Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where is the Soul 33?

Pushing the Boundaries

Murat Castle, Pizzo, April, 2011
As usual I’ll start with the predictable declaration I have made in the last several posts: Hillman and Ventura are challenging to say the least. More than that, even – they are positively provocative and subversive. I have also said that we need such individuals to be the proverbial “devil’s advocates” and Socratic gadflies.” Such characters make us think, and think more deeply again because they question our presuppositions, our very prejudices, our all-too-easily accepted certainties about life. They constantly stand all these certainties, which society spins as unquestionable truths, on their heads. For them everything is up for question. It’s not that they suggest that we should live without values at all. In fact, because they do such soul-searching, they are deepening the answers as well as the questions. They may be sceptical, but they are never cynical at all. In fact, anything but. And I would argue that while they are such radical questioners they are more likely to be more ethical in their own stances in life than those who question nothing; than those who, while never questioning central truths, fall often from grace by breaking those long-accepted rules which they proclaim with passion; than those of us who really live a sort of double or hypocritical life style. How often do we read in the papers about the defenders and proclaimers of truths – priests, bishops, policemen, doctors, teachers - who have suddenly fallen so far short of what they say they vehemently believe. Indeed there is a growing minority of the so-called defenders of the status quo who, all too often, fail to live up to their beliefs. I would argue that this is because they are very much non-questioners and such very poor thinkers in the best sense of that word. So now for that quotation from Hillman which really, I think and I feel, figuratively “sets the cat amongst the pigeons.”

Pushing the Boundaries beyond Acceptable Limits

Typical Street, Pizzo, April, 2011
I’m going to quote some of Hillman’s conversation for an extended few paragraphs here. Bear in mind the above introduction because what follows is indeed provocative and subversive:

"To everyone else it seems insane that you take better care of that car than of any woman or child or yourself, and stay loyal to it, but you are right, because your love of your car is the answer to personalised humanism...

A woman I know in Paris came back from Bahia in Brazil where everyone touches everyone all the time, either caressing and friendly or thieving, of course, but she saw a man make love to a banana tree. For us, that is perverse. The Church would say that you can only put it in a person, and only in one place in that person, and only for one reason, procreation, and only if The Church marries you. But she saw a man making love to a banana tree...

Right all those studies in Kraft-Ebing’s work – the fetishist, the sodomist, the coprophiliac who likes the smell and taste of shit – these are saying, “Look the world has immense possibilities for desire. Go for it, even if Descartes says it is dead. See, Descartes makes our love for the world into a perversion: It’s necrophilia because the world is just a dead body."
And to these comments Ventura replies:

To love the world, the planet, is necrophilia- because to the Cartesian and scientific way of thinking anything not human is dead. This helps explain the real disgust some people on the far right have for ecologists and ecological thinking – they’re disgusted by our love of the planet because unconsciously they feel it’s necrophilia! (Op. cit. pp. 182-183)
Remember the Context

Canons on  the battlements of Murat castle
If you have read at least some of the previous 32 posts on Hillman's and Ventura's conversation about the health and well-being of the soul, then you'll have a context within which to understand thre above comments. As I have already said in my opening paragraph they are both accomplished dealers in ideas, able intellects, adept in pushing thoughts as far as they can, and oftentimes language strains under such stress testing.  They are indeed "devil's advocates" and Socratic gadflies who aim to make their readers think. In so doing, we owe them both a debt of gratitude.  Whether we might agree or disagree with their contentions, at least we must read such great pioneers who make us question our previously all-too-easily accepted assumptions and presuppositions.  Good philosophers will heartily agree here, because no philosopher worth his or her salt will mind reading and taken seriously his oppenents' viewpoints as that is what makes his or her own beliefs all the stronger.

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