Frames /sing


Desire/Wax Impressions of Dante’s Realism: Canto XVIII, lines 22-39 Purgatorio

 Dante’s beautiful lines which dicate the com-plexifications of cogntive judgment come to mind over the dicussion of Realism at Perverse Egalitarianism…

Vostra apprensiva da esser verace
Your perception from some real thing
tragge intenzione, e dentro a voi la spiega,
an impression takes, and in you it unfolds,
sì che l’animo ad essa volger face;
so thus the soul to turn it brings;

e se, rivolto, inver di lei si piega,
And if, so turned, toward it she molds,
quel piegare è amor, quell’è natura
that molding love, that nature ‘tis
che per piacer di novo in voi si lega.
which by pleasure fresh in you it binds.

Poi, come ‘l foco movesi in altura
Then how fire upward glides
per la sua forma ch’è nata a salire
by its form being born to climb
là dove più in sua matera dura,
t’where most within its matter it abides,

cosi l’animo preso entra in disire,
thus the soul so pressed enters in desire,
ch’è moto spiritale, e mai non posa
a spirit motion, that wilt not rest
fin che la cosa amata il fa gioire.
‘til the thing beloved makes it ‘joice.

Or ti puote apparer quant’è nascosa
Now should appear to thee how clouded
la veritate alla gente ch’avvera
be the truth with men who deem
ciascun amore in sè laudabil cosa,
every love itself a lauded thing,

però che forse appar la sua matera
perhaps because its matter seems
sempre esser buona; ma non ciascun segno
always to be good, but yet not every stamp
è buono, ancor che buona sia la cera.’
is good, even if be good the wax.’

It is really amazing, again and again, how Dante brings together still lasting philosophical issues, and then condensing in clarity them puts them into verse. (We tend to think that this makes the task all the so much harder, but has anyone thought that perhaps it makes it easier.)  If we trace the effect of the “impression” we have crystalization of a complex of inter-relations which perhaps helps us gain a foot-hold in Realism discussion.

1). Some real thing impresses itself upon us (the wax), but an impression that is in some sense “taken” by the material organization itself.

2). The impression “unfolds,” an unfolding that turns the soul (seen as passive).

3). And IF turned, she then herself does the molding, an activity which is a fresh and binding pleasure.

4). And this pleasure directs the action of the soul towards an extra-human course, towards a real coherence of things beyond/above it.

5). The movement is unresting until a state of Glorification is achieved (a passive completion, a flattening out).

6). But love itself, its very matter (which we could say is composed of the very relations between the thing loved and its turned-to pursuit), is not always “good”.

7). This intra-relation of bodily combination is ultimately judged by a discernment between which real, impressive things are ultimately good for the wax (soul) to combine with.

The result is a near Spinozist conception of knowledge and moral evil. Pleasure leads us towards self-affirmations which necessarily involve our real combinations with other real objects such that we are ever propelled toward a coherence that is extra-human. But such an epistemo-material sense of knowledge-discernment necessarily involves as well a sense in which not all combinations are in preserve of our conatus of being, something ever in transformation. In this way our appropriations of, and combination with other things (resources, techologies, beloveds) oscillate between that which will break us down (deterritorializations, as G&D call them), and that which preserve us (reterritorializations), in an expanse that is ever more incorporating and communicating. Muscially, one might say. And our value judgments, our aesthetic judgments, necessarily consist of bodily affirmations which have real ontological value, expressing real ontological relations, opening up the human domain to organizational powers beyond those of merely human Ideality.

4 responses to “Desire/Wax Impressions of Dante’s Realism: Canto XVIII, lines 22-39 Purgatorio

  1. anodynelite June 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    “And our value judgments, our aesthetic judgments, necessarily consist of bodily affirmations which have real ontological value, expressing real ontological relations, opening up the human domain to organizational powers beyond those of merely human Ideality.”

    This is the best reason there is to keep doing things, and making things.

    • kvond June 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm

      Yes. Especially because if we do not “keep” doing things and making things, we are STILL doing things and making things, but things we are so much less as persons invested in.

  2. Amarilla June 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

    I’ll add wax to the many models of our receptive faculties to those I’ve been coming across lately: sky bearing clouds, which speaks of the elatedness of the spacious, relaxed mood, ocean, not separate from the waves it bears, speaks of the volatility of mind’s currents as well as its potential for profound stillness, mirror, which possess the mind’s potential for lucidity and clarity of mirage replete with fine details, lake, with its glassy reflective surface when still, and most recently the lens, which must be aimed at a subject, reflects volition merged with receptivity, the potential for a balanced relationship of action and knowing, male and female.

    The wax model opens up an awareness to the body’s capacity for knowing that many of the other vision based/intellect analogies can’t offer. In the fold, the lipidity that reveals itself as a tenderly yielding and yet self-formed softness. Substance, sentience without thought, nourishment, it vibrates with life as if about to burst into flames, but in its richness somehow brings great fulfillment of an aesthetic nature and perhaps decrease in avidity/desire. The bliss of burning replaces the fire of longing.

    But wood also burns, though it doesn’t yield. In wood we see grain, which reflects the specificity of the modality’s signature. Imposing the idea of grain on wax, we can see that some impressions in wax may complement or augment the language inherent in the wax, its grain, while others will debase and obscure its nature.

    • kvond June 20, 2009 at 9:22 am

      I like the image of wax and grain – I am thoughtful as well Buckminster Fuller’s habit of saying, when he heard burning wood make as especially loud “snap”, “…that was a particularly sunny day!” – as an image of variable memory sediments, processes, coming in contact with each other. The way in which traces are kept, and transferred.

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