S. and I used to have this joke where we would say ‘Borry’ if we were required or expected to apologize for something that we weren’t really sorry about. Oh Borry! and if you mumble you can sometimes get away with it.
In many ways this a futile exercise and a fool’s errand which reveals my lack of serious scholarship but some of my readers — minuscule is their number but nevertheless — have lamented to me their lack of knowledge and understanding of one or more of the thinkers/writers I mention in some of my texts. Oh I must read Derrida, they sigh and I sigh with them. Where would you begin — and controversially, is it necessary? For punk theologists in search of chaffres (a term coined by Karl Jaspers meaning signs or traces of something you cannot know directly) perhaps I can make a small and insignificant contribution by randomly highlighting or pointing at some key thinkers and writers whom I have stumbled across over the years and who have thought what are, for me at least, useful thoughts. Work in progress might be too much to claim for this page although some progress is made from time to time but it will never be finished. I freely mix my own writing with the hacked or unattributed writings of others and make liberal use of direct quotes, often unattributed. As an unrepentant collagist, I make no apology for this. Oh alright then, a small apology — but I am not really sorry.
Spinoza : sub specie aeternitatis
Spinoza pleitte voor een verruimd bewustzijn, om het perspectief op het bestaan vanuit de eeuwigheid te bekijken, sub specie aeternitatis. Dan is ons bestaan niet weg te nemen uit het geheel. Nu u hier tijdelijk bent, kan die realiteit nooit meer ongedaan worden gemaakt. In die zin zijn we onsterfelijk, er blijft na onze dood een stukje tijd waarin we er wel voor altijd zijn.
Karl Jaspers : A piece of infinity
Als we nadenken over de wereld, blijft er altijd iets verborgen: denken veronderstelt het onderscheid tussen subject en object, maar het transcendente omvat per definitie beide en kan dus niet in zijn geheel tot fenomeen — oftewel object van een subject — gemaakt worden. Ook als we zelf ervaren wat het is om te zijn, blijft er altijd iets verborgen: ik ervaar namelijk nooit hoe het gehele zijn is, maar slechts mijn eigen zijn, tijdelijk en binnen de wereld.
Pierre Hadot (1922—2010) : Spiritual attitudes
“In the last analysis, we can scarcely talk about what is most important.”
The final sentence of Pierre Hadot’s very last lecture on May 22, 1991.
We can scarcely talk about it because words and language are so limited, but what do we have other than language? I used to think music and art were the answer but then I changed my mind.
Hadot emphasised and advocated philosophy as a practice and called for the democratisation of philosophy. He looked to the philosophy as it was practiced in Antiquity for inspiration. As such, he said philosophy was “intended to transform the perception, and therefore the being, of those who practice it (and) is best pursued in real conversation and not through written texts and lectures (and) philosophy, as it is taught in universities today, is for the most part a distortion of its original, therapeutic impulse.”
He spoke in terms of spiritual attitudes — “spiritual precisely because they are not merely intellectual, but involve the entire human organism. One might with equal justification call them existential attitudes.” And perhaps because we can scarcely talk about what is most important — but what we can do, is have an attitude, an orientation.
Michael Chase, translator of some of his key works and a former student of Hadot, wrote an article summarising his thoughts and life.