File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1994/nietzsche_Nov.94, message 3


Date: Sun, 6 Nov 1994 14:30:02 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: Philosphy and Truth




On Sun, 6 Nov 1994 ReDionysus-AT-aol.com wrote:

> Hi all, making another attempt to moderate this list.
> 
> Since the question of truth in Nietzsche has come around again, would anyone
> like to read from Philosophy and Truth? like we said we were before the list
> seemed to die in september? Just thought I'd spur the conversation on a bit.
> 
> 
Interesting proposition -- the truth and a spur, or the truth as a spur.
Which ever the case, the spur is a gambit, a supposed weakness; a 
premature advancement of the pawn in which acceptance, while producing a 
material disadvantage simultaniously creates a positional stronghold at 
d4, which threatens to envelope the king's wing.  Or, if you don't like 
chess metaphors, there's always Derrida's sailing metaphor:  the spur 
"like the prow, for example, of a sailing vessel, its _rostrum_, the 
projection of the ship which surges ahead to meet the sea's attack and 
cleave its hostile surface." (Spurs p.39)  But how can one attack the 
sea, whose awsome expanse lies within the horizon of the infinite?      
"Now, little ship, look out!  Beside you is the ocean:  to be sure, 
it does not always roar, and at times it lies spread out like silk and 
gold and reveries of graciousness.  But hours will come when you will 
realize that it is infinite and that there is nothing more awsome than 
infinity...  Woe, when you feel homesick for the land as if it had never 
offered more _freedom_ -- and there is no longer any 'land.'" (GS #124)

But then the expanse of the sea is attacked with a counter gambit, 
"...for we still ride mad and fiery horses, and when we hesitate it is 
least of all danger that makes us hesitate." (GS #376)  The infinite 
horizon, the limit of the sea's expanse, is brought short against our 
perspective, that is, it is brought short against the Truth.  "We cannot 
look around our own corner:  it is a hopeless curiousity that wants to 
know what other kinds of intellects or perspectives there _might be_;  
for example, whether some beings might be able to experience time 
backward, or alternatly forward and backward (which would involve another 
direction of life and another direction of cause and effect)." (GS#374)
Though other perspectives exist, they are denied us and we _know_ only 
our own little corner, but what then is this little corner?  The prow of 
a ship?  But now as the acceptance and not the declination of the pawn.  
The horizon is no longer infinite because the world itself has become 
infinite, as the prow cleaves the waves a million bits of frothy foam 
skatter and glitter in the sunlight, and the center becomes a dangerous 
and unstable place to which we are drawn and from which we cannot help 
but flee.  "...the world has become "infinite" for us all over again, 
inasmuch as we cannot reject the possibility that _it may include 
infinite interpretations_." (GS #374)

What then is the Truth, but the dissaperance of the text under the 
interpretation.(BGE #38)  Or, if you prefer, the truth is the contest 
against philosophy, a contest figured as _rumination_ for which is 
required the sensibility of the cow, "...and in any case _not_ [the 
sensibility] of a "modern man".... (GM preface #8)  But how can this be?  
Is this cow not a member of the herd, is this not the beast who stares in 
wonder when asked "'...Why do you not speak to me of your happiness but 
only stand and gaze and me?'  The animal would like to answer, and say:  
'The reason is I always forget what I was going to say' -- but then be 
forgets this answer too, and stays silent..." (UM pp.60-61)  But how then 
are we to read this silence and this forgetting, what telltale note 
springs forth to strike our ear as the cow belchs, chewing and crunching 
on the noxious offal that was but a moment ago the content of its 
stomach?  Here we find a double reversal, a full gainer and a half twist, 
in which concepts, even those which Nietzsche himself has constructed, 
become stripped of their generative force and now exist only as tropes 
and after effects, not of a previous concept, but of a previous 
metaphor.  As Sarah Kofman puts it:  "...as early as his youthful 
work...Nietzsche brings about a highly symptomatic reversal in the 
relationship which he establishes between metaphor and concept:  metaphor 
is no longer refered to the concept, as in the metaphysical tradition 
inhereted from Aristotle, but rather the concept is referred to 
metaphor."(Nietzsche and Metaphor pp.14-15)  

Thus the concept of forgetting is displaced by and taken up in the figure 
of the cow, and in its munchings and crunchings the cow too is displaced 
by another metaphor -- the eternal recurrence presented in the figure of 
the super-historical as an active forgetting which has placed the knife to 
the roots of history as a monumental rememberance.  Or, to put it in 
Klossowski's terms, return has the form of a revelation,  nevertheless, 
revelation here cannot escape the recursion of its metaphorical 
configuration where it is also expressed as a certain tonality of mind. 
Through this recursion Klossowski formulates the following question:  
"But how does forgetting function in this revelation?  More specifically, 
isn't forgetting the source and indespensible condition not only for the 
appearance of the Eternal Return but for _transforming the very identity_ 
of the the person to whom it appears?  Forgetting thus raises eternal 
becoming and the absorbtion of all identity to the level of being."  

Though Klossowski wants to distinguish here between a mature Nietzsche 
and a youthfull Nietzsche described as still "...in his Hellenistic 
period," and Kofmann wants sees Nietzsche in the light of a certain unity 
which running throughout his work from the youthfull period to the 
more mature, and which proceeds as the destruction of the metaphysical 
tradition inherited from Aristotle, there is not necessariliy an 
insurmountable contradiction between these two points.  Later on 
Klossowski will say:  "Anamnesis coincides with the revelation of the 
return." Here forgetting does not merely occure as the forgetting of the 
question, but first and formost as the forgetting of the questioned; 
forgetting does not return to the identical, whether the identical is 
thought as a willful subjectivity expressing itself by saying I, or as a 
concept expressing the immutablility of truth at a metaphysical level, 
rather forgetting, as the destruction of existence identical with the 
questioned, is co-incident with the revelation of return.  Thus in the 
forgetting and revelation of return, "Not only do I learn that I 
(Nietzsche) am brought back to the crucial moment in which the eternity 
of the circle culminates -- at the very point when the truth of its 
necessary return is reveled to me -- but, by the same token, I learn that 
I was _other_ than I am _now_ for having forgotten this truth, and thus I 
have become another by learning it.  Will I change and forget once more 
that I will necessarily change throught eternity, until I relearn this 
revelation anew?"  (Pierre Klossowski "Nietzsche's  Experience ofthe 
Eternal Return," in Friedrich Nietzsche, edited by Harold Bloom)

Thus in the coincidence between forgetting and revelation the I is 
composed as a becoming-being, not as a being in the process of fulfilling 
its predetermined outcome which could be equivocated with its truth, but 
as being activily creating, expressing and annihilating the truth, not as 
a link to the past, but as the profussion of the moment in which the 
metaphor preceeds the concept.  This moment then can be "formulated", or 
at least expressed as the differential moment of genealogy as critique.  
Thus "Genealogy [as characterized by Deleuze] signifies the differential 
element of values from which their value itself derives." (Nietzsche and 
philosophy p.2)  According to Deleuze this differential element comprises 
the "...natural aggression of a way of being..." (from Ecce Homo I 6-7) 
and "this way of being is that of the philosopher precisely because he 
intends to wield the differential element as critic and creator and 
therefore as a hammer." (Nietzsche and Philosophy p.3)  The truth, then, 
becomes the voice of the hammer which is spoken anew at each blow.

There is, however, a vascilation in both Klossowski and Deleuze, but it 
is a vascilation whose presence can also be found in Nietzsche.  For 
Deleuze, forgetting is composed as merely a reactive force, yet the hammer 
strikes as critique and critique is the expression of activity itself as the 
the will to power.  For Klossowski the moment of coincidence between 
forgetting and revelation produces the forgetting of "this" truth, which 
in itself then is a particular truth replaced by another truth, which has 
thus then come to stand over against the universal truth of the revelation.
As to Nietzsche himself, he is replete with this sort of vascilation and 
contradictory juxtoposition in which the moment of critique must first 
establish the object of its destruction before the blow can be unleashed, 
and after which some remnant will always remain, if only as the broken 
shards of the now dead Idol.  Though there are many examples of this, for 
the sake of brevity I offer here but one, form the preface to twilight of 
the Idols:  "This essay too -- the title betrays it -- is above all a 
reaction, a spot of sunshine, a leap sideways into the idleness of a 
psychologist.  Pehaps a new war, too?  And are new idols sounded out?"  
Is it not then strange, for he who so vehemently denounces ressentiment 
and reactivism, to produce a positive statement of reactivity?

It is precicely from this vascilation, this double entendre in which 
metaphysical suppositions are destroyed in the creation of new, albeit 
unstable, metaphysical suppositions that the sense of truth is created in 
Nietzsche.  In "On Truth and Lying" Nietzsche produces the figure of man 
as the artist of dissimulation:  "...here deception, flattery, lying and 
cheating, slander, false pretenses, living on barrowed glorry, 
masquerading, conventions of concealment, playcating before others and 
before oneself, in sum, the constant fluttering about the flame of 
vanity, is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more 
incomprehensible than how an honest and pure desire for truth could 
arise among men.  They are deeply immersed in delusions and 
phantasmagoria;  their eye merely glides around the surface of things and 
see 'forms'; their perception leads nowhere to the truth, but is 
satisfied with receiving stimuli and, as it were, playing a groping game 
on the back of things."  Here then, truth is produced as an object of 
examination, a concept which is itself somehow unshakeable in association 
with the stimuli which it produces, but which nonetheless is a marvel in 
that it is a question that men have come to ask, though it does not seem to 
belong to that little corner of perspective which belongs to men.  But 
this shadowy truth, which is but unjustifiably sought, is itself dredged 
up to the surface and accorded a place amidst 'received stimuli' in that 
truth, which must itself be expressed in a concept, does not maintain a 
symptomatic relationship with the concept.  There is no way to read the 
concept as the sign of truth because the concept is formed according to 
a disjuncture with the true:  "Let us think in particular of the 
formation of concepts.  Every word becomes a concept as soon as it is 
supposed to serve not merely as a reminder of the unique, absolutely 
individualized original experience, to which it owes its origin, but at 
the same time to fit countless, more or less similar cases, which, 
strictly speaking, are never identical, and hence absolutely dissimilar.  
Every concept originates by the equation of the dissimilar. (On Truth and 
Lying... p.249 of On Rhetoric and Language, Gilman et al trans)  Thus 
truth occures as the formation of concepts, which cannot itself be 
understood as form, but as the formal dissimulation of form.  The concept 
does not point back towards the deeper meaning which it should rightfully 
express, rather, the depth expressed by concepts composes a surfaces of 
limitless exteriority in that is grows apace with the continual  
reformulation.  The little ship is no longer in search of the horizon, the 
prow no longer cuts the waves, for now the finitude of the storm sends the 
waves crashing against the the gunnels and the glittering drops of 
foam seep through the cracks between the planks, ever in search of a new 
affectivity for the moment.

Flannon


     ------------------

   

Driftline Main Page

 

Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005