14. “world of appearances”

…although the spiritual world is within us, it is also outside us. Just as it was enough to learn within ourselves in order to discover this world, so it is enough to learn how to outside ourselves in order to perceive the spiritual world behind the world of appearances.

– Pierre Hadot: ‘Plotinus Or the Simplicity of Vision’, 1963

Actions with attachments bind us to the world of appearances; to the continual doing of more actions. But there is another way of performing action, and this is without desire and without fear. The doer of the non-attached actions is the most conscientious of men. Freed from desire and fear, he offers everything he does as a sacrament of devotion to his duty (surrenders all his actions to the Lord). All work becomes equally and vitally important. It is only toward the results of work – success or failure, praise or blame – that he remains indifferent. When action is done in this spirit, Krishna teaches, it will lead to the knowledge of what is behind action, behind all life; the ultimate Reality. And, with the growth of this knowledge, the need for further action will gradually fall away from us. We shall realize our true nature, which is God, sat-chit-ananda.

– Bhagavad Gita: ‘Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna’

Thus also, on account of the existence of the former (qualities), (admitted) owing to reference and so on, there is absence of contradiction, (as) Bâdarâyana (thinks). Thus also, i.e. although it be admitted that intelligence only constitutes the true nature of the Self, also the former nature, i.e. lordly power like that of Brahman, which is intimated by reference and the rest, is – with a view to the world of appearances – not rejected; and hence there is no contradiction. This is the opinion of the teacher Bâdarâyana.

– The Vedanta Sutras of Bâdarâyana, Commentary by Sankara, tr. by George Thibaut, 1896


37. “At home with voids, reality, and self sums, products of zero “Not that”, it is “no thing”, “nil”, “nothing””

Meantime, when once we know from nothing still Nothing can be create, we shall divine More clearly what we seek: those elements From which alone all things created are, And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.

– Titus Lucretius Carus: ‘On the Nature of Things’, Book 1 (‘Substance is External’, ‘The Void’, ‘Nothing Exists per se Except Atoms And The Void’). See Marshall Clagett: ‘Greek Science in Antiquity’ 1955 and revised 1963.

Although yu, yet wu. Although wu, yet yu. “Although yu, yet wu” is a denial of Being. “Although wu, yet yu” is a denial of nothingness. In this way, it is not that there is no thing, but that things are not truly (substantial) things. If things are not truly (substantial) things, in what way are they “things”?

– Seng-chao (Sengzhao)

50. “Structure mere successiveness into patterns”

We need ends and kairoi and the pleroma, even now when the history of the world has so terribly and so untidily expanded its endless successiveness. We re-create the horizons we have abolished, the structures that have collapsed; and we do so in terms of the old patterns, adapting them to our new worlds. Ends, for example, become a matter of images, figures for what does not exist except humanly. Our stories must recognize mere successiveness but not be merely successive; Ulysses, for example, may be said to unite the irreducible chronos of Dublin with the irreducible kairoi of Homer. In the middest, we look for a fullness of time, for beginning, middle, and end in concord.

– Frank Kermode: ‘Sense of An Ending’, Oxford University Press, 1967

For if what Kermode persistently refers to as merely successive, “real” time were in itself but another fiction, then he would be committed only to a study of various orders of fiction rather than to a study of fictions as changing responses to a hypothetically changeless and formless reality. And fictions may be sense-depriving as well as sense-making.

– Leo Bersani: ‘Variations On a Paradigm’, New York Times, 11 June 1967

57. “Far-ranging mockery Wealth of possibility whose individual possibilities tend to cancel one another out”

“…open-ended, provisional, characterized by suspended judgments, disbelief in hierarchies, mistrust of solutions, denouements and completions, by self-consciousness issuing in tremendous earnestness but also in far-ranging mockery, by emphasis on the flesh to the anachronization of the spirit, by a wealth of possibility whose individual possibilities tend to cancel one another out, by unfreedom felt as freedom and the reverse, by cults of youth, sex, change, noise and chemically induced ‘truth.’ It is also a reality harboring a radical mistrust of language, writing, fiction, the imagination.”

– Richard Gilman: Review of Donald Barthelme’s ‘Snow White’, New Republic Vol. 156 Issue 22, 3 June 1967


59. “One “retracts””

Each one (retracts) within the time of the utterance of his fellow.

– The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin

Reality no longer sustains the values necessary to the creation of Snow White…, or the witch or the dwarfs; it lacks the floor under the imagination, the ingredients of possible aspiration, the hunger for simulated fate, to create “stories” of any kind. There is therefore no happy ending to this Snow White, no denouement except one that mocks the original’s, no satisfaction to be obtained from a clear, completed arc of fictional experience. Fiction, Barthelme is saying, has lost its power to transform and convince and substitute, just as reality has lost, perhaps only temporarily (but that is not the concern of the imagination), its need and capacity to sustain fictions of this kind…. [The] book makes its way by dealing steadily with the problems of language. One “retracts” what the written world has been composed of not by ignoring it, by writing new language, but by discrediting it as the answer to one’s own contemporary needs.

– Richard Gilman: ‘Donald Barthelme’ reprinted Random House in ‘The Confusion of Realms’ in 1969