Samstag, 4. August 2012

Philosophie in der Bibliothek

von Zauselina Rieko
Pegasus-Inhaber BukTom Bloch hatte zur Philosophie-Stunde eingeladen in seine riesige Bibliothek
Hinter dem Avatar Georg Janick steckt der US-amerikanische Professor Gary Zabel
In Englisch und im getippten Chat brachte der Philosophieprofessor Zabel dem Publikum Ernst Bloch nahe. Der wie sein "Namensvetter" BukTom Bloch aus Ludwigshafen stammende Philosoph wurde in seiner Heimatstadt mit einem Denkmal geehrt, der Endlosen Treppe, die virtuell nachgebaut auch auf dem Gelände der Pegasus-Bibliothek steht. Zum Nachlesen habe ich den Chat kopiert und unter Auslassung der nicht zum Vortrag gehörenden Elemente stelle ich ihn hier ein. Wer sich zutraut, das Ganze zu übersetzen, wird zwar nicht mit einem Denkmal geehrt, aber mit Dank überschüttet. Wer mag sich als Übersetzer betätigen? Inworld habe ich den Chat als Gruppennotiz abgeschickt und das Original beigefügt, denn es könnte sein, dass durch meine Bearbeitung, d.h. die Satzzeichen, die ich eingefügt habe, der Sinn beeinflusst wurde.

Eine Bilderstrecke von der Veranstaltung und eine kurze Rezension gibt´s drüben auf BukTom Blochs Blog.

[14:09] Georg Janick: I have written a bit about Bloch but not for a while so you may have to bear with me As BukTom said Bloch was born in Ludwigshafen and across the river there is the town of Mannheim. He found this significant. Ludwigshafen was an industrial city: and Mannheim still had the mark of the Middle Ages Beautiful cathedral and so on. He called the proximity of the two "noncontemporaniety". Two streams of time, one from the past. The Marxist criticize utopian socialism for being mere dreaming not being rooted in real social forces. But Bloch pointed out that peoples dreams are real social forces and that Marxists ignore them who will sacrifice delicately evolved social relationships to the attempt to realize their dreams. Bloch pointed out that many of these relationships deserve to be sacrificed That much from the past is oppressive and these images are embodied in works of culture, art. Nothing at all can be understood about people apart from the dimension of hope. Hope produces wish-images and one from the present coming together. That was an important theme in Blochs work. He was, as you know, a Marxist. But he found a place for ancient streams of thought that Marxism had not incorporated including NeoPlatonism, occultism, Eschatological religion and others. And he brought the two streams together, first in a book he wrote when he was still a young man, Spirit of Utopia. He was under his wife's influence then a Russian influenced by Christian mysticism, and then in his masterwork The Principle of Hope. It is the second book I want to focus on because there Bloch develops what we could call an ontology of hope. He says the must basic drive in people is hunger. In the sense of the attempt to overcome deprivation, Deprivation of all kinds and hunger produces hope as the felt anticipation of a better future but also technology, science, fashion, fairly tales, a great number of things. All of these domains of culture have utopian elements. Utopia refers to the wish-images of human fulfilment.This expands the idea of utopia beyond the social utopias of Thomas More for example. Bloch developed this expansive conception in a debate with two sides. He fought the left as well as the right. For conservatives Utopias are dreams of intellectuals. Utopias are dreams of intellectuals who will sacrifice delicately evolved social relationships to the attempt to realize their dreams. Bloch pointed out that many of these relationships deserve to be sacrificed. That much from the past is oppressive. But he also fought the left. In the Marxist tradition the distinction is made first by Engels between utopian socialism and scientific socialism. The Marxist criticize utopian socialism for being mere dreaming not being rooted in real social forces. But Bloch pointed out that peoples dreams are real social forces and that Marxists ignor them at their peril. Remember this was the time when fascism was on the rise and fascism was paying attention to dreams, regressive dreams. Bloch felt that Marxists would never being able to defeat fascism unless they made room for different dreams. So he want to rehabiliate the idea of utopia for the left and that is what he devoted his life and work to doing. But again remember that for him utopia is all around us : In the fairy tales we read to our children,in the music we listen to, in the paintings we love, in the buildings we live in, in the dreams of the past that now constitute our culture. They need to be rescued from conformity and given their explosive, revolutionary character once again. Now it occurred to me when I became involved in SL that SL has utopian potential. After all we fly here - that is an amazing thing. People have been dreaming of flying for thousands of years. There are many other attempts at wish fulfilments here. Not all of them good. In some ways the developed sex scene here is utopian with a price

[14:28] XXX: Georg, I have a question.
 [14:28] Georg Janick: yes please
 [14:29] XXX : Who does qualify the wishes in good or no good? Who has the right to do so? 
 [14:29] Georg Janick: Good question. I guess that as wishes they all have the same status. As wishes I think they are all the same but the attempt to implement them, to realize them, faces difficulties. So take Blochs own case. He became a defender of Stalin. Now I understand why that happened. But I think he was wrong. I have arguments for that but they would take us too far a field. The point is that as long as you simply entertain the wish no one should say anything critical. But when you attempt to realize it then we all have something to say. So the answer to your question. Who has the right? Is that all of us do 
[14:33] XXX: Of course not. 
[14:33Georg Janick: Good. Tell us why. 
[14:34] XXX: Because my wishes and dreams are mine. And when I want to make them come true, nobody has to rule about it. Even not about me in respect of my wishes. 
[14:34] Georg Janick: And what if you wish to kill me?
[14:34] XXX: Well, that is something else. 
[14:35] XY: But I have the right to judge your wish... from my point of view...
 [14:35] XXX: No, really, if my wishes do not correspond with the wishes of the person in charge (so to say) I must not do it. 
[14:35] Georg Janick: But why are you raising the issue of authority? 
[14:36] XXX: Because I do not accept authority regarding my wishes. 

 [14:39] Georg Janick: Let's begin from the wish-image and its embodiment in works of culture. We can take visual art first. For Bloch art is utopian even when it does not depict utopia. Art involves a perfection of form that does not exist in reality. It pushes expression to an extreme that we do not encounter in ordinary life. In that sense it is utopian.But the visual arts were not his primary interest. His main aesthetic interest was music. And this is interesting. Because music, pure music, is not "about" anything. And yet Bloch tells us it is the most utopian of all the arts. In Spirit of Utopia. He says that music is utopian because it is an expression of human subjectivity and expression of its depths. Bloch was associated in his youth with expressionism in the arts. He wrote on the expressionist movement and it became important to him. In expressionist painting he saw the same attempt he saw in great music. To present the human subject as what he called an "arcanum", a mystery. That is also in some sense the key to the mystery of being. It is as though Being comes to expression in the emergence of human subjectivity. He saw subjected as hemmed in denied, blocked by social structures. And sound in music a protest against this blockage and the image of a subject who is finally free. The deeper we go into ourselves in the realm of artistic expression the more we can see that we are greater than we first appeared to be. Remember I said that in that book Bloch was influenced by Christian Mysticism. He sees the figure of Jesus as a symbol of the self that has attained its true depths and music as the medium in which this occurs. So for example in early Renaissance music we see the emergence of the scale as a well ordered series of notes, an order of expression that enables us to reflect the depths of subjectivity, also the significance f the voice in vocal music of coloristic instrumentation and so on. All help toward that end in The Principle of Hope. He refers to a myth. The myth of Syrnx the dyad. The nymph who is planning in the fields with her friend and the god Apollo comes and tries to abduct her. She has her friends magically turn her into a reed blowing in the wind with the other reeds. Well, Apoloy takes a handful of reeds and binds them together including her and blows into the pipe that results and he hears her voice. She is absent and yet present in the sound of the instrument. The object of his desire alluded him. But the wish-image is present in the music as a well-order series of notes. Theodor Adorno is better known as a philosopher of music. But Bloch was an equally powerful thinker. Only Adorno argued that music has social content even when it is not about society. Its social content comes from the fact that the language of music is the product of history, of the social past. But Bloch even in his late work was sceptical about social structure. For him the liberation of music is not social but radically subjective. It is a strange position for a Marxist to take. But then Bloch was a very strange Marxists.