Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I found myself saying Hy-Brasail

I found myself saying yes. Reading that trope of personal surprise I found myself saying Libet what have you done. Are our responses to be considered according to the rubric of a bygone age which went: I’m the sort of guy who etc.. Here was a suggestion of someone who was helpless before their fate which was an adamantine source of response that could not be altered by much. Amor fati is then a sort of self love. You are your own fate. Become who you are said philohippic Friedrich which has a kind of 'vast imprecision’. The American love for such logoi is readily discernible if you google both it and its near idiot cousin ‘become what you are’. It is sealed with the seal of Oprah.

A contrary view of the core of personality is that it is malleable. Wisdom traditions all have their own specific recipes from penny plain to tuppence coloured. How are we to choose? Go by the slogan from the Irish Tourist Board - Ireland: The road you’re on will take you there.

by Gerald Griffin

On the ocean that hollows the rocks where ye dwell,
A shadowy land has appeared, as they tell;
Men thought it a region of sunshine and rest,
And they called it Hy-Brasail, the isle of the blest.
From year unto year on the ocean's blue rim,
The beautiful spectre showed lovely and dim;
The golden clouds curtained the deep where it lay,
And it looked like an Eden, away, far away!

A peasant who heard of the wonderful tale,
In the breeze of the Orient loosened his sail;
From Ara, the holy, he turned to the west,
For though Ara was holy, Hy-Brasail was blest.
He heard not the voices that called from the shore--
He heard not the rising wind's menacing roar;
Home, kindred, and safety, he left on that day,
And he sped to Hy-Brasail, away, far away!

Morn rose on the deep, and that shadowy isle,
O'er the faint rim of distance, reflected its smile;
Noon burned on the wave, and that shadowy shore
Seemed loveilly distant, and faint as before;
Lone evening came down on the wanderer's track,
And to Ara again he looked timidly back;
Oh! far on the verge of the ocean it lay,
Yet the isle of the blest was away, far away!

Rash dreamer, return! O, ye winds of the main,
Bear him back to his own peaceful Ara again.
Rash fool! for a vision of fanciful bliss,
To barter thy calm life of labour and peace.
The warning of reason was spoken in vain;
He never revisited Ara again!
Night fell on the deep, amidst tempest and spray,
And he died on the waters, away, far away!


ktismatics said...

Why don't you shove that pompous anti-American bullshit back up your ass where it belongs. Wait... Who said that? Is that you, Hyde?

ombhurbhuva said...

Well, that worked. Rising people is our national pastime here, we’re world leaders at it. Did you ever see Fr.Ted?

It’s nothing personal John, just business. A lot of people over here are tired of America, its media, its wars, lack of regulation leading to financial catastrophe etc. Everyone would love a long period of blessed isolationism. So would a lot of Americans too.

ktismatics said...

But yes, certainly, at least occasionally I find myself saying and doing things I hadn't consciously intended and that surprise me. Don't you, Michael? I'm more likely to find myself saying no or fuck off than yes. Writing offers a rational buffer zone protecting me and others from my irrational impulses, making me appear, or possibly become, a more agreeable and socially acceptable sort of guy.

I've not seen Father Ted -- you mean you people have television over there in Ireland? Rather than watching Obama's State of the Union I watched a basketball game.

ombhurbhuva said...

I think you’re right about that too and it gives me a chance to clarify. I think that there is the possibility of establishing a core integrity that allows a spontaneous response. In the Libet account all decisions are made before we consciously make them and his understanding of this phenomenon leads him to consider (libertarian) free will an error. Our minds are made up long before (microsecs before) we think we are making them up. My counter is that what we find we have placed there ourselves, our spontaneous responses are coherent with a core that we can work on. Freedom is a permanent project.

This is a good clip:
Wikipedia have an article.

ombhurbhuva said...

Here's a complete Xmas episode:

ktismatics said...

I agree that at least some philosophers of mind overgeneralize from Libet's stripped-down study; empiricists tend to be more cautious, gives them more work to do. Infants act without conscious premeditation, and adult intentionality is built on that platform. I've posted before about evidence suggesting that reading and speaking are too fast to be conscious, but both depend on linguistic and social competencies compiled over years. Even before the behaviorists, William James proposed that habit is an easier, more efficient means of making routine decisions than having to work through the options: should I have coffee this morning or not? milk or no milk? I don't claim to understand Deleuze and Guattari, but it seems to me that even when they advocate cooperating with the immanent transpersonal vectors surging up from beneath, they acknowledge conscious intentionality as an active and welcome participant in shaping the schizzes and flows.

I watched episode one of Father Ted: very enlightening, will view the Christmas episode later.

ombhurbhuva said...

Practice/Practices form that core of immediate response. This may tie in with the ancients view of the importance of learning things off by heart. A matrix of beautiful forms is established which condition expression. I think contemporary educational theory is coming back to this again. Hy-Brasail was in the primary school poetry collection which were specially selected for learning by heart.

john doyle said...

Memory work was not part of our daughter's American schooling: presumably it stifles the creative blossoming of the individual child's uniqueness and so on. I never had to do it either when I was a kid. In France, though, learning poetry au cour was an integral part of the curriculum. In her first month at French primaire our daughter's class was given the assignment of memorizing a poem. Since she didn't yet read or speak French we sat around the dining table translating it with her into English. When she recited by heart the English version her French classmates cheered enthusiastically. Even the teacher respected the effort and gave her a 20 out of 20, with the explicit expectation that next time she would recite in French.

ombhurbhuva said...

The boast of the French Education minister is that at any point in the long school day he will know what any child is studying. That’s going a bit far but one can’t deny that uniformity of ‘product’ is desirable. My good friend here who spent a long time in France, his children were born there, his wife is Anglo-French, found it could be a bit stifling. The mania for ‘explication de texte’ is an example of the sort of analytic mind they cultivate.

Fair play to your daughter for tackling that poem, French is a language that can only be understood, by the French, if it is spoken perfectly. Learning by heart is a practice that grows on you, you have to read a piece many times to get it down to the level of motor memory. You get inside it, it gets inside you..
It is now 16 or 17 years since I last saw the Queen of France then the Dauphiness at Versailles and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision etc.

Rote learning is on the way back here. Mental Arithmetic may be a lost cause however.

john doyle said...

"French is a language that can only be understood, by the French, if it is spoken perfectly."

LOL -- it's my experience as well, possibly an artifact of the obsessive perfectionism of the French teachers they endured as children.