18.5.09

Without Hesitation (Chapter One)




Without hesitation, or anxiety, I embark now on of tale of lucid madness. Fraught with foolishness and frivolity, adventures of (yet) untold decadence transpired under exotic suns and bohemian stars. If you will but suspend your pragmatic impulses and loose yourself on a whimsical flight of fancy, you will be whisked on a journey that crosses oceans, mountains, deserts and dreams. As I marinate in my nostalgia, try to take from my tale that which made these moments so delectable, disregarding the unpleasantries, and - if at all possible - enjoy what you can, for pleasure is pleasure, whether first hand or vicarious.



The suffocating humdrumery of life at home lit the fire in my furnace and set my sights on distant horizons. The crashing waves of the tropics and wandering dunes of deserts called to me from afar, but, before dancing wildly on moonlit beaches and meditating on misty mountain tops, our story begins in the depths of the Black Forest, nearly frozen and half blinded by blizzard gales, nonetheless not in seek of shelter.
While meandering through the frosted forests of southern Germany’s fabled Schwarzwald
I trudged, knee-deep through snow, in search of what could not be found. The nooks of the mountain, veiled under a blanket of swirling mist and snow, hid that which I sought: respite from the predictable reality that lay ahead of me.


*******
I was studying at Albert- Lüdwigs – Unidversität - Freiburg and living quite well. Having earned a spot on the Baden-Württemberg international fellowship/exchange I was welcomed to the storied university and given full access to its extensive academic catalog. I was also set up to share a flat with a motley international crew: Ziyad, from Lebanon; Mi, from China; Irma, from the Republic of Georgia; Kyung, from Korea, Hannes, Catherine, and Florian from Germany; and myself —the lone American of the group. Among our ranks were forestry students, engineers, mathematicians, musicians, computer programmers and—in Hannes and myself—students of philosophy.


(Solidarity—
NOW!—Against Thoughtless Politics)


A student of philosophy stands in a unique position at the precipice of adulthood: instead of seeing the world merely as a venue for success, usually judged by bank accounts or bulging muscles, life is to knowledge seekers an infinite playground to explore, question and comprehend. I studied Gadamer’s hermeneutical methods
(φ), read Nietzsche’s brilliance captured in Zarathustra’s words(η), and even made exploratory jaunts into the practically insurmountable enigma of the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus(ψ).

I was adrift in a universe of curious enthusiasm that was piqued by everlasting doubt.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

φ Hermeneutics is essentially the art of understanding. Hans-Georg Gadamer established philosophical hermeneutics in his magnum opus Wahrheit Und Methode (1975); to him, hermeneutics is not a method for understanding but an attempt "to clarify the conditions in which understanding takes place" (Gadamer 1975: 263).
η Nietzsche was one of the most subversive and controversial thinkers in Western philosophy, and Also Sprach Zarathustra (1885) remains his most famous and influential work. It describes how the ancient Persian prophet Zarathustra
descends from his solitude in the mountains to tell the world that God is dead. With blazing intensity and poetic brilliance, Nietzsche argues that the meaning of existence is not to be found in religious piety or meek submission, but in the all-powerful energy of life: passionate and free. Although his ideas were often harsh and uncompromising, Nietzsche’s main purpose was not to crush the reader’s spirit into the same mold, but rather to spur each individual to rise above the much-loathed mediocre conformity that plagued society then, as it does now.
ψ Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is
the only book-length philosophical work published by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein during his lifetime. He wrote it as a soldier and a prisoner of war during World War I. First published in German in 1921 as Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung, it is now widely considered one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century.
Though Wittgenstein's later works were less austere, and contained notably different philosophical ideas, all of his writing had the same basic writing style of short sentences or paragraphs rather than narrative exposition. It has also been noted that Tractatus contains almost no arguments as such, and is instead comprised of statements that are meant to be self-evident. It is, in essence, an ambitious project to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science, but at the same time delves into the nature of spirituality and its place in philosophy.


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


Unsure whether to follow flights of fancy down a path of epicurean indulgence or to undertake more ambitious activities, I found myself caught between responsibility and respite. I would oft
en seek escape from the streets of scholarship in the forests of the surrounding mountains. In the silence of the shadows there lay profound truths. I sought perspective with open eyes and an open mind, but my horizons were frequently muddled by distractions ranging from mundane financial concerns and international travel arrangements to social sensualism and calamitous carousing.



As paradoxical as it may seem, the moment of clarity that would eventually lead to my deliverance from a pigeonholed sense of purpose did not come until I was, for all intents and purposes, completely lost in the mire.
When the last rays of reason seemed to have retreated—once all hope of finding happiness in the humdrum had been lost—only then was I ready and able to acknowledge and accept the new possibilities on the distant horizon.

It took a genuine condemnation of conventions, an enthusiastic embrace of eccentricity, and an absolute acceptance of the ceaseless change that is the cornerstone of life.


*******

I was gradually enlightened to the value of life’s details—I began noticing the beauty, appreciating the significance and understanding the nature of the phenomena that fill our lives, and I also began to grasp the fundamental structure of how I understood everything around me—it was as if the sky cleared and the sun began to shine on a world full of fresh opportunity!



1 comment: