Category Archives: philosophy and metaphysics

Desire | بهر آن میلست

For Sashels…

بهر آن میلست در ماده به نر
تا بود تکمیل کار همدگر
میل اندر مرد و زن حق زان نهاد
تا بقا یابد جهان زین اتحاد
میل هر جزوی به جزوی هم نهد
ز اتحاد هر دو تولیدی زهد
شب چنین با روز اندر اعتناق
مختلف در صورت اما اتفاق
روز و شب ظاهر دو ضد و دشمنند
لیک هر دو یک حقیقت می تنند
هر یکی خواهان دگر را همچو خویش
از پی تکمیل فعل و کار خویش
زانک بی شب دخل نبود طبع را
پس چه اندر خرج آرد روزها

bahr-e-an meilast dar madeh beh nar

ta bud takmil kar-e-hamdegar

meil andar-e-mard o zan haqq zan nehad

ta baqa yabad jahan zin ettehad

meil-e-har jozui beh jozui ham nehad

ze ettehad-e-har do towlidi zahad

shab chenin ba ruz andar-e-etenaq

mokhtalef dar surat amma ettefaq

ruz o shab zaher-e-do zedd o dashmanand

leik har do yek haqiqat mitanand

har yeki khahan degar ra hamchu khish

az pay takmil-e-fe’el o kar-e-khish

zank bi shab dakhl nabud tabe’ ra

pas che andar-e-kharj arad ruzha

/purpose [of]/that/desire/is/in/female/for/male/

/so [that]/was/complete/work/[of] each other/

/desire/into/man/and/woman/Truth/from it/put/

/so [that]/survive/[would] be/world/from this/union/

/desire [of]/one part/to/one part/also/placed/

/from/union/both/a product/give/

/night/the same/with/day/in/embrace/

/different/in/form/but/unison/

/day/and/night/appear/contrary/and/enemies/are/

/but/both/one/truth/… [proclaim]/

/each one/wants/[the] other/just like/self/

/for/completion [of]/action/and/work/[of] itself/

/from that/without/night/income/[would] not be/nature/[to]/

/then/what/[into]/outside/spend/days/

Woman’s desire and man’s

exist to complete each others’ work.

From the absolute, desire emanates

into each

For the world of form to be preserved.

The desire of one incompleteness for the other

likewise exists

so that from their union, newness is born.

Just like this, night embraces day.

Opposite in form, always already one.

To the senses day and night appear in contrast to each other.

But both silently attest to the same sweet truth.

Each desires the other as its own self

to complete some hidden purpose.

And as for human nature,

without night,

what income would it receive?

Without that sweet shared mystery,

its days would have nothing to expend.

Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ — Mathnawi III 4414-20

–translation by halewi

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Love is reckless | لاابالی عشق باشد

To P. Minto…

لاابالی عشق باشد نی خرد
عقل آن جوید کز آن سودی برد
ترک تاز و تن گداز و بی حیا
در بلا چون سنگ زیر آسیاب
سخت رویی که ندارد هیچ پشت
بهره جویی را درون خویس کشت
پاک می بازد، نباشد مزد جو
آنچنان که پاک می گیرد زهو
می دهد حق هستیش بی علتی
می سپارد باز بی علت فتی
که فتوت دادن بی علتست
پاک بازی خارج هر ملتست
زآنکه ملت فضل جوید یا خلاص
پاک بازانند قربانان خاص
نی خدا را امتحانی می کنند
نی در سود و زیانی می زنند

la-obali eshq ni kherad

aql an juyad kaz an sudi barad

tork taz o tan godaz o bi hayya

dar bala chon sang-e-zir-e-asiab

sakht ruyi ke nadarad hich posht

bahreh juyi ra darun-e-khish kosht

pak mibazad, nabashad mozd ju

an chenan keh pak migirad ze hu

midahad haq hastiash bi ellati

mi separad baz bi ellat fati

keh fotavat dadan-e-bi ellatast

pak bazi kharej-e-har mellatast

zankeh mellat fazl juyad ya khelas

pak bazanand ghorbanan-e-khas

ni khoda ra emtehan mikonand

ni dar-e-sud o ziani mizanand


/reckless/love/is/[but] not/intellect/

/reason/[for] that/searches/from which/profit/gains/

/[as fierce as] a Turk/red-hot/and/body-melting/and/without modesty/

/in/distress/like/nether millstone/

/stone-faced/that/has/no/back [at all]/

/gain-seeking/in/[his/her]self/has killed/

/gambles clean [away],/is not/wage-seeking/

/so long as/receives clean/from Him/

/gives/Truth/[his/her] existence/without cause/

/gives it/back again/without cause/young beggar/

/for/devotion/giving/without/cause/is/

/gambling clean [away]/beyond/any/religion/is/

/in as much as/religion/favour/seeks/or/deliverance/

/those who gamble clean [away]/are/[the] special sacrifices/

/neither/God/[do they] test/

/nor/[on the] door of/profit/and/loss/[do they] hit/

Love is reckless–not reason.

Reason searches for a profit.

Love comes on fiercely, scorching, melting all form, shameless.

But in despair, sturdy as a millstone.

Stone-faced, loyal, selfless.

Love is love because it’s killed all self-regard.

Love gambles itself away. It doesn’t look for payment.

It receives everything it needs

from beyond.

The absolute gives us life for no reason.

The lover gives it back again just the same.

For true devotion is giving–without cause.

Gambling  yourself clean away is beyond any religion.

While religion is for seeking favour and deliverance,

Those who gamble themselves clean away are

the choicest sacrifice.

They don’t put You to the test.

Nor do they knock on the door of gain and loss.

All they want is to give

Everything.

 

Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ — Mathnawi VI 1967-74

–translation by halewi

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Gifts | گر بیان معنوی کافی شدی

گر بیان معنوی کافی شدی
خلق عالم عاطل و باطل بدی
گر محبت فکرت و معنیستی
صورت روزه و نمازت نیستی
هدیه‌های دوستان با همدگر
نیست اندر دوستی الا صور
تا گواهی داده باشد هدیه‌ها
بر محبتهای مضمر در خفا

gar bayan-e-ma’anavi kafi shodi

khalq-e-‘alam ‘atel o batel budi

gar mohabbat fekrat o ma’anisti

surat ruzeh o namazat nisti

hediyeh-ha-ye-dustan ba hamdegar

nist andar-e-dusti ela savar

ta govahi dadeh bashad hediyeh-ha

bar mohabbat-ha-yeh-mozmar dar khafa

/if/spiritual discourse/enough/had been/

/creation of the [temporal] world/useless/and/vain/was/

/if/love/thought/and/[temporal] meaning/is/

/form/fasting/and/prayer/is not/

/gifts of friends/to/each other/

/is not/as to friendship/but/forms/

/so that/witnessing/being given/gifts/

/to/tacit loves/in/mystery/

If spiritual words were enough

the created world would be useless and vain.

If love was all thought and sense

fasting and prayer would not exist.

Friends’ gifts to each other,

compared to friendship,

are nothing but forms.

But their giving is what

testifies to those mysterious loves unseen.

 

Mowlana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi ‘Rumi’ — Mathnawi I 2625-27

–translation by halewi

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The End of Nature – Zizek in NYT

Via The End of Nature – NYTimes.com

The big ecological disasters of 2010 fit into the ancient cosmological model, in which the universe is made up of four basic elements: AIR, volcanic ash clouds from Iceland immobilizing airline traffic over Europe; EARTH, mudslides and earthquakes in China; FIRE, rendering Moscow almost unlivable; WATER, the tsunami in Indonesia, floods displacing millions in Pakistan.

Such recourse to traditional wisdom offers no true insight into the mysteries of our wild Mother Nature’s whims, however. It’s a consolation device, really, allowing us to avoid the question we all want to ask: Will more events of such magnitude turn up on nature’s agenda for 2011?

In our disenchanted, post-religious, ultra-technological era, catastrophes can no longer be rendered meaningful as part of a natural cycle or as an expression of divine wrath. Ecological catastrophes — which we can view continually and close-up, thanks to our 24/7 plugged-in world — become the meaningless intrusions of a blind, destructive rage. It’s as if we are witnessing the end of nature.

Today we look to scientific experts to know all. But they do not, and therein lies the problem. Science has transformed itself into specialized knowledge, offering an inconsistent array of conflicting explanations called “expert opinions.” But if we blame the scientific-technological civilization for many of our difficulties, we cannot do without that same science to fix the damage — only scientists, after all, can “see” the ozone hole. Or, as a line from Wagner’s “Parsifal” puts it, “The wound can only be healed by the spear that made it.” There is no way back to pre-scientific holistic wisdom, to the world of Earth, Wind, Air and Fire.

While science can help us, it can’t do the whole job. Instead of looking to science to stop our world from ending, we need to look at ourselves and learn to imagine and create a new world. At least for those of us in the West, it’s difficult to accept being passive observers who must sit and watch as our fates are revealed.

Enter the perverse pleasure of premature martyrdom: “We offended Mother Nature, so we are getting what we deserve!” It’s deceptively reassuring to be ready to assume guilt for the threats to our environment. If we are guilty, then it all depends on us; we can save ourselves simply by changing our lives. We frantically and obsessively recycle old paper, buy organic food — whatever, just so we can be sure we are doing something, making our contribution.

But like the anthropomorphic universe, magically designed for man’s comfort, the so-called balance of nature, which humankind brutally destroys with its hubris, is a myth. Catastrophes are part of natural history. The fact that ash from a modest volcanic outburst in Iceland grounded most of the planes in Europe is a much-needed reminder of how we, humans, with our tremendous power over nature, are nothing but one of the living species on Earth, depending on the delicate balance of its elements.

So what might the future hold? One thing is clear: We should accustom ourselves to a much more nomadic way of life. Gradual or sudden change in our environment, about which science can do little more than offer a warning, may force unheard-of social and cultural transformations. Suppose a new volcanic eruption makes a place uninhabitable: Where will the inhabitants find a home? In the past, large population movements were spontaneous processes, full of suffering and loss of civilizations. Today, when weapons of mass destruction are available not only to states but even to local groups, humanity simply can’t afford a spontaneous population exchange.

What this means is that new forms of global cooperation, which do not depend on the market or on diplomatic negotiations, must be invented. Is this an impossible dream?

The impossible and the possible are simultaneously bursting into excess. In the realms of personal freedom and scientific technology, the impossible is more and more possible. We can entertain the prospect of enhancing our physical and psychic abilities; of manipulating our biological traits via interventions into the genome; of achieving the tech-gnostic dream of immortality by encoding our distinguishing traits and feeding the composite of our identities into a computer program.

When it comes to socioeconomic relations, however, we perceive our era as one of maturity, and thus acceptance. With the collapse of Communism, we abandoned the old millenarian utopian dreams and accepted the constraints of reality — that is, capitalist socioeconomic reality — with all its impossibilities. We cannot engage in large collective acts, which necessarily end in totalitarian terror. We cannot cling to the old welfare state, which makes us noncompetitive and leads to economic crisis. We cannot isolate ourselves from the global market.

For us, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than serious social change. Witness the numerous blockbusters about global catastrophe and the conspicuous absence of films about alternate societies.

Maybe it’s time to reverse our concept of what is possible and what isn’t; maybe we should accept the impossibility of omnipotent immortality and consider the possibility of radical social change. If nature is no longer a stable order on which we can rely, then our society should also change if we want to survive in a nature that is no longer the good caring mother, but a pale and indifferent one.

Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian-born political philosopher and cultural critic. He is a scholar or visiting professor at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, the European Graduate School in Switzerland and a number of American universities.

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Living in the End Times–Zizek on Dutch TV

YouTube – Living in the End Times According to Slavoj Zizek

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Louis C.K. — Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy

Smarter than he realizes.

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Slavoj Zizek and Nature: a Swedish view

Via Slavoj Zizek and Nature « enleuk

[A personal favourite bit: 38:30 to ~40 mins]

…and, now, Enleuk’s paraphrasing:

“Psycho-analysis shows only a temporary truth, like there is no big Other [I’m not fluent in Lacanian, but I believe this means God as a deistic or panentheistic force of will and not a pantheistic or transcendent(?) God], but then you have to return to the illusion. The idea is that our social lives are necessarily illusory. All you can do is get these momentary insights. If this is the case, then life is boring. Instead I want to know if we can make truth operative in politics and social life. My whole point would be, yes, we can. The whole development pushes in this direction. One example is ecology.

Ecology is on the one hand an absolutely real problem and one of the biggest fields of ideological investment. There’s a book called Ecology without nature, that should be our solution. It’s not some kind of subjectivism, what he means is that what we mean by nature, in the ecological paradigm, is automatically connected to some kind of homeostatis, some harmonious organic reproduction balance that is disturbed by human hybris and we should reestablish the balance.
I think we should drop this paradigm. If there is a lesson from radical darwinians it is that there is no nature, if by nature we understand this kind of balance which was disturbed, nature is crazy in itself.

The ecological crisis is more serious than we think, there is nowhere to withdraw, there is no balance to return to, the situation is totally open. Some German said the goal of humanity should not be to reestablished to some natural balance but to violate nature even more. Nature left to itself would explode and render human life impossible, since humans can only survive in certain weather or climate conditions. We should try to fix and freeze the earth, be even more violent.
Also we should totally drop all references to antiscientific jargon. Often people say ‘the source of ecological troubles is our overexploitation, objectivisation of nature, we act as if nature is out there, the object, as if we are not embedded in nature, breathing with it, we should step out of technological attitude and live with nature.’

This is a problem, not a solution. the problem for me is the following: We’re in deep shit, like global warming, so why dont we act? It’s an example of the fetischist disavowal: ‘I know very well but’ like when you hear a speech on ecology, then you step out, see the sun, the birds, the rain. Because we are embedded in it we cant really accept that this can change.

So paradoxically we need more alienation from nature in the sense we have to accept nature in its total contigency, madness. Nature is not balanced paradise, it’s madness. Every natural balance is temporary and fragile, the smallest imbalance and everything goes crazy. This brings it to the end: that the big Other doesn’t exist. Usually people say either you are a subjectivist and self-responsible, this means you are an arrogant absolute subject, or you defer to the higher authority and it’s a difficult thing to separate between these two but we must accept that we are totally responsible but nonetheless not absolute subjects. It’s a very difficult position to sustain but we will be forced into it.”

“We should try to fix and freeze the earth, be even more violent.”

I agree that we should manipulate the Earth, that’s what we have hands for, but freezing it will not be possible because that means canceling evolution, a chemical process operating at a molecular level since 3 billion years. Freezing for me equals a delusion of balance. The viruses will find a way. We have to accept that life is a constant fight, there is no pause button. However, we can fight it with nukes and science and metal and stone and nanotechnology. We can build airtight glass boxes filled with water and grow food in them. We don’t have to care about what people think food is, we can use any type of body and any type of energy.

“Often people say ‘the source of ecological troubles is our overexploitation, objectivisation of nature, we act as if nature is out there, the object, as if we are not embedded in nature, breathing with it, we should step out of technological attitude and live with nature.’”

I think I’ve said this myself, except I think technology is equally a creative and destructive tool and that it too is part of nature. I think the problem when people say this is that they limit nature to the greenery outdoors and fail to see that everything in the universe is nature, including forks and computers and humans. For me, the solution is not ideological, but moral and practical. My morals are that all sentient beings should be allowed their illusion of free will and when two wills clash a compromise should be attempted. That’s it, however naive it may seem. And practically, it means that we can’t build billions of cars and industries run by energy that is consumed at a rate of a million times faster than it replenishes (oil and natural gases). That’s just common sense. Also, the earth is mainly silicon and the biggest energy source around is the sun. It’s pretty easy to see what we should focus on. Plurality is not a goal in itself, only a tool for achieving the moral. If we kill all species we might suffer ourselves. We should consequently also only exterminate species with old and dying individuals. Don’t take that too literally though, it’s just an example.

“we are totally responsible but nonetheless not absolute subjects. It’s a very difficult position to sustain but we will be forced into it”. For me, simplifying this ontological (apparent) paradox, I accept that this body I call mine is a part of a contingent reality, yet its described unique history of action has ramifications for itself within the system.

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