Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Idiom, Resonance, and Destiny

It seems that the poetic mode of knowledge is very much tied in with the slack required to exercise it. Through it "we gain our first touch... of our final purpose, which is to experience happiness, a resting from activity, a return to where we began, to a state of repose: leisure" (Taylor).

Thus -- and this is impoïetant -- "the poetic precedes the scientific" as "the passive precedes the active."

I was reminded of this the other day in the account of the 12 year old Jesus hanging out with the teachers in the temple, "both listening to them and asking them questions" (Luke 2:46, emphasis mine). So, we would do well to remember that listening and inquiring are prior to teaching or evangelizing or bloviating. We should make ourselves as receptive as Socrates, who knows only one thing. However, unlike Descartes, who uses his One Big Think as a foundation to build upon, Socrates uses his only as a vast and fruitful space of unKnowing.

This is a resonant space; or in other words, truth seems to have a "frequency" or vibrational quality that stirs our inner tuning fork. Aristotle (in Taylor) compares it "to musical modes and rhythms," such that "some philosophers say that the soul is a tuning, others, that it possesses tuning."

Now, tuning is not the tune, but we cannot play the tune unless the instrument is tuned. Therefore, playing music or thinking truth requires the proper tuning. How do we tune the soul? In other words, what would be the mind-brain-relations analogy to tuning an instrument? Remember, proper tuning only "prepares" us to play something. It is not the playing itself.

Obviously -- whether or not the educrats would express it this way -- the purpose of a public education is to help tune the soul so that it resonates with truth.

How's that working out?

What does the barbarized and liberalized (but I repeat myself) soul resonate with, anyway? I don't really want to know.

We've discussed this subject in the past, in particular, with regard to some of Christopher Bollas's ideas of the destiny drive, psychic idiom, and the unthought known. These terms are all related, in that we become ourselves (via the destiny drive) by finding the objects and relationships (idiom) that somehow precede us (i.e., are known but unthought, the unthought known).

So: "Human idiom is the peculiarity of person(ality) that finds its own being through the particular selection and use of the object [which also refers to people, ideas, and relationships]. In this restricted sense, to be and to appropriate are one."

Although I did not know it at the time (this book I'm looking at, Forces of Destiny, was published in 1989), this comes very close to a trinitarian way of looking at things. Think about it: we cannot "find our being" within ourselves per se, only in relationship, whether with people, ideas, scripture, works of art, God, etc. When we hit on one that bangs the interior gong, this means that the object is resonating with our idiom.

In this regard, "idiom" may be thought of as our unique soulprint. Now, everyone is unique, but how do we know this, and how do we make it a reality? Consider, for example, the Islamic or Academist worlds, where everyone must think the same thoughts, regardless of personal idiom. Another name for this is hell.

Of course, the same thing can happen in families, and usually does to one degree or another. For example, I was born into a family that did not share my idiom, to put it mildly, so it took quite awhile to discover the objects that bang my gong.

In one sense I was "lucky," but if Bollas is correct, there was also a Destiny Drive at work, and in hindsight I can see how I was able to manifest it by passively surrendering to its higher wisdom (or stupidity, depending on how you look at it). In other words, I never "planned" my life in a top-down way, but rather, allowed it to play out in a spontaneous and organic manner.

Not that I am a model human or anything. But at least I'm myself, so I got that going for me.

I'm sure I must have quoted this resonant passage before, but in the introduction, Bollas talks about the birth of his son: "What struck me was how he was who he is from scratch. He seemed to be in possession of his own personality, his very own unique configuration in being (what I term idiom) that has never really changed in itself."


Q: "But what is this idiom? How does one provide evidence for it?"

A: I would say, start by inquiring within. What moves your soul? To what are you spontaneously attracted? What lights you up inside? This vital work "is a form of play in which the subject selects and uses objects in order to materialize elements latent to his personality, akin to a kind of personality speech, in which the lexical elements are not word signifiers but factors of personality."


Okay, the other night I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for the hundredth time. While doing so I had a kind of flashback to when I saw it the first ten times in 1975, when I would have been 19 or so. Importantly, I was a complete idiot at the time, with no understanding of art & stuff (or of anything else, really). However, the film resonated deeply with me, but in a seemingly unusual way.

That is -- and this is in hindsight, because I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time -- it was as if the film were comforting to me. In a weird way, it was as if I were "at home" (in a psychic sense). Hence the compulsion to repeat the experience, for reasons known but unthought by me.

I won't get into that for which I was searching. Probably just the person writing this. In any event, the point is that something about it spoke to my idiom, an idiom that I was years away from actualizing. Has anyone else had this experience with an object, work of art, idea, religion, person, etc.? I'll bet you anything Rick has. What about the rest of you?

(And I see that this post has come fullcircle, in that we are inquiring into that first touch of our final purpose, which is to experience happiness, a resting from activity, a return to where we began, to a state of repose...)


Blogger julie said...

"What struck me was how he was who he is from scratch. He seemed to be in possession of his own personality, his very own unique configuration in being (what I term idiom) that has never really changed in itself."

Yep. I would only add that, one thing interesting about having two close in age is that they also form, between them, a unique culture of two, with its own language and expression. I hope they are able to keep it, to some extent, as they grow into adulthood.

3/04/2015 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Has anyone else had this experience with an object, work of art, idea, religion, person, etc.?

Ha - well, there was the day I stumbled across this blog and then tried to make a bad argument...

For me it's usually been people or books, though. At the right time, I'll come across someone who it seems I've always known, even though we've just met. Or read something that just lights everything up, although the things that have such an effect have changed over the years. A lot of what spoke to me as a kid is in the wrong pitch now.

3/04/2015 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Re the mini-culture, very true. I see how Tristan does that with his best friend. It is as if each is a form of expression for the other.

3/04/2015 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Lately I can't get enough of the Ramones. It is as if those guys really speak my language -- even in the timbre of Johnny Ramone's guitar... I know. Weird...

3/04/2015 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

We gotta tune in the the right freequency.
Oustnding post, Bob.

3/04/2015 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Not that I am a model human or anything. But at least I'm myself, so I got that going for me."

And that's quite an achievement. Thankfully, Bob you resonate with all us raccoons, cuz you tapped into the truth, and that is indeed Destiny-driven.

I find that the more I tap into the truth the more drawn I am to it, through so many different modes of the poetic that others express it.

3/04/2015 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

My grandfather made wine, as his father did. I tasted it when I was a young boy. When he died at a very old age, my parents cleaned out his house, rolling the old casks into the yard, into the sun. For years, I wanted to invest this image with a profound significance. Fast forward two decades. I've now had the experience of drinking a lot of wine, moving through phases of enthusiasm, and now settling into making it myself. It's a way of settling into who I finally am. There have been times when I've drunk wine with a friend, as I did recently in a monastery north of Rome, and felt, in its light elation, without any drunkenness or heaviness, that I was completely coincident with myself, almost as if I were bouyant, like a leaf in a rolling ocean of wide, green air. My younger self used to smile wryly and say, "he is drunk on new wine," but my older self smiles indulgently on that younger self, knowing better. It's not really about wine at all. It's about being tuned to nature, making things in harmony with it, and being at the fruitful intersection of above and below. Sorry to wax poetic, but that's how I feel.

3/04/2015 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That was lovely, Magister. Thanks.

3/04/2015 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Ben, you said it. I can't tell you how many times I've fired up my computer at work in the morning, clicked through my bookmarks, and found something here that Bob or another Raccoon has written that made me realize we're in a very similar zone.

3/04/2015 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

You can't spell beer without be...

3/04/2015 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Has anyone else had this experience with an object, work of art, idea, religion, person, etc.?"

That's a good question. I believe my first experience with this was my grandma. She radiated so much joy that most everyone who knew her even a little bit was drawn to her.

Like a beacon of light. I was totally focused on her every word, same as my grandpa, but in a different way.

Later in life I was drawn to Merton, Origen, Augustus, Thomas, etc., on to Bob, MOTT, and my fellow raccoons.
And a host of films, music, comedy, etc..

This may sound odd, but the film Big Trouble In Little China really resonates with me for a variety of reasons.

3/04/2015 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - probably because that movie is actually about you ;)

3/04/2015 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Magister,
That was beautiful.

3/04/2015 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie, LOL, you made me get coffee in my nose!

3/04/2015 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

And you can't spell grog without gro.

3/04/2015 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Jack B. said...

"Now I'm not saying that I've been everywhere and I've done everything, but I do know it's a pretty amazing planet we live on, and a man would have to be some kind of FOOL to think we're all alone in THIS universe."

3/04/2015 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Right here, 27 Jan 2007. You didn't write them then, but the words were: "I can't believe it pleases God..." Maybe you remember the context. I do.

First date with my wife. It was a blind date and I didn't think much of it until I noticed her eyes.

There were some other days prior when I was much younger but those times I was merely transported:

Entering my grandfather's basement at age 5 for the first and only time (he passed away and my father and uncles were cleaning out the place) He had made wine down there and had a wonderful old grape press stained purple in the center of the room. And old wine barrels in the shadows. I still remember the smell, is the thing. Which is the best part about making wine now - how my cellar smells for a little while.

And "Lonely Tree" which was a large old tree all by itself in a very large open farm field in the town where I grew up. Shaped like a lopsided umbrella. No branches for 40 feet up. The last time I drove by it was the night I decided to go to art school. How it looked caused me to go. I never saw it again, though I looked for it once. I think a hurricane finally got the better of it.


3/04/2015 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Gus McCrae said...

Lorie darlin', life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it's likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.

3/04/2015 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Rick, Jaws is a good one.

3/04/2015 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Josie Wales said...

Dyin' ain't much of a livin' boy.

3/04/2015 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

But at least I'm myself, so I got that going for me.

Lacking that advantage can lead to a lucrative career as a welfare queen or politician. But I repeat myself.


Yes, definitely stumbling across One Cosmos was one of those things.

Lots of books. George MacDonald.

The Outlaw Josey Wales.

3/04/2015 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Josey got in before me. I didn't see that.

3/04/2015 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I really just write about what tickles my strings, so people who like the blog must be strung in a similar way and attuned to many of the same things... But even then there are all sorts of differences, e.g., Ramones vs. bluegrass...

3/04/2015 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

You say that as though the two are mutually exclusive...

3/04/2015 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And I'll bet I don't even have to google "bluegrass + Ramones" to find some group that plays bluegrass versions of punk songs....

3/04/2015 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - not to mention the jazz version, the Disneyfied version, the polka version...

3/04/2015 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here we go.

3/04/2015 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I Wanna Be Sedated. With moonshine, no doubt.

3/04/2015 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That first one was actually rather sweet, which is not something I would have ever thought myself saying about anything Ramones-related.

3/04/2015 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The second one is alright, but I'm not sure I believe them. They sound too chipper to really want to be sedated.

3/04/2015 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Actually, Joey Ramone in particular seems to have been a sweet and much beloved character. There's actually an innocent fun about the Ramones, which I think I'm reacting to....

3/04/2015 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A goofy romantic at heart.

3/04/2015 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Definitely fun. I'm only really familiar with a couple of their songs, but it's impossible to listen without belting it out along with them.

Of course, the first one of theirs that I knew was "Beat on the Brat," so that's what comes to mind when I think of the Ramones. Very entertaining, but not exactly sweet. Mind now changed, though.

3/04/2015 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Maybe you have to have had a little brother...

3/04/2015 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

lol - I have two. We mostly got along pretty well, though. Mostly.

There were a couple of kids I babysat, though...

3/04/2015 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

After reading this blog for the first time, hell, I didn't understand most of it, but I knew I wanted to hang out here.

Oh, and when I was 10 or so, the "Last Whole Earth Catalog". Mom got it for Dad for Christmas who didn't think much of it but when I took a look.. the whole hippie homestead thing, Yes!

Nice story, Magister.

3/04/2015 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Bluegrass and Punk are natural allies. Forty percent of Bluegrass songs are about murdering your girlfriend.

Hosed the link trying to use Chrome. Try it again.

3/04/2015 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Bluegrass and epiphanies reminds me, my cousin used to play dobro for a band called the Bluegrass Five. While he was with them, they cut a gospel album, and I got a courtesy copy of it, because I sure wasn't going to pay for it.

It was strange. If I had been sent to a desert island with one album, back then, I'd probably have taken "(Live) At the Fillmore East". I might still. But that Bluegrass sound connected, and I knew I was one of them.

Oh, and Firefly and single-action revolvers.

3/04/2015 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Bertie and Jeeves
Beach Boys
Blue Note jazz
Bob Dobbs...

3/04/2015 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger chandler said...

the movie One Eyed Jacks with Marlon Brando, that manhood could be that poetic, and the book LOLITA by Nabokov and the book Franny and Zooey by Salinger, that language could evoke to that degree.....

3/04/2015 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"This is a resonant space; or in other words, truth seems to have a "frequency" or vibrational quality that stirs our inner tuning fork. Aristotle (in Taylor) compares it "to musical modes and rhythms," such that "some philosophers say that the soul is a tuning, others, that it possesses tuning.""

And as the next paragraph points out about being in tune, is that it is a prerequisite for any music worth the name. However great your skills might be, or your intentions, if you are out of tune, you assault the ears, but if the instrument you're playing is your soul, the world is at risk, an untune soul is appetite unleashed.

Sorry, but brought an annoyingly long Shakespeare quote to mind:

"...Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead:
Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides,
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,
This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
Follows the choking."

3/04/2015 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Christina M said...

In the days after 9-11, I took my Whole Earth Catalogs out to the dumpster, broke their spines, and threw them away. There has to be an idiom in that.

3/04/2015 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Someone May have already said this, but Tommy Ramone actually started a bluegrass band called uncle monk the end of his life. They got to be pretty well-known. I saw them live it was a great show.

3/04/2015 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I can't believe I forgot the rivalry between Quint (man of action) & Hooper (man of letters) the day before last...speaking of lately: Jaws, the trinitarian nature of Quint/Hooper integrated finally in Chief Brody by the happy ending. If you recall certain scenes, Brody was a good listener first.

Maybe you could make the same argument for the trinitarian nature of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; another Chief is finally integrated (freed) after the rivalry between McMurphy & Ratched.

Wizard of Oz too, I think.

3/05/2015 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Bob said "That is -- and this is in hindsight, because I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time -- it was as if the film were comforting to me. In a weird way, it was as if I were "at home" (in a psychic sense)."

Bob, maybe this isn't important, but do you think you felt comforted the first time you watched it? (you said "the first ten times")

With Jaws (so it may be a poor personal example after all) I was probably too young to be allowed to see it. I was shocked when I saw it (yeah, like everybody else, but I was about the age of the scrawny boy on that raft out there) and I think it was that movie and some western that bought the terrible news that I would die someday.
Though Jaws is oddly comforting now and I metaphorically speaking, live on an island (maritime biz owner).

3/05/2015 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Anywayz, it all supports my theory that there are clues in the present, soon to become the past, and they were planted by the "things to come". The examples are in the OT/NT and everywhere else. Which is to say, hey, it's not my theory.

3/05/2015 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger son of a preacher man said...

"Bluegrass and Punk are natural allies."
Amen to that.

Bluegrass certainly is in my idiom.

3/05/2015 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Witness Old Crow Medicine Show

3/05/2015 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


I'm not sure I can remember the first time. All I know is that it somehow "clicked," and that I wanted to repeat the experience. It was a very different feeling from merely wanting to see a movie again for its own sake.

I well remember seeing Jaws, which came out the same year as Cuckoo's nest. It was such a sensation that there was a long line outside the theatre. Loved the movie, but it was a very different experience. It didn't speak to me in any personal way. Good call, however, about the Shem & Shaun angle. Star Trek has that same dynamic between Kirk and Spock.

3/05/2015 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm just browsing some lists of the best 100 movies of all time to remind myself of any others that might have spoken to me in that idiomatic way. Some of my favorites are

Double Indemnity
Sunset Boulevard
Treasure of Sierra Madre
Night of the Hunter
Godfathers 1 & 2
Days of Heaven
The Dark Knight (the first & secondt)
Napoleon Dynamite
Big Lebowski
No Country for Old Men

But A Place in the Sun is the only one that really spoke to me in a haunting kind of way.

I wonder if it means anything when a film that speaks to millions, doesn't speak to oneself at all? I never could stand Star Wars.

3/05/2015 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Night of the Hunter definitely spoke to me, only in the haunting way of A Place in the Sun. So did A Hard Days Night, but more in the Cuckoo's Nest way.

3/05/2015 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No Country For Old Men was definitely haunting, but not personally haunting.

3/05/2015 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Star Wars. You had to be 12.

3/05/2015 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Many of my favorites are on this list of Films Noir, e.g., Asphalt Jungle, White Heat, Rififi, Night and the City, Scarlet Street, Pickup on South Street, Kiss of Death, & others. Definitely my favorite genre.

3/05/2015 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

All 4 Bogart and Bacall "pictures".
The dialog scenes are incredibly long. Which was nice to see in Birdman.

3/05/2015 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Plus, I miss Venician blind shadows.
Which reminds me, Niagara was good.

3/05/2015 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger son of a preacher man said...


I have, twice. Thank you.

Checkout Split Lip Rayfield

3/05/2015 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

The Petrified Forest

3/05/2015 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

The Swimmer

3/05/2015 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Loving this Split Lip, preacher's son!

3/05/2015 03:20:00 PM  

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