Attempt to Establish a Path or Methodos with the ground of Play contra Seriousness
We want to make clear to ourselves what we have come across in the experimentum, while we where just looking about hoping to see something worth seeing, in order to reach the place where the methodos or non-capricious path, which could otherwise be called the elegant path, can begin to lead us. Someone who is elegant indicates that kind of existence in their choices, where he never imagines making just any old choice, but makes the elegant choice. One could also say the right choice. All the other choices are wrong, but the right choice was singular. It was singular, but not because out of the things that were possible to just anyone the best one was chosen, but it has something to do with the elegant one themselves. What we found in the experimentum is supposed to have a life of its own, and we follow it in the hope that it is going to make the right choices due to its elegance. (We borrow here from Ortega, elegance as choice. However, in our thinking, we think of elegance as Iki, thinking of Shūzō Kuki and Mishima's explication of Iki in the works that treat with the arising of cosmic nihilism, The Sea of Fertility. Thus as a world essence.)
We have a sentence to work with, a ground, which we discovered already, and which appears in our earlier posts. It says: Seriousness imitates play. We thought this in connection with Carl Schmitt’s thought as it stands under the interpretation of Leo Strauss. As the thought about the serious which is linked to the possibility of war and physical death. We thought, coming from the opposite direction, of the concept of man as Homo Ludens, as the presence of the playful in the midst of the seriousness as imitation of the seriousness of the lethality of a nature where life gathers and goes away. This conception of a nature understands play as part of the system of that nature, as the essence of culture (the outer action and present thought of the human being). Thus it subordinates play, thinking it as as a growth, which although natural, is destructible within nature, and so must not always be. And so is not equal to the measure of truth, as what always is. Nature is thought of, tacitly, as true. Death becomes the measure of what remains in nature, and so appears more serious, as though it were the gateway between the true and the void of exchanges to which all that can be destroyed is exposed during its piteous moment when it attempts to raise itself to the level of that nature as a self-absorbed farce, impudent and doomed.
What does the peculiar and seemingly-farfetched assertion “Seriousness imitates play.” mean? We can not say at once, but need to make a report about where we stand in the thinking more generally. The circumspect look at the world, where we walk around, the clarity between sky and the surface of all things, where there is some room to move around. The bare understanding of what is outside. Is that nature? What is nature, what is a natural being? Is it a concept that already thinks itself, by itself? Everyone knows what nature is, but some would point to a primeval forest, covered in frost, while others would think of the so-called fundamental laws of science. When we think of the species of things, of the spheres of the stars, star is a species of thing, as they pierce our heart like the hero of Jelinek's The Piano Teacher stabbed her heart with a kitchen knife (in the defective aesthetization of the film, where the velleity of the charecter is raised, from elbow to heart, thus realizing the actual book, by humiliating and trampling over it), we show that we are reading things form the book of life haphazardly, in a confused way, that Darwin calls cabbages species, that in Plato the species is the eidos, and the eidos of the angler or fisherman is one that is mentioned. Once we admit that we must have a circle of thinking, out of which we organize the thought and clarify, we make the genetic circle come to push against something, as though any stone that is to be turned must be turned only by what is thought exactingly under some principle that guides the thought in its taxis and orientation. But all the time, picking up books which are supposed to have already set things in order, we make to pick up and continue the work in some standing problem out of what is already readied. This difficulty is invisible to the English thought, and never has any serious place in it. One must ever renew this thought.
When Johan Huizinga speaks of his concept of Homo Ludens, he links play with a kind of “freedom”. Or, better said, with freedom as such. The human being in its existence is this freedom in the form of culture as its total existence (not as the culture concept of the sphere of the fine arts). Yet to speak of Spielraum is to speak of the fields, or the field that is roughly always there, where something happens. The notion of Spielraum presents us with a conflict between nature and freedom. It is decisive to understand this if we are to know what ground “Seriousness imitates play.” is supposed to vouchsafe to our thinking.
The smartness of the sciences is visited by the difficulty of specialization. At first glance nature as the systema mundi of a Newton seems to allow a store of established things to constantly emerge from out of the creative activity of the experimental sciences. But the mass concept of a human being, leading back through systems of quantifiable entropy, has to stand as an interpretation that differs from that of the other sciences. The organism concept of the Biological or life sciences can make no use of the wondrous powers of the energy flow concept of the “fundamental” science of physics. The scare quotes indicate a difficulty. Might not the biologist say “fundamental” and mean, what the fools call fundamental? Since he knows that the real stuff is life. And the physiological study that tells us the functions of the things that exist, of the organs and cells and the biomatter in the substrate of the organism. And since only this physiology gives us the ideal, from which the pathology can be admitted to be objective, from which one can say what sickness is, the mass concept is only a kind of interpretation of the human organism that establishes something distant and curious but not essential.
But is it not possible to state a case for nature that is not dependant on the interpretation of some thing, e.g., the human heart, without referring to this or that science? Or even to the supposed interpretations of the so-called human sciences. What surrounds and grants the possibility of the general concept of which one so often hears, of the “natural world”? Comte understood the positive presentation of nature to be that of the immediate thing as seen, but the procedure of the sciences he understood to be aided by mathamatical thinking. Nature then was whatever one could come across empirically, where the empirical means the collection of rough facts. The rough fact is a fact to which no reason is connected. I see a fossil, that’s a fact, or, better said, a rough fact. No explicit interpretation. The fossils suggest to common sense change, or what is called Evolution. They do not offer an explanation or a reason for those changes, such as the mechanism of mutation. Strictly speaking Comte thought of this Positivism to exclude search back to the origin of species through the models of reason. This notion of nature is of what was called the historical, in the sense of the old phrase Natural History, i.e., observation of nature, the science that corresponds to modern biology in the most broad sense.
When Daniel Dennett says that there is “only one stuff”, in order to make his monism something more basic than a philosophy, we must however still think of the metaphysics of substance. This statement of nature lets one think all things as one substance, the essence of which flows form the laws of thought, which are not part of the formal logic, but only of the philosophic pronouncement of the philosophic logos, as the logos which speaks the metaphysical First Principles. The principle of identity, reason, and the other principles, remain primarily powerful, but even more than this the logos that speaks them, must remain part of our thought. As yet we do not speak of this, but it means that when we speak of the essence of man, or of nature, we do not speak of what is ultimate, but of what the logos, as this logos, speaks. This note is only to orient us, though vaguely, towards the embrace of the thought which now, with a velleity, presciently dreams of thinking through the way we now travel as guests of that prescience.
Why if we know what a fossil is is it necessary to call this realm of nature, the positive image of nature, untrue? Does not the mere discovery of the fossil say it all, establish the fact? What more is wanted? What Comte presupposed was the judicious character of common sense in its ability to grasp the facts. This is what Nietzsche means when he speaks of interpretation and no fact at all: Common sense makes an interpretation. Otherwise nothing at all can be said, no ground can come forward to the human being, only an incredible flight towards suicide, towards the refusal of intelligence, towards not wanting to know what one is exposed to by the mere fact of knowing, the beastly fact of the “invention” of knowing. Nietzsche does not really tell us who is supposed to be the inventor here. The human being is the knowing animal according to him. Knowing is the essence of the being who blushes. Knowing is not reason, since it is prior to explanation. It is simply identical to life. This brings us to the sphere of the psychologists who were dependant on the movement of the ideas, of the things seen, as basic species of reality. Thus to the proto-psychoanalysis that was called Ideology under the the transformation of Locke, which was damned by Napoleon and in turn by Marx and Engels, as the Utopian thought. Insofar as we assume that reality is split between the world round, the eidos sphere, and the presence of the thought of the why, of our asking about reasons, we suppose the chances of an opening, as elbow room, that offers a space for a research. Husserl first realized the possibility of this research, stimulated by the thinking of Dilthey who served to promote a more exacting investigation in Husserl than he was able to bring forth. Heidegger, in the chapters of the Logical Investigations, found title to a new form of intelligence which he elaborated throughout his work bringing an unusual incisive character to the investigation which was carried out in the most sophisticated manner.
Leaving aside such reports, we now cease to defer to a larger glance of the movement of thought that leads to the seriousness of the kind of investigation we hope the methodos will confer on us. The history of the difficulties leads one to a better understanding of the seriousness of the investigation, which can if this is candidly grasped, not be supposed to be the work of deception or folly. The appeal to the methodos if it is made in the right way, fulfills the need to make way without quite knowing what one does, in such a way that it could bring something worthy into sight, perhaps through a leap in the thought. We are now better prepared to say something about this ground which is also a question: “Play imitates seriousness.” Magic and Alethiea should also enter into our surrounds, but so far we do not become so far sighted.