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On Time-Lapse

On Time-Lapse

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Published by: dlavery on Apr 14, 2011
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10/10/2011

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OnTime‐LapsePhotography
Oneoftheforemosttasksofarthasalwaysbeenthecreationofademandwhichcouldbefullysatisfiedonlylater.WalterBenjamin,"TheWorkofArtintheAgeofMechanicalReproduction"AcceleratedthelifeofflowersisShakespearean.BlaiseCendrarsIcontinuedtolookattheflowers,andintheirlivinglightIseemedtodetectthequalitativeequivalentofbreathing—butofabreathingwithoutreturntoastartingpoint,withnorecurrentebbsbutonlyarepeatedflowfrombeautytoheightenedbeauty,fromdeepertoeverdeepermeaning.AlduousHuxley,
TheDoorsofPerception
Trueimaginationactually"sees"the"subtle"processesofnatureandtheirangelicprototypes.Itisthecapabilitytoreproduceinoneselfthecosmogenicunfolding,thepermanentcreationoftheworld....MauriceAniane
Phusis
,
Poiesis,
andthePre‐HistoryofTime‐Lapse
Substance,Nietzschearguesin
TheGayScience
,hasnotalwaysexisted.Oncemankindlivedinthemidstofasubstanceless"absoluteflowofbecoming":"Inorderthattheconceptofsubstancecouldoriginate—whichisindispensableforlogicalthoughinthestrictestsensenothingrealcorrespondstoit—itwasnecessarythatforalongtimewedidnotseenorperceivethechangesinthings"(171).Perhaps,Nietzschespeculated,wearenotmomentousenoughbeingstoperceivechangeinitspurestform:Wearenotsubtleenoughtoperceivethatprobablyabsoluteflowofbecoming;thepermanentexistsonlythankstoourcoarseorganswhichreduceandleadthingstosharedpremisesofvulgarity,whereasnothingexistsinthisform.Atreeisanewthingateveryinstant;weaffirmtheformbecausewedonotseizethesubtletyofanabsolutemoment.(QuotedinBarthes61)
 
TheCollectedWorksofDavidLavery2
 
Akindofepistemologicalnaturalselection,Nietzschetheorized,thusgovernedtheriseofsubstance—theevolutionofacommon‐sensical,material,stable,vulgarworld—andtheeliminationofaperceptualawarenessofperpetualmetamorphosis.Thebeingsthatdidnotseesopreciselyhadanadvantageoverthosethatsaweverything"influx."Atbottom,everyhighdegreeofcautioninmakinginferencesandeveryskepticaltendencyconstitutesagreatdangerforlife.Nolivingbeingswouldhavesurvivediftheoppositetendency—toaffirmratherthansuspendjudgment,toerrandmakeupthingsratherthanwait,toassentratherthannegate,topassjudgmentratherthanbejust—hadnotbeenbredtothepointwhereitbecameextraordinarilystrong.(171‐72)(Bergsonmeantmuchthesamewhenheargued,in
CreativeEvolution
,that"Amanissomuchmorea'manofaction'ashecanembraceinaglanceagreaternumberofevents:hewhoperceivessuccessiveeventsonebyonewillallowhimselftobeledbythem;hewhograspsthemasawholewilldominatethem”[327‐28].)Butthehumanmindhasnotalwaysturneditsbackonbecoming,despitetheadaptive,evolutionarypressuretodoso.
Phusis
hashadits20thcenturyreincarnations.
ItwasOwenBarfield'scontention,
centraltohiswholeunderstandingof"theevolutionofconsciousness,"thatGreekthinking—indeedGreekconsciousness—"wasinacertainsensealive"(
Romanticism
51).BecausetheGreeksweremore"athome...inthecoming‐into‐being,orbecoming"thanwe,whosethoughtis"built...onthesecurebutrigidframeworkoflogic...andcanonlydealwiththe'become,'thefinishedproduct...,"theirthinkingremindsustodayof"ablossomingflowerthatisstillmoist,alive,inmovement,becoming."Heraclituswitnessedthe"universalflux";wecanonlyperceiveandthinkthe"is."Theturningpoint,accordingtoBarfield,camewhen"Anaxagorassetoveragainstthefor‐ever‐changingworldofgrowinganddecayingsubstance...theotherprincipleof
Onus
orMind"and"antithesis(hithertounapprehended)betweenSpiritandMatter"becamecommonsense,logictriumphingover
logos
andjudgmentoverjustice.Stillimmersedwithintheexperienceofbecoming,"consciousinit,"the"Greekmindcouldnotatfirstbeconsciousofitassuch."Thus,Barfieldargues,
 
TheCollectedWorksofDavidLavery3
 
those"laws"ofnaturewhichwenowconceiveabstractlyweretotheGreeks"stillapprehendedaslivingBeings."Thataspectofnatureperceptiblebythesenses"wasitselfthesumoftheaccomplisheddeedsofanotherinvisiblepart—thatofthe'Forms'aswewillcallthem.IndeedtheGreekstendedtoloseinterestintheNaturewhichhadbecome...."Itwas
naturanaturans
whichcapturedtheirimaginations,not
naturanaturata
.Butwe,inourstaticthought,havemadesuchevolution‐in‐progress,suchbecoming,intoameretheory.Wenowhave,Barfieldinsists(alludingtothethoughtofBergson),noexperienceofevolution:"Nowitisoneofourfourfundamental'LawsofThought'thatathingcannotbothbeandnotbe,andsoobviousdoesthisappeartousthatwhenwehearHeraclitusmaintainingtheopposite,weareinclinedtostigmatizehimasaverbalquibbler.Thisisbecausewecanonlythink'is';wecannotreallythink'becomes'exceptasakindofcinematicsuccessionof'is's'."Theveryword"evolution,"Barfieldhasobserved,oncehadaverydifferentmeaningthantheoneinfusedintoitbythe19thcenturymindasitchangedthemeaningoftheolderword(whichstillcarriedvestigesoftheGreekawarenessofbecoming)todenotethecosmositwasthenintheprocessofengineering,andthischangereflectsthemodernlossoftheexperienceofevolution.
1
Foroncethewordhadsuggestedan"unfolding,agradualanduninterruptedprocessofchangefromoneformintoanother,towardswhichithastendedfromthestart—fromoneformintoanotherthroughawholeseriesofintermediateforms,theoneimperceptiblymergingintotheother."Once"evolution"calledtomindtransformation(onto‐genesis)notmeresubstitution(asuccessionof"is's,"orphylogenesis)asitdidforDarwin—atransformationinwhichcouldbewitnessed"achangefrompotentialformintoactualandspatialform,thetypicalinstancebeingaseedoranembryoevolvingbygrowthintoanindependentplantoranimal."
LikeBarfield,MartinHeidegger
foundthepre‐SocraticGreekmindattunedtotheemergenceandestablishmentofthe"real"withaconsciousnessquitedifferentfromourown.IncharacteristicHeideggerfashion,heillustratesthisdifferencethroughwhatmightbecalledphenomenologicaletymology(amethodwhichheshareswithhisBritishcontemporary).TheGreekwordforour"nature,"Heideggershowsinhis
 
1
SeeRaymondWilliams’discussionof‘evolution”in
Keywords:AVocabularyofCultureandSociety 
(103‐105).Barfielddiscussestheetymologyof“evolution”in“TheEvolutionComplex”(8).

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