lexiconfo r Finnegans Wake. Berkeley: U of
California P, 1977.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
1Introduction: ConstructingaReplacementfortheSoulIn the following dissertation I
explore how literary art can function as a kind of cognitive philosophy. I begin
with the proposition that Artificial Intelligence programs, and the game worlds
they spawn, attempt to articulate an aesthetic with ontological force, poems to
blow our heads off. This possibility or promise frames my examination of Joyce's
Finnegans Wake, Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, and my own description
o f a hypothetical machine I have designed that generates a fictional future within
which it figures itself. I analyze Finnegans Wake as a philosophical text, and
Wittgenstein'sPhilosophicalInvestigationsasdescribinganaesthetic. Bothtextsdonot
articulate a theory of meaning, but model meaning within what Wittgenstein calls
our"forms o f life," our attunement, as Stanley Cavell phrases it, within our
language, culture, history, psychology, biology, and so on. How is it possible for
human beings to inhabit this 'our' at all? How can I use an 'our' as mine? In
writing towards and at the limits of language, I am trying to speak an 'our' as our
species-being, and in this speaking enact the particularity o f meaning
instantiatied through my particular involvement in language. BothInvestigations and
the Wake explore the limits ofwhat it means to be human by examining how linguistic
meaning works through the interactions between sense and nonsense. Artificial
Intelligence programs embody one way of conceptualizing the limit of our humanity,
and as such embody an aesthetic, a failed aesthetic whose failure pressures the
relation between our inhabitation of time and meaning into a kind of clarity
nascent within both Finnegans Wake and Philosophical Investigations. The
theoretical machine I designReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.1
at the end o f my dissertation is meant to pressure the interpretive limit between
the animate and the inanimate and between sense and nonsense toward the ontological
limits described by causal languages. My dissertation is an attempt to describe the
ways in which such grammars determine what counts as human.In describing these
grammars I analyze how the shifting between language games, between sense and
nonsense, described and enacted within Finnegans Wake and
PhilosophicalInvestigationsarticulatesamultivalenttemporalsense. Thelimitsbetween
sense and nonsense construct a grammar oftemporality that is simultaneously a
literary aestheticandatheoryofmind.Timebecomesagrammaticaleffect. Thisconclusionnot
only challenges Heidegger's conception ofthe temporality ofDasein, it also suggests
the depth of our misunderstanding about how we function within various holisms
(from sentences to language games to our forms of life). In answer to this
misunderstanding I attempt to describe how the logic of human temporality and the
possibility o f language simultaneously enact each other as systems of
symbolization organizing the world and one's relationship to it. In chapters
devoted to various ways in which we confuse minds for worlds (theologically,
mechanically/ logically, and socially), I describe the ways in which the
ontological, or rather the criteria determining what counts as real, collapses into
modes of self-reflection. These modes ofself-reflection, the theological, the
mechanical, and the social, determine the limits of mind enacted in my three
'texts'. I describe thegrammar o f these modes in order to demonstrate how we
construct ourselves through the dynamic interaction o f our everyday and every
night uses o f language, and in their generation of our sense of time, of the
possibility of a future as an aesthetic.Reproduced with permission of the copyright
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Such an aesthetic cannot entail the abandonment o f the claim truth exerts on our
self-descriptionsandsubjectiveexpressions. Wecannottakecareofourselveswithout
"truth".The man who seeks truth becomes a scholar; the man who wishes to act out
his subjectivity can become a writer; but what must be done by the man who seeks
that which lies between the two? (Robert Musil)I'm tempted to think Musil is being
funny, or at least ironic, when he asserts that a scholar seeks truth. But if we
take him seriously, and maybe replace "scholar" with "scientist," the anxiety in
which he finds himselfbecomes clear. Roughly, the truth Musil thinks the scholar
(or scientist, in my case) seeks is that which can be verified, that which can be
found and tested as an objective fact or principle, or if we want to extend
Popper's emendationtothispositivistnotionoftruth,thatwhichcanbefalsified. Thistruth
remains independent, at least in its ontological claims, o f meaning, the acting
upon or ordering o f the world within a subjective frame, construct, system, etc.
Certainly scientific "truth" serves and is used within a whole series of language
and ideological games, but its claims about the world, which are never meant to be
absolutely true, cannot speak to the significance o f these claims in relation to
our desire to justify our lives: in other words,you can use science to give meaning
to life but you cannot be scientific when you do this. The modem individual, the
man without qualities, is hamstrung between that which is true but meaningless and
that which is meaningful but false. The perception o f this seeming separation is
the foundational virus sparking literary modernism. Modernism could not domesticate
this anxiety. It remains unresolved, simply because literature and maybe all
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the arts do not have the means to resolve it. One can easily reformulate this
anxiety back into any originary moment o f the modem (defined by different
disciplines or conceptualizations o f culture) that one thinks important. One o f
these, Descartes' Cogito ergo sum betrays the need, opened up by science and
materialism, to collapse the world
intoourownconsciousnesssuchthatthetruecanremainmeaningful. Thecostofthis attempt is
the seductiveness ofmodem skepticism, the generation of a self an identity, a
consciousness grounded in our knowing.A solution to the fear that what is
meaningful is not true is to somehow re- conceive ourselves as objects within the
purview of science or scholarship, of "truth," and thus to make our attempts at
subjective ordering indirectly "true." Even in this solution, however, meaning
apparently has no ontological significance, only survival value. To give meaning or
art, as a subset of how we assert our subjective meanings, ontological force, one
must construct something that is subjectively meaningful and simultaneously true.
One must build a mind, which is to say that building a mind is a theological
exercise. One can indeed conceive of art, as Thomas Mann says in Dr. Faustus, "as
mind," both in its attempt to embody truth but also as a result of its own
necessary functioning within the possibility o f meaning defined by human
subjectivity. Musil, therefore, wants to be a kind of cognitive scientist, or he
wants, unbeknownst to himself to think within the domain of inquiry one might call
neuro-aesthetics, as much to indicate what it is not as what it existsbetween.Musil
finds himselfbetween Dilthey's Geisteswissenschaften andNaturwissenschaften,
resisting the drive to reduce the one to the other. Musil's desire toReproduced
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think within a Naturgeisteswissenschaften, secure in its ontological claims without
appealing to substance (things) or socio-historical reality, has a history in
English. One could make a list and call it a genre, bearing some affinity to G.
Steiner's Pythagorean Genre and to Menippean Satire or Frye's Anatomy, and to
various attempts to construct a language game, or collection of such games,
somewhere between mind and world. These texts, however, articulate the interstices
between language games, including their own, and thus unwind themselves into the
limit of what counts as human; Thus they examine our
formoflifebygeneratingnewforms: TheAnatomyofMelancholy,Browne'sHydriotaphia, Urn
Burial, Cavendish's Blazing World, Wilkins' Mercury: Swift Messenger, Godwin's Man
in the Moone, Vico's New Science, Swift's A Tale o fa Tub,Sterne's Tristram Shandy,
Blake's The Four Zoas, Coleridge's Biographia Litteraria, Carlyle's Sartor
Resartus, Pater's Marius the Epicurean, Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Poe's tales,
Thoreau's Walden, Melville's "Bartleby," the essays ofEmerson and H. James,
Finnegans Wake, Meta-fiction, some modem Science Fiction, and Artificial
Intelligence programs. The members o f this literary genealogy translate,
transform, and negotiate with a comparable (but more central) set o f philosophical
texts in order to enter language throughtheseductionof(orresistanceto)metaphysics:
BrowneparleyswithDescartes; Cavendish trumps Descartes and Newton; Wilkins
translates Leibniz; Vico, Janus-faced, sits beside Spinoza, Sterne sexualizes
Locke; Coleridge and Carlyle lie through Kant, Schelling, ei al., Carroll points at
and teases Frege and Freud, and so on. These two strands enter into, and offer
themselves as displacements o f the attempt to mediate between the claims of
substance (things), of meaning (understanding, justification,Reproduced with
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knowing, significance, going on, oflife, etc.), ofthe psyche (the inner/mental,
instinct, subjectivity), and o f temporality (objective, scientific, existential,
social, developmental, historical). I intervene in these claims through the
temptation toward nonsense, or maybe a certain kind o f mind-sickness, resisted,
exploited, lanced, and encouraged by Wittgenstein and Joyce (and, for me here,
Eliot, Heidegger, Thoreau, Dennett, Cavell, andB. Johnson).These literary and
philosophical texts can form a complicated 'genre' if they areunderstood to ask the
question 'Can one construct a philosophy of mind from literary aesthetics?' This
question can seem obvious, a kind oftraditional truism that seems to
neednoexplanationasitseemsnottoforAbramswhenhewritesin TheMirrorandthe Lamp that
"In any period, the theory of mind and the theory of art tend to be integrally
relatedandtoturnuponsimilaranalogues,explicitorsubmerged"(69). Orthisquestion can
seem surprising, as if the demands of a theory of mind to attach logic to biology
overwhelm the problems of fiction or even the possibilities of meaning. Both the
surprise and the ordinariness ofthis question should surprise us. Finnegans Wake
andPhilosophicalInvestigationsenactthissurprise. Theyeachfunctionascomplementary
limit cases o f each other in the investigation and enactment o f the limits o f
aesthetics as the limits ofmind, and ofthe limits ofmind as the limits
ofaesthetics. The relation between mind and art, configured as Abrams shows in
similar analogies and metaphors (wax tablet, mirror, lamp, etc.), exposes how we
inhabit our biology and our language. Exploring this inhabitation means describing
the limit between sense and nonsense as a
formofourbeing(notasonlyananalogyormetaphor). TheanalogiesbetweenmindandReproduced
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art, therefore, should be seen as symptoms and riddles about the problem o f
meaning as it constitutes our ontological commitments. The following chapters
attempt to listen to and respond to these symptoms and riddles, with the
recognition that the ontological status of
bothaesthetics(literature)andphilosophiesofmindmustbejustifiedinanewway. The
descriptive power o f science and the translations o f these descriptions into
technologychallenges the status of the analogies between mind and aesthetics in a
way that displaces the implied symmetry o f Abrams' description. The ontological
status o f interpretative analogies is not equivalent to the causal relations
described in cognitive science.Geometry infects the mind as well as metaphor. The
ciphers organizing the mind run not to circles, but for the moment can stand as two
overlapping (?), congruent(?), tangent(?) ellipses, in some metaphoric non-
Euclidean geometry, one wrapped around a region whose primary focus is Sense and
the other whose primary focus is Nonsense. The region o f nonsense is bounded by
Finnegans Wake and the region o f sense by Philosophical Investigations. In each
case the ellipse includes at its farthest extreme the locus o f the other ellipse.
Sense and nonsense, themselves, should only serve as deictic markers of structures,
interpretations, possibilities, actions, and functionings whose form and meaning
prove intractable.The Wake and Investigations operate and articulate a self-
reflexive language that resists collapsing the mental into analogies of substance,
and yet they both retain an ontological claim on our attention. This is only
possible to the degree that these works offer themselves as limits within which the
transformation o f nonsense into sense (or the reverse) describes the temporal
pressure which pushes understanding a sentence intoReproduced with permission of
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understanding a life (our own). The limits of language explored in the Wake and
Investigations, therefore, mediate the relation between how to go on in life, the
justification we ordinarily call the meaning o f life, but maybe the sense o f life
that prevents us from pressuring our answers too seriously, and how to go on with
words, how to go on reading, talking, listening, understanding. The description o f
how words mean within particular language games determines the kinds of claims we
can make when we use these words. Weleamhowtoapplythesewordstoourcommitments.
Finnegans Wake dissolves sense into the temporality of being. Sense, as a (or the)
form o f consciousness, remains, but under the ontological dominance o f temporal
change and our, as Joyce calls it, "infrarational senses." Wittgenstein, in
Investigations, dissolves temporality into sense. The aesthetics and logics ofthe
repressed or disguised terms, sense in the Wake and temporality in Investigations,
build different forms of unconsciousness within these texts, complementary but
polarized forms o f mind and worlds. Wittgenstein pulls his investigation toward
the pole of sense, articulating the logic o f language games as a way o f
restricting nonsense, but not as a way o f denying nonsense
anddoubt,butratherasawayofmoderatingtheseundertheaspectofsense. Conversely,
Finnegans Wake delimits sense by stretching its language into nonsense. The Wake
approaches what Barbara Johnson calls poetry, "the repository o f knowledge about
the resistance o f language to intentional dissolution. And 'absolute randomness'
is the outer limit of that resistance" (7). Wittgenstein assumes that philosophy
investigates the grammar o f 'is' and Joyce assumes that literature investigates
the grammar o f 'mean[ing]\ The limit of resistance that Johnson describes,
however, not only configures thatReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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randomness as meaningful (as resistance), but undoes meaning or identity or the
world as mine or yours or ours. The loss ofintentionality, the aboutness of our
language, our involvement in a world as our world, means the dissolution o f the
interpretative functions of consciousness. The randomness of "intentional
dissolution" is not necessarily the randomness o f a chaotic world, the failure o f
cause and effect. It may mean this or it may not. We may simply be asleep or have
suffered brain damage or have returned to some earlier stage o f primate evolution
or have died. Interpretation might make causal explanations visible and possible,
but it does not constitute the world into a proximate causal order.If this outer
limit is the inhuman, the transcendent point toward which skepticism drives, then
our machines seem to offer transport beyond the phenomenal limits of our knowing.
De Man, Cavell, and Lacan all say as much. Technology would serve as a symptom
through which we discover that the brain is the seat of intelligence and not the
heart. Machines, and the formalisms animating them, reform our analogies within an
increasingly more grounded ontological faith: our analogies gain power not through
ourbelief, but through their greater intimacy with the substance (means) through
which we act. Artificial Intelligence programs, in this sense, and more in their
potential than actuality, read us, and not we them, as the limit o f the inhuman, a
limit through which we re-interpret ourselves, constructing fundamental othemess as
particular philosophical- aesthetics. This is the way to proceed toward a link
between meaning and mind through doubting and belief: "His hearing is indoubting
just as my seeing is onbelieving" (FW 468.15-16).
Therationalityof'intelligentprograms'andthenonsenseoftheWakeReproduced with
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function as, what Wittgenstein called "objectfs] ofcomparison": 'Tor we can avoid
ineptness or emptiness in our assertions only by presenting the model as what it
is, as an object o f comparison --as, so to speak, a measuring rod; not a
preconceived idea to which reality must correspond" (PI?131). Not all measuring
rods, however, are measuring rods.Hearing, and not seeing, that is, doubting,
means, with a Heraclitian like aplomb, recognizing time; And thus we are again in
the Wake:hearing in this new reading o f the part whereby, because o f Dyas in his
machina, the new garrickson's grimacing grimaldism hypostasised by substintuation
the axiomatic orerotundity. . . could simply imagine themselves in their bosom's
inmost core, aspro tem locums, timesported acorss the yawning (abyss) (FW55.34-
56.05).Thus we find Artificial Intelligence close to (if not in) Finnegans Wake,
even in the difficulty we might have in going on as we read. Joyce writes not only
as the kind of cognitive scientist Musil wants to be, he puts together a text which
unwinds us into the "between" truth and meaning. In a letter to Ms. Weaver, his
publisher, he writes"I am really one of the greatest engineers, if not the
greatest, in the world besides being a musicmaker, philosophist and heaps of other
things. All the engines I know are wrong. Simplicity. I am making an engine with
only one wheel. No spokes o f course, The wheel is a perfect square."This
engineering means "[w]e seek the Blessed One, the Harbourer-cum-Enheritance"
(FW264.08-09; an entrance into and inheritance of [L ens] being our own human
inheritance, the condition for our own blessedness. This condition he calls "Ever
a-going,Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.10
ever a-coming. Between a stare and sough" (FW264.10-11; sough: moaning sigh,swamp).
"There's a split in the infinitive from to have to have been to will be" (FW271.21-
2). Thisplace,this'there,'between'to',agrammaticalmarkerofintentional force,
expressing the form o f desire or will or action, and the verbal complex o f
possession ('have') and being ('been,' 'be') and possibility ('will': as if
possibility opposes possession) is the "Harbourer-cum-Enheritance": the human being
as a non-substantialnexus formed in place, becoming, beside, preserving itself as
its own history.Modem literature, I think, should be understood as a continuing
response to adeveloping mechanical materialism and its implications. Finnegans Wake
is a point, as Wittgenstein writes in the Tractatus, where "solipsism strictly
carried out coincides with pure realism" (5.64). Literary history also
demonstrates, as does the move from empiricism to skepticism and idealism, the
inverse. The temptation toward stylistic solipsism (where form is content, and thus
a kind of linguistic collapse into subjectivity) betrayed by modernist literature
arises not simply as a development o f symbolism and as a reaction against science
(toward pleasure, as in Poe, or meaning, as in Eliot), but through strictly
carrying out literary realism, as seen in Joyce's move from Dubliners to and within
Ulysses and into the Wake. Finnegans Wake collapses reality into an "extensionless
point", or "non-psychological I", or, as Joyce calls it, "world, mind." This point
of embodiment represents the end o f literature. It is in this sense that Finnegans
Wake also points toward the more fully embodied aesthetic o f what Artificial
Intelligence promises.We should at least ask what kind ofliterature can withstand
the leverage exerted by a materialism so thoroughgoing as to dissolve the soul, or
what might be left of our belief inReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
immaterial essence, and then remain aesthetic, protecting what we understand as the
"immateriality" of meaning, of our minds, and ofour attachments?We might not
recognize Finnegans Wake as art; we might not know what it is or does. In many ways
it is not a work o f art, but rather a text which requires one to create
orgenerateanaestheticthroughwhichandinwhichitwillberecognizedandfunction. It re-
enacts not our everyday experience, nor the ordinariness o f our being awake, but
the everynight experience and the ordinariness of our being asleep. It is literally
a mind in a vat in which the controls organizing the coherency of its input have
failed and exposed the mind's mediated relation to the world, to that which
controls this input (a demon, a god, ourselves?).The unit o f coherence in the Wake
should be defined not as a sentence as such, but as a statement which
simultaneously functions as a locally relevant sentence and an
illustrative(?)orinterpretative(?)recapitulationoftheWakeitself. Inotherwords,the
nonsense ofthe words gains meaning not as language about anything other than
themselves as a continual form of self-justification. The Wake rewrites knowledge
claims as value claims in order to construct being or a selfor a text as an
axiological matrix that can function with ontological force.An artificial
intelligence program is, even if it fails, a form o f art in the way that
FinnegansWakeisaformofart. Ifeachattemptstorepresentandembody(tobecome)a
formofmind,thentheyeachalsofunctionasakindofmetaphysicsortheology. Artificial
Intelligence, as embodied theology, attempts to construct whatever used to be
called spirit within the mechanical logic of scientific materialism and
mathematics. This is at least oneReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.12
way o f explicating Vico's definition o f art as that which "does its utmost to
give a body to spirit" (Scienza nuovapr. bk. iii, chp 26). AI, therefore, attempts
to transform a language into an ontological aesthetic, to give a language
ontological force. I f we accept Wittgenstein's caution not to organize our
descriptions ofthe mind as ifit were an immaterial body, then the Cartesian
mind/body problem is replaced by the problematic relation between soul and being,
soul and God, that is more like the theological puzzles concerning the soul that
Aquinas considered.Finnegans Wake attempts to construct a grammar determined by
ontological commitmentsthatarenotafunctionofrepresentingthingsandsubstances.
TheWake's non-substantive ontological commitments are (an) aesthetic. Thus,
articulating the logic, or the demands ofthis aesthetic, constitutes a grammar, or
a set of shifting grammars, of an inner mental life-world, invoking our everyday
life not only through our night-time experience but as an experiment on and within
the sleep-generated fall into skepticism and intermittent idealism.I do not mean to
suggest that we should think in opposition to science in the way that Heidegger
attempts in his later work; the demand, instead, is to think through and as a
function of the materialism that defines the limit of any ontological claim. We can
make differing,butnotopposing,ontologicalclaims.
Ifartoffers,asBeckettassertsinMolloy, the "laws ofthe mind", what can we discover
about the logic oftheir formation, the significance of their form, their etiology,
meaning, continuity, hopefulness, effect if we acceptorconsiderthisoffer?
TheselawsarenotmonumentsofamentalHammurabi.Our brain works without a homunculus
operating the levers. The unity of mind thatReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.13
allows for a directed and effective response to stimuli, even in animals with
rudimentary brains,isafiction,avirtualunity,abiologicalaesthetic.
This,ofcourse,pointstoboth some idea o f a priori categories and to the
physiological pre-conditions for vision, language, taste, etc. But it also allows
one to ask in what way does how we use words depend on how our brain uses words, on
how our brains use us using words? From within our biology and our form of life,
the functional unity of mind and language, as an aesthetic, exists as a response to
the pressures our thinking, consciousness, planning, doubting, making exerts on
instinct, desire, physiological needs and so on. We cannot enter into our biology
through the portal o f this unity o f mind; but we can respond to it.
Werespondbytyingourselvestoandseparatingourselvesfromthisbiology. Our making ofthe
world, ofour perception, out ofwhatever given or set ofcategories one imagines,
seems unable to capture our own making (I mean also our own biological making) even
if others like ourselves inhabit our made worlds. Self-reflection, however, builds
all sorts o f meanings derived and dependent on not only who we are but what we
are. One might sideline this "what we are", or one might answer it, if one could
self- reflect outside of knowing. Wittgenstein sets up aesthetic barriers to
protect his separation of grammar from phenomena, moibus-strip twisting us back
into our practices and our being (how should one understand the interaction and
difference between beingand identity in the Investigations?). In order to pressure
grammatical analysis into the aesthetics of our temporality, I will constructs the
limits and interaction between sense and nonsense along one of the axes
Wittgenstein uses to map our form of life, whose ends are marked by the sentences
"Understanding a sentence is more akin to understanding a themeReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
in music than one may think" and "The human body is the best picture o f the human
soul". Why does Wittgenstein invoke the musical and visual, appeal to metaphors o f
the metaphoric at these limits, as expressions reflecting back toward language? Our
misuse of words pushes us not only into confusion, but into art. How are these
aesthetic appeals like his assertion in the Blue Book that "[a]s part of the system
of language, one may say, the sentence has life" (5)? What justifies Wittgenstein's
attempt to limit our inquiry into the logic determining a form of life by these two
curious appeals to art, justifying these limits aesthetically?Poetry, in all its
complexity, even in its modernist distortion, is not opposed to or
leftoutofordinarylanguage. Literaryartarticulatesthedifferentconstituentlevels,the
barely conscious aspects present in varying degrees and kinds in our ordinary
language. Wittgenstein points to this, although in an unfortunate two-level image,
as surface grammar and depth grammar. It is between surface and depth that we
create our different kinds o f sense and nonsense. One should speak not o f depth
grammar, but o f a complex set o f depth grammars. It is the logic and the
aesthetics generated out o f these depth grammars, as they invoke and distort our
surface grammar and as they turn about each other, that describes the limits ofwhat
counts as a mind. These limits of mind function as symptoms o f an aesthetic
prejudice. The shifting between language games, the waxing and waning of our form
of life in describing a limit of mind enacts through these changes amultiplicity o
f times. This enactment is the form o f our being within the world. What is the
relation of this Wittgensteinian aesthetic (the limits of the human) with the
aesthetic animating Finnegans Wake, with the interaction between time and language
brought out inReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.15
the failure o f Artificial Intelligence, in general, and the weakness o f
Heidegger's construction o f being toward the future and toward a thing?My
dissertation is structured as a kind of dialogue between Finnegans Wake and
PhilosophicalInvestigations. In any such exchange the question ofwhat counts as
such a dialogue is continually reformulated. I find myselftrying to write in an
idiom that allows Finnegans Wake and Investigations to make a kind of mutual sense,
with the attending dangeroflosingsensealtogether.
Thisdialogueisdirectedatthelogicalformalisms underlying Artificial Intelligence and
more specifically at the causal mechanisms I describe inmytheoreticalmachine.
Oneofmyconclusionsisthatsuchadialogue,sodirected, describes a theology, that is,
the articulation of the semantic limits of our language and mind as ontologically
significant. That is to say that in all three o f these texts aesthetics functions
with theological import. I read Modernism, and its investigation of our language,
as an attempt to construct a self-consuming calculus or machine that will write the
world as poetry.An engagement with these texts cannot take the form o f an
argument. Interpretations have no ground: "every interpretation together with what
is being interpreted, hangs in the air: the former cannot give the latter any
support" (PI ?198). Interpretations,consequently,requirecontinualjustification.
Wecanevaluateboththesejustifications and the ontological efficacy o f the
interpretations themselves (experiment in science is one way o f doing this). One
must work not only to avoid confusing allegories (and other interpretive apparatus)
for causal descriptions, but also to avoid confusing interpretations for meanings.
If literature and its study and philosophy are involved in theReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
problem o f meaning they should, at least, operate in the confusion between meaning
and interpretation.I imagine the ideal commentary on Finnegans Wake would be to
interpret a set of texts as interpretations ofthe Wake, without mentioning or
including the Wake. This would be a way o f writing toward Finnegans Wake as a
limit, itself. I am not writing such a commentary, but I am attempting to think and
write towards and at the limits of language described by Finnegans Wake,
Philosophical Investigations, Heidegger's "Das Ding", Eliot's The Waste Land and a
number of secondary texts. All of these texts generate ontologies o f fragments,
condensations o f time, localized and shifting temporal- series: jug-time in
Hiedegger, um-time in Keats, subjunctive-time in Eliot, language-game and
philosophical time in Wittgenstein, between-time in Joyce. These fragments o f time
describe in various ways models of animation as expressions of the limits between
sense and nonsense, mind and world, the animate and the inanimate, and so on.I will
use myselfand a plethora oftexts to speak for other texts, for other people, for
myself, and for machines. I am neither speaking in my voice nor letting these texts
speakintheirs,norevenventriloquizingwiththesetexts. Icontinuallyaskwhetherany
language is mine or whether any text means anything that is more than fantasy. It
might seem that I am trying to speak and write as an 'our', as some ill-defined
expression o f the humanspecies.
Anyofusmightspeakthisway,appealtoourhumanityinthewayan ordinary language
philosopher might appeal to his or her language. But such a use of 'our' is as
problematic as an 'I' or 'you' or 'he', 'she', and 'it'. I can speak from neither a
subjective (except temporally) nor an objective position, but towards and in
relation toReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.17
both,adjudicatingtheirclaimsonmeorusoranyone. IfIwritebetweenmyselfandthese texts,
then I am trying to figure this 'between' as an inhabitation fit for an 'our'
figured in relation to the limits o f sense and being that emerge under the
pressure o f thinking.This thinking has set up a complex pattern o f ocean currents
and winds. Theological currents course through interlaving Aristotelian and Pre-
Socratic currents. Music and opera move both above and below throughout troubling
especially the waters of my discussions of Wittgenstein and The Waste Land.
Cognitive science currents swirl around everything as do literary winds and the
tides o f analytic philosophy and so on. Reading becomes a way o f sailing.While
operating in this confusion literature and philosophy must acknowledge that while
we must write toward (and in relation to) the metaphysics o f science, the
ontological limits it describes, they are not sciences. We cannot pretend that
their are any binding rulesonthekindofinterpretation(s)artdemands.
Interpretationrequirescontinualself- reflection because, in large degree, its
claims are unbounded and thus meaningless. We must understand how this nonsense
works both in relation to meaning, let's say the use of words within language games
and our form(s) of life, and determines what kind of claim it can legitimately make
on us.Meaning embodies ontological claims, at least through the semantics o f 'to
be'. J.L. Austin argued in "A Plea for Excuses" that "[wjhen we examine what we
should say when, what words we should use in what situations, we are looking again
not merely at words (or 'meanings' whatever they may be) but also at the realities
we use words to talk about: we are using sharpened awareness ofwords to sharpen our
perception of, thoughReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.18
not as final arbiter of, phenomena"(130). Interpretation requires both
justification for its claims(thelogicofitsallegory)anditsapplication(itsscope).
Thusonecanproducea literary philosophy by investigating the semantics o f 'to be'
within the procedures and structures o f self-reflection or self-forgetting that
enact the justification o f the limits o f meaning and interpretation.My initial
question, 'Can I construct a mind out o f aesthetics?,' should be modified,
therefore, into something like three questions: How are literary aesthetics
implicated as a form ofmind through a description ofthe grammar ofhow temporality
(our negotiation between sense and nonsense) is embodied as the logic animating
self- reflexive language games?; how are our ontological commitments enacted,
described, and undermined in this grammar?; and what is the role ofjustification in
enacting and determining the limits, interrelation, and confusions between meaning
and interpretation?The construction of a mind within the specific language games
leading to Artificial Intelligence programs is an attempt to give art enough
ontological force to justify itself withinthelogicofscientificmaterialism.
Anontologicaljustificationofartisamind,a principle of animation determining what
can function as a form of life. How do we function between meaning and
interpretation? Confronting this question requires putting the legitimacy of
literature, philosophy, and cognitive science at risk: "Working in philosophy --
like work in architecture in many respects - is really more a working on oneself.
On one's own interpretation. On one's own way of seeing things. (And what one
expects ofthem)" (CV16e).11Augustine, in De Trinitate, pursues a language of
thought directed, through the Bible, towards God: Search is a striving for
discovery, which is the same things as finding; and things found are as it were
"brought forth" -w e remember the connection between the Latin words partus and
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without permission.
repartus--andsocomparablewithanoffspring. Thebringingforthcanonlybeintheknowledge
itself,wheretheyare(aswemaysay)shapedandformed... Accordinglywemaysaythatthe mind's
"bringing forth" is preceded by a kind of striving, by which, in the seeking and
finding of what we desire to know, knowledge is bom as an offspring. (IX)If such a
search could not be directed toward God but only toward facts, others, language,
and interpretations, what kind o f knowledge would be produced?:Suppose you came as
an explorer into an unknown country with a language quite strange to you. rebelled
against.them, and so on?The common behavior o f mankind is the system o f reference
by means o f which we interpret an unknown language. (PI? 206)Anyone can find
anyplace, any person, or any text foreign, and on another day, in another mood find
this sameplace,person,ortextsoordinaryastodissolveintoobviousness.
PhilosophicalInvestigations, Finnegans Wake, and Artificial Intelligence programs
all describe ways o f negotiating, mediating, facilitating, and resisting this
oscillation between confusion and clarity, between the visibility and transparency
o f what Joyce calls the "world, mind".Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.20
IFRAGMENTS: FROM SOUL-MAKING TO PERSON-MAKINGReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
2From Soul-making to Person-Making'Is it possible for a machine to think?' (whether
the action o f this machine can be described and predicted by the laws of physics
or possibly, only by laws of a different kind applying to the behavior o f
organisms). And the trouble which is expressed in this question is not really that
we don't know a machine whichcould do the job. The question is not analogous to
that which someone might have asked a hundred years ago: 'Can a machine liquefy
gas?' the trouble is rather that the sentence, 'A machine thinks (perceives,
wishes)' seems somehow nonsensical. It is as though we had asked 'Has the number 3
a color?'. (BB47)Wittgenstein pictures being human under the aspect of what he
calls a form of life, or rather the complex o f language games, activities,
history, biology, culture, and so on that constitutes humans as humans:
"Commanding, questioning, recounting, chatting, are as much a part o f our natural
history as walking, eating, drinking, playing" (PI?25). In this he imagines our
humanness as a semantic function (what it is to be human is what it means to be
human) under the ontological aspect ofthe self-limiting totality ofthis humanness
as determiningallpossibleactions. Thisisnotaconfusionorhypostatizationofsemantic
categories into ontological concepts ofthe kind that Wittgenstein demythologizes
(understanding, time, meaning, and so on). It is a theological claim like "We
cannot imaginethe'reality'ofGod."
'Thinking','perceiving',and'wishing'functiononlywithinNotes for this chapter begin
on page 60.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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our form o f life through our participation in, inhabitation within and use o f
language (games).Our problem is not how to identify an intelligent machine. Such an
epistemological question might be answered by the behavioristic Turing test, where
the ability o f a machine to fool a human into thinking it also is a human would
determine the successorfailureoftheprogram.
Aconsciousmachine,however,wouldbeamachine which would mistake us as a form of
itselfj within its own, and not our, form of life. The question we can ask that can
lead us to artificial intelligence, therefore, is "Could a machine o f'kind X'
mistake us for a machine o f'kind X'?", where what it means to be recognized or
'mistaken for' can be established by observation (of machine Xs) as an
interpretation o f their behavior. Calling this machine species 'kind X', labeling
it a member of a species is already to picture these machines within our systems of
understanding and representation. Attempting to describe such 'kind X' machines
generates a kind o f nonsense equivalent to that generated by let's say Aquinas'
attempts to prove (and hence describe) God's existence. This kind o f nonsense
might seem to be a- something-else-besides-sense:nonsenseastranscendence.
Such'descriptions',however, are rational meditations on the relation between our
thinking and being and the limit of this thinking and being understood as dependent
on that limit.A meditation on God, on the possibility that interpretation, the
demands of intentionality, teleology, and allegory, constitutes the world, can look
identical to a meditation on the inanimate, on the possibility that there exists no
possibility or that causes (evenifonlyexplanations)constitutethemindasaneffect.
Thesetwopossibilities,Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.22
interpretation after the fact in relation to putative final causes and the
description o f proximate causes, together describe a machine, the inanimate
defined through function (teleology) and functioning (causes: mechanisms), and
together describe art, the inanimate definedthroughfunctionandfunctioning.
Thispictureofmachinesandartarepicturesof us: our form(s) of mind, our identity, our
mind, our being Darwinian machines and human beings, beholden to measures and
qualities.The failure to justify the limits o f interpretation (God) and o f
causation (mechanics) can be survived by making and interpreting ourselves toward
those limits. But nothing may count as such a making and interpreting. Cognitive
philosophy under one aspect, Theology under another, Literature under a third
promise this making and interpreting, but such promises must be justified. We have
no intelligible language with which to speak about art which does not risk
constructing itself as a form o f mind, and, therefore, as a pseudo-mechanism, as
nonsense.If I ask seriously 'Can a machine mistake us . . . ? ' how would I begin
to answer that question? If I transmute 'Can I a machine mistake us . . . ? ' into
'How can we make a machine o f "kind X' mistake us for a machine o f "kind X '?', I
would already be pursuing a methodology: we can know what we can make, therefore,
we must make what we want to know. Kurt Godel, in explaining his philosophical
work, described philosophy as the analysis o f concepts, and science as the use o f
these same concepts. Engineering philosophy into a machine, a philosophy machine,
while at least a terrifying proposal (and useful as such), allows us to reconceive
and merge Godel's distinction between philosophyReproduced with permission of the
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and science within a model o f thinking where the analysis o f concepts,
categories, and logics follows from their construction and use in an evolving
machine (see chapter 14).In his essay on "The Influence ofDarwin on Philosophy,"
Dewey pictures the possibilities o f thought circumscribed by the limits o f being
described by evolution:Once admit that the sole verifiable or fruitful object o f
knowledge is the particular set of changes that generate an object of study
together with the consequences that then flow from it, and no intelligible question
can be asked about what, but assumption, lies outside. (311)Joyce also describes
this Darwinian limit:The thing is he must be put strait on the spot, no mere
waterstichystuff in a selfinade world that you can't believe a word he's written
in, not for pie, but one's only owned by natural rejection. Charley, your my
darwing! So sing they sequent theassentofman.
Tilltheygoroundiftheygoroundagainbeforebreakpartsand all dismissed. (FW252.24-28)
Thisisapictureofscientificconstraint("putstraitonthespot"). Evolutiondescribesthe
relation between the inanimate and the animate through the rules o f scientific
epistemology and constructs as part o f this epistemology the rules and
possibilities for how any living being is made. These rules of transformation are
directed at the facts describing theworld.
Ahistoryabouthowanyonecametobe(atwhateverlevelofcomplexity),despite whatever
ideological or axiological assumptions and patterns underlying it, exhibits forms
of being whose status must be determined. Thus, it is easier to write a history of
a person (whose ontological status is relatively stable), than it is a history o f
literature when this isReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.24
not understood as the history o f book, but the history o f meaning figured as both
a particular text and functioning and created within or by the general forms of a
number of totalities: language, society, ideology, biology and so on. How does one
determine the relation between any particular and any whole when the ontological
status o f the particular is always at stake? The self-reflection on the
ontological status o f the units within any history or grammar is not a species of
historiography or science, but a semantics of remaking what counts into what
matters, in Joycean terms an 'evoluation', a story of
becomingthatisfundamentallyastoryofevaluation. Butanystory,asastory,willbe
meaningless outside of our application of it to an aspect of our world (as a story
of recognition). How do we find ourselves in a story? Such an application, however,
requires a theory justifying the correlation of a theory (or allegory) with our
experience. Darwin's power is partly a function of our necessary involvement within
the picture of becoming (both o f what is real and what something is). The
controversy surrounding it is alsoafunctionofthisnecessaryinvolvement.
Thereisadifferenceinfindingoneselfina story and finding oneselfas a story. How do
we find ourselves as a story?Wittgenstein, by and large, rejected the relevance o f
scientific discovery (specifically Darwin's) to the conceptual work of philosophy,
the analysis of how we use language and configure ourselves within this usage (the
grammar). Wittgenstein's understanding o f philosophical grammar was primarily
normative, and thus contingent on particular normative standards, but without a
clear picture of how grammars change. Similarly while he recognized, and he
himselfwas engaged in, the construction of new language games and new grammars, he
did not analyze or describe this process ofReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.25
creation. This was partly because the philosophical problems arose when one either
operated outside of a coherent grammar (or language game) or when the application
of a grammar (a usage or interpretation) was not seen to be nonsense.
Wittgenstein's relatively static picture of grammar made it difficult for him to
appreciate the philosophical significanceofDarwin.
AlthoughIwillnotexaminethissignificanceinanydetailinthis dissertation, the
interaction between ontological and identity claims in Darwin opens up the problem
of self-reflection in its theological dimension (a dimension which also collapses
ontology and identity into grammar).In Finnegans Wake evolution underlies the
process ofbecoming and dissolution, in both its moral and epistemological
dimension, that organizes our pictures ofthe night, in the same way that Vico's New
Science, the Egyptian Book o f the Dead, Freud's Interpretation o fDreams do. HCE,
one of the central 'figures' in Finnegans Wake, is himself"a theory none to
rectiline ofthe evoluation ofhuman society and a testament of
therocksfromalldeaduntosometheliving"(FW73.31-33). Evolutionincludesan evaluation,
at least an ontological commentary on the dead from which anybody and everybody
came: matter has been educated through what we call evolution. Such a commentary is
'ontological' because such a process produces whatever is-real, and the success o f
such a production acts as an ontological comment, even judgment. This ontological
language, o f course, can only 'say' existence and 'betray' absence or extinction.
It is not a 'language' that anyone must understand, but is an education that we all
enact and embody.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.26
Science expresses a negative metaphysical fact: a description o f ontological
limits without foundations. Hilary Putnam describes the loss o f foundations
attending science:Science is wonderful at destroying metaphysical answers, but
incapable of providing substitute ones. Science takes away foundations without
providing a replacement. Whetherwewanttobethereornot,sciencehasputusinaposition o f
having to live without foundations. It was shocking when Nietzsche said this, but
today it is commonplace; our historical position--and no end to it is in sight --
is that o f having to philosophize without 'foundations'. (24)If science destroys
metaphysical answers and cannot provide substitutes, in what sense is the atomic
bomb a 'metaphysical fact'? Science, or rather the enactment of scientific knowing
in technology, enacts ontological limits, not within its descriptions of the world,
but in the way these descriptions correlate the world in relation to itself. Putnam
unconsciously recognizes this metaphysical force when he writes 'whether you want
to be there or not," an acknowledgment of ontological limits determining our
possibilities, even if not in an absolute sense (an allegory of self-annihilation).
We replace foundations with limits in relation to which we correlate ourselves. We
function and exist within systems from which we cannot exit, and these systems
determine what counts as animate, conscious and human. The threat that these
systems will determine our animation, consciousness and humanity as inanimate, as
deterministic fictions, and as inhumane is the great theme ofFinnegans Wake and,
after it, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow:Reproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.27
The war does not appear to want a folk-consciousness, not even o f the sort the
Germans have engineered, ein V olk ein Fuhrer--it wants a machine o f many separate
parts, not oneness, but a complexity.. . . Yet who can presume to say what the War
wants, so vast and aloof is i t . . . so absentee. Perhaps the War isn't even an
awareness--not a life at all, really. (Gravity's Rainbow, 152)Technology enacts
proximate causes through the process of its function and functioning. Such
functioning describes a localized teleology, what Joyce called an "odium
teleologicum" (L. odium theologicum) a hatred o f theological teleology (FW264.04-
05). The War might also only look like God. "[0]ur silent passing into the
machineries of indifference" (482) means our translation into a fragment within a
system defined by its functionandfunctioning.
Gravity'sRainbowunderstandsthisseductiontobeadiscovery about how we enter and exit
the world: "Whether you believe or not, Empty or Green, cunt-crazy or politically
celibate, power-playing or neutral, you had a feeling --a suspicion, a latent wish,
some hidden tithe out ofyour soul, something--for the Rocket" (784). Resistance is
hardly the point, although it can seem like all that is left to being human, but
even this might be describing a technique (and thus the effort Heidegger puts in
re-defining techne). Resisting the "beckoning" of the rocket, Pokier "hunted, as a
servowith a noisy input will, across Zero, between the two desires, personal
identity and impersonalsalvation"(473). Thisisnotaproofofanything,butamodemproverb.
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without permission.28
2.1 Personal identity and impersonal salvationIn an essay saving Hume from the
claim that he had separated 'is' from 'ought', Alasdair MacIntyre links "what is
good and right" with "what we need and desire", countering the Kantian translation
of morality into formalism:We could give a long list ofthe concepts which can form
such bridge notions between "is" and "ought": wanting, needing, desiring, pleasure,
happiness, health-- and these are only a few. I think there is a strong case for
saying that moral notions are unintelligible apart from concepts such as these
(Against the Self-Images o f the Age, 120)Part ofthe special status ofthe words
'wanting', 'needing', 'desiring', 'pleasure', 'happiness', 'health' is the way they
mean, as interpretations of our stances toward the world, others, and ourselves.
These interpretations are, then, posited as internal states or somehow constitutive
o f who we are.In "God and the Theologians", MacIntyre describes "a whole group of
theologies which have retained a theistic vocabulary but acquired an atheistic
substance" (,Against, 23) He argues that "we have no language to express common
needs, hopes, and fears that go beyond the immediacies o f technique and social
structure. What we do have is a
religiouslanguage,whichsurviveseventhoughwedonotknowwhattosayinit. Sinceit is the
only language we have for certain purposes it is not surprising that it cannot be
finally discarded. But since we have no answers to give to the questions we ask in
i t , it remains continually in need o f reinterpretation, reinterpretation that is
always bound toReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.29
fail.. .within theological discourse, as Feurbach and Marx saw, we are bound to
remain blind to the human significance of theological discourse" (23). The confused
use of theological language to express an atheistic content, as a mask for the
failure o f both atheism and religion, has been transplanted into literature both
in ideological criticism (in which moral prejudices are disguised) and in versions
o f the symbolist faith in 'art for art's
sake,'anidentificationofthedeepestinhumanlifewithart. Thisisamasquethat Geoffrey
Hill recognizes: "The major caveat which I would enter against a theological view o
f literature is that, too often, its is not theology at all, but merely a
restatement o f the neo-Symbolist mystique celebrating verbal mastery" ("Poetry as
'Menace' and 'Atonement', 17). What would constitute an adequate theology? Such a
question has nothing to do with doing science, but it can only be answered in
relation to the ontological limits enacted in science. Artificial Intelligence
attempts to work out of the mental, phenomenological, qualitative, and intentional
in relation to the requirements o f scientific determinism, the demands of the
rationality or logical coherence of the world. Cognitive science investigates the
relation between quality and quantity, when quantity describes a common limit
between our knowing and the world. I will say nothing about the possible success of
such an endeavor. Its form, as I describe it here, however, retains the same
structure as the theological picture of the mind as the soul. One can at least say
that cognitive science is directed toward the same limit that theology has figured
as between humansandGod. Cognitivescienceunderstoodasatheologyofmindisadescendentof
what Coleridge called, in Biographia Literaria, a "Genuine Philosophic Poem" (156),
a poem that enacts our moral stances as ontological commitments.Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
In Finnegans Wake, pursuing a Don Juan scene o f seduction, Juan (a version o f
Shem the artist brother) "asking coy one after sloy o n e . . . (and all o f course
just to fill up a form out of pure human kindness and in sprite of fun) for Juan,
by the way, was by theway ofbecoming (I think, I hope he was) the most purely human
being that ever was called man, loving all up and down the whole creation . . . "
(FW431.04;08-12). What kind of education is this? For Juan's fun this pursuit means
'dropping] a few stray remarks" (FW431.01-02). These fragments promise and seduce
and teach "the twentynine hedge daughters . . . learning their antemeridian lessons
o f life" (FW430.03- 04). Fragments seduce the will: Wittgenstein seduces with such
fragments; Austin seduces with such details. Any language or language game seduces
with fragments (metaphoric possibilities), keeping their application, legitimacy,
and ontological status inthe background. Commenting in one o f his manuscripts
(part o f which was collected in Culture and Value), Wittgenstein frames the
seduction of an object as the conflict between our what we want to see and how we
live (the truth enacted in our practices):Tolstoy: "The significance o f an object
lies in its universal intelligibility" . That is partly true, partly false. When an
object is significant and important what makes it difficult to understand is not
the lack of some special instruction in abstruse matters necessary for its
understanding, but the conflict between the right understanding o f the object and
what most men want to see. This can make the most obvious things the most difficult
to understand. What has to be overcome is not the difficulty of the understanding
but of the will (MS 213, 406-7: CF17)1Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.31
The condition I am following finds that seductions premise new versions o f myself
and new limits to my world. If I hear Thoreau ask "Who bolsters you?" (Walden 26),
do I answer some seductress or some future or myself, my will, my fictions?I
concern myselfwith what 'making' means and what limits I make myself(or anyone
makes themselves) toward: "Any prospect of awakening or coming to life to a dead
man makes indifferent all times and places" (Walden 90). This indifference I think
is a mistake, and marks such an awakening as another dream. Our awakening involves
at a fundamental level not only our recognition of our humanity, but the
recognition of humanity(asaparticularkindoflimit).
Thoreauimaginesthatthisplaceisalwaysthe same, a sameness guaranteed by our common
species-being, and if we imagine this as our form o f life we confuse the content o
f our life with the meaning o f its form. This meaning may not be determined solely
by who we are or even what we are, but may emerge as meaning only as how we are
anything at all.Nearest to all things is that power which fashions their being.
Next to us the grandest laws are continually be executed, Next to us is not the
workman whom we have hired, with whom we love so well to talk, but the workman
whose work we axe.(Walden 90)Both the world and we are constituted in this
nextness, what in Finnegans Wake is continually formulated as being between. The
double possibility o f meaning through who we are and how we are offers us a
fulcrum on which we can lever ourselves into willfulness, that in copying the
process of our own evolutionary making we become more fullyawakeinrelationtoit.
ThoreaupicturesthisdoublepossibilityasthegivenofourReproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.32
nature ("We are not wholly involved in Nature" [Walden 91]). He pictures our stance
toward it as determined by perspective ("With thinking we may be beside ourselves
in a sanesense"[Walden91]). Doestheworldseduceusinthesamewayasthisnextnessto
ourselves and others seduces us simply through our involvement (interestedness)
with it?When thinking about what came to be Ulysses, Joyce rejected Christ as the
greatest western hero in favor o f Odysseus, because Christ had never lived, in
love, with a woman, and thus had avoided the primary realm in which Joyce
understood (male) heroics to survive in the modem world. Can we understand the need
or pursuit or possibility of love to be subsumed under Thoreau's categories o f
neighborliness, or resoluteness, or nextness, or interestedness? What does it mean
for all intimacies to be collapsed into a single realm of sociability opposed to
the solitude into which Thoreau writes himself? If Thoreau resists one kind of
skepticism, denying his reduction into simply one who knows and thus exposes
Nature's nextness and his own nextness to himselfj why does this
nextnessnotexplicitlynameloveaspartofitspurview? WaldenseemstohideThoreau's
fanaticism in the face of Love (a Leontes in disguise as a natural scientist), as
if Love is notevenapossibilitytobeexplicated.
Howcanapoliticaleconomyfunctionifitisnot also a psychology o f intimacy? I expect
Thoreau at times to speak like St. Paul and allow for marriage, although he himself
does not understand the desire and would wish people to live in chastity as he
does.One then wonders about the need to translate the Vulgate's Carilas as Love. Is
it the "piety of thinking" that translates love into our desire for (or our
relationship to) God and our soul, as if those are the only realms in which doubt
about the thing in itself canReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.33
find satisfaction? Isn't that another fantasy, almost a fantasy o f science?
("Because 'women' are too hard to understand or trust?", some man might say). Or
should we follow Heidegger in quoting Eckhart quoting Dionysius the Areopagite that
"love is of such a nature that it changes man into the things he loves"?2 In this
case knowing and loving both become forms o f pantheism, as if believing in
someone's love is like believing in things (by this I mean that the survival o f
skepticism requires a kind o f pantheism, o f a
sortthatconfusesimaginedmindsforimaginedworlds). Ifthistooisakindof romanticism,
then can we explain part ofwhat is different about how Thoreau tries to awaken us
(and reanimate our language) and how Heidegger tries to reconfigure and recover our
relationship to Being by caricaturizing Thoreau's allegory as one ruled by irony
and Heidegger's allegory as one ruled by metonymy? (Romanticism here defines the
need for a kind of allegory, as a way of protecting the distance between things and
people, andbetweenourconfusionandtruth). Ironywillcreateaconfusionbetweenfragments
andauthor. Thetruthorontologicalstatusormeaningorapplicationofanysentence(or
fragment), because o f this confusion, must be continually redetermined
(justified). The rule o f metonymy produces justification as an effect, displacing
the need for justification in the description of our stances toward and within
these totalities (this is how Hiedegger avoids skepticism in Being and Time).These
stances are in some fundamental sense moral stances. In a "Lecture on Ethics" he
gave not long after he returned to Cambridge in 1929, when he was still in the grip
o f his Tractarian system, Wittgenstein describes the limit between facts that
describe the world (and can be true) and statements of "absolute value" that
describe ethics,Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.34
aesthetics (as a form of ethics), and religion. He calls ethics "an enquiry into
what is valuable, or, into what is really important, or I could have said Ethics is
the enquiry into the meaning of life, or into what makes life worth living, or into
the right way of living" (PhilosophicalOccasions,38).
IntheTractariandescriptionofthelogicoflanguage, propositions are all on the same
level. No statement can have a logical priority. Ethics, however, requires just
such a priority. Judgments of relative value can be translated into statements o f
fact, as in "better or worse." Ethical judgment, however, must act as a frame in
which all statements o f fact have meaning, and thus such judgments cannot
themselvesbe statements o f fact:If I contemplate what Ethics really would have to
be if there were such a science, this result seems to be quite obvious, it seems to
me obvious that nothing we could ever think or say should be the thing. That we
cannot write a scientific book, the subject matter o f which could be intrinsically
sublime and above all other subject matters. I can only describe my feeling by the
metaphor, that, if a man could write such a book on Ethics which really was a book
on Ethics, this would, with an explosion, destroy all other books in the world. Our
words used as we use them in science, are all vessels capable only of containing
and conveying meaning and sense, natural meaning and sense. Ethics, if it is
anything, is supernatural and ourwords will only express facts. (40)Ethics
describes and enacts a transcendent limit to the world. A true book of ethics,
however, describes not only this limit but is enacted through and as the
perspective of a particular 'I', which in the Tractarian picture is also a
transcendent limit of the world.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Consequently, such a book ofEthics becomes this 'I', constituting the meaning ofthe
worldinthepracticesofaperson(thisT). Allotherbooksofethicsceasetofunctionas books o
f ethics within the world so constituted. They, in effect, spontaneously combust
(ceasetobeseenorunderstoodasbooksonethics). Atruebookofethics,therefore, both
animates an T and delimits a world. These ontological consequences mean such a book
describes a kind o f ontological ethics. This kind o f link between ontological
consequences (figurations of the world and o f'I') are possible only within the
kind of coherent theological language MacIntyre describes (I say nothing about the
content of such a language). It is the consequence of our economies, technologies
and sciences that such a language must operate in relation to the limits o f the
world also construed as physical and quantifiable (this does not mean that such
languages would be scientific or mathematical,farfromit).
Itisunclearthatanylanguagecouldregainthiskindofforceand coherence (this is why so
much is at stake in the way in which we conceptualize the relation between the
qualitative and the quantitative).Wittgenstein'spictureofontologicalethicsisakinto
hislatterunderstandingofa true philosophy. Written in 1930, after Wittgenstein had
shifted from his Tractarian picture of a transcendent limit between 'I' and
language to a fluid (and in some way phenomenological) conception of our
involvement in language, the following remark was included in Philosophical
Investigations: "If one tried to advance theses in philosophy, it would never be
possible to question them, because everyone would agree to them" (?128). This
agreement would follow from the obviousness o f any real thesis (clearly philosophy
does put forward theses, but because they do not evince immediate andReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
universal agreement, they are not theses in Wittgenstein's sense). In 1931
(December 9), Wittgenstein responding to Waismann's attempt, in a book to be
entitled Theses, to render the Tractates into a number of dogmatic theses,
articulates his shift away from describing the limits o f sense (and o f
philosophy) through describing the logical structure o f facts (and thus as a set o
f propositions):As regards your Theses, I once wrote if there were theses in
philosophy, they wouldhavetobesuchthattheydonotgiverisetodisputes. Fortheywouldhave
to be put in such a way that everyone would say, Oh yes, that is of course
obvious... controversy always arises through leaving out or failing to state
clearly certain steps, so that the impression is given that a claim has been made
that could be disputed. I once wrote, The only correct method o f doing philosophy
consists in not saying anything and leaving it to another to another person to make
a claim. That is the method I now adhere to, What the other person is not able to
do is to arrange the rules step by step and in the right order so that all
questions are solved automatically. (183-84)The transcendent limit describing
ethics in the Tractates is now constituted as the relative ground o f our ordinary
language (and experience). This ordinariness describes our involvement within the
world as both our ontological commitments, our transparent language use, and our
values: "The aspect of things that are most important for us are hidden because o f
their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something--
becauseitisalwaysbeforeone'seyes)"(PI?130). Consequently,philosophyshould "simply
puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces anything. Since
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without permission.37
everything lies open to view there is nothing to explain. For what is hidden, for
example, is of no interest to us" (PI?126). The determination of our interests is a
moral (or ethical concern).Wittgenstein's engagement with this moral concern as a
form o f therapy may, as it does for Freud, excavate any moral content from his
versions of ourselves and the world. Or at least it displaces this content from his
remarks to his personality. In such a displacement moral concern remains
transcendent, something that can be shown in one's practice but not said within
one's language. This is a model of confession that honors truthfulness without
concerning itselfwith truth. There are, therefore, two aspects of Wittgenstein's
picture o f philosophy. Philosophy is a kind o f therapy used to release us from
the temptation to philosophize and it is an attempt to get "a clear view o f the
world" (Kenny, 2): "[t]he philosophers treatment of a question is like the
treatment of an illness" (PI ?255) and "[t]he concept of a perspicuous
representation (ubersichtliche Darstellung) isoffundamentalsignificanceforus.
Itearmarkstheformofaccountwegive,thewaywe look at things" (PI ?122).2.2
"timeIiquescingintostate,pitilessagegrowsangelhood"(FW251.09-10)Thoreau describes
the promise of art as a kind of delusion mapped into our seeing both as a limit to
our being (the temptation to solipsism) and the promise o f knowing:The stars are
the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the
various mansions ofthe universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment!
Nature and human life are as various as our severalReproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.38
constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater
miracletakeplacethanforustolookthrougheachother'seyesforaninstant? We should live
in all the ages ofthe world in an hour; ay, in all the worlds ofthe ages. History,
Poetry, Mythology!--I know of no reading of another's experience so startling and
informing as this would be. (Walden, 6)An artwork o f sufficient complexity to
generate and justify its own particular aesthetic drives toward an ideal of
neurological identity with others: an adequate aesthetic (of course "adequate"
reopens all the questions I am trying to close, so it can only mean at this point
something like "convincing", "self-justifying", etc.) represents an attempt to
become an instantiated metaphor, to become someone else without losing oneself and
thus existing as a transpersonal identity that sees with the eyes of our species as
a whole. The temptation in seeing through another's eyes is not like what motivates
someone to say "While I was speaking to him I did not know what was going on in his
head"(PI ?427). In saying this, as Wittgenstein remarks, "one is not thinking o f
brain-processes, but o f thought processes." This desire is, as Wittgenstein
describes, that "we should like to know what he is thinking." The picture o f
seeing into someone's head has a use, "apparently contradicting the picture, which
expresses the psychical."(PI?427). In saying this is not the temptation that
Thoreau describes I am trying to suggest that it is not part of a interpretive
game. There is certainly something uncanny about Thoreau's picture.Our ordinary
understanding of our involvement in the world is limited to the domain defined by
our quiet desperation. Thoreau is not picturing seeing something new about someone.
InWittgenstein'spictureandresolutionwewantsomeinformation,andourReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
picture o f this desire figures this desire in relation to the limit o f our
knowledge (the other person).Thoreauisnotafterwhatsomeoneseesbuthowwesee.
Seeingnotevenasifbut through another's eyes as they see through ours is to be a
more complex form of life that has at least four eyes, a network ofbrains, nerves
and limbs. The limit to this seeing is not an interpretive limit, where we use
physiological (or ontological language) as a metaphor, but an ontological limit;
not a limit between people or within a language game, but a limit constituting
language: "Incredible the first animal that dreamed o f another animal"(Fuentes,
9). This is what I will later call the limit between the mind and the soul. This is
the possibility to confuse the world for a mind and a mind for a world from the
inside o f each. In this sense literature becomes a philosophy o f mind, an attempt
to construct and embody the mind such that human particularity and separation is
reconstructed within a system of identities operating as the ideal or fundamental
mind of our form o f life, approaching or enacting our species-being.From seeing
through another's eyes we are transformed into God, collapsing all time, all worlds
(whose worlds?) into our being. This might be a justification or a mad description
of art. This fantasy is almost like taking language too seriously, or at least
offering up the strangeness of language as so powerful as to undo itself into
absurdity, as evidence o f both our extreme alienation and as the means to survive
it: to find Descartes' certainty not in himselfbut in others, to allow perception
or, within the context of Thoreau's allegory, language to dissolve our ontological
limitations into what sound's like divine power. But why does Thoreau jump from
seeing through another's eyes to seeingReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.40
through God's eyes ("all ages o f the world in an hour, ay, in all the world o f
the ages")? Is this the ontological justification for loving thy neighbor? Do we
believe this fantasy? If we did then Wittgenstein could tease us back into sense by
correcting our language. And yet this would be a "miracle". The ambiguity o f
language, the need for philosophical therapy, protects the distance between us.
Thoreau's piece of science fiction here is a version of the quest for certainty, to
confirm the existence of other minds by entering into
one,orevenasinartificialintelligence,bymakingone. Thoreauassumesananswerto
skepticism, like Wittgenstein's notion of a true book of ethics, would re-construct
the fundamental ontology of all that defines our lives and our world(s). If we
admit that such a reconstruction is impossible, that such certainty is illusory,
then what would the construction o f another mind amount t o ? 3Wittgenstein
answers: "If a lion could talk, we could not understand him" (223). But again, what
would the construction of another mind amount to? What does 'mind' mean here? If I
convert a lion into a human being I have remade my form of life: my biology,
species-being, history, culture, society, conceptual, existential, and
phenomenological world(s), language, desires, values, commitments. Are there
necessary and sufficient conditions for being human? At what point would a lion
cease to be a lion and become human?Any attempt to answer this question, or to
build a human being or a mind, or a machine X even if limited to a conceptual
description (of a lion and a human; what would or should I include in such
descriptions?) or scientific models (in biology, neuroscience, cognitive science,
or computer science) are stuck inside our human limitations (ontology,Reproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
phenomenology, language, psychology, biology, etc.). This means any such question
or attempt can always be translated into the question 'what does it mean to be
human?' And what do things mean? A question that can be answered, at least, by
science or theology.
Itisasurprisethatthesetwoquestionsarerelatedorevenattimesmightseem the same.How
would we answer this question?: What does it mean to be human? Maybe
withMiddlemarch, the works ofAristotle, or Bach'sMass in B minorl Ifthis question
can only be answered, however poorly, with representative representations, it is
not a question but a riddle. A riddle we might answer with our own life. This
riddle, however, is not like the duck-rabbit 'riddle', nor like the riddle o f the
Sphinx. To know the solution to the Sphinx riddle you have to know how it is the
solution, If you are simply told that man is the solution to the riddle, but do not
understand why this is the answer you do not understandtheriddle.
Knowingtheansweristoknowhowtoapplytheriddleasa description or a picture of human
life. One must know what is relevant, what aspect of human life is being pictured
by four, then two, then three legs.4The riddle 'what does it mean to be human' is
not like this. One could call it instead a riddle of the enveloping facts. Every
'answer' to the riddle is a restatement of anotherrelatedriddle.
BMinormeanstheriddleofhumanityistheriddleofBach'sMass. Howthisisthe answer cannot
be explained except as another riddle. We can never decide what is relevant
aswecanwiththesphinx. Wittgensteinarguesthatonemightseesomearbitrarycipherin any
number o f ways, "in various aspects according to the fiction I surround it with.
AndReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.42
here there is a close kinship with 'experiencing the meaning of a word"' (PI p.
210). The fiction surrounding 'the meaning of being human' cannot reduce the riddle
to anything like a word; we can never decide what is relevant as we can with the
sphinx. Joyce represents the riddle of the meaning of being human as (or in) the
riddle ofFinnegans Wake:Yet to concentrate solely on the literal sense of even the
psychological content of any document to the sore neglect of the enveloping facts
themselves circumstancing it isjust as hurtful to sound sense (and let it be added
to the truest taste as were some fellow in the act of perhaps getting an intro from
another fellow turning out to be a friend in need of his, say, to a lady of the
latter's aquantaince .. . straightaway to run off and vision her plump and plain in
her natural altogether, preferring to close his blinkhard's eyes to the
ethiquethical fact that she was, after all, wearing for the space o f the time
being som definite articles o f evolutionary clothing... (FW109.10-21)This
difficulty of answering this riddle forces us inside the question. We can translate
it into philology with the help ofsingle quotation marks: What does it 'mean' to be
a 'human being'? We can answer this by showing our uses o f'mean' and 'human being'
within whatever conceptual logics they can function. Understood in this way
philology becomes the analysis of the functioning of these categories, and in this
an analysis of meaning. 'Function', however, is slippery. Does a crystal have a
function of growing, or does it simply grow? Function implies a kind of
intentionality, a directedness and a teleology. Function in this sense means to
unite proximate causation (the causes describing how something works) with final
causation (telos). Final causes are eitherReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.43
epiphenomena (a virus makes you sick not because it is malevolent, but as an effect
o f its living) or ascribed interpretations (descriptions o f motives, reasons, and
justifications).The riddle in this philological form, like our use o f 'function',
constantly confuses interpretations for cause, as does Freud when he understands
the unconscious, an interpretative category, to function as part o f psychic
mechanism. Freud offers interpretations and he has no way of establishing that the
structures he describes or 'discovers'causeanything.
Causescanbetested:ifxhappens,thenyfollows(inclearly defined conditions): Freud
cannot establish this kind o f connection. He describes instead motives and
justifications and reasons that are interpretations of our actions and expressions.
They cannot be tested, only applied.But Freud's confusion of interpretations for
psychic causes is a temptation hard to resist, especially when it can generate
important questions. Inquires into the meaning of the phrase 'human being' can
generate, for example, the following questions:What rights do human beings have?
What counts as being human?How do human beings represent themselves?In these
questions 'meaning' seems to describe the criteria for what counts as being
'human'. The criteria for being human might take the form of descriptions of kinds
of humans, a set of traits or properties, or in literature the articulation of a
way of being human, as a man or woman, an artist or engineer, or as a member of
some ethnic or cultural group defined in whatever way. The meaning o f such
descriptions is determinedReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.44
by their inclusion or articulation within some allegory, through an interpretation;
in this case meaning is often equated with interpretation.We do not know, nor
within this methodology do we have any way of determining
thestatusofthesecategoriesorallegories: aretheytrueordotheyevenexist. Wemight be
very clever in interpreting some event or the actions or identity of someone in
relation to the devil or some demonology but we do not know how to ask within
philology, if the devil exists or if this allegory is an adequate explanation of
someone, or if we are using this interpretation to further our own ends, the power
o f the church against women for example. This may be a result of cultural
blindness, but it is blindness nevertheless.This limitation drives us further into
the riddle.Attempting to distinguish the domains of interpretation and causation
force us to investigate the relation between what is real [ontological claims] and
what is meaningful [semantic functions]. We retranslate the question into a kind of
philosophy: W hat does it 'mean' 'to be' 'human'?5 What does 'to be' mean? Such a
question asks about the semantics of self-reflection. We can now ask what is the
ontological, epistemological, and axiological (value) status ofthe criteria,
interpretations, categories, and 'entities' generated in the previous versions o f
the question. What it means to be human must be understood in relation to the
criteria or the processes determining what is real. This 'reality' is unstable, but
this instability requires that the descriptions, interpretations, and
representationsofhumanbeingsfunctioninrelationandrespondtothisinstability. This
entails an attempt to distinguish between interpretations and causes. Cognitive
science does this by assuming that only what can be made can count as real
(although humans mayReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.45
not be the 'maker'): being human must be understood as an effect. The distinctions
between animate or inanimate, human and non-human (animal or thing) dissolve in the
demand that any such distinctions be produced as a process outside ofthe
interpretive structurewhichdefinesthem. Thisdoesnotmeanthatonecanstepoutsideofthe
hermeneutic circle, but that the question about whether something is animate and
inanimate must also rest on whether such a distinction exists as a product o f
causes. Can knowing or recognizing the difference between what is animate or
inanimate or between human and non-human mean anything separate from not only how
these distinctions are used but also how these distinctions are possible?
Wittgenstein states: 'A metaphysical question is always in appearance a factual
one, although the problem is a conceptual one" (Remarks on the Philosophy o f
Psychology I, ?949). Wittgenstein analyzes how we use our concepts and shows how
our instantiation or reification ofthese concepts is often unwarranted. Is that the
only conceptual problem? If we agree that our claims about the world (or picture of
our mind as inside and the world as outside: o f our understanding as a state, or o
f consciousness as states or entities) should only be understood as meaningful
within our language and that these claims illegitimately instantiate some truth or
reality of our being or the world, then how do we commit ourselves to these
concepts as if they were real? If we determine thegrammatical use o f
'understanding' and the rules determining its use as nonsense, we have
notunderstoodourinvestmentofourselvesintheconceptofunderstanding. Wittgenstein is
looking at the points where we mistake our grammar for ontology. As Hacker argues
the claim that 'Nothing can be red and green all over' is not a truth about the
world. ThisReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.
does not mean that it is false. We cannot say what it would be like for it to be
true or false. It is nonsensical because the grammatical rules determining the
sense o f something being only red and being only green do not allow for something
to be only red and only green simultaneously(//mg/rt 197).6 Sense describes the
possibilities of our language; nonsense describes what has been excluded from our
language (PI?500).The instantiation o f distinctions that function within language
games means that we have a specific problem in determining the status o f these
distinctions when they are used to describe ourselves or to instantiate the meaning
or cause or functioning of behavior, language, attitudes, beliefs, and so on. All
psychological, intentional, ideological language has an unknown and problematic
existential status. How do we invest ourselves in our self-descriptive language
games? This is not to ask 'Are we conscious?' or 'Do we have belief states?', etc.
If the logic of language is such that the distinctions formalized as words, or
sentences, or concepts function and have meaning only within (a) system(s) of
discourse, that is, in relation to other words, sentences, concepts o f a
particular language game, then even our interpretative distinctions and models are
only a shuffling of tokensor the working out ofthe logic organizing a particular
language game. A working out which has no truth values separate from the rules o f
application and criteria o f sense thatconstitute the language game as a coherent
system o f allegory that people use bound by some conventions. So much o f literary
criticism and philosophical analysis devolves into the shuffling oftokens within
these systems ofthe extension ofthe number oftargets for allegorical assimilation
within a discourse o f a community o f speakers.Reproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.47
The problem of how we enter into our interpretations or how we are involved in our
seeing determines much of Wittgenstein's analysis in the latter part of part I and
all of part II of the Investigations. Wittgenstein's description of our involvement
in and between language games (in our negotiation between sense and nonsense)
describes a form of temporality as one o f the limits o f our mind. Wittgenstein
understands this limit to be described by the shifting relationship between what he
calls our language games and our form o f life: "Here the term 'language game' is
meant to bring into prominence the fact
thatthespeakingoflanguageispartofanactivity,orofaformoflife"(PI?23). Meaning can
emerge through our involvement within a language game constituted by the limits of
our form of life. In Finnegans Wake this same relationship is described within a
different kind of obscurity. This is a description ofFinnegans Wake, "this daybook,
what curios of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed!":Can you rede (since We and
Thou had it out already) its world? Its the same told of all. Many. Miscegenations
on miscegenations. Tieckle. They lived und laughed ant loved end left . . . In the
ignorance that implies impression that knits knowledge that finds the nameform that
whets the wits that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that
adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance
of existentiality. (FW18.18-28)To be before the world ofthe book is to have had the
book before "The soul of everyelsesbody rolled into its olesoleself' (FW329.18-19)
in continuous reinterpretation (into categories o f miscegenation's) which alter
the shape (or color) o f the world.Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.48
How do we draw a line between the animate and the inanimate? The decisions about
where and how to draw this line would seem to determine who we count as like us,
whoever we are, and thus it might describe our moral categories, who is good or
bad; Or where and how we draw this line might explain or describe how we interpret
the world and ourselves, determining our social orders or psychological identity.
This means that when I ask myself what counts as human I begin circling around a
(the) confusion between citizenship and personhood. This confusion is acknowledged
in our use of the concept of rights. If I recognize someone's rights (as a human
being), do I recognize someone as human? Didn't I recognize her human form, or did
I imagine she was a machine? My
acknowledgmentmeansthatIincludeherwithinmycommunity. Thisinclusioniswhat
wecallcitizenship. Myacknowledgmentofsomeoneelseashumanonlyservestoincludethat
person as an example of my kind of humanness determined by his or her inclusion
within the community I recognize myselfas functioning in. Thus, the American Bill
of Rights acknowledges that rights must be given, and, therefore, that they are not
human rights,butrightsofcitizenship. Andtheapplicationoftheserightsisafunctionof
interpretation.The confusion between citizenship and personhood might be necessary
for any democracy. Thisconfusion,however,canonlybeansweredbyinterpretations,
interpretations about origins, identity, values, marks, etc.; but the fact that
these categories are slippery makes any interpretation (positive or negative)
unstable, and thus induces further anxiety about what constitutes humanness.
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without permission.49
As human beings, our questions or motives in determining the meaning of a thing
arise because o f the claim things have on us, a claim that describes the material
world as somekindoflimit. Thisclaimisnothingnew. FrankensteinhaslittletodowithAIor
science, except as an expression of anxiety about our interpretations of the
instability of the distinction between inanimate and animate, between human and
otherness. It is True that science explicitly questions this distinction, claiming
that it is not given but is made, a product of a set of causes and effects that we
now call evolution. But the book is not questioning these limits in relation to how
they are constituted within nature (or out). Rather it examines the moral
implications o f drawing the difference between human and others superficially,
examining how we interpret our obligations to others. The problem o f alienation
Frankenstein explores is possible because we can identify with the monster and the
monster with us: and in this it is a novel asking about the relationship between
personhood and citizenship. It may suggest that our recognition as human (our
inclusion in a community) must arise from a recognition of certain origins, but we
are not made like the monster and yet he may describe our condition. The novel does
not ask but leaves us with the question 'what does it mean to be made'? That
question was partially answered and given a special claim on us by Darwin. But how
would Darwin fit into a discussion about what counts as human?. His thinking
explains, and is now used to explain, how things become living, how living
creatures become intelligent, even become human. Do we imagine Darwin would
pressure our texts away from the questions o f interpretation exemplified in the
confusion between citizenship and personhood? I have to leave this question
hanging, but the difficulty of fitting Darwinian thought (as opposed to rhetoric)
isReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.
exactly the difficulty o f making the relation and difference between cause (what
science describes) and interpretation (what literature demands) clear. This is the
difficulty of constructing an intelligence in a machine.For example how would our
claims about the limits or status of subjectivity or our ideological judgments
survive philosopher Daniel Dennett's description o f the necessity for selfishness
within evolution?:"As soon as something gets into the business of self-
preservation, boundaries become important, for ifyou are setting out to preserve
yourself you don't want to squander effort trying to preserve the whole world: you
draw the line" {Consciousness Explained, 174)The interpretations that function
within, as and between the confusion between citizenship and personhood in
Frankenstein mean we ask for the distinction between the animate and the inanimate,
as it were, from inside the security o f acting as animate creatures.AI turns this
interpretive investigation o f the inanimate around. It investigates the difference
between the inanimate and animate (or conscious and mechanical) as it were from the
outside, not from the assumption that this distinction is meaningful but that it is
caused: human beings or animals or plants are effects. Cognitive Science asks 'how
can onegeneratequalitativeexperiencefromwhatcanonlybedescribedquantitatively? Itis,
for example, much easier to teach a computer how to do calculus, than it is to
teach it what a chair is. How can we get from our interpretations of ourselves to
the causal mechanisms of our minds? This is, however, as much a question about and
of poetry as about AI.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.51
Keats' ends the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" with the equation: "'Beauty is truth,
truthbeauty.'" Evenifonethinkthisisafailedline,theinterrogationofthemeaningofa
thing, o f the urn in Keats' ode, suggests that any other answer would fail to give
the thing meaning. Even this answer gives the proper form without the necessary
force that would make it true (although it might seem beautiful or it might not).
But that this question, 'what is the meaning o f a thing?', should be important to
us organizes one o f the currents in the following pages, and at the very least
describes a problem romantic poetry found itselffacedwith.
Theequationbeauty=truthdescribes,Ithink,arequirementfororan ideal (of whatever
status) of poetry in general, although how to construe truth and beauty here is
always at issue. Poetry always seems confined by an asymmetry: it can enact meaning
or beauty but it's claims on truth are tenuous, becoming more tenuous within modem
scientific culture. Things or objects can function as the grounds for truth, and
one can argue that this is always the case, but it is certainly the case when what
is real is primarily described as material. Within the Keats' ode, the status of
the um is complex and shifting (within the poets interrogation), but it functions
at least as the vanishing point ofthereal.
Thus,theasymmetryofpoetryispartlycounteredbythefactthatitistheum that speaks the
equation between beauty and truth: in a rough allegory the thing, the um, with its
status as true (or real) asserts an equation between beauty and truth that can only
function aesthetically, as an expression of beauty. The um as thing (the real)
articulates the truth as an aesthetic. The attempt to enact the qualitative
(meaning, beauty, intention, and so on, what AI calls qualia, what it feels like to
be conscious or to be human) through an embodiment in language describes what
Coleridge called a philosophic poem: to enactReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.52
the beautiful (or meaningful or intentional) as real and true: poetry with
ontological force, the force ofthe real which we describe as true. This is close to
what is attempted in AI: to enact the equation between beauty (or the meaningful)
and truth, and in this translate our interpretative relations with causal
processes.Traditional AI makes two founding assumptions about this project: what is
called the symbolic system hypothesis and the algorithmic assumption. The first
claims that the processes underlying intelligence are not just described
symbolically but that they are symbolic: we ourselves as well as our thinking are
constituted as nothing more than the self-reflexive (to varying degrees) processing
of different kinds of symbols within a vast system of symbolic relations. The
second claims that our mental states are algorithms, procedures that convert inputs
into outputs according to a defined set of rules: a recipe or a function converting
or computing inputs into outputs.What kind of claim do these algorithms and the
symbolic processes they enact have on us? AI assumes they are both true and are the
only way anything can be made meaningful. In this picture, only symbolic processes,
which are not interpretations, allegories or non-symbolic computations, can have
sense, and thus our brains must enact these symbolic processes as our mind (There
are ways even of construing all of reality as such symbolic processes within
physics).Heidegger wants to displace the claim of this picture of the world on us.
Although I do not think Heidegger understood it in this way, the best sense I can
make of his claim, in "Das Ding", that "the atom bomb and its explosion are the
mere final emission of what has long since taken place, has already happened" ("The
Thing", 166) is that theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.53
possibilities determined by thinking, knowledge, technology, and economics that
produced a working bomb alters the kind of metaphysical possibilities in and
through which we function. We can literally enact our death through our knowledge
and its potential to destroy the world: I call this a metaphysical fact because our
knowledge and knowing, when instituted within social power, has ontological force
so great as to destroy us. The
worldcanbecontainedbyourknowledgebecauseitcanbedestroyedbyit. Theatomic bomb as a
metaphysical fact is a new conceptual limit determining the scope o f our
commitments toward what we count as real. We can only believe in ghosts to our
greater peril.
Thisfact,describingthelimitoftheworldbyourknowledge,enactedthroughthe possibility
of nuclear destruction, is that what counts as matter, and what matters and counts
for us will have to include a commitment to a physics that can manipulate the
substance o f the universe through a complex set o f mathematical models. This is
called the possibility o f losing my life by losing the world. That this loss o f
the world can be enactedthrough human knowing, as if from a single source, gives
knowing ontological force not unlike turning the world into a fantasy. What Joyce
described as "lethelulled between explosion and reexplosion . . . from grosskopp to
megapod, embalmed, o f grand age, rich indeathanticipated"(FW78.04-
06)hasgainedanewallegoricaltarget: wecanliterally enact our death through our
knowledge o f the world as a whole and its potential to destroy the world. The
problem ofthe machine is not only about our knowledge of how to be mistaken for a
thing or how to be mistaken for being human. Our understanding of ourselves and the
world must be a kind of reverse evolution, undoing our feelings and interpretations
into quantities within some created conceptual language, a language notReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
restricted by the limits o f cause or interpretation. The failure to find such a
language has been the failure o f AI.2.3 Spiraling from interpretation to causeThe
fundamental assumption for Cognitive Science is that the brain is a computer. All
forms o f meaning and understanding must be derived from the computations o f
neurons.7 This Computational model grounds all mental functioning in rationality.
But this rationality should not be mistaken for what we often oppose by the word
'irrationality' (these words are used primarily as interpretations). Cognitive
Philosopher John Pollock defines rationality as the ordered, non-random transition
between mental states: "try to imagine a creature possessing mental states but
entirely unconstrained by considerationsofrationality"(HowtoBuildaPerson,70)
resultinasystemscrashonanycognitivelevelonwhichtheyoccurred. Thisuseof rationality
is really a way of arguing that all mental processes (metal states and their
transitions), including language instantiate an ordered system.Pollock is
attempting to construct this kind of system. He tells a story about howto move from
things and causes into interpretations and qualities; this describes an
aesthetic,butnotanaestheticlikethatinanovel. ThisisthestoryofOscar.(Iwillgive only
the schematics o f this story without concerning myself here with the justification
o f the type/token mentalism for which he argues, although such a theory can also
be understood to form an aesthetic)Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.55
Oscar I is a system that consists o f sensory input, some information processing
mechanism; which produces a picture ofthe world. This picture is generated from
generalizations (computational processes) about this sensory input. These cognitive
abilities are embedded in a conative (from Latin conatus, endeavor, attempt)
function determining a set o f goals. Such a mental model, although Pollock ignores
this, already figures symbolically a kind o f self but in this case one determined
only by its pain sensors and its response. If pain then flight, if flight fails,
then fight. This describes the mental functioning o f an amoebae, and therefore has
its limits.Oscar HTheprimaryfailureofOscarIisitsvictimizationbyitsenvironment.
Survivalpotential increases with the ability to make predictions about the world
(or really about itself about its responses to its sensory inputs). Such
predictions mean that Oscar II, in replacing Oscar I, must be able to make
generalizations about the environment in relation to his goals (in this case only
avoid pain). This is the beginning o f mental fiction.These predictions are
generated through self-reflection: an internal sensor senses
whenandwhy:pointythingsmeanpain. Isay'meanpain'becauseitoperatesasajudgment based
on a correlation between a rudimentary self (that defined by pain sensors) and the
representation of pointy things. This correlation is possible by virtue of the goal
(avoid pain) and the possibility for Oscar o f modeling his own sensory outputs.
What these sensors do is construct generalizations about certain aspects of the
environment in relationtoOscarsownresponses(pain).
Suchgeneralizations,reallypossibilities,areReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.56
logical fictions. There is no question whether they are true or false: everything
that looks pointycausespain. porOscarIItheworldisfullofpaincausingthingstowhichhe
always reacts as if the possibilities, the generalizations about how the world
effects Oscars pain sensors, are always true (but in fact Oscar has no notion o f
truth because there exists
nopossibility,forhim,ofthesepredictionsbeingfalse,eveniftheyarefalse). Possibility
means always true fiction. This is the mental world o f a worm.Oscar IUThe problem
with being a worm is that the environment can be deceptive and one's own sensors
can fail or produce false information. Not all pointy things are alike, a pointy
leaf is not like a pointy stick, and a machine-eating tiger is not the same as the
mirror image of such a tiger.Oscar HI experiences a mirror stage. Initially Oscar I
and H were like amoebae to worm; Oscar n and m , however, are like bird to cat (I
guess the bird has eaten the worm). The cat is able to distinguish a mirror image
from another animal (it's not clear whether the cat thinks it's its own image). The
bird responds to a mirror image as if it is another bird (it attacks the image)
Oscar HI must be able to evaluate the ontological status of its perceptions, are
they real or not, it must be able to recognize mirrors as mirrors, and mirror-
images as mirror- images. Oscar n sees the world phenomenological, as if its eyes
were video or film cameras. If you hold a camera and film while walking around the
picture jumps, and bounces and shakes. The viewer gets a headache trying to
stabilize the picture into sense.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.57
Why don't we see like that? We walk around and yet our picture of the world doesn't
really jump around like this; why?To answer this we must ask how can we make Oscar
m generate a world separate from his senses, such that he can evaluate his sensory
inputs in relation to this stable world? Pollock ask: how can Oscar distinguish
between machine-eating tigers and mirror-image tigers? Asking this question means
asking the difference between appearance and reality, and its answer requires an
interpretation.This level o f interpretation requires another layer o f internal
sensors, this time evaluating the first level o f internal sensors. Pollock thinks
that our picture o f the world is generated by two different kinds
ofgeneralizations: "On the one hand Oscar HI has generalizations about the
relations between his perceptual inputs and the states o f his environment, and on
the other he had has generalizations about regularities within the environment that
persist independently of perception of the environment"(4). This independent world
is generated as a set of generalizations not about the world but about Oscars
correlation o f himself (defined by avoidance o f pain) to representations
(processed sensoryinput). Thiscorrelationisevaluatedinordertodeterminehigh-
levelregularities that constitute a stable world, that in essence allows us to see
without all the bouncing.Now these kinds of evaluations take place at many
different computational levels within the brain, and most o f these evaluations
take place through hard-wired computational processes about which we have no
awareness.Pollock argues that there is a distinction between sensation and the feel
of sensation. Thefeelofsensationistheoutputofsecondlevelinternalsensors,sensorsthat
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited
without permission.58
sense the first level internal sensors that process our perceptual information:
being-aware means and is the sensing o f perceptual input (this is the link AI
wants to make between 'mean'and'is').
Thequalitativefeelofourconsciousnessorsensingmeansandisthe processing or sensing of
lower level internal sensors by higher level sensors. Consciousness and the
qualitative feel o f our experience, what understanding feels like, or meaning, or
love, or whatever are only what we call this second level sensory processing of our
own internal processing.I think this implies for example that all o f our emotions,
love, hate, desire, fear, etc. are only interpretations of physical states. We try
to make meaningful (sometimes by connecting it to some putative cause) physical
states that we sense but do not understand. Even our emotions are interpretive
fictions, convenient descriptions that may mask a mechanism whose primary purpose
may be to simplify decision processes (emotions force us into decisions).*What
exactly does it mean to process the information from our first level internal
sensor? Pollockshiftstheproblemofconsciousnessorqualitativefeelingintosome magical
processing. How do these interpretations produce new effects? Or how do we invest
ourselves in all o f the complicated ways we do in our correlation between internal
sensors and our picture ofthe world? I don't think we should find Pollock's picture
satisfactory.Whatever the merits ofthis model ofthe mind (and there are many), it
leaves us with a puzzle. So far I have described only two kinds of meta-languages,
which seem to describe the limits o f the other, but whose relation remains
unclear: a language o f causeReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.59
described vaguely here by different versions of Oscar, call this Darwinian
engineering, and a language o f interpretation, commonly used in literary analysis,
asking about meaning, anddeterminingthedistinctionsbetweenanimateandinanimate,etc.
Butthisinterpretive language undermines its own status by showing how its
distinctions and categories are so unstable as to be senseless without ontological
limits o f exactly the sort described by science. But these scientific limits are
not foundations precisely because we cannot get outside o f our interpretations.
Thus these languages o f science and literature speak in two
directionsatthesamething. Ithinkthisisourinheritanceandtheforgingofanother language
that includes both of these languages is the underlying although unrealized promise
o f AI, and I think our problem.1Translated and found in Kenny, "Wittgenstein on
the Nature of Philosophy", 14.2 In Being and Time.3 Is Thoreau's jump from anyone's
embodied, particular eyes to God's eyes justified by the same trick that Heidegger
uses to move from Dasein-as-mine to its identity as Being-with in Chapter IV of
Being and Time! The kind of holistic, non-formalizable link between particular and
universal that Heidegger constructs both elucidates a critical dependence between
meaning and existence, while at the same time
Daseinbecomesa soul. Ibelieve,however,thatHeidegger's"soul''isfalse.
(Howisitpossibletotalkaboutfalsesouls?) But I am nevertheless left with
investigating the intransigent existence and meaning of our use of, belief
in,andneedforwhatHeideggerpointsto. Ifconceptsarenotthings,thenwhatarethey: howisit
possible for us to function at a level o f abstraction beyond materiality?4 Cora
Diamond describes what it means to understand the answer to a Sphiax-like riddle:
[T]o know the solution to a riddle is not merely to know o f something that thought
o f in some way or other it is the solution: you have to know how it is the
solution, If you are simply told that man is the solution to the Sphinx's riddle,
but do not understand why--ifi that is, you do not understnad why man is supposed
to have four legs in the morning and so on--you are in the positoion of someone who
'knows' that every equation has a solution without any idea o fhow that may be
arrived at (270)5This is, of course, not the end of the opportunities for analysis.
6 P.M.S. Hacker. Insight and Illusion: Themes in the Philosophy o f Wittgenstein.
by stimulation a neuron reaches an activation potential and fires. The energy of
this firing is not variable-- so no information can be encoded in the strength of
the output--only by the fact of the firing and in, what
digitalswitches (or in computer science these are called logic gates) are like
digital clocks, they are in one state orReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.60
another- analog switches are like a clock with two hands--the changes in rate
describe an analog relation. Itdoesn'tmatterforus--
buttheassumptionbymostAItheoristsandcognitivescientistsisthat it is digital..8 This
might be a way o f explaining how replicants in the movie Blade Runner can generate
emotions even though they are designed not to have any.Reproduced with permission
of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.61
3Romantic Fragments and Modernist Machines
InalettertohissisterandbrotherKeatsimaginessoulsasmadenotgiven. This making
proceeds through what is given: the world as circumstance and the mind as
intelligenceandmemoryandemotion. Whywouldapictureofthemindexpressa theology or a
moral stance? "The point at which Man may arrive is as far as the parallel state in
inanimate nature and not further" (326).1The inanimate is the limit o f human
happiness. Thislimitengenderstheworldasa"valeofSoul-making",rewritingthe Biblical
"a vale o f tears." In support for this inanimate limit, Keats animates a rose with
sensation, in order to tell a tale of crucifixion:For instance suppose a rose to
have sensation, it blooms on a beautifulmorning, it enjoys itself, but then comes a
cold wind, a hot sun--it cannot escape it, it cannot destroy its annoyances--they
are as native to the world as itself--no more can man be happy in spite, the
worldly elements will prey upon hisnature. (326)The unity between the divine and
human, between fundamental ontological difference, is twisted toward biology, into
a unity between rose and human. In order for Keats to tell the story of our
inhabitation and involvement in the world as a limitation on our happiness he
endows a rose with a conscious o f that which threatens not its consciousness
specifically, butitslife.
Sucharoseisnotnativetoanyrealworld,butevenitsfantasticsentienceNotes for this
chapter are on page 102Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.62
does not free it from its containment and belonging to a world described by power,
not determined by the roses intentions.The rose slips from the perception
ofsensation to an interpretation ofthe meaning ofthese sensations as 'annoyances'.
Even to evaluate negative stimuli as annoyances implies a complex o f responses
that involves the possibilities o f happiness and hope, a language ofintention in
which the consciousness or the desires or beliefs or values ofthe
rosestructureitsrelationtotheworld. Therosefunctionsasarosewithinasystemof
opposedintentions. Intention,inthiscaseannoyanceorhappiness,isafunctionofthe
systematic relation between the rose and the world, and is therefore in neither.
The world is animated and the intentionality o f our involvement in the world is
determined and guaranteedbythisanimation. Coleridgepicturesthisin"TheEolianHarp":
And what if all of animated natureBe but organic Harps diversely framed,That
tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps Plastic and vast, one intellectual
breeze,At once the Soul of each, and God of all?Thought is generated as a
consequence of our involvement with dominant non-human
forces;intentionfunctionswithinthesystemofworldandbeings. Ourintentioncanbe
generated by reducing ourselves to things--and then displacing intention into the
environmentthroughwhichthisintentionbecomesvisible. Weenterintothedominionof
arbitrary forces to the degree that we can let the rose stand for ourselves,
allegorize ourselvesasusedbytheworld.
Inthissensewearealwaysinvisibleinthisallegory. WeReproduced with permission of the
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exist as nothing more than our own interpretations o f ourselves through our
language or actions. Allegories describe and constitute a limit to our knowing
ourselves.Consequently, it is a mistake to imagine that these allegories can
describe our becominganything. Theycanonlydescribehowourinterpretationschange.
Whenthey describe change they describe it teleologically, as if the allegory were a
machine. Even if wearemachineswefunctiononlypartiallythroughourinterpretations.
'Causation'hasa particular grammar that overlaps but is not continuous with
'interpretation'. Wittgenstein at one point investigates how the word 'reading'
describes how we read words into speech, how words 'cause' our reading, not our
understanding o f what we read.But why do you say that we felt a causal connection?
Causation is surely something established by experiments, by observing a regular
concomitance of eventsforexample.
SohowcouldIsaythatIfeltsomethingwhichisestablished by experiment? (it is indeed
true that observation o f regular concomitances is not the only way we establish
causation.) One might rather say, I feel that the letters are the reason why I read
such-and-such. For if someone asks me "Why do you read such-and-such?"--I justify
my reading by the letters which are there. (PI?169)Whatever a causal connection is,
it is not a 'feeling'. "We imagine that a feeling enables us to perceive as it were
a connecting mechanism between the look of the word and the soundthatweutter"(PI?
170). Ourfeelingisaninterpretationafterthefactofour reading.
Itisthecasethatwereadwords,andthusthatthereisacausallinkbetweenReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
these words and our reading. But we do not 'know' this through introspection, nor
through feeling ourselves reading.Is Keats confusing the language o f causation for
that o f interpretation when he claims that "[t]hen you will find out the use ofthe
world ... [is] I say 'Soul-making"'? What kind of making is this "soul-making"? To
what degree should we read poetic soul- making, a "Soul or Intelligence destined to
possess the sense o f Identity," as theology, psychology, hyperbole, anachronistic,
animistic, metaphoric? Keats configures the world as meaningful through our use o f
it. Soul-making is how we use the world. Do we know or experience the world
separate from this, or any use? The world acts against us as a limit, and in this
uses us. This use does not imply the intention o f the world so much as an
interpretationofaneffect. Keatsreinterpretsthislimitingforceasthecontextinand
through which we make a 'soul'. Thus the interaction between the domain of what is,
nature, and the functioning o f our intentionality produces a surrogate in the
'soul' for both ourintentionality(oridentityorselfor...)andtheworldaslimit.
Descartesseparates consciousness from living: ".. I, perceiving that the principle
by which we are nourished is wholly distinct from that by means of which we think,
have declared that the name soul when used for both is equivocal... I consider the
mind not as part o f the soul, but as the whole o f that soul which thinks"
{Philosophical Works, 2. 210). Keats in effect stitchestogether this separation
with the soul. Self-reflection and self-generation as descriptions of both
consciousness and of animation constitutes a theology. But this does not answer the
question about the ontological status ofthe soul or ofthis theology. What this does
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without permission.65
show is that we respond to this problem by translating ontological questions into
semantic questions. Thisisagrammaticalpebble-game.Keats' souls begin as
intelligences, "sparks of divinity ... atoms of perception-- they know and they see
and they are pure, in short they are God." A soul arises only when an intelligence
becomes itself, that is, acquires an identity. Keats asks "How then are Souls to be
made?"This is effected by three grand materials acting the one upon the other for a
series o f years. These three materials are the Intelligence--the human heart (as
distinguished from intelligence or Mind) and the World or Elemental space suited
for the proper action ofMind and Heart on each other for the purpose of forming the
Soul or Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity. (326-27)Keats
describes the soul and its making as if it were a theory or a recipe, which
structurally looks as much like Hegel as like Freud. What can this theory do? What
can the recipe create? The problem, for Keats, is that the world uses us, and we
must somehowusetheworld. Technologywouldofferonewayofdiminishingthepowerof nature
to annoy us; but other human beings are as native to the world as storms and
neitherseemsultimatelycontrollable. Onekindofhappinesscanbeincreasedif fundamental
needs are met and disease is eradicated. Intelligence, phenomenalconsciousness or
awareness, what we see, and judgment, how we know, alters the Heart, the 'Mind's
Bible", a hornbook, the Mind's experience'; in turn, the Heart, "the text from
which the Mind or Intelligence sucks its identity, alters the Mind. Intelligence
must be transformed into a soul through a suffering and experience within the
world:Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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I will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little
children to read -- I will call the human heart the horn Book used in that school
anditshornbook. DoyounotseehownecessaryaWorldofPainsandtroubles is to school an
Intelligence and make it a soul? (327)This is a picture through which to generate
humanness beyond the ontological limits of the inanimate and o f circumstances.
What kind o f theoretical weight can such a picture sustain?
WeshouldnotlookfortheIntelligencenortheHeartinourmindorbody. This picture, while it
describes interactions, only mimics a mechanism. The movement from mind to soul is
internal, a process of moral instruction and selfconversion. If this is a reduction
o f a theological commitment to the ontological status o f the soul, can we say
that in reducing it to a moral ideal it works only as a metaphor? What is growing
here? if not a real soul then the imagination, the mental, our being as what? The
world or poetry becomes a moral laboratory, a realization or transformation of our
potential selves into greater degrees o f actuality.Mind through its confrontation
and interaction with the inanimate limits o f the world and the limits of self,
exposed in suffering, failing, desire, and self-reflection,
determinesitselfasanethicalstance:asoul. Ifthisisnotaphilosophyofmindthenwhat is
the function o f the symbolic language that invokes this philosophy? Its function,
I believe, is to offer a particular kind of foundation for a morality that need not
appeal to Godnortotherelativisticvaluesofaparticularcommunity. Thisfoundationis
simultaneously aesthetic and ontological: a theory about how we inhabit language as
if both language, our inhabitation, and 'we' or 'I' are real. The interpretative
and theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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constitutiveareconfusedasanIdentity. Thelinkbetweentheoriesofmindandaesthetics
follows from this function. This is why theories o f aesthetic justification
attempt to justify art by attempting to establish the truth-status of figurative
language or fantasy. This defenseoftenarguesforamoraleffectgeneratedbyfiction.
HarryBergerJr.thinksthat "the great problem confronting classical thought was that
it did not quite know how to keep the order it assumed as objective reality from
looking like a projection" (10). This is why Aristotle's poetics, in which truth is
recovered, reworks his theory o f perception inDe Anima as simultaneously a work of
making and knowing. The problem for the Romantics, I think, is that they did not
know how the unity o f experience determining the world as a world could be
distinguished from their interpretations o f the world.In Keats theory the Soul is
an analogue for art: "so let me be thy choir" ('"Ode to Psyche"). The question
'what justifies this analogue?' seems to demand answering the question 'what is the
ontological status of this "theory" of mind?' I take this question to
beawayofaskinghowweinhabitlanguage. Keats'theoryofthebecomingofthe intelligence
(through its interaction with the Heart and circumstance [the world]) into a Soul
stabilized as a self-possessed identity is a theory ofjustification directed at the
question 'how we can live?'.Geoffrey Hill re-constructs this soul-making as a means
o f redemption in his claim that Coleridge's "To William Wordsworth" functions as
"the private utterance of highly organized art can for a while stabilize the self-
dissipating brilliance o f the listener's mind, that is, Coleridge's mind, the mind
that is concentrating upon that very diffusion" (12). How does 'mind' 'stabilize'
in "the private utterance of highly organized art'? "PrivateReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
utterance" does not mean 'private meaning', susceptible to the force o f
Wittgenstein's private language 'argument', the absurdity o f a language
functioning as a language without public criteria determining the meaning o f words
from one moment to the next. The force o f 'private utterance' attaches to what it
means for someone to be 'stabilized' in language. The specialness of aesthetic
language lies not in its form, but in its utterance or its use as language standing
for, or acting as the expression of, a 'mind' ('mind' here remainsablackbox).
Anexpressionofmindisnotatheoryofmind. Rather,itisa temporary identity that allows a
fiction or a figure to seduce us into a moral stance towards ourselves as if toward
the world, or towards the worlds as if towards ourselves: "a poet can transfigure
his own dissipation by a metaphor that perfectly comprehends it" (13). This moral
stance is an interpretive stance ('this means x'), where we allow the
interpretation to constitute ourselves or a text.This metaphoric comprehension
entangles the poet in the very language in which
hefailstoactorconfiguretheworldorhimselfasmeaningful. Wecanuselanguageto describe
the world within systems of values (the logic of a language game); the application
of the distinctions determining any language game, however, is continually subject
to normativerestrictions,criteriaoflegitimacy,andontologicaljustification.
Thecriteria determining legitimate use, while grounded in social and linguistic
conventions, continuously require ontological support justifying the actuality of
the distinctions and entities indicated or expressed within a language. In other
words we can use language as a self-contained descriptive system of values or
distinctions, but we can only enter language, that is, constitute ourselves and the
world through the justifications o f both theReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
application and the existence o f these distinctions and values. (This is not to
say we do not make mistakes, but that there are limits. I can, for example imagine
that rocks rolling downmountainsaregods.
embracethisgodinamomentofexquisitehappiness. Mylifemightbemoremeaningful than
someone who thinks rocks are rocks, and they are better avoided when they reach a
certainvelocity. IfIclaimtherock-as-godpictureisequivalenttotherocks-are-hard
picture I have made a grammatical mistake. The rocks-are-hard school is superior if
ones goal is to stay alive. The rock-god school might be superior if my goal is to
die meaningfully in a mountain accident. Relativistic arguments often make confused
comparisons. Inthiscasephysicsactsasalimitonhowsuccessfulabeliefsystemisasa
survival system. The question remains: is it better to live a life o f fictional
fantasy that may be meaningful, or a life o f scientific realism that may not be?.
These may not be opposites in any real sense, but their application is fraught with
confusions). Ontologicaljustification can describe the limits o f our involvement,
and the meaning o f this involvement, in our language.Poetry works through
configuring ontological justification as a problem o f interpretation. This
formulation can justify Ransom's vague description o f poetry as "ontological or
metaphysical maneuver" (The World's Body, 347). In poetic use the demand for
ontological justification appears as a demand for recognition, to use the creation
ofmeaning as an expression ofself. The constitution or the making ofourselves marks
our expressions o f value as expressions o f power; these expressions cannot
supersede the systematic normative organization and functioning o f language, where
theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.
accuracy o f statements becomes an acting through, agreement with, and description
o f language. Our failure or success within these normative rules cannot be
mediated through our self-constructions, but only by the determining structures o f
society, language, biology. These normative rules urge or measure us; our
ontological creation ofourselves and our world within language measures orjudges
language. We can forgive our ontological failures but never our failures in
clarity. Hill, quoting Chesterton's study ofDickens says, "'a saint after
repentance will forgive himselffor a sin; a man about town
willneverforgivehimselfforafauxpas"'(7). Artisaconstructionwithinthe'density'o f
language, the normative resistance o f words and the incommensurability between
different concepts, ideas, meanings, and language games. This poetic making
delivers both the poet and our poetic responses "up to judgment"(14). Hill divides
this judgment up between a (1) judgment o f our "empirical guilt" accompanying our
possible failures and faux pas within the normative criteria of our language and
social life and a (2) judgment of the "Sin" that Karl Barth understands as the
'specific gravity of human nature as such' (15).6 This 'empirical guilt', or the
normative force of language, has its own weight. "[I]t is at the heart o f this
'heaviness' that poetry must do its atoning work, this heaviness which is
simultaneously the 'density' o f language and the 'specific gravity o f human
nature'" (15).The failure of clarity, the difficulty requiring interpretation in
Finnegans Wake (and in a different way in Philosophical Investigations) forces the
reader to mediate the normative rules through ontological justification (the
radical need to determine the ontological status of its language as the exercise of
its art), and to mediate the constitutiveReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.71
force of ontological justification by the normative rules of our language (its
humor, what Wittgenstein calls grammatical jokes). The normative rules o f language
can function like the laws o f nature (the descriptions o f form as quantity) and
our ontological justifications are judgments about how we function within these
laws. Together these rules andjudgments constitute us within language and describes
our intentionality, seemingly our qualitative mental relations. Finnegans Wake,
therefore, can describe our constitution as
humanbeingsasafunctionofacommentaryaboutitsownlanguage. Ournormative language while
constituting the possibilities of meaning available to us can not function
ontologically, that is, we can exist within and through these possibilities, but we
can only exist at all, through the ontological or creative pressure attending the
kinds o f ontologicaljudgments we make about the normative status of our language
games, for example, 'Do I love you?' 'Can I love?' 'Is love possible?' This
explains why ordinary criteria can fail; why we are continually tempted by
skepticism.2 If I rewrite Hill's formulation of our deliverance up to judgment, I
can suggest a vague canopy to include this play between ontology and epistemology
as a moral crisis: "in the constraint of shame the [Wakean\ poet and [grammatical
philosopher] [are] free to discover both the 'menace' and the atoning power o f his
own art" (17).Our survival in language requires an act of will. We must, however,
take responsibility for the governance of our will, and not cede or abrogate our
moral involvement within language to the confusion ofuse which distorts and hides
this moral dimension within the confusions and entanglements between language games
o f powerReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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(ideology)disguisedasmoraljudgments. Somethinglikethissensemotivates Wittgenstein
to remark his distrust oflanguage:Human beings are profoundly enmeshed in
philosophical--i.e. grammatical-- confusions. They cannot be freed without first
being extricated from the extraordinary variety o f associations which hold them
prisoner. Y ou have as it were to reconstitute their entire language.--But this
language grew up as it did becausehumanbeingshad--andhave--
thetendencytothinkinthisway. So you can only succeed in extricating people who live
in an instinctive rebellion against language; you cannot help those whose entire
instinct is to live in the herdwhich has created this language as its own proper
mode o f expression. (MS 213,?423; quoted in Kenny, "Wittgenstein on the Nature of
Philosophy", 16).Poetry and philosophy both constitute kinds of rebellion against
language. This distrust of language constitutes a religious stance, a configuration
of oneself as anything or anyone in relation to a negative limit which can
determine our meaning and our world. What is it like to be trapped within a system
of meaning within which you cannot escape but which you distrust? Finnegans Wake is
a comic version o f Kafka's The Castle.Coleridge, commenting on the mental schema
articulated in Wordsworth's Prelude, redescribes the reciprocal relation between
the senses and the world that constructs the mind. Following what he believes was
"partly suggested by me ... He[Wordsworth] was to treat man as man--a subject o f
eye, ear, touch, and taste, in contact with external nature, and informing the
senses from the mind, and not compounding a mind out ofthe senses"(188). This could
seem a conquest ofa world, or the constructionReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.73
o f a Khananite pleasure palace after such a conquest. Eliot, in 'Gerontion,' finds
such aworld "a decayed house", where "In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut,
flowering judas,/ To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk/ Among the whispers";
where these whispers, these "vacant shuttles weave the wind" into a riddle about
the consequences ofknowledge ["After such knowledge, what forgiveness?"]. Our
ordinary needs eat, divide and drink the world into metaphors (cliches: whispers,
weave the wind) that signal the loss, consumption and disappearance ofthe world.
The organic world symbolizes its own loss.
Eliotdescribesamoralterror,akindofknowledgethatcanappearasaskepticism generated
from failing senses, but I think it is more likely a realization that a soul can
fragment through a kind of self-reflection in which the indifference ofthe world
and our own indifference generates a specific terror. Poetry can enact this terror
as what we are. Thisstance-indifferentterror--
isneitherexistentialnorstrictlyspeakingmoral. Eliot's poetry describes this terror
as a realization that the soul (and our demand for redemption) and subjectivity (at
least our speaking T ) describes the subjunctive: we live counterfactually. Eliot
does not discover this. The possibilities of either idealism or modem skepticism,
when understood as moral responses to scientific knowing, outlinesthe soul,
subject, self as subjunctive. (This does not mean the soul, subject, self are
constructed; they may be given as perpetual possibility; making a soul or a mind
follows as apossibilityofthispossibility).
Eliot'sdiscoveryisoftheterrorgraspingandattending modemself-reflection.
Heexposespartlywhatthis'subjunctive'means,teachingusthe consequence ofthis
knowledge (ifit is 'knowledge'). Words describe ideal forms that our descriptions
belie into algorithms of loss:Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.74
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.I have lost my passion: why should
I need to keep it Since what is kept must be adulterated?I have lost my site,
smell, hearing, taste, and touch: How should I use them for your closer contact?Age
and terror and revulsion and the failure of our knowing and knowledge, the
realization that not only can the mind and the world be confused for each other but
that a failure o f courage, sense, or meaning can tempt us to deny our mind.
Instinct, the algorithm describing the non-human, and our dying, the algorithm o f
loss, sketch the limits ofour knowledge ofboth ofthese as despair: "What will the
spider do,/ Suspend its operations, will the weevil Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca,
Mrs. Cammel, whirled/ Beyond the circuit o f the shuddering Bear/ In fractured
atoms." The constellation Ursus Major can mean a " shuddering Bear", a promised
stability o f meaning that cannot preserve the atoms ofanyone'sbody.
MeaningdescribesthelimitbeyondwhichNothingbeckons.For the Ancient Mariner the
periodicity of the stars measures our human needs as our involvement in the world
as a promise of a home. Hill offers Coleridge's prose gloss of the Ancient
Mariner's loneliness as "an outstandingly beautiful image of the attainability of
atonement":In his loneliness and fixedness he yeameth towards the journeying Moon,
and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and every where the blue
sky belongs to them, and is their appointed rest, and their native country and
theirReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.75
own natural homes, which they enter unannounced, as lords that are certainly
expected and yet there is a silent joy at their arrival.This description has the
coherence o f a poem, a fragment: not a fragment o f the world it describes, nor of
the longing it evokes but of a kind of self-reflection that the glosses
accompanying the poem form on the poem, and in this case a coherence o f self-
sufficiency that ironically refers to the complex worlds that include the poem,
Coleridge, the heavens, us, the future ad infinitum. This is the promise o f the
Romantic fragment. These fragments are a profound attempt, even in the anti-
Newtonianism ofBlake, to configurepoetry as Schlegel describes Romanticism as kind
o f aesthetic-moral formula describing itself and all worlds in which it would or
will make sense:"The whole history of modem poetry is a running commentary on the
following brief philosophical text: all art should become science, and all science
art; poetry and philosophy should be made one" (Critical Fragment 1 1 5).The
different ways of finding a text speaking to us, for us, at us, allegorizing us
allows us to displace forms o f skepticism into fantasies o f intelligibility which
animate the text into various forms o f animism. As a form o f animism, and,
therefore, as a kind o f romanticism attempting to link science and art, the
animation o f the text parallels the mechanical, like the animation of dolls,
bodies, and clay heads, as if science gave us the truth of what we see, a common
sense weeding out visions and spirits. Is this the kind o f animism we findin Henry
Adams' dynamo or in Yeats' Byzantine birds?In "Byzantium" we are presented with
three categories o f being: "Miracle, bird orgolden handiwork". These are what in
"Sailing to Byzantium" Yeats called "bodily form".Reproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.76
"Once out of nature" the poet's voice rejects the form of natural things, the
category "bird" in the later poem in order to enter the " artifice of eternity" as
an aesthetic form "as Grecian goldsmiths make". This collapse of natural form into
artifact is what Wittgenstein, in Investigations, called the sublimation o f the
machine into a symbol: where the normative structures o f language, rules,
conventions, etc. are confused as the causal structures o f our psychology
determining what we actually say. A symbol built out o f this confusion can seem to
stabilize our linguistic practices. The structure o f a symbol so
constitutedoutofthisstabilityisdeterminedasaformofidentity. Thus,Wittgenstein
writes in the Tractatus:Only the proposition has sense; only in the context o f a
proposition has a name meaning. (3.3)Every part of a proposition which
characterizes its sense I call an expression(a symbol).(The proposition itself is
an expression.)Expressions are everything--essential for the sense o f the
proposition-- that propositions can have in common with one another.An expression
characterizes a form and a content. (3.31)Identity functions as a metaconcept, or
rather as the logical possibility that allows propositions to be decomposed and
recharacterized as expressions. In this sense propositions function as expressions
when they have a sense, in Frege's picture when they can stand in for each other.
This commonality or conceptual identity functions as a repeatability that lies
behind and extends the Cartesian idea of animalReproduced with permission of the
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animation as mechanical, a rule-bound persistence, to that of the mind: a picture
of the soul as a perpetual motion, or rather expression, machine. This is like the
picture o f the soul in Swift's Tale o fa Tub as clothes or the kind of person
described by Adams in his preface as "a manikin... clothes ... the same value as
any other geometrical figure o f three
ormoredimensions,whichisusedforthestudyofrelation"(xxx). ForAdamsthe collapse into
the mechanical attends a despair over the virgin's failure, the failure of spirit,
to limit, let alone convert, human violence. This renunciation requires that he
convert himself into a vision o f mechanical time and identity, into at least a
metaphor o f the algorithmic: "Every man with self-respect enough to become
effective, if only as a machine, has had to account for himself somehow, and to
invent a formula of his own for his universe, if the standard formulas failed"
(471-72).This vision of self-transformation is quite different from what we find in
Keats: "Even a Proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it." A
proverb in its generality and structure is formulaic. This formula, however, is not
applied to the world, but you interpret yourself as expressing it, that is, it
becomes a proverb to you only when you can use it to describe your life. "Life" and
a "Proverb" articulate incommensurable and irreducible domains, as do picture and
text, and thus the aptness o f the word 'illustrate,' as a means o f mapping one
domain onto another, as a picture illustrates a text. But what allows ones' life to
be such an illustration? This is a question not only of application but of
intentionality (the formulaic aspect calls for application: apply this formula
across this domain; an application that leads to illustration opens up a problem of
intentionality: what exactly is being illustrated? Matisse was commissioned to
illustrateReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.78
Joyce'sUlysses. HeproducedaseriesofdrawingsillustratingHomer'sOdyssey,not having
bothered to read Joyce's book. What if he had read the book would he have then been
able to illustrate it?) What an illustration picks out in a text is like an
interpretation, but its application to the text remains unclear or even tenuous: Is
a movie an illustration of a book? Is it a translation ofat least a word, or
phrase, or character into another medium? A particular shot in a movie might be an
illustration; the musical score might be an illustration; but the movie itself is
an interpretation, an attempt to tell not illustrate.Asking "What does it mean?"
leads to interpretation; asking, "What is it like?" leads to illustration. The
first gives us a logic or a language we can understand; the other shows us the
answer to a riddle.A proverb is a fragment, as Schlegel called it, a kind o f self-
articulating totality pointing, however, beyond itselftoward the world or
experience which it describes or to which it can be applied. Schlegel's fragments
function organically; they are not analogized into machinery as in Modernism
(poetries appealing to Newton under the pressure of further scientific and
technological transformations), but, akin to Goethe's conceptualizations ofthe
Urphanomen, the ground phenomena, the principle ofform out of which and through
which all other forms metamorphosize. This principle of holographic gestalt,
organic self-articulation does not describe the mutual identification of
ontogenyandphylogeny,butratherthereductionofbeingintoorganicmorphology. For
Schlegel this form was the hedgehog:A Fragment should be like a little work of art,
complete in itself and totally separated from the surrounding world like a
hedgehog.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.
Ein Fragment muss gleich einem kleinem Kunstwerke von der umgebenden Welt ganz
abgesondert und in sich selbst vollendet sein wie ein Ingel. (Athenaeum, 206)
Fragments define an holographic ecology: "Fragmentary totality, in keeping with
what should be called the logic ofthe hedgehog, cannot be situated in any single
point: it is simultaneouslyinthewholeandinthepart.
Eachfragmentstandsforitselfandforthat from which it is detached" (The Literary
Absolute, 44). Schlegel describes this symbolic function as constituting a mode
ofbeing, a function ofa particular kind ofart: "I have expressed a few ideas
pointing toward the heart o f things, and have greeted the dawn . . . from my own
point ofview... Let anyone who knows the road do likewise ... from his own point
ofview." (Ideas, 155). This is what Blanchot called "a totally new mode of
completion" (358), the "demand posited by poetry that it reflect itself and
accomplish itself through its reflection . . . poetry no longer wants to be natural
spontaneity but solely and absolutely conscious" (353). This requirement displaces
the site o f poetry away from the"poetic work" and towards "the poetic activity"
(357). The relationship between consciousness and the world takes place through
animation. For human beings this describes knowing as a poetic activity and for the
world describes its dynamism. Blanchot describes this as a "mode of completion"
that "mobilizes . . . the whole through its interruption and through interruptions
various modes" (358). Gasche explains this mode as the consequence o f "a cross-
fertilization between the Romantics' practice o f writing
andKantiandoctrine,which...dealswiththeuniversalconditionsofcompletion"(ix). I will
tilt my way to one side of such a characterization of the relation between the two
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without permission.80
senses o f the aesthetic playing out in Kant: the aesthetic as "reflective
judgment" (in the Critique o fJudgment) and the aesthetic as the
constitutivejudgment determining the relation between concepts and experience (in
the Critique o fPure Reason).Schlegel analogizes the relation between science and
art as between the dissipating force ofthe individual mind and the organized
rigidity ofa system. The systemic supports the ground o f the real and is thus
necessary; the dissipating force o f the mind constitutes the subjectively true and
is also necessary. Thus "it's equally fatal for the mind to have a system and to
have none. It will simply have to decide to combine the two" (Athenaeum 53). This
integration follows by constituting the individual as embryo system, and thus the
implication between individual and system follows from phylogenesis: "All
individuals are systems at least in embryo and tendency" (Athenaeum 242). Human
beings are embedded in the a priori, which functions as a determining system.The
categorical imperative universalizes the individual outside of the semantics of
'morality'. The force ofthis universalizing functions as an 'ought', a necessity
determining the moral autonomy of any particular human as the microcosmic version
of the universal law. The categorical imperative determines moral necessity
"without reference to any purpose", but rather through the "form ofthe action and
the principle from which it follows" ("Grounding for the Metaphysics ofMorals",
26). In Kant's picture, moral action measures the distance between someone who acts
and rational moral criteria. This distance is measured by the special character o f
'ought' which marks the criterion for action and serves as the motive for action.
Kant describes the criterion for moral action in a self-reflexive proverb which
appeals to and contains another proverb:Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.81
"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it
should become a universal law' ("Grounding", 30). The embedded proverb divides (1)
an action (moral action) into a personal act in a particular situation and (2) an
act ofwill universalizing this action. Kant's model for action, therefore, enacts
the way of seeing described in Blake's "Auguries o f Innocence" as a description o
f moral action:To see a World in a Grain of Sand,And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,Hold
Infinity in the palm o f your hand, And Eternity in an hour.Kant imagines human
moral failure to be a failure in the application o f moral precepts. Underlying
this assumption is a theological picture translated into a logical problem: how to
translate the universal, in which the moral 'ought' and the ontological 'is' are
related as a conditional (if x, then y), into the particular contingencies
determining human action. Kant's 'is' is not Hume's: Kant's criterion for existence
is not grounded in human practice but in the simultaneous demand for individual
human moral autonomy (to act andjudge through and as being 'I') and the necessity
of a universal moral law. The means by which he accomplishes the translation of the
'I' into the moral universal proceeds through our formal equivalence as human
beings within the formal limits o f our identity as agents. Within the categorical
imperative this takes the form of a textual self-reflection that in
itselfservesasamodelforhumanaction. Thustheproverb"Actonlyaccordingtothat maxim"
describes the application of "that maxim". This textual self-reflection functions
as a means of application that displaces the implicit 'act as if. . . " in the
embedded proverbReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.82
into the initial proverb concerning action. This initial "Act only. . . " assumes
that we act outside o f moral commitments (and thus these commitments must be
shaped and ordered). (I think this is a skewed picture but I cannot criticize it
here).Because ofthis assumption, however, this new proverb would require a proverb
of application ad infinitum. Kant's response is to characterize 'acting' itself as
a form of self-reflection:
"Actinsuchawaythatyoutreathumanity,whetherinyourownperson or in the person of
another, always at the same time as an end, and never as a means" (36). The
particular concerns o f any action are dissolved in his designation o f humanity as
the defactoobjectofanymoralact. Thisispossiblebecauseanyindividualisalsoanexample
of humanity ("whether in your own person or in another"). Characterizing someone as
an example (or even an exemplar) aestheticizes being human, and translates the
question 'when are you a good person?' into 'when are you human?' This follows from
Goodman's description of art in Ways o f WorldMaking (or mine ofFinnegans Wake in
the next section) as a function marked by the use or perception of something as an
exampleofart. Thisfollowsfromthefailureofthequestion'whatisart?' Artrequires the
question 'when is art?' Such a question replaces the quest for substance with a
kind of dual perception of ourselves (when are we seeing art?) and of an object or
text (is this an example o f art?). Kant has displaced the model o f a moral
example (or exemplar) with a model of an ontological example (or exemplar). (Such a
displacement is for Kant a requirement of morality, part of its universalizing
demand). If we say 'he acted like amonster' or 'he's no longer human' or 'he acted
like an animal', do we imagine he is really a monster or some other species? Do
animals murder in the way that humans do? KantReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.83
provides a picture o f how content or qualities can be translated into form. T
becomes a universal law through which we act toward and as our species being, our
essential being, so that the universal law coalesces into the form of all moral
actions as if it generated an animateuniversalbeing.
AlthoughIcannotpursuethisfurtherhere,Iwanttosuggestthat Kant's attempt to integrate
moral autonomy with necessity organizes the form o f the moral 'ought' and the
universal law as the form o f our animation as human beings.The problem with
Goodman's picture is that he reduces the function o f art to the recognitionofart.
Kantinhismodelreducesbothbeinghumanandbeingmoraltothe recognition of the human and
the moral. The application of morals reduces to the recognition o f the form o f
morality which further reduces to the recognition o f being human; these
recognitions are applied to oneselfto such a degree that moral action becomes a
species o f self-recognition.The fragment can work as a fragment, that is, it can
preserve its unity and coherence (seemingly) without a clear discursive context
(what is its scope, its truth value, the discursive rules determining its use or
expressive force as literature or philosophy or theology or whatever?), by pointing
beyond itself by pointing to itself. The fragment exists through the logic ofKant's
categorical imperative read as a theory of meaning, as if the 'I' and the word
invoked their context and significance through the same ontological claims or
presuppositions about themselves. (Why the temptation to personify fragments and
word?). If the good is what can be universalized for all other individuals, then
the systemic is split into the abstraction of universalizing, a mode of equality
determined asfundamental human identity, and the a prioric ground ofjudgment and
subjectivity thatReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.84
determines the scene ofmorality as the individual will. The world is dissolved into
identity;theforceofthisdissolutionispartlythecrueltythatNieztschesmelled. Thissplit
follows from the confusion between personhood and citizenship brought out in Locke.
But this abstraction must be supported by the a priori conditions determining the
human relation with the world: supported by metaphysics.Stanley Cavell argues that
"maintaining fragmentariness is part o f Emerson's
realizationofromanticism"(TheNewYetUnapproachableAmerica,21). Ininterpreting
Emerson's essay "Experience" as "a theory of the fragment" (21), the discoveiy that
philosophy as a way ofgoing on is "a work ofmourning" (26), Cavell appeals to
Schlegel (or rather the reading of Schlegel in L 'absolu litteraire) for an
epigraph: "Many works of theancientshavebecomefragments.
Manyworksofthemodemsarefragmentsright from their beginning [generation,
Entstchung]." (Athenaeum, 24; Cavell, 22): "In 'Experience,' the condition o f
existing from birth, that is to say, existing from the condition of birth--call it
the congenital--is taken as the condition of fragmentariness" (22).
SuchfallenessrewritesPlato'sdivisionofouroriginaryandrogynousunityintomale and
female with our continual alienation from God described in Genesis. The fragment
functions here as the organic resistance to the mechanistic description o f the
mind developed from Descartes mechanistic description ofthe body and the
application ofNewtonian logic to the mind in the British empiricist tradition. The
organicist fantasy (as ifwe know what 'birth' means as a description oftime or what
the 'organic' means as a description of our thinking) and the mechanical fantasy
(thinking our way out of our consciousness or replacing ourselves with higher level
machines) each describe an extremeReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.85
(insane?) response to loss. Schreber enacts this insanity: "As long as he remains
male, Schreber is not subject to the travail of mortality. Only after he has
mothered a new breed o f humanity, a new Geschlect (spirit), will he die a natural
death and be assumed, bodies andsoul,intoheaven"(103). Self-
generationisanadmissionofmortality;itsdenialan assertion o f continual identity.
Schlegel, in Vorlesungen uber schone Literatur und Kunst, asserts that art must
mimic the generative process ofNature:That means it must--creating autonomously
like nature, itself organized and organizing--from living works which are not set
in motion through an alien mechanism, like a pendulum-clock, but through an
indwelling power... In this manner did Prometheus imitate nature, when he formed
man out of clay of the earth, and animate him with a spark stolen from the
sun . . . (281)Art functions like a fragment, "itself organized and organizing,'
animated not by mechanisms but by an "indwelling power", animated by animation. But
would Schlegel suggest that Nature as a whole functions like a fragment? Prometheus
embodies and enacts this "indwelling power" and thus is an extension, a fragment of
this same natural creation. As an animating principle ofNature he creates man, who
is, therefore, analogized to art. This animation as an extension or fragment o f
Prometheus semantically or mythically describes the autonomous metabolism
("organized and organizing") constitutinglife. Oneisanimatedbycontinuallyre-
animatingoneselfwithinthelimits defined by that which initially animated one.
Nature, Prometheus, Man, Art, as if collapsing metaphor and metonymy into an
holographic, ontplogical trope, are allReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.86
fragments, each a deus exfragmento or deus ex anima: "The more organic something
is, the more systematic it is.--The system is not so much a species o f form as the
essence o f the work itself' (Gasche citing Schlegel's Literary Notebooks, xii).
Gasche comments that Schlegel equates "fragment=system=work=individual. In the
closed-offindividualities of the fragment, unity is achieved in chaos, but at the
expense o f any systematic relation as the absoluteness, or isolation, o f the
fragment suggests" (xii). The absolute reduces to fragments within fragments: an
infinite set o f finite sets.The promethean generative power Coleridge calls the
primary Imagination functions in the same way that the soul does for Keats, as a
grammatical surrogate for the self and world: "the living Power and prime Agent o f
all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of
creation in the infinite I AM' (Biographia I. 13; 304). The creation o f these
grammatical surrogates describe models o f a mind. Artificial Intelligence uses the
mathematical syntax o f computer languages, or the potential syntax o f an
idealized language and machine, as this kind o f surrogate. This mathematical
syntax, as it does for Adams and Yeats, animates as a proximate cause a mind as a
fragment. In Artificial Intelligence, the Infinite I AM is divided into the
proximate cause within a mind, usually as consciousness (animation having been
reduced to this) and into the interpretive complexity of our experience, and thus
as an epiphenomenon resulting from a conscious machines interaction with its
environment.Wecannotspeakofcauseshere,butonlyofinterpretations. Theself-reflective
attachments between the self-standing fragment and its reflective containment and
expression o f systematic totality creates a symbolic distance that is meant to
picture theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.87
relation between T and 'world'. Within this economy o f mirroring there exists no
conceptual outside (there is no, as Joyce calls it in Finnegans Wake, "surview over
all the factionables" (FW285.26). Interpretative meaning or significance must be
generated from insidethissystem. Thetropethatallowsforthisisirony. Blanchotwrites:
The'T ' of the poet, finally, is what alone will be important: no longer the poetic
work, but poetic activity, always superior to the real work, and only creative when
it knows itself able to evoke and at the same time to revoke the work in the
sovereign play of irony. (The Infinite Conversation, 357)Irony here, however, is an
act o f creation, an act o f creation that produces analogic knowledge at the site
of our manifestation as descriptions (in writing), that as Keats suggests, we
illustrate. This is not what Blanchot says, but it is an implication o f how he
illustrates the romantics, who "bound to the act of writing as to a new knowledge
they are learning to take up anew by becoming conscious ofit" (354). The dynamism
ofthe mind describes an education (as it will also for Emerson and Adams). Lacoue-
Labarthe andNancy translate this picture o f dynamic self-illustration into an
aesthetic that more clearly reflects Kants' transcendental aesthetic. They claim
that "[w]hat makes an individual, what makes an individual's holding-together, is
the 'systasis' that produces it. What makes its individuality is its capacity to
produce, and to produce itsel? first of all, by means of its internal 'formative
force'-///e bildende Kraft inherited from the organism of Kant..." (49). Adams
realizes that the ontological limits enacted within our scientific descriptions o f
the world make this "capacity to produce . . . itself' impossible, except as
biological and physical effects (as in the way our eyes 'reproduce' the world or
our genesReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.88
reproduceus). Ifhumanbeingsarereducedtoan'acting'thatrequirestheapplicationof a
moral maxim (as in Kant), then this reduction to biological effect means we cannot
apply moral ideals as a function o f self-reflection (more o f this latter).For
Adams, the fragment (what he calls Multiplicity) is a consequence of science
(pictured as broadly mechanical), whereas for Schlegel (and in the logic of Keats'
proverb) fragments resist this mechanization. This difference is partly a battle
between Newton and Goethe. Novalis writes in Grains ofPollen: "Fragments ofthis
kind are literary seeds: certainly, there may be sterile grains among them, but
this is unimportant if only a few of them take root"(2.463). The play between
particular and containing universal, figured here as a seed and its growth into its
determining form, is a conception o f the infinite that, as in Hegel, unites self-
reflection in infinite dynamism. Romantic poetry, both in particular poems and as a
totality, "should forever be becoming and never be perfected" (A22).Because these
fragments (as models ofthe moment or instant) contain or describe a totality they
are essentially infinite (describing a kind o f self-contained infinite
divisibility as between the numbers 0 and 1), and in this describe gods or our
godhood: "every infinite individual is god" and "there are as many gods as there
are ideas." (This set o f ideas will latter be limited and humanized by W. James
when he says that one has as many selves as friends: this turns the infinity o f
the individual into a void becoming through its interactions, this is one form o f
modernism, but one failing against grammar). As Charles Rosen explains, such a
fragment is a "closed structure, but its closure is a formality: it may be
separated from the rest ofthe universe, but it implies the existence ofwhat is
outside of itself not by reference but by its instability" (Romantic Generation,
51). This fragmentReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.89
defines what a fragment should be, but such a definition transfers the ambiguity of
"fragment" to what it means to be complete and separated" when this fragment-
definition itselfpoints at itselfbut also at all other fragments, the ganz Welt,
and the obscurity of being like a hedgehog. This instability is what Keats answers
with "illustration": the fragment in its separateness and completeness invokes a
logic or interpretative frame, but one that resists us, like a riddle.What is to be
illustrated is obvious--the proverb. Is the interpretation clear? Keats' claim
about proverbs is itselfa proverb illustrating another proverb--"Nothing ever
becomes real till it is experienced." Something becomes real in this sense when one
views one's life as such an illustration. In this case, Keats offers us an
ontological criterion in order to make sense, or rather to make the world in which
the first proverb functions: Proverbs become proverbs to us when our life
illustrates them, because nothing is real until we experience it. Experiencing is a
kind of illustration--that turns the type (the proverb) into the token (the
proverbfo r us: we can use it because we have become its token: this is an
illustration of meaning from given types into particular tokens: from language to
us). The proverb is meant to be true in all cases, let us say, within its world, or
within the language game in which we mean (self-reflection or instantiation within
the language game) as an illustration o f the proverb, where we can measure
ourselves as real (as defined by the proverb: the proverb measures us), and we can
measure the proverb as True: "'p' is p". Thus the proverb remains a mere type when
we do not recognize ourselves as one ofthose cases, within the totality defined by
that "all". Whatever is realis something we have experienced, in which case
everything we have experienced is real toReproduced with permission of the
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us. But this statement about what is real only functions as a proverb, let us say
it is a true statement about what is real, i.e., what we experience, when we
recognize it as an accurate description o f what we count as real.Proverbs for
Keats, therefore, are curious examples of aspect seeing. Instead of seeing a duck
or a rabbit, however, we see ourselves, our life--as a narrative? a picture? what
do we see? But what is illustrated for whom? The proverb does not illustrate our
life, weillustrateit. Thusitisseeingourselvesasanillustrationandtheproverbasa
descriptiontobeillustrated. ThetransformationofProverbintoproverbandourlifeinto an
illustration becomes an actualization--not as a change ofbeing but as a
transformation of aspect. The proverb is not strictly speaking a description of our
life but it is a way of our seeing ourselves, a description ofmeaning as opposed to
experience; that is why we illustrate it.Adams is calling for a more radical
transformation, an objectification o f himself
mirroringhisnarrationofhislifeinthirdperson. TheironyofAdams'provocationto become a
formula in order to become effective in the world is that a loss o f humanity is
required in order to be. Human beings have become fragments under the gears o f the
totality o f the world. This inversion marks the end not only o f human beings but
o f human beings as Newtonian machines, as clay pot with gears inside. It is as if
the demands o f the world require that we become proverbs ourselves, not
illustrations, become types not tokens, or, more specifically formulaic,
descriptions ofthe world in order to enter into the
conditionsofbeingandactingdeterminingwhatisreal. Ineffectourabilitytomeasure the
proverb as True becomes impossible, collapses into our vanishing into a formulation
ofReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.91
the criteria determining the real. This is a way of saying that we are replaced by
ontologicalcriteria. Ourexistenceisimpotentbeforeorwithoutthesecriteria,these
determinations. Do we imagine someone in Adams' world asking "Is this formula true
for me?" as one might about a proverb? Adams can only become real if he refigures
himself as what counts as real in what he already knows and what he cannot resist
as Real. Skepticism in this world begins as a case ofseeing oneselfas unreal and
the world as real;oneself as a projection, a fantasy, a dream: the world exists,
but do I?The systematic totalization of the real, where we are presented neither
with objectsnor fantasies, but with the conditions of reality, where the criteria
determining what counts
asrealbecometheobjectswesee,removestheworldassomethingweexperience. Our science is
not a science o f empiricism, but an attempt to determine and articulate
ontological conditions or descriptions. By this I mean that empiricism has been
replaced by metaphysics. The picture underlying much o f biology is "Genes
determine what counts as a human being": it is not that we illustrate the genes--we
manifest them in a particular way; we are determined by them, and, therefore, they
are always ours in a way a proverb canneverbe.
Aproverbisanideal,aplatonicformunderwhichwegainrealityanditgains truth; a string o
f nucleic bases describes us for the world, into the real, where being human as
opposed to being a chimpanzee is the effect o f this description enacted through
biochemistry. Are we true copies? Maybe, but that either means we are positing
other determining factors, environment for example, or we lose our claim-usually
our life, to being human. Genes make us real. Biology is becoming, as Chemistry has
already become, o f course in varying degrees, engineering. One does- not have to
think o f scienceReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
in this way, it is, as Wittgenstein might say, the picture is forced upon Adams and
to a large degree upon us. But it is a picture that competes with another cultural
picture--half Cartesian, with our bodies as forms to be filled, and halfromantic,
with the filling allegorized onto language, the world, and our pictures of
ourselves.The disorder ofour language is a function ofthe disorder ofour culture
and its failure to organize human life in relation to the order ofthe world enacted
through science and technology. The effect ofthis is to require the kind
ofjustification ofone's being, identity, life, picture o f the world that Conrad
asks for when he requires that art justify itself in every line if it is to be
called art (The Nigger o f the Narcissus). This can be understood as a drive toward
totality, as either a resistance or response to, what Adams' calls, "that path of
newest science [where] one saw no unity ahead--nothing but a dissolving mind"
(434). I f "Mind and Unity flourished or perished together", then the dissolution o
f the unity guaranteed by God results (at the time Adams was writing) with
"Faraday's trick of seeing lines of force all about him, where he had once seen
lines of will. Adamsconcludes"thatthesequenceofmenledtonothingandthesequenceoftheir
society could lead no further, while the mere sequence oftime was artificial, and
the sequence o f thought was chaos, he turned at last to the sequence o f force"
(382). Adams further reduces the grounding o f moral being in the recognition o f a
common humanity to therecognitionofuniversalizingconstitutiveforces.
Theproblemofmoralapplication that concerned Kant, however, is dissolved into
individual powerlessness: Act is replaced with being acted upon. Human beings mean
as the nexus of forces within the world. InReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.93
being the nexus o f forces the relation between being human and the being o f the
universe is constructed as a pure limit, as a contentless unit o f self-reflection:
The sum o f force attracts; the feeble atom or molecule called man is attracted; he
is the sum ofthe forces that attract him... The universe that had formed him took
shape in his mind as a reflection o f his own unity, containing all forces except
himself. (474-75)This unit o f self-reflection is contentless because unity is the
act o f self-reflection itself (notthecontentofthisreflection). Consequentlyself-
reflectioncanonlygeneratesymbols not the forces that constitute what is (476).For
Adams the sense of life requires some commonality, some meta-identity into which
the seemingly incommensurable logics, forces, sequences o f the dynamo and virgin
can be converted: this identity is his mind (383). Adams required that intellectual
energy reduce into a kind of physical energy, or that they both reduce to some more
primal form o f energy. This is one way o f conceiving Artificial Intelligence.
Such a picture, however, lacksanyscientificvalueorvalidity.
Adams'translatesourpictureofthemindintoan analogic language in which
incommensurable and irreducible realms could be re-valued. Mind in this sense
separates from materiality but so does science, in that they both are mapped into
the language of special objects, concepts, forces, energy, or mathematics, and in
this allow human values to be refigured with ontological force. Such force remains,
however, only analogic, and with Adams, therefore, depends on scientific ignorance,
not suspended belief, and on philosophical naivete.Reproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.94
In Y eats the temptation o f Adams' reductive conversion o f mental into physical,
a version o f which he pursued in "Sailing to Byzantium," is itself converted into
a kind o f hierarchical equivocation:Miracle, bird or golden handiwork, More
miracle than bird or handiwork Planted on the star-lit golden bough, Can like the
cocks of Hades crow,Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud In glory o f changeless
metalCommon bird or petalAnd all complexities of mire or blood.What is it that is
described as possibly miracle, bird or artifact? "All that man is"? The bodily form
ofthe golden bird ofthe emperor's smithies? Whatever is also "image, man or shade"
of the previous stanza? These are all versions ofthe soul or rather versions of the
mind following our intentionality backwards from the things it picks out to the
limits oflanguage pointing inward. The realm ofspirit, itselfanalogic for that
which or who fears death and desires immortality (hades' crow), gains a greater
claim on us, a claim greater than bird or handiwork. But is this partial priority
only for us, as a function of our desire for its power? Do 'we' identify, commit,
and recognize ourselves to and within this realm? The miracle is that we find
ourselves planted and crowing within the mythic, star-lit golden bough, like the
cocks of Hades. The equivocation between "image, man or shade" and "miracle, bird,
or golden handiwork" is not resolved by the "more miracle than. . . ",Reproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
but shifts from asking 'what is it?', and expecting an answer to 'who is it?, to
asking 'which world do we inhabit, a world ofmiracle or handiwork?' Are these the
same world?Is our choice between being image or handiwork? Miracle and handiwork
are both possibledescriptionsofhumanbeings. Withinthepoemtherearenowaysorresources
for deciding between these two possibilities. Miracles cannot resist their
degradation into handiwork and then into mire and blood.We flip aspects from
miracle to handiwork in the rest ofthe stanza. The light is no longer traced back
to a tapestry of stars but to "the moon embittered." Crowing can be heard as "scorn
aloud". The mechanical form ofthe earlier bird returns as "changeless metal". The
sublimation into the "glory" ofthis metal or into the miracle at best remain
aspects of the "common bird or petal/ And all complexities o f mire or blood." The
demand forjustification that propels Adams into the figure ofthe machine remains
the condition of our being within these complexities of chaos, life and death. The
movement Adams finds himself attracted to gets formalized in the "dancing floor',
but again as a pun in which an object as the context for human activities, as a
version of the world, can be read as dancing itself (synecdochic identity
encapsulating human interaction: as in let's go to a dance, where what is to be
done becomes totalized as a place, activity, and social entity allanalogized
through the transformation o f verb into noun as a kind o f thing). This too is a
way o f animating the inanimate.These versions o f animism and mind-making resist
transcendence and moral development through a kind of instability (chaos for Adams;
the pull of mire and blood for Yeats) that inverts romantic soul-making. What is
being made, described, converted, etc.Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.96
becomes mysterious, even it if one calls it "mind" the varying aspects with which
it conformsemptiesthistermofanysense. Itiswewhoareindangerofbecoming
senseless,nottheworld(asonemightimagineKeatsfearing). Adams'problemof introjecting
chaos into order can be seen both as organizing the forces o f the world according
to a religious sense and in projecting the scientific order describing the world
into the chaos ofthe mind.If Yeats desires transformation in "Sailing to
Byzantium", then it is not into the self-beggettor, the magi, but into a machine
that mimics the form o f art in its body in order to speak within what is itself a
formed world, and beyond this into the ear o f the powers determining the wealth,
the power, the freedom ofthis world: the emperor somewhere off stage.
WhatYeats'narratorinvestsinthe"formtheGreciangoldsmithsmake"isthe desire to be
made, to function as a symbol o f some whole. (Not to use the world like Keats, but
to be used by something besides the world). Both an "aged man... studying monuments
o f its own magnificence" or "Soul clap its hands and sing" act as an "it"; the
choice here between singing and studying does not offer to make us human. The
objectification o f both ourselves and what we study as things lies confused in our
desiring and knowing: ". . . sick with desire/ And fastened to a dying animal/ It
knows not what it is." If we imagine that desire operates in the face of objects
pinched off into otherness, itness, then our failure to know ourselves, except as
dying animals, and thus as nothing to desire or nothing stable, translates into a
fragmented form of life, "[a] tattered coat upon a
stick",ifnotforthedelusionsofyouth. Thisform,emptiedanddecaying,akintotheReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
Sibyl prefacing The Waste Land, cannot be filled, but only remade into a stability
that tries to work language to a standstill in paradox:O sages standing in God's
holy fireAs in the gold mosaic ofa wallThese icons can act upon us as a golden bird
made by the decree ofthe emperor in order tokeephimselfawake.
heads)talkstohimself(toourselves). Orthepoeticvoicecanspeakasaproductofthe empire,
and thus talk to lords and ladies. In every case, however, these 'human beings' and
'things' speak ofwhat they already know: "Ofwhat is past, or passing, or to come."
If as tattered coats and decaying animals the soul or aged man knows not what it
is, then the measureofthisignoranceliesinthemeasureoftime.
Thismeasure,however,liesoutside ofthe caring about what is past, passing, or to
come. Being made into pure form and animated by sages mastering his soul determines
being human as, what Yeats will call in"Byzantium," "an image, man, or shade": "I
call it death-in-life and life-in-death."In "Sailing to Byzantium", he calls to
these sages to "be singing-masters of mysoul", as if this singing could animate him
through his being possesses (by a formula maybe) by another (a revocation ofLocke's
grounding our freedom in our own self- possession). This is an inheritance as a
form ofbeing possessed, (an inheritance that possesses one, something not unknown
to happen). This possession and the gathering up "into the artifice of eternity" is
a way ofturning Keats "illustration" into our becoming, what Wittgenstein calls, a
"machine-as-symbol", the seeming representation o f a future as
apredeterminedexpressionofamachinesstructure. Ifwestudyourmonuments,theseReproduced
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machines or golden birds or words, we measure them as things made, as diagrams of
our ownmaking,andthusasproductsofhowwemadethem. Thismightbethemeasuringof a space
for a wedding bed in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", or the confused
resistanceto andmarkingoftimeandofdesirebyElizabethBishop'snarrator"studying" the
"Monument", or a critic's, or an engineer's, or a philosopher's description o f a
text or a mind. But as Figaro measures out his bed he sings, and in this measures
himself as the music and in duet with his wife's singing.Would we say here then
that the music illustrates him measuring out this bed? And if we silence the music
do we have a scene like the following described by Wittgenstein?Put a ruler against
this body; it does not say that the body is of such-and-such a length. Rather is it
in itself--I should like to say--dead, and achieves nothing of what thought
achieves."--It is as if we had imagined that the essential thing about a living man
was the outward form. Then we made a lump of wood in that form, and were abashed to
see the stupid block, which hadn't even any similarity to a living being. (PI?430)A
bed and a wooden body--asleep maybe, a "humptyhillhead" as Joyce calls such a
sleeper seems to have lost something essential. No amount of measuring will be able
to describe the nighttime experience of any block of wood, human or not. Such a
picture of our humanity is a picture ofdeath: what ifthe block ofwood looks like
you? And then you might ask with Descartes in the First Meditation: "How could I
deny that these hands and this body is mine, were it not that I compare myself to
certain persons ... who imaginethat they have a earthenware head or are nothing but
pumpkins or made o f glass?" Such aReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.99
picture is o f a Romantic fragment, a hedgehog, "complete in itself and totally
separated from the surrounding world" : one picture o f a human being. (What's the
history o f this?). A modernist fragment like a modernist machine works
differently. The movementfrom microcosm to macrocosm, the universe in a grain o f
sand, is replaced by golden birds in a Byzantine court or by a disjunction between
the logic of the world (the real) and our willing or choosing; or as Conrad
describes it "the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside,
enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the
likeness ofone ofthose misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral
illumination ofmoonshine" (Heart ofDarkness, 7). In this the machinery has not been
replaced by something else, we will still find wheels and gears and a dead pumpkin-
head frightening our neighbors if we look, but we find ourselves within another
'machine' designing these wheels and gears, and we do not know how to describe this
machine. We can see its effects in Darwin's discussion of intentionality and
evolution:Although an organ may not have been originally formed for some special
purpose, if it now serves for this end we are justified in saying that it is
specially contrivedforit. Onthesameprinciple,ifamanweretomakeamachinefor some
special purpose, but were to use old wheels, springs, and pulleys, only slightly
altered, the whole machine, with all its parts, might be said to be specially
contrived for that propose. Thus throughout nature almost every part of each living
being has probably served, in a slightly modified condition, for diverse purposes,
and has acted in the living machinery o f many ancient and distinct specific forms.
(197)Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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Dennett understands this as a kind ofinterpretative functionalism, where there are
neither "real functions ... [nor] real meanings": "Mother Nature doesn't commit
herself explicitly and objectively to any functional attributions; all such
attributions depend on the mind-set of the intentional stance, in which we assume
optimality in order to interpret what we find" (Intentional Stance, 320). How this
intentional stance arises is of course obscure. Intentionality in this case is only
normative within a particular interpretation or framework.Evolution describes a
temporal unfolding of seeming intentionality, in which possibilities exist only as
a function o f changes which have particular applications that can result,
according to particular complex etiologies, by an accident o f design, in a seeming
intentionaleffect. InConrad'ssensesurvivingislikelisteningorbeing"onthewatchfor the
sentence, for the word that would give me the clue to the faint uneasiness inspired
by this narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy
night-air o f the river" (Heart o fDarkness, 45). Function organizes what is the
case into possibilities for further functions, propelled by change. What is this
change? Evolutionary theory instantiates change as a particular kind o f time,
mapping or mimicking the physics o f time into our own being, our own bodies and
minds as extensions of all animal bodies and minds.We exist within a non-
teleological (not described by function), non-purposeful machine, that we totalize
into "Mother Nature" or "Logic" or "Physics". And yet there is a difference between
such intentional fictions (as ways o f animating the descriptive laws o f science)
and the great Christian AI, the Virgin Mary, that Adams calls a "goddess because o
f her force; she was the animated dynamo; she was reproduction-- the greatest and
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mysterious o f all energies" (384). The modem dynamo that Adams opposes to the
Virgin has force but no value; it reproduces by organizing human beings into
patterns o f force but it cannot be embodied: artists "felt a railway train as
power; yet they... constantly complained that the power embodied in a railway train
could never be embodied in art" (388). This, if nothing else, will force art to
change.Our seeing ourselves blinks the context of our being ourselves into sight,
illuminating not the world as a clock, but the force o f succession turning us into
a clock to measure this succession. Ontologically this blinking o f our world and
ourselves into mutualvisibilitydeterminesthelimitofourbeingorofourunderstanding.
Thislimitand this blinking constitutes the symbolic condition of our temporality.
1The discussion of soul-making is in the letter to George and Georgiana Keats,
February 14,1819.2 We can say both kinds ofjustification but only show the
consequence of this saying, that is, our involvement within and commitment to our
language (games).Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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4Keats' Version ofFinnegans WakeKeats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" works its way
"[b]etween a stare and a sough" ('sough':moan,sigh;FW264.10-11).
Theumseemstopresentitselfassomethingto know. But this knowing is senseless unless
the um can mean something. Thus, the poem finds itself mediating between the
demands and the grammar o f 'being' and 'meaning'. The um wears its content, speaks
its pictures, a tattooed head. Does the poetic voice or
KeatsortheUmanswerthequestionsthispoeticvoiceputstotheum? Thisisthefirst set o f
questions:(I) "What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape o f deities or
mortals, or of both, in Tempe or the dales o f Arcady? What men or gods are these?
What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipe and
timbrels? What wild ecstasy?"If not an answer, the response is "unheard melodies":
the water in the pictured tea pot boils: the youth is beneath the trees as if
contained in this unheard song, unable to kiss his beloved,sheunabletofadeintoloss.
Isthisananswer?This is the second set o f questions:(II) "who are these coming to
the sacrifice? To what green altar, 0 mysterious priest, leads't thou that heifer
lowing at the skies, and all her silken flanks with garland drest? What little town
by the sea shore, or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, is emptied o f this
folk, this pious mom?"Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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A little town (either amidst mountains or beside the sea) will remain silent. Keats
animates the town by addressing it by 'thou' and claiming that it will not speak
(as if it could) or tell asoulwhyitisdesolate.
Suchsilentform,thesemarblemenandmaidensoverwroughtin passion and into stasis (as if
art in its purity translates the human into something alien) seduce us into this
beyond, renouncing the aboutness o f thought: "Thou, silent form, dosttease us out
of though as doth eternity". These forms tease Keats into questions, which seem
answered by default, by virtue o f a rhetorical latching onto the clarity o f form
and content offered by the aphorism in the last stanza: "'Beauty is truth and truth
beauty'" (henceforth abbreviated as "BTTB"). "BTTB" pretends to be a synthetic
statement givingus, what Cora Diamond critically calls, "an explanatory account
ofthe relation between thinking and the standards proper to it. So we may look for
metaphysical truths to which our thinking ought to properly correspond" (13).For
Helen Vendler "BTTB" is the wake of the "complex mind . . . which we came to know
in the opening stanza of the ode" (149). She posits the mind as that which
functionally unites, enacts and is described by the languages of truth and
sensation. Although I think Keats wants to introject philosophical standards for
truth into aesthetic experience (see Vendler, 147-52), the "BTTB" equation
functions not as a statement offactortheory;itisnotaknowledgeclaim.
Vendlerarguesthatthis"riddlingmotto" articulates this identity as an expression o f
the urn's language within a Platonic realm
whereBeautyandTruthhavea"simultaneousandidenticalexistence"(149). Thus,she believes
that this statement is a prepositional statement about this Platonic realm. Vendler
criticizesthisasafailureofdiction. Sheconfusestheanalysisofhowthisknowledge
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without permission.
claim works (either as a proposition or within the poem) with the analysis ofthe
effect this claim has on the meaning of the poem, as if'"Beauty is truth, truth
beauty5" answers the motives o f Keats in writing the poem or, anthropomorphically,
o f the poem itself in 'speaking5.Can meaning be equated with motive? Motive is not
a cause of the words, nor doesitdeterminetheirunderstandability.
Theascriptionofmotiveconceptualizes intentionality as an external interpretative
frame to the poem. The effect ofthese last lines, Vendler argues, while incomplete
and "not structurally complex enough to be adequate .. . to what we know o f
aesthetic experience - o r indeed to human experience generally5 (152), determines
the relation between Truth and Beauty as "constitutive o f creative expression, and
the mind is permitted its allegorizing, interrogatory, and prepositional
functions5(151). Inheruseof'adequate,5Vendlerassumesthatadaequatio,the
correspondence ('equal to5in a number of senses) between statement and world (in
this case experience) describes the criterion oftruth for poetry or for language in
general orfor Keats. The fact that she claims that Truth and Beauty function as
representative concepts in two different kinds of languages articulating, at least
for Keats, different domains, suggests that Keats is pressuring the philosophical
use (or meaning) of 'know5. He is not claiming that we only "need to
know5"BTTB5because it is adequate to our experience; how would we determine its
adequacy? "'Truth is Beauty5is not a statement of predication but an identity
statement, and thus it articulates different aspects or appearances as a unity. In
this it is a name, like 'the duck-rabbit picture5. Faced with such a picture we can
recognize a duck or a rabbit or a duck-rabbit picture. If I say "Duck isReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
Rabbit,RabbitDuck'thisisonlytrueofthispicture. Itisnotafactlike'thatisapicture ofa
duck.' One does not say 'that is a picture ofa duck-rabbit picture'. 'Duck is
Rabbit' is a metaphysical statement not an epistemological statement, and thus not
subject to any criteria of adequation. If I always only see either a duck or a
rabbit then how do I recognize the picture as a duck-rabbit picture? In fact it can
function as that kind of picture depending on how I use it. As Wittgenstein says,
"I can see it in various aspects according to the fiction I surround it with" (PI
p.210). If I have different pictures of ducks and rabbits I might then say 'these
are not all duck-rabbit pictures,' or 'Duck is not always Rabbit'.If we read other
poems with different claims would we then say 'Truth is not Beauty'? Would such a
claim counter Keats' claim? Because this is not a statement of predication we
cannot compare it to any experience. It remains a statement about the relation
between the words 'Truth' and 'Beauty' for the um, that is, a rule about how to use
these words within um language. If another um in another poem, or maybe if an
artificially intelligent computer described 'Beauty' and 'Truth' as non-identical
we would conclude this is a different language. This difference would again be a
metaphysical difference. We could not adjudicate between them and say this
statement is closer to my experience. Weneverexperienceanynon-
predicativeidentityrelationoftheform'Xis Y'. We use identity statements as the ends
ofthought. As it does in the ode, an identity statement describes the limits ofmind
or world, a description ofthe possibilities ofmeaning available for perception or
interpretation.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
The um is a thing which we ventriloquize into speaking a truism whose meaning
cannot be determined, whose epistemological value and application to our experience
remainsmysterious. Sowhyventriloquizethisclaim? Tobeteasedoutofthoughtisto face the
ontological limits o f our thinking through language. All we can know as mortals
onearthisthelimitofourknowing. AllofKeats'previousquestionswere epistemological
questions, questions of fact. None of these questions are answered. If our
conclusions about the unanswerability ofthese questions remain within an
epistemological register we would say visual representations or ocular sensations
are not commensurablewithlanguage. Theyareonlycommensurablewithineithertheworldor
within the unity o f experience o f a subject. Thus, V endler's appeal to a complex
mind means she interprets their unity as a function of some transcendental subject.
An interpretation that described the unity between language and the visual as a
given o f the world would have to describe human vision and language as natural
systems under the aspectofasingleworld.
Eithersolutionfailstorecognizethatthepoemreframesthese questions outside oftheir
epistemological force: not a duck or a rabbit but a duck-rabbit picture without any
other possible pictures.The commensurability o f the allegorical, interrogatory,
and prepositional functions of the mind with the "silent form" of the um is
determined, by Vendler, in a disguised allegory between the complex mind betrayed
in the poem with the interpretive possibilities thatallowustodiscoverthismind.
Sheunderstandsthatinan"artcorrespondingtothe sense of sight, Truth as well as
Beauty has become a constitutive expression" (151). Constitutive ofwhat? Ofthat
which is expressed? Then the identity oftruth and beautyReproduced with permission
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constitute the possibilities of allegory, interrogation and assertion
simultaneously as a functionofthemindofthepoet-readerandoftheurn'slanguageormind.
Thiswould mean that art means what it is, and what it is can be described by
allegory, through interrogation, and as propositions. The allegories, questions and
propositions (including "BTTB"), however, do not function as allegories, questions
or propositions in the poem.The um is speaking about the poem not itself. The poem,
however, is not an expression by or of the um, except maybe in the last stanza. The
poem describes the um as the limit o f knowing. "BTTB" expresses the only thing the
um can be or say if it were animate: 'I am the limit o f your knowing'. Thus the
allegories and questions and propositions can not be about the um but about
language and its rules o f description. "BTTB" is more like a rule of description,
and therefore not a constitutive expression. The um is not expressing itself in our
language, but offering a rule under which we could describe it if we could
construct a language game with this identity as an ontological condition. "BTTB"
does not construct being or meaning or urns or minds; it describes a rule for
counting something as real within a language that can describe the same thing as
true or beautiful in all and every case. Does the urn's use of such a language game
(it may be that this statement is the only statement in such a game, and thus it is
all one can know about such a game) constitute it within that language game? No:
the urn's language isconfined to this statement alone, as such the statement does
not express anything about theumforus.
Wemightbetemptedtorecognizethisphraseasalinguisticequivalentof the um within our
language game: a symbol ofthe visual. But the um remains absent. The statement
gives us an ontological rule by which to recognize a language that includes
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without permission.108
both the epistemological questions ofthe poetic voice (at least until the last
stanza) and theworldpicturedontheum.Wearenotgiventhatlanguage. Suchalanguagewould
constitute,inKeats'terms,amindorsoulthatisnothuman. Thus,theconfusionover who is
speaking in the last stanza: has the narrator died? and who makes the claim that
"BTTB" is all you need to know? The seeming self-sufficient clarity o f the
aphorism does not express a proposition, nor represent a denouement within some
unified perspective. Such a unified perspective is not possible and such a
proposition would be senseless withinthe logic o f the earlier questions."BTTB" is
a limit between the language game described by the initial
epistemologicalquestionsandtheworldonthevasedescribedinthesequestions. This
worldneverspeaks. Theum,thelimitwhich'noone'or'thing'inthatworldcanknow or see,
speaks to us. The um seems a topographically inverted Cartesian theater, and speaks
therefore as both a world (for its pictures) and a mind for us. This animation, I
think, seduces Vendler into using "constitutive expression" in describing "BTTB".
This could only be an expression if the identity between Truth and Beauty
constituted the urns animation, somehow defining the mechanics or the organics o f
um life and consciousness (these are identical here). I think Vendler understands
Truth and Beauty as the constitutive facts o f two necessary but not sufficient
languages determining a mind as a mind (as both conscious and alive):Haunting these
odes, up to this point, is the absence o f any real exploration o f the "lower"
senses o f taste and touch; and o f these odes is itself incomplete as a metaphor
for Keats' total experience of art as he knew it in poetry- itsReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
dependence on the senses, its inceptions in reverie, its fertile, constructive
activity in the mind, its powerful embodiment within a resistant medium, its
reception by the greeting spirit, its representational validity, its allegorizing
tendency, its luxurious beauty, its philosophical truth, its momentary glimpse o f
divinity, its sense o f active intellectual and critical power and mastery" (152).
This experience is translated into a set o f 'languages,' which prove
"aesthetically grotesque",butwhichexhibit"amind"unwillingtoabandontheselanguages.
Ifthe identity o f Truth and Being functions as an ontological claim at the limit
between different language games then this picture o f poetry as the 'constitutive
expression' o f a mind fails. Vendler's analysis highlights a disjunction between
this experience of poetry and these languages o f the mind, between existential
phenomenalism and a transcendental aesthetics, experience and construction. Poetry,
therefore, for Vendler, becomes the continual attempt to construct a language
(constitutive expressions) adequate to this experience.The requirment that these
languages overcome this disjunction (between the experience ofreading, or seeing,
and what is said, the content ofwhat is read or seen) hypostatizes this aesthetic
experience as separate from the languages that describe it (if only partially) and
enact it. This aesthetic experience, however, is always and only some set of such
languages. Someone might answer that the experience is not restricted to reading
the words. While this is true, to imagine poetry as the site o f some experience is
toenterintoandfunctionwithinitslanguage. Theinadequacyofpoetrywouldbethe
inadequacyoflanguage. TheinadequacyoflanguageinthesensewithwhichVendleris using
'inadequacy', however, is primarily a function o f the incommensurability o f
languageReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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with all o f our sensory information. It is unclear whether something can 'mean'
outside of language. (This does not mean that one should not or does not profoundly
distrust the meanings within language). Poetic experience, therefore, exists to the
degree with which we respond to its language as a language. There is no remainder
only different poetries definingdifferentlanguagegames.
Iftheidealizedadequacyisnotsomeidealizedworkof art then it is simply our experience
ofthese supposedly inadequate language games.Underlying the claim that this
language fails is the demand that poetry not only describe but reenact our
experience as its own, that it be animate and conscious.By such a standard art will
continually fail until it is translated into a linguistic being. Thus the
inadequacy o f the ending o f the Ode is because it is only the urn that is
animate. Such animation, however, cannot be described through a correspondence
theory o f truth (even a metaphoric one). How does one measure the adequacy o f a
language to describe or enact aesthetic experience and not include the aesthetic
experience of that poem itself? The demand for an animate poem becomes the
necessity o f a perspective that includes both the poem and our experience, and
therefore becomes a demand for God. The demand for adequacy is thus incoherent
because no poetic language could ever beadequate, nor in fact can adequacy even be
determined orjudged. What Vendler is describing as inadequate is her realization
that "BTTB" cannot serve as an epistemological claim about either poetry or the
vase and as a description of our experience of the urn through either poetry or
experience. "BTTB" is inadequate as a 'constitutive expression' of a mind. Vendler
assumes that such an expression can be measured against experience. There is no
language game or experience which one can measure with "BTTB" as a eitherReproduced
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a proposition or an expression. In other words one cannot get outside of one's
aesthetic experience nor outside of one's languages in order to judge them.In this
sense "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'" is arbitrary, an expression of an
ontological commitment that cannot bejudged. It might illustrate our life but not
interpret it. Thus "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" offers an interpretative frame.
Ontological criteria offer interpretive frames, and thus interpretation cannot
constitute them, but is limited by them.
ThisiswhatWittgensteinmeans,Ithink,whenheclaimsthatjustificationmustend or else it
would not be justification.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
5The Distance Between the Mind and the SoulThe semantic distance between the two
parts o f a single marginal phrase in Finnegans Wake describes the distance between
what is stake in the difference between a mind and a soul. I am not sure what kind
o f claim the concept o f the soul can have on us.I do not think it can be used
coherently within the systems of meaning within which the modem world and societies
are found. And yet I am driven to its use when trying to describe (let alone
understand) the mutual and equally powerful claims Finnegans Wake,Philosophical
Investigations, and cognitive philosophy have on me. I do not think this is just a
personal anomaly or perversion, but it is the consequence ofwhat is at stake in all
three.Thisisapictureofthemindasa"mindfactory"inFinnegans Wake: "ANTITHESIS OF
JUSTIFIED BY OUR CERTITUDE. EXAMPLES." (FW282.R4)How these describe a mind and a
soul entails understanding what kind of claims any description of the mind or soul
can have on us. Negotiating the distance between what we might call a mind and what
we might imagine as a soul enacts (or describes) the kind of moral self-reflection
that Augustine described in his Confessions: "But while he was speaking, Lord, you
turned my attention back to myself. You took me up from behind,Notes for this
chapter begin on page 165Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.113
my own back where I had placed myself (Ps. 20.13) and you set me before my face
(Ps.49.2.1) so that I could see how vile I was, how twisted and filthy, covered
with sores and ulcers. (Confessions, Vm.vii: derived from Seneca De Ira 2.36.1).
How is this kind o f self-reflection enacted without a God? What kind o f moral
self-reflection can we construct or inhabit when our ontological limits are
constructed as a conflicting set of fragments of science, technology, social
prejudice, anachronistic religion, psychologicalfantasy, and so on? In Finnegans
Wake this moral self-reflection, or rather the confession that is involved in
attempting to read it, is directed at the limit(s) between sense and nonsense.In
order to provide a place to begin from which to measure the difference between mind
and soul I will provide very brief sketches o f the soul as Aquinas conceptualized
it (as the most complete and coherent presentation of the soul)1and of the mind as
it is broadly understood in cognitive science.The soul, or let's say the
distinction between divinity and deity, is an interpretative definition expressed
through a set of stances toward the future (Auguria), toward oneself in relation to
the totality of the world, and toward others as human. Aquinas describes these
distinctions as expressing the distinction between the animate and inanimate. He
describes the soul "as the first principle of life in those things in our world
which live; forwe call living things animate, and those things which have no life,
inanimate. Now life is
shownprincipallybytwoactivities,knowledgeandmovement"(SummaIa.75.I). Aquinas is
careful to establish that "not every principle of vital action is a soul, for then
the eye would be a soul." The soul is not related to the body as in a burning coal
heat is to theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.114
coal--butasparttowhole,likethehumanhandistothebody. Butthisanalogyis misleading. As
Aquinas asserts in Disputed Questions on the Soul, the soul is not a diminished and
inessential part like a hand, but the soul "as the [substantial] form ofthe body
has the role of fulfilling or completing \perficiens\ the human species". This is
Aquinas version ofAristotles definition ofthe soul as "the first entelechia
(completion, actuality) of a natural body that potentially has life" (De Anima,
n.412a). There is a tension in Aquinas' use of Aristotelian hylomorphism. Aristotle
describes a kind of functional unity between form and matter that could be
understood to rule out the immortality o f the soul, yet such immortality is
required within Aquinas' Christian theology. This is a problem ofboth identity
(what survives? ifmy body is absent in what sense can my soul be identified with
me?) and subsistence (how can form exist separatefrom matter?). Aquinas solves this
problem by arguing that only something which is not mattercouldpercievematter.
Thustheremustexist,therefore,anincorporealsomething thatisnotboundtothebody'sdecay.
Thisisimportantherebecauseitdescribesa tension between our being human, which
requires the unity o f body and soul, and our
involvementwithinthetotalityoftheworld. Aquinas'descriptionofthesoulasself-
subsistent (because non-corporeal) leads to a description of being human within the
greater totality of the world described by the soul (and ultimately by God):
Therefore, since the human soul, insofar as it is united to the body as a form,
also has its existence raised above the gody and does not depend on it, it is clear
that the soul is established on the borderline between corporeal and separate
(purely spiritual)substances. (DisputedQuestionsontheSoulIc)2Reproduced with
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This means that the soul is an interprative limit (not causal) for both my world
and my being human.The mind enacts this relationship between the totality o f the
world and the particularity ofthe person from the inside as it were, as the
difference between the causal functioning ofthe brain and the causal history
ofevolution. What Joyce calls a "mind factory," as a picture ofthis doubleness, is
a factory ofsensation and thought and a factory making minds. The mind, as a mind
factory, describes the causal mechanisms through which mental functions are
constituted. One way o f construing the mind is as a list o f problems to be
solved, as, for example, the "essential twelve issues" o f cognitive science:
"beliefsystems, consciousness, development, emotion, interaction, language,
learning, memory, primary perception, performance, skill, and thought".3 The
relation between these problems is complicated and not understood. All ofthese
descriptions of mental abilities are interpretations o f what we are and how we
function. Cognitive philosophy attempts to test and analyze these interpretations
by determining their causal function.The point in any cognitive theory where the
relation between the causal functioning o f the mind produces the possibility o f
interpretation does not simply try to resolve or dissolve Cartesian dualism, but in
effect construes the mental (meaning, interpretation, signification, valuation,
involvement and so on) as ontological (as having the force o f the actual). Any
critique o f metaphysics must analyze this point o f interaction as the fundamental
site of ontological concern in cognitive science (other sciences are less concerned
with the relation between meaning and being except as a methodologicalReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
concern; this relationship, however, is the substantive problem in cognitive
science). Herbert Simon describes the mind as "a system that produces thought,
viewed at a relatively high level of aggregation: say, at or above the level of
elementary processes that require 100 milliseconds or more for their
execution.. . . The primitives o f mind, at the level I wish to consider, are
symbols, complex structures o f symbols and processes that
operateonsymbols"(AndroidEpistemology,24). Inanessayentitled"TheComputer Model o f
the Mind," N. Block further describes such a symbol system:The way to discover
symbols in the brain is to first map out rational relations among states o f mind
and then identify aspects o f these states that can be thought
ofassymbolicinvirtueoftheirfunctions. Functioniswhatgivesasymbolits identity, even
the symbols in English orthography, though this can be hard to appreciate because
these functions have been made rigid by habit and convention. (830).4As a symbol
system the brain is described by it various functions. Functions, however, are a
special kind of cause in which the process proceeding through causal mechanisms
gain meaning within the broader context of the environment in which they have
meaning or significance(thereisagrammaticalrelationbetween'function'and'ought').
Tosay somethinghasafunctionisofferaninterpretation. Theenvironmentortheverybiology
ofa creature can offer such an interpretation ifthe function ofa biological
mechanism allows a creature to survive or to replicate itself or when the mechanism
itself survives or replicates itself. This is another description o f the causal
logic justifying the description ofPollock's Oscar as animate.Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
The distance between the constitution o f being human as a soul or as a mind
reflects a continuum from interpretative definitions describing the limit of our
being human (soul)tothefunctional/causalmodelsincognitivescience(mind).
Thiscontinuum describes an historical development in the kinds of metaphors,
analogies and models used to describe the constitutive relation between an 'I' and
the world: wax, tablet, mirror, lamp, camera obscura, wind-harp, reed, plant
[organism], homunculus, container, theater, bicycle plus cyclist, society of
agents.5 Every model includes both interpretative elements, often setting out what
has to be explained (that is, being human, animate, intelligent,
conscious,havingintentionality). Thesignificanceofthemovefromtheearlierinterpretive
definitions and the later functional models is not their exclusion o f the other,
but rather in the way they highlight the difference within their own description
between the interpretive pole (the inanimate/ animate distinction, for example) and
the functional pole (howitworks).
Cognitivesciencewantstoturnafunctionalmindintoaninterpretive soul.Wittgenstein
addressees the problem I am here calling "measuring the distance between mind and
soul" with the following question:"The feeling o f an unbridgable gulf
between.consciousness and brain-process: how does it come about that this does not
come into the considerations o f our ordinary life?" (PI?412)This picture of a
dualism between consciousness and causal functioning ofthe brain, "accompanied by
slight giddiness," arises when I "turn my attention in a particular way on to my
own consciousness, and, astonished, say to myself: THIS is supposed to beReproduced
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produced by a process in the brain!". In turning in this way I am trying to know my
phenomenologicalexperienceofconsciousnessassomethingcaused. Wittgenstein describes
a picture o f someone trying to do this:It was a particular act ofgazing that I
called doing this. I stared fixedly in front of me--but not at any particular point
or object. My eyes were wide open, the brows not contracted (as they mostly are
when I am interested in a particular object). No suchinterestprecededthisgazing,
Myglancewasvacant;oragainlikethatof someone admiring the illumination of the sky
and drinking in the light. (PI?412)The seeming paradox ofbrain states producing
consciousness arises because ofthe impossibility o f finding the object
"consciousness" within the logic described by cause. There is in fact no such
object. There is nothing for this "THIS" to pick out; to point to the boundary o f
consciousness from inside consciousness will result in a continual oscillation
between pointing to the world and then to myself, and in this case I am movingfrom
my thought allegorized as my brain to the world conceived, however, as that of
whichIamaware. Thismovementisanattempttodescribeaphenomenologicalwhatin relation to
what is understood as a physical cause. To say "This is produced by a brain-
process" makes sense to say in the context of an experiment, or one might add in a
psychiatric examination, or even in a philosophical therapy begun trying to cure a
"slight giddiness," but not in our ordinary language.We have reached a limit point
because of an incommensurability between phenomenological experience and physical
causation. This incommensurability, however, isnotnecessarilyaproblem.
TheparadoxisgeneratedwhenthepictureofagapbetweenReproduced with permission of the
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consciousness and brain is not part o f a coherent language game (in which it would
be an ordinaryexpression).
causallanguage)andphenomenologicalexperiencebeingmeaningfultokens. Thisis achieved
in Wittgenstein's example by opening someone's skull and stimulating his or her
braininsuchawayastocausehimorhertoseelight. Inthisexample"brainfunction" and
phenomenological experience (light) are defined as related concepts. The effect of
brain stimulation (whatever it is) is meaningful within the experimental context
whose purpose it is to construct causal relations and investigate the status of
particular concepts. Thus we can say that questions about the relation between
consciousness and the brain (and puzzlement over this relation) make sense within
certain language games so constituted. But these language games are constructed in
order that they may investigate (and explain within a set o f language games
cognate to that defined and enacted in theexperiment) our brain and our phenomenal
experience as they both function everyday. One o f the difficulties in science, the
one that experiments are constructed to mediate, is how to apply or how to
generalize from experimental data to the objects, events or effects being studied.
Experiments, which are designed for a reason, are never separate from their
application (although they may be problematic). We can speak o f a difference
between making sense within a language game and making sense o f a language game,
but this does not mean that these two uses o f 'making sense' are disconnected. The
scientific context (or language game) Wittgenstein describes is coherent because
"THIS" can pick out something understood within the language game. The phrase "THIS
is produced by aReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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brainprocess"mightbeusedcausallyinsuchlanguagegames. Thesegamesthemselves are
developed within certain limits and with certain applications.The problem that
Wittgenstein pictures is the impossibility in ordinary language of conceptualizing
as objects or as meaningful terms either consciousness or brain functions. What I
am calling the application of cognitive science language games (in which both
objects and concepts can be suitably defined, where, for example, aspects of
consciousness are defined as kinds o f effects), however, requires a special claim
about bothconsciousness and these brain functions being ours, attaching to our
inhabitation o f this pronoun (let's say our use of it to define ourselves as human
beings). Such a definition, like Aquinas' picture o f the soul, is not only an
epistemological proposition, but it determines the scope or limit of the language
game in which such claims can be made.This scope or limit is part of the
application. How words make sense within languagegames (horizontal sense) depends
on the vertical sense operating through 'our'. What this 'our' means is always at
issue. By this I do not mean whether a person can count as an average person, or
whether they are a man or a woman, or whether this 'our' can be usedto define a
particular group (these might be at issue, but they are not always at issue). This
'our' marks a form o f life as a limit towards which my life or any human life
enacts itself as meaningful. Thus, the disjunction between "consciousness and
brain-process" is not simply a problem for experiment. It is, however, senseless as
an epistemological problem within ordinary language, but it is not senseless as a
semantic problem (or a semantic challenge or response or form or limit). This may
mean simply that poetry is ordinary language, but I think it suggests that
epistemological nonsense (or as CavellReproduced with permission of the copyright
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would say, our temptations toward skepticism or fanaticism) make visible the limits
in relation to which we negotiate the ways in which we make sense to ourselves and
to others (and this is why these limits seem ontological).The meaning ofthis
scientific language game is determined not only in our ability to map the
experience "seeing light" and "brain stimulation" into our ordinary experience, but
in it being 'our' experience, 'our' brain', and 'our' questions. The experiment
makes sense because another person can stand in for all other people (within a
certain statistical model).
Thisstandinginmeansthattheexperimentismeaningfulwithinasymbolsystem (where people
can stand in for each other as examples of a person) outside of which the
experiment cannot get. This symbol system (which expresses the meaning o f any
particular person as a human person) is what Thoreau highlights by imagining a form
of life which can view people from both the inside and the outside. His
construction o f this limit-person, however, was not part of an epistemological
language game about what people think or are thinking or see or are seeing and so
on. His picture imagines the limit ofbeing human (in all its dimensions, including
our knowing) as being humanity or
humanityconscious(ifthese'people'arefromonotherplanets). Thisislikeaskingforthe
meaning ofbeing human as opposed to the meaning of'human being'.W e can see this if
we compare where the semantic weight lies in the phrase 'how are consciousness and
brain states related in our ordinary life?' (a slightly altered versionof
Wittgenstein's paradox) when used in ordinary life and in some relevant scientific
language game. In ordinary life Wittgenstein wants to say 'how are "consciousness"
and "brain states" related in our ordinary life?' 'Consciousness' and 'brain
states' make littleReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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sense in this usage. In cognitive science, when consciousness and brain state are
sufficiently defined experimentally (or conceptually), the semantic pressure should
be marked "how are consciousness and brain states related in 'our' ordinary life?"
One could include "ordinary life" as well, but it would simply be a further
elaboration ofthe use of"our". I highlight "our" here not because ofepistemological
reasons (as iftempted by solipsism), but rather because it is our species being,
our interchangability (statistically) within the experiment that marks both its
target (what is to be explained) and the limit the experiment is trying to define
(how do human brains function as human consciousness?).This is the same 'our'
Thoreau's thought experiment highlighted. In cognitive science, this 'our' defines
a limit within a complex set of language games organized around causality.
Thoreau'suseof'our'marksashiftinglimit(whatcountsasoursandwho counts in his use
[my, your, our use]) within a complex set of language games organized around
meaning and interpretation.Because Wittgenstein makes visible human beings (as
forms of life) within language games (or in relation to their failure) all limits
can be analogized as some version ofthelimitbetweensenseandnonsense.
Senseandnonsensecanfigureasanontological limit because we enact this limit as the
form o f our activities; that is we constitute this limit in our language games and
their failure through the way in which our activities (physical, linguistic,
interpersonal and so on) mean to and for us. This kind of limit is different from
interpretive limits like those between animate and inanimate (a classificatory
limit) or betweenconsciousnessandbrainstatesorbetweencauseandinterpretation.
Thesenseofthese limits is expressed by the ways in which they configure and express
sense orReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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nonsense, and thus they are judgments. Although, sense and nonsense can be used as
judgments as well, they have a further sense in that they describe (self-
reflexively) grammar. Wittgensteinasserts"Essenceisexpressedbygrammar"(371).
Thisrather cryptic claim, which one might first reads as 'whatever something is is
expressed by our use of language within the order that is our social and personal
practices, normative linguistic rules, criteria ofjudgment, knowledge, biology, and
so on that constitutes our formoflife.'
Thiskindofreadingfollowsfromareplacementofterms. Itremains unclear within what kind
o f language game it could function. The next remark seems to offer a target for it
to do its work:Consider: "The only correlate in language to an intrinsic necessity
is an arbitrary rule. It is the only thing which one can milk out o f this
intrinsic necessity into a proposition" (PI?372)"Essence" is translated into
"intrinsic necessity". "Grammar" is translated into "arbitrary rule". This is a way
of interpreting 371 in relation to the Tractarian picture of the relation between a
proposition and the world. Wittgenstein had argued that essence was expressed
through the logical form o f both objects and propositions (this logical form being
tautological). These tautologies order the world (actually order the limits of the
world) accordingtoanessentialnecessity:"Inlogicnothingisaccidental:
ifathingcanoccurin an atomic fact the possibility of that atomic fact must already
be prejudged in the thing" (2.012). A 'thing' is an object. These objects are
essential parts o f atomic facts (2.011). "The world is determined by the facts,
and by these being all the facts"(l.l 1). These objects (of which Wittgenstein
never gave an example) constitute facts according to theReproduced with permission
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possibilities that "must lie in the nature of the object" (2.0123). Thus, knowing
an object (and the facts which it can constitute) requires that one know the
"internal qualities" that
describe"thepossibilitiesofitsoccurrenceinatomicfacts"(2.0123). Thenecessityof
relationsdeterminingobjectsisnotfullymatchedbyanecessityinlogicalnotation. Any
symbol system has accidental elements (the shape o f notations), but the logic o f
the notation is such that once a system is established a logic o f relations is
established: "if we have determined anything arbitrarily, then something else must
be the case. (This results from the essence o f the notation)." (3.342).6 The
picture o f language use inInvestigations, however, rejects any necessity separate
from the conventions and practices orderingthegrammarofourlanguagegames. The
Tractatuspictureofnecessitycan only be retained if it is understood as an arbitrary
rule. But such a rule is neither an object nor an internal relation.Has
Wittgenstein displaced the immanence of possibility described by the internal
qualities of an object into the immanent possibilities described or expressed as
grammar? The next remark provides a kind o f answer, reasserting the link between
essence and grammar: "Grammar tells what kind of object anything is. (Theology as
grammar)" (?373). An object is not defined by its internal qualities, by any
immanent property. It emerges as an object within the logic of criteria and the
actuality of practice (see alsoPI?293). Wittgenstein is placing a kind of
hylomorphic pressure on language. That something is remains an absolute limit. This
limit is expressed through what something is. Grammar can seem a theology because
it expresses that something is (existence: an analogue for matter) through the form
(essence: what kind o f object anything is)Reproduced with permission of the
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somethinghasforuswithinanygrammar. Inthissentence"[F]orus"means'forusas human
beings': An arrow drawn on a page points "only in the application that a living
beingmakesofit. Thispointingisnotahocus-pocuswhichcanbeperformedonlybythe soul"(PI?
454). Wittgensteinunderstandsustobejustifiedinouractions,our understanding, our
meaning, our knowing to follow (or come to a stop) in the forms of life that
constitute us as human beings: "What has to be accepted, the given, is --so one
could say--formsoflife"(PIp.226). Thisgivendescribesthelimitwithinwhichwefunction,a
kind o f fundamental limit in practice because "only o f a human being and what
resembles (behaves like) a living human being can one say: it has sensations; it
sees; is blind; hears; isdeaf; is conscious or unconscious" (PI?281).The conceptual
difference between the inanimate and animate, however, describesan interpretive
limit. Imagining people as automata, "alone in my room", as if alone in my head, is
like making a fiction. If you stand in front of another person and imagine "this
seeming-person is a machine" you might either laugh and find these words
meaningless or "youwillproduceinyourselfsomekindofuncannyfeeling,
orsomethingofthesort... Seeing a living human being as an automaton is analogous to
seeing one figure as a limiting case or variant of another; the cross-pieces of a
window as a swastika, for example" (PI?421). There is nothing arbitrary about this
example; it might have been also seeing magical symbols in clouds or the course of
human life in the stars. An analogy cangenerate a poem, but if I imagine that this
course o f stars causes my character or determines the course of my life I am
speaking nonsense. How did I move from interpreting shapes or movements as like
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o f experiment that justify the use o f causal language? Someone who sees swastikas
in the cross-pieces of a window might be a Jew or a Nazi, or it might be 1939. But
if I see a human being as a machine how do I see myself? We are on the edge of a
moral abyss, an abyss Wittgenstein marks by his example. In fact he challenges the
reader to imagine a group of children as "mere automata; all their liveliness is
mere automatism." Such interpretations describe a limit between sense and nonsense;
the failure to understand that one has reached such a limit requires one to enter
into this nonsense as if it were a coherent language game, and thus a coherent
world and form o f life from which one views one's ordinary life as uncanny.If our
forms of life act as the ground ofjustification for our interpretations, it is not
a metaphysical ground about the world, but a defacto metaphysical ground for 'us'.
To say justification must stop or it would not be justification is to offer a
definition ofjustification: ajustification mustjustify, not be in need
ofjustification itself. It must be an unmovedmover.
perceivematterbecauseitisnotmadeofmatter. Thedifferencemakesperception possible.
Thus the soul is incorporeal and therefore self-subsistent, or immortal. Such a
model of perception is false if we take it for a theory about the mind (it violates
the laws ofconservationofmatterandenergy).
Itis,Ithink,however,notatheoryofthissort. The soul is not viewing the material
world as if on a screen. Rather the soul describes the
limitthatdeterminesperceptionasperception. Thesoulistheformofourlife,orrather
theformoflifethatisconstitutedpartlybyourmaterialperceptions. Thesoulisnotan entity
at all. In Wittgenstein, "forms of life" describes a limit concept that is the
ground ofReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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justification (for knowing, perceiving, understanding, acting and so on) because it
is itself the expression o f this knowing, perceiving, understanding, acting and so
on."So you are saying that human agreement decides what is true and what is false?"
- I t is what human beings say that is true and false; and they agree in the
language theyuse. Thatisnotagreementinopinionsbutinformoflife.(PI?241)This
agreement becomes visible as a ground in our interpretations o f each other as
human. Wittgenstein uses the concept o f form(s) o f life to describe the limit o f
grammar, o f sense and nonsense, that which describes the limit between language
games, our shifting involvement in language games. Our agreement in judgment, not
just in definition, is required in order that our application of criteria, as well
as the criteria themselves, in knowing, measuring, interpreting and so on, are
consistent enough to allow for meaning and communication (PI?242). The content of
our agreement is expressed in ourunderstanding and communication, but it is made
visible in our recognition o f each other ashuman.
Thus,formoflife,likeKant'scategoricalimperativeandGoodman'spictureof when art is
art (when it is an example of or is recognized as art), acts as a limit to these
conceptualizations of essence (what something is: good or art).Form o f life
functions as a ground only within our interpretations, that is, we can only use the
phrase 'form o f life' as justification when we have exhausted our answers to why
we do something. It cannot answer or explain how we do something without begging
the question. It does not function as a ground in our knowing, perceiving,
understanding and so on. Rather our form o f life is expressed in these actions.
Wittgenstein suggests that we are misled by our way ofjustifying our belief, for
example,Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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that something will happen in the future. We say, "This is a good ground, for it
makes the occurrence probable"'(PI?482). What this means, however, would be better
expressed as 'a good ground expresses probability'. This is a definition not an
explanation (or even ajustification).What kind ofground andjustification is enacted
inFinnegans Wake! It is not anepistemological ground, but rather it enacts the
fantasy Thoreau imagined o f seeing through another's eyes as if through God's. In
Finnegans Wake, the demand to "Renove the Bible" is answered, "by the grace of
Votre Dame", with "winding your hobbledehom" into a "dreambookpage" (579.10;
428.17-19). J.B. Steams in his discussion o f the use and representation o f dreams
in classical poetry, suggests that "the dream fills the role of messenger between
the divinities or the spirits of the dead and living mortals. Consequently, the
poet, who often regards himself as a priest o f the gods, sometimes receives
inspiration by means o f dreams, or, at least, assigns dream as his reason for
composing"(ix-x). Joyce creates a language that allows dreams o f this kind to be
spoken.Finnegans Wake becomes the intentional domain, a domain articulating the
possibility of aboutness, linking whatever might be this divinity, the soul, the
insubstantial, language itself, mind with the human, the physical, substantial,
language again, referring as opposed to being. This is at least one dimension ofthe
double speak behind Joyce's puns. Although one can extract dreams from the text,
versions ofPearl, The Divine Comedy, and ordinary dreams o f desire, fear, shame,
etc., it is the domain in which these dreams
functionthatformsthesubstanceofthetext. Ifthe Wakewereadreamthenitwouldbe about a
kind of psychology. The possibility for dreams to mean anything is a function of
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their functioning as a kind o f language or thinking separate from psychology, in a
way analogous to Frege's separation of logic from psychology (dreams can mean not
as dreams but within our interpretations, within our waking life, as descriptions
within language). Freud insures this public domain through his construction o f a
particular language game into which dream experience as the manifestation of the
content of our mind could be allegorized and therefore analyzed: in this way
allegory is transformed into a meta-language.In Finnegans Wake every attempt at
allegorical mapping shifts into another within the text, so that no stable language
game or meta-language can organize our experience, even if we want to call it a
dream. The linguistic aesthetic distortions Joyce puts English through conflates
whatever grammar is left with the ontological possibilities picked out, exposed,
created by this grammar (its ability to talk about itself as something, although
thing is a misanalogy here). Language is mapped onto itself in such a way that the
constitutive temporality enabling language (I will have to show what this means)
becomes itself the formalized limit between the private and the public, that is,
this limit is the form oflanguage. Thisformorlimit,whereFinnegans
Wakebecomesitselfaformof temporality, functions as if the human and divine had
collapsed into language. Any interpretative mapping that names a sentence to be
about god(s) or human(s) falls into contradiction. Instead the text articulates the
point or the moment, but these are again misanalogies (when does it mean?) that
calls forth the demand for this allegorizing. The text is neither human nor divine
but the condition for both materiality and the soul to matter to us, in the way
dreams matter to us. This might be called a language ofReproduced with permission
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conversion, where conversion becomes the determining change o f what we experience
as time, or a language of confessionFaced with "Som's wholed, all's parted"
(FW563.30) we ask ourselves or our book "what does it mean?". The sentence does not
seem to be about anything exactly, and any interpretation offered must
simultaneously construct an interpretive frame. In whatever particular story or
character elements one extracts from a sentence or a fragment of the Wake, it is
possible to trace two intentional strands: the language points 1) to an absent
sleeper, an intentional object that exists as a negative point, an impossible
beyond, and(2)simultaneouslytothe Wakeitself,aself-
reflectionorversionoftheentiretext: where each sentence functions as a justifying
aesthetic for the whole and as an example of this aesthetic: an exemplar, a
representative representation. In both cases the intentional dimension of language
has been lost, we cannot grasp either the sleeper or the Wake itself; the
intentional drive of any particular string of words points but not at anything
understandable. The effect ofthis is not to undermine the intentionality, the
aboutness of language, but rather serves to expose the mechanisms of intentionality
through which language functions, or rather we, as readers, become the mechanisms o
f intentionality, continually adjudicating between sense and nonsense as a way o f
figuring our relation toany particular set of words or phrases.Failed or vanishing
intentionality calls forward the demand and need forjustification, but not the
epistemological justification of a true belief, nor even of acting or action: the
demand is whether to count the World as Mind or to count myself within a world.7
Finnegans Wake highlights intentionality not as a logical or even a linguistic
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problem, but as a problem of confession. Finnegans Wake is a confession in which
both who confesses, what is confessed, who the confession is being directed to, who
actually does hear the confession, and what the moral consequences o f and response
to the confessionareblank. Thisblankness(theabsenceofintentionaltargets)enactsthe
grammar of Wittgenstein's remark that '"You can't hear God speak to someone else,
you can hear him only if you are being addressed'. --That is a grammatical remark"
(?717). This follows not simply from a definition of God, but from the way in which
human language configures its own boundaries.Bretano, in his Psychology From an
Empirical Standpoint, describes the intentional as what constitutes our mental
experience (partly as a counter to Cartesian dualism):Every mental phenomenon is
characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or
mental) inexistence o f an object, and what we might call, though not wholly
unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object (which is not to
be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental
phenomenon includes something as an object within itself, although they do not
always do so in the same way. In presentation something is presented, injudgment
something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired
and so on.(88)TobeaboutXseemstorequirearelationbetweenthinkingorathoughtandX. Any
relation would, however, require another relation to relate it to X. And thus if
intentionality is understood as a relation one would require an infinite number of
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relations.(R) The verbs 'refer', 'symbolize', 'suggest', 'point' are all black
boxes to capture this ineffable intentional relation. If, however, the object does
not actually exist (as in 'I hope to build the tallest building in the world'), the
problem has shifted to the status of this object. Brentano uses the model o f the
imaginary object as pattern for describing all o f our mental stances toward the
world. The aboutness o f our language is immanent within our attitudes and
statements. In many ways this is simply to replace the mystery of the aboutness o f
our language with the mystery o f the immanence o f the world in our statements.
Itcannotserveasanexplanation(acausalmodel)butonlyasadescriptionof our mental
experience (and this is, o f course, how phenomenologists normally understand it).
The status o f such language as description and not as explanatory (in a causal
sense) is what Wittgenstein means when he says "The criteria for the truth of the
confession that I thought such-and-such are not the criteria for a true description
of a process" (PI?222). The meaning of the confession lies in what can be
understood as a consequence ofthe truth that is "guaranteed the special criteria
oftruthfulness" (PI?222). If statements about my mental content are understood as
confessions they form a particular language game whose grammar (terms, claims,
possibilities, application, usage, scope) allows me to speak, as it were, in my
voice. Confessions in this sense are like dreams (as Wittgenstein suggests). We do
not know that we at night actually experienced the dreams we remember and report. I
am using 'actually' here as part o f a pseudo- scientific language game. What would
be a non-actual experience? An experience is an experience. Unlike my conscious
experience my experience o f a dream cannot be ?Reproduced with permission of the
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divorced from my telling it. I may be deceived about my dreams but I have no way of
determining this. The question in telling my dreams, like expressing my intentions
and making confessions, is about my truthfulness but not about the truth of my
claims. You can only determine their truth by judging my truthfulness:The question
whether the dreamer's memory deceives him when he reports the dream after waking
cannot arise, unless indeed we introduce a completely new criterion for the
report's 'agreeing' with the dream, a criterion which gives us a concept o f
'truth' as distinct from 'truthfulness' here. (PI p.222-23)In Investigations, the
'immanent objectivity' described by Brentano has been displaced into the normative
structures ordering and determining our language use, marking the relation between
sense and nonsense. Intentionality, broadly speaking, should be understood in
Wittgenstein as grammar. The intentionality of our language is not attached to the
world, but rather intentional statements (I wish that x; I expect y; I have a
suspicion about z) are matched by statements that describe their fulfillment,
verification, denial, failure, etc. (see ?? 136, 429, 458):"An order is own
execution." So it knows its execution, then even before it is there?--But that was
a grammatical proposition and it means: If an order runs "Do such-and-such" then
executing the order is called "doing such-and-such". (PI?458)Such a picture while
it makes our mental content accessible to others reduces aboutness to agreement and
usage. Approaching one kind of poetic voice approaches nonsense, when the rules or
grammar organizing intentionality in our ordinary language are excluded in
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poetic language such that nothing can satisfy as either a description o f
fulfillment (of intentionality) or as an adequate interpretation oftruth-value,
reference, intentionality, meaning. This changing o f the language into the non-
intentional (which is sometimes described as non-functional language) does not
dissolve language but redirects intentionality toward us such that we describe (in
our reading and in our person) the fulfillment oflanguage. The consequence ofthis
picture is that intentionality becomes a mode o f interpretation. People, texts,
artifacts, and machines have an intentionality if they agree with the normative
criteria for fulfilling an intention or for acting (or thinking orbelieving)
towards something.9The Wake pictures intentionality as a theological problem, or
rather as ourtheological dwelling in the world where all of our words, or rather
where "[e]very letter is a godsend" (FW269.17): "Plunger words what paddled verbed.
Mere man's mime: God has jest" (FW486.09-10). Humans attach themselves to the world
through representation (mime) while God attaches himselfthroughjest. What is the
nature of God'sjest? What is a God-joke (besides the created world and life
itself)? There could be no other joke for God. Finnegans Wake describes such a
world, a world that is a misrepresentation of God or ofa dreamer or ofa body or ofa
brain, mind, world or ofsome beyond: it is at every level o f organization, what
Wittgenstein calls, a grammatical joke:The problems arising through a
misrepresentation of our forms of language have the character o f depth. They are
deep disquietudes; their roots are as deep in us as the forms o f our language and
their significance is as great as the importance ofReproduced with permission of
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our language, -- Let us ask ourselves: why do we fell a grammatical joke to bedeep!
(And that is what the depth of philosophy is.) (PI?111)What are examples o f
grammatical jokes? 'Time passes (like a log).' I might explain how time can pass in
this way by saying that 'time flows like a river'. There is a sense to this kind of
talk, but it is not sense about time (but rather about our involvement in
language). I will recover this sense in chapter 11. The nonsense o f this time-talk
is various. I first picture time passing as if it were a thing passing by on a
river; this is an picture o f the present.
Ithenexplainthispicturebysayingtimeflowsliketheriveronwhichthelog passes; this is
an image o f past, present and future. Instead o f seeing that time cannot be both
ofthese, we might imaginethat this is part ofa complex picture oftime flowing (we
could add boats and call them words; and mention refuse against the riverbank and
callthese memories). Anna Livia Plurabelle forms just such a picture o f time as a
river. I f she is understood as a theory, then we have hypostasized a complex
analogy (that again has sense as an enactment o f our involvement and confusion
within language and the world, and is not a picture of either us or the world).
Grammatical jokes describe limits. This is one o f the best grammatical jokes in
Investigations: "In what circumstances should I say that a tribe had a chief? And
the chief must surely have consciousness. Surely we can't have a chief without
consciousness?" (PI?419) I am tempted to to describe an anatomy o f limits and
boundaries, but such an anatomy would tend toward a theory of limits. And a theory
of limits is exactly what is not needed. The picture of limits I am sketching is
meant to describe our invovlment within language through the shifting limits that
determine sense and nonsense asReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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enactments o f models o f mind (animate/ inanimate, consciousness/ unconscious, and
so on)andkindsoftime. Thisinvolvmentisplastic. Themeaningofourinvolvment,
therefore, can describe both a moral education (a configuration of ourselves as
human) and an ontology (what is real). The distance between these two meanings is
one way o f describing what I am calling the distance between the soul and the
mind. This distance, or difference, does not describe, however, an epistemology or
the limits o f reason (as in Kant).Kant argues that our experience never determines
a boundary but moves "from the conditioned to some other equally conditioned thing"
(Prolegomena, 59). In Kant, the metaphysical limit of experience, which "must lie
quite without it," describe something akin to Wittgensteinian grammar, but here
understood as grounded in reason, "by which it is neither confined within the
sensible nor strays beyond the sensible, but only limits itself, as befits the
knowledge o f a boundary, to the relation between what lies beyond it and what is
contained in it" (Prolegomena, 59). The phrase "as befits the knowledge o f a
boundary" is a definition of boundary (a requirement not a description). While such
a boundary marks a limit to what we can know (for beyond it is "an empty space"),
we can knowthenatureofsuchaboundary. Thedistinctionbetweenknowableandunknowable,
however, presumes criteria that can apply to what is beyond the boundary o f the
knowableconstitutingitasunknowable. Suchaboundary,tobemetaphysical,wouldsetitselfas
the negation ofthe ground ofbeing: a kind ofnothing. This does not make such a
boundary absolute, but the formulation of such boundaries discovers the limits of
the humanrelationtothepossibilitiesofbeing.
If'thepossibilitiesofbeing"issenseless,orifReproduced with permission of the
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any category cannot mark or determine its own boundaries, the effect is not to
dissolve the concept of limit or boundary, but to leave nothing but such limits and
boundaries, shifting under the pressures our involvement and application o f the
concepts (knowing, being, thinking, caring, and so on) puts on these markers. But
"to leave nothing but" is itself a description of a limit, and at first blush seems
to follow Kant's discussion of naturaltheology, which "being constrained to look
beyond this boundary [of human reason] to the idea of a Supreme Being. . . in order
to guide the use of reason within the world of sense according to principles o f
the greatest possible unity" (Prolegomena, 59). My claim here, however, is that the
instability o f boundaries and limits pressures our involvment in language (our
understanding, interpretations, even reasoning) into disunity that is not organized
into time as either a metaphysical ground of experience or by consciousness (a
transcendentalapperception)butasagrammar(timeisasymbolicgrammar). Thisisnot meant
as a theory oftime, but as a stance within our language that configures the world
as meaningfulinaparticularway. Iamtryingtobringoutthismeaning. Thus,when
Wittgenstein describes the grammar of our use of "game" as a way of describing how
we inhabit the limits of our human form(s) of life, he is not describing the
unified concept of 'human being':The rales of grammar may be called "arbitrary", if
that is to mean that the aim o f the grammar is nothing but that o f the language.
If someone says "If our language had not this grammar, it could not express these
facts" --it should be asked what "could" means here. (PI?497)Reproduced with
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The limits o f being human describe jokes; these jokes punctuate our involvment in
language as different kinds o f time and as different versions o f redemption. In
this picture or description o f time and language there is no transcendent
anything: "As things are I can, for example, invent a game that is never played by
anyone.--But would the following be possible too: mankind has never played any
games: once, however, someone invented a game--which no one ever played?" (PI?204).
The different versions ofthe first riddle ofthe universe inFinnegans Wake are all
grammatical jokes. "The first riddle of the universe" is called forth in the
chapter VII portrait o f Shem the penman as part o f the continual battle between
the artist and prankster Shem and his moralizing brother Shaun. The opposition
between the two brothers,asbetween"allears"and"all..
",betweenShemtimeandShaunspace, collapses not only into two aspects o f the
universe, but into different kinds o f language. This is the first version o f the
riddle:"dictited to of all his little brothron and sweestureens the first riddle of
the u niverse: asking, when is a man not a man?: telling them to take their time,
yungfries, and wait till the tide stops (for from the first his day was a
fortnight) and offering the prize of a bittersweet crab, a little present from the
past, for their copper age was yet unminted, to the winner.(FW170.03-09; boldface
added)P. McCarthy argues that this riddle begins the dramatization that will
continue for the rest of the book of "the struggle of the guilty mind toward
renewal" (79). Whatever we think about the nature of human guilt, the Wake is
certainly concerned with our education; ourReproduced with permission of the
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soul-making. This concern for our soul, however, is the same as a concern for our
pleasures and our commitments and our body that can be figured as a concern about
whatwe imagine an education entails: "Is the Co-Education o f Animus and Anima
Wholly Desirable?"(307.03-04).As McCarthy notes various forms ofthe first riddle
ofthe universe appear seven times, and in this at least offers a week o f
questions, all o f which are versions o f theWake:1) the first riddle o f the
universe: asking, when is a man not a man? . . . --all giveup?--; when he is a
--yours till the rending o f the rocks,--Sham. (170.3-24)2 ) . . . to where was a
hovel not a havel (the first rattle o f his juniverse) with a tintumtingling and a
next, next and next.. .while itch ish shome.(231.1-4)3) When is a Pun not a Pun?
(307.2-3)4 ) . . .the farst wriggle from the ubivence, whereom is man, that old
offender, nother man, wheile he is asmae. (356.2-14)5) . .when is a maid nought a
maid he would go to anyposs length for her! (495.6-7).6) Here is a homelet not a
hothel. (586.18)7) The first and last rittlerattle ofthe anniverse; when is a nam
nought a namwhenas it is a. Watch! (607.10-12)These riddles are pictures o f
fragments. Fragments are structured like riddles, and thus their integration o f
completion and incompletion, o f particular and totality (system), o f act and
continuity require the same double vision required to recognize when a pun is and
isReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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not a pun. Fragments, as I suggested earlier, are forms o f ironic self-reflection
o f exactly the sort described by "When is a Pun not a Pun?" (307.02-04). A pun is
only a pun when we laugh, or only when we recognize, hear or see, (at least) one
word in another. This doublness(orindeterminacy)ofmeaningmakespunsaspeciesofirony.
Readingthe Wake does not mean one understands the answer to these riddles (that
might be part o f a higher level interpretation). Instead, I think, reading should
consist in asking these question as if they were your own questions. This kind o f
interrogation constitutes the self-reflexivestructureofthe
Theoperateinexactlythe kind of confusion that allows Kant to imagine that the
application of moral obligation proceeds through the formal recognition o f when a
human being is a human being; he asks when is a moral a moral? Such questions are
akin to asking when is a citizen a person? or imagining that it makes sense to
understand as a riddle the question 'when is a person a citizen?' (and thus
assuming that it is not a question that can be answered except maybe with always or
never; these might be ways of answering the riddle within one picture of
democracyorofmonarchy. Atleastforademocracyriddlesmaybethenecessaryformof our
political engagement: are all people created equal?).These riddles, as points of
structural clarity relative to the method of the text itself, set a riddle for the
reader; if every phrase is a riddle that requires interpretation, but no
interpretation can provide an adequate answer, then what does it mean to recognize
the text as riddled, as a riddle, as riddles? The depth ofFinnegans Wake is partly
a function of showing how any answer or interpretation to the riddle of the text is
anti-climatic in aReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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way that makes the answer seem trivial and thus requires us to find a further
riddle that involvesusmorefullyintheriddleofthetext. Thisprocessofgoingoncannotend.
Therefore, it is not the answer to the riddles that provides meaning, but it is how
we continue asking questions that constitutes reading.How do we "hear the riddles
between the robot and his dress circular and the gagster in the rogues' gallery"
(FW219.22-23)? The distance between the mind, as a mind factory, and thus as a
robot and the dress of intentionality and appearance that makes it seem human, and
the soul as 'the gagster in the rogues' gallery" articulates two kinds of humor or
nonsense: robot dress (the humor o f one thing leading to the next without reason,
call this Chaplinesque) and gagster ro-gallery (the humor o f transgression, call
this MarxBrothersOperatic). Theidentificationofgagsterwithsoulrequiressomedefense.
Ithink "gagster" puns on the word "ghoster" used a few sentences earlier on the
same page: "With nightly redistribution of parts and players by the puppetry
producer and daily dubbing o f ghosters, with the benediction o f the Holy Genesius
Archimimus . . . " (FW219.06-09). This "Archimimus", from G. archimimos, is the
chief actor, maybe the puppetry producer, the intentional beyond, the body as the
limit of God, or all of the players as the shift through their parts. The humor
ofthe gags inFinnegans Wake functions through the confusion of names and words or
of phrases and language games where a word and phrase can always mean something
else. And thus the soul as the form marking identity (the subsistent soul) and
existence (what marks humans as animate and not inanimate) is neither the meaning
of a name or word (even organized very broadly intothe categories o f HCE, ALP,
Shem, Shaun, and Issy) nor in the grammar o f any particularReproduced with
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moment of clarity (soul as totality), but is the continuity of shifting between
these forms directed toward a vanishing intentionality, in other words, "the
gagster in the rogues' gallery". To "hear the riddles between the robot and his
dress circular and the gagster in the rogues' gallery" (FW219.22-23) is to read the
Wake itself as either a riddle whose answer is unknowable or as an answer whose
riddle is unknowable (this is another way of describing vanishing intentionality).
So another picture of the Wake: "Jests, jokes, jigs and jorums for the Wake lent
from the properties ofthe late cemented Mr. T.M. Finnegan R.I.C" (FW221.26-7). Mr.
T.M. Finnegan is not cemented anywhere in the text; so in what sense could we say
he, and not some other he, is the sleeper? If he is dissolved, or has lent
willingly or unwillingly, his properties (his words, his characteristics, his
desires and fears and so on) to the further mutations of the "jests, jokes, jigs,
and jorums" of the Wake, or other figments, then in what sense are those properties
his? Human beings hold a lot of properties in common, and those that distinguish a
particular person as a particular person are apparent as a particular
configuration, as a unity of form and matter maybe, that once dissolved cannot mark
someone as anyone at all.This is one way o f configuring the problem o f
intentionality as aesthetic (moving outsideofalogicalpictureoflanguage).
Butthisisnotanaestheticofrecognition(asin Goodman) where our problem is to
recognize the intentional object, existent or not, about whichwespeak.
Thereisnothingtorecognizeandnorulesorpracticesorprejudicesthat can apply in a way
that makes sense. When something makes temporary sense, we have not recognized a
version of the world or an example of meaning or aesthetic expression.Reproduced
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Asking when the Wake makes sense picks out the means we use to make sense of it not
the sense o f the Wake.This allows Joyce to picture the relation between the body
and the soul as between the mind and the soul as between divinity and deity. By
this I mean the condition o f being between in Finnegans Wake does not hypostatize
a betweeness as somehow more actual, but describes our being towards a shifting set
of limits whose meaning is enacted in both
ourcommitmentstothoselimitsandtheshiftingbetweenthem. Thisshiftingbetween
constitutes the grammatical humor o f the Wake. The problem o f intentionality,
therefore, describes the distance between the soul and god, both allegorized as the
body: "Ah, did you speak, stuffstuff? More poestries form Chickspeer's with
gleechoreal music or ajaculation from the garden o f the soul. O f I be leib in the
immoralities?" (FW145.24-26). 'Whether' (Du of) to "be leib", 'to believe' and 'to
be flesh' (G. leib), or to be confused with love (G. lieb[e]), in the
"immoralities" (immortals as immoralities) or in immortality (to be flesh in
immortality) is the speech o f the body ("stuffstuff'); and yet the poetry (or
pastries) of Shakespeare articulate an ode to joy, angels singing, or an
ejaculation of (or being cast out from) the garden of the soul. This confusion of
soul and body turns language into jest, and thus this confusion is God: the Flesh
made Jest.This picture o f vanishing intentionality can be analogized as
unintentional intentionality. "Willed without witting, whorled without aimed.
Pappapassos, Mannamanet,warwhetswutandwhowitswhy."(FW272.04-06): willuncontrolledby
cognition is energy without telos or form, so that the doubleness o f being Father
and child (Pappa and pappoose) and Mother (ma; manna) and man as names and
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equivalent to the following question(s): what is what? where what is what and who
is it? who is why? who thinks (wits) why? how it is why? Wow! it's why?! and so on.
These questions respond to and constitute 'Pappa passes', the dissolution o f
identity within the aesthetics ofthe Wake, and 'Mamma remains' (L. manet). Such
questioning is a terror: "Terror ofthe noonstruck by day, cryptogram ofeach nightly
bridable. But, to speak broken heaventalk, is he? Who is he? Why is he? Howmuch is
he? Which is he? When is he? Where is he? How is he?" (FW261.26-31).The question
"what does a 'sentence' mean?" fails to lead to any answer. If we persist in
reading we find ourselves waiting for something to crystallize out of the text into
clarity. And thus we begin to ask "when does it mean?"; "If it doesn't mean now,
then when?" We always remain in the grip of this question. The book becomes this
question. But this question has a curious structure. Strictly speaking it is not a
question at all. What would count as an answer? At half-past ten it meant
something? or when I read the word "X" or when I read the word "vivlical"
(FW183.13); what criteria or rules describe the text or its use o f words? Every
word puns into something else pushing against grammar and syntax, referring to
unstable identities within unclear contexts. No answer is adequatetothetext.
"Whendoesitmean?"isariddle.10The most comprehensive and forceful attempt to
investigate the ontological andtheintentionalstatusofthe
Wake'slanguageisJohnBishop'sJoyce'sBookoftheDark. He argues that one cannot force
the Wake's verbal linguistic word play into the rational
andcomfortablepatternsofconsciousness. ForBishop,Finnegans Wakebecomesavast
nocturnal riddle, describing the "'freeley masoned' dreamwork of the night." One
mustReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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abandon reading the Wake like a linear narrative; for Bishop, as well as for Joyce,
"nobody's 'night-life' makes sense as a continuous whole." Reading Finnegans Wake,
for Bishop, does not involve shaping the night-world ofthe Wake into conscious
rationality. We must, instead, transform our conscious perspective into one that
recognizes the logic andthesignificanceofthenight-world.
Critics,includingDongahueandAdamsintheir reviews ofBishop's book, would rather let
the world of consciousness and of unconsciousness struggle against each other in
the text, as if they were coequal, and betrayed nothing more than a play of
perspectives, a play between night and day.11 As Bishop realizes, however, Joyce
has not created an equality between two states of consciousness, rather he
describes the transformative chaos of a nocturnal reality in which we can find only
the dim memory of consciousness. He understands the Wake as a kindofcounter-
Freudian psychology.In making sense o f such a claim I think one must understand
the Wake as anattempt to configure our involvement within language, biology,
history, logic, desire, etc., our form of life, within a complex shifting set of
languages, interpretative frames, and states o f being, mind and grammar that do
not function allegorically. Even mapping 'sense' and 'nonsense' onto
'consciousness' and 'unconsciousness' misses how we use all o f these words and how
we inhabit any o f these worlds.In such ignorance and chaos, the ordinary is not
the world outside the window; the skeptical temptations prompting us to ask 'how
does this mean that?' or 'does this really mean that?' or 'how do we know that?'
becomes 'How can I still be, or still think, or still experience, since this
doesn't mean?'. In not knowing this I do not know myself.Reproduced with permission
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Thisnightworldisfundamentallyasymmetricwithourwakingworld. Thenegationof our
knowledge, meaning, identity does not create a context, a world in which further
negation leads back to identity, knowledge, or meaning. If it did one should read
the Wake as a mistranslated story or description or life, instead of a religious
and a theological riddle. In other words, if it is mistranslated then the
mistranslation itselfmeans nothing once the meaning has been recovered. But then
why the mistranslation? In this sense Joyce is competing with Freud (and
paralleling Wittgenstein within temporality), asking if this mistranslation
functions within or as our biology, psychology, social world, history, or of
physics, and if so then what does the mistranslation in itself mean? What does our
distortions of sense mean as a part, a function, a temporary ground, a possibility,
and obligation of our form of life? Such distortions describe a limit to what we
can understand as meaningful and suggests a condition in which coherence and
referentiality mutate or are lost in the "infrarational" o f this transformational
grammar, whether it is a mistranslation
ofourconsciousorunconsciouslifeorsomethingelse. Thenocturnalworldismorethan our
dreams; it is our night-life as the limit of and limited by both our being
(conscious or anything) and the world.Inthisnot-lifewedonotrecognizeidentities.
Ifourwakingmemorymeans anything it might suggest how we construct identities,
including our own identity: our form of life is not determined by our common sight,
nor our falling into confusion because we lose this agreement. This lack of
agreement is the condition o f our being at this time. Our own being as something
is not continuous, nor is the stability o f our agreement about what exists, for
Aquinas, the dimension of being guaranteed by God, opposed to essenceReproduced
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or identity, which for Aquinas is variable depending on our perspective within a
scale leading towards God. Extracting allegories, character and plot reads toward
'what something is'; reading back toward the ontological and intentional status of
Wakean language pursues 'that something is.'Finnegans Wake articulates and
investigates the structural aspects of our own being, our nocturnal life, that
finds its home, whose ordinary state is not doubting as such but the actual
existing o f our person (whatever that is) withinthe continual negation o f
possibility and identity and ground, on a scale directed toward the unknowable.The
logic of the Wake, while appearing to be a masque of characters, points always to a
single unconsciousness. Once we enter into the associative, non-narrative logic of
the dream we find that any paragraph ofFinnegans Wake provides us "with a set of
vectors that point to an absent content- 'the presence (of a curpse)' --into the
'eyewitless foggus' o f whose 'trapped head' the process o f reading the Evening
Worldleads"(315). The(un)consciousnessofour"humbptyhillhead,"our"onestable
somebody" "aslip" in the text, as Joyce calls him, becomes the underlying
organizational locus (a locus betrayed by absence, however, not presence) around
which the text can be understood, and around which it was written.I think that
Bishop's presentation is convincing. All that I require here, however, is the
acknowledgment of our inability to offer any interpretation about Finnegans Wake
that provides an intentional object (existent or not) and at the same time provides
the meaning o f the indeterminacy, nonsense, and mutations o f any particular word,
phrase or sentence as essential to that intentional target. Wakean language remains
radicallyReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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intentional. This intentionality, however, cannot articulate the content of its
aboutness. We are left with the structure of intentionality without its object(s).
In other words, the referential targets have been subtracted not only from the
'world' but from language, and leaves only an intentional structure. Freudian dream
interpretation replaces these lost targets with a primal allegory. One could
organize the intentionality of"nat language" by any number o f allegories.12I do
not want to provide another allegory, but to continually turn around within the
allegorical possibilities marked by 'the distance between mind and soul'. Such a
turning around, while it will leave a tale, will not provide a description of the
difference between the animate and inanimate (biology can do that), but will
subtract the content from this distinction as a way o f highlighting the
constituting o f this kind o f distinction as a particular kind o f limit. I do not
think that the distinction between mind and body, consciousness and life, mind and
soul, soul and God, human and animal, divinity and deity,
animateandinanimateareallthesamedistinction. Theyareexamples(andinthisthey
describeanaesthetic)ofatheologicalinhabitationoflanguage. Thistheology,inthiscase,
however, must emerge from the difficulty o f describing our investments in
language,meaning and interpretation within the nomological boundaries described in
science. Finnegans Wake and in a different way Philosophical Investigations
correlate the limit between the animate human and the inanimate thing as a limit
between sense and nonsense figured as the limits between interpretation, meaning,
seeing, knowing, and process (being caused). These limits are not clear, in fact
what counts as these limits is exactly what is at issue in building or modeling a
mind. To triangulate the grammar of linguistic andReproduced with permission of the
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aesthetic meaning, the logic of the mind, and the theological description of being
human cannot begin outside o f the problems o f language, literary texts,
philosophies o f mind, or theologies.
Theconfusionofdemandsandlogicsofthesepursuitscannotbeavoided,and while the clarity
o f engineering is one o f the limits I am trying to approach, the work remains to
make such clarity as a limit to being human amidst the claims of language, art,
philosophy, science, and theology. There is no reason to think being within any
limit of clarity involves being clear, or rather it is not clear what will count as
clarity; My goal isto think within, at and towards the limits ofmind and being
articulated through the triangulation o f language, mind, and the enactment o f the
totalities o f sentences, persons, worlds, and divinities (or let's say ultimate
limits). Finnegans Wake involves exactly this kind oftriangulation. It would be a
failure to synthesize the Wakes nonsense into sense or clarity or plots or
characters and so on. But neither should we describe nonsense with nonsense.
Translation and representation are not the point only because that is not the
problem ofFinnegans Wake. The problem is instead the preservation and analysis (as
a peculiar kind of self-reflection through the transformation of our reading into a
thinking along the Wake) of the question 'why read?' 'Why read' enacts the
philosophical wonderthat anything exists as a choice embodied in our stance toward
ourselves toward the world. Thisistheproblemofaestheticjustification.InFinnegans
Wakethetheologicaldemandofthetextisnotjusttoconstructan aesthetics within which it
can be recognized as art nor to construct the context for any sentence to make
sense. Both context and aesthetic assume that a language game or a set o f criteria
or a stance can be constructed in which the text will make sense (or beReproduced
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sensible). I think, for example, that this is the case for The Waste Land.
Finnegans Wake, while it is not absolute nonsense, generates a theological stance
(a kind o f theology without God). The demand is more like one for prayer. Could a
prayer cause God to act? If a prayer reconstructs me and not God, opens me up to
the possibilities described by our versions o f divinity, then how would I be
constructed through a prayer towards the nonsense of the Wake and Investigations!
Artificial Intelligence becomes a way of investigating the ways we can remake
ourselves toward the ontological limits against which both texts operate (they both
expose logical and aesthetic limits as functioning with ontological force).Neither
text defends anything like the assumptions of AI, or ofa computational model o f
the mind (far from it in fact). The intentionality o f prayer, the theological
demands o f the texts articulate the relation between how we function and why we
function: the demand that the application of our ontological resources, as a way of
determining how we enter into allegories, interpretations, meanings, and
possibilities, the intentionality that they both continually destabilize. This
destabilization opens us up to the demands o f the limits within which we live (and
commit ourselves), and thus the destabilization (or play) cannot be an end in
itself.IfFinnegans Wake enacts the world ofan absent sleeper, then our failure to
read backwards into his or her life or consciousness, into a mind that we would
recognize as our own, forces us to place our mind, our life, as the intentional
target o f the text. But thiswouldmeanthatwedonotunderstandourselves.
Howcouldthisbeournight-life, our dreams, our absence? If we resist this move then
why read the text? Before you'Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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answer that you will not, consider that in tempting us to stop reading so
continually Joyce forces to the surface of every line Conrad's claim that for
anything to be art it must justify itself in every line. Intentionality delimits in
a negative beyond an absent dreamer, maybe a version of ourselves, through which we
recreate ourselves as the target of its language, or
intentional structure becomes a self-reflexive aesthetic, and thus an investigation
ofmimesis itself, ofthe kind o f realism described by Ulysses.Thegrammarofthe
Wake,therefore,functionsasasyntaxatthatextensionlesspoint that Wittgenstein
articulated in the Tractatus as the "metaphysical I", the limit o f the world
marked by "the fact that 'the world is my world'". This does not mean that the
metaphysics ofthe Tractatus and ofthe Wake are the same. The shifting limits within
theWake are more like the relation between language games and forms oflife in
Philosophical Investigations. The structure o f intentionality in the Wake,
however, is akintothekindoflimitdescribedintheTractatus.
Themetaphysical'I'describesidentity as a kind of uniqueness or the point of
independence that necessarily cannot be described within the world which is its
vision. That is, it is shown by its configuration o f the world as its own, but it
cannot see itselfonly its effect in how it sees the world. The 'I' cannot be
pictured, as Wittgenstein suggests at 5.6331, not even as the following:Reproduced
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The ellipse describes the world. The eye ( T ) is included in that world. Such an
inclusion is impossible:Where in the world is a metaphysical subject to be noted?
You say that this case is altogether like that of the eye and the field of sight.
But you do not really see the eye.And nothing in thefield o fsight can it be
concluded that it is seen from an eye.(5.633)The limit ofthe world cannot be seen
and remain a limit. How does the T enter into this world or involve itself across
this limit?There is therefore really a sense in which in philosophy we can talk o f
a non- psychological I.The I occurs in philosophy through the fact that the "world
is my world".The philosophical I is not the man, not the body or the human soul of
which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit--not part ofthe
world. (5.641)The T enters the world through the world being 'mine'; but such an
entrance is only to say the world is formed in relation to a limit. The
justification o f this model is tied to both the limits of logic and the contingent
arrangement of the world, of the underlying atomic propositions that define a state
o f affairs. The limits o f logic work out o f the Scholastic distinction between
existence, that something is, described ontologically as a tautology
andsemanticallyaswhatcanbepredicatedofit,andessenceoridentity. Wittgenstein says at
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The "experience" which we need to understand logic is not that such and such is the
case, but that something is] but that is no experience.Logic precedes every
experience--that something is so.It is before the How, not before the What.
Wecannotexperiencethelimitsofexistence: experiencepresupposesexistence. IfLogic
precedes experience, what something is, the particular configurations and
identifications of particular states o f affairs, it does not precede existence
itself.I take the Tractatus to show that any form of realism depends on a limit to
the world. This limit always determines the world as mine. Realism can then move in
two directions: toward the world through the application o f logic and toward this
limiting point, a constitutive 'my'. This point existing beyond the world cannot be
said or describedbutonlyshown.
Itisinthisseconddirectionthatrealismbecomessolipsism. Realism is not false at or
about this limiting 'I', it simply becomes indistinguishable from solipsism.
world(therepresented). SolipsismisnotaboutanyT wecanknow,butaboutthislimit.Realism
can be turned around so that it is not only about the world, but so that the world
acts as a limit on what counts as me, but only in a negative way. If the relation
between language and facts follows from language picturing these facts, which are
structured through tautological relations, then time or change does not exist as a
logical possibilitywithintheworld. InWittgenstein'slogicallfollowsfromtheanalysisof
symbols, and thus there can be no surprises because all possibility is determined
by the logical possibilities defined by these symbols. Wittgenstein is here
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exposition ofall logical relations through logical notation, where the rules
oflogical notationdetermineandexpressallpossiblelogicalrelations.
WhereFrege'snotation works in order to define thought, Wittgenstein's symbols
function as facts not o f thought, as such, but ofthe world. Wittgenstein's logical
facts make ontological claims, but only about what is, that is, within the world.
But they make these claims in a special way: "What signifies in the symbol is what
is common to all those symbols by which it can be
replacedaccordingtotherulesoflogicalsyntax"(TLP3.344). Thepossibilityof replacement
defines identity as it does for Frege. But what is being replaced? Wittgenstein
distinguishes between the accidental and the necessary in a proposition--the mode o
f producing the prepositional sign, that is, the psychology and sociology and
history that determines the shape and sound ofEnglish, or what phrase or idiolect
is used inaparticularsituationareaccidental. Theessentialiswhatis"commontoall
propositions." This is again a curious extension ofFrege. Frege's distinction
between sense and reference picks out the difference between the different senses
attending the "Evening Star" and the "morning star" and the identity of their
referent. For Wittgenstein
thecommonalityiswhatiscommonto"allpropositions(TLP3.341). Thiscommonality
definestheessentialasadomainofpossibility: "Aparticularmethodofsymbolizingmay be
unimportant, but it is always important that this is a possible method of
symbolizing" (TLP3.3421). Symbolizingitself,therefore,becomesameansoftranslation:
Definitions are rules for the translation of one language into another. Every
correct symbolism must be translatable into every other according to such rules. It
is this which all have in common. (TLP3.343).Reproduced with permission of the
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Inthe Tractatus,Wittgensteinseesthisasanecessitytounderstandtheworldasmylimit. But
the collapse between the solipsistic 'I' and the world as represented is resisted
by the distinction between saying and showing; the limit between the tautological
domain described by what can be known, and therefore said, and the metaphysical
'I', which can only be shown, cannot be reconfigured within another meta-language
game. This absolute limit becomes a ground in exactly the way denied in
Investigations, where every transcendent claim is always already a language game.
The power ofWittgenstein's vision in the Tractatus, however, uncovers the structure
of this 'myness' that determines what is the world. It is being a limit that
defines 'myness'. Wittgenstein argues against that "no
partofourexperienceisalsoapriori. Everythingweseecouldalsobeotherwise.
Everythingwecandescribecouldalsobeotherwise"(TLP5.634). Injettisoningthe Kantian a
priori he retains the limiting T as an End, but not o f itself, rather o f the
world. Perceived from this point, from itself as an End the configuration o f what
is is also an End: the limiting 'I' assures possession as my world, gives me the
world as my experience, but it remains "independent o f my will" (TLP6.373). Thus
the world as mine is not a solipsistic claim, but a formal limit (not
transcendental because it is not understood asenabling our knowledge; such a claim
would presume to picture the T . The T as a formal limit means that the world shows
the T as the world, and thus the limit is not bound by anyone's will.).In
Investigations sense is not determined through tautologies, and thus Frege's
replacement principle that determines sense as identity cannot alone describe
meaning:Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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We speak o f understanding a sentence in the sense in which it can be replaced by
another which says the same; but also in the sense in which it cannot be replaced
by any other. (Any more than one musical theme can be replaced another.)In the one
case the thought in the sentence is something common to different sentences; in the
other, something that is expressed only by these words in these positions.
(Understanding a poem.) (PI?531)Uniqueness is built out o f exclusion (x is not a,
b, c , . . . n, constituting the totality o f the
world,oratleastsometotalitywithinwhichxfunctionsorexists). Thiskindofexclusion
requires the establishment of criteria by which the limit between x and those
elements in opposition to which it is constituted can be determined and maintained
(grammar as essence).The Wake pushes both o f these criterion for understanding or
meaning or identity (replacability and uniqueness) into each other: any word seems
random and thus immensely replaceable and any word seems to carry a unique
significance built from the puns which compose it (as if embodying or enacting a
secret meaning or reference). Uniqueness picks out the essence o f what something
is, the configuration o f tones or words that describes a musical theme or a poem
as a limit to the rest o f the possible tones humans can hear or the possible words
that constitute any particular language (or alllanguages).
wordatall,thatsomethingiswithinanorganizedsystemofcategoricalunities. IfIcall
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this the level ofexistentia, I mean an existentia of forms that structure language
as a set of possibilities that make words visible as words.You can find
yourselfalong this tangent intersecting realism and idealism not only by waking up
from reading in Hume's A Treatise o fHuman Nature "that an object may exist, andyet
be no where" (I.IV.V), and in waking up wondering where you have been, as if you
were unsure whether our limits of knowing constitute a ground for thinking or a
despair. I initially read Wakean grammar and the later Wittgensteinian grammatical
investigations as linguistic redactions ofAquinas' linking of intentionality to
existence through descriptions ofthe limits ofknowing, ofself-observation, ofbeing
(explaining the use of sleep as the means and world through which we develop a
theology describing death) (in the section ofthe Summa Theologica called the "Names
ofGod"). Discovering the limit ofthe ontological claims ofourthinking (or being),
our intentional failures, entailed a theological expansion of our self-reflection
as, what we confusedly call, the ground for this thinking. These intentional limits
describe the possibility of self-reflectionin such a way as to re-enact a theology
not in conflict with materialism. This might be like finding God in (a)
sentence(s), and not in the word. Do we imagine nothing o f such import is at stake
in Frege's appeal to meaning as a function of a statement and not a word? Does a
theology built on such a semantic reorientation function in a domain not limited by
substance in a way a theology ofthe word cannot, susceptible as it is to the
claimofthingsonwordsasnamesandtruthasreferentiality? Wittgensteinastheinheritor
ofthisFregeansemanticsbuildssuchatheology. Thelogicofnonsenseconstituting Finnegans
Wake proceeds along similar semantic assumptions, and thus becomes another
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version ofthis theology. Why 'theology'? Theology is the language ofthe meaning of
those limits which we recognize as unshakable, as ontological limits determining my
possibilities as my possibilities.WhatIamlookingforisnotatheoryoforaboutnonsense.
Iaminvestigatingthe ways in which the relation between sense and nonsense can make
us imagine that we are, as Ashbery says, "some point o f concentration around which
a person can collect itself' (Flow Chart, 11):And you know,he said, sure, that's
the way to hell and its conundrums if that's the wayyou want to go, and they all
said we know, we are going that waycautiously approved o f in the introduction,
only it seems so full o f asperities now. And he said that's the way it was, it was
a tangle and will never be anythingmore than a diagram pointing you in a senseless
direction toward yourself.(Flow Chart, 109)This way to hell and its conundrums,
regardless of ones' best intentions or of what one might read "in the introduction"
as the promises of "Love that lasts a minute like a filter/ on a faucet", as itself
a "diagram pointing to you in a senseless direction toward yourself, builds its
sense partly in a kind of self-reflection that offers truth through what under one
reading might be a democratic tautology of acting: we are all acting as and through
each other:asrepresentativesofthelimitsofnonsensetowardwhichwemove. One'sbestlaid
plans like those best intentions fail "and the listing tundra is revealed" (108) as
the limit ofthe inanimate to all forms of meaning which we inhabit. A kind of
nonsense attends theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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loss ofjustice, but the history ofthis "senseless direction" organizes the world
not toward the source o f this nonsense, as it does for Job where all senselessness
leads toward God, but toward the consequence ofthis nonsense, that is, "toward
yourself." The second person force o f this "yourself, having already been
abstracted as a kind o f limit to the diagram o f nonsense, a limit to language
itself) gets taken up as an hypothetical, including boththepoetandthereader.
Ifonewritesthisnonsensethediagramandwhatitpointsto invert the intentionality of
language away from the world, the diagram ends up not being able to be read as a
diagram ofthe world, toward oneself. Self-reflexive intentionality is a particular
kind o f self-reflection: in that it writes the failure o f events to conform to a
moral logic into a kind o f verbal nonsense. I will call this embodied self-
reflection as opposed to self-reference. Thus it is not like the following:[1]
"This 'word' is a word."[2] "I am that I am."Does Wittgenstein mean the following
to describe forms of self-reflection?:Asking what the sense is. Compare:"This
sentence makes sense."--"What sense?""This set o f words is a sentence."--"What
sentence?" (502)Compare what? Compare each statement and its question, or compare
statement and question with statement and question? "This sentence" animates the
sentence; can sentences use demonstratives? "This sentence makes sense" interprets
itself. An interpretation ofwhat? "This set ofwords..." looks like a description--
but ifit is not a description o f a sentence, but rather an example, is it a
description o f itself? I f asked whatReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
is the sense o f a sentence, and I answer "this set o f words is a sentence" what
have I shown? Only questions which betray an ignorance o f language would generate
a question where this might be the answer. "How many words make a sentence?" "Well,
this set of words is a sentence."An intentionality that recovers an T , as opposed
to the world, refigures the disjunction between self and world worrying the skeptic
with a comma between an initial realm o f intention that leads to personal action (
'building up a graduated series o f studies') and a realm o f possibility implied
by this intentionality but which loses its referent ('I can do that'; but who said
this? or can say and do that?'):My first concern (in any case) was to build upa
graduated series of studies, leading to the alchemical perfection of one who says,
I can do that. The fabrication o f it lasted nearly a lifetime,leaving me, at the
end, unable to perform the most banal act such as tying myshoelacesin a double
knot, and vulnerable to the japes o f skepticswho would have preferred to die a
thousand deaths rather than undertake the course o f study I had so painstakingly
elaborated. (150-51)Why-questions ('why do I suffer?' for example) can become
confused with questions about not only "who" speaks or is referred to or exists ('I
suffer because o f who I am?' or 'I didn't do anything to deserve this!' who did
then? Who is responsible for my actions?), but how this "who" either crystallizes
out of the world, out of a context, or conversely how any 'I' can know or believe
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themselves to be. Has Ashbery's (or Joyce's or Wittgenstein's) writing constructed
a golem of such animate perfection that it can, as Flaubert claimed ofMadame
Bovary, be the artist, in this case a converted, transformed selfthat speaks ofits
own creation as if Ashbery has yet to create it? But underlying the metaphysics of
this creation is a comic undercurrent that allows any nonsense to be read, and
marked as nonsense, by the exclamation of some discontented reader "That's not art,
or there's nothing to that; I can do that!"Nonsense emerges under the pressure some
missing 'I', like the missing intentional target in Finnegans Wake, exerts on the
categorical structures o f langauge. This produces what Ashbery calls "slippery
harmonies":slipperyharmoniesabound. Infact,Ican'tbesureI'mnotaddressingmyself to
one or within one right now, but that's no matter. I've got to tell thisin whatever
time remains to me. (126)For the moment the confusion in the poem lies not only in
the obscurity o f context, to be "in" or addressing a "slippery harmon[y]" or in
the obscurity of what this "this" is that he musttell.
The"fact"ofthisobscurityisitselfslippery,andifitis"nomatter"tohis telling, it is
slippery also because such a fact can be without matter. If facts, as expressions o
f truth, do not matter, what does? But what fact is captured by pointing to
"slippery harmonies abound' as a fact? Is this a fact like H(2)0 is the chemical
formula for water? Why would someone write within or to such slippery harmonies
through such a
slipperypoeticsifneitherthepossibilitynorimpossibilityofbeingunderstoodmatters. He
pushes himselftoward, into, and through the senseless under the pressure ofthe
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time available to him. How is the certainty of the approaching limit of death like
or unlike the uncertainty bound in questions about Others or the world? We can say
at least that this isakindofpoeticshighlightingtheexpressiveaspectsoflanguage.
Suchexpressivenessis nonsense. This kind of nonsense replaces our skeptical
temptations to lose the world and others with its own "no matter" that offers a
strengthened 'I' that can say "I can do that". This kind of expressiveness borrows
on a performative force that allows it to act without reference to its context or
addressee, but it is not an action of doing, language as some pure actuality, but
rather a kind of possibility-actualizing promise or recognition marked by saying "I
can do that." In this it is an attempt to push language into an extreme (it is
meant to fail, so it is not a "pure") subjunctive:.. .1sat naked and disconsolate
at a comer o f a crevice, hat in hand, fishing,for who can tell what God intends
for us next? And if a little girl can call and run, her dog twirl, why not be able
to slide a leg over the board barrier that disconnects us from all that is really
happening, that hiveo f activity as you think o f it? (121)A catechism of
questions: the mythic problem of The Waste Land ("I sat... fishing, for who can
tell what God intends for us next?" answered with another possibility, an allegory
not unlike the riddles of Alice in Wonderland, where this sliding a leg into
another realm works through the ambiguity of our language; saying I can do that--
where 'know' reduces back to can, the beyond ofthe thing in itselfis for us ("as
you think ofit") a "hive ofactivity"andthusonlyaccessiblebycomparableactivity.
"[Njakedanddisconsolate"Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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this T fishes, ifwe believe the punctuation, because ("for") we are the victims
ofGod's intentions. God's absence leaves only our ignorance pushing against what
from any human end (telos), where chance can seem fate, our lives have suffered and
become under the pressureofexternalintention.
Howmightthisdescribelanguage,oratleastAshbery's and Joyce's language? What counts
as an end when reading 'nonsense' is moments of sense, where understanding
organizes at least in a local way a bit oftext. Thus, in commenting on his own kind
o f nonsense, Ashbery writes that he is a poet "whosepersonal-pronoun lapses may
indeed have contributed to augmenting the/ hardship/ silently resented among the
working classes?"13PronounconfusioninFinnegans
Wakesketchesthesymbolicstructureof'our' through which it invokes the limit o f
being human by being a form any human can claim andoverwhichwecanfight.
Thisispartofthestructureofrightsandjustification:14 "The soul o f everyelsesbody
rolled into its olesoleself' (FW329.18-19).15 This means that Finnegans
WakeenactsaplayofmasksakintothatwhichKierkegaardusedtoexpose their emptiness,
without, however, an underlying God to mark a limit to these masks: "One single
word o f mine uttered personally in my own name would be an instance o f
presumptuous self-forgetfulness, and dialectically viewed would ensure with one
word theft guiltofannihilatingthepseudonyms"(Po/<</ofView,40).InFinnegans Wakethis
annihilation is resisted by reading oneselfinto the interrogative fragments that
sketch the limits o f the forms o f life through which we inhabit language.Sense
organizes the previous words into an order that transforms what seemed
randomintodeterminedandthereforeintentionallanguage. Suchclaritymightaccompany
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the emergence or imposition of an interpretative frame, an attachment of language
to a secure pronoun, the application ofan allegory. Such moments of sense are
temporary, and the pressure o f nonsense within language combines the demand for
clarity, the assumption o f intentionality with the pressure o f dissolution or
dissipation that tempts us atthosepointsofinterpretativeambiguity.
Thebreakdownofthemeaningofasentence,if it is not at the service o f communication
but is framed as an aesthetic object, as an object or a language demanding a
commitment to its significance, to its exemplary status, modulates into a demand to
justify what kind of sense we make in relation to this nonsense (to whatever
nonsense claims 'us'). This dissertation is an example of such an attempt.' This
would require some defense, but nothing critical hangs on this here. I think
Aristotle's analysis of the soul is as coherent as Aquinas' (as one would
expect),,but the pressure of Augustine's conception of the will, o f the
conceptualization o f identity and substance in the Trinity, and o f the fact o f a
linguisitc limit (in the Bible) transforms the conception of the soul in ways that
I think are essential. A lot does hang on this, but I am not cosntructing as soul
within the Christian tradition, but am instead trying to recapture a functional
theological stance within the boundaries marked by something like Aquinas' soul and
a causal picture of the mind as these boundaries (understood conceptually, and thus
not tied to their particular history nor their detailed form in Aquinas or in
particular scientific pictures) figure the picture of our invovlment in language in
Finnegans Wake and Philosophical Investigations. In this I am responding to the
claim these texts have on figuring the boundaries against which modem science
works. 2 Cited in Kretzmann.3This list is Gearld Edleman's (Neural Darwinism).4 In
Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, ed. Alvin I. Goldman.5 M.H. Abrams
famously organizes romantacism around the shift from mechanical and passive
metaphors for the mind (minor) to reciprocal, interactive and/ or generative
metaphors for the mind (lamp). TheMirrorandtheLamp:
RomanticTheoryandTheCriticalTradition. SeeespeciallychapterHI, "Romantic Analogues
o f Art and Mind."6 P.M.S. Hacker fails to distinguish between objects and notation
in his comparison o f section 372 with the picture of necessity in the Tractatus in
Wittgenstein: Meaning andMind (Vol. 3), 439.7The grinding of this machinery failing
to latch onto anything that would count as an about x, of y, at z attracts our gaze
from the moon to the finger pointing to it, or even further to a picture o f a
scene with someone pointing to a moon replaced by someone (else) pointing at
someone (else), or a tree talking to a rock:
Themachinery of intentionality works or at least is isomorphic with the structure
of our experience of time (our existential involvement with, our representation o f
our enactment o f change).
Thisdifficultyleadsto claims that out relation to the world is indescribable.
Brentano counters this by arguing that our reference to objects are immanent within
out intentional stances.9 The two best attempts to defend all forms of
intentionality as derived from our interpretations see Dennnett (especially his
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10 The necessity o f asking 'When does it mean?', and the impossibility o f
answering this question in the Wake unpicks the allegoty and, therefore, forces the
possibility away from any particular word,. Thesense of any particular word implies
and invokes a vague and shifting set of relations with other words, sentences,
characters, interpretations, allegories, understandings, etc.11 Robert M. Adams,
"While Mr. Whoever-He-Is Sleeps" New York Times Book Review (18 Jan. 1987) 14.
Denis Donaghue, "Reading in the Dark" Partisan Review 54,3 (1987) 480.12Finnegans
WakeandPhilosophicalInvestitationsdescribethelimitsofmind. Inmarkingtheselimits,
from the inside as it were, they do not provide a theory of the soul or the mind,
but enact a demand forjustification.
undermines the claim questions like 'what is a soul?' and 'what is a mind?' They
both do this partially by forcing us to ask 'why soul?', 'why mind?', generating a
kind o f self-reflection that does not pursue self- representation (of the kind
answerion 'what is X?'); both texts figure being-toward-onself [and itself]
Thisbetweennessmarksthelimitsbetweenidentity and ? , for Joyce, and between
language games, for Wittgenstein as the form of fulfillment (entelechy) of being a
soul and mind.I3This is the same confusion that the King o f Hearts exploits in his
persecution and prosecution o f the Knave when he reads and interprets (a picture
of literary analysis) some found verse (The AnnotatedAlice, 158)141will discuss
this paradox working in rights andjustification at the end of this section.15
". . . and, sure, we ought really to rest thankful that at this deletful hour o f
dungflies dawning we have even a written on with dried ink scrap of paper at all to
show for ourselves, tare it or leaf it, (and we are
hopingagainsthopeallthe while that, by the light o f philosophy (and may she neer
folsage us!) things will begin to clear up a bit one
astheyoughttocategorically,as,strictlybetween ourselves, there is a limit to all
things so this will never do."(FW118.31-119.09)But all is her inboume. Intend. From
gramma's grammar she has it that if there is a third person, mascarine, phelinine
or nuder, being spoken abad it moods prosodes from a person speking to her second
which is the direct object that has been spoken to, with and at. (268.16-22)
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6The Wakean Grammar o f 'Between'I am tempted to call the soul inFinnegans Wake the
state ofbeing "between" or "amidst" in "the circumconversioning" (FW512.16), in a
revolution (L. circumconversio, a revolving) o f conversation, conversion and
confession, o f "all her myriads o f drifting minds in one" (FW159.07). But "[t]o
the vast go the game!" (FW512.15). The betweeness continually described and evoked
in the "chaosmos . . . moving and changing every part of the time" (FW118.21-23),
however, enacts the distance between the mind and the soul as itselfthe form
ofbeing anything (not just being a soul or a body or an idea), placed under the
pressure of both a surrounding nothingness and the surrounding claim of matter.The
catalog o f genres amalgamated and informing Finnegans Wake is partially a function
o f the books used and rewritten into it. Many o f these were already odd
amalgamationsofgenres,furthercomplicatedbyJoyce'suseofthem: theEgyptianBook o f the
Dead, as a dream book or a psychological theology; Vico's New Science, already a
sociopsycholinguistic historical philosophy, Swift's Tale o f a Tub, Carlyle's
SartorResartus, and so on. The Wake is built out of distorted versions or fragments
from these texts (as it is out of language itself). And further, the fragments
ofwords that Joyce condenses into puns palimpsest words with allegories radiating
in interpretations that reduce the text to a set of words (as if moments within the
order of the interpretation). Any word offers itself as a target for interpretation
and thus confession.Notes for this chapter are on page 212Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
"The abnihilization ofthe etym" describes the annihilation ofetym (its history into
a new founding) as the annihilation o f the atom (the passage is full o f
references to physics) which proceeds by an invocation of Vico's picture ofthe
beginning of language in fear and imitation ofthunder ("the grisning ofthe grosning
[It. groza, thunder storm] of the grinder o f the grander [G. Grunder, Founder] o f
the first lord Hurtreford [Lord Rutherford split the atom in 1919].. .''[FW353.22-
23]). These beginning are ends. They describe the common grammatical boundaries
between humans ("eytm") and matter (atom) and God ("grander"), the "fragoroboasity
amidwhiches general uttermosts confussion"(FW353.25).
Amidtheutmostconfusion,whichisanynumberofuttermosts (extreme limits) marking this
confusion. Such limits, however, describe a "confiission" (with a fusion) that in
coming together and flying a part is an image (or an enactment) o f a confession.
Such a reading brings out the significance of "fragoroboassity", a complicated pun
that can be read as the voice of God: fragor (loud harsh noise) + It. rombazzo
(uproar) + oro (L. I speak) + bombasity +frage (G. question). But such noise while
it can demand a response like the questioning o f human beings by God, can itself
be turned into ourquestioningofanysuchdivinity"untuoning"theworld.
Inthiscasethefirstperson"I am" of"the grander" becomes the alternative oro (I
plead, beg and pray) of human beings.How is such a "confiission" (confession)
"perceivable [in] moleton (hidden atoms) skaping with mulicules (molecules)"
(FW353.26)? What would a confession directed not at God, but in memory of God and
directed at the limit between mind and matter consist of or sound like? Are we not
made up ofatoms and molecules? Do we not have thoughts, beliefs and desires?
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Such a confession is directed at the between, the vanishing intentionality, "the
studious omission of year number and era name from the date" (FW121.28-29), shaped
as the negative nexus o f these forces. Joyce's confession, like Wittgenstein's in
PhilosophicalInvestigations, is made up of"[T]hings I say to myselftete-a-
tete"(CV77), but cast as "The soul of everyelsesbody rolled into its olesoleself'
(FW329.18-19). (In Wittgenstein's such a debate is best understood as a negotiation
with oneself at the limit between grammar, or the limits oflogic, and the claims
ofpsychology as these limits organizes our common language and our forms o f life.)
Joyce writes a confession that could be anyone's ("I will confess to his sins and
blush me further" [494.31]) and thus is a "Wee, cumfused" (156.31).In Finnegans
Wake, the conflicts between opposites, the bipolar transformations and resistances
between characters, styles, categories (Space vs. Time; moral vs. aesthetic; life
vs. death; conscious vs. unconscious, etc.) are transformed into letters,
dialogues, commentaries, narratives, as much as they fragment into one another,
function as continuing multi-level debates, as if between body and soul, between
the absent intentional source-pointandthemanifestationsofformwhichweread.
Onewaythesedebatescanbe organized is between the father HCE and the mother ALP and
between the two brothers Shem the penman and Shaun the spaceman. The daughter and
sister Issy functions as a shiftingtokenofresistanceanddesirewithinthesedebates.
Butthesedebatescanalsofunction at a grammatical level, and that is the level of
primary interaction between the reader and the text (that is the level at which
meaning emerges as a problem not solvable by our interpretations). One can call
this the resistance of the text. I am interested not inReproduced with permission
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the content o f these debates (their psychology), but in the ways in which the form
o f conversation and debate can be refracted into the descriptions o f a shifting
set o f limits like those that describe the difference between self and soul,
animate and inanimate, and so on.Stephen Gilman, in his analysis of the fifteenth-
century proto-drama La Celestirta, suggests two kinds of doctrinal debates:
"vertical debates" as in Boethius' Consolation o f Philosophy between a privileged
authority and a naive character and "horizontal debates" between characters of
equal authority and privilege as in Seneca's De remedtisfortuitorum. The structures
that provide for the determination of these relations are missing in Finnegans
Wake] and thus "the constant of fluxion" (FW297.29) of character
providesforneitherstabilityofidentitynorofrelationship. Allconversationswithinthe
text require the explicit construction of a conversation between the reader and the
text. Such a construction, therefore, entails the de facto animation of the text
(within an horizontal debate) or the stabilization of the text into a context
determined by text or reader (within a vertical debate). More importantly, however,
either kind o f conversation destabilizes how we read, and if we continue reading
these conversations destabilize our functional identity as human beings within or
who use language. Reading the Wake tempts us to ask 'Is reading Finnegans Wake a
human activity?'. The melodramatic character of this question is a reaction to the
extremity required to generate a theological relation between the reader and the
text.Debates between self and soul and their Neo-Platonic reflection in the debate
between lovers can take as their site o f debate the demands and the dread o f
conversation, both o f vertical and horizontal conversations as modes o f self-
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This is one description: "Peena and Queena are duetting a giggle-for-giggle and the
brideen Alanah is lost in her diamindwaiting" (FW377.19-20). Wakean dialogues,
where "Now's your never!"(377.19), do not resolve into the clarity o f a
communication, but
ratherslipinto"communicantinginthedeificationofhismembers"(498.21); acommon
canting, both singing and nonsense, reforging a body into unity, god-like or
statue-like, or at least a remembering of "Dodderick Ogonosh Wrak", Rodderick
O'Conner, the last high king of Ireland (c. 1116-98), "on the table round"
(498.23), before Wrack "busted to the wurld at large" (498.23). The dialogue
between Peena and Queena (a giggle-for- giggle), like that between the Elm and
Stone, the two washerwoman over and about Anna Livae Plurabelle, crosses beside
(paratactically) the lost "brideen Alanah," the bride Eileen
Aruna,theIrishHelen,lostbetweentwo-mindswaiting. "[T]hebrideenAlahah"isa version of
"Nuvoletta, a lass", Issy, who earlier in the night (FW159.06-07) "reflected for
the last time in her little long life and she made up all her myriads o f drifting
minds in one." Into "one": a diamond-waiting, a purity of soul, impervious to all
the but the greatest forces,adiamondweddinglastingastwo-mindswaiting.
Whatdoesitmeantobemake one'smindsintoone? Thisisapictureofintention.How does
someone get lost?"AisforAnnalikeLisforliv. Ahahahah,AnteAnnyou'reapttoapeaunty
annalive! Dawn bives rise. Lo, lo, lives love! Eve takes fall. La, la, laugh leaves
alass! Aiaiaiai, Antiann, we're last to the lost,. . . "I bring down noth and carry
awe." (FW293.17-294.06)Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
Eve ("alass") laughs at Adam; and this laugh leaves a girl ("alass"), but this
stuttering "la, la, laugh", is itselfthe "antiann" crying (aiaiaiai; a vowel
expression) not with the awe that anything exists, but that nothing (no-thing) can
be brought into our minds at night (that anything can be negated) and thus this
nothing ("noth") can also carry awe.The distance between the details and a meta-
description o f a sentence (between reading and interpreting) is the distance
between the "commonpleas" (FW422.29) and "AUSPICIUM. AUGURIA. DIVINITY NOT DEITY
anything as an example? examples as auguria?); or "Now day, slow day, from delicate
to divine, divases" (FW598.12). What is the distinction between divinity and deity,
and why should divinity be preferred? How is divinity related to a kind o f
uncertainty justified by our certitude? And what would be an example of this
uncertainty and this divinity? Vico's poetic metaphysics describes how the
uncertainty of early peoples caused them to project themselves into their
ignorance, such that "he makes the things out o f himself and becomes them by
transforming himself into them" [NS405], Uncertainty justified by certitude inverts
this poetic metaphysics such that certainty is evacuated into uncertainty:
pantheismisreplacedbyskepticism. Certitudecanthereforebeunderstoodtobewhat Cavell
calls generic objects, those things about which no questions about their identity
arise, and thus our doubt about them questions their very existence and because of
their generic quality all objects, and thus the world {Claim o f Reason, 49-86).
The doubt here, however, is not about wax or trees or tables. The generic object or
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Divinity or deity are both manifested, in our interpretations, in Auspicium (the
augury o f bird-watching) and augury (in general) (a token and a type; an example
and a category). WhatcertaintygeneratesGod? Wecouldanswerthatthecertaintyof
ourselves and our uncertainty about the future and the world motivate Vico's poetic
metaphysics; or we could answer the uncertainty o f generic objects generates
skepticism. But neither o f these can rightly be described as divinity. It is easy
to imagine what uncertainty would generate the category o f divinity. But do we
imagine that uncertainty and fear could generate the 'actual' world in which we
find ourselves uncertain?1Between the "piejaw of hilarious heaven and roaring the
other place" (between the admonition and moral advice [SI. piejaw] o f heaven and
the roaring o f Hell), "you have become o f twosome twinminds forenenst gods,
hidden and discovered, nay, condemned fool, anarch, egoarch, hiresiarch, you have
reared your disunited kingdom on the vacuum ofyour own most intensely doubtful
soul" (FW188.11-17). This is a description of"Shem avic" (I a mhic, my boy), Shem
the penman, the artist, the prankster, who in one kind of dialogue between the self
and the soul would be the soul in Yeats "A Dialogue of Self and Soul": "Such
fullness in that quarter overflows/ And falls into the basin of the mind",
asking,atleast,"Whocandistinguishdarknessfromthesoul?"(Yeats,230). InYeats' poem
the Self, attached to things and himself"emblematical of love and war" thinks "that
shape must be his shape" because he exists as an 'I' that acts in folly toward "a
proud woman", "endure[s] that toil ofgrowing up", and is blind to his own soul,
which he never responds to or hears. Yeats' "A Dialogue of Self and Soul" is not a
dialogue at all. Two aspects of a particular 'I' (unnamed and by default a persona
for Yeats) alternateReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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speaking, until in the last section ofthe poem "my Self' speaks continuously for
four stanzas in a kind o f resignation to blindness and foolishness. Does this non-
dialogue describe a psychology? Or what is the claim psychology has on aesthetics?
Shem is become "twosome twinminds forenenst god" ("forenenst gods": over- against
god). The dialogue of"twosome twinminds" is addressed in challenge or is caused by
being against the gods. What does this confusion between (1) being that which
addresses the canopy o f human limits (gods) out o f an internal dialogue and (2)
becoming this dialogue (being "twosome") by being against this limit (or limits)?
The first case might be a judgment on myselfor on the gods; I might provide
descriptions or meanings or interpretations. The second offers a cause for my
being, and this cause functions as a principle o f identity. This identity or being
(it is not clear which it is) is hidden, discovered, and condemned: hidden by Shem
as a revolt against heaven or in the instability o f intention, desire and identity
he discovers in himself as himself. And what would the discovery of my own
instability mean, my discovery of myselfas these dialogues? Would it be like
discovering an engine in my heart? Or a machine in my head? A discovery operates at
the limit between what I know and what I do not know, and thusoffers a resistance
to my fantasies. It can act as a temporary ground. This discovery, however, moves
the hidden form of this dialogue out into something that can be known and therefore
judged. And thus Shem must speak his revolt, through his discovery o f his revolt
and o f his doubleness (or "twinsome twinminds" (double)(double)= quadruple), and
thus be condemned (by himself, his family, his society, his gods). His condemnation
names him in four ways: "fool, anarch, egoarch, hireseiarch". He is he who speaks
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nonsense (fool) that maybe wisdom (fool), who revolts against the ground (arche) o
f faith and knowledge and community (anarch), who is his own ground and his own
kingdom (egoarch), who is the ground o f the sacred (hieratic) and o f heresy
(heresiarch) [all doubled].Shem has become what seems to be a "disunited kingdom";
but there is a confusion between whether his "twosome twinminds" are the effect or
a cause o f his being against the gods. Is the next clause a reaffirmation ofthe
previous clause, or does it mark a reaction to being hidden, discovered and
condemned?: "you have reared your disunited kingdom on the vacuum ofyour own most
intensely doubtful soul". Is he fool, anarch, egoarch, hiresiarch outside o f any
disunited kingdom (maybe in the daytime unity o f consciousness)? Or can we only
understand this plurality through the 'disunited kingdom' he raises on the
discovery of what is either a soul whose existence or identity is doubtful. Or if
it is already the limits within which this doubt operates, then is it his soul that
doubts? The confusion o f cause and effect allows these two clauses to describe the
groundorlimitofagency. Thisagencyismeasuredasthedistancebetweenthe "twinminds" and
the "doubtful soul." The mind is confused into a plurality, a plurality of sensory
inputs, desires and fears, memories or possibilities and so on, a plurality
determined and expressed in four identities or roles (again a crucial ambiguity)
that allows a further self-reflection that constitutes (as an effect or cause) the
creation of a domain of self (a kingdom or society of mind) determining or
expressing the soul as doubtful.This kind of doubt can be expressed "Between his
voyous and her consinnantesl"; between his vowels (voice and voyage and his acting
the voyeur) and her consonantsReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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(consummation and together-in-sin-bom) (FW485.10-11). What is between vowels and
consonants in a word or between words besides empty space? Wittgenstein has an
answer. Theinterlocutor(oneofthe"twosometwinminds"ofWittgenstein)asks"Ifa
proposition too is conceived as a picture o f a possible state o f affairs and is
said tQ shew the possibility of the state of affairs, still the most that the
proposition can do is what a painting or relief or film does: and so it can at any
rate not give an account o f what is not the case. So it depends wholly on our
grammar what will be called (logically) possible and what not,--i.e. what that
grammar permits?" Unlike many of the statements marked offin quotation marks in
Investigations, Wittgenstein is not attempting to dissolve the logic of
thisdescription(exceptmaybetoremovethe"wholly'). Anothervoicechallengesthe claim
that what is possible is determined by grammar by exclaiming "But surely that is
arbitrary!" (PI?520). And is answered, "Is it arbitrary?" Grammar determines one
set of possibilities, but it cannot determine the application o f the sentences
possible within any grammar o f usage (philosophical statements being an example o
f statements that are possible within not only our language but in a domain o f
usage, which itself is senseless) :It is not every sentence-like formation that we
know how to do something with, not every technique has an application in our life;
and when we are tempted in philosophy to count some quite useless thing as a
proposition, that is often because wehavenotconsidereditsapplicationsufficiently.
(PI?520)A meaningful application, however, is not an interpretive application. A
large number of allegories are possible as interpretations of an event, action,
statement or text, but not all such allegories are equally probable. Thus
Wittgenstein recognizes two limits: the limitsReproduced with permission of the
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of grammar ("Essence is expressed by grammar... Grammar tells what kind of object
anything is" PI ??371, 373) and the limits of application within or as a form of
life.Application for Wittgenstein is primarily normative (and thus he talks o f the
originary home o f a word, and adjudicates disputes about this home by asking how
we have leant a word or a language game, and describes language games as forms of
life basedonagreementinjudgment). Anotherwayofunderstandingapplicationisasa
description of our intentional stances or inhabitation of our language.
Intentionality is visible through the interpretation of our actions as purposive or
directed or about something.
Suchaninterpretivepictureofintentionalityisalsonormative,determining aboutness
within the context in which something is used or in which someone exists. And yet
the criterion of application is used to mark the limit of interpretation, where the
meaning of something is functional from within a language game. The need for
interpretation arises from the failure ofthe transparency of meaning, as it were
from the outside o f a language game (the difference between seeing-as and
interpreting. All forms of life, grammar or criteria or normative rules and our
practices and our history and our biology, interests, desires, fears and so on are
all between "his voyous and her consinnantes". This space (a 'between') is the mark
of our animation (the everything thatis required for something to mean).How do we
(as a particular he or she or you or I, at least these) inhabit thisbetween?
"[Wjhere to go is knowing remain? Become quantity that discourse bothersomewhen
what do? Knowing remain?" (FW485.14-15). The distance between "his voyousReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
and her consinnantes" is generated by the self-reflexive knowing (voyeur) that
moves (voyage) 'going' (an act) into the question "where to go?", that is, a going
by remaining. I hear the rhetoric o f 'where to go' as invoking 'go to hell', which
is to remain in the state of sleep or imagination where one can go anywhere and
remain where one is, but at the same time lose oneself into fragments. Two pages
earlier, the inquisitors in this section in their pursuit ofthe buried father
interrogate Yawn (a version ofthe 'saintly' Shaun) who denies his relation to his
brother "Seamus" in order to disguise his relation to his father:Nwo, nwo!. . .
I'll see you moved farther. . . What cans such wretch to say to I or how have Me to
doom with him?" (FW483.15-18).But it is in this vacuum that we find the twinminds,
the subjunctive necessities that we "tumupon" or towards which we write or exist.
"Life, it is true, will be a blank without you because avicuum's not there at all,
to nomore cares from nomad knows, ere Molochy wars bring the devil era, a slip of
the time between a date and a ghostmark. . . from the night we are and feeland fade
with to the yesterselves we tread to tumupon" (FW473.06-11).The Latin avis ( 'bird'
and recall "Shem avic") and the Latin vicus ('street' or 'village') and the Latin
vacuum ('empty space') collapse into "avicuum" (as if Keat's Nightingale is gone
and the village on the urn empty). Without a bird-sign from heaven life is
inauspicious; this augury o f a blank life indicates another movement, "from nomad
knows" "to nomore cares". "Nomad knows" is both 'no man knows' and 'a nomad knows'.
The opposition of nomad to man invokes an opposition between change (or at least
movement) and identity. This tension and movement constitutes the blankness o f
lifeReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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which is itself opposed to the possibility o f the future ("ere Molochy wars bring
the devil era") that is itself"between a date and a ghostmark". This space "between
a date and a ghostmark", "where to go is knowing remain?", between vowel and
consonant is only visible through the failure of the continuity of discourse or
language. It is visible in our being creatures who are sometimes awake and
sometimes asleep and in language bound by the limits or frames organizing it into
sense or the world, and thus in language seen as fragments:
"Terrorofthenoonstruckday,cryptogramofeachnightlybridable. But,to speak broken
heaventalk, is he?" (FW261.26-28 ). This "broken heaventalk" directed and figured
between God and humans constitutes ianguage not as propositions, assertions, and
claims, but as always questions: "But, to speak broken heaventalk, is he? Who is
he? Whose is he? Why is he? Howmuch is he? How is he?" (FW261.28-31). How can these
questions be answered? "Who in the name o f thunder'd ever belevin you were that
bolt?" (FW299.11-12; Arch, levin: lightening). The thunder following lightening
voices the name o f not only the thunderer but o f the 'belevin' (Arch,
lightening), the 'being lightening-bolt' or as the source of the sound 'being
thunder-bolt'. The god of thunder has 'the name ofthundered', of the past echoed,
which is who this bolt claims to be: that thunder or that lightening voicing that
thunder; and thus "who in your name would believe you were your name?"(The
instability o f name [here a model o f language's iterability] reflects an
ontological instability o f self fragmented in the night: "[F]rom the night we are
and feel and fade with to the yesterselves we tread to tumupon". 'To tread' seems
synonymousReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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with 'to love', or rather the self-love on top of which I pivot all night or all
life long. I am pursuing here this pivot as a 'between' words and people and
sense.)Another way of picturing the distance between mind and soul is as between
the flash o f lightening and the sound o f thunder, the time when silence
communicates not only ourdistancefromtheflash,butseemsapauseintheturningoftheearth:
"Whereflash become word and silents selfloud. To brace congeners, trebly bounden
and aservaged twainly"(FW267.16-18).
SelfloudpunstheGermanSelbstlaut(vowel),andtherefore identifies vowels as the
expression of the self. The flash of lightening becoming the word, as the flesh
became, "consinnantes": the consent ("consin) of God to be bom ('nantes') as
humanandtobewithsin('consin'). Thelimitbetweenthedivineandthehumanlies
thereforeintheflash(Godtoman)andinthesilence(mantoGod). Inhabitingthis between is
to "brace congeners", to make or hold some group (or some mind) into an identity
('congener', in the same genus or resemblance); or this is the word of God forming
the self into absence and silence except as the receiver (as Noah was) to gather
two o f a kind (brace) into a unity (congener).Stuttering ("broken heaventalk")
crystallizes an 'I' out of Wakean language (betraying a stumbling human gait, as
Keirkegaard calls it in the second volume of Either/Or [14]) by staying language
into further nonsense: "which we do not doubt ha has a habitat ofdoing, but without
those selfsownseedlings which are a species ofproofthat the largest individual can
occur at or in an olivetion such as East Conna Hillock" (FW160.09-13). This
individual is manifested as a place, Old Conna Hill, and as the inverted HCE. Is
finding ourselves not in the world, but as the world (at least at night) "a
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speciesofproof'thatouroriginisours,thatwefoundtheworld? Self-ownershipand self-
generation provides for an entrance into the world, and entrance as the world: "But
the world, mind, is, was and will be writing its own wrunes for ever, man, on all
matters that fall under the ban of our infrarational senses. . ." (FW19.35-20.1).In
what is called the ALP chapter, this "world, mind" as it "is, was and will be
writing", a "lost histerve"(FW214.01), that counters the story of the Bible with
"In kingdome gone or power to come or gloria be to the farther? Allalivial,
allaIuvial!"(FW213.31-32). ThisnewstoryisofthemotherAnnaLiviaPlurabelle,the
riverof"lethullian","[a]beingagaininbecomingsagain"(FW491.23). ALPdescribesthe
limit between language and time, "[bjetween our two southsates and the granite they
're warming, or herface has been lifted.../"(FW209.08-09). I will analyze this
limit between identity and change as a sexual ontology of language in Chapter 10. I
want to suggest here that her "becomings again" are part o f a conversation, like
that collapsed in the"abnihilisationoftheetym.. .withan...
fragoroboassityamidwhiches... uttermosts confiission" (the roar ofthe voice ofgod
and matter mixed with the prayer and confession o f human beings; FW353.22-25),
between "Is that a faith? That's a fact." (FW199.33).The first question ('Is it a
faith?") is asked by the elm. The answer (that is no answer: "That's a fact") is by
the stone. The elm and stone are the material forms of two washerwoman on the banks
of the ALP, the Liffey, who at the end of the chapter return into the night as elm
and stone. The dialogue between elm and stone (animate and inanimate) constitutes
or envelopes or limits or is about (there is no way to determine which o f these
verbs to use here) Anna Livia Plurabelle, herself the principle o f becoming
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animating the structures o f identity invoiced by Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker in
his dissolution and in his memory: "0 tell me all about Anna Livia!.. .Telmetale of
stem or stone. Besidetheriveringwatersof..."[FW196.01-03;216.03-04]).
Thisdialogueas what is ALP is also a tale about ALP, a collapse o f expression into
being.This confusion of expression and being or identity (these are also confused
here) turns the call between family members into a confession. Justius, the
moralizing Shaun's name in debates with his brother Shem disguised as Mercius
(Justice and Mercy from English Mystery Plays), challenges his father HCE, calling
out to him as "Nayman of Noland"(Nomanofnoland)to'standforth...
inyourtruecoloursereyoubebackfor ever till I give you your talkingto!" (FW187.32-
35). He then taunts his brother, Shem Macadamson: "Where have you been in the
uterim, enjoying yourself all the morning sincy you last wetbed confession?"
(187.36-188.01). How do we distinguish a sign from an effect? A confession from an
act? Can we imagine praying as 'to prize', to lever open (a prize), or as an
inquisition into mystery? "Let us pry" (188.08)-- "We thought, would and did.--Away
with covered words, new Solemonites for old Bathsheetbaths! That inharmonious
detail, did you name it? Cold caldor! Gee! Victory! (FW188.25-27) Aconfession is as
inharmonious detail as he who confesses.In the Wake a mysterious letter, purporting
to reveal the guilt ofHCE, is a versionand one of the prime constituents of the
Wake itself: the Wake a "NIGHTLETTER" (FW308.16) and the mysterious "The letter!
The Litter!.. .Borrowing a word and beggingthequestion"(FW93.22-24).
TheLetter(inandastheWake)ortheletters(of the alphabet, of the letter, of the Wake)
is picked out of a midden heap by a hen, latterReproduced with permission of the
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transformed into the king of birds as Queen, "Jenny Wren: pick, peck" (Wren, the
queen ofbirds; FW278.12), letters fragmenting the world and then sent through or
carried by "Johnny Post: pack, puck", one among many, able to move becomes only a
fragment of the world. "All the world's in want and is writing a letters. A letters
from a person to a place about a thing. And all the world's on which to be carrying
a letters... When men want to write a letters. Ten men, ton men, pen men, pun men,
wont to rise a ladder. And den men, dun men, fen men, fun men, hen men, hun men
wend to raze a leader. Is then any lettersday from many peoples, Dagnasanvitch?
(FW278.16-25).This list, beginning with "Ten men" is continued a few pages later:
"Ten, twent, thirt, see, ex and three icky totchy ones. From solation to solution"
[FW284.16-18; from solitude (It. sola, alone)] to dispersion in a whole. This is
how a solution is described: "Imagine the twelve deaferended dumbbawls o f the
whowl above-beugled to be the contonuation through regeneration of urutteration of
the word in pergross" (FW284.18- 22).Earlier the solution to "[t]he all-riddle o f
it?" was "[t]hat that is allruddy with us, ahead o f schedule, which already is
plan accomplished from and syne" (FW274.02-05). A riddle o f the enveloping facts
is always already known in the way that Dasein is always
aheadofitselfthatis,itisdefinedasitslimit,asthoseenvelopingfacts. Thecontinual
conception of beginnings (arche and genesis) in the Wake is an attempt to make
visible what is already and always the case for us at the point when it became
this; such beginnings are temporal moments of simultaneous change and repetition
(thus the continual rebeginning). The solution to "solation" (being dispersed into
aloneness) isReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
another return to this beginning built (the interpretation constituting the
substance o f what this beginning is in the Wake) out of the twelve apostles
reacting (from Judaism to Christianity) to the Death and resurrection o f Christ.
These letters and litters from the Hen, a bird or bard, can tell the tale o f
idiots in sound and fury, a second best bed a patrimony of always borrowed language
pointing forward, too late or too early, but "Toborrow and toburrow and tobarraw!"
(FW455.12-13). Isthisadescriptionoranenactmentofourinheritanceofwords?I have met
with you, bird, too late, or if not, too worm and early: and with tag for ildiot
repeated in his secondmouth language as many of the bigtimer's verbaten
wordswhichhecouldbalbly calltomemorythatsamekveldeve,erethehourof the twattering
bards in the twitterlitter between Druidia and the Deepsleep Sea .. (FW37.13-18)Any
"secondmouth language" can offer, "saluting corpses, as a metter o f corse"
(FW37.09-10), measuring (meter) time (a matter o f course) as the loss o f
ourselves into dead bodies, "not a little token abock all the same that that was
owl the God's clock it was"(FW37.06-07), "could balbly" (Babal and badly) call to
memory that same beginning ofevening,sin,andwoman(Da.kveld,eveningandEve).
Whatthismomentwasis always formed into interpretations. God's bigtimer verbatim
words o f forbidding (G. verboten) are stammered (L balbus) in the twitterlitter,
not yet poetry, between the devil andthedeepsea.
Thenonsenseofthesewords"tag"thehumanstancetowardtheworld as idiotic awe, an
expression oflight and thanks (Da takfor ilden, thanks for the light). Such thanks
can be ironic. Such irony can allow us to speak second mouth words as ours.
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This "ildiot" (maybe not yet an idiolect), that is our human stance toward god
within our
languageconstitutesusas"ildiots"(lesserbeingsspeakinganonsensicallanguage). Oris
humanity divided here between 'ildiots' and 'kveldeve'? This stammering ("balby")
orders the world and our language into permanence: "accompanied by his trusty
snoler and his permanent reflection, verbigacious" (FW37.12-13). "Verbigacious
combines verbigeration, the meaningless repetition o f a word or phrase, and L
verbi gratia, for instance. 'Verbigeration' creates the form of identity, a
universal, a separation of content from form, from within language. This creates
the illusion that meaning accompanies form as an extra component, an addition to
sound, as perfume can come to stand for 'me': "My perfume o f the pampas, says she
(meaning me)" (FW95.22). This formal post hoc universal as a limit o f "soundsense"
is also the particular o f an example, an example o f anyvoice and of being an
"ildiot.. in the twitterlitter". What every instance is accompanied by, however, is
the entire system of language, or rather the entire system of
senseandthepossibilitiesofnonsensemediatedbyvariousinterpretativestances. Oneofthe
possibilities o f being human is the continual possibility o f the need for
interpretation. Which is not to say that every sentence requires interpretation.But
then again,Well even should not the framing up of such figments in the evidential
order bring the true truth to light as fortuitously as a dim seer's setting of a
starchart might (heaven helping it) uncover the nakedness of an unknown body in the
fields of blues as forehearingly as the sibspeeches of all manking have foliated
(earth seizing them!) from root of some funner's stotter all the soundest sense to
be foundReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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immense our special mentalists now holds (securus iudicat orbis terrarum) . . .
(FW96.26-33)A stutter can frame speech as a form of possession, the grating of
Moses' recitative againstAron'ssinginginSchoenberg'sOpera,
orthegratingatanylimitofanyframe that marks the possibility that the world is a
figment by showing that we see it through and asfragments. Thisself-
reflection,abetrayalofourlimitationsandoftheworld's instability as a world, is like
a "dim seer's setting o f a starchart" that uncovers "the nakedness of an unknown
body making a starchart to find the world's order." Contained within parenthesis as
if within a world itself (securus iudicat orbis terrarum), the verdicto f the world
is secure. Secured by what? What is the verdict? (Can anything be secured from
within parenthesis? can the world be secured from within the world?)A survey and
overview of this world marks the world's purview, its enacting principle, it's
limit, scope and purpose as something ordered as "my world". The algebra (binomial)
and the geometry (axioms and postulates) o f these "factionables" is
incomprehensible and as inexpressible as by gone days and the ways o f god for a
"neuralgiabrown", a brain:
ForasurviewoverallthefactionablesseeIrisintheEvenine'sWorld. Binomeans
tobecomprendered. Inexcessibleasthybygodways. Theaximones. Andtheir prostalutes.
For his neuralgiabrown.Equal to = aosch.P.t.l.o.a.t.o.(FW285.26-286.03)Reproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
What does it mean to find Potato and not Plato in these letters? What letters are
equal to what word? "Equal to=aosch" is a kind of self-referential paradox. "Equal
to" is not equal to anything; if it is understood as '=' which defines a relation
not a value; it marks equality it is not itselfa term except in relation to other
symbols of relation. If 'equal to' is mentioned in quotation marks it can gain a
categorical meaning (with all terms of relation) or generic meaning (with all
symbols). The claim here, however, is that equal to is equivalent to an anagram
ofchaos (to the anagram itselfor to the 'meaning' as chaos?). And therefore Plato
is a potato. Although this interpretation can seem reasonable(l), especially to a
new world Aristotelian, what does it mean? How do we apply this identity?The
following is an identification of an identification of missing what had counted
to'one'onceinageneralfailuretocountoneselfasoneselfexceptinthismistake: "the
aphasia o f that heroic agony o f recalling a once loved number leading slip by
slipper to a general amnesia o f misnomering one's own" (FW122.04-05). This is
called "the vocative lapse from which it begins and the accusative hole in which it
ends itself'(FW122.03-04) This lapse, the failure to address anyone (beginning the
Wake in midsentence--"rivemm, past Eve and Adam's") is a loss of identity (in sleep
or nonsense or forgetfulness or sin or sense or order) marked by the loss of any
beloved (are we attached to the world through suchattachments?):
"theaphasiaofthatheroicagonyofrecallingaoncelovednumber leading slip by slipper to
a general amnesia of misnomering one's own" (FW122.04-06). The loss o f love
(Eliot's hyacinth girl) and the agony o f recall, not only o f the beloved butof
loving, is a forgetfulness of who anyone is. Language, just as dreams, is a
reminder of that agony, "the cruciform postscript" (FW122.20) The revision of this
script is both ourReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.187
forgetting ourselves and the kisses of others into "the life he is to die
into .. .lost himself or himselfsome somnione sciupiones" (FW293.04-07). The
possibility ofothers is the possibility of love. The failure to address oneselfas
oneselfor one's language to others is what I have called the failed intentionality
ofthe Wake. This kind oflanguage is marked on the other end by "the accusative hole
which it ends itself', that is the objects which are the things themselves, the
things that are never themselves words, and within the inverted cnat language' seem
absences instead o f presences.The analogies describing the relation between mind
and world, between text and mind, text and world (wax, mirror, lamp, harp,
container, etc.) have been reduced here into a special kind of the self-reflexive
nonsense language asking "It was life but was it fair? It was free but was it art?"
(FW94.09-10) and expecting continually failingjustifications for asking these
questions that cannot be answered. This might seem (in many ways correctly) that
the analogies o f mind and aesthetics have been replaced by an interpretive stance,
but it is not clear that interpretation is always called for. If interpretation
cannot claim any particular truth value and is not itself as Wittgenstein suggests,
adequate for meaning, it's failure will not count as an adequate stance between
mind and world and art.Do we experience language such that we can experience this
between "mind, world" and language as the between of night or nonsense? This
following is some evidence for this: "Everyletter is a godsend, ardent Ares .. .To
me or not to me. Satis thy quest on" (FW269.17-20). The Wake is sent to god or from
god or to me or not to me. The resistance to "mind, world" metaphors is what Joyce
calls "holding tight to thatReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.188
prestatuteinourcharter''(FW117.34-35). Thisholdingtighttothe'discamate',"your
disunited kingdom on the vacuum o f your own most intensely doubtful
soul"(FW188.16- 17) "may have our irremovable doubts as to the whole sense o f the
lot, the interpretationo f any phrase in the whole, the meaning o f every word o f
a phrase so far deciphered out o f it..."(FW117.35-118.02).
TheWakecontinuallydisplaysKierkegaard'sclaimthat"there is a difference between
writing on a blank sheet o f paper and bringing to light by the application o f a
caustic fluid a text which is hidden under another text", but with the difference
that there is not any Christian truth underlying any surface of the world or mind
{PointofView,40). Iholdoff,therefore,inofferinganytheoryofidentitythatwould explain
how "Equal to=aosch" because this does not describe an identity, but a limit
between a description ("equal to"), mathematical symbolism (=), a riddle ("aosch"),
a self- expression ("aosch"=chaos). This is a limit because "Equal to=aosch" not
only does not have a meaning, it cannot have any meaning outside o f an allegory
that some reader will construct. Itis,however,notsenselessasadescriptionofalimit.
Thuswecanreadthe Wake, to the degree that it is made up ofthis kind ofnonsense, as
the self-description and enactment o f shifting limits. But what kind o f limits?
limits o f what? As I suggested in the previous chapter one such limit is the
vanishing intentionality that marks a limit between our inexistence as something
meaningful within language and our ability to investourselves as ourselves through
and as language. But this is to say the words 'our', 'ourselves', 'though', 'as',
'within', and 'meaning' all function as limits, as meaningless except as
transparent markers of an interpretive position within language games or under
theological pressure: reading language as a descriptions of the limits that make
our beingReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.
human being human. This is not another kind o f language, but a way reading
language as a non-language, or again as Joyce calls it "nat language".How do you
figure language within language iflanguage is all on the same logical level? As
nonsense (as dead signs or code), as animate; thus the questions what is language
or sense become questions about nonsense and about how, what and why
anything,leastofallourselves,isorcanbeanimate. Sentencesorphrasesorlinesbecome
"[t]hese ruled barriers along which the traced words, run, march, halt, walk,
stumble at doubtful points, stumble up again in comparative safety seem to have
been drawn first of allinaprettycheckerwithlamp-blackandblackthorn"(114.07-11).
TheWake,likeThe Book ofKells, seems written with a black ink that "is lamp black,
or possibly fish-bone black."2 Joyce describes the Wake by describing a monkish
monument o f Irish culture, and uses this description, with others, as the
substance ofthe Wake. The substance of this theological language, however, is their
movement emerging out o f domesticity, not read or written but "drawn," for any
sensitive person, "first of all in a pretty checker with lamp- black and
blackthorn."The movement o f words can be characterized in relation to the
"comparative safety" of ordinary usage:It is seriously believed by some that the
intention may have been geodetic, or, in theviewofthecannier,domesticeconomical.
Butbywritingthithawaysendto end and turning, turning and end to end hithaways
writing and with lines of litters slittering up and louds of latters slettering
down, the old semetomyplace andReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.190
jupetbackagain from tham Let Rise till Hum Lit. Sleep, where in the waste is the
wisdom? (114.13-20)The "intention," one way ofofferingjustification (but ofwhat?),
could be geodetic, that is determinedby
surveying(butofwhat?);oraneven"cannier"viewwouldbethat "intention may have
been. . . domestic economical," L. domesticus or G. oikonomikos, pertaining to the
household. These two possibilities (surveying and the domestic) describe the two
aspects o f Wittgenstein's philosophy: surveying ourselves, the world and our
language (what Kenny called providing "a clear view of the world" and Wittgenstein
in his preface called "sketches of the landscape") and a return to ordinary
language (the disappearanceoftheproblemsofphilosophyinordinarylanguage).
Intherealmofthe ordinary, the translation between Latin and Greek is possible. The
world o f sleep is also ordinary, but this thithaways and hithaways (losing control
o f the tongue, the "latters slettering down", no one going up and no ladder to
throw away since it has already dissolved) requires asking what would be an
adequate survey or sketch o f what ordinary world?, limited how? seen as what?,
threatened always by the interpretive distortions that allow for the blessing of
one among any three brothers (Shem, Japhet, and Ham). The confusion o f
interpretation for truth, the replacability o f people and words and commitments
under this confusion, is the problem o f Hamlet ("tham Let" and "Hum Lit.)written
into the Wake. This is a tragedy accompanying our inheritance o f language, or
maybeofpronounswhere"Semetomyplaceandjupetbackagain". Joyceisconstructing the place
of my signs (Gr. <rr||ia), or the sign of me, or the place marked or having a mark
set or affixed (Gr. crr|no08To<;) or a cemetery place. Wakean writing seems to
place meReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.191
("Semetomyplace") within the surveyable world and loop it back again into a history
of origins and disinheritance, placing me with and as Japhet, the 'non-Semitic' son
o f Noah, Jupiter from "tham Let", Hamlet, and Ham, the rejected son o f Noah.If we
read this again, the old Greek signs and the Latin imitations, from them that rise,
or from Let Rise (a name, a description and a marker, like "ildiot") until Human
Literature Sleeps, ask the question "where in the waste is wisdom?" This is a
description of how to read: the unity of Greek and Latin in the text (as an example
of the language of the Wake) does not communicate, but asks forjustification. And
this request is understood as ordinary, as ordinary as waste is and is our desire
for wisdom. If 'let rise' both can mean 'arise' and function as the name 'Let
Rise', then the confusion o f verb for name (as in "In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was God") is the way in whichonecanenterorbenamedbylanguage.
Consequently,"whereinthewasteis wisdom?" describes a stance toward ourselves, the
world and our language that analogizes the relation between mind and world, by
placing our humanity at risk by placing our constructions and our world as a world
against us.This is the effect ofJoyce's lists, to place the world enumerated
against us and in this offer targets for sense and identification. But once an
identification is made, as a result of an interpretation ('"alphybetty verbage' is
a version of the Wake, or "am I a whirling dervish?" or "can the world be built
outside of logic or as a list of predicates without any subject[s]?'), the meaning
remains unclear. No interpretation is ever adequate because interpretation cannot
determine meaning. Is the meaning ofFinnegans Wake the following list?Reproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
My wud! The warped flooring ofthe lair and soundconducting walls thereof... were
persianly literatured with burst loveletters, telltale stories,. . . doubtful
eggshells,. . . alphybettyformed verbage, vivlical viasses, ompiter dictas, visus
umbique, ahems and ahahs, imeffible tries as speech unasyllabled, you owe mes,
eyoldhyms, fluefoul smul, fallen lucifers,. . . counterfeit franks, best
intentions,.. . gloss teeth for a tooth,. . . inversions of all this chambermade
music one stands, given a grain of goodwill, a fair chance of actually seeing the
whirling dervish, Tumult, son o f Thunder, self exiled in upon his ego, a nightlong
a shaking betwixtween white or reddr hawrors, noondayterrorised to skin and bone by
an I neluctable phantom . . . writing the mystery o f himself in furniture.
(FW183.08- 184.10)Furniture and language both constitute the world as limits to
myself. This limit is enacted by or as matter, what Berkeley called "the furniture
of earth". What is "the mystery of himself'? He writes while sitting in furniture
as a piece of furniture determined and defined by materiality. This "mystery o f
himself in furniture" becomes at the end o f the Wake, when the sleeper is
awakening, the "fumit o f heupanepi world" (FW611.18). c[F]umit' containsfait (L.
as it was) andfarm s (L. oven, fireplace), and can be read as 'bum it'. "[F]umit'
can be translated as 'as it as bums and is a furnace." This burning is stabilized
as a thing when "fumit" puns "the furniture of earth." Consequently, the being
andstabilityofthepastcondensedintofurniturecontainsHeracletianflux. "[H]eupanepi'
consistsoftheGreekeu(good),pan(all),andepi(upon). Thus"fumitofheupanepi world" can
be translated as 'the furniture o f the flux o f the good upon all the world bums
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into a furnace.' (So that's what it means to confuse the mind and the world!) As
the sleeper awakens into consciousness at the end of the Wake, under the sun and in
rising color, "that part of it (fumit of heupanepi world) had shown itself...
unable to absorbere", that part ofthe matter ofcourse, the matter ofa person
organized as time, as change,
(thefurnitureofthefluxofthegooduponalltheworldbumsintoafurnace)had shown itself
unable to absorb light, because there was little light in the night, and because
the mind reflects the world, which with the new sun means this it (this "world,
mind") becomes another sun.3 This is a picture of a mind generating and reflecting
the light of the world. But this picture is neither a metaphor nor a model nor a
theory ofthe mind. It is, instead, a description o f being between things
(furniture) and loss (burning) as a limit to them both. Being between matter and
time requires a mode o f self-reflection that generates an T as a limit to meaning.
What I mean by this is that one cannot get anymore meaning out our own self-
reflection than we can out o f this passage in the Wake. And the meaning of this
passage is a description of the limit to the meaning of this passage.The night is a
reordering of oneself and the world into the condition betwixtween things, ideas,
concepts, clarity, sense, moments. "Yet is no body present here which was
nottherebefore.Onlyisorderothered,Noughtisnulled.FuitfiatX"(FW613.13-14). Asit was,
let it be! What is this reothering, where "nought is nulled", but everything is
knot and nat? This kind o f riddle, another riddle o f enveloping facts, can be
answered by another riddle: "Do you hold yourself then for some god in the manger,
Sheholhem, that you will neither serve nor let serve, pray nor let pray?"
(FW188.18-19)Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
Language itself can be used as the form o f resistance to the claims o f the world
or ofother people on us (the claims, ifone acknowledges any, ofthe Wake). ALP
writes,"I wrote me hopes and buried the page when I heard Thy voice" (the coming of
day or of sense or of a greeting and so on) I asked "So content me now" (FW624.04-
05). Such content appears to be "I pity your oldselfI was used to. Now a younger's
there." (FW627.06-07). Theoldselfiswhat'I'usedto... be,orbecomingwasa
"Tobecontinued's tale" (FW626.18). Being here is also a habit, "I was used to",
where the difference between how one describes oneself is not clearly different
from how one describes others.And yet it is exactly the difference between myself
and others that allows me to be visibletotheseothers.
InInvestigations,Wittgensteinidentifiestwodomainsofknowing: (1) a knowing marked by
second and third person claims, and (2) first person claims
associatedwithmentalstateslikebeingdepressed,excited,inpain,etc. Thuswecansay 'I
know he is in pain,' but not 'I know I am in pain'. Could I doubt this? Or not know
that I am in pain?If we say "'Since yesterday I have understood this word.'
'Continuously', though?--To be sure, one can speak of an interpretation of
understanding, but in what cases? Compare: "When did your pains get less?" and
"when did you stop understanding that word?" (PI p. 59)I can forget that
"wissen"means to know, and then all ofa sudden recall it, maybe by saying to myself
"/c/z weiss". It is through experiences like this that we imagine an unconscious
somewhere behind, beneath, around, even surrounding our consciousness.Reproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
But I might never recall the definition without looking it up or asking a German
friend. Thus we might think that our unconscious is a dictionary for our
consciousness. Forgetting a word seems like losing it, losing something that is
mine. In this my world or my language has waned, and the world has shrunk.One can
follow the mineness of knowing a word (which does not mean of course that it is
private) into the mineness of pain and enter Wittgenstein's discussion of pain. Can
I ask someone if I am still in pain? Since I can't my pain seems private. I can
also forgetmypain. Imightgethitagain,harder,sothatwhateverwasbrokenbeforegets
maskedbyagreaterpain. Thismightbeafunctionofthelimitationsofmynervous system, but
we find the same effect in our emotional distress. This is what drives us into
homeopathy. I might listen to Chopin's B flat minor Sonata (with its Funeral March)
after my wife has left me. This might seem at the time a tragedy, and at least call
for catharsis, as Milton says in the Preface to Samson Agonistes "to purge the mind
o f those and such like passions, . . . , by reading or seeing those passions well
imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion: for
so Physic things of melancholic hue and quality are us'd against melancholy, sour
against sour, salt to remove salt humors." The passions transformed in tragedy are
reduced analogically to a physiologicalprinciple.
Weentertheworldthroughthisanalogy. Thesepainsmightbe mine. If I lose this pain have
I lost something of mine? Pain, excitement, depression all can be temporally
limited to a particular duration. They are contained within time. The mineness of
these sensations is my experience, my investment or identification of myself with
these mental states. Can I experience the meaning o f the word "wissen"? If not
thenReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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how is it mine? Should we not construe it, after the model in the Tractatus, as a
limit of my experience and thus of my world? We want love to be like understanding
a world as myworld,notlike'knowing'transitorypain. Inthissensewewantlovetobeamind.4
The "between" in Finnegans Wake is marking off in negative space these two uses o f
'knowing,' not as logical distinctions tied to theories about first or third person
discourse, but as grammatical distinctions organizing our investments in the forms
o f our languageasmeaningful.
Thisislikeaestheticizinglogicorlinguistics,notassublime(as in metaphysics), but as
I suggested as grammatical jokes. The fragments generated by these jokes form a
"monthage stick in the melmelode hawr, I am (twintomine) all thees thing"(FW223.08-
09). Thisislikesaying,"Iamallthesefragmentsincludingthis fragment and that and this
'I'." In my previous discussion of fragments, this self-reflexive turning expresses
a demand forjustification, or a configuration ofthe condition ofbeing human within
the world as between what Wittgenstein marks as justifications and rights:"When I
say 'I am in pain' I am at any rate justified before myself." --What does that
mean? Does it mean: "If someone else could know what I am calling 'pain', he would
admit that I was using the word correctly"?To use a word without justification does
not mean to use it without right. (PI?289)This last sentence is either
contradictory (an appeal to rights is an appeal to justification) or is a picture
of the limit ofjustification. If the latter, justification operates outside first-
personclaims: itscriteriaarevisibletoothers.
Thusjustification,inthispictureofuse,is not required when expressing pain because
how would I be mistaken about my own painReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.197
(not my own hurt). But does the concept o f right, describing my statements as
without justification but with right, attach itself differently to my first person
claims? Justificationfunctions through an interpretive stance from which judgments
can be made. Justification operatesinrelationtonormativecriteria.
DerivedfromLius(thatwhichisbinding,right, justice, duty), 'justification' or
'justify' configures something or someone in relation to theinteractive order
organizing the domain in which this something or someone operates and exists. But
this re-ordering requires a mark to express its success. Such a remark, however, is
the prime means by which this reordering can take place, and thus from ius is
derived iurare, to pronounce a ritual formula or swear an oath. Justice arises not
only as an effect o f our promises and betrayals, but it is constituted as such
promises through whichwebecomecapableofjusticebecausewecanbejudged.
Justicerequiresspeech, because justice is a form of speaking. This speech, however,
must be a speaking of a community, an invocation of the particular (an individual
or an expression or a sentence) by requiring that it express the whole (thus the
standardization of ritual pronouncements and the strictures of tradition). There
is, therefore, at least an isomorphism between language and the function ofjustice:
both require that the whole be present in the particular. This relation is marked
in the derivation o f L iudex, he who points to or showthe law (from whence our
judge). Iudex derives from ius and diet (dex), to speak, say, etc. The collapse in
our word judge of the act ofjudging (judge as verb) and the person who judges
(noun) recalls the same need for the normative to be expressed fully in a
particular,inthiscaseasthegroundofauthority. Andthuswespeakoftherighttojudge
('right' cognate with L. rex).Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.198
As I suggested earlier, rights can be given, and thus they are not a given, a
ground. Ifjustification is the application ofcriteria ofjudgment, rights are gained
when these criteria are given as yours to apply to yourself. In giving rights one
is giving recognition ofthoserights.
Ifwecompare'Ihavetheright'with'Ihavethejustification'wecansee that the appeal to
rights is a first person appeal, while the appeal to justification is an appeal to
either second person (as if in a monarchy) or third person (as if in a democracy).
Thus we can say "I am justified by my right to X". In this case justification is
the applicationofaright. Butthisright,especiallyinWittgenstein'sdescription,isan
expression whose self-sufficiency is only determined by our judgment that one is
speaking by right (and without justification). How does one conceptualize oneself
if one could not speak about, let's say, spiritual pain by right?This third person
appeal underwriting justification reifies rights away from the particularity o f
persons and communities. The appeal to right by Wittgenstein is, however, an appeal
to the normative usage of language. Normative criteria, whether embedded in
language (or any formal structures) or in one's person (through social recognition
of self-sufficiency, which therefore involves a self-recognition), erase the
differencebetweenfirstpersonandsecondorthirdpersonappeals. Thedifferencewould seem
to be the requirements for the application o f the language o f description
determined asjustificationofright.
Myquestioninghereisnotaboutthefirstpersonstatusofpain (the fact that one could not
not know one's own pain), but is about determining what's at stake in
Wittgenstein's invocation o f a difference between justification and rights.
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If one can separate the application of criteria from the criteria themselves, then
criteria are inadequate to describe the relation between personhood (to which are
attached rights) and any totality determining normative standards (towards which
justification operates). Becausetheappealtorightswantstoconceptualizepersonhood(or
particularity) as a totality determining normative standards personhood is both
stabilized (as a ground) and destabilized (as normative). Thus the questions "when
does something mean" or 'when do I know how to play chess?" arise when we view
ourselves as simultaneously a particular and a universal, as a fragment or at
night, or in our attempts to conceptualize both the language games we use to
describe dreams and the language games about our self-loss at night..The following
is another version ofthe Wake which is another version ofthis self- loss:"Yet it is
but an old story, the tale of a Treestone with one Ysold, of a Mons held by
tentpegs and his pal whatholoosed on the run . . .drop this jiggerypokery and talk
straight turkey meet to mate, for while the ear, be we mikealls ornicholists, may
sometimes by inclined to believe others the eye, whether browned or nolensed, find
it devilish hard now and again even to believe itself. (FW113.18-29)The elm and
stone are telling a tale of ALP as Isolde (compare this story with Eliot's telling
of this story) and of HCE as Gulliver, where the Lilliputians tentpeg him down like
sleep and its fragments and details. Someone asks (the text or the reader) to speak
"straight turkey", but even in this request a metaphor for plan speaking can become
theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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plainfleshof"turkeymeet"(meat). Whynotbuildachurchonthispuninsteadofthepun
onSt.Peter? Ordinarylanguagepausesthe"jiggerypokery"ofthisnight,likethelove potion
Isolde drank, so that to meet is to mate. Do we believe the evidence of our ears
over that of our eyes? Language of the eye or the ear cannot establish certainty.
It is a fact about ordinary language just as it is a fact about ordinary life that
we might "find it devilish hard now and again even to believe itself', where this
itself might be language animated into the form of our understanding or ourselves
as bodies unsure of our status as animate beings.In justification the criteria
used, the totality invoked (society, language, law), functions as a limit to the
particular. In rights the particular (individual, sentence, claim) functions as a
limit to the totality. Epistemological justification is therefore an application
ofcriteria. Aestheticjustification,likewhenepistemologicalbecomesontological
justification, when knowing ifthe bird is a goldfinch becomes the skeptical problem
of determining if the bird is a hallucination, cannot be satisfied by any criteria
because these criteria are missing or themselves require justification.
Ifanylinedidjustifythewholewritingwouldcease. Thedemandforjustification is not
necessarily met by success. To use it by right opens up the complexity in the use
of possession as a justification for freedom, an appeal to citizenship, the
community, in this case the community of speakers, the normative conventionalism
determining the criteria of language (games) expressed as personhood. The appeal to
right here pretends to undercut the demand for justification, but the appeal to
right rests on the collapse ofjustification into personhood. Personhood is not
something that can be denied; by this I mean even theReproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.201
denial of the right to personhood that defined American slavery or describes ethnic
and religious conflicts are tacit recognitions ofwhat is being denied.
Wittgenstein's arguments that we respond to the pain in another as if to their
human physiognomy is true in these cases as well. But is not the case that a right
is an expression of personhood? It can only function as such an expression through
a logic ofjustification that attaches the right to personhood and not to the land
or to gods or to power. (What is a right? Is it like an arm? Do I have the right to
my own body? Who says? Why them? Because they have power? what legitimates their
power? Their power? And yet the stability o f communities is a function ofthe
recognition ofthe legitimacy ofpower). To say that 'rights are human' can be
answered by 'so are justifications'. Human rights are nonsensical: 'human rights'
would not be called rights at all. All rights proceed through the inclusion within
a community where these rights can be acknowledged. Rights, therefore, in their
ambiguous relation to justification, describe a way in which we attach our
interpretations (about what isjust) to what we are.What does the demand to justify
our words entail, demand, require? Modernism might require that the words
themselves justify their sense, answering questions: does this mean? should I read
this? is this art? which is to ask what value do these words have? At any point in
the Wake none of these questions can be answered. Thus nothing within the
textcancountasajustificationbeforethesequestionshavealreadybeenanswered. Thus if
the text could offer a justification that would count as a justification it would
have already been justified.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.202
The demand for justification before this text requires the interpretation o f what
it means to justify in this case. Every text demands and performs its own
justification. If we canjustify the Wake as art, we assume that we have criteria
determining what art is, in the way we use criteria in evaluating knowledge claims.
But this determination of art is exactlywhatjustificationissupposetoprovide.
Soagainthedemandseemsnottomake sense because we do not know what the demand means.
Y et without justification art seems vague, blind or pointless.You say to me, 'You
are not justified in thinking that.' 'Thinking' here means something like
'believing'. The criteria for justification here will be partly dependent on
what'that'refersto. Thelegitimacyofmythinking,likemyknowledge,seemsdependent on
justified true belief. This justification describes a rationale adequate to the
facts or logic or the rules o f discourse or of evidence. Although I cannot make
the truth o f any particular claim transparent, I should be able to articulate the
facts and reasons that wouldjustify my belief. I can even show how a belief, my own
or someone else's, is a prejudice (of course again this does not make my belief
either true or false, just not justified except as a prejudice).Compare this use o
f 'justify' (knowledge) with Milton's self-purported, putative 'motive' in writing
Paradise Lostwhat in me is darkIllumine, what is low raise and support;I may assert
Eternal Providence, AndjustifythewaysofGodtomen. (1.22-26)Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
Do we read "And justify the ways of God to men" as a promise to show that God is
right? To give God his due? To recognize or establish his rights? No. Is this
instead a promise to show that the form ofthe world and ofhumanity is correct? By
what standard? How does one determine the criteria by which to judge God and the
world (if one already questions God's ways and, therefore, his word)? This goal I
think, therefore, should be understoodironically.
TheironyofthisgoalrestsonthehumansubsumptionofGod's right tojudge: the human
ascension to the possession or the creation ofthe criteria ofjudgment.
Miltonmusttransformwhatitmeanstojudge(andjustify)sothatwe understand our lives (our
very humanity) as a manifestation of God's demand that wejustify our ways to God.
Such ajustification, however, requires the acceptance of God's criteria o f
evaluation, even though these criteria remain unknown by human beings.Justification
goes through the request that our education be a form of purification. Milton did
use justify like this in Areopagitica:This justifies the high providence of God,
who, though he command us temperance, justice, continence, yet pours out before us,
even to a profiiseness, all desirable things, and gives us minds that can wander
beyond all limit and satiety. (733)Thisjustification ofthe ways ofgod is meant to
suggest that we must act against these temptations in order to make ourselves (or
express ourselves as) virtuous: "that which
purifiesusistrial,andtrialisbywhatiscontrary"(728). Thispurification,however,isan
attempt to justify ourselves before God.Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.204
In his discussion ofthe theology ofLuther, Barth argues that "the center ofthis
theology, then, is the demand for faith as naked trust that casts itselfinto the
arms of God's mercy; faith that is the last word that can be said about the
possibility ofjustification before God" (Calvin 46). Calvin followed Luther in this
even more strongly, tying justification to obedience to God by virtue of God's
sovereignty (expressed through predestination).
Bydescribingjustificationasakindofeducation(orpurification),Milton forces
justification from an interpretation into an act. But we must be careful about what
this means. A human life becomes itself an interpretation towards God's criteria of
judgment. Interpretation is embedded within a meaning which emerges through the act
of transforming oneselftowards God (the totalizing form ofmeaning). Ajustification,
as an interpretation,gainsmeaning(andadeterminingscope)initsuse. Thisusemustalsobe
justified in acting toward the good. This may mean nothing to us if we do not
imagine ourselves inhabiting moral totalities (in the way we might imagine
inhabiting linguistic totalities).I think my sketch ofMilton's use ofjustification
is cognate with Wittgenstein's description o f the grammar o f shame. First,
Wittgenstein describes an expression o f hate and derives its meaning as an
interpretation o f the total scene:"At that moment I hated him." --What happened
here? Didn't it consist in thoughts, feelings, and actions? And if I were to
rehearse that moment to myself I should assume a particular expression, I think of
certain happenings, breathe in a particular way, arouse certain feelings in myself.
I might think up a conversation, a whole scene in which that hatred flared up. And
I might play this scene throughReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
with feelings approximating to those of a real occasion. That I have actually
experienced something ofthe sort will naturally help me to do so. (PI?642)This is
clear enough for my purposes. It is important to see that the sentence "At that
moment I hated him" is a judgment or interpretation. It's meaning is, therefore,
part of thatinterpretation(meaningisnotalwayslikethis).
Therecognitionofthishatredandthe fact ofthis hatred can be interpreted further:
"IfI now become ashamed ofthis incident, I am ashamed of the whole thing: of the
words, of the poisonous tone, etc." (PI?643).
Wittgensteinthenaskshowdoesthisshameattachtothishatred. WhatexactlyamI ashamed of?
"I am not ashamed of what I did then, but of the intention which I had." -- And
didn't the intention lie also in what I did? What justifies the shame? The whole
historyoftheincident."(PI?644;underlineadded). Whatisincludedinthis"whole history"
changes and shifts according to how it is embedded in our lives when we remember
this incident. Our moral education might be learning how to describe the limits o f
our "whole history" as a manifestation o f a set o f values.Wittgenstein suggests
that what we call our intentions are rather interpretations of what we remember o f
our "thoughts, feelings, movements, and also connexions with earlier situations"
(PI?645). Learning the correct interpretation not o f our intentions alone but o f
how we figure ourselves with intentions, with shames, with hatreds does not
entailremakingourlanguage. Itentailsremakingourselveswithinourordinarylanguage
figured within organizing limits (for Wittgenstein often normative limits). One
might still expect a battle over what these limits are, for example, over what the
limits of the ordinary are or over how we learn or use particular language games.
This debate (one o f theReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.206
debates inFinnegans Wake,or rather the pressure deforming language in the Wake,
describesalanguagenotyetformedaroundaparticularhumanbeing. Ourreadingofthe Wake
puts on these words as ours directed at the limits formed by nonsense, negation,
materiality, causation, interpretation, sense, substance, and so on. Seeing the
world as consisting o f these limits [and at times as nothing more than these
limits] means thinking theologically).The figure which Milton uses to describe how
interpretation and meaning are embedded in each other, how we manifest ourselves in
the interpretive histories we use to describe the totalities we inhabit, is
animation. Milton animates books: "For books are not absolutely dead things, but do
contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny
they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction o f
that living intellect that bred them" (720). These books are not to be judged by
men, who have invented "new limbos and new hells wherein they might include our
bookswithinthenumberofthedamned"(725). Thejustificationofbooks,liketheir meaning,
is a function of their use, for even bad books may allow "the judicious reader. . .
to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate" (727). Such a use is a
justification o f the books and the reader, but a justification different from the
judgment about someone'sorsomething'snatureasgoodorbad.
SuchjudgmentisreservedforGod. Books are animated through their potential use as
manifest inhabitations (a "vial") of our moral stances. Is this a version o f a use
by right without justification?Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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Can we find ourselves within a community in which what counts as a justification
becomes unclear? I f the Wake continually requires justification, is it the
justification like that which James meditated upon for America?"Oh, yes; we were
awfully dear, for what we are and for what we do"-- it was proud, but it was rather
rueful; with the odd appearance everywhere as of florid creations waiting, a little
bewilderingly, for their justification, waiting for the next clause in the
sequence, waiting in short for life, for time, for interest, for character, for
identity itselfto come to them, quite as large spread tables or superfluous shops
may wait for guests and customers" (American Scene, 90)James diagnoses this demand
for justification as a waiting for completion in which Americans are thingified as
spread tables or superfluous shops, which are then animated by their waiting, by an
intentionality directed toward this future completion. Justification, itselfj is
enacted as "the next clause in the sequence," life, time, interest, character, and
identity. This is a kind o f picture o f being-within. The analogic reduction o f
justification to the continuation of the linguistic context within which meaning
emerges (a model of James' style) is further analogized back into a psycho-
philosophical description of a human being bordered by "life" and "identity". The
terms connecting these limits o f soul and mind are well chosen. Life, both the
principle of animation (something like energy here)and the totality o f a life, is
in the following "time" abstracted and specialized as the form
ofthisdynamismandasthelimitonanyparticularlife. Thisdynamismandlimitisrefined in
'interest', an intentional stance expressing value (priorities) and possibility (a
moving toward). Thecontentofthispotentialdynamismandvaluationonesuspectsconstitutes
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without permission.208
character,bothasapsychologicaltermandamoraljudgment. Thispsychologyis stabilized
into metaphysics by Identity: I am. This T am' describes the formal limits o f a
particular, and is, therefore, in relation to the generality of life stabilized as
a mind. In this model justification requires and is constituted by a model of the
relation between the limit described by the soul and that described by the mind.
Aestheticjustification means not ajustification ofany particular word, but that
each word justifies the whole. Consequently, it is not that each sentence o f the
Wake is a microcosm of the Wake, a holographic reflection as are the heterocosoms
of romantic art or Schlegels romantic fragments. The appearance ofmimicry is a way
ofjustifying the Wake by offering an interpretation of a particular moment,
character, or set of words as an interpretation of the entire book (or let's say of
an entire life). Projecting forward towards our death means within the logic ofthe
Wake projecting ajustification toward that end, the dreamers, ours, or the books.
These justifications are all limited and incomplete, but not because of a limit to
our knowledge or understanding. The limitation is a function ofjustification
proceeding through interpretation. Ajustification is never simply an interpretation
that simulates the text. W. Wimsatt and M. Beardsley's are wrong when they claim
that "judging a poem is likejudging a pudding of a machine. One demands that it
work. It is only because an artifact works that we infer the intention o f an
artificer" (4). Thispictureassumesapoemworksandexistsasanartifact,asamechanism.
Howdoesa poem work separate from its interpretation? What is the output of a poem
that can bejudged.
ForbothapuddingandamachinewecanclearlyarticulatethecriteriabywhichReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
to judge if its performance is successful or not. No such articulation is possible
for a poem.A text like Firmegans Wake, consisting o f a continuous commentary on
itself is nothing but enveloping facts and no text: "Yet to concentrate solely on
the literal sense or even the psychological content o f any document to the sore
neglect o f the enveloping facts themselves circumstantiating it is hurtful to
sound sense (and let it be added to the truest taste) a s " (FW109.12-16). What
follows from the ellipse is nonsense, so that one can determine in any sensible way
what ignoring the enveloping facts would mean. What constitutes these facts is also
not clear (nor is the literal or psychological content). Ajustification of the Wake
must include a version of the Wake but in this it is not the Wake, not only because
each interpretation will not be able to include itself as an interpretation,
butbecauseinterpretationalwayspointselsewhere. Thedetectivedoesnotsolvethe crime in
the same way as the criminal commits it. The detective and the criminal might
seemclose,andyetintheirdifferenceliestheentireworldof"envelopingfacts." Wecan more
easily see that the diagnoses o f the disease is different from the disease; but do
we imagine a virus as a criminal? The historian writes history, and in this makes
history, but not the same history he writes about:The boxes, if I may break the
subject gently, are worth about four pence pourbox but I am inventing a more patent
process, foolproof and pryperfect (I should like to ask that Shedlock Homes person
who is out for removing the roofs o f our criminal classics by what deductio ad
domunum he hopes de tacto to detect anything unless he happens ofhimself, movibile
tectu, to have a slade off) afterReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.210
which they can be reduced to a fragment oftheir true crust by even the youngest of
Margees if she will take place to be seated and smile if I please. (FW165-
66.30-.02)The Sigla used by Joyce to describe Finnegans Wake was a box: ?. "These
boxes," invented into inscrutability, contain his kiribis pouch filled with
litterish fragments lurk dormant in the paunch ofthat halpbrother ofa herm, a
pillarbox" (FW66.29-.31). A 'herm' is a Greek four-cornered pillar on which is
placed a head, usually of Hermes.Again the Wake. Trying to open the shedlock, a
make a home a home, is Shedlock Homes whose reductio ad absurdum is also a deductio
ad domunum, leading to the Lord. How can we touch {de iacto) god, enter into domum
dei, unless we have a slate off our own roof (a chip of the old block; a part for
whole)? If we remove a slate we can see inside, if not another's head, then into
our own, if we discover ourselves (or not) in our children for example. Are these
boxes, our minds, our world, our god, fragments like pieces of crust once they are
"foolproof and pryperfect", or will the youngest o f Margees reduce theseboxes of
ourselves and the world to fragments of the true cross, or the crust of the bread
ofthe body ofChrist. Would this 'youngest ofMargees" have a slade offher roof, or
is it that having taken a place in the world her smile if the text pleases (or more
insidiously if the text or the author decrees) reduces these promises of sense and
benediction to crusts?These boxes, the targets of our interpretation that form new
boxes to interpret, are equivalent to the grammatical soul Keats generated, except
that these grammatical markers have no inside. Keats "soul-making" produced a
becoming within a single grammaticalentity.
ThereisnosuchstabilityintheWake,whereanybox,anysentenceReproduced with permission
of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.211
marks a becoming in relation to another box, another sentence. This means in effect
that Finnegans Wake (and Philosophical Investigations) do not satisfy one of Keats'
criteria for poetry: "They will explain themselves--as all poems should do without
any comment"(2 January 1818: Letters, n, 21). They constitute new criteria.1In his
Disputed Questions on the Soul, Aquinas asks "Can the human soul be both a form and
a real particular (hoc aliquid)T2 Sir Edward Sullivan in his Introduction to The
Book o f the Kells, cited in McHugh (1980).3". . . speeching, yeh not speeching noh
man liberty is, he drinks up words, scilicet, tomorrow till recover w ill not, all
too many much illusiones throgh photoprismic velamina o f hueful panepiphanal world
spectacunun o f Lord Joss, the o f which zoantholic furniture, from mineral through
vegetal to animal, not appear to full up together M ien man than under but one
photoreflection. . . " (FW611.10-16).4 Wittgenstein's second note about this on
page 59 makes this clear:Supposeitwereasked: Whendoyouknowhowtoplaychess?
Allthetime?orjustwhileyouare makinga move?--
Howqueerthatknowinghowtoplaychessshouldtakesuchashorttime,and a game so much
longer!The translation hides the conflation o f "to know" with "can" exploited in
the German--"Wann kanst du Schachspielen?".
Wittgensteinremarksontheclosenessofthegrammarof"toknow"and"can"at150 (on page 59)
in order to bring out the sense of "mastery' tying knowing and understanding to how
we use language. Ifoneaskswhencanyouplaychess? IfIknowhow,allthetime.
Whatconstitutesknowing here? being able to play the game. One might ask how many
rules can I forget before no longer knowing howtoplay. Thatmightdependonmyopponent
Ifmyunderstandingoftheruleswouldnotmakeit even possible for me to win a game then
this might constitute a dividing line. If asked "when did you stop understanding
that word?" I might not understand this as asking for a time but a criterion like
"when I could no longer use it". This possibility for misunderstanding is
highlighted in the question about chess.
"When"knowinghowtoplaychessisacaseofatonement Atonementwouldbetheconditionwhenone
could not ask of oneselfor look with some stupefaction at someone who asks "do you
know how to play the whole of chess during each move?" This is notjust a knowing
how opposed to a knowing that The playingofchesstakestime--
itisconstitutedbyaseriesofmoves. Asking"when?"asksforatimeseries
andforanarticulationofthecriteriaallowingforplayingchess: forpossibility.
Thispossibilityisnot present in our knowing but in our form of life, in the knowing
how, training, social practice, having an opponent or a board. This temporal
dimension is brought out by Wittgenstein's "How queer that
Whatconstitutes knowing how can be found as if holographically in every moment of
playing chess, if one does indeed know how to play. This present in every moment is
the "short time". This knowing how 'now' is not experienced as such, and thus it
seems not to be in time at all, rather this taking "such a short time" seems a joke
for it doesn't take any time at all. Is this knowing how then a transcendent realm?
Each move is not only a fragment of the entire game, but a fragment enacted and
implying the possibilities of move and counter-move that constitute the finite
system of chess.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.212
nTHE SEMANTICS OF IDENnTY AND THINGSReproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
7The Semantics of Identity and MindBoth Wittgenstein and Joyce describe thinking
toward the limit between the animate and inanimate and sense and nonsense through
our involvement within the grammarofourlanguagegames.
FinnegansWakeandPhilosophicalInvestigations describe a dynamic grammar that
constructs a non-psychological T as a shifting marker
throughwhichweinvestourselvesintheselanguagegames. Howweinvestourselvesin these
language games and in the world as our world is one way o f understanding how
language can animate the world, resuscitate a soul, or construct a mind. I might
ask these questions in a number o f moods, for any number o f reasons, most o f
which begin in a sense that the world is dead or inanimate, the soul moribund, and
the mind unmade or something to make. Beginning here is, however, misleading.
Pursuing animation, resuscitation, and construction asks, at some fundamental
level, how we inhabit the forms of our experience as if we ourselves are inanimate.
In asking this we are led to the edge of nonsense, in search o f manuals describing
either how to animate ourselves or how to animate things.T.S. Eliot's The Waste
Land and Heidegger's "Das Ding" want to re-animate the world.
Thustheyarestudiesinwhatitmeanstobeanimateandinwhatconstitutesa world.
WhenIbegananalyzingEliot'sandHeidegger'smethodsofanimation,Iimagined they would
articulate inverse ways of conceptualizing being as identities or things within,
respectively, subjunctive and semantic modes. What I understood as Eliots's
subjunctiveNotes for this chapter begin on page 247Reproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.213
aesthetics, working out a semantics o f identity, I thought would provide a target
for Joyce's figuration o f what I have called the distance between mind and soul.
Similarly, Heidegger's attempt to translate the real into the meaningful, I
thought, would describe an ontological grammar akin to Wittgenstein's enactment of
time in PhilosophicalInvestigations, but in a form that fails to provide a way for
human beings to invest themselves within this grammar (and thus it fails as a
description of our involvement in the world and in language). This limited
investigation ofboth Eliot and Heidegger, however, was soon eclipsed by the
possibilities for understanding how the rejection o f substance as a description o
f what is real can lead to the hypostatization o f identity as a void (in The Waste
Land) or as a grammatical principle from which things and meaning enfold along
fragments o f time (in "Das Ding"). After I had breached the walls o f their texts,
the work of both Eliot and Heidegger seemed two pear trees whose fruit I could not
stop picking.A direct comparison between Eliot and Heidegger and Joyce and
Wittgenstein is no longer manageable within the confines ofthis dissertation. My
analysis ofEliot and Heidegger, however, is still meant to demonstrate what is at
stake in describing the limits of the mind and soul within and against the
conceptual and grammatical limits Joyce and Wittgenstein expose.
Butwhoiscirclingwhomhasbecomeunclear. Thefollowingchaptershouldberead as a preface
to both what is at stake in the animation of things and identities attempted in
Eliot and Heidegger, and as a prologemenon to the grammatical descriptions o f time
and being I will examine in Joyce and Wittgenstein.In his latter work, Heidegger
reconstitutes the ontological claims the world makes on us as semantic functions,
as following a conceptual pattern o f meaningful relations. InReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
otherwords,heattemptstoreconstitutewhatsomethingisaswhatitmeans. These ontological
claims and semantic possibilities determine Being, not simply as existence, but as
the functional condensation o f all meanings o f the verb (to be' into those
aspects o f our experience we recognize as things, ourselves, and the world. "Das
Ding" enacts the question 'What is the qualitative aspect ofthings? from within a
language that can enactthe answer as our re-education; the ontology ofthings in
their participation or inhabitation ofBeing can look like a psychology ofthings.
Heidegger begins his essay with the question "What is a thing?" He takes this
question to be asking something like 'How do things exist?' or 'What exists for
us?'. His answer to these question, however, proceeds tlirough asking 'what does
"existence" mean?', questioning the verb o f 'to be' into its ontological and
functional force. We inhabit this force through a redemptive semantics which
transforms the concepts o f identity and predication determining existence, 'being'
and 'is', from a world both containing and against us, into the categorical
semantic ambiguity of the word 'weilen' (dwelling, staying, abiding, lingering)
under the pressure ofthis re-education.The Waste Land exposes as its own animating
principle of order or meaningsomething like the following conditional: If we are
dying, our living is counterfactual. The counterfactual or the subjunctive is both
what is given as possible, determined within and by language and history and
society, and what can be made or created beyond. The relation between quality and
quantity is articulated in The Waste Land through an exploration o f how to make
the subjunctive real, ontological.Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.215
Coleridge, commenting on the mental schema articulated in Wordsworth's Prelude, re-
describes the reciprocal relation between the senses and the world that constructs
the mind. Following what he believes was "partly suggested by m e . . . He
[Wordsworth] was to treat man as man--a subject of eye, ear, touch, and taste, in
contact with external nature, and informing the senses from the mind, and not
compounding a mind out of the senses" (188).1 What has changed between Coleridge's
Wordworth and Eliot when he writes in "Gerontion"?:To lose beauty in terror, terror
in inquisition.I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it Since what is
kept must be adulterated?I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch:
How should I use them for your closer contact?Such poetry is not simply an
expression o f personality. Age and terror and revulsion and the failure of our
knowing and knowledge, the realization that not only can the mind and the world be
confused with each other, but that a failure of courage or of sense or of meaning
can tempt us to deny our mind. What kind o f questions are these?: "Do I dare
disturb the universe?"2or "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" or "I have lost
my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch: How should I use them for your closer
contact?"3 or "Shall I set my lands in order?" or '"What! areyou here?"'.4 We can
say at least that questions about the limits of knowledge can be understood as
questions about redemption (ofour knowing, ofour language(s), ofourselves). The
possibility ofredemption in The Waste Land underwrites a theory of animation (a set
of embedded assumptions) thatReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.216
displaces the site of our mind or soul (the between in Finnegans Wake) into the
subjunctive. How does one animate possibility? This sounds like a nonsense
question. I think, however, that one should understand it to mean that Eliot's use
o f possibility highlights the failure o f knowledge, such that the demand to
reanimate mind and world is not a rejection o f this failure (skepticism), as in
pantheism, but a demand to reanimatemind and world from within or as this
uncertainty."What The Thunder Said" in The Waste Land does not promise the sound of
thunder, but the meaning o f a particular burst o f thunder-talk. Joyce gives the
thunder a voice as well, but Wakean thunder is not yet caught up into fragmented
allegories: it structures the world o f "broken heaventalk" (261.28) as a semantic/
syntactic/ phonetic limit between the body o f the dreamer, whose turning in the
night is signaled by these thunderous peals, and the mind or language he finds
himselfbeing or in, which we call the book Finnegans Wake:The fall
hounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthumuk!) o f a wallstrait oldparr is retale early in bed
and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy. (3.15-16)Thunder phonemes
repeat and therefore constitute a rhythmic order: mm, nn, onn, t . . . t, h...
h,bababada,gh... gh,etc. Thisrepetition,likethe"Da/Damata..."ofEliot's thunder,
grows, barnacle-like, through accretion into parodic forms o f human sense:
"konnbronntonner" or "toohoohoord": to be able to bum and thunder [G. konnen,
brenn, tonner] and 'also who heard?'. Does this make the sense of the thunder a
question of training (maybe even scientific training) or of listening or of failing
to hear or failing to beReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.217
a person who can hear, who can recognize 'me' and 'who' in 'toohoohoord'? Joyce has
included at least 13 words for thunder in this sound: "thunntro" and "tonnerr" pun
the English thunder, German, Donner, Japanese, kaminair, Hindi, karak, Greek,
brontao; French lonnerre\ Italian, tuono, Swedish, aska\ Portaguese, trovao\ Irish,
tomach, Old Rumanian, tun , Danish, tordenen. Does the inclusion o f these multi-
lingual puns in the soundofthethundermakethissoundself-reflexive?
Whatthethunderspeaksisitsname, as if in some comedy, 'thunder thunder thunder.' But
this is not God's 'I am that I am.'The sounds and the name are for us Thunder. They
are for us a semantics discovered in the self-replication o f names in a series o f
phonemes. Language o f this sort is a dreaming into the world, not into ourselves.
Eliot wrote in his essay on Dante,We have nothing but dreams, and we have forgotten
that seeing visions--a practice now relegated to the aberrant and uneducated--was
once a more significant,interesting,anddisciplinedkindofdreaming.
Wetakeitforgranted that our dreams spring from below: possibly the quality of our
dreams suffers as a consequence. {SelectedEssays, 204)What is the ontological
status (is it real?) or the intentional claim (what is it about?) of a dream
exposing the world and not our psychology? Finnegans Wake is such a dream, that is,
the world dreaming a mind; so would the world be if constructed by a demon, or if
our brain was wired into its vat; or ifwe found ourselves in a world which was made
in the way that we were made; culture would be such a dream; so would psychology be
a dream intotheworldandnotintous.
"IBshearingisindoubtingjustasmyseeingisonbelieving" (FW468.15-16).
Tothinkaboutbelievingthreatensunbelieving.ForthemomentReproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.218
philosophy and poetry will seem "the world, mind, is, was and will be writing its
own wrunes for ever, man, on all matters that fall under the ban o f our
infrarational senses" (FW19.35-20.01).A certain awe attends the world and its
adequacy for us. This adequacy can at least be explained as an effect ofnatural
selection. But thejustification ofthe worlds adequacy, its existence as a world for
us, can mutate into a further confusion about how a world is constituted for us as
our own. Or we might ask how we might lose the world not only to skeptical doubt,
but in not knowing how to find ourselves in the world, lost "[tjill human voices
wake us, and we drown".5 In his notes on a philosophy seminar given by Josiah
Royce, Eliot criticized philosophical theories o f knowledge as limited by their
failure to "treat illusion as real" (Costello, 119).6 I f I posit the causes o f my
dream-vision as bio-chemical interactions in my brain or as a function of some
psychological allegory,71 have not explained how the irreality ofmy vision alters
what is a world; how can we survive fantasy? "What we should consider is not so
much the meaning o f the images, butthe reverse process, that which led a man
having an idea to express it in images"(204). Eliot ties this process to the
clarity of visual images in allegorical thinking and poetry. Allegory generates
meaning even without our being aware o f the particular meaning o f an image. This
might be our response to systemic coherence, where the image manifests an order
that constitutes the kind of order determining of a world or an organism or a mind.
Eliot's poetry constructs meaning at the edge o f these allegories (or worlds or
organisms or minds), where we must always ask what is this poetry in relation to
what the worlds are it points to and abuts. This poetry cannot itself function as a
form ofReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.219
consciousness as might Romantic poetry. Instead, Eliot's poetry describes limits to
both howandwhyweinhabitourformsofmind(s)andworld(s). Thepoetryofallusionand
fragmentation in The Waste Land' therefore, functions as grammatical categories
written as ifthey were ontological categories describing the limits ofbeing human
within the world. Fragments act as interlocking domains, pointing elsewhere, or
switching point-of- view, failing to designate some other something (even the
allusions do not mean as afunction o f their originary texts). The Waste Land
poetic world, enacts subjunctive possibilities (word meanings, other texts, other
worlds and persons, other minds that might read nonsense as sense) as the
ontological description o f our stance toward each other and the world. In other
words, both the conventional pictures o f the world and poetic fantasies and
nonsense do not describe possible worlds, but rather pick us out as the limits o f
all such possible worlds.8The claims that both the world and what counts as the
subject or self are determined and limited, and made problematic or only possible
by our being betrayed
withinandthroughthispoetryasnothingmorethanthelimitofthesepossibilities. Lifeis
counterfactual. Claims about what is real are all limit claims; the borders of
sense and nonsensesketchedinTheWasteLanddescribethesesamelimits: theconflationofthe
semantic and the ontologic draws our psychology into conflicting language games
used to capture the interplay between husband and wife and friends, and living and
dead, animate andinanimate,symbolicandordinary,etc.
Theeffectofthepoetryistorequireajustification for how we inhabit or project or
commit ourselves to different and fluid grammatical (or what we often call
psychological) limits: subject, object, self, other, 'I',Reproduced with permission
of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.220
'you', 'we', 'they', etc. The patterns of our involvement describe a meta-temporal
order that can count as either a mind (ours or someone else's or the worlds) or a
world (ours or someone else's or a presupposed given).How do we confuse minds for
world(s)? Thoreau can give us a hint about what it means to be confused enough to
ask another version o f this question. In Walden's "Brute Neighbors", he fits the
world to the mind, where this fitting is, itself, our awe:
Whydopreciselytheseobjectswhichwebeholdmakeaworld? Whyhasmanjust these species of
animals for his neighbors; as if nothing but a mouse could have filled this
crevice? I suspect that Pilpay & Co. have put animals to their best use, for they
are all beasts of burden, in a sense, made to carry some portion of our thoughts.
(151)Do the objects we see make a world? "Make" can almost be read as a semantic
pun. Interposing the clause 'which we behold' between the objects and 'making the
world' not only pictures our seeing or an 'I' between objects and world, it
attaches our beholding to world-making. Thus the question 'why do we make a world
with these objects? requires us to answer with another question, 'how do we make a
world?, placing these objects and the world on top o f the poetic and engineering
modeling power o f our mind, [transcendental aesthetic]; But our seeing is a
beholding, or a being held by the objects which might then make a world. These
objects make a world, and our seeing is not a Kantian apperception but a perception
ofwhat Heidegger calls the 'throwness of being". This would translate Thoreau's
question into 'how do objects constitute a world?"; this is one way o f
understanding Hiedegger's question "What is a thing?" in "Das Ding".Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
Thoreau, however, nests what makes a world in the questions 'Why these objects?',
'Why this beholding?', 'Why a world?'. These questions ask for the criteria (a
justification) that determines what counts as a world: why do these objects make a
world? What objects? Look around. Pilpay, falsely believed to have written the
Sanskrit fables
collectedastheHitopadesa(telleroffables),makesfictionalworldsoftheworld. Already in
the pressure Thoreau places on 'beasts ofburden' and 'made to carry some portion of
our thoughts', our language functions as our thought. Animals become animals in our
stories. But if they are not reduced into fetishes, they manifest "a portion o f
our thoughts" (what portion?) to ourselves as the world. We may think, in other
words only what the world offers or the world may only be what we think. We are
returned to Parmenides, even inthe difficulty oftranslation that attends his Greek:
to yap auto voeiv ecmv xeKaisivai.
Wecantranslatethisas'becausethesamethingisthoughtasexists'(57).9 Does this mean
that only what is thought exists? Or that to be thought about and to exist are the
same? Or even as Sparshott suggested, "'Only what can think can exist?' Or even
'Thinking and being are the same?"' (110).10The adequacy o f the world is
understood here as the expression o f meaning, or possibly a theory of meaning, if
what counts as a theory is understood to be a problem about how the world means.
The adequacy o f the world, therefore, can be determined by how one answers (or if
one asks) the question: 'how does the world mean or manifest our thinking (about
it) in what it is?'; or 'how do we use the world to manifest our mind to ourselves
or to express the world as the world?'Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.222
The awe attending the adequacy o f the world can seem to be a description o f the
mind. The psycho-physiologist Warren McCulloch asks Thoreau's question o f the mind
under the aspect o f logical coherence: "What Is a Number that a Man May Know It,
and a Man that He May Know a Number?"11 Although his answer returns us to the
question, it formulates a model o f time as a probabilistic logic expressed through
"all-or-none impulsesoftheneurons"(9). Hesayshisobject,"asapsychologist,"was to
invent a kind of least psychic even, or "psychon," that would have the following
properties: First, it was to be so simple an event that it either happened
orelseitdidnothappen. Second,itwastohappenonlyifitsboundcausehad happened--shades o
f Duns Scotus! --that is, it was to imply its temporal antecedent. Third, it was to
propose this to subsequent psychons. Fourth, these were to be compounded to produce
the equivalents of more complicated propositions concerning their antecedents." (8)
The ambiguity in Thoreau's use of "make a world" is mirrored here in McCulloch's
attempt "to invent a kind o f psychic event." Logic is meant to provide a temporal
invariant that in essence functions as the identity structure constituting both
number and consciousness.
Thismodelcanbeunderstoodasatranslationmachine(ofinputsinto outputs) structuring
time through causal implication ("imply its temporal antecedent") in a hierarchical
system whose final output, grasping an identity (number), mimics its own deep
structure o f simple events as a succession o f organized identities (psychons).
Thoreau and McCulloch both describe the world from within, that is, not as a whole,
and thus as built out of fragments. They describe, however, different kinds of
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without permission.223
fragments. Thoreau,torqueingtheKantianlimitbetweenthemindandtheworldinthe stalling
circular aesthetic logic of his sentences, marks out his neighbors, the particulars
that fit within the world. These particulars present themselves to him in/ within/
as his awe and questioning. This may not seem a fragmentation; it is a peculiar
kind. He finds
himselfaskinghowtheobjectsfitsowellintoaworld,asifsuchafittingsurprisesus. Hefinds
himselfin the midst of a quantity of objects, and asks about what qualities (why
these?) fits these particulars within the qualitative whole of our experience and
the world. McCulloch understands what exists as countable, and therefore wants to
translate the qualitativeexperienceofconsciousnessintocountableunits.
Hestructuresthetransitive relation between mind and brain as the instantiation o f
identity as the determining atomic units o f mind-existence. Both we and the world
inhabit this awe and these numbers.One way o f reducing ourselves to quantity is to
call ourselves clocks timing the world and actions and thoughts, speaking,
remembering, returning, and hoping into being someone anyone might see again,
surviving either humiliation or infinite diminishment. In such a clock, what
someone might imagine the mind to be as the limit o f the world, the first moment
must fix all other moments. Such an assumption underlies what was called in the
Fifteenth century the problem o f the Absolute Clock. The Dominican philosopher
Graziadei of Ascoli writes in his Quaestiones litterales:Even though time is the
measure ofall movement, and there is, at the same time, a multitude o f movements,
there is, however, only one numerically single time, and not multiple times; that
is so because the first movement is unique, and time concerns this movement and
properly.'12Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.
Duhem explains: "Time is an abstract concept formed by the intellect form every
concrete movement; it remains always the same, whatever the concrete movements are
from which it was formed" (362). This is time abstracted from the world, the
creation of a still point or uniform series o f changes in relation to which time
emerges as an idealized concept beyond the confusion of change and identity in the
world. Heidegger in "Das Ding" and Eliot in The Waste Land twist this abstract
series back into the world of things. These orderings oftime within the world
constitute a semantics ofthings, an animation ofthe inanimate through the
hypostatization o f existing (in various modes and forms) for Heidegger and of
identity for Eliot.Eliot's and Heidegger's investigation ofthe semantics o f'to be'
revolve, I think, aroundthedistinctionbetweenredemptionandjustification.
Youcanseethisrevolution in Eliot's Four Quartets: "There is only the fight to
recover what has been lost and found and lost again and again: and now, under
conditions that seem unpropitious"(EC)13; "Time present and time past are both
perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in
timepast.Ifalltimeiseternallypresentalltimeisunredeemable"(BN). Thisisonewayof
saying we do not know even what redemption might mean. Redemption might require
perspicuous description of ourselves and/or the world.14 But "Words strain, crack
and sometimes break, under the burden, under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
decay withimprecision, will not stay in place, will not stay still."(BN) 'Tor us,
there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."(EC) "Also pray for those
who were in ships, and ended their voyage on the sand, in the sea's lips or in the
dark throat which will not reject them or wherever cannot reach them the sound o f
the sea bell's perpetual angelus."(DS)Reproduced with permission of the copyright
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.225
"And every phrase and sentence that is right (where every word is at home, taking
its place to support the others, the word neither diffident nor ostentatious, an
easy commerce of the old and the new, the common word precise but not pedantic, the
complete consort dancing together) every phrase and every sentence is an end and a
beginning, every poem an epitaph." (LG) How does one write an epitaph? Here lies
nothing and above it these words. "The voice of the hidden waterfall and the
children in the apple-tree not known,because not looked for but heard, half-heard,
in the stillness between two waves of the sea." Suchanepitaphissenseless.What can
justify committing ourselves or attaching ourselves to pronouns, to nonsense, to
poetry or logic? Jakobson gives one answer in "What is Poetiy?":But how does
poeticity manifest itself? Poeticity is present when the word is felt as a word and
not a mere representation ofthe object being named or an outburst of emotion, when
words and their composition, their meaning, their external and inner form, acquire
a weight and value of their own instead o f referring indifferently to reality.
(378)Poetry is a mode of linguistic self-reflection, and in this is an animation
and personification of language into self-consciousness (as if a mind). In ordinary
language, words function under the aspect of grammar. Through poetry, in Jakobson's
picture, this relation is inverted such that words gain possession oftheirgrammar
and thus ofthemselves in a kind o f Lockean self-ownership. The personification o f
language proceeds through equating self-reflection as self-possession ('acquire').
Self-reflection and self-possession function through the concepts o f 'weight' and
'value', not through reference orReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.226
expression. Thisconstitutesaredefinition(maybeareconceptualization)of'value'.
Meaning does not function through reference; in this value is no longer
ontologically determined, that is, the value expressed in self-reflection, in its
creation o f our individualisticwords,isnotdeterminedbythecriteriaofthereal.
Thesewordsdonot lose their ontological force, what Jakobson calls here their
"weight". Value so considered becomes incoherent without the construction of a
domain incommensurable with but able to replace that which was lost (the 'real'
world picked out by reference). Words do not function independently o f ordinary
referential language; self-reflection does not deny the sociality of words (our
common usage) in their functional independence in poetry except
inthedeterminationoftheirvalue. Referenceisembeddedincommonusage,value,for
Jakobson, is (somehow) not. The primacy of sense is replaced with a concept of
self- determined value (whatever that means). In this picture, words are tools only
to and in their own ends, but they have no ends o f their own. In Jakobson's
picture words, phrases, sentences are not valuable because they have a sense, but
they have a sense because they are valuable (the poem as a political fantasy
ofwords functioning as ifanimate minds).Jakobson's definition of poetry, in essence
as a mode of textual self-reflection constructing inherent value as the identity or
meaning of words, places language in an ontological crisis, where the value o f
language, as reflected in its poetic claim on us, is disjunct from the ontological
conditions and criteria describing reality. Is the value of poetry real? All
conceptual work remains legitimate only to the degree that the categories that are
articulated (between intentionality and substance for example) exist. The terms of
existence vary, matter does not exist in the same way that intentionality might,
but matterReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.Ill
and intentionality must both fall under the rubric o f a reality (ours) as defined
by an ontology that includes both domains or categories. It is not clear in
Jakobson's definition what common ontology describes the world and this strange
poetic value. The incommensurability o f poetry and the world forgets that it is
human beings in the world and made by the world that make poetry. Jakobson's
picture o f poetry generates a dualism.Jakobson tries to stitch the world back
together by an appeal to a kind o f logical necessity meant to describe an aspect
ofthe world:Why is all this necessary? Why is it necessary to make a special point
o f the fact that sign does not fall together with object? Because, besides the
direct awareness o f the identity between sign and object (A is Ai), there is a
necessity for the direct awareness ofthe inadequacy ofthat identity (A is not A).
The reason this antinomy is essential is that without contradiction there is no
mobility of concepts, no mobility of signs, and the relationship between concept
and sign becomes automatized. Activitycomestoahalt,andtheawarenessofrealitydiesout.
(378)Jakobson believes that poetry allows us to see a double aspect o f language,
its contradictory functioning through identity and through inequality. Thus he
reduces the referential functioning o f language, rather absurdly, to "the identity
between sign and object (A is A)". We can read this identity in two ways. The first
is obviously false: the sign "Lilac" is not equivalent to the lilac flowers planted
in my garden. Words do not look like their objects, nor do prepositions look like
their ostensible relations, or verbs like their actions, or the determiner 'the'
like anything. Jakobson's use of identity must meanReproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.228
instead that words function as if they were the objects picked out by these words
(if one can even talk about objects here). But if "is" means here "as if where is
the contradiction? How a particular sign string picks out something is at best not
exclusively determined by a synonymy between sign and referent. The awareness ofthe
non-identity between sign and object arises when 'lilacs' ceases to function as a
name and is quoted(explicitly or otherwise).15 Thus, 'A is Ai', as the subscript
should indicate (but does not to Jakobson), is a formula o f identity like x=y and
not x=x. But even in saying this I do not mean to suggest that reference or naming
can be explained through the use o f identity. There was never a real identity
between A and Ai, thus the fact that A is not Ai should come as no surprise.
Jakobson thinks that the formal non-identity o f A and Ai is a problem becasue he
assumes that A means Ai through formal identity. Not only does this ignore the
different forms o f 'identity', but why and how should reference be secured through
identity? Consequently, this is not a real antinomy at all16Even if this is not a
real logical antinomy the force o f the double awareness o f the relation between
word and object (or let's say world) and the fact that the word has no such
intrinsic relation remains (at least as a claim). This claim, however, has ceased
to be about language, where there exists no contradiction because reference cannot
be reduced to identity. Jakobson's picture of double awareness describes,
therefore, not our language but an aspect of our conscious experience (an aspect
Joyce calls a "world, mind"). I think we can see a trace of this shift from
language to consciousness in Jakobson's reasoning. This is registered as an anxiety
that compels him to try an answer why reference might find itself akin, at least in
appearance to identity. Jakobson must resolve this antinomy byReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
describing this double awareness as a function o f what is ontologically real: that
is he must reconnect language with the world, but not through reference or
identity.Jakobson does this by embedding contradiction as an engine for movement
between concepts and signs within a world which he believes cannot be automatized.
Although change as contradiction should be perfectly describable as a logical
transform, one assumes that Jakobson appeals to some gap that must be jumped
creatively that allows for the alteration o f concepts and signs that allows for
awareness. Because this is opposed to automazation, this awareness must be an
awareness of difference built out of not a transformation between two states, which
could be automatized, but a triangulation between these changes and our perception
as a stable substrate describing an identity. There is a difference here.
Automaztion describes a law like description o f reality, whereas 'mobility', not
only in its appeal to animation, reduces the world to our temporal experience o f
it. That is, without poetry, without our own double vision o f language as
referential and self-reflexive, consciousness is reduced to objects described under
the aspect of mechanical laws. Without this double vision activity ceases, and
death results. With another rhetorical slip, Jakobson equates life with
consciousness, such that this stasis loses us the phenomenal world. Are animals who
do not use language incapable o f being aware of reality? A lot rests on how one
construes "aware". Not simply for us, however.The ontological status of these
claims requires that they not be subjective. The conflation o f consciousness with
life is thus a value judgment: without movement or contradiction poetry and life
are really deadness, not anything at all. It is also an ontological claim, in which
the prime criterion for being alive is movement. Such an ontology built out o f a
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without permission.230
false antinomy and an unwarranted equation o f value and ontology (failing
according to its
ownstandardofdoubleawareness)begsthequestionitwasputforwardtosolve. It leaves us
not with ajustification ofart but with a need to justify art that articulates the
relation between poetic value, whatever that is, with ontological force and in
relation to ontological criteria.Thejustification ofa string ofwords through some
version ofidentity, because it pretends to proceed through identity (tautology),
should resolve itself into some kind o f truth claim. Jakobson's version seems to
argue that the "logical antinomy" determining reference and sense (a kind o f
theory o f naming) in its contradictions describes (isomorphically) the movement of
our thoughts, either described or made possible by (the etiology o f this is
confused and incomplete here) which is itself the means, because presumably it
mirrors, the ontological contradictions that is "reality." These contradictions in
our language function at the service of a three-tiered chain of metaphysical
identities fromsignstothinkingandthoughts(concepts)toreality.
Thejustificationofpoetry,its necessity, describes the relation between our minds
and the world according to an axiom ofidentity that yields a description oftime and
mental movement, the loss ofwhich seeminglyisthedeathofrealityandourthinking.
Thepictureunderlyingthismodelisthe equation o f a picture o f time with both the
real and the animate. Time becomes the engine o f mind. Such an equation has an
intuitive force; but it is not a consequence o f this model, but rather a picture
undergirding it. The description of reference, thinking, time, and reality,
however, all function as mythological names. They are unsupported by an ontology,
let alone a logic.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.231
But as an anthropological finding this model can at least make an odd question seem
more reasonable. How canjustification invoke identity and not lead toward logical
truth, but toward animation instead? This means asking what is the aesthetic force
of identity, if this force cannot be reduced to logical analycity? Both questions,
in order to remain sensible, ask for the missing ontology that Jakobson's model
masks (by his playingwith dialectic and an incomplete picturing o f language as a
certain kind o f naming).A poetry constructed in such a way as to offer its
"justification in every line", orlet's say any kind of self-reflection that loses
the referential or expressive force of language (its dependent attachment to the
world), requires that its senses function as ontologicalcriteria.
Whatontologicalcommitmentisentailedinthesenseof'aroseisa rose is a rose is a rose'?
This is asking what kind of sense is there in nonsense? One of Joyce's answers was
what he called "singsigns to soundsense" (FW13807), "soundscript"
(FW219.17),"sinscript"(FW421.18)or"sinse"(FW83.12). Amusicoftransgression, however,
cannot explain its meaning simply as an opposition to referential or spatial sense.
The condition o f 'soundsense' must speak towards itself and towards the world,
where the worldbecomestheconditionsdescribingcertainkindsoftransgressions.
Onedoesnot imaginethatnonsenseescapestheworldofsenseorofmatterorofanythingelse. Our
speaking o f both sense and nonsense must mark this speaking, and thus ourselves,
as real.If a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, what am I? I might be tempted to
answer with a Popeye-like parody of God: I am that I am that I am that I am. This
does not lose its sense in the same way that Stein's repetition does. I am invested
differently in my statements about roses than I am in those about myself. By
analogy then poetry isReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.232
committed differently to its statements about the world than those about itself.
What is this difference? When sense has ontological force as a structural function,
we can call that theological language.Is poetry linguistic self-reflection ofthis
sort? or ofany sort? How is the temptation to appeals to identity, underpinning the
truth possibilities o f self-reflection,
implicatedintheconstructionofnotionsofvalueandjustification? Whatleadsfromthe
justification ofpoetry to a theory ofmind? What use or value or sense can a theory
of mind constructed as part of such a justification have? All ofthese questions ask
about how we use the verb of 'to be' as the limit between our conception of mind
and world. The first question asks for either a definition of poetry, which would
require furtherjustification, or for examples of poetry in relation to each other
as they describe themselves. Any generalization about poetry remains so tied to
changing expectations, personal responsiveness, prejudice, and so on that only
poems can themselves make such claimsandgivethemselvesasevidence.
Poemsthenatleastofferanopportunityto ventriloquizeouropinionsasaneffectofreading.
Butclaimsaboutpoetryareinteresting in the ways they justify themselves and less in
the substance o f their description and claims.How can a poem become its own
justification? Because we do not know what it means for a collection ofwords or
phrases or lines or sentences to reflect upon themselves, not understanding any
form of self-reflection besides our own, any claim about poetry's self-reflection
allegorizes our reading of a poem as simultaneously an object which produces
meanings, as a mechanism o f some sort, and as a phenomenologicalReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
self-reflection on our own reading, described, we imagine, as the interaction
between the semanticsandsyntaxofapoem.
Poetryis(orcanbe)anautonomousmechanismdirected towards us and an expression o f our
reading towards the poem.Asking "what does 'is' mean?" (a question o f semantics
and syntax) and "what 'is' is?" (in what way does it exist?) are not questions but
riddles. The riddle o f 'to be', even in Eliot's fragmented symbolism o f
subjunctive identities and Heidegger's ontological myth of revealing existing,
asks, as Ammons does in his anti-symbolist poetry, how "this measure moves/ to
attract attention. . . not to persuade you, enlighten you, not necessarily to
delight you, but to hold you" (Sphere, 30). How the world holds us, how things hold
us, and how we behold it and them, in containment or continuity or context or
conflict, as genitive, dative, or ablative relations, requires justification, such
as beauty, goodness,truth, correspondence, coherence, desire, identity, fear,
dread, despair. We inhabit an 'is' through our justification o f our kind of
inhabiting. We can construct this how in art or in a description of our mind or in
moral judgment; or we can express this holding in our questioning o f why this
world holds us? why these things?Russell describes the grammatical distinctions in
our use o f "to be" :The word is is terribly ambiguous, and great care is necessary
in order not to confound its various meanings. We have (1) the sense in which it
asserts Being, as in "A is"; (2) the sense o f identity; (3) the sense o f
predication, in "A is human"; (4)thesenseof"Aisa-man"..whichisverylikeidentity.
Inadditiontothese there are less common uses, as "to be good is to be happy"; where
a relation of assertions is meant, that relation, in fact, which, where it exists,
gives rise to formalReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.234
implication, Doubtless there are further meanings which have not occurred tome.
(64n)These four classifications can be further described as (1) assertions o f
existence (as in the quantifiers Vx and 3y; or, the Scholastic existentia, that
something is); (2) x=x; and more questionably x=y; (3) Quine writes "Predication
joins a general term and a singular term to form a sentence that is true or false
according as the general term is true or false o f the object, if any, to which the
singular term refers" (Wordand Object, 96), in this case the use o f the copula is
restricted to claims about objects; (4) a definition and in this senseboth an
identification and the inclusion of something within a class or set or category. As
in category 4, these distinctions often function as aspects of each other, or
presuppose each other, collapse into each other.17Prepositional and predicate logic
analyzes the way in which the words 'or', 'and', 'not', 'if... then', 'every',
'some', 'necessary' and so on function in and structure statements or propositions
as either True or False. Lyric poetry, and I am tempted to say most o f what counts
as literature, let's say its narrative force and world-making force,functions
through instantiating the pronominal and the adverbial limits (primarily the
demonstratives 'this', 'that', 'here', 'now') constituting the domain within which
referential language functions. The limits of our language are non-referential.
They constitute the world as temporal. Pronouns constitute our relation to the
structures of our grammar and to the world determined by our perception and biology
as a discursive event. Both pronouns and the adverbs 'now' and 'here' set up an
indeterminate set of referential andmeaningpossibilities.
TheycansubstituteforeachotheraswaysofmarkingaReproduced with permission of the
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sentence as a sentence in a language, an utterance as an utterance. Are they
existential markers or temporal markers, guarantors, implicit or not, that in
speaking this sentence I am alive? T points, therefore, in two directions: toward
my inhabitation o f the world and my inhabitation o f language, where my utterance
functions as a reflection o f this act o f uttering. Such self-reflection can then
be used as an allegory onto which statements o f 'I am'candescribeme.
Thisisawayofputtingtheobjectfirst,mythirdpersonstatusasa 'me', which is animated
becomes an 'I am' through self-reflection.Lyric enacts an exemplary expression o f
language (exemplary o f what?) as a referential system constituting the T . A poem
is not strictly speaking about or picturing an 'I ', but causes an 'I ' to become
instantiated as meaningful, marking language as ours by exposing how we speak this
possession and thus offering itself as justification for this ownership.
Justification means making visible the rules (the translation o f the pronouns and
adverbs into 'to be' into 'to have'). Art in this sense exemplifies the
psychologicaland the grammatical, as the limits constituting the negative space
of'I' and 'me', as objective, as an expression o f a body, and thus as 'mine'.
Lyric as the poetry o f being-a-moment and narrative as the poetry o f succession,
o f being-in-the-world are ontological arguments through which we enter the world
as real (but not only through good art, but through songs, phrases, perceptions,
objects, lyric effects or attention, narrative logics, the failure o f which would
be catatonia).How to enter the world and language is tied to how we exit them. This
relation between entering and exiting is the problem of the Sibyl in The Waste
Land. The complicated metaphysics ofthe last section ofthe poem, "What The Thunder
Said", areReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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built from the riddling thematic strands and ontological implications radiating
from Eliot's initial introductory quotation:"Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse
oculis meis vidi in ampula pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: SiPuXXa tt QeXiq;
respondebat ilia; a7to0aveiv 0eXa>."For I saw with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in
ajar at Cumae, and when theacolytes said, 'Sybil, what do you wish?' she replied,
'I wish to die.'"Apollo has granted the Sibyl eternal life, but because she failed
to request eternal youth, she continues to age and shrink in size. Her small
withered body is kept in a suspendedjar. Thus, we can recognize two temporal
patterns: continuity and decay. The Sibyl's immortality consists o f her continued
existence and identity as who she is. Although her form changes, the animating
essence within it remains identical in every moment. The Sibyl's soul and body
describe identity and loss. Her personal identity supersedes dynamic change, and
thus separates her from the mortal metaphysical universe in which time, as
Aristotle claims, can best be understood as loss. The Sibyl's containment in a
bottle symbolizes this separation.Change is marked by her shrinking, her continual
decay and loss of physical substance,becominglessandless.
Sheexistswithinaninfiniteregressionconstitutingnot onlyherworldbutherselfaswell.
FortheSibylherimmortalityonlyservestocontinue her suffering as an old and aging
woman. Immortality is an extension through time of an
animatingessence,containedwithinthephysicalformofbeing. Thisessenceisnot separate
from the form o f being, for it is the body itself which is immortal. Her physical
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form, however, is endlessly disintegrating. Thus, the continuity o f her being
manifests itself in the dissolution o f this same being: the continuity o f being
flows through the dissolution o f being.Although the Sibyl contains the immortal
and mortal natures o f Christ, the non- transcendental metaphysics o f her being
prevent any symbolic equivalency between them. Without the ability to transcend the
decay o f her body, she remains trapped in a self- destructive spiral, which cannot
regenerate her. Christ's ability to transcend his physical form and reach a
spiritual reality allows him to integrate both spiritual and physical realms
withinhisownidentity. Thisintegrationopensapathwaybetweenboththeserealms, through
which power flows into the material world, and through which mortal flesh can
reachGod. Christhealsthesickandviolatesnaturallawsthroughhisdirectconnection with
the realm of spiritual power, for he is the Son of God (MK. 2.2-12). Similarly,
after his death he spiritually transcends his physical form and is resurrected in
his spiritual form.The Christian pattern of creation involves a complicated
equivalency and transformation between the creator, the act of creation, and the
created. For the Sibyl, however, the identity o f being exists as the dissolution o
f being. Within this model there is no transformation between the mortal and the
immortal. The Sibyl when she asks to die, desires to make a transformative leap
between two conditions o f being: her immortal decayandherdeath.
Thismeanstodisconnecttheidentity/physicalexistenceunitythat sustainsher.
Shewishestoreenterthedynamicsofmortallife,asopposedtoChrist's desire to re-become
pure spirit. The identity of her being, that is, her immortality, however, cannot
be disassociated from her physical form. She might describe us becauseReproduced
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she has no soul. Change, therefore, cannot enter that substanceless gap between
existence and non-existence. Unlike the Christian pattern o f transformation, the
gap between identities is not contained within the being o f the Sibyl, as it is in
the equivalence between Christ, God and the Word. This equivalence implies an
established transformative link between these three forms o f being, though which
they can become one another. The Sybil's being remains isolated in a single state,
albeit a complex one, but one without the ability to transcend this gap. Although
the Sibyl's immortality is physically dependent on her physical form, there is no
link between this form and her immortal form, which would allow for a
transformation between them. Such a transformation would result in atranscendence o
f either her aging or her immortality, which is not possible.The Sibyl's life
answers a riddle: What can simultaneously and in a every momentbe both what
McTaggart called a temporal B-series and an A-series? The B-series represents time
as a chain of before and afters, as if on a number line. The A-series is the
nuncfluens, the flowing now, that is, an existential mark ofthe present, in
relation, however, to a future and present. Already the A-series works as if it
were a sliding point, withoutprivileginganyparticularnow,ontheB-series. (TheB-
series,likewhatIwill show to be Heidegger's condensation oftime into things,
translates past nows into thing like points--within what Heidegger calls the ontic,
what looks objectively real, the external representation of time as a timeline.)
The A-series, although it fails to capture Dasein's existential relation with the
world determining Temporality in Heidegger, is phenomenological in scope. The
problem in our riddle is how to translate an A-series into also a B-series. The
measure o f before and after, a timeline, a series o f dates, isReproduced with
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isomorphic with the size ofthe Sibyl, and thus even if she lost her memory, the
changing size ofher body marks and measures, as a real effect, the movement oftime.
The Sibyl was three feet before she was two feet, and now she is two inches. From
this we can project her height if not infinitely divided, then divided to the point
at which she would cease to be alive as the Sibyl, and thus her height, regardless
o f the now, measures time as afunctionofherbeing,herform.
TheSibylcanbeseenasanembodiedsymbolofakind of Time, an ontological clock. In a
typical clock the changes o f state, in a digital clock 12:00 to 12:01, follow a
pattern of repeating, predetermined changes. Even if the Sibyl shrank and then
regrew according to a regular cycle, however, she would not become anordinaiy
clock, even ofthe sort the change in seasons might seem to describe or express. The
changes in her body, even if describing a cycle o f shrinking and regrowing,
contradict the world as we know it, even as Petronius knew it, and certainly they
contradict the logic andfactsofphysics,chemistry,biology,etc.
Thechangesinherbody,therefore,either change the entire world in a fundamental way
(something we know, as much as we know anything, is not true) or her infinite
regression inside herjar functions in an alternate world, she exists in our three
dimensions and then in higher dimension(s) not ours, although similar in certain
ways with the fourth dimensional description oftime. Her changes in state are
relative to our world and her memory changes in substance: she has a
differentkindofbeingwithinasimilarbutdifferentworld. Inthisherlifemightbea picture
of a life in Hell. Is Hell part of our world or just parallel? This is an
explanation ofwhy the bad are not always punished in our world.Reproduced with
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Immortality conserves identity as subsistent and continuous being. Her continual
shrinkingdescribeschangeasinfiniteregression. Changeortimerequiresasubstrateof
continuity to be visible as such, what Aquinas calls identity, following in the
history of Trinitarian theology, and what Aristotle calls ousia and on following
Parmenides. This difference expresses different kinds o f time and different kinds
o f subsistence. For the time being, we can ignore this difference. Time in both
cases exists as an effect of alterations in form; it is a meta-description
generated from self-reflection, either objectively in the changes in and among
things in relation to the stability of our observing perspective (this describes
the Tractarian non-psychological T ) or subjectively as changes in the form or
consciousness of humans, animals, plants, objects relative to the stability o f
either consciousness or our perceptual frame.18The Sibyl epigraph itselfreplaced a
quotation from Conrad's Heart o fDarkness ("The Horror! The Horror!") that Pound
thought inadequate. Kurtz's exclamation of surprise, judgment, and moral despair
functions at the same level as the utterances and quotations within the poem, and
thus cannot serve to frame the poem itself. The depth of "The Horror! The Horror!"
lies in why Kurtz cried out, in the vagueness or difficulty in understanding to
what it refers, and in the complexity o f vision and understanding necessary to
voice this horror. Conrad internalizes the disjunction between morality and power
that Machiavelli describes in The Prince, translating it into a skeptical problem,
a problemabouthowtoknowtheworldandoneself. ThisiswhatthenonsenseofThe Waste Land
does as well. But "[t]he horror" should be a part ofthe poem, not its frame. The
Sibyl clocking time and the world by her continual loss o f herself (and it) might
haveReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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criedoutfromthesameentrapmentintheincommensurableasKurtz. TheSibylasksfor her
death, as a response to the horror o f life, out o f a metaphysical disjunction
between meaning and reality, that for her is marked by identity (being who she is)
and time (shrinking into an eternity o f isolation), and for Eliot and for us might
describe the ontological descriptive power ofphysics, the indifference ofwhat
Davidson calls sciences attempt to "extrude the concept of causality in favor of
strict laws" (297) and the domain ofmeaningconstitutingsubjectivity,culture,etc.
InthisquotationfromPetronius'Satyricon, the Sibyl is already entrapped within a
foreign language, speaking Greek when she was in fact Roman, and already a story
within the mendacity o f low-character (Trilmachio), decayed already from a
prophetess into a ship in a bottle (her ampulla: ajar for liquids, a container of
feminine essence, but also bombast, inflated talk: proicitampullas; if the Sibyl is
not Cassandra, then at least her truths now sound absurd not just because she
speaks from inside ajar and in a foreign language, but because we put her there).
The Sibyl describes an ontological myth, embodying in her body, identity, and being
an indeterminate allegory, a description with an unclear referent that
conceptualizes asrealaseeminglyphysicallyimpossiblestate.
Thedistortionofherfatefromthe everyday condition o f humanity marks her difference
as an aspect o f our being human. The hypostatization o f the identity o f being as
what counts as existing within the continuation of time describes a picture of how
we think of ourselves: the picture that we
existintime,butaredefinedbyauniqueessence,ouridentity. TheSibyl'spredicament
demonstrates the absurdity ofthis picture (this does not mean we can dismiss it,
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by claiming that either the principle o f identity as being or time are fantasies).
More importantly, it demonstrates the effect ofthis metaphysical model on how we
are within the world, a model linking subjectivity, here understood to be the
continuity that expresses itself as a sense o f loss, to the metaphysics o f a
world determined by change, time and loss. If we exist as able to speak, we mark
our utterance by either time and identity, an 'I' or a 'now', as our subjectivity.
Subjectivity embedded in time constituted by change functions as identity in
relation to this change. Any domain of personal experience (subjectivity) or o f
possession (grammatical 'I') which functions and exists under the same ontological
description as change (time) generates the condition o f the Sibyl as a pictureof
being human. The Waste Land enacts this picture within an attempt to make it
meaningful, to give it a language within which the ontology o f things and objects,
call this a picture o f science and technology from a distance brought on by the
despair o f thinking oneself an object extruded from an animate tradition o f
cultural existence and integration. Such a mirror hopes to show the way out o f the
mirror.The adequacy o f Eliot's new epigraph lies in its descriptive power in
collapsing the realm o f conceptual self-reflection (who she is: her continuing
identity) into a name
referring,throughoutthediminishmentofthematterofherbody,tothisself-reflection. In
such a state questions o f the form "what is it?" "what is true?" can be confused
with questions o f the from "who is it?" "is she real?"If The Waste Land asks "who
is the Sibyl?", where does it leave us after it becomes the answer? Do we recognize
it as an answer? That would be to recognize it as theexemplarofourownlives.
ItisnotjusttheworldthatwewouldhavetoreachReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
through this possibility, the world would make us into this possibility. This is
the way in which the claims of our humanity might suffer under the pressure of
natural selection (Darwin) or amorality (Machievelli). Instead of resistance or
despair or irreverence the demands o f this pressure require that we twist the
problem around such that we describe how our human inheritance, our language and
appeals to meaning, our theology and morality can arise and operate within the
ontological descriptions that seem to dissolve their force and efficacy.Eliot
constructs an aesthetic, a language game, a poem in which the Sibyl's predicament,
her soul embodied as a kind of eternity, can seem true or real: The Waste Land in
all of its voices constructs the Sibyl's form of life, her condition, a community
in which she can be understood and which she would recognize as her own; The Waste
Land is the Mind of the Sibyl. Even for us to hear Eliot's personal grip against
the world we would have to recognize her form of life to be ours, and this language
to be ours; the process of reading or of training to survive the poetics of The
Waste Land offers us a language in which we can express or articulate our soul as
the Sibyl's. This logic of paralytic identity turns paralysis into subsistence and
identity into symbolism. We should read "What the Thunder Said" as oracular in the
sense o f Heraclitus: "The Lord whoseoracle is in Delphi neither indicates clearly
nor conceals but gives a sign" (Plutarch, De Pythiae oraculis 404d, fragment 93).
As a sign these words function not as pointers into some secret truth, the
unconscious, a [the] god's mind, or even the future; they mean
withinthelogicofsignswhichistheirownspeaking. Onecouldcallthisanewlanguage game or
a poetics enacting our mind, subjectivity, or soul (we can not distinguish these
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here) as a subjunctive stance toward ourselves similar to the Sibyl's predicament
and her desire to die, to re-enter the limits of mortality. The Waste Land
describes being human as being the Sibyl in her glassjar (is she a fly in her fly
bottle?). For The Waste Land, it is the logic, or language game, or poetics, or
form of life that is missing and must be constructed out o f the oracle's words: if
a riddle or an allegory, it can only be understood if we already understand it.
This means the ambiguity ofthe oracle and ofthe poetry stand as a sign of a form o
f life embodied not simply as these signs, but it only exists as an oracle, and as
poetry, once we understand these signs as meaningful and thus make ourselves anew
within or as a mind that could speak them. In this way they point to a mind or act
as expressionsofamindthatisbothoursandnot. Thattheydonotonlypointtous,inour
understanding, allows them to be spoken to us as if by god.As in the machine
symbolism of Yeats (chapter 3) the symbols of identity constituting "What The
Thunder Said", the words we understand as something we can say in a world in which
we might find ourselves, if not now, someday or yesterday, offer themselves as
containers for our minds, and in this offer of our translation into the structure
of a thing we project our essential self, as if that is what our life means to us.
The logic of identity, of equivalence, not the copula, nor the 'is' of existence,
articulates not only what the poetry means but what we mean by ourselves. The
fragments of The WasteLand are dying (or are dead) in the way that we are dead or
dying. This is the crucial analogy.
Thetemptationtowardatheoryofidentityasatheoryofmeaningbuildsminds, as we saw in
Jakobson, because it is the limit of death that constructs our lives asReproduced
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containers (with holes, as sieves ofvarious kinds, shapes, and sizes). To enter
language through identity is as if to enter as a container.The Waste Land wants to
be the answer, whatever that might mean or entail, to the riddle: What is made o f
words but is akin to the Sibyl? It attempts to translate the ordinary disjunction
between these two time series into a form o f being. Such a translation is a
process of symbolization, the engine for generating symbols. Not all symbolization
proceeds through such a translation, which is itself already either
metaphoricoritselfasymbolandinthisapictureofthepossibilityofusinglanguage. The
notion o f time itselfj because it is not an entity within our experience, but can
only be seen as an effect. But does this imply a cause? How would we know that time
is an effect? The very structure oftime looks like what Cora Diamond calls a great
riddle: "'the riddle of life in space and time,' 'the riddle "par excellence'" as
Wittgenstein called it, and which he said was not a question" (268).19 As we saw in
Chapter n, the Finnegans Wake versiono f the great riddle is, in its final version:
"The first and last rittlerattle o f the anniverse; when is a nam nought a nam
whenas it is a. Watch!" (FW607.10-12). When is a man/name not [nothing] a man/ name
whenas it (nested in the world o f objects) is a--but not a thing at all but either
watch Finnegans Wake or when he is a watch, timing theworld, which is to clock
human language against both the world and our fantasies. The Sibylshrinks,
"aWomanoftheWorldwhocanTellNakedTruthsaboutaDearManandall his Conspirators"
(FW107.03-04). But in Eliot's waste land the saint's quest diminishes any woman;
but this diminishment translates identity into the ordering pattern oftime.
Canthiskindoftimesupportasoul? AnAristoteliansoulhylomorphicallyReproduced with
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identical to the body can produce only the Sibylline immortality. Joyce glosses
"Here is a homelet not a hothel" (FW586.18) when someone gets aetherealized into
desire: "Sylphing me when is a maid nought a maid he would go to anyposs length for
her!" (FW495.6-7). Paracelsus populates the air with the elemental sylph; this
sylph constitutes what in The Waste Land one can call the void and the Sibyl as the
holding of the ampulla. How does she dwell in the world? In a "homlet" and not a
"hothel"?1Table TalkandOmnianaofSamuelTaylorColeridge. 2"The Love Song of J. Alfred
Pnifrock."3 These quotations are both from "Gerontion."4"Little Gidding"5"The Love
Song ofJ. Alfred Pnifrock".6JosiahRoyce'sSeminar1913-1914,ed.GroverSmith.
AlsomentionedinLyndallGordon,Eliot's Early Years, 58.7Psycho-analysis and its spawn
oftherapies and descriptions interprets fantasy as modes or expressions of
ties'. These
psychological meaning, etiology and structure, do not map onto the physiology o f
the brain. Cognitive science must reduce all forms of qualia, consciousness,
feelings, etc., to the quanitities describing brains, or logic, or mechanism.
functions or as irreducible states.8 We do not write a theory o f knowing in order
to determine what we know, but as a means for the world to claim or reject us.
9Paremenides ofElea: Fragments, A Text and Translation with an Introduction. Trans.
David Gallop, (Fragment3). Thetranslationismine.
10Sparshott,F.E.LookingforPhilosophy. SeealsoGallop(above)andJ.BarnesThePresocratic
Philosphers, 155-230.11WarrenS.McCulloch. EmbodimentsofMind.
Thisquestiondescribesacertainontological- physiological-logical nexus that would
allow it to be rephrased as "What is a Number, that a Woman May
KnowIt,andaWomanthatSheMayKnowaNumber?" Thepressurethisformulationputson "knowing"
compresses thinking into our species-being.12Cited and translated in Duhem, 360.
13EC: "East Cocker"; BN: "Burnt Norton"; DS: "Dry Salvages": LG: "Little Gidding.
14The Tractatus begins "The world is everything that is the case" in order no"t
only to end with an appeal to silence, but in order tojustify Wittgenstein's
intuition that "The solution to the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of
this problem":the problem is a riddle that neither the after life will answer ("Is
this eternallifenotasenigmaticasourpresentone?
Thesolutionoftheriddleofourlifeinspaceandtime lies outside space and time"[6.4312])
15This is the use/ mention distinction described by Quine.16What is being claimed
to be identical with what? An object is conceptualized within a specific kind of
discourse, a language game, or under a particular aspect and equivalence is
asserted according to the terms,criteria,aspectdefinedbythisdiscourse.
Inthesecasestheassertionx=ysuggeststhatundera particular aspect or discourse they
can be construed as the same, synonomous, and thus replacable asReproduced with
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reflections o f each other: x=y is true because each term can be reduced to or
substituted for the other and thus they become identical as x=x or y=y; x=x defines
x=y describes the relation between x and y.17 An interesting case o f an attempt to
formalize the interrelation between identity, existence, and
Hisformalization makesexistenceascountable.
Thisdiscoveiyisthelinchpinbetweenalgorithmicfunctioningand metaphoric self-
description [of course my machine is nothing but the latter- described as if it
were the former].
relations. The means by which this is done shows the possiblitities, assumptions,
and limitations o f any suchlogicaldescription.
SeeC.Lejewski"OnLesniewski'sOntology"Ratio1(195S),150-76.18 Compare with Alice in
her adventures in Wonderland, 37.19 The Realistic Spirit: Wittgenstein, Philosophy,
and the Mind.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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8(How) Can things mean?Eliot sketches the smudges on the Sibyl's glass bottle and
mimics the echoing noise o f the world inside the bottle. Hiedgger, in "Das Ding"
recasts the glass bottle into athrownpot,ajug,athing.Whatisthesoulofathing?
Iquotemypreviousdescription: "In his latter work, Heidegger reconstitutes the
ontological claims the world makes on us as semantic functions, as following a
conceptual pattern o f meaningful relations. In other words, he attempts to
reconstitute what something is as what it means. These ontological claims and
semantic possibilities determine Being, not simply as existence, but as the
functional condensation of all meanings ofthe verb 'to be' into those aspects of
our experience we recognize as things, ourselves, and the world. "Das Ding" enacts
the question 'What is the qualitative aspect o f things? from within a language
that can enact the answer as our re-education; the ontology of things in their
participation or inhabitation of Being can look like a psychology of things.
Heidegger begins his essay with the question "What is a thing?" He takes this
question to be asking something like 'How do things exist?' or 'What exists for
us?'. His answer to these question, however, proceeds through asking 'what does
"existence" mean?', questioning the verb o f 'to be' into its ontological and
functional force. We inhabit this force through a redemptive semantics which
transforms the concepts o f identity and predication determining existence, 'being'
and 'is', from a world both containing and against us, into the categorical
semanticNotes for this chapter begin on page 326Reproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.249
ambiguity of the word 'weilen' (dwelling, staying, abiding, lingering) under the
pressure of this re-education."I want to use this re-education as a way of
sketching how time can be translated into a grammar. Strictly speaking, this is not
meant as a critique ofHeidegger, as much as an attempt to write an exegesis of "Das
Ding" towards the limits of our language exposed under the pressure o f the
concepts o f things and o f time that he reads in his description o f a jug. It is
at these limits that the relation between animation and semantics offers
descriptions o f how we make and inhabit the world in which we find ourselves.I
want to begin with some confusion about one o f the ways the mind emerges in Being
and Time as a way of opening up a set of questions that will lead me through "Das
Ding". To recognize something as countable is to know how to count. Knowing how
constructsthedomainofthecountable. Thisisthewayinwhichpracticesgain ontological
significance. Heidegger in Being and Time, therefore, is correct, I think, to the
degree that he says our being-in-the-world necessarily requires and functions
within pre-established domains of interaction, something like what Wittgenstein
means by forms of life. Heidegger asks, in chapter IV, what allows for the mutual
interaction among Dasein, things, and other humans?: "The Others who are thus
'encountered' in a ready- to-hand, environmental context o f equipment, are not
somehow added on in thought to some Thing which is proximally just present-at-hand;
such 'Things' are encountered from out ofthe world in which they are ready-to-hand
for Others~a world which is always mind too in advance' (BT154;118). Heidegger
thinks, however, that counting disguises this requirement:Reproduced with
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Even to come across a number o f 'subject' becomes possible only if the Others who
are concerned proximally in their Dasein-with are treated merely as 'numerals'.
Such a number o f 'subjects' gets discovered only by a definite Being- with-
andtowards-one-another. This'inconsiderate'Being-with'reckonswiththe Others without
seriously 'counting on them', or without even wanting to 'have anything to do' with
them. (BT163)I f we clarify Heidegger's mood in saying this, we might translate
this as "we count so we don't have to count what we count". Is the fact that
"count' can also mean 'to matter', 'to have significance or value' an indication of
the hidden structure of what Heidegger calls care[Sorge]inknowing?
ofanecessaiy(orsupervening)relationbetweenvaluingand knowing?Answering this
question, I think, would involve answering why Heidegger attempts to dissolve
empathy into what he calls Being-with, my finding myself already within a world
with others:Dasein is with equal originality being-with others and being-amidst
intraworldly beings. The world, within which these latter beings are encountered,
is .. .always already world which one shares with the others. (Basic Problems, 297)
We can at least ask: Is Heidegger justified in making empathy dependent on Being-
with as a way of grounding Dasein outside of doubt? Does taking a stance toward
others as if they had souls undo my doubt that their souls are like mine?In Being
and Time, Heidegger wants to undo the structuring of our being in the world as a
form of knowing, determined as a relation between subject and predicate,Reproduced
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quantified in such a way as to insure that to exist is to be constituted as a
metaphyscial form o f identity. The relation between subject and object quantified
in this way constructs our subjectivity, our being, within the realm of objects. If
such an objecthood is to be resisted as the ground ofour being, then one must
reinhabit the meaning ofBeing, recognize as authentic (although the complexity o f
this recognition prevents any brief description) Dasein's being in the world prior
to its becoming my world. The structure of this involvement is exposed
authentically as care (sorge), which is our responsiveness, our being in relation
to time, where "being is itselfan issue." Dasein is "[ejssentially ahead of itself'
(BT458;406), "ahead-of-itself-being-aIready-in-(the-world) as being-amidst
(entities encountered within-the-world)"(BT237; 192). Temporality is understood as
a dynamic involvement within the world against which the identity o f things is
constructed, as a resistance. We must re-enter this temporality through care in
order to re-enter the ground or the meaning of our being as non-things.Heidegger's
conceptualizing ofDasein as Being in the world, Dasein's proximate and for the most
part relation to the world, unwinds the object status o f the world into a
relational disposition that places the world and our relation to it before our
construction of theworldintothings. Doubtasaspeciesoffailuretransformswhatisready-
to-hand(our ordinary usage o f things) into present-at-hand (the presence o f
objects as against us) and therefore into things (or what in "Das Ding" he will
call objects). As things the objects of our dispositions and intentions, o f our
world, lose the guarantee o f their relation to us (in third man arguments, for
example); and thus doubt can work its way into skepticism.Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
Heidegger constructs "the They" in chapter IV as a replacement for matter as the
given form o f our substantiality, and thus as the guarantee o f the world and our
relation to it. How can one be an entity and not an identity? How can one be
relational and still work within our embodied form? The riddle is 'what is both
subject and yet not an identity reducible to a thing?': We--they, us, "das Man."
Underlying the question o f who is Dasein, in chapter IV, is the question cDo we
function as things, as individuals organized as identities?' For Heidegger, it is
the relation between identity and thing that must be avoided, displaced into our
Being-with, our existing as a function of our relations withothersandwiththeworld.
The"wayofBeing"configuresDasein(anditsBeing)as a disposition and a becoming (a
function of time): how do we temporally exist within the everyday? How is this
Being within everyday time a disposition toward others? Why dowe count others as
versions of ourselves?Associating 'mattering' and 'numbering' (a form of knowing)
in 'to count' mightbe justified by 'numbering recognizes, and recognition values'.
Is this order correct: knowingthenvaluing?
Whatdowegainifwereversetheorderandsayvaluing recognizes? Counting is a way of
constructing a set. We can mark value within a set or
betweensetsbynumberingwithordinals. Isthisanexplanationforthemeaningof'to count'?
When it means 'mattering', counting is a way of making value explicit. How can
caring become abstracted into counting? What exactly does counting make explicit
about caring? Heidegger assumes we can care (solicitude) without counting. But can
we care outside o f our need and ability to count (which Heidegger would agree is a
function o f our doubting, i.e. needing to know)? (Wittgenstein's resistance to
scientific knowing asReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.
immoral and destructive suggests that a scientific attitude is not a legitimate
form o f life, although it can operate with legitimate language games in some
domains.) This might be a way of asking how skepticism makes empathy possible
(something Heidegger implies,BT163). What is the difference between the symbolizing
procedures (the structure of identities and relations) which define empathy and
solicitude? If solicitude can for Dasein "take away 'care' from the other and put
himselfin his position in concern" (BT158), it requiresakindofself-
symbolization(toallowforthisreplacement). Tosaythatempathy depends on a greater
estrangement between Daseins than solicitude does not at all challenge the similar
conceptual relations that construct an Others as something that can be replaced by
oneself. The ability to "leap in" for someone else, while it structurally agrees
with the condition of the "They", where "everyone is the other, and no one is
himself' (BT165), is a Being-with-another by "not 'mattering' to one another"
(BT158). Solicitude,therefore,cantaketheformofdenyinganother,orfailingtounderstand.
If such a denying is possible, lying is possible. In fact one could understand
solicitude-as- domination as a form o f lying based on the symbolization o f the
other as someone to be replaced (to be used). Wouldn't this kind of leaping in
create conflict? Does this kind ofsolicitude meet with opposition? And can it fail?
Similarly, whatever allows us to feel empathy also allows us to lie. How could we
lie without simultaneously ascribing mental states to others, which we then
manipulate, assuming our mental state(s) can be hidden? Lying requires both caring
("the other is primarilydisclosedinconcemfiilsolicitude",BT161)anddoubting.
Chimpanzeescan bothlieandcount. HowcanwedissolvelyinginBeing-with?
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our need to lie arises out o f our solicitude. Lying can function as the failure to
recognize another in the face of one's own desire, such that one can replace one's
desire for another. Since this replacement takes place in the context o f Being-
with, it represents a turning away that for the Other could be understood as a
hiding, This would not be lying only if we could cease Being-with, could erase our
mutual identity within the 'They'. Otherwise we are stuck in a split structure,
within a doubling, where we remain with the other but in thewayofhisnotmattering.
Ontologysplitsfromvaluing. Butwithoutthisvaluingthe ontological relation expressed
in Being-with has not content, and could not describe our everyday existence.
Heidegger is stuck with the 'They' as the domain in which Being-with functions.
Being-with becomes an orientation o f the 'They', within the 'They', as who a
particular entity is (what is ontic if not a "non-committal formal indicator"?
BT152). The content ofDasein is simultaneously its context (and thus Heidegger
seems to avoid the separation between universal and particular). "Our" Being-with,
therefore, is not so easily separated from empathy (as concomitant with lying). The
ontological unity o f Being-with,at the level o f complexity o f Dasein, already
involves a kind symbolization that allows for counting and doubting. Being-with
because it embodies an orientation, and is not simply unconsciousness in the way a
lower animal might be unconscious, must conceive of others within a realm in which
our orientation might fail, creating the possibility for doubt.Heidegger resists
and ignores this possibility in Being and Time. In "Das Ding" "Being-with"
describes our nearness (or relation and involvement both ontologically and
semantically) to and with things. Heidegger's philosophical therapy is directed at
exposing our "Being-with" within the totality ofthe world as an animate whole. This
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means that "Das Ding" is a manual for animating the world as a means o f re-
animating being human outside ofthe temptations ofself-reflection that have reduced
being human to consciousness (Descartes) and then to a mode o f knowing (Hegel).
Heidegger's philosophical therapy resists (or Heidegger fails to understand) the
meaning and depth of the scientific stance within and towards the world (partly
because he collapsesscienceandtechnology).
Thisscientificstancewasarticulatedclearlyby Lucretius inDe Rerum Natura: "The dread
and darkness ofthe mind cannot be dispelled by the sunbeams, the shining shafts o f
day, but only by an understanding o f the outward form and inner workings o f
nature" (31). Lucretius attempts to separate psychology, or rather divinity, from
physics, while Heidegger wants to collapse both into a more
fundamentalstancetowardearth,sky,mortalsanddivinities. Thehistoryofscientific
therapy has yet to be written, as has a study investigating the depth of the
question 'how is it?' and its relation to the question 'why is it?' (This is not to
suggest that science reaches"the real in its reality" [DD170]). Heidegger, in "Das
Ding", is partly attempting to usurp these questions, suggesting that in the case
of the jug whose nature he is exploring science gives "no thought to how the
containing itselfgoes on" (171). While I do not think this is true, it opens up the
intersection between science (or knowing) and the question of the meaning ofthings
(or, in this case, ofjugs and containing). This intersection is what allows
Lucretius to offer "the inner workings of nature" as an antidote to "dread and
darkness." Thus,Heideggerbringsusclosetosomeofthequestionsofscience(although he
misrepresents their nature as scientific questions at least). And he is right to
suggest that the meaning of our ontological commitments cannot be given by science
(although IReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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do not think they can be 'given' by his semantic ontology either). Heidegger, at
least, attempts to undo who we are as what and how we know, and in this avoid
skepticism by animatingtheworld.
Herevealsourrelationtotheworldasnotdeterminedorlimitedto representation (knowing)
and asserts that science pictures and structures a world around the equation person
= object + life = automaton; this picture o f science is more akin to vitalism than
modem biology.In "Das Ding", Heidegger's philosophical therapy contests the
semantics and the ontological claim o f ways o f making and being made. One aspect
o f this contestation enfilades along a line between 'making' and 'educating'. The
relation between makingand education, however, is not symmetrical, bound as they
both are to different pictures of whatisgiven.
HeideggerenjoinsPlato'ssubsumptionof'becoming'ineducationand 'recalling' in
knowing. Becoming human, recalling our humanness, through the reconceptualization o
f our being in the world in relation to things, proceeds throughrecalling our
nearness to things as things, before they emerge as objects o f our knowing, as
some predicate attached to a subject. But what can this 'before' mean here?
Heidegger collapses (as a function of his holism, although there is some confusion
here, I think, as well) four possible interpretations of this 'before':1.
historical before2. psychological before 3. false consciousness 4. loss/ recovery
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Historical loss describes the diminution and rejection of the Pre-Socratic
expression of the relation between humans and the world (the conception ofBeing), a
rejection that, he claims, precipitated the philosophical confusion ofWestern
civilization. This loss, however, has a psychological analogue in the way
subjectivity is formed within the context ofourparticularculturesandsocieties.
Ineitherthehistoricalorpsychologicaldimension, however, Heidegger is faced with the
possibility that our relation to Being remains an unrecognized existential-
ontological reality (described in Being and Time) or that this relation has been
lost and must be recovered (a possibility which was partly responsible for his turn
towards historical interpretation).8.1 MatterHeidegger wants to make the relation
between mathematical description and semantic expression into the riddle: What's
the difference between an atomic bomb and ajug? Theybothlooklikeajug.
Theirdifferenceistheirsimilarity. Isn'tabomb something like a jug? They both bring,
or 'gather', atoms together. Atomic bombs do not always go off. I can use a jug to
hit you over the head: it might not destroy a city (or even a world), but it might
kill you. Not anyone could build an atomic bomb. Uranium, or any fissionable
material, is hard to come by. But even if I did not understand the physics, that
is, if I could not make it the first time, I could follow someone's instructions. I
wouldn't know how it worked or why I built it in the way I did, but I could make it
without any conscious commitment to the laws of science underlying it, except for
my faith that such a combination of stuff could produce an explosion. It might seem
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magic to me. Could I make a jug, even if I just followed instructions, and not know
how it works as a jug, or even how my making worked? I am nearer to the inside o f
a jug than I am to the inside of an atomic bomb.Let's ask the question again:
what's the difference between an atomic bomb and a jug? I can mistake myselffor
ajug, but not for an atomic bomb--even ifI know that I ammadeofatoms.
Imightcallyouajug-head,andmeanyourmindisavoidorthatyour ears look like jug-handles
or that you look like a cartoon character. If I say you're an atomic bomb, I might
mean you hurt a lot o f people. That you might metaphorically explode and
transgress the limits o f human behavior in some kind o f orgy o f violence.God
made us like we make a jug, formed out of clay. Is that more reasonable than that
we were made and determined by the same laws of physics made articulate and used to
construct the atomic bomb?Feynman asks at the beginning of his Lectures on Physics:
I f , in some cataclysm, all o f scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and
only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement
would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic
hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things
are made o f atoms-- little particles that move around in perpetual motion,
attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon
being squeezed into one another. (1-2)How much rests on the atomic constitution
ofmatter? What is the role ofjustification and value in this sentence? Language is
reduced to its informational content. This informationReproduced with permission of
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is communicated within a kind o f scientific fragment: a basic descriptions o f the
relations which determine the physical world as the physical world. The world
consists of an exceedingly large number of particles or parts. These parts have
specific and law-likerelations describing their interactions as a function o f
their distance from each other, at a little distance they attract each other, but
at a smaller distance they repel each other.'Atoms' answers the question 'what are
we made of?' Modem materialism does not necessarily dissolve the mind into material
interactions, rather these interactions
describeaparticularlimittowhatcancountasanexplanation. Itrulesoutspiritormagic for
example. What counts as an atom, how atomic relations constitute matter and how
mathematical descriptions capture fundamental relations and constituent aspects are
allquestions beyond saying the world is made of atoms. Scientific knowledge
describes the world in such a way that we can act through that knowledge to predict
events, to alter events and forms, to discover how the givenness of our world works
and determines itself as a world limited by the same limitations binding us.
Heidegger asks what is the nature of determining what the world is as a world,
through knowing. This question does not ask about the nature of reality nor about
what constitutes the real or the world. In fact it forecloses that question in
order to demonstrate that at the most fundamental stage of the recognition of a
thing (or non-conceptual seeing) our stance toward the world is determined as
meaningful. And thus Heidegger attempts to describe epistemology as a form of
semantics, or rather to dissolve epistemology into an ontological semantics, where
what counts as 'ontological and
'semantic'iswhatistobediscovered(ordescribedorunconcealed). Whatthisineffect
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entails is the transformation o f what Heidegger understands as Science's question
(a lot is already hidden in personifying science here, in not asking about
different sciences at different times as defined in the practices of different
scientists) from 'what is the real thing (object)?' into 'what does a thing mean?'
That Heidegger phrases his question as 'What is a thing?' indicates that this
transformation must take place in our understanding of'is', and in this the
question ofour figuration and picture ofthe real is bound with whatit means to be
(the question ofthe meaning ofBeing). One ofthe goals of"Das Ding" is to replace
sein, ist with Gegenstand, stehen, vorstellung, Weilen (west; verWeilen),
versammelt, ring and gering within a coherent idiom.Heidegger describes a vessel as
"something self-sustained, something that stands onitsown"(DD166).
ThisiswhatHeidegger'slanguagepantomimes,whathecallsour saying, and by this he means
the ordinary logic through which a thing is a thing, as "the
thinglycharacterofthething"(DasDinghafledesDinges). Athingbecomesanobject
(Gegenstand) when or if "we place it before us" (against us; ob-, gegeri). An
independent, self-supporting thing may become an object if we place (stelleri) it
before us, whether in immediate perception or by bringing it to mind in a
recollective re-presentation. We make a thing into an object by this placement or
standing (stelleri). Placement is a presentation of the thing as against us, as a
form distinct from other forms. Heidegger obscures what
thisplacingconsistsof,howwedoit,whywedoit,andsoon. Anaccountofthegenesis of our
fall into an object world would force Heidegger into metaphysics.Our stance toward
the world can be defined by this placement in which objects appear in our
"immediate perception" (and in this it is not a placement o f the object but
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our placement o f ourselves before the fact). Recollection replicates this stance
by presenting the world, representing things as presentable, and thus as presenting
the thing asknowable: representingmeansknowing.
Whatisrecollectedisthestancedetermining the thing as object. This stance because it
defines an object as an object, in the way that social relations are inscribed in
and as the commodity in Marx, embodies in the object, andthus the object mirrors
our being human knowers. If we discover a world of objects, it is because we have
become objects ourselves. We might call this one way ofbecoming objective. This is
at least true for science which "always encounters only what its kind o f
representation has admitted beforehand as an object possible for science" (DD170).
This link between our stance and the world justifies Heidegger's assumption that
the reformation o f being human can proceed through saving things from objecthood.
Heideggerdoesnotofferajustificationforhiswaytowardreformation. Partofthis
reformation consists of embedding value in the world (the quadrature or fourfold)
outside ofthe demand and criteria forjustification (ofknowledge, belief, ofsense or
nonsense).1 The form o f the jug is lost to the jug acting and our use resides not
in our acting but in the time-series constituting jugging (the jug).Heidegger, for
example, counters skepticism with the assertion that "[t]he jug remains a vessel
whether we represent it in our minds or not" (DD167). But this is not an argument
or an invocation of what tempts us toward doubt or even a counter to the Cartesian
dualism that sets up the problem of mind and world that is one ofHeidegger's
specific targets. The temptation he is diagnosing here is our tendency to see the
self- standing independence ofthejug (ofthings) as a function ofits being made or
oftheReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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description of how it is made. The onlyjustification for ignoring the force of
skepticism, if we ignore his final goal to undo the unity between knowing and
being, he offers here, although it is less an offer than a strategy, appeals to a
scientific principle, that something is first what it is when it is made.Clearly
the jug stands as a vessel only because it has been brought to a stand. This
happened during, and happens by means o f a process o f setting, o f setting forth,
namely, by producing a jug. (DD167)Self-sustaining and supporting (Selbstandigen)
determines the jug as a thing, but not as an object. Does this "standing on its
own" (<das in sich steht) ("Das Ding" 158) happen during the process of producing
the jug? "Clearly the jug stands as a vessel only because it has been brought to a
stand" (DD167).2 Standing on ones own is not the same as being brought to a stand
(Stehen). In confusion we understand self-support "in terms of the making process.
Self-support is what making aims at" (DD167). Our confusion, it seems, is to
understand the meaning of "self-support" as determined by the "making process." For
Heidegger this is a kind of category mistake. The 'meaning' of thejug can only be
its use. One would expect that Hiedegger, even at this early stage o f the essay,
would suggest the way in which the meaning of 'self-support' is bound by its
inclusion in our intentions, practices, language, and so on. Instead, he
personifies making, itself, giving itan intention that is satisfied (if successful)
in "self-support": "Self-support is what making aimsat."
Heideggerdistinguishesherebetween'meaning',orthedeterminingofidentity (and
therefore this is already a site o f confusion between meaning and ontology), and
'causation', the "making process." Heidegger, however, is careful how he invokes
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and in fact reinstitutes the confusion between meaning and cause, attaching it not
to the jug,buttothe"makingprocess"throughhisascriptionofintention.
Heidegger(orrathermy interpretation) makes explicit that all descriptions o f cause
(even in science) inscribe an intentionality (described by laws) that provides an
agency for any particular cause. The way this agency (or intentionality) attaches
to other 'things' (how and towards what 'effect' something is animated) can be
confused (and can describe the difference between science and phenomenology, for
example). Heidegger's goal, therefore, is to reconfigure the lines o f animation
(intention) in such a way that they make an animate world (the concept or the sense
o f an 'animate world' is exactly what is at stake in such a picture).The jug is
brought into the same world as the earth, being made o f earth, and thus
itcanstandontheearthbyvirtueofthisidentityinmaterial. LockeintheEssayonHuman
Understanding refills Descartes definition of matter as extension with solidity:
This of all other, seems the Idea most intimately connected with, and essential to
Body, so as no where else to be found or imagin'd, but only in matter: and though
our Senses take no notice of it, but in masses of matter, of a bulk sufficient to
cause a Sensation in us; Yet the mind, having once got this Idea from such grosser
sensible Bodies, traces it farther; and considers it as well as Figure, in the
minutest Particle o f Matter, that can exist; and finds it inseperably inherent in
Body,where-ever,orhowevermodified. ThisistheIdeabelongstoBody, whereby we coneive
it to fill space. The Idea o f which filling o f space, is, That where we imagine
any space taken up by a solid Substances; and, will for ever hinder any two other
Bodies, that move towards one another in a strait Line, fromReproduced with
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coming to touch one another, unless it removes from between them in a Line, not
parallel to that which they move in. (Q.iv.1-2)Two bodies cannot occupy the same
space. Bodies fill space, and this filling while it canexist at many points in
space (within the pre-existing dimensionality o f space) marks the limit between
other bodies. Locke is ignoring permeability, but if such permeability is described
at a macro-quantum level there is no problem. Permeability requires holes. It is
possible, however, although improbable, that a truck might drive through a 'solid'
hill becauseofquantumtunneling. ButifweimaginethatLocke'sanalyticdescription
captures the logic o f our senses and perception then it captures the rules we
apply to our perceptionsinordertoproduceorrecognizebodiesinspace.
Heideggerassertsthat common substances resist each other, but interact through this
resistance. It is the nature ofearthtoresistthingsmadeofearthandsoon.
Lockedefinesbodiesthroughtheirformal integrity described as their possession ofa
particular area of space. Heidegger's use of, what I consider, a Lockean version of
matter, however, is less about the nature of matter than it is about the semantics
of being 'in space'. Locke's matter, therefore, means to be self-standing and self-
supporting. To be 'in' matter is to be constituted in this way.Such a vision of
matter and being-in describes not only things but people, or rather "Man in the
State [ofLiberty]". In this State men "have an uncontrollable Liberty, to dispose
of his Person or Possessions" (Second Treatise, ?6). In order to provide the
justification ("justifie to the world") for representative government, Locke must
establish a limit to arbitrary power ("Just and Natural Rights") in who someone is,
in their ontological-socialstatusasself-standingandself-supporting.
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human is a "State o f perfect Freedom to order their Actions, and dispose o f their
Possessions, and Persons, as they think fit, within the bounds o f the Law o f
Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any other Man" (Second
Treatise, ?4). Andthus"everyManhasaPropertyinhisownPerson. ThisnoBodyhasanyRight to
but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are
properlyhis"{SecondTreatise,?27). Self-ownershipdeterminesthestatusofMan against
the power o f others. The scope o f power is limited by rights (as justification)
and expressed through ownership o f Property. Given his use o f this ontological
picture underlying both the status o f matter and men (not women o f course) in
Locke, Heidegger's transformation of matter (as self-supporting objects) into
mutually related things within and in relation to the earth, sky, mortals and
divinities can (and should) be read as a political allegory. There is a lot in
stake in such an allegory (I do not have the space to pursue such an allegory
here).Our making seems to place the jug as self-standing outside o f our
perception, and thus to constitute it as a thing and not an object. This is not
true, however:It is, to be sure, no longer considered only an object of a mere act
of representation, but in return it is an object which a process of making has set
up before and against us. Self-support is what the making aims at. But even in
truth we are thinking o f this self-support in terms o f objectness, even though
the overagainstness {Gegenstandlichkeit) ofwhat has been put forth is no longer
groundedinmererepresentation,inthemereputtingitbeforeourminds. ButReproduced with
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from the objectness ofthe object, and from the product's self-support, there is no
way that leads to the thingness o f the thing. (DD169)The jug is not a jug,
however, because it is made. It becomes a jug once it can be used as ajug. If that
uses pre-exists the making then it is made to fit that use. If such a use does not
yet exist, then it only emerges as a jug, out o f the background, once that use is
recognized and it, as a particular kind o f thing, is recognized as that use.This
picture of what something is within the semantics of its use opposes Heidegger's
picture of scientific reduction: "the wine became a liquid, and liquidity in turn
becameoneofthestatesofaggregationofmatter,possibleanywhere." Thismeans wine=liquid
=a state ofmatter. This equation describes the substrate ofall reality as matter,
as substance. When Heidegger says that the "states o f aggregation o f matter" are
"possible anywhere" he means that matter has been reduced to a quantity within a
single frame.
WhatHeideggerisresistinghere,ofcourse,isthereductionofthequestion'what is real?' to
the question 'what does it consist of?', asking instead the questions 'how do we
use it?' or 'what does it do?'.Themodemworldisaworldorganizedaroundquantity.
Timeandspacefall under sets of points in a meta-space which maps our travel or
experience in the world as a function o f speed, so that faster means less
distance. The Flugmaschine (airplane) and the Rundfunk (radio) shrink space; Film
shrinks time by translating the seasonal time scale through which plants live into
a representation taking a minute, or the sites of "altesler Kulturen" (ancient
cultures), as if their identity and inhabitation and animation exists in their
stones or the aura of their landscape, are transplanted by film into our present.
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space machines and time machines can present themselves to us while they present or
shrink the world so that we know it is the world they show us ("Der Film bezeugt
uberdies sein Gezeigtes noch dadurch.. We reach the world through our machines,
whichjustify their veracity through the transparency ofthe mechanisms, which can
film themselves,asinPersona,filmingthemselves. Thesemachinesfunctionastest
apparatuses, by and through which we determine what is real. For Heidegger, science
asks and answers the question, 'what is real?' This reality is guaranteed by
translating things into the logic described by machines, onto film or into
radiowaves or into a machine producing an asymmetry o f forces (an airplane), in
which the world is regularized into distance or rather into quantity.In such a
world, where the real is measured as quantities, "everything is equally far and
equally near". Science, according to Heidegger, places the world under the rule of
identity, where everything in its reduction to quantity, is equal ('gleich') under
this rule: this is how Heidegger understands objectivity.3 This is logically
equivalent to Marx's description o f exchange value, where use-value, the
qualitative value o f a product determined by its function and utility, is reduced
to a quantitative system o f equivalency. What Marx calls a Fetish generated by
capitalism, Heidegger calls an object generated by science and technology. Even if
this picture is true, how does objectivity or quantification erase the difference
between 'near' and 'far' so as to dissolve distance? Heidegger works against
objectivity here by foregrounding the meaning of far and near as describing
relative distancefromaparticularperspective.
andembodyopposedandseeminglyincommensurablecriteriaforwhatisreal: theReproduced
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mathematical and the semantic. The mathematical produces the object, opposed to us
in an objective and meaningless space. The product o f the semantic is the thing,
constituted by what it does within an implicate order in which the real emerges as
that which is used (and thus within the quadrature o f earth, sky, mortals and
divinity each thinks, implies ontologically and reflects the other, through how
each determines the entelechy (its
actualityandcompletion)formingthefunctionofoneforanother). Heideggerassertsthat one
cannot move from the mathematical to the semantic, from the object to the thing. If
we have moved from the thing to the object, from the semantic to the mathematical,
what prevents the opposite movement? Even if these are incommensurable descriptions
o f the real, if the mathematical has replaced or overwritten (a palimpsest) to
varying degrees, the semantic, the possibility for this overwriting must exist
within the semantic.If something like this model is correct, then Hiedegger's
prohibition of moving from object to thing marks off our phenomenal semantic
relation to and within the world from any process o f being made, except our being
made by [a] divinity whose making determines us as usable for them. This is a way
of conceptualizing a necessary domain of intentionality as the world in which we
actually function.8.2 Whatisathing?:FunctionalismHave we lost our nearness to
things through a process o f history? Again andagain, like our innocence, as we
each mature? Is our nearness our everyday condition which we fail to see? fail to
see in varying degrees so that we actually live within a worldReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
whichisnolongernear? Allofthesequestionsaskifwecanwerecoverourselvesifthe world
remains as it is?If there is a single standard for what is real then there is no
distance, distance is redefined. Is this a re-definition o f space?Nearness
describes a conceptual relation between different categories or kinds, and thus is
not reducible to a single standard o f reality. The problem o f nearness is the
problem o f incommensurablity. Emerson wrote in one o f his journals: "There is
every degree of remoteness from the line of things in the line of words" (Journals
4:303).4 Human beings and things are constructed at the nexus o f such category
distinctions. This is why Heidegger thinks that the question "What is nearness?"
(DD171) is so important in determining the human relation to things: "Near to us
are what we usually call things.But what is a thing (Doch was ist ein Ding)"
(DD166). How is 'is' used here? How we read 'is' is what is at stake in the
difference between a 'thing', that which is near, and an object which is over
against us. Do we say a thing is a list of properties we predicate of a thing or of
all things or of thingness? If a thing is not these properties then this 'ist' is
not being used as a copula. Heidegger's immediate answer is "Ein Ding ist der Krug"
("A thing is a jug"). But does this suggest that all things are jugs? Why not say
"A jug is a thing"? This would agree with our desire to take this jug as an example
o f a thing. Heidegger makes the jug, instead, exemplary o f thingness: he can get
to the world, the quadrature,throughjugness.
Asanexampleajugisamemberofthesetorcategory 'things'. Heidegger wants to undo this
kind o f objectification o f things into a category. The exemplary status of'jug',
therefore, at least recognizes the force ofthe questionReproduced with permission
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'what is a thing?' as asking for the identity ofthingness (x=y or x=x: the
difference between these is partly what's at stake in the essay). But answering
'what is a thing?" with "a jug" is a kind of mistake, at least an acknowledgment
that we do not know how to answer Heidegger's question.What would count as an
answer to a question o f identity? In mathematics it seems clear: 5+5=10. We can
substitute either side of the equation for the other, and thus algebraispossible.
Identity,therefore,seemstodescribesynonymyandthroughthis describes how words mean:
morning star = evening star. Thing as thing, and not as a particular thing, cannot
be picked out ofthe world like an object and put in such an equation. A thing is
the same as what? Another thing. Such self-reflection cannot yet
answerthesecondincarnationofHeidegger'squestion: "Whatinthethingisthingly? What is
the thing in itself?" Heidegger's version of a thing = thing will be "the thing
things", but this does not make any sense within our language, as a function of the
logic of 'is' that we understand. Heidegger must dissolve 'is' into nearness, a
language function describing a resolution o f the categorical difference between
quantity and quality. The quality of being a jug determines the jug as a jug, and
therefore as a thing: an identity.Heidegger asks "what is the jug?" This is not the
same kind of question as "what is a thing?". We can answer this question with
little ambiguity: "A vessel, something of the kind that holds something else within
it." "A vessel" answers "what is a jug?" with its function. A jug has a use first.
It becomes a thing (what it is) by having this use. Thus 'what is a thing?' asks
'what does a thing do?' But I imagine I still would not answer 'a thing things" or
'a jug jugs'. To what question might we answer this? I might say this in a
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without permission.271
language that included x=x but not x=y, that is, a language without metaphors. O f
course, in our language we understand "a thing things" as a metaphor. A thing is
what it does and thus the noun 'thing' becomes a verb, becomes its function. Ajug's
nature is not brought about by making, because the use of anything is not
determined by making. Making something fulfills a use that pre-exists. Even if we
find a new use, or a use, for a found or already made object, it becomes what it is
to us through that use. The thing has to emerge as something within the scope ofour
concerns, as a part ofthe relations that constitute our world.Heidegger opposes
function to form as involving two different ontologies. Function determines the
real through nearness, something like an implicate order or series.5 Form
determines the real as substance and order: "That is why Plato, who conceives of
the presence of what is present in terms of the outward appearance,. .. everything
present as an object of making (des Gegenstand des Herstellens- arfahren)"(DD168).
What about representation, or the identity ofthings as form or as substance, as
Aristotle conceives of it in Book VII of the Metaphysics, is determined by
understanding, as Heidegger believed Plato did, "everything present as an object o
f making"(DD168). Similarly,whataboutunderstandingtheoriginofanobject(orthing) in
its making leads to an object overagainst us, or to identity as a function of form,
or to thehypostasisofknowingasbeing? Heideggerslipsoutofthisknotofquestionsand
assumptions by redefining "making" as "what stands forth" and not as that which
stands "against us" (iGegenstand). Heidegger recognizes that making is not the same
as representing, but if this making determines identity both making and
representing areReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.272
determinedbyasimilarkindofknowing. Standingforthimpliestwothings: "Stemming from
somewhere", having a beginning and an origin, a thing became, and thus did not
always exist as such, and it had a cause; and once made it exists within "what is
already present" (168). But neither standing forth nor standing against reaches
across the noumenal boundary to "the thing qua thing".6Heidegger investigates
things-in-themselves by investigating the onto-semantics o f the '-in-' sandwiched
between 'thing' and the self-possessive 'themselves'. The sides and bottom do not
hold the wine because we do not pour the wine "into the sides and bottom" (in den
Wcmdung und in den Boden). The sides and bottom are impermeable, but they do not
yet hold (noch nicht das Fassende). Because we pour the wine into the void formed
bythematerialformofthejug,thisvoidholds: DieLeereisdasFassendedesGefafies ("Das
Ding" 161). Heidegger determines identity as that which can be entered--by 'in'--
the empty space o f the jug is what the jug is as vessel because that is where the
wine is wheninthejug. Thefunctionofthejug,itsholding,takesplacethere.
Thislinksspace andidentitynotbypossession,butbyanequivalenceofbeing,byidentity:
theemptiness is where the wine is at another time. Die Leere in moment 1 = Der Wein
in moment 2 in the space defined by the sides and bottom. Possession implies a
separation, successivebeing as the space between, where the emptiness implies the
possibility o f replacement as wine, and where the wine implies the possibility of
replacement as emptiness. What exists is always permeable over time, and thus
existence requires not solidity vis a vis other objectsbutinterpentrability:
isthasbecomein(into). Theexampleofthejug,therefore, is hardly arbitrary. It
represents how things are: being a thing means by implication ?Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
entering into o f being entered into. Even the scythe, while it does not seem to
have two states (empty and full, in varying degrees), cuts by entering into a
stalk. Already, with the jug to be means to be that which is containing, that which
can be entered or can enter (thewine). The jug as a vessel contains (or in
Hiedegger's language, holds); we are close to the jug jugs.Heidegger recognizes the
obvious in a comedy o f falling over: Butthejugdoesconsistofsidesandbottom.
Bythatofwhichthejugconsists,it stands. What would a jug be that did not stand? At
least a jug manque, hence ajug still--namely, one that would indeed hold but that,
constantly falling over, wouldemptyitselfofwhatitholds.
Onlyavessel,however,canemptyitself. (DD 169)We have a riddle: What would be a jug
that did not stand? answer: a jug. Such a misfit jug functions as a jug, but all at
once and outside of our use of that function (except as a joke, maybe). The failure
ofajug still marks it as ajug. This riddle, however, pretends topicture a jug
outside o f its essential form; a jug has sides, o f course; how silly, what would
a jug be that did not stand up? Is this standing what it means to have bottom and
sides? It can stand with these. But the silliness should ask what would a jug be
without bottom or sides? Nothing. Not even a not-jug. If the answer were a not-jug,
this would be like a jug exclaiming, I wish I was never bom. Heidegger's riddle
says, 'I wish I was never a jug.I'd rather be a bomb!' So I fill the jug with
explosives, with uranium maybe. But to be nothing could only result from an
alternate history, either for me or for the species.Reproduced with permission of
the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.274
But ifI say, 'I don't want thisjug to be ajug, but I want it to be me,' and then I
fill it with circuits, or I paint on a face and put it into my bed; or I discover
I'm an object and I want to be a thing, or I'm a product of evolution and history,
but I want a teleology, so I fill myself with a soul. The potter makes the void, he
does not form the clay except as an accidentaleffectofshapingthevoid.
IfIpainttheamphoraamIpaintingthevoid?If I make a jug without an inside, a solid
jug, then I have made the form of a jug but not a jug. If I simulate the form of a
tree I have not made a tree; but if I simulate the functioning, the physiology o f
the tree in its actual working, then I have made a tree regardlessofitsform.
Notalltreeslookalike.IfIsimulatethefunctioningofahuman being, then I have made a
human being. In Cognitive philosophy this is called
functionalism,andservesasajustificationforthemechanizationofthemind. Buteven here
everything rests on what we mean by human being, and, as we might o f Heidegger, we
can always ask what does a human being do?8.3 A Thing is a Temporal Condensate of a
Semantic ChainA void is necessary but not sufficient to hold something; one also
needs a material
limitbywhichtocreatethevoidandkeepitstableandimpenetrableinnormaluse. Ajug holds
wine by creating a barrier between the liquid and the forces of dispersal,
primarily gravity. This material barrier separates two categories or kinds of
being: liquid (a state of matter operating as a substance in relation to our
interaction with it) and, for simplicities sake, the force (ofgravity). Even ifwe
revert to a pre-Newtonian scientific model and say the barrier is between the wine
and its tendency to fall toward the earth and spread itselfReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
into the largest container possible, we have two categories: the thing, call this
the existent, and its essence or tendency. Thus this is not a reduction into a
single category of equidistantandidenticalpointsoratoms.
Substancefunctionsasafulcrumwithwhichto lever essence and existence into contact.
Substance is, therefore, the point of categorical unity o f exactly the same kind
as nearness Heidegger posits as constituting a world. But there is a difference
between Hiedegger's nearness and the nearness o f substance. Heidegger builds a
reductive chain from substance to making to quantify through which science
functions. I will call this description through measurement. In this chain one can
see that the only point of categorical unity is in the making, between need, will,
goal and form and substance. The categorical unification o f how the jug works with
its substance istranslated into a determined unity between why the jug is made with
how the jug is made towork.
use)isunderstoodasansweringalsowhyitwasmadeinthewayitwas. Thisjustification
describes how the world works. Heidegger wants to prevent us asking why the jug is
self- standing, or rather from asking 'how does the jug stand?'. Such a question
leads us to the world, but not the world o f the fourfold. Because in this world we
are not used (by divinity). Use cannot counter the indifference of how the world
works. Hope might not find an adequate niche in either the mechanisms o f the
umwelt or the scientific descriptions of it. Hardy pictured this as tragedy:. . .
the whole field was in colour a desolate drab; it was a complexion without
features, as if a face, from chin to brow, should be only an expanse of skin. The
sky wore, in another colour, the same likeness; a white vacuity o f countenance
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with the lineaments gone. So these two upper and nether visages confronted each
other all day long, the white face looking down on the brown face, and the brown
face looking up at the white face, without anything standing between them but the
two girls crawling over the surface o f the former like flies.(Tess o f the
d'Urbervilles, ch. xliii)'Nature', the force of external or given coherence,
tinkers with our humanity, erasing our
faceandthenobsofmeaningattachedbypatheticfallacytoitsface. Itbecomesmore inhuman by
being cast as monstrously human, and then looking without eyes upon our
owndiminutionintoinsect-likeinsignificance. Theprocessofourspeciesbecomingself-
consciousnessinrelationtotheworldshrinksSibyl-likebeforethisindifference. Wearethe
Sibyl as a species.The particular usage of this jug may be to transport the wine,
to measure it, tostand as a work of art, or an um for the dead, to cook with, to
drink from. Are these all separate identities, or does this simply describe the
limits ofjugging?Asking 'how does the jug's void hold?' pressures the semantics o f
'void' and 'hold' into a new usage. A void takes 'what is poured in' and keeps
'what is poured in' (DD171).
Heidegger'sascribesintentiontothejugsothathowitholdsseemstosetup an ambiguous
acting where the jug is both taking and keeping. Heidegger calls thisambiguous,
which can only be true if the taking and keeping take place simultaneously. This
according to Heidegger's description is not true: taking happens first and then
keeping,thejug-thing,nowajug-person,takesthewineandkeepsit. Theambiguityisa
functionoftheidentityofthejugbeingitsholding,literallyhowitholds. ThustheReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
ambiguity is a function of the demands of identity, that it be something that
extends over successivemoments,notsomethingelseineverymoment.
Heideggerisattemptingto figure the thing in time, constitute the thing as what
expresses timing (why not making time?). The unity ofjug asjug, the resolution
ofthe ambiguity between taking and keeping, between what is done and what was done,
therefore, is determined by the possibility for which the taking and keeping take
place, that is, 'the outpouring'.Function, the 'for which the jug is fitted as a
jug", determines the jug as jug by resting (beruhi) [again why not constituting?]
the jug on the possibility that excavates a fixture forthisjugtoenterintoasajug.
Thegroundofidentityisthefuturepossibilityinwhichthe function ofthejug can be
fulfilled. This future transposes the selfishness ofthe taking and keeping (can we
call this the immoral jug?) into giving (the moral jug?): "The holding of the
vessel occurs in the giving of the outpouring." 'Occurs' does not make sense here:
how can past actions occur in putative future actions? This use o f 'occurs' is
justified (but not explicitly) by the following description:1. "Holding needs the
void"2. thenatureofholdingisgatheredingiving3. giving constitutes what is given
(let's say the wine) as a poured gift4. thejug'scharacterconsistsofthispouredgift5.
if the jug remains a jug it can give again, so that the fulfilled possibility
remainsa possibility by virtue of its previous use.
'Occurs',therefore,means'becomes'andconsistsofanothertimeline. Theuseofthejug
happens in the ordinary world as a series o f actions. The function described by
this seriesReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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describes the jug as jug, and thus the jug becomes a jug through and by virtue o f
this function. Suchauseoffunctionisbestunderstoodasapseudo-mathematicalorlogical
function: / (jug) ([outpouring (giving) n holding (taking and keeping)] r>jug). In
such a function, 'outpouring', 'giving', 'holding', and so on are functors.This
pseudo-logic provides the leverage to generate a meta-description that can
stabilize the transformation of identity into existence as a temporal unity. It
gives us a relation between two temporal orders organized around implication,
understood as a becomingbyvirtueofwhatsomethingisbythisbecoming.
Thusthiscannotbestrictly causal, because identity is always a further effect and
never a cause except for after the fact. In the world o f Heidegger's jug all
causes are final causes, just as all forms o f 'to be' express existence.A jug is a
jug if it gives through taking and keeping and then outpouring (with the
understanding that this 'then' is a temporal marker outside of the jug as jug, that
is, its identity).(DD172).
thefull(voile:asinafilledupjug)natureoressence(Wesen)ofgiving. Thisessenceis the
'poured gift' (das Geschenk). Geschenk has been translated as poured 'gift',
although it means simply 'gift', but like 'gift' in English 'Geschenk' is the
nominalization o f a verb 'schenken' or 'give'. Thus giving becomes giving if a
gift is given. The past tense prefix ge- marks the gift as already given, or rather
as a gift-thing within the economy o f giving. Once poured the pouring ceases, but
the poured gift remains poured and remains what it is as gift. Every point in the
time-line that describes how the jug is used, from taking to keeping to outpouring
to giving to gift, its jugness is totalized as implicit in the completedReproduced
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action. Thus, even ifthejug is empty its identity as gift exists as its potential
to give, but this potential is always actualized in our recognition ofthejug asjug.
Thejug acts because it is totalized within our time, while the jug is an object
when it is totalized within its own time. The time-line that constitutes the jug is
reduced to a unit which we recognize as ajug. Thus a unit of our time is condensed
into the jug, and that is its identity. The things around us, therefore, exist as
what they are as condensations o f different temporal series. This is the form o f
'to be' as implication organized as function and identity. A thing is a time series
that includes all possibilities o f its being what it is (all other moments in the
timeseries)atanyandeverymoment. Athing,therefore,asafunction,isdescribed through
and as a semantic chain consisting of a set of functors describing a succession
(and thus enacting a thing-specific temporality).8.4 The Ontological-Semantics of
WeilenThe interaction of these thing (time-condensates) form the world. How does
thisinteraction world? The unity or coherence o f the world is determined through
the products o f these series, the poured gift which enacts the identity o f the
jug as what it is. This poured gift, however, functions not only by virtue of the
jug but in relation to us: "The giving o f the outpouring can be a drink, The
outpouring gives water, it gives wine to drink" (DD172).With the gift as a gift we
enter the world from the thing. "Im Waser des Geschenkes weilt die Quelle" ("Das
Ding" 164):Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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In the water of the gift lingers dwelling (stays) the spring. In the spring the
rock dwells (weilt), and in the rock dwells the dark slumber ofthe earth, which
receives the rain and dew ofthe sky. In the water ofthe spring dwells (weilt) the
marriage o f sky and earth. It stays (weilt) in the wine given by the fruit o f the
vine, the fruit in which the earth's nourishment and the sky's sun are betrothed
(zugetraut)1 to oneanother
Inthegiftofwater,inthegiftofwine,skyandearthdwell(Weileri) [respectively]. But the
gift ofthe outpouring iswhat makes thejug ajug. In thejugness of the jug, sky and
earth dwell (Weilen). (172)Heidegger clusters things into a cosmogony o f dependent
relations, where this dependency evokes indeterminate causal relations (grapes,
from which we make wine, require sun and earth in order to grow because o f the
causal mechanisms producing photosynthesis, nutritional exchange, plant stability,
etc.). The relations between water, spring, rock, earth, sky, rain, sky, and sun,
however, do not function through these implied causal mechanisms. Their evocation
is not meant to invoke them. Our recognition o f their dependence is meant to
forestall our asking for either further causal elaboration or for ajustification
for this picture o f their relation.How do sky and earth dwell (sustained and made
visible or meaningful as sky andearth) in thejugness ofthejug? Things dwell or stay
or linger (Weilen) in each other. At this stage in the essay Hiedegger has re-
defined the Scholastic concepts o f existence and essence as the criteria for
being:1) Thingness, akin to quiddity, or essence: a thing is what it does as a
functioning temporal entelechion (something is if it functions as part of a series
of acts).Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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2) Existence, the potential to be 'in': an expression o f replacability, where the
x=y describes the potential for x and y to replace each other within a common
domain, that is, through mutual containment within a mutually describing category.
The criterion used to determine if the sides and bottom of the jug hold the wine is
whether "we pour the wine into [7/T] the sides and bottom" (169; underline added).
Each element, wine and void, for example, is only identical through their mutual
articulation o f a common space. Thus identity is determined as thepotential to be
'in' (in, into) the other; they are in each other without remainder, not as
described by the phrases 'the book is in the library' or 'the piston is in the
engine', but akin to Spinoza's use o f 'in' in his axioms concerning God: "All
things which are, are in themselves or in other things" (Ethics).The borders o f
this usage are sketched by the use o f 'in' in 'the boy is in the man', 'in my
life', 'in my heart', and even 'I was never in the in-crowd'. 'In', used in these
ways, marks the relation between two logical or grammatical categories in which
this relationship is both not reducible to the any one category and yet one o f the
categories functions as a totality (as void does in Heidegger's jug). Heidegger's
use o f 'in' describes the distance betweentwo
Menceasetointerestuswhenwefindtheirlimitations. Theonlysinislimitation. ..
Infinitely alluring and attractive was he to you yesterday, a great hope, a sea to
swim in; now, you have found his shores, found it a pond, and you care not ifyou
never see it again. (169)Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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We learn that God IS; that he is in me; and that things are shadows of him. (170)
This distance, between the social (Thoreau's "seeing through another's eyes'") and
epistemological idealism pressures things-in-themselves back into our ordinary
involvement with others. These others are, however, things. (Heidegger constructs
humans as things, opposing the construction o f humans as objects).
Heidegger'suseofWeilenoverlapshisuseof'in'. "Thegiftoftheoutpouringisa gift because
it stays earth and sky, divinities and mortals": the criterion for being a gift is
this staying (it stays: weilt), and thus the outpouring can be justified as a gift
if it stays these four. The justification o f a semantic distinction, "is this
justifiably called a gift?", resides in the use of 'weilt' (stays) in a novel
fashion. One obscurity isjustified by another. We might ask, "how does this
outpouring cause this staying o f the earth, sky, divinities and mortals?" Stays
suggests an action or event that configures the world in a particularway.
Whyaskifthisisagiftifthecriterionforbeingagiftissoobscure? What kind offunction is
'Weilen'?How does an outpouring 'stay' these entities? (Thoreau would ask "why
'earth and sky, divinities and mortals?' What are these?") Heidegger can answer the
'how' but not the 'why' and the 'what': "Yet staying is no longer the mere
persisting of somethingthat is here. Staying appropriates." This staying, and
therefore its function as the criterion determining something as a gift (this
'something,' however, is an aspect o f something: Whitehead's unity o f internal
diversity), is not an apparent action. I can not say, let's make a test: 'Is this a
staying? or is this? Does this stay or does this?' Thus, its semanticReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
obscurity marks it as a function different from the non-action of someone 'staying
put' or from the action o f 'taking off.' Staying happens as the world. It seems
not to have a context in relation to which it can happen, except in its blinking
away before the forms apparent in representation. Its failure happens as the loss o
f the world. Does the radical skeptic really lose the world? Insisting on a real
loss (really) can itself have no adequate criteria. We ask instead, can we exist
ever outside o f a world? I f we lose the sense o f our categories or assertions o
f existence, as both our existing and that which exists, we have lost the sense of
existence.8Theworldemergesastheworldofearthandsky,divinitiesandmortals: "Yet
staying is now no lnger the mere persisting of something that is here" (DD173;
underline added). Heidegger creates a temporal confusion: does this now mean 'at
this point in the lecture' or 'in our (his) thinking' or does it mean 'now that the
jug emerges as a jug through its functioning as a jug'? In other words can we say
that there exists two kinds of staying: (l)one as a function of form and
representation called normally identity and determined by persistence and (2)
another that underlies this one or emerges under the proper gaze as an
appropriating? Or is there just one form o f 'staying' that is mistaken under the
aspect o f representation. A "persisting o f something that is here" is no longer
staying "now". This 'now' is not the 'here' determining staying as identity. 'Here'
is construed here as the site o f the real, the present moment formed as the space
o f the world in that moment. 'Here' functions as the criterion for being real. So
why not say 'something that is here', what does 'persisting add'? Persisting links
the phenomenal present spatialized as a 'here'to a chain of"here's", all ofwhich
constitute both time andReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.284
theworld. Howisthe'now'thatmarksthenewmeaningofstaying(asnotaformal
identityofsomethingovertime)relatedtothispictureoftime? This'now'marksthinking as
an outpouring, as a gift that appropriates. What this thinking appropriates and
what the outpouring appropriates condense ontology away from the divisions between
mind and world. Thinkingnowisnotdeterminedbyanadequacyofrepresentation,butthe
belonging to the subject that allows it to emerge as such. Consequently, the
confusion of the 'now' semantically marks this now as a point of condensation for
two temporal series: the series defined by Heidegger's words and the series
described by the functioning of thejug. The jug, as a thing, builds its substance,
if we can call it that, within the same 'now' of our thinking. Can thinking or a
thinking or a thought exist in the same 'here' as a jug?
Weareontheedgeofacategoryconfusion. Butifweaskcanajugexistinthesamehere of a
thought, we are tempted to say the jug can exist in our thought, so that the
thought becomesametaphoricalherethatcansupporttheimaginedjug. Thisshouldseema
misuse o f 'here'.All we can say is that 'now' has entered into the semantic matrix
organized around Weilen. Heidegger continues to unfold this semantics. Staying
"brings the four into thelight o f their mutual belonging" (DD173). Mutual
belonging gives o f f some kind o f metaphorical light, or rather mutual belonging
make the four visible as mutually belonging. The circularity here is exactly o f
the sort as the confusion in the meaning o f the previous 'now'. The staying does
not create their mutual belonging it makes what already exists visible. Visible to
us? If the answer were yes, then we could still be confused about whether we create
the belonging or if we just suffer from false consciousness about theReproduced
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realnatureoftheworld. Thisvisibilityfunctionsforthefour,andforusifwefunctionas one
o f the four. Heidegger says "the four" are brought into the light o f their own
relationship. This is not light for them, but light caused by them. (The world both
through thejug and as the quadrature makes itselfvisible.) How does staying,
pouring wineoutofajug,bringtheearthandsky,mortalsanddivinitiesintovisibility?
Theunity o f the action o f outpouring that determines the jug as a jug ("staying's
simple onefoldness") betroths and entrusts the four to each other.At the level
ofdescription ofthis betrothal all four are the same, "at one" Heidegger calls it.
Their abstraction into a unity effect their unconcealment: their becoming true.
True for us? Or true to us? The outpouring enacts this unity o f the four, that is,
it abstracts them into a mutual belonging that determines the world as a world (as
coherent and complete). But this outpouring acts upon this abstraction which it has
itself created: "The gift o f the outpouring stays the onefold o f the quadrature o
f the four" (DD173).
complexityofthesemanticandtemporalcharacterof'Weilen'. Theoutpouringdoesnot stay
the earth and sky, divinities and mortals into a unity o f mutual belonging and
then staythis unity. Staying, therefore, does not enact anything, it does not make
this unity or act in time as we understand it (as succession or even as a present).
Heidegger wants to pressure matter into function (a hyloentelechia).9 This
criterion o f being as that which acts and is by virtue o f turning 'into' (or
maybe one should say being is what can function as a palimpsest: a palimpsest-
being) allows the void, even in its absence to do the holding at every moment by
being the wine as a holding. ThisReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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distorts the criterion of presence, that Derrida attacks, into another axis where
it remains one criterion for being, but within a matrix that includes the absence
of the void, the a holding o f the jug, the wine itself. The semantic force o f
holding as a partial entelechia (I use the plural here because nothing is itselfthe
completion of a function, ofjugging) happens without being present as such. But we
can say that the sides and bottom do not hold because they cannot enter into an
identity with the wine being held in the way the void can (even though it is
replaced). It's replacement is a categorical replacement. This is why Heidegger
shows that the air within the jug is not a void. Both a void and holding function
within the same logical category. Thejug as much as it does consist of clay can
only be anything, let alone a jug, if it includes this logical category, that is,
this relationbetween void and holding. But what does it mean to 'include' here? How
does a thing, a jug, include a conceptual semantics determining a void as a
holding?This is Heidegger's initial answer: "And in the poured gift the jug
presences as jug" (DD173) ['7m Geschenk aber west der Krug als K r u g In the gift,
however, staysthejugasjug.]
Thecontradistinction,hereamockdialectic,between"stayingthe onefold" ["verweilt die
Einfalf'], the acting ofthe outpouring determining the world as world, and the
particularity of "the staying in the gift" ["/m Geschenk. . . west'] through
whichthejugbecomesajugislostinHofstadter'stranslation. Isaythisisamock dialectic
because not only is there no sublation (aufhebung), it is exactly the conception of
matter as following a succession of states that disguises the jug as jug. What is
is alwaysgiven. It is not made nor does it function as a cause or emerge as an
effect. Heidegger is articulating a holism in which the semantics of our language
open, in 'weilen' for example,Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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as a function of our dwelling in language,10condensing the categorical distinctions
in our uses of 'to be' into or as things and the world. The functioning ofthejug,
as an action, which at every semantic functor--taking/ keeping/ holding/
outpouring/ gathering--
completesbyimplicationallpreviousandfutureaspectsofthejugsfunctioning: tohold
implies, by a kind of ontological or aesthetic [the distinction between these
begins to blur] implication, outpouring. Time is condensed in the semantics o f
things away from causal chains and into implicate unities:W e view action only as
causing an effect. The actuality o f the effect is valued accordingtoitsutility.
Buttheessenceofactionisaccomplishment. To accomplish means to unfold something into
the fullness of its essence, to lead itforthintothisfullness-producere.
Thereforeonlywhatalreadyiscanreallybe accomplished, But what "is" above all is
Being. Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man. It does
not make or cause the relation. Thinking brings this relation to Being solely as
something handed over to it fromBeing. Such offering consists in the fact that in
thinking Being comes to language. Language is the house o f Being. In its home man
dwells.("Letter on Humanism", 193)In "Letter on Humanism" Heidegger wants to
distinguish the human from the inhumane in the way that he wants to distinguish
between the animate and inanimate in "Das Ding" as determining the nearness of the
world and our thinking within and through our actions, our speaking, and our
stances toward ourselves, toward the things, and contexts presenting themselves to
us.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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Implication o f the 'to hold is to love' sort, an implication that functions as an
answer to a question like 'how do I know I'm loving?', Heidegger calls gathering:
The gift gathers what belongs to giving: the twofold containing, the container, the
void,andtheoutpouringasdonation. Whatisgatheredinthegiftgathersitself in
approriatively staying the fourfold. This manifold simple gathering is the jug's
presenceing. (DD173)"Belongs" asserts a totality called 'giving' that is the
essence of the gift which means the outpouring from the holding, that is the taking
and keeping, constituting the void o f thejug as jug. That which is gathered also
gathers--following the same pattern o f abstraction allowing Weilen to enact
simultaneously the world and the jug. This gathering o f the aspects ofthejugs
conceptual (how and for the sake ofwhich) functioning because it can function as
itself, that is, abstracted from its material embodiment in the jug, can 'stay' the
fourfoldpreviouslydescribedasstayedbytheoutpouring. Theoutpouringarticulatedthe
doubleness o f 'staying', which defines the relation between particular and
universal as holisticcontext.
Outpouringexposes'staying'asthisrelationshipandinthisunconcealsthe world (the
quadrture) as a world. Heidegger's attempt to articulate the semantics of this use
of 'Weilen', and, therefore, to describe the ontology ofthing and world requires a
matching semantic condensation in the jug itself. This requirement is determined by
the conception ofBeing as the condensation ofthe uses of'to be'into ontological
force. The effect o f this is to allow things to mean, but at the cost o f losing
the materiality o f substance and therefore requiring a conceptual identity
determining the thing in relation to theconceptualidentitydeterminingtheworld:
staying=gathering.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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"The jug's presencing is the pure, giving gathering o f the one-fold quadrature
into a single time-space, a single stay" (DD174): Das Wesen des Kruges ist die
reine schenkende Versammulung des einfaltigen Gevierts in eine Weile. Der Krug west
als Ding Der Krug is der Krug als ein Ding. Wie aber west als Ding? Das Ding dingt.
("Das Ding" 166).The Hofstadter translation loses the continuing unfolding of the
semantics of "weilen'by foreclosing how it enacts the jug (assuming it is through
presencing). The essence (Wesen) of the jug is the pure (and perspicuous and
offhand, ordinary or mere) giving of the gathering of the onefold (simple)
quadrature in a singular Staying (under a temporal
aspect)andDwelling(underaspatialaspect)[Weile]. If1Weilen'canfunctionasthe
nominative Weile, then the functioning ofthejug can constitute what exists with the
ontologicalforceofwhatAristotlecalledousia,substance. Themechanismforthis
nominalization works through the semantics o f 'in' which determine the relations
between and among whatever exists through appropriating and giving. 'In' could
function as the criterion for being before because the economy of what in the
"Letter on Humanism" Heidegger calls the subjective and objective genitive rests on
the assumption that only what exists can be appropriated and given.The gift stays
the quadrature as its own: a gift can only function as a gift within an ontological
context determining what it is and which it opens up as its own. In this dwelling
it becomes a thing: Der Krug west als Ding. Heidegger is skirting tautology: it is
what it is because it acts as it is in a world in which it can be what it is. In
this picture what something is is already given, it is neither made nor does it
emerge. Time hasReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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becomeanunfoldingofadynamicanalyticsemantics: Thethingthings. cTothing',asa verb,
means 'to gather through appropriating the quadrature's staying (dwelling) in a
lingering for a while: into [a] this, into [a] that thing; Essammelt, das Geviert
ereignend, dessert Weile in einje Weileges: in dieses, injenes Ding ("Das Ding"
166). The demonstrative pair 'this . . . that' determines nearness and famess as a
function o f this appropriating. The patterns of stability or of identity that are
required in order for change to appear as change is translated into a structure
ofbeing that allows for particular and thus unique relations within and toward the
world. "Staying, the thing brings the four, in theirremoteness,neartooneanother.
Thisbringing-nearisnearing. Nearingisthe presencing o f nearness, Nearness brings
near--draws night to one another--the far and, indeed, as the far. Nearness
preserves farness" (DD178). Heidegger translates identityinto a functioning that
embeds particularity within a totalizing whole along a semantic chain o f
equivalencies that determine what a thing is as a subjunctive configuration o f
something as what it is within a world.If the world is this possible state of
affairs, how does one or does a thing get into it?
InspiteofHiedegger'susageof'nearness'asakindofnominativeexpression,thatis, as a
form of being, it is not a "container", [t]he thing is not 'in' nearness, 'in'
proximity. Nearness is an activity, a "bringing near", and thus has no insides in
the way that being a thing does. Nearness brings near in the way that thinging o f
the thing does. Nearness is like thinging (verb) and not like the thing. But isn't
the thing its thinging, and doesn't this thinging proceed through being entered?
This seems to invoke a metonymic as opposed to a synecdochic function. The thing
stays the quadrature "in the simple onefold o f theirReproduced with permission of
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self-unified quadrature." This seems to mean that one can put these into a
description of an eco-system with semantic implications: Earth is the building
bearer, nourishing with its fruits,tendingwaterandrock,plantandanimal"(DD179).
Canthisdescriptioncounter the indifference o f physical laws and the effects they
describe (in very simplified forms)?The onto-semantics o f 'in' translates
intentionality (the aboutness o f language; in this case how language picks out or
attaches to things) into a form o f possession: an ontological implication and
metonymic nearness. Nearness describes a categorical proximity between
intentionality (aboutness) and what is. This means that nearness descibes a unity o
f categories (but not into meta-category). This preserves famess
(relativedifference)throughinthedistinctionsdeterminingthesecategories. Thesepoints
o f categorical unity are things. Thus famess functions not between things but
within things: the distance between the taking and the keeping or the holding and
the outpouring, between the giving (jug) and the gift (wine). Something cannot be
7<<' proximity. This is a category error: 'inness' is an expression of nearness. To
be 7n' is to be replaceable. If we pour the wine into the void, can we justify this
use o f in by saying they are equivalent at an ontological level? They are mutually
implicating by functioning as a place holder forthe other. They are not, therefore,
equivalent in relation to each other, but they are equivalent within a system o f
mutual exchange stabilizing the jug as an intransitive holding.A thing is not in
nearness, but rather in thinging, which as we saw is analogous to nearness, is "in
the simple onefold". This means a thing is what it is as a function of the semantic
series determining a thing as a thing in the unity o f the world determined by the
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same functional semantic series of the thing: the thing stays itself and in this
staying stays the world. These functional semantic series at the abstract level o f
their unity, and thus for Heidegger their level o f interaction or at the level at
which they can replace each other, as the wine replaces the void, constitute the
semantics and the referent organizing Heidegger's use o f'Weilen'. The aspect
ofthis verb that suggests 'dwelling' captures this inness as both the expression
and the criterion for Being. This might suggest the riddle, 'what is inside
itself?' with the answer: 'everything.' I am not sure this captures the double-
logic here; rather the riddle should be 'what is in what it itselfcontains?' If I
answer 'a jug' I'm not sure I know what I could mean. But if I answer 'the world',
I canmakesenseofthat. Consequently,Icanonlyanswer'ajug'ifIcanmakethejugaworld. If
everything functions as a possible world, and if such worlds constitute themselves
as worlds (and thus they cannot reveal themselves as such but constitute themselves
as worlds), then the distinction between particular and universal or context
reduces to determiningthatwhichmakestheseworldsworlds. Theworldandthings-as-
worldsare constitutedbysemantics. Thissemanticsdescribesaself-
reflexiveteleologyorentelechia that at every point in the functioning of a thing
condenses the entire series in the thing. The thing becomes a system o f
possibilities, where unlike in Aristotle, these possibilities asthe unity o f 'to
be' constitute actuality, the ontologically real. These possibilities are not
actualized, as form or anything else, but used within an actualized totality. Thus
the reality,theBeingofthingsmeansthepossibilitiesoftheiruse. Athingisfundamentally
subjunctive. Thesubjunctivemodeofthingsisactualizednotinthemselvesorinobjects
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but in the totalities which they themselves are and in the totality o f the world
(quadrature as onefold).Each thing spatializes its function, that is, the changes
which constitute its use, such that it exists through these changes as they reflect
the totality o f changes. Thus things become the still-points for themselves and in
this stability structure their changes as auniquetemporalsequence.
Eachthingdeterminesaparticularkindoftimeexpressedas and expressing what they are.
Time is scattered as condensates o f possibility throughout andastheworld.
Theorderednatureandrelativeindependenceofthesethingsas condensates o f time
determines them as controlled dynamic systems that constitute in their very nature
the means by which time is expressed as time: their identity as things, which is
totalized at any and every particular moment or aspect o f their functioning, in
relation to whichtheunfoldingoftheirchangingpositionandfunctionisorderedastime.
Thisisa descriptionofaliving,animatebeing:
thusthingsthingandappropriateandgatherand dwell or stay or linger.These verbs 'to
appropriate" and 'to gather' and 'weilen' are descriptions, however, and it is
exactly their ontological status that is at issue. They do not have any ontological
force separate from our use o f them as descriptions. They are liable o f misuse,
confusion, false attribution: language exists as much as anything else, but does it
exist or function or mean in the way that jugs do? In Heidegger's attempt to
replace the hylomorphic (matter/form) unity o f substance that Aristotle's
constructs in order to counter Plato's reduction of matter to form he in effect
reduces matter to a kind of functioning that replaces matter with a conceptual
semantics constituting a temporalReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.294
series. The interaction between user and use is dissolved into the idealism o f the
pure function, such that the semantic description ofthis function reduces identity
into a transcendent form; call this the point o f categorical unity or intersection
(the metaphoric use of mathematical language is not arbitrary here), in this case
designated by 'wer/en'.Heidegger describes 'matter' in this way:Earth is the
building bearer (bauend Tragende), nourishing (nahrend) with its fruits, tending
(hegend) water and rock, plant and animal.. . . The sky is the sun's path, the
course ofthe moon, the glitter ofthe stars, the year's seasons, the light and dusk
ofday, the gloom and glow ofnight, the clemency and inclemency ofthe weather, the
drifitng clouds and blue depth ofthe ether... (DD178)The earth is the source, the
out of which (bauend) that upholds (Tragende) through its nourishing and tending,
the organized forms of matter we recognize (mythically pictured). The sky is a
path, a course, a glitter, the season's, light and dusk, gloom and glow, clemency
and inclemency, drifting and blue depth. In all o f this the sky is used, and thus
emerges as the sky as a function o f these uses. The uses o f both earth and sky
are differentbutcomplementary. Theearthismothering,parentalandshepherding(inthe way
that "Man is the shepherd o f Being" in "Letter on Humanism"): bearing, nourishing,
and tending. The sky is that which the sun, moon, stars, year, day, night, weather,
clouds, and ether (whatever that is) display it. This displaying, for the most
part, enacts a system of oppositions (or negations) as the possibilities ofBeing
for both the sky and its limiting or determining objects and concepts.Reproduced
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TeXsuiTi Kai 8vxeA^ xeia (ct verbum temporale nomini)They are called mortals because
they can die. To die means to be capable of deathas death. Only man dies. The
animal perishes. (DD178)Animals like things have only their functioning ahead and
behind them; they do not have death, like humans do, "ahead of itselfnor behind it"
(DD178). Did we not know that we die? Or that we are called mortals because o f
this immanent and imminent death? Our education proceeds from the fact o f death
towards the semantics o f death.In Being and Time, Heidegger writes "By its very
essence, death is in every case mine, in so far as it 'is' at all. And indeed death
signifies a peculiar possibility-of-Being in
whichtheveryBeingofone'sownDaseinisanissue"(BT284;240). Daseinis ontologically
constituted in the "mineness and existence" determining the particularity of
DaseinasDaseinforitself. Identityandexistencemeetindeathandnotingenesis:11"Death is
the possibility o f the absolute impossibility o f Dasein. Thus death reveals
itselfas thatpossibility which is one's ownmost, which is non-relational, and which
is not to be outstripped [unuberholbare]. As such, death is something distinctively
impending. Its existential possibility is based on the fact that Dasein is
essentially disclosed to itselfj and disclosed, indeed, as ahead-of-itself.(BT 294;
251).Death exposes what in "Das Ding" should be understood as the semantical
structure of 'in' and 'myness'. The possibility (Death) o f an impossibility
(Dasein) describes a limitReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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that determines death as absolutely interchangeable (that is, interchangeable
without remainder): one forms the limit ofthe other as a totality.Death is an
ontological and grammatical limit determining our living, not only as dying, but as
a limited totality, "as ahead-of-itself'. (It is this relation between ontology and
grammar that I need here) Dasein is always an issue for itselfthrough the
multiplicity o f its stances mediating between its throwness (enmeshed within the
historical, social, existential givens) o f Being and being ahead-of-itself. The
distinctiveness o f this fate which is never overcome/ outstripped can twist
possibility into function such that Dasein functions always toward this death. The
Cartesian jug head with its pineal gland attaching spirit to its mechanical arms,
even if the possibilities o f our Being are not knowable, sketches being human as
living like a jug as thing, unfolding at every point, as a temporal series attached
to ontological possibilities (not just existential possibilities as in Being and
Time).12If things become animate, if they are to us what they do (being acts
through ontological implication), how are humans functional? If meaning is
determined, or emerges, through use, then divinities function to use us, and
through and in that use we gain a being as things analogous to how things function
as things for us. Death is the limit of our functioning, in the way that becoming
an object is the limit of a thing, forming itself outofuseintosubstance:
"AstheshrineofNothing,deathharborswithinitselfthe presenceing ofBeing. As the
shrine ofNothing, death is the shelter ofBeing" (DD178- 79). 'Nothing' is 'that
which in every respect is never something that merely exists, but
whichneverthelesspresences[west],evenasthemysteryofBeingitself'(DD178). Does
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nothing merely exist? Heidegger translates the Parmenidian One, constructed out o f
the impossibility ofthinking ofanything (even ofnothing) that does not exist, into
the functional implication that determines Being (or uses o f'to be') as a
collection of collected (gathered) temporal series, hyloentelechia, emerging, or
totalized as things, as determinate subjunctive modes. The world consists o f the
collection o f these subjunctive modes. Heidegger is recasting what Duns Scotus, on
whom he wrote his habilitation dissertation, and Peter Aureol call potential time,
a domain oftime separate from physical and heavenly movement (as Being). Rejecting
the Aristotelian picture o f time as determined and enacted by these physical
changes, Duns Scotus followed Augustine's conception o f time as an internal
measure separate as such from movement and the world. The developing realism of
Scholastic philosophy, however, resisted Augustine's conclusion that time only
exists within the mind. Potential time, therefore, describes both our measuring o f
time and the possibility o f time which we find described in external movements and
in things.ParmenidesandAristotledescribetimeasthatwhichisandthatwhichisnot. This
definition is translated, following the theological pressure of Augustine (and
Biblical descriptions o f the ontological possibilities exploited by God,
especially in Joshua), into "[t]ime consists o f something that exists outside the
mind and o f something that does not exist outside the mind" (300). Averroes
elaborates in Commentarrii in Aristotelis libros de Physico audilu:Time is composed
of past and future; but the past has already stopped being and the future does not
yet exist. Time is composed o f being and nonbeing . . . .Reproduced with
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Itisthesameformovement;nopartofmovementisinactuality. Whatever part one designates,
it is already distant; therefore, it is also composed o f what has already ceased
to be and what is not yet.Such things do not possess a complete existence; these
things receive a complete existence from the mind. The mind conceives the
indivisible that exists in reality.13Averroes use o f exist, however, tied as it is
to Aristotle's use o f ousia and energia (potential), Time and movement are
continuous, and therefore indivisible, within the world.Duns Scotus turns
Augustine's reduction oftime to the mind back into the world. He locates potential
time, a description of a time sense separate from physical change, in theworld.
Similarly,Heideggerlocatesthecompletionoftherelationofbeingand nonbeing in the
thing, and in so doing reforms this opposition as distorted descriptions that
pretend to describe nothing or non-being outside ofBeing. We instantiate Death as
Nothingbyenshriningitastheconditionofthebeyond. Nothingisenshrined,andassuch exists
or functions in our world not beyond it. The riddle o f the beyond forms itself as
a totality; or Nothing as a limit constitutes the world as a totality. This is the
way in whichthe god emerges as what cannot be compared. Heidegger answers Anselms
riddle, in Proslogion,describingandformingthelogicalbasisforHisexistence,
"Whatisthatthan which no greater can be conceived?", with 'What exists."
Everythingweighsonexistence. Theweightof'what'in"whatexists"canturn the answer into
a question: "What exists?" and the answer "What exists" at least allowsReproduced
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existence to mimic identity. (What the thunder said; is what we say--not what we
say it said, but what we say.)Heidegger describes animation as a therapy to undo
metaphysics and its (or our) forming ourselves (as humans) into animals that
perish; We must recover the way to our capability as mortals: not to make us anew,
but for us to see ourselves as o f old. Under the aspect of what Heidegger calls
metaphysics, in which being is determined as
representation,humansaredescribedasanimals,"alivingbeing"(DD179). Lifeisadded to
our being, as electricity animates Frankenstein's monster's body, or as holy words
animate a golem, or as god breathes into the shaped dust to make man. Objects
cannotbecome things, however; nor can bodies become human. In Die Grundbegriffe der
Metaphysik(??44),14Heideggerdistinguishesbetweenmineral,animal,andman: astoneexists
without a world ('weltlos), the animal exists within a diminished world (yveltarm:
world-poor), and man exists within his world-making (yveltbildend).In summarizing
Heidegger's methodological introduction to an unpublished course on the
Phenomenology o f Religion in 1920-21 Theodore Kisiel paraphrases Heidegger's
phenomenological description of factic experience, both as an activity and as that
which is experienced:What is had, lived, experienced in factic life experience is
more than a mere object for a subject and its theory-forming activity, it is a
world in which one can live. (One cannot live in an object.) This formal indication
of the world can be further articulated formally as our environment or milieu, as
that which encounters or confrontsus.
Itincludesnotonlymaterialthingsbutalsoidealobjectivities,likeReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
those o f science, art and religion. In this environing world, there also stands
the with-world, that is, other humans socially characterized, as relatives,
superiors, peers,strangers,andnotasinstancesofthescientificgenushomosapiens.
Finally, in the very same world also stands "I myself" the self-world. (154)13Our
factic life experience articulates three umwelten: the given environment o f
material and ideal objects, the with-world o f social relations, and the self-
world.Twenty years latter in a 1941 lecture course published as Grundbegriffe
Heidegger translates these tripartite existential distinctions into the ontology o
f Being:To what "is" belongs not only the currently actual, which affects us and
which we stumble upon: the happenings, the destinies and doings of man, nature in
its regularity and its catastrophes, the barely fathomable powers that are already
present in all motives and aims, in all valuations and attitudes o f belief.(Basic
Concepts I.?2)16The actual describes the order o f the world presented earlier as
"that which encounters and confronts us." The actual also describes the normative
powers in us, akin to the "ideal objectivities," understood as also a proximate
order determining us. The limits of Dasein that allowed for Heidegger's existential
analytic to describe its presence in its engagements have been dissolved, but not
to expose the mechanisms of our being let alone our biology or consciousness. We
are given to ourselves in and through the history o f ourembodiment within a world
of beings, outside o f what being, existing, worlding, thinging means.Reproduced
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The actual slips into the possible, but not, however, through an Aristotelian
dialectic, but as the description ofthe world towards-us. Ifthe actual is the
descendent of the 'towards which', 'in relation to which' ofDasein, the possible
describes the stances, the intentionality of Dasein:To what "is" belongs also the
possible, which we expect, hope for, and fear, which we only anticipate, before
which we recoil and yet do not let go. To be sure the possible is the not yet
actual, but this not-actual is nevertheless no mere nullity. The possible "is," its
being simply has another character than the actual.(Basic Concepts I.?2)Possibility
and actuality are not bound or determined by substance, but are rather the
conditions or grammar of being: both the possible and the actual 'are'. The grammar
of this 'being' is another semantic chain (best described, although the passage is
rather long, in "Letter on Humanism"):[T]hinking is the thinking of being. . . .
Thinking is--this says: Being has fatefully embraced its essence. To embrace a
"thing" or a "person" in its essence means to love it, to favor it. Thought in a
more original way such favoring [Mogen] means to bestow essence as a gift. Such
favoring is the proper essence o f enabling, which not only can achieve this or
that but also can let something essentially unfold in its provenance, that is, let
it be. It is on the "strength of such enabling by favoringthat something is
properly able to be. This enabling is what is properly "possible" [das "Mogliche"],
that whose essence resides in favoring. From this favoringBeing enables thinking.
The former makes the latter possible. Being is theReproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
enabling-favoring, the "may be" [das Mog-liche]. As the element, Being is the quiet
power" ofthe favoring-enabling, that is, ofthe possible.. Ofcourse, our words
mogliche [possible] and Moglichkeit [possiblity], under the dominance of "logic"
and "metaphysics," are thought solely in contrast to "actuality"; that is, they are
thought on the basis o f a definite--the metaphysical--interpretation o f Being as
actua and potentia, a distinction identified with the one between existentia and
essentia. When I speak ofthe "quiet power ofthe possible" I do not mean the
possible o f a merely represented possiblitias, nor potentia as the essentia o f an
actus o f existentia; rather, I mena Being itself, which in its favoring presides
over thinking and hence over the essence of humanity, and that means over its
relationto Being. (196-97)The grammar o f 'possibility' is bound to that o f
'thinking'. These grammars pivot around a set of, what I think should be called,
functions: embracing,favoring, enabling, andpossibility}1 Functions are transitive
in that they can be used to link different aspects of being or different
grammatical levels. 'Embrace', for example, relates being to essence through
relating thing and person. This last use allows 'embrace' to be seen as love or
favor. Favor is a bestowing, but of essence. This essence understood as enabling
redefines favoring' in relation to this 'enabling?. Such enabling presents being as
possibility because it is attached to letting being be, that is, the function is
inverted so that it is directed not from us to the world but from the world toward
us. This double movement functions as a link between world and us, but one
understood as subjunctive and neither constitutive nor object-like. It is
nevertheless real.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.303
The last modality about which he has little to say explicitly is the necessary
{Basic Concepts I.?2). In the 1941 lecture the modality of necessity is unexamined,
or rather collapsed into descriptions o f Being. In "Das Ding," in effect,
necessity will underwrite the chain o f semantic implication that unites the
functioning o f the jug, that is, its temporality, as what it is. Meaning, because
it expresses always a final cause independent from our actual usage, but rather as
a possibility within the world, is a form o f necessity. Something is what it is
necessarily; it could not not be what it is without ceasing to be this.Mortals
necessarily die; this necessity is experienced as a possibility. Living and
thinking through this possibility is what it means to be capable o f death. What
constitutes this being "capable o f death as death"? Heidegger suggests: by coming
to oneself "in the shelter of Being'. This shelter is death. 'Sheltering' means to
be both ahead and behind. A shelter is the limited whole ofthe world, and as such
marks the difference between my world and the world. This difference enables me to
call my world a world.18How does death shelter Being? This is the same question as
How does being become present to itself? How does what exists become conscious or
self-reflexive? I ask what is a mortal? and answer 'myself. This question, however,
is a riddle because the entire sentence "I ask what is a mortal? and answer
'myself?" can also stand as an answer, andsoon. Thisself-
reflectionmeanstobecomemortalwithintheshelterofBeing.The gift ofthe water can
become ajug, or thejug can become a world and the water a canopy. Counting
abstracts things into the concept o f quantity, determining identity as that which
can be counted. Patterns best described by numbers organize a syntax, between
sound-tones or between poetic lines, or between a magnet and a fallingReproduced
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rock. Theseenablingpatternsemergeinthemorecomplicatedsyntaxofmusicorpoetry or
physics.If things emerge as forms under the aspect of our knowing and
representation they exist as identities separate from time or related as non-
temporal moments determined as identities. Making, even ifunderstood as a
transcendental aesthetic, functions as a form of representing, o f knowing, and
thus ignores how things present themselves to us within the circle of before us, to
which we respond, and as already ahead-of-us, determined by our expectations or
uses, to which we recall:When and in what way do things appear as things? They do
not appear by means o f human making. But neither do they appear without the
vigilance o f mortals. The first step toward such vigilance is the step back from
the thinking that merely represents--that is, explains--to the thinking that
responds and recalls. (DD181)The inexplicable and unfathomable character of the
world's worlding lies in this,that causes and grounds remain unsuitable for the
world's worlding. (DD180) We cannot think the world as a description (language or
art) or explanation (science). 'Making' functions through cause and effect, that
is, making is always a picture of evolution and thus o f identities and changes
describing an ontological language. Heidegger believes that this kind of language
constructs a world as representation, within Berkeley's formulation "esse =
percipi, Being equals being represented" ("Moira" 82).'9So nestling, they join
together, worlding, the world.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.305
Nestling, malleable, pliant, compliant, nimble--in Old German these are called ring
and gering. The mirror-play o f the worlding world, as the ringing o f the ring,
wrests free the united four into their own compliancy, the circling compliancy
oftheir presence. Out ofthe ringing mirror-play the thinging ofthe thing takes
place. (DD180)The gap between identities and moments brought out by Zeno in his
defense of Parmenidian One is not overcome by examining the relation between finite
or infinite, or through calculus, but is erased in the semantics of 'ring' and
'gering', in the qualitative relation in which things emerge as things and the
world emerges as world. Gering in modem German diminishes a gap into a short
distance, a trifle; the differences described by formal identities, the structured
separation constituting quantity and number, is translated into a qualitative
relation, a mere separation, a nothing much. Is quantity simply ignored in this
semantics?"Thinging is the nearing ofthe world" (DD181), or the translation of
objects describedbynumberorascountableintoqualitativerelations: nearandfarcaptures
perspective,andthusdoesnotuniversalizeintoequa-distant,quantifiableparts. Thinging,
as a qualitative relation, is non-formal and non-generative; instead it is "the
thinking that responds and recalls". What kind of consciousness or state of
thinking or being responds and recalls?Out of the ringing mirror-play the thinging
of the thing takes place.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.306
Thethingstays-gathersandunites--thequadrature. Thethingthings world. Each thing
stays the quadrature into a happening ofthe simple onehood of the world. (DD 181)
The ontological force of being human and even of thinking, therefore, is not a
function of description or explanation, but ofwensende Verhaltnis. 'Mirror-play' is
a traditional image o f the mind. Heidegger uses it here as a description o f the
world as conscious. But the focus here is on the mirroring as an essential
relation, constituting the quadrature as this relating. This sound good without
making a lot of sense: it's all hidden in the mirroring.
Heideggerdiveststheuseofathingfromtheuser. Bydissolvinghumanagency, will, and
intentionality he effectively animates the thing. A thing enacts a usage; things do
not emerge as ready-to-hand within either an interpretive description or in
relation to our existentialinvolvement.
involvementin"DasMan"inchapterIVofBeingandTime. Thisdisappearancedescribes our
knowing how or rather our involvement outside of the hypostatization of self-
consciousness and identity. In Being and Time our engagement remains within and
with the world. Our thinking remains specifically intentional. Heidegger attempts
to dissolve the predicative logic supporting subject and object, or the real as
countable, as constitutedthrough identity, in the relations enacting our
involvement. The existential analytic and its circumlocutions describe this
relational enacting and involvement as the ontological conditionofourbeing.
Thisontologyorrathertheontologicalcommitmentsthatthese relational involvement's
entail are entrapped within a hermeneutic circle that transfers theReproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
cite of Cartesian doubt from the subject to language itself. Thus in order to
dissolve the threat o f skepticism, Heidegger must establish the ontological ground
o f language. The way to language that determines Heidegger's famous turn involves
the exploration of the ontologicaldimensionoflanguage.
Thisgroundcannotbeestablished,butcanonlybe invoked or enacted. Thus the absence of
other individual human beings in Heidegger's description of "the They" and their
exclusion in "The Thing" occurs differently, or rather
theontologicalstatusofdifferentsitesarebeingcontested: ourinvolvementintheworld as
opposed to our involvement in language. In his attempt to make language ontological
Heidegger approaches, albeit from a different ground (from within qualitative
relations) the drive toward an ontological language in Cognitive Science, a
language to instantiate qualitative states within (as opposed to Heidegger's
palimpsest or vague dissolution) quantitative patterns.
Heideggerarticulatestwokindsoftime. Science,evenofanAristoteliansort, gives the
object its own time, but embeds it in a system of causes described by strict
implication (although human beings may not be able to describe these system of
causes). Heidegger, however, makes the time of the thing its doing and thus the
succession of actions between us and the thing. Time condenses as the thing by
making visible as such its standing alone, its structure or substance. Unlike in
Being and Time where ready-to- hand described an economy ofuse between Dasein and
an object as tool within the structure of our concerns, in "Das Ding" we as mortals
are taken up by the world, by the thing. Both we and objects disappear in the
condensation o f time that constitutes both things and the temporal possibilities
available to us.20 The stability o f scientific time, andReproduced with permission
of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
thus the stability ofthe identity ofthe object over and against us, on the other
hand, is a function of its description under a particular rule (or formula).
Identity determined by use animates the real (which is no longer substance) with a
meaning expressed as what something does. This form o f identity-functionalism
precipitates a synesthesiac collapse of a temporal series (a doing) into the thing:
what we recognize as a thing when we see theform of the jug. Heidegger does not
want form to bethecriterionforidentity.
Thecriterionforidentitybecomesinsteadanunderstanding ofthe semantics ofjug syntax:
void-holding-outpouring-giving-gift-giving-outpouring- holding-void- gift into the
earth, sky, divinities, and mortals, as the conditioning category and relation
(weilen) determining the unity of the quadrature. Each word describes a jug- state
and a relation to the other functors or jug-states.The circle o f language meets
itself in the thing circling from out o f the world circling as the world described
in the circle of sense of the world worlding, thing thinging through which we
become things inside ofthings or worlds inside ofworlds:If we let the thing be
present in its thinging from out of the worlding world, then we are thinking of the
thing as thing. Taking thought in this way, we let ourselves
beconcernedbythething'sworldingbeing. Thinkinginthisway,wearecalledby
thethingasthething. InthestrictsenseoftheGermanwordbedingt,wearethe be-thinged, the
conditioned ones. We have left behind us the presumption of all unconditionedness.
(DD181)This is a circle from 'letting be present' to 'thinking' [".. .wesen lassen,
denken . . . "]; or is this the point from which two overlapping circles copy out
the thing thinging itself fromReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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out ofthe worlding world, neither on top or underneath, but in the thing as thing?
This is not, however, a hermeneutic circle inlaying our descriptions inlaying our
involvement in the world. What or who is inside what or whom? If we "cannot live in
an object", we can live in a thing. Ifwe are to make sense of"Das Ding" we must ask
'how can we enter the thing?"
Thiscirclingof"lettingthethingbepresent"into"thinkingthethingasthing" circles us,
or imagines us as the limit of the animate world. We are be-thinged bybecoming
things, and in this becoming we expose our condition as a thing to the world.
Worlding and thinging draw us.What does it mean to inhabit the thing? or to be a
thing?If we think of the thing as thing, then we spare and protect the thing's
presence in the region from which it presences. Thinging is the nearing o f the
world. Nearing isthenatureofnearness.
Aswepreservethethingquathingweinhabitnearness. The nearing ofnearness is the true
and sole dimension ofthe mirror-play ofthe world.(DD181)
Iwillretranslatethisfirstsentence: Ifwethinkthethingasthing,thenweconservethe
essence o f the thing in its space-world (Bereich) from which it emerges and abides
(west). These changes are primarily of emphasis in order to draw out the semantic
mechanisms constitutingthinkingthethingandworld("DasDing"173-74). Ifweare"dieBe-
Dingteri" a thing is "Bereich". To think the thing as thing means not to conserve
the thing butitsworld.
acknowledgeitsworldasours. 'Conserve'combinesL.'servare',topreserveandprotect and
L. 'con', a form o f 'cum', 'with, together'. 'Conserve' can, therefore, be
construed asReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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a form o f'weilen "verweilt esErde undHimmel, die Gotttlichen und die Sierblicheri'
("Das Ding" 170/ We enter the thing by preserving its world as ours, and thus we
replace it as the wine does the void. Consequently 'nearness', which is enacted
through 'nearing' the world through 'thinging' the thing, is what is real. The
black box in this thinking is how the relation between particular and universal, or
rather between thing and world, can beovercome.
Thisovercomingtakesplacethroughthecategoricalunityeffectedby lweilen\ This suggests
that Heidegger has translated space into 'nearness' and time into 'weilen'. The
mechanisms ofthis translation and the descriptive rules or the mechanisms
(thehow?)of'nearing'and'staying'remainhidden. Heideggermakesthesemechanisms
oftranslation the transcendental conditions ofour inhabitation ofboth ourselves and
the world. Asanunintendedeffectofthisthinking,Heideggershowsthattheproblemof
justifying thinking or being within the world requires a conceptual thinking on the
borders between science, philosophy and art that interrogates the mechanisms o f
'nearing' and 'staying' as they function as a 'making'. Heidegger highlights the
process of our and the worlds making by trying to resist reducing the real to
making or to substance. Similarly in resisting the temptation to justify or ground
his thinking, he conceptualizes our essential conditionedness by circling into a
myth that outlines the mechanisms o f its making as the limit of our involvement in
the world.What is the shadow outline o f this making? Do we understand what we are
looking for when we ask how are we made or how do we make the world?We can circle
into the world into ourselves or into ourselves into the world: this is
ourKantianheritage. Emersonpicturedthisas"Natureislovedbywhatisbestinus";but
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without permission.311
this love is a redrawing ofconcentric circles endlessly. Emerson draws circles in
spirals of replacement, totality failing and following totality towards doing
"something without knowinghoworwhy"(175).
Ifweforgetourselveswelosethehowandwhy,or"Iam not careful to justify myself' (173).
Justification settles us. Emerson's experimenting, as he calls it, "unsettle[s] all
things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane" (173). The loss
ofjustification proceeds from asking forjustification: "The eye is the first
circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this
primary figure is repeatedwithout end... Our life is an apprenticeship to the
truth, that around every circle another canbedrawn..."(166).
Thereisnottranscendentworldortranscendentknower,but the 'eternal generator abides .
. . somewhat superior to creation": the stability of anaufhebung in relation to
which the world appears as the world changing, the world worlding. In this shift
from 'I', the unsettler to the eternal generator, itself circles the eye with a
horizon, as if Emerson conflates the transcendental aesthetic describing the
'science o f a priori sensibility' o f the first Critique with the aesthetic
judgment, a 'critique o f taste,' ofthethird.
TheunsettlednatureofNatureservesasthecriterionforourknowingand being and our
failure: "People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any
hope for them" (174). "Hope" proceeds in the unsettling o f circles as the future
or let's say subjunctive circle o f the generator, a spiral or line pointing
through and beyond anyparticularcircularlimit.
Sohesays,"Greatnessappealstothefuture"(Self-Reliance, 137). In this state the world
is never just ours. Making another world ("to draw another circle" [175]) or
finding oneself beyond oneself and the coherence o f a 'past' world ("'when he
knows not whither he is going'"[175]) recasts our subjectivity knowing asReproduced
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"the soul [that] generates matter" ("Poetry and Imagination", 450). "Imagination
animates" (451): soul-making can not only be about the soul but in its power to
make the world.How do we enter into this making and animating?What is the horizon
ofjustification? The fundamental implication that defines the relations ofjugging,
the semantic, temporal chain determining thejug asjug. Justification must act in
two directions. It must control and determine the categorical relations around
which the demand for justification arises. Scenes like: 'this is x.'; 'Why is it
x?'. Heidegger must forestall the asking of this 'why.' As we have seen every term
in describing the temporal-functional series o f 'jug' provides an implicative link
to another. This links are often categorical: from holding to gathering for
example. Heidegger, however, has posited function as the ground o f being, and thus
within the semantics o f identity only 'weilen1articulates a fundamental
categorical relation: between time, space, aspects o f the world, human beings, and
divinities. Its functional flexibility, its ability to constitute the other terms
from taking to 'gering,' allow it to displace demands forjustification into
explications o f its meaning. It describes, however, a condition o f all
beings,ofboththingsandthequadrature,andinthisenactsBeingitself. Thisenacting
animates. Thus,justificationdissolvesintoanimation.Heidegger splits value from
justification. Heidegger is not asking the constructivist questions 'how do we make
a world?' or 'how is it that we, human beings, can find the world at all, or as our
world, or as a world?' (the kind of questions, with some philosophical
modification, that could make sense to McCulloch). Nor is he asking 'whyReproduced
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these things (or any thing or any particular set of things) make a world?',
Thoreau's ontological-semantic justification question. He describes how we fit (how
we experience fitting) the world from within language as a fitting together of a
semantic puzzle that will pickouttheworld/formoflifeinwhich'weilericanworkandmean.
Theintentionality of his language addresses not us but this 'weilen' determined
world-Being. In this puzzle notallpiecesareofequivalentvalue.
Asetofpiecesthatseemclosesttotheshape- functioning o f the jug are more 'valuable'
because they are nearest to the reality o fjugging. There is no single nearest part
o f the world to the jug--the analogy fails because the world is not an
accumulation of solid-edged things. This resistance is because, like the latter
Wittgenstein, Heidegger resists viewing the world from sub species aetemitatis,
which for Heidegger means as a function of quantity.He cannot, however, abandon
quantity. The following quotation answers the question 'How can you get qualitative
distinctions to describe quantity?':But things are also compliant (ring) and modest
(gering) in number, compared with the countless objects everywhere o f equal value,
compared with the measureless mass of men as living beings.Men alone, as mortals,
by dwelling attain to the world as world. Only what conjoins itself out of world
becomes a thing. (DD182)Hodstadter's translation o f 1gering' as 'modest' in the
first sentence and then as 'conjoins' in the second marks the emergence of meaning
here as following the same conjoining it describes.
HeideggerwhenhefirstintroducestheOldGermansenseofringandgering has given the
possible meanings, possible translations from which we can make sense ofReproduced
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his usage. The coherence ofthe quadrature takes place through 'nestling': "So
nestling, theyjoin together, worlding, the world" (DD180). The unifying force
ofgering works in compliant and complementary relation to the emergent force o f
ring, to become a specific unity, to surround and contain, to resist (modem German,
ringen): this emergence,
however,isofthefour"nestleintotheirunifyingpresence"(DD180). Whatarethe semantics
of 'weilen' in this aspect-sliding ring, gering worlding? From the 'ringing mirror-
playthethingingofthethingtakesplace"(DD180). Theunifyingrelationsamongthe
quadrature, determining the world as the world, determines the thing as a thing.
Heidegger etymologizes ring, 'combine,' and gering, 'small,' 'close,' 'little,'
back into the old German 'nestling, malleable, pliant, compliant, nimble' in order
to determine essence (W esen) and existence and identity outside o f the
fragmentation attending identity.Heidegger will not ask why these pieces? Why these
things constitute a world? These questions would be answered by an explanation or
description of how the world was made (the question 'why are human beings like they
are?' would be answered with a Darwinian history of our evolution) or of who has
given us the world (God or parents) or how do we find ourselves in the world.
Heidegger continually maintains a disjunction between representation and making.
The animation of the world proceeds through the transformation of all forms of
being into actors, personified mirrors. The four 'mirror' each other 'mirroring';
mirroring does not pick out the particular forms of the quadrature. The image o f
the mirror or the act o f mirroring are figures for identity, for being. A mirror
mirroring, however, is different from saying 'this picture mirrors the world.'
There is even a greater difference. These mirrors mirroring mirror each other
mirroring. This meansReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
reproduction prohibited without permission.315
they each enact a collapse o f the particular and context as what they are (mirror)
and do (mirroring)foreachother.
Thereunityarisesbecauseamirrormirroringanothermirror can functionally enact the
mirroring o f another mirror. It is always the world mirroring, not a subject, and
thus the mirroring never becomes a particular image (which would require the world
to be constructed from within a knowing subject). This use of 'mirror' and
'mirroring' should not be understood to make a claim about what is real. Its claim
should be understood to describe the meaning of a world. Such a world can not be
fully meaningful, nor can the viability, that is, the justification for this
semantics (for the use of 'mirror', for example) be determined, without asking
Thoreau's "why do these things make a world?" Consequently, Heidegger's semantics
tell us more about 'meaning' than 'being'.How do we count the matter ofthe world?
But things are also compliant (ring) and modest (gering) in number, compared with
the countless objects everywhere of equal value, compared with the measureless mass
o f men as living beings. (DD180)Heidegger suggests that under the aspect of number
things gering and ring, and in this they are particular. Number here has already
pressured number into a qualitative distinction, built around a 'logic' or
'aesthetics' of identity. Number defined as numerical identity (x=x; x=y) ceases to
be countable. Number here is not a semantic function, describing or allegorizing or
mapping something into its logic, but functions ontologically as both the
groundless ground ofbeing. This means that ifeverything can be reduced to number or
quantity, then number and quantity become senseless. Heidegger's description
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without permission.316
ofscienceandtechnologyasmakingthingsdistancelessisthustwofold. Objectscanbe reduced
to each other, and thus are neither close nor far. This reduction is not
descriptive but constitutive of what is real and therefore number can no longer
function as a description o f particulars. I do not think number functions this way
in science ortechnology or, for the most part, in mathematics. Mathematicians are
often accused of being closet mathematical realists, arguing in public that
mathematics is a language-game, but in private hypostasizing number into entities.
Heidegger assumes that science and technology function as if they instantiated an
unwarranted mathematical realism.When are objects countless and the mass o f men
measureless? Heidegger's answer is 'when objects are o f equal value, that is,
reduced to an equivalence everywhere'; and when human beings are beings + life.
Quantifying the world into objects makes them uncountable.
Theequivalenceofobjectsreducesallobjectstoasinglevalue,wheresince each x = y, all
objects collapse into a single term, x or y. Such a reduction makes them
uncountable because the are inseparable. The "[mjeasureless mass of men" do not
live in any appropriate world: neither in a world that fits within the logic of the
thing nor in aworld that is theirs, and thus not replaceable. As being + life they
form a reduced identity, X. Heidegger imagines authentic counting as the counting
of categories not particulars.Heidegger wants to resist this equalization, and
convert 'scientific reduction' into semantic a description (development from Being
and Time and its existential analytic description):
absorbtheworldwithinhislanguageofthinkingasthecountertothe absorption o f the world
into mathematics. In the "Letter on Humanism" he marks the turn toward language
away from an existential analytic, in which our phenomenal experienceReproduced
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constitutes our being (Dasein) as stances and involvement's framed within a
hermeneutics, not o f language, but o f time as the limit o f both Dasein and the
question o f Being (what exists), to a semantic ontology:For thinking in its saying
merely brings the unspoken word ofBeing to language. The usage "brings to language"
employed here is now to be taken quiteliterally. Being comes, lighting itself to
language. It is perpetually under way to language. (239)"Thinking brings... Being
comes, lighting itself... under way to language"; what does this describe? The
circularity of"Being.. lighting itself', the agency ofthinking "put[ting] its
saying of Being into language as the home of ekistence" ("Letter", 239), and the
intimacy o f language "raised into the lighting o f Being" animates and personifies
Being, thinking, and language, as actors and acting, in their becoming visible as
what they are. They function as both minds (animate agents) and worlds (grounds and
context) making visible each other as the other in this functioning, as if before
the differences between these hypostasize into subjects and objects, or selfand
world, or particulars and universals. These relations and 'entities', however, are
not part of a transcendental deduction. Such a deduction would require
justification: why these and not other categories or beings or aspects? why
lighting? how does one light the other? Heidegger removes human agency, the
temptations toward skepticism and subjectivity by excludingthe demand for
justification from his questioning. Rhetorically he does this by presenting his
thinking as a description that acts ontologically ("Thinking is a deed . . .its
sayingReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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merely brings the unspoken word o f Being to language")- Thinking describes
thinking, and in this thinking implicates the world, undermines subjective
reductions o f being, etc. The equivocation of being "equally near and equally far"
(DD177) is opposed bynearness--through which the world and things appropriate each
other (fit and mutually belong together) in the mirror-play and the staying/
dwelling of the ring and gering. Nearness is therefore an ontological value, giving
and staying and dwelling through which we understand the earth as nourishing, the
sky as sky, the divinities as "beckoning messengers", and mortals as capable of
death. Things are not of equal value. How do we recognize or live within this
unequal value? How can things have any value that we can recognize? Not by being
made, but by dwelling within the reflective implications that determine the world
as world within a mutually reflective totality of relations.Anima mundi seu orbis
How do these fragments oftime (or function) make a world? The world is a unity as a
function of the functioning of a thing (not an effect, because the function of any
particular thing includes the quadrature and presents the world as world, it does
not form it). Thisseemsabsurdifweincludemorethanonething. Isthequadrature'stayed'in
different ways in and for each thing? In other words, things as the condensation of
different function-time series produce each a different 'staying' or 'dwelling' of
the world. The difficulty o f the world functioning as a world determined by these
fragmented times returns Heidegger to the problem of many times (and possible
worlds) 15th century philosophers found themselves facing.Reproduced with
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I f time arises as a function o f movement then different movement rates produce
different times. 15th century philosophers posited an Absolute measure in relation
to which all of these different rates were regularized as time. Appealing to
Aristotle, this absolutemeasureisbestdescribedinthecelestialmovements.
Thisleavestwoproblems. How does this celestial movement determine time for us in
our everyday life and within the sublunar world? That is, how do we experience
time? and what is the temporal relation between the celestial clock and the
different movements describing change in the world? The second question takes a
peculiar medieval form derived from the incident inJoshua (10.12) where God stopped
the movement ofthe heavens but time continued on earth:
"thesunstoppedbuttimewenton"(Confessions,XI.xxiii[30]). Augustine constructed time
as a function o f the soul, and thus he could untie the world from time.
Aristotelian versions o f time, however, require movement and a uniform physical
periodicity for change to emerge.Ockham attempts to resolve, or rather integrate,
Augustinian and Aristotelian times:Thus one sees how a man does not see heaven can
perceive the movement of heaven, once he perceives himself as existing in an
existence subject to change (se esse in esse tranmutabili), meaning once he
perceives his own coexistence with a mobile moving uniformly and continuously, or
once he grasps the proposition, I coexist with a certain body moving continuously
and uniformly.Second, as has just been stated, when we perceive that we exist in an
existence subject to change, we perceive time essentially, for we perceive then
thatReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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something moves continually and uniformly--and this is to perceive time essentially
It suffices for him to grasp the proposition, I coexist with a certain body moving
continuously and uniformly; in fact, that is the concept proper to the movement o f
heaven. (Duhem, 318-19)Ockham develops the role ofheaven intwo other arguments, but
he concludes only, as he does here, that celestial movement is accidental to time,
but supervenes on it. What Ockham recognizes is that time requires a conceptual
uniform and continuous temporal order that includes both us and the world. Our
knowledge o f this movement, although it may arise from observation and induction,
requires only our existential acknowledgment
andcontainmentwithinafundamentaltemporalorder. Thisacknowledgmentfollows through a
double perception: of ourselves as subject to change in relation to an external
temporal order with which we coexist.Walter Burley develops Ockham's solution and
formulates the nature of the absolute measure as necessarily the first movement:I
assert that in perceiving any movement whatever, we perceive the first movement in
a confused way; in fact, we perceive that there is a simple and uniform movement
which is the measure ofthe movement we are perceiving. But whether this simple and
uniform movement is the movement of heaven or some other movement, we do not
perceive. Thus when we perceive any movement whatever, we perceive the first time
in some way; in perceiving any movement whatever, we perceive the first movement in
a confused way moreover, in perceiving anyReproduced with permission of the
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movement whatever, we perceive the particular time that results from thatmovement.
(Duhem, 326)The first movement and its extension as the temporal order o f the
world constructs a coherent and singular time-world. Without this originary ground
time could fragment into different time scales and rates, if not within the same
physical world, at least at different future time (or at past times):" .. the word
time does not signify something single, distinct in its totality from allpermanent
things,whosenatureorbeingcanbeexpressedbymeansofa definition. But we must imagine
that this world signifies that first continual and uniform movement, and that it
also signifies at the same time, the soul that conceives the before and after and
what is between the two in this movement." (Ockham, Tractatus de succesivis, in
Duhem, 306)Although Ockham argued that a fixed body was required for local movement
to appear as movement and that this fixed body need not be an actual body in
nature, but can be an abstract concept. He develops this same idea in his
description oftime, but hesitates to described the standard in relation to which
time emerges as an abstract concept. Nicholas Bonet, a contemporary of Ockham,
however, draws this conclusion. He distinguishes between two kinds oftime: natural
time which is constituted by as many different times as movements, and mathematical
time, which is constituted through abstraction in relation to asinglestandard.
ThisiswhatDuhemcallstheAbsoluteClockandwhatGraziadei developed into the series that
wound back reaches a point of unity between natural and mathematical worlds:
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Even though time is the measure o f all movement, and there is, at the same time, a
multitude o f movements, there is, however, only one numerically single time, and
not multiple times; that is so because the first movement is unique, and time
concerns this movement first and properly. (Duhem, 360)When Heideggerjettisons the
making ofthe thing as part of its identity, he loses this series. As we have seen
the consequence ofHeidegger's functional description ofthings fragments the world
into multiple times. How are these times stabilized into a single world or time?
They cannot be stabilized into a single time without invoicing either (1) physics,
to construct something like an absolute clock describing a mathematical order or a
physical order o f ontogenesis or (2) a perceptual apperceptive order (as do
Augustine and Kant). The first, while it does not reduce the world in the way that
Heidegger fears(physical laws are not the world nor can any science, except in
special cases [physics and chemistry] reduce one level of complexity to another),
it does problematize the animation o f the world, reintroduces the problem o f
substance, and reintroduces a metaphysics o f science. What is the relation between
physical descriptions of time and our perception of time?. The second, filters the
world through our perception or knowing or mind, and, therefore, places us on the
edge of a skeptical teeter-totter.W e recognize change in us and change in the
world. I f these are different, how are they related? Heidegger answers we are
things, and these things enact time as the functioning through which they emerge at
any point as what they are. But what kind of functional description, or semantic
embodied series captures our functioning? Things are units o f time, but these
units are not stabilized relative to each other nor are they uniformReproduced with
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except as semantic concepts. There are many times: only what counts as a thing
stabilizes the concept o f time as what is.21Kant in On the Form andPrinciples o
fthe Sensible and the Intelligible World, a precursor to the first Critique,
proposes that time is not a concept, as Leibniz argues against Locke in the New
Essays, but a fundamental, pure intuition: "you conceive all actual things in time,
and not as contained under the general concept oftime, as under a common
characteristic mark" (?14)22 In the Critique o fPure Reason, this has becomeTime is
not discursive, or what is called a general concept, but a pure form of sensible
intuition. Different times are but parts o f one and the same time; and the
representation which can be given only through a single object is intuition.
Moreover, the proposition that different times cannot be simultaneous is not to be
derived from a general concept. The proposition is synthetic, and cannot have its
origin in the concepts alone. It is immediately contained in the intuition and
representation o f time. (A 32/ B 47)The unity o f time is not established by God,
being, or an Absolute clock, but rather by objects which constitute a world within
the singularity o f an intuition.Heidegger in "Das Ding" redescribes this being in
time within the singularity o f an intuition by refiguring or turning inside out
the world and things and mortals and divinities as 'weHen'. 'Weilen', to stay,
linger, dwell, functions as an absolute clock-- that is, the pressure that
translates the ontological into a semantic condensation is stabilized, as are all
things, all temporal series, in the semantics of 'weilen' taken into the implicate
totality of whatHeideggercallsthequadrature.
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each functor depends on. the categorical difference between its descriptive force
and 'weilen'. Alloftheseotherfunctorsaswordsdescribethefunctioningofthejugwithin
thesemanticsofourordinarylanguage. Thereisametaphoricclaritytothisimplicate chain
that is missing in Heidegger's use o f'weilen'. The sense of 'weilen' does not
attach to the jug through its function, as do the other terms, but through the
personification of the jug that allows it to 'take', 'gather', 'outpour',
'gather'-- and 'dwell': to claim these wordsasexpressiveofitself.
'Dwell'heremarkstheentrancesi'weilen'intothe dimension of function. The more
obscure meaning of 'weilen' as 'staying' flattens the temporal order described by
function into semantics, where the meaning o f this world requires the construction
o f a world-organism, a form o f life, in which this semantics can have meaning.
The object o f "Das Ding", therefore, is an attempt to construct this form of life
through the elucidation of the semantics o f'weilen'.The syntax o f function that
describes the jug, however, cannot describe either the world or us. The relation
between things, therefore, requires this further abstraction into stasis--or rather
into the subjunctive. But it is exactly this subjunctive that needs to be described
in order for 'weilen' to function as the categorical functor between the
descriptive and functional temporal series and the world-constituting relations
ofthe quadrature (Geveirt). Not only must Heidegger describe humans as things, but
he must also describe the world, the quadrature, and in this redescribe how all
three can describe a function, an identity, and an unfolding of time, a time
series, as an implication that includes the others. Such an attempt would
precipitate the skeptical dilemmas he is trying to avoid. The emergence ofthe
opposition between making and given, where the given is emergentReproduced with
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in our relation to things and in their functioning, must also include our species
history. Heidegger's question about how the world emerges as a world must also
include Thoreau's question 'why do these things make a world?'. Our self-reflective
awe includes not just the philosophical question 'why is there anything instead o f
nothing?', but the questions'whythesethingsinsteadofothers?whymeinsteadofanother?'
Buildinga mind stabilizes this questioning by integrating how is this world mine
with why is this world mine, not instead of another's but instead of simply 'not
mine.' I can make myself in order to make the world. Heidegger wants to forget this
question in the givenness of things.1Translating Geveirt as 'fourfold' as does
Hofstadter, confuses the categorical distinction between the kind of coherence
among earth and sky, divinities and mortals and that which is achieved in the
abstraction o f the einfaltigen\ these domains are distinct and cannot be reduced
one to the other, but complete each other while retaining the other category as a
set o f relations or possibilities that enact the world in a particular way.2 Der
Krug steht als Gefass doch nur, insofem er zu einem Stehen gebracht wurde.
3Heidegger'spictureofscience: Scienceobscureswhat'thejug-
characterofthejugconsist[s]',when science, as he believes it does, claims to
"inform us about the reality of the actual jug" ("die Wissenschaft
Inductioncannot lead to certainty. The question science asks is 'How does this
work?' It collapses why-questions and what-questions into how-questions.
Heidegger's claim, therefore, that science pays 'no heed to that in the vessel
which does the containing.. . to how the containing itself goes on" is false.
Science specifically provides an answer to "how the containing itself goes on". Its
answer is embedded within a system of mathematical (broadly speaking) descriptions,
simplified and idealized in order to answer this how. Heidegger's question 'how
does the containing itself go on?' asks not for a causal description but for a kind
of transcendental deduction determined within phenomenological limits (and
therefore exploring the semantics of 'containing') and describing a set of
ontological possibilities. 4TheJournalsandMiscellaneousNotebooksofRalph
WaldoEmerson.5 If we can use Bohm's description o f quantum relations as a
metaphor.61say a noumenal boundary although Heidegger makes a distinction between
the Ding an sich and Ding als Ding, because he asserts that from the thing qua
thing we may reach thing in itself (DD168), but more
Andthustheysetuptheir own failure.7traut: cosy, secure, within, intimate, close.
trauen: trust, believe in, venture, dare, marry.zutrauen: believe sombody is
capable of doing something.8 If the world always stays in this outpouring, beyond
or forgonen by our representations, we can only discover it in following this
outpouring in whatever world we find ourselves in. Losing the world might seem to
suggest instead the possibility that 'this world', accompanied by a wave of an arm
(my arm?), is aReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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true or false world. This can mean either that this might not count as a world,
requiring some tests, an examination o f world-criteria, or that this might be a
true-world or a false-world.9 Aristotle's hylomorphism determines substance as
matter determined by form, in a similar conceptual
Realisminmodemphilosophy argues for the irreducibility o f category in order to
resist what is often understood to be, but should not be, the scientific reduction
to 'matter'.10 See On the Way to Language; "Letter on Humanism"; "Dwelling Building
Thinking".11 ". . . Dasein's going-out-of-the-world in the sense of dying must be
distinguished from the going-out-of- the-worldofthatwhichmerelyhaslife[desNur-
leben-den\. Inourterminologytheendingofanything that is alive, is denoted as
"perishing" [Verenden]. We can see the difference only if the kind of ending which
Dasein can have is distinguished from the end of a life. Of course "(tying" may
also be taken physiologicallyandbiologically.
Butthemedicalconceptofthe'exitus'doesnotcoincidewiththatof "perishing". (BT 284-85;
240-41).12 See Sein undZeit, 88.u Averrois Cordubensis, lib. IV, comm. 88; cited in
Duhem, 301.14 Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 29/30.15The Genesis ofHeidegger's Being and Time.
16Basic Concepts, tr. Gary E. Aylesworthy, 21-22.17 The following is a schematic
translation o f this passage: Thinking: (Being, essence) embrace; Embrace (thing,
person) = love =favor, Favor = bestow essence as gift: Favor = essence of enabling
= unfold as letting it be; enabling= possible (essence of favor): Being enables
thinking; enables = make possible; reintegrated into Being as enabling/ favoring2
possibility o f Being.181 am not finished with perishing and dying, as i f anyone
could be!, but I don't want to recapitulateexistential descriptions- but to work
out the relation between grammar and ontology--you could read that here as
possibility and necessity as stances toward oneselfand the world- and thus not as
logical (modal) possibilities.19"Moira (Parmenides VIE, 34-41)" in Early Greek
Thinking, tr. David Farrell Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi.20 Although Heidegger never
articulated it as such, this construction o f things as functions responds to
Putnam's twin-earth argument and its consequences for functionalism narrowly
conceived as a model for the mind.z,How does form emerge as the kind of thing I
should be or am, if I do not already understand form, at least of others, as who
they are?22 In Theoretical Philosophy 1755-1770, tr. and ed. David Walford and Ralf
Meerbote (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992) 373-416.Reproduced with permission of the
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9.1 Thunder-talk9'Weilen' in The Waste LandHowdowedwellinandstaytheworldaslanguage?
Science,Heidegger imagines, stays the world into quantity, while he stays it into
semantics, into the quality of being a thing and a world. Eliot asks in The Waste
Land, I imagine, 'How do we dwell in and stay language as our world?' Heidegger's
transformation of ontology into semantics mutates, in the poem, into a translation
ofthe semantic into the subjunctive under the aspect o f a more restrictive
aesthetics o f identity. Eliot's questioning does not undo Heidegger's work, but it
shows how the giveness ofthe thing is also made against the fantasy o f the
subjunctive. Thus, The Waste Land highlights our language into a subjunctive mode
through which we constitute ourselves in language (at the very least investigating
the way in which pronouns and names and voices have a claim on us, or 'we' on
them). How do we approach the inanimate through the subjunctive?How do we dwell in
and stay language as our world? I find this question in another kind of semantic
play on 'weilen' in a fragment Eliot quotes from the opening scene ofWagner's opera
Tristan undIsolde:Frisch weht der Wind Der Heimat zuMein Irisch Kind,Wo weilest du?
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A sailor sings these verses. Isolde, mistakenly or not, interprets them to be about
her: "Who dares to mock me?" She is th e 'you'. Asking "where you dwell?" to a
woman figured as nothing but a pronoun can be understood as another way of asking
'How do we dwell in and stay language as our world?' A provisional answer, that
will prove not to be an answer at all, but a restatement o f the question is the
invocation o f memory and desire withwhichthepoembegins.
Theenvironmentandtime(figuredasApril)arestayedinto poetry through the Coincidentia
Oppositorum, "mixing/ Memory and desire" (2-3). I find
thismixinginTheWasteLandoperatic. Howisthisenactmentofstaying(notreallya stasis) or
lingering or dwelling through the fragments different from the astonishment of soul
Kierkegaard describes as an effect of Opera? Certainly the power of The Waste Land
is not the "exuberant gaiety" that is the power o f Don Giovanni. This gaiety is
the expression of"his voice, the voice ofthe sensuous" (96). How would we describe
thevoices in The Waste Land?Heidegger leaves us in a world of things, with neither
people nor the scientificlogic with which to build these things into people. This
is something like the world in which Tristan finds himself in The Waste Land.
Heidegger wants to get to the organic coherence of the world as a form of life that
can speak 'weilen' with the ontological force that he needs to reconstitute a
particular thing into staying, dwelling, being the world, avoiding the traditional
attempts to link particulars and universals (examples, exemplars, forms, versions,
reflections, and so on). Heidegger's romanticism remains akin to Schlegel's in his
attempt to reconstruct a semantics with ontological force. His attempt, however,
blocks offany questioning ofthe giveness ofthe world (like Wittgenstein, he
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wants to disconnect 'how the world is' form "what is higher. God does not reveal
himself intheworld'(TLP6.432);Heideggerbothbeforeandafterhisturn("dieKehre")
rejects this kind o f transcendence: Wittgenstein and Heidegger always had alien
views concerning logic. What is common between them, however, is not just their
appeal to the ordinary and to the grammar of language (albeit in different ways)
but their failure to understand the depth of questions about how the world is). For
Eliot some possible world speaks 'verwielen' and from this speaking he must
construct its semantics, in this case the semantics o f thunder.What is created in
an by The Waste LcmdlThe attempt to justify the poetry results in an appeal to and
requires the constructionofakindoftheoryofmind. Whythisisremainsamystery.
Ifmindsfunction within an ontological universe described by science, by strict laws
describing a totality of possibilities, then these constructions have force only in
so far as they articulate themselves in relation to such an ontology. When Eliot
deciphers "What The Thunder Said" as "The spoke the thunder/ DA," the etymological
force o f DA, and its inclusion inDatta (give), Dayadhvam (sympathize) and Damyata
(control) does not get taken up into mythological or theological promises or
stories separate from the physics of thunderstorms and the indifference of these
natural processes to our concerns, understanding, and meanings.
Howdoesitgettakenup?Orhowarewetakenupbyit?Is this thunder the voice of our
beginning as human beings, or our end? Vico and, through him, Joyce settled thunder
at the beginning of humanity, driving our ancestorsReproduced with permission of
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into caves and into society. From our havens listening toward heaven, our
"forebears" (FW572.06) mimicked onomatpoetically thunder into language:The first
men, who spoke by signs, naturally believed that lightening bolts and thunderclaps
were signs make to them by Jove; whence from m o , to make a sign, can numen, the
divine will, by an idea more than sublime and worthy to express the divine majesty.
They believed that Jove commanded by signs, that such signs were real words, and
that nature was the language of ove. The science o f language the gentiles
universally believed to be divination, which by the Greeks was called theology,
meaning the science o f the language o f the gods. (NS379)The world requires
divination, and thus "Sibyls and oracles are the most ancient institutions of the
gentile world [721, 925]" (NS381). Divination, as the form of what Vico calls
"poetic metaphysics," "seeks its proofs not in the external world but within the
modificationsofthemindofhimwhomediatesit"(NS364). Themythicconsciousnessisgripped
by a kind o f idealism that resists the conscious articulation o f the question
"Are the signs I see in the world actually in the world or a function o f my
interpretations?""Because o f the indefinite nature o f the human mind, wherever it
is lost in ignorance man makes himselfthe measure of all things" (NS120). What is
the nature of this ignorance? In this case it is the ignorance attending finding
ourselves fragments (represented or acted out in our ignorance of the meaning of
The Waste Land). Eliot's ignorance is not directed at the world and its workings
but toward God and thejustificationoftheworld.
ThisisagainakintoVico'sdescriptionofpoeticmetaphysics:Reproduced with permission of
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So that, as rational metaphysics teaches that man becomes all things by
understanding them (homo intelligendof i t omnia), this imaginative metaphysics
shows that man becomes all things by not understanding them (homo non
intelligendofit omnia)......... for when man understands he extends his mind and
takes in the things, but when he does not understand he makes the things out of
himself and becomes them by transforming himself into them. (NS405)How do we extend
our mind into our mind? The Waste Land requires us to remark our ignorance of the
significance or nature of our own believing and of our visions as self- reflexive
ignorance: our ignorance of our ignorance.Vico explicitly grounds the poetic and
the mythic in the same logic, or poetic wisdom. Eliot's project in The Waste Land
is ostensibly the same (or similar). What is the poetic logic Eliot uses to expose
the mutual relation between poetry and myth? (This is another way o f asking what
does the poem create?). I do not want to explore this question
byexaminingEliot'suseofmythorhisuseanddistortionsofquotations. Vicooffersa way into
a more interesting question about how we enter into the correlation (an origin)
between language and consciousness. If Vico's history is too obscure, then, at
least, his argument that human consciousness derived from mythical consciousness
and that this mythical stance toward the world articulates a poetic metaphysics
places the logic of origins within the logic of coherence determining language as a
language, a consciousness as a consciousness, or a mind as a mind. These logics of
origin and coherence are akin toHeidegger's configuration of the thing as the
staying of the quadrature. The logic of origin and coherence in The Waste Land
function as the aesthetics (or justification) ofReproduced with permission of the
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fragmentation within the poem. Eliot's aesthetics o f fragmentation is the poetic
enactment of the Sibyl's condition described in the poem's epigraph. Such an
aesthetics attempts to organize language, consciousness, and the world within and
around the inhabitation o f the concept o f identity represented (or enacted) by
the Sibyl.Unlike Vico and Joyce, Eliot does not ground the speaking o f the thunder
in the "first men, stupid, insensate, and horrible beasts" (NS374). Eliot does not
give us a complete thunder language, nor the integrated language or form o f life
evolved, evolving and expressing the infrarational mind of someone, but rather the
grammatical (the linguistic forms, examples, usages, bits) limits between thunder
language(s) and the minds and times and societies in which they made sense, between
the theology of God's languageand the insensate forms o f nature's indifference to
make our kind o f sense. offers different kinds o f education: an incarnation
versus T&ks(h*,xxj:Then spoke the thunder DADatta: what have we given?DADayadhvam:
I have heard the keyDADamyata: The boat respondedThe thunderReproduced with
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"DA/Dattat" if heardfrom the beginning of time or humanity pretends to describe the
transformation of a sound into a phoneme and then into a ritual language. If heard
as a beginning, "D A . . D A . . DA" decomposes our language back into phonemes and
then into exclamation and then noise. Even if someone spoke Sanskrit fluently
"Datta," "Dayadhvam," and "Damyata" sound outside o f any ordinary language game,
not with philosophical weight but with religious mass. This language is alien. It
must mean, but no one can understand it like they might 'this is my house.' It
might mean, however, 'this is my house.' The order of sounds that makes a language
is the same order of sounds that makes thunder. This is true even if all we can
understand by thunder is its physical causes. Science speaks the order of the
universe.What can this language mean against physics?Thunder disturbs the universe.
It disturbs us with a question: "Datta: what have we given?" To whom? we askback.
Who is this 'we'? The thunder speaks to me not because it is a language but because
it threatens me into a 'we'. What have I given to you? The thunder can turn 'you'
into an 'us'. If we mimicked thunder to create language, this means we formed
mirrors through which we could see ourselves as both individuals and as human
beings. Thunder-reflection is self-reflection.The demands of this 'we' can be taken
up in friendship as it is in the line following "Datta . "My friend, blood shaking
my heart." At night or when we turn our ears toward ourselves the blood sounds our
own thunder, shaking us into life as much as the thunder into fear: 'My friend, my
heart in my chest, and in our language as I write myselfReproduced with permission
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into concepts, and into the world, my friend, as passions circulate amongst us.'
What kind o f language is this?We reach the foundation of who 'we' are:By this, and
this alone, we have existedWhich is not to be found in our obituariesOr in memories
draped by the beneficent spider Or under seals broken by the lean solicitorIn our
empty roomsBy what alone have we existed? By giving or not giving? By friendship or
blood or daring and surrender? This "By this" cannot be found in descriptions after
the fact, or in memories, in further representations edited even in our own minds,
or in our own giving of things and money within the law, under the auspices of
order and definition, or in the places and spaces we possessed. Either we do not
know what 'exist' means here, or we do not know giving, friendship, blood, daring,
or surrender.Do we mistake the unrepresentable for the inexpressible? or for our
privacy? The demand to sympathize (Dayadhvam) is ironically answered by a picture
of solipsism, "each in his prison." The pain I feel is my pain and not yours, but
'my pain' and your response to my pain is not determined by either my knowledge o f
it (I experience it, or in other words, I pain: pain!) or your knowledge ofthe
truth ofmy pain. You respond to my expressionorthemanifestationsofmypain.
Wittgensteinremarks,What makes it so plausible to say that it [the pain] is not the
body? --Well, something like this: if someone has a pain in his hand, then the hand
does not sayReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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so (unless it writes it) and one does not comfort the hand, but the sufferer: one
looks into his face. (PI?286)I can, however, fall into absurdity and find it not
plausible to acknowledge the other as human.
andinAliceinWonderlanddistortionsandeverynight,asleep. Asleeponeloses
ontologicalaccesstoone'sface. Inpartialanswertooneofmyinitialquestions,'whatis
being created?', I can answer "Faces are not being created, nor even found.' The
language of The Waste Land is attached to human beings through a collection of
names: Marie, Madame Sosostris, Phoenician Sailor, Belladonna, The Hanged Man, Mrs.
Equitone, Saint Mary Woolnoth, Philomel, Stetson, Lil, Albert, Bill, Lou, May,
Sweeney, Mrs. Porter, Mr. Eugenides, Tiresias, Elizabeth I, Leicester, Phlebas, and
Hieronymo. Not all of these names are names o f human beings who had once lived. Is
there any significance inreplacing the face with a name? It in effect turns all
names into pronouns.These words do not speak in the context o f god: the voices are
extracted fromeverydaylife.Itistheordinarywhichbordersonhysteria.
ThisisEliot'stransformation of a feminine voice into a parody ofMozart's Queen
ofthe Night:"My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. "Speak to me. Why
do you never speak. Speak."What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? "I never
know what you are thinking. Think." (Ins.l 11-114)Reproduced with permission of the
copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.336
Hysteria attaches one's nerves to oneself. These "nerves" are a physical synecdoche
for a mental condition, a hysteria played out against human indifference and
uncaring and alienation within a marriage. The same hysteria can stay a person in a
disintegrating relationship: "my nerves are bad . . . stay with me." (This is one
way o f 'staying' the world inalanguageoflove.
ItisoneoftheconclusionsofEliotthatsuch'staying'isdamning). The husband here has
lost or renounced his voice (a sibyl-like diminishment); he functions in these
lines as a metaphysical 'I', a limit determining the scope of but not included
within the world, dominated by the women's speaking. But the absent husband's
implicit authorial position (maybe as bricoleur) means he ventriloquizes her
speaking, and sheventriloquizes his soul (the negative outlines o f his face
sketched in his absence). Catherine Clement, in her book on Opera, asks about what
she understands as patriarchal fear: "What haste, what hatred drives them to reduce
woman to her image?" (28). The image of women in The Waste Land is described by
speaking. Is the image of the diva, her body,herface,hersinging,orhervoice?
InTheWasteLandoneoftheimagesdescribing thelimitbetween
silenceandsong(whichisitselfthelimitbetweensilenceandspeech) and between desire and
possession is female hair:Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair Spread our
in fiery pointsGlowed into words, then would be savagely still. (Ins. 108-110)Do we
imagine this scene parodies lightening and thunder? Parody requires judgment,
enacting mimicry within a structure ofvalues. To suggest that parody is the origin
ofReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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language is to mock the question o f origin when it is understood as answerable by
something like parody. Joyce's use o f Vico's stages o f history (including the
theory that speech imitates thunder) suggests exactly this kind o f parody,
transforming putative origins into limits. (What motivates parody? a tool in what
game? A chimpanzee will mimic other chimps and humans, but why not parody them?)Is
Eliot pursuing a similar project of transforming origins into limits? Maybe. There
is at least a confusion between parodies and rumors:Only at nightfall, aethereal
rumoursRevive for a moment a broken CoriolanusWhat are "aethereal rumours"? They
are night-words, but aethereal words can be from Godandtherumorspromises.
Buttheserumorsre-animate(revive)ifonlyforamoment, the fragmented body o f
Coriolanus. By what does Coriolanus exist? At night we lose our body. We might find
ourselves in any body. We can find ourselves as a we-body, as "the They" .
Thisisagainpartoftheinstabilityofpronouns. TheserumorsinFinnegansWake (a "foull
subustioned mullmud"; Sebastian Melmoth, one o f Wilde's masks and, therefore, an
expression of and a disguise against rumor or exposure [228.32]) are
"Allwhile,. . . , preying in his mind, son o f Everallin, within himself, he swure"
(228.03-04). Some 'he' swore and was sure that he was who he was (which could be
anyone). Recalling Stephen inPortrait ofthe Artist as a YoungMan, or Joyce,
himself) a young man, the dreamer (maybe here thinking through HCE) reincorporates
himself in the possibility o f leavingReproduced with permission of the copyright
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himselfbehind by leaving the (or a) world behind, remembering or traveling or
writing or sleeping:He would split. He do big squeal like holy Trichepatte. . . He
take skiff come first dagrene day overwide tumbler, rough and dark, till when bow
of the shower show of the bower with three shirts and a wind, pogoda permettant,
crookolevante, the bruce, the coriolano and the ignacio. (FW228.05-11)In 'his'
splitting and flight, weather permitting (R.pogoda, 'weather'), in a search for
wisdom or escape from the world (permanent pagoda), God willing (Deo volente),
fleeing debt (crook and levant), 'he' becomes Robert Bruce, Coriolanus, and St.
Ignatius Loyola; or rather he is the qualities these names describe if they become
adjectives (or as if the adjectives become a single name or description o f his
being in this flight, while reading maybe): Robert Bruce, silence; Coriolanus,
exile; and St. Ignatius, cunning.This flight or movement away and towards marks
subjective historical time,
fragmentingtheworldandconstitutingatransportable'I'betweenthefragments. This 'he'
is "recorporated, (prunty!) by meteoromancy and linguified heissrohgin" (FW228.20-
1). This mysterious "meteoromancy" suggests a divination through reading meteors, a
reading of chance streaks, instead of stable stars (although there is some
regularity in meteor showers, there is no regularity in any particular meteor which
bums away in the atmosphere).
Byreadingthechancefireworksoftheskyweallegorizeourselvesasboth unstable and unique.
Reincorporating, in this case, proceeds not only through meteoromancy, but through
"linguified heissrohgin," on first reading another description of the Wake as a
linguified language of rogue/roving names (G. heifieri). The collapse ofReproduced
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
Roh (G. raw) and heifi^ G. hot), the raw and the cooked, as one kind of human limit
between kinds o f societies, between humans and animals, in the confusion o f names
(heissrohgin; and one's personal investment o f oneself in identities, language
games, relationships, and so on) describes the action o f recorporation as a self-
interpretation. To be "recorporated, (prunty!) by meteoromancy and linguified
heissrohgin" means to gain formasanegativespace,
orratherasthesubjunctivenexusofthesetofpossibilities describing our stances toward
the future and within language. Meteoromancy, therefore, is the divination o f the
ephemeral, the generation o f predictive interpretations, through and as the
instability o f identity (names and faces) enacted through the possibilities o f
language which constitutes, in effect, any pronoun.Two of the related figures for
this kind of self-interpretation in The Waste Land is a dismemberment into parts (a
human hand or God's hand) and navigation:DADamyata: The boat respondedGaily, to the
hand expert with sail and oar"Damyata" means 'control,' but whose over what or
whom? The instability of the 'ground' o f the undrinkable sea replaces the stasis o
f the drought and desert. And land has become a boat over which some expert hand
has control, a dismembered hand controlling a dismembered land (a boat). The mind
separated into a prison but answered by sympathy. This is a hand not attached to a
person. It could be anyone's. The boat, a floating jug, "responded/ Gaily," as if
alive, with quickness, as if not dead, animated by theReproduced with permission of
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controlling expert hand. But whose hand? This boat scene is allegorized into a
scene of love? lust? caring? power?The sea was calm, your heart would have
responded Gaily, when invited, beating obedientTo controlling handsSomeone's heart
could respond like a boat, and in this it could describe human love in the daring
of surrender or the exaltation of control or love of God, the 'your' becoming a
hypothetical 'thou' to God's 'I'. The hand like those attacking the blindfolded
Christ can be anyone's. The skill to control a boat, should one find water, can
become someone's through education. This skill is a quality, but ofwhose hands? The
'we' includes "your heart" and some "hands." "Your heart" is mock essence and love
of what is always subjectively vorhanden, marking something as human, but without
that which is to be marked. This 'we' cannot attach itself to persons.The body is
remade into an 'I' casting between the logic of aridity and stones and a further
remaking of these fragments into order (this logic of aridity will generate four
subjunctive worlds):I sat upon the shoreFishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my hands in order?How would this ordering change the world?
What kind of question is this? Some 'I' asks himself or herself'if I should act or
enact an order (determined how?) on the lands that form my world?' Should I refit
exactly these words into a world? Why exactly do theseReproduced with permission of
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things not make a world for me?' A science ofthe mind bom our ofwhat Vico called
ignorance, but Freud called the unconscious, and what we respond to at time as
intentionality, what Brentano called the essentially mental, or which Wittgenstein
called the grammatical (as the limit organizing our negotiations between the
psychological and the physical) understands the form o f this not as an analogue
for the identity o f things, the position Heidegger attacks, but as the analogue
for the structures o f the mind:The human mind is naturally inclined by the senses
to see itself externally in the body, and only with great difficulty does it come
to understand itself by means o f reflection.This axiom gives us the universal
principle o f etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and
the properties of bodies to signify the institutions o f the mind and spirit.
(NS236-37)Bishop argues that Joyce develops this insight into the practice of "an
extended 'abnihilization ofthe eytm' throughout the Wake (353.22 [I. ab nihilo,
'from nothing'])" in which he "shows the body lying everywhere under the surface of
language (L. lingua, 'tongue'])" (198).Finnegans Wake and The Waste Land enact
different kinds of crucifixion. Finnegans Wake crucifies God through his embodiment
or incarnation as human: this is the crucifixion ofsleep, the realization ofthe
limits ofthe body, that allows for or opens up the possibilities of mind or spirit
that we interpret as dreams or as soul. The Waste Land crucifies human beings, as
if we were already asleep: a crucifixion of vision, orReproduced with permission of
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dreams themselves. Crucifixion can seem like standing in air. Air is the only
element missing (or diminished) in The Waste Land: we are buried in earth, burning
burning in fire, drowning in water. What Karl Barth takes as "the positive relation
between God and man", Eliot takes as the demand the world makes on us, to ask, what
Barth asserts: "The righteousness of God is our standing-place in the air--that is
to say, where there is no human possibility of standing- whose foundations are laid
by God Himselfand supported by Him only" (The Epistle to the Romans, iii.21). How
do we stand "before an irresistible and all-embracing dissolution of the world to
time and things and me, before a penetrating and ultimate KRISIS, before the
supremacy o f a negation by which all existence is rolled up"? (iii.21). Where do
we stand when we ask "Mein Irisch Kind,/ Wo weilest du?" In a
subjunctiveAfterAfterAfter. PhlebasthePhoenicianhasdrowned,daringtosurrenderto
despair and falling from his ship, a mock Fisher King and Christ.. He has performed
thefinal act of dissolution, which the Sibyl desires but cannot consummate.The
first stanza o f "What The Thunder Said" describes Jesus' imprisonment andhis death
from the perspective o f those watching it, those remaining in the physical,
material world, where death is not transformation but loss:After the torchlight red
on sweaty faces After the frosty silence in the gardens After the agony in stony
placesThe shouting and the cryingPrison and palace and reverberation Ofthunder of
spring over distant mountainsReproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction prohibited without permission.343
He who was living is now dead.This succession o f "after" clauses, although
sounding paratactic, grammatically invoke and then fail to complete a logically
conditioned temporal succession of"after this, then that." "After" combines the
force o f the conditional "i f with a claim not simply o f logical inevitability,
but o f temporal order: o f intention ("after this, I will") or historical fact
(after this, that happened") or rather awkwardly a kind of modal present ("after
that, I do this"). What is done or will be done or was done after the torchlight is
repressed until after the frostysilencewhoseafterisrepresseduntilaftertheagony.
Eachoftheseantecedentsas part of a temporal sequence are markers in time, taking
the place of a subject, an T (thus in the preceding sentence the ease by which I
can say "the frosty silence whose 'after"'). The consequent to the "after X"
grammatically requires a temporal marker, for example,"After the torchlight, the
shouting and the crying began." (This would not be required if the consequent
included a human subject, as in "after the frosty silence, Joe spoke." Time markers
act as subjects, and subjects organize and mark the present, and thus determine
what counts as after and what before.) A temporal marker could be replaced by a
preposition chaining this event (the shouting and crying) to another. But such a
preposition is missing as well. The fragmentation ofthe paratactic 'after's', the
fragmentation oftemporal and causal linearity, is extended back into the logic o
f'after' (the temporal B-series, historical time or physical time, measured time)
dissolving the temporal force o f 'after' into a triply asserted pause. Language is
turned into metaphysics by turning the psychological fears ofPrufrock into an
ontological description ofthe collapse oftemporal succession and grammatical
structure into waiting.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further
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Do I dareDisturb the universe?In a minute there is timeFor decisions and revisions
which a minute will reverse.I do not mean that the metaphysics of The Waste
Landjustifies any kind of answer to this question (not even the authority
oftradition). Rather it justifies the question. ( For Albert the Great this would
be what would determine the poem as literature and not philosophy, which can
articulate answers. It is implicit within Aquinas' theology that neither philosophy
nor theology can give definitive answers, but rather reformulate the possibilities
answering and determining the questions we ask.)How does one turn descriptions into
questions? After After After x, y, and z, The shouting and the cryingPrison and
palace and reverberationO f thunder o f spring over distant mountainsHe who was
living is now dead."The crying" could be followed by any number o f prepositions,
linking "the CTying" logically with the "[pjrison and palace and reverberation:
cryingfor: over the loss and suffering of Christ or our own dying (self-pity);
crying in: the Sibyl in her prison or us in ours caught in solipsism or in crimes
and sins or glories and power in palaces; crying as: becoming the limits o f our
lives, the walls, or the physics o f our own noises or voices [reverberating];
crying by, with, on, etc.: translating our emotions and outbursts toward objects
and translating these back toward our concerns. The possibilities, and the very
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without permission.345
suggestiveness of our prepositional expectation is caught up by the beginning "O f
thunder" in the succeeding line: "The shouting and the crying ... Of thunder of
spring over distant mountains". Consequently, we are (or at least I am) tempted to
transpose this backwards and read the line as 'The shouting and the crying of
prison and palace and reverberation.' Things cry here, physics cries and shouts.
This'prison and palace foreshadows the interpretation ofthe third word ofThunder-
speech:Dayadhvam: I have heard the keyTurn in the door once and turn once only We
think o f the key, each in his prison Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours Revive
for a moment a broken CoriolanusEliot casts the prison as an image for our
solipsism.idealism. Thethunderorthesublimedescribesormarksthelimitsbetweenthe
phenomenalandthenoumenal,andinthismarkingdissolvestheworld. Theworld remains as a
reality beyond, but other minds exist beyond our knowing. Eliot in the notes quotes
Bradley:My external sensations are no less private to myself than are my thoughts
or my feelings. Ineithercasemyexperiencefallswithinmyowncircle,acircleclosed on the
outside; and, with all its elements alike, every sphere is opaque to the others
which surround it.... In brief, regarded as an existence which appears in a soul,
the whole world for each is peculiar and private to that soul.Reproduced with
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permission.This is the irony of some kinds of346
Bradley disconnects both external and internal sensations from their meaning, which
would bring in language and thus the biological, social, historical context and
identity (what Wittgenstein calls our form of life) organizing these sensations as
sensations. Eliot uses Bradley as a light to both blind and illuminate. He invokes
other mind skepticism and traces a limit (a circle, a prison, a palace) between the
self and knowing and being known byothers. Thisismoreofadistractionthanitisuseful.
Bradleyalsodigsamoatbetween sensations and meanings (in the way Eliot quotes him).
In reading The Waste Land it is the question 'What does it mean?' that continually
forces itself upon us, before the question 'Do we know Eliot?' or 'Does anyone know
us?' These questions become more legitimately, 'Does The Waste Land know or
describe or understand us? or we it?' This isthe disjunction that the Sibyl finds
herselfin: she still experiences our world but it is not her world, and thus her
experience is nonsense.I f we extract the nonsense, or the prepositionless prisons
and palaces, which might describe ourselves, our condition, or our world, then we
are left with something like: "after the torchlight, the frosty silence, the agony,
the shouting and the crying ofthunder of spring over distant mountains, He who was
living is now dead..." The grammar recovers part o f its temporal logic, or rather
language gains a new temporal metaphor, a new way of determining the priority of
relations within and through which the meaning of sentences map the ontological
rules o f succession. We are offered a temporal algorithm:He who was living is now
dead We who were living are now dying With a little patience.Reproduced with
permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without
With these lines we have entered that interval in time between death (Good Friday)
and resurrection (Easter). Phlebas is dead, the old moment has passed, yet we have
not re- entered the next moment. This "He who is dead" could be some particular
person, marked in the poem as Phlebas, or Christ, or Tiresias, or someone we know,
or even ourselves.
Thesplittingbetweenthirdpersonsingular'He'andfirstpersonplural'We,' between dead
and dying, divides the difference between being an object, third person- dead, and
being alive, our first person-dying together. 'Weilen' is translated into patience,
except this 'staying' has become a form o f dying.9.2 On the road to objecthoodWhat
is this dying? The gift o f water can become a jug, or the jug can become a
worldandthewateracanopy. Eliotcallsthis"DeathByWater":Phlebas the Phoenician, a
fortnight dead, Forgot the cry o f gulls, and the deep sea swell And the profit and
loss.A current under the seaPicked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fellHe
passed the stages of his age and youth Entering the whirlpool.Gentile or Jew0 you
who turn the wheel and look to windward,Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and
tall as you.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction
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(underlines added)In this picture o f being human, identity seems to arise out o f
the question 'what am I such that I can die?' McCulloch's question, "what is man
that he can know number?", under the pressure of this logic could be answered with
'I am that whose shelter is or who is sheltered [this question cannot get behind
this distinction] by number.' But this answer is incomplete without knowing what
number delimits from within and makes visible as such.Is number a concept like
death? Number might describe the limit o f quality, or qualia, phenomenal
experience. Our counting, therefore, even counting ourselves as one, as part o f a
sum o f people, makes present the qualities we experience as a person through which
we also describe others. How do we count ourselves as being addressed by any poem,
text or word?Wecanenterapassagethroughitsverbs. Thepressureagainstformandnumber
inPhlebas'deathpassagemovesthroughtheverbs. Phlebasforgot: Phlebasacts,but acts
against himself(he remains Phlebas to us but he has forgotten, our personification
of the dead), reanimated enough so that the loss ofthe world is his loss. In this
loss of memory Phlebas, the Phoenician trader, loses the predicative use o f 'loss'
in relation to 'profit'. The sea picked his bones: The world acts against Phlebas'
body. The peristalsis of profit and loss that he forgot is picked up in the next
stanza in his own rising and falling, which also calls back the "deep sea swell."
Phlebas, as Phlebas, is now nested not within his body but in this periodicity
(semantically uniform and continuous, if not in the movement o f real waves). "As
he rose and fell" Phlebas' identity, what he is, collapses into the verb "passed."
He does not act, even through the negation o f his forgetting, butReproduced with
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becomescoextensivewithaparticulartemporalseries: "Hepassedthestagesofhisage and
youth/ Entering the whirlpool." Phlebas' personal regression, from age to youth,
reverses the fate o f the Sibyl. Can we call this death? The purity o f the
burning, the transcendent promise o f "O Lord Thou pluckest me out" closing "The
Fire Sermon" opens in this drowning the "river's tent" that began "The Fire
Sermon." Beneath the absence of the "empty bottles, sandwich papers,/ Silk
handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette boxes, cigarette ends/ Or other testimony
of summer nights" Phlebas passes (this 'passing' is not a living) his life. Nested
in world-time and passed through his end to his beginning,Phlebas enters, and is
further nested within at least an image o f absolute movement, "the whirlpool."
Instead of entering into either hell or climbing unto paradise with Beatrice, Eliot
invokes Dante by translating both the comedy into a failed harrowing and Beatrice
into symbolic metaphysics, into the water itself, as both the context and guide, or
at laest as the means of change. To enter the whirlpool as if the subject of an
episode of This Is Your Life! is to enter "the womb ofthe sea." The ocean
represents a characteristically feminine dynamic creative principle, through which
both death and resurrection are enacted.Although this symbolic designation is clear
in The Waste Land, Eliot specifically draws this picture in "Ash Wednesday":Blessed
sister, holy mother, spirit o f the fountain, spirit o f the garden...Sister,
motherAnd spirit ofthe river, spirit ofthe sea,Reproduced with permission of the
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Suffer me not to be separated.The sea and the creative dynamic it represents,
opposes the process o f differentiation and identification: "suffer me not to be
separated." The waters o f the Thames listen, in The Waste Land, with maternal
silence: "Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song."
Buttheydonotspeak,norcanPhlebas. WecanfollowPhlebastothewhirlpool but not into it.
We are not dead and have not forgot; we are addressed and entreated to "consider" :
Gentile or JewO you who turn the wheel and look to windward, Consider Phlebas, who
was once handsome and tall as you.Phlebas, who is now dead but was once like you,
marks, as does any name, the limit of finititude. Could this, can this, does this
force us into an existential crisis, into dread? If not, then what? If we resist
our inclusion within the initial two categories of Gentile or Jew are we immune
from the dread of the vision? If we lose faith, then how do we see Phlebas? If we
can read the symbolic links that structure the poem with mythic force then are we
not already reading as Gentile or Jew, as a function even of our difference from
thesefaiths? TheGentileandJewatleastwerehandsomeandtallasPhlebas. Infactt