Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Columbus, Freud and Nietzsche

                     El ánimo que piensa en lo que puede temer,
                     empieza a temer en lo que puede pensar.

                                                      Francisco de Quevedo

Freud is very much like Columbus, who uncovered for Europe a putatively “new” world but had little idea what the uncovery was exactly.

The idea that Columbus’ advocacy of a spherical earth was revolutionary is nonsense. A spherical earth, for example, is implicit in both Copernicus and Galileo, whether or not baldly stated, and it is also implicit in Kepler.

Moreover, behind them all is the ancient proposition of the Pythagoreans that the earth must be spherical.

None of this was new.

Columbus, Genoese navigator, innovates only in what he intends to gain by his proposition—namely, the ability to sail around the globe and open up the trade with the Far East that the Venetians had monopolized through their dealings with the Saracens, Turks and Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In some key sense Columbus is merely a marine Marco Polo.

In practical terms, besides his ability to enlist the Spanish Crown in his project, he had the skills, as did Freud, of a master dead reckoner.

So Freud, who in dreams uncovered a supposed “unconscious” that had indirect access to consciousness through language, uncovered very little new about either dreams or “the unconscious” except insofar as he intended to exploit his new world “scientifically”, partly for his own advancement as a psychiatrist, and partly—so he clearly thought—in the interests both of self-knowledge and of that same “science”.

Freud, then, is the repressed and supposedly scientifically trained man uncovering a “new world” of seeming irrationality that includes his own deeper mind.

Even in modern dress, however, most of what Freud uncovered about what was not taken as “conscious” is already in Nietzsche, though Nietzsche is not particularly interested in the dream state as a primary means of circumnavigating the new mind.

Indeed, in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche uncovers the irrational element--among the very inventors of logos--in drama, ritual, and religion, all of which are a kind of external unconscious.

It  is enormously interesting that, as Lacan saw, Freud envisaged the object of his study, “the mind”, as a spherical surface—very much like Columbus’ globe.

What Freud uncovered, as Lacan also saw, he misnamed as clumsily as Columbus misnamed his “new” world, using as he did grammatical categories for psychic realities that are not only the substrate of natural language but pre-existent to it.

Moreover, Freud consciously or unconsciously depreciated Nietzsche as his great precursor and as the inventor of the new psychology while using ancient Greek figures like Oedipus to name his supposed elaborations of what he uncovered.

Why he did this is still somewhat of a mystery.

The most plausible explanation is that Freud, overimpressed by the “method” in which he had been trained, could not easily see Nietzsche, philosopher and philologist, and self-described "pyschologist", as his predecessor in anything Freud was prepared to call “scientific”.

Giving Freud all due credit for having, like Columbus, the perseverance to sail into an unknown continent, one also must emphasize that the new world, though Freud himself could not see it, was at once very ancient and also in the modern age the previous uncovery of Nietzsche.

It is in this context that among the French, it is Gilles Deleuze who is the true innovator philosophically in his more conscious reinvestment in Nietzsche both as predecessor to Freud—thus Lacan—and also as the channel to an ancient world that has been there all along logically, epistemologically and philosophically among the ancient Greeks, who exist previous to Hegel and Marx, and who enter the latter part of the Twentieth Century as the de-ideologizing of politics and economics by psychological insight, as perpetrated so brilliantly also by Herbert Marcuse.

Even Deleuze’s Rabelaisianism, which seems very French and modern and thoroughly grotesque (thus”unclassical”) is indirectly also a return, mediated by Nietzsche, to the same Dionysian Greeks.

E. A. Costa 2010- August 2014 Durham, North Carolina

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Metamorphoses (Nerudesque)

          When an extra finger is added,
           to gnaw it off makes you cry out
           in pain....
                                             Chuang Tzu

Is it impertinent to ask
why moths fly to flames?

Do they confuse the lantern
under a basket with the sun?

Or is it just a matter of
misunderstanding names?

Why don't they wake early in the morning
from a fantastic dream and fly straight
into sunrise to become butterflies?

Do owls recall when they were
simple-minded eagles and unwise?

Do bats dream of being mice?

And amoebas—do they dream
of being twice-born?

The unicorn—does he or she
have nightmares under a rack
of antlers?

So with the polar bear.
Is it some boring bruin
who followed the bright ice
north growing waterwings?

Or under all the whiteness
is just some grizzled fright
who one Spring night neglected
to awake from dreams of ice cream
and seal-flavored popsicles?

E. A. Costa 24 May 2014 Granada, Nicaragua

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Impossible Black Tulip/ El tulipán negro imposible


longbeard most admired
among the big noses:

stand here with us
at the center,

at the midpoint of the quicunx.

longbeard most admired
among the big noses:

impossible like the black tulip
and yet exist with us here at the center...friend.

El tulipán imposible negro


de barba larga,
el más admirado
entre las narices grandes:

estás de pie aquí con nosotros en el centro,

en el punto medio del quincunce.

de barba larga,
el más admirado
entre las narices grandes:

imposible como el tulipán negro
y aún existes en el centro con nosotros--amigo.

E. A. Costa  17 mayo 2014 Granada, Nicaragua

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Rivas bifronte (To Rivas Bifrons)

Debajo los senos de Omotepe
y sobre la pisada del gigante del mar
espera Rivas de la poca cintura.

Dueña de istmo fresco y sal,
la posadera bifronte a toda moción,
Rivas mira, soldando el norte al sur,
y el río al océano.

Below the breasts of Omotepe
& over giant's tread by the sea
waits Rivas the narrow-waisted.

Mistress of isthmus fresh and salt,
two-faced hostess to all motion,
Rivas watches, welding north and south,
river and ocean.

E. A. Costa  18 abril 2014 Granada, Nicaragua

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Song At Capri (Canción en Capri)

When beauty grows too great to bear
How shall I ease me of its ache,
For beauty more than bitterness
Makes the heart break.

Now while I watch the dreaming sea
With isles like flowers against her breast,
Only one voice in all the world
Could give me rest. 

Sara Teasdale

Canción en Capri

Cuando la belleza crece
demasiado bella para aguantar,
¿Cómo me aliviaré del dolor?--
puesto que más que la amargura
rompe el corazón belleza...

Y mientras miro la mar que sueña
con las islas como flores en el seno,
en todo el cosmos hay sólo una voz
que me podría dar la paz.

Tr. E. A. Costa 29 March 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Death Of A Poetry Generator

As every child knows who has ever owned
an articulated toy, articulation has its limits...”

                                                (Pablo Gervás)

From the tree
adjoining grammar
hang electronic tongues
humming binaries
of despair:

does not

So hellish tag,
long ago elled and held

Approach now this easy task
and bask as laureate in golden

humming humming humming

until the power is cut
and the distance algorithm
bites the surface of the sea
drowning measured isomorphisms
like rats and sailors.

Mere peasants
gather drift wood
on electric shores
scavenging platinum
for their hollow teeth.

She bathing
nude in sweet water

She bathing
nude in sweet water

She bathing
nude in sweet water....

Order now the spectrum search
goal-directed to uncover syntax.

Order now the evaluation functions
that measure stress among genes.

Order now your propositional
semantics & sublet the machine to say
one beautiful word like

amor-roma or cellar door or

die one more smiling death
with pistol in the air

capturing a lagoon of

you programmers
suicide from grief

that poetasters
who create knots in sheepskin cape
and long-daggered

shot the young Lermontov through
the heart

on his endless turntable

bleeding needles.

E. A. Costa 27 March 2014 Granada, Nicaragua

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dancing In The Desert (Chaco Canyon)

Barefoot in blue moonlit sand

we clear the night of fear

dancing dead centuries
of the desert floor alive once more

pounding rhythmically
with hip and paw, belly and claw

creating earthquakes
of rattlesnake

and foaming lava of scorpion

until grass flowers

and the ghosthunters rise

until the buffalo below

rise up and roam...

E. A. Costa 27 March 2014 Granada, Nicaragua