File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 91

Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 23:50:54 -0400
Subject: Re: Ethics of Aesthetics?

Glen and All,

This post is very easy to understand and might prove useful to those who
haven't heard any of it before.  Historians are needed to keep new
generations in touch.

But where to start is always here, and when to start is always now, and
where to go is always into the future.  We tell ourselves stories about the
future, we tell ourselves stories about the past.  If you lived that past
story and have a good memory you may or may not want to forget it, but
knowing it doesn't necessarily make it useful.

We need to stop destroying resources that make present populations and
culture possible, but history tells us that most places on Earth didn't have
that problem  two centuries ago.


> G'day Hugh,
> As you were saying,
> > Let us imagine ourselves "outside" the so-called real world, Cosmos,
> > Universe(s), observing all that "is" - Including all that is to
> scientists,
> > deists,
> > atheists - the "facts" we obey to survive.
> > Dream of Gods dreaming people dreaming Gods.
> > Refuse to pore over the intricate mental constructs of religious,
> > scientific and philosophical pasts, (historians excepted) and think
> > the future of the physical and mental worlds, the real and symbolic
> > universes we inhabit.
> > Why should the species be bound by the past?  Why
> > not invent new ideas of the sublime, the unknown, the varieties of
> aesthetic
> > experience, with all the confidence of ancient ancestors?
> Maybe because they didn't know any better, and I am not supposing we do,
> at least we know there is the possibility of something better. It is just,
> how do we know if something is better without looking to the past?
> Here is a rather long extract from a rather obscure source (and as a form
> reply it is rather convoluted, sorry:) -
> 'A democratic society in its thirst for liberty may fall under the
> of bad leaders, who intoxicate it with excessive quantities of the neat
> spirit; and then, unless the authorities are very mild and give it a lot
> liberty, it will curse them for oligarchs and punish them.'
> 'That is just what a democracy does.'
> 'It goes on to abuse servile and contemptible those who obey the
> and reserve its approval, in private life as well as public, for rulers
> behave like subjects and subjects who behave like rulers. In such a
> the principle of liberty is bound to go to extremes, is it not?'
> 'It certainly is.'
> 'What is more,' I said, 'it will permeate private life and in the end
> even the domestic animals with anarchy.'
> 'How do you mean?'
> 'Well,' I said, 'it becomes the thing for father and son to change places,
> the father standing in awe of his son, and the son neither respecting nor
> fearing his parents, in order to assert what he calls his independence;
> there's no distinction between citizen and alien and foreigner.'
> 'Yes, these things do happen.'
> 'They do,' I said, 'and there are other more trivial things, the teacher
> fears and panders to his pupils, who in turn despise their teachers and
> attendants; and the young as a whole imitate their elders, argue with them
> and set themselves up against them, while their elders try to avoid the
> reputation of being disagreeable or strict by aping the young and mixing
> with them on terms of easy good fellowship.'
> 'All very true.'
> 'The extreme of popular liberty is reached in this kind of society when -
> male and female - have the same liberty as their owners - not to mention
> complete equality and liberty in the relations between the sexes.'
> 'Let's have the whole story while we're at it, as Aeschylus says.'
> 'Right,' I said; 'you shall. You would never believe - unless you had seen
> it for yourself - how much more liberty the domestic animals have in a
> democracy. The dog comes to resemble its mistress, as the proverb has it,
> and the same is true of the horses and donkeys as well. They are in the
> habit of walking about the streets with a grand freedom, and bump into
> people they meet if they don't get out of their way. Everything is full of
> the spirit of liberty.'
> You're telling me!' he said. 'I've often suffered from it on my way out of
> town.'
> 'What is all adds up to is this,' I said; 'you find that the minds of the
> citizens become so sensitive that the least vestige of restraint is
> as intolerable, till finally, as you know, in their determination to have
> master they disregard all laws, written or unwritten.'
> That comes from Plato's "The Republic." (Part Nine [Book Eight])
> We can not return to Eden. There will always be a socius. We can only
> more and more aware of ourselves and of our fellow human beings. Having
> knowledge of others and their subject positions is not enough, we must
> to believe, at least just for a moment, what and how they believe. Thus
> restraining ourselves more, which, eventually, will lead to the most
> socially just liberty possible. Any other way is ego-centric
> self-indulgence...
> >And Nietzsche,
> >> "It is only as an
> >> aesthetic experience that life can be justified. " .
> I agree that life is justified only as an aesthetic experience, but not
> aesthetic experiences are justified by life.
> Everyone not only has the right to live, but also to feel alive, otherwise
> what is the point?
> Maybe the authority of history could be disregarded, but not all of the
> lessons of the past...
> Cheers,
> Glen.


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