Sunday, January 4, 2009

Immortality again

Crowley and I had an exchange about eternity and infinity, which then made it on to *his* blog. I told him that for me the sense of infinity, when I have it, doesn't open out onto immortality. No defeat of death; only a kind of undistilled eros in the present. When I think of the times that I have felt it, a sentence from Simone Weil always comes to mind: "If we apply to the present that point of desire within us which corresponds to finality, it pierces right through to the eternal."


john said...

Ah well, see what Weil says is exactly what I'm saying -- that within the present moment is the eternal. If you take that really seriously, then when you break through to the eternity in the present, you'll see it contains everything -- it has to by definition -- including your death and the world's continuance -- which then you get to possess. All I meant.

t-ruth said...

Hmmm. Well, if that's all you meant, then you have passed one of the tests that gains a person entry into my Intenso-Rama club, comprised of hopeless classical romantics. The part that I thought we disagreed about is the part where I thought you were saying that you don't really have to die, and/or get to cavort across time. For me, something like "infinite desire, applied to the present" doesn't get me "all of time - past, present and future - that I, in some form that it makes sense to call a self, at least, get to tromp around in." Though I can see that it might be nice. That's the test for the entrance to a different club though! More seriously, I can see that it might make one feel more accepting of death, if one is (like me) not the sort to accept it at all.

I loved your traffic court story, though I'm sorry for the travails part.

love, r.

JC said...

But you DO have that power to tromp around in time. Where do you think Hegel and the Absolute reside? You know them don;t you? Or ir this just too "Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus" for you? Sub specie aeternitatis it works...

t-ruth said...

Well, if you're going to start throwing Latin around ... :)

I think what I think is that Hegel is dead, and that I therefore don't have access to him in a way that is, in any way shape or form, tantamount to the access that one has to people who are alive. I am incredibly fortunate in that no one I know and love such that I can't imagine how I will ever live without them has yet died. But I think that the horrific thing about death is that, from either direction, it puts those we love beyond our reach. Or, at least, beyond the reach that we have when they are alive -- and it's that reach that it seems to me you preserve in your version of an eternal present/present eternal.

What you describe seems to me to be not the absolute idealism of Hegel, but more a kind of subjective idealism -- where "reality" (which, precisely, goes now inside quotation marks) is a function of YOUR consciousness. True, even an objective idealist like Plato seems to think that the soul is immortal, but it doesn't have the same inflection to it, the same presumed preservation of self, or identity. I think for me, though, the part of the idea that bothers me is that it seems not to do justice to the pain that one's own death will cause for those who love one. That is, you get to be immortal, but they are stuck grieving for you all the same I think.

I don't mean to sound harsh, and I realize that I have no right to talk of these things, having so far been able to keep loved ones close.

I also don't mean to say that I'm opposed to the idea of a larger force of life, or energy, that everyone is caught up in, perhaps even once they are dead. That seems right to me. But I don't like the "everything is me" sense of infinity/eternity as you describe it. I have a hard enough time remembering that everything *ISN'T* me!

All said, I wonder if we really disagree, or if it is just the words getting in the way.