Friday, March 31, 2006

cut my losses

Both the Apollinian and the Dionysian are marked as crossings that move beyond the everyday: to the world of beautiful images over which Apollo presides; or to the self-oblivion of the ecstatic state, as in the descent to Hades, as in crossing, in that direction, the river of Lethe.
-John Sallis, in reference to The Birth of Tragedy

Lethe, the river of forgetting, delineated the ancient boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living. In fact – fictively speaking – Hades was surrounded by a number of rivers, one of which, the River Styx, famously encircled it nine times over. Lethe was the point of non-crossing, a limit, yet it was also the point of crossing – in short, it was the site a double-going – on both sides of which stand shades, specters, and phantoms.

Aletheia, incidentally, was the Greek word for “truth” – a-lethe-ia: “an un-forgetting.” Heidegger describes aletheia as an “unconcealment.” Truth is the process by which objects appear to us, for in revealing themselves from the concealment of undifferentiated phenomena, appearance-as-such appears in the objects’ revelation.

“Revelation,” a word spoken with its mystical connotation in-tact, is appropriate. By anology we can appropriate Godamer’s aesthetic concept of in-sight: “In order to understand our experience of art, we are tempted to search the depths of mystical language for daring new words like the German Anbild [ in-sight ] – an expression that captures both the image and the viewing of it." One is surprised at the extent to which perception – or an idea of visual re-presentation carried to its mythological extreme – invades every system of communication.

Phantom: from Greek, “to make visible”
Specter: from Latin, “to appear”
Shade: from Old English, “a disembodied spirit; a ghost”
– and in Modern English –
Shade: verb, “to produce gradations of light or color, as in painting”
Shadow: noun, “one who follows, especially in secret” – the assassin has arrived. Already we can hear the echoing footfalls of the double-goer.
Dionysos vs. the Crucified ... (the ellipses mark the struggle about to begin)

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