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Masciandaro’s Splendoring

Medievalist Nicola Masciandaro’s eclectic and thought-provoking weblog, The Whim, has a recent entry on the concept of “Splendering”, or Spectacular intimacy. His entry calls to mind both my thoughts on Plotinus’s analogies of light The Cone of Plotinus: Ontologies of Profusion and Particularization, as he tells us to look-with, sunorãn, the light, and not at the things lit, and also my current attempts in establishing a Spinozist/Davidsonian epistemological modeling of a panpsychist world: the way in which we necessarily, logically, biologically, turn to others to view the world. How can one resist evocations of Dante as guide? 

SPECTACULAR INTIMACY, or, the brightness of light becoming itself. Splendor is not a quality, but the condition of the overcoming of quality. It is not something seen, but the visible approach of the place where seeing becomes the seen. “In this state of absorbed contemplation there is no longer question of holding an object: the vision is continuous so that seeing and seen are one thing; object and act of vision have become identical; of all that until then filled the eye no memory remains. . . . the vision floods the eyes with light, but it is not a light showing some other object, the light is itself the vision.” Syntactically, the line temporalizes splendor, traces the becoming substantial of the relation between seeing and seen as a time delay within their distinction. Suspended in this light-filled air, can I say what splendor is? Luckily Dante, being one who breathes love back into philology (the exhale of his taking note when love inspires), is here to help.[iii]Commenting on the descent of divine power as sight (In lei discende la virtù divina / sì come face in angelo, che ‘l vede), he explains splendor via Avicenna as not only reflected light, but the visible/visual becoming of a thing toward the virtue shining on it. Seeing is not simply splendor’s external measuring tool, but the very efficiency of its cause. To see someone’s splendor, to experience how she shines, is to witness her becoming like what she sees and thus belong by parallel process to her being. (the rest, including footnotes…)

I have just begun looking at the blog, but look forward to future posts there.

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4 responses to “Masciandaro’s Splendoring

  1. anodynelite May 2, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Very nice. Have you ever read Avicenna? I’d like to hear your thoughts if you have. I love what I’ve read of his, and some of the other Golden Age writers, but that might just be an extension of my adoration of Islamic art–especially those script paintings and tapestries.

  2. kvond May 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Very little. I wish I had read more, but directions take you.

  3. Nicola Masciandaro May 4, 2009 at 5:16 am

    So glad you enjoyed the Dante gloss. Thanks for these comments, which have set me pondering the individuation of light. Wonderful blog! Best, Nicola

  4. kvond May 4, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Nicola,

    And thank you for your blog. I wonderful collection of ideas.

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