Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, memory, and explanations

The Zen masters have the right idea--no pain no gain:  thwack a silly nebbish and he'll remember it far longer and more indelibly than any words you muster at him.  Not absolutely everything can or should have to be explained, and particularly not to everybody.  But a concussion is a value-judgment anyone gets the point of.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, questions, and self-mastery

Questions, as I long ago tried to teach my students, are like cellular acids that dissolve the glue holding our preconceptions, prejudices, presuppositions, etc. together in customary clumps. All the more is this dissolution a liability in societies that lack any aristic higher structure, any form of critical authority or penetrating logic that is proof against merely slavish or conventionalist taking-for-granted and also against sophist-cynical-nihilist disillusionment. One cannot see and cannot say what is what without then initiating in that bourgeois consensus a cascade of disillusionment, a process of abolishing one absurdity after another. Just the ability to see the meanings of one's own language, what it actually implies and signifies, is already the first step in a process of ultimate subversion. The scales are falling from one's eyes, one doesn't need someone else to lead one around by the hand anymore like a child. --The end of tutelage, the beginning of appropriating one's mind for one's own disciplined use: for a certain, horrified-by-everything kind of slavish personality, this independence or self-responsibility is the most horrific prospect of all.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and myth

Myth is the quintessence or ultimate archetype of intuitive / rightbrained / gnosic / creative thinking:  it is the paradigmatic concentration, application, task, teleology, and mode of energy of this kind of figurative or concretizing thinking, that seeks to make truth "graphic" or palpable, revelatory or feelingly authoritative rather than just permitting it to dissipate and be volatilized into one-sidedly abstract terminology and ideas.  Myth is a strategy of analogical and metaphoric truthmongering, related to the concept that medieval philosophy of rhetoric (John of Salisbury e.g.) called "eloquence," the truth put in its most persuasive form.  Myth is not petty truth but truth in a grand mode, it ruptures the artificial apparatus of false distinctions and dysrelations, the conventional or doxic septa that separate organically related issues from one another:  myth is the infinitization of the finitized world-order that ordinarizing or mediocritizing intellect/ego has perpetrated all across society (modern society most especially).  Myth makes truth whole-mindedly experienceable rather than schematically or formalistically skeletalized and arid, bled white of all the energies of life.  In the warfare between what the Old Testament calls the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, myth is knowledge fighting on the side of life, against the "deathworks" of nihilistic consciousness and science.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and intellect

Intellect is merely a narrow and highly specific kind of thing that we DO, but our immediacy relates us to what we naturally and essentially ARE, the actualities of our full-dimensional existence.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and thinking

Some form of gnosis or immediacy is attached to all thinking as its root-form or primitive origination; every act of thinking has this passive derivation, this coming-into-being of thinking not out of nothing (as it likes to imagine) but out of some unthinkable something.  But the most self-abstractivist or self-reductivist kind of thinking cannot tolerate even the notion (much less the traumatic experience or confrontation) of an incurable pathos, a weakness or blind-spot, within consciousness. The very idea is an insult to the autonomy or self-determinability of ego/will/reason.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and myth

"Intellect" seems to itself the whole universe of conceivable possibilities and in this way and for this reason it rejoices over its liberation from the narrow or myopic cosmos of intuition, the feeling-life within which animals and infants and idiots are bound.  But just as there are physically vocalizable sounds that are not contained in the English alphabet, and difficult/unnatural/alien combinations of letters (diphthongs and consonantal blends) that English does not like or permit, and foreign or other-cultural comprehensions of experiences and concepts that are not able to be translated or framed in terms congenial to Englished and modernized and bourgeoisified mentalities, so too there are qualitative energies and energetically blended relations and flavors of meaning that are utterly lost in the transformation of personality from the mode of intuition to the mode of intellect.  Abstractivist mentality of course never MISSES anything that has dropped out or been edited from its more primitive to its more sophisticated ("rational," "conscious") modalities.  Myth - as a modality of mind to which the entire superstructure of mythos-culture is anchored, and out of which its cosmos of concepts and reasons and purposes is elaborated - is one of the most fertile and prodigious of these "logically" eclipsed or dethroned world-forces.  What "culture" is and what values it is harnessed to, and what ultimate range of personality-types it subserves, is radically transfigured from mythos- to logos-culture.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and abstractivism

Left-brained phasis or noesis is capable of being "critical" of the naive sympathies and subjectivisms of right-brained gnosis (immersed in its own undifferentiated immediacy), but of course it is NOT capable of being critical of its OWN peculiarly alienated (detached or dissociated or abstracted) ways of positing and relating to its intellectual constructs. We have a pre-self-alienated mode of immediacy that feels and (mis)takes this feeling for thinking, seeing and reasoning; and we have a self-alienated mode (psychological self-disengagement, "abstraction" or formalizing / bourgeois dissociation) that reduces its own feeling-components to something neutralized and manipulable, and this more sophisticated / noetic / abstractive mode mistakes its self-distancing or emotively chilled attitude for "truth" and "objectivity" when in actuality it is only a sort of psychic anesthetic.  Abstractivism is in actuality a form of LOCAL anesthetic that only works on its own feeling or intuitive consciousness, like those disinfectants or "deodorants" that do not counteract odors per se but rather cripple or benumb your sensory receptivity to them.  Thus, instead of actually understanding and mastering one's feeling-life, abstractivism is a normalized or conventionalized modus vivendi that merely withdraws from its own more primitive strata of being.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, hegel, self-mastery, and spirit

CS has the same problems with evil that it does with corporeality and with the domain of nature; it cannot comprehend the possibility of a dimension of counterforces that will not comply with its too-saccharine or Apollonian vision of spirit.  It represents bourgeoisified spirituality, as Protestantism does in another sense, or modernized Catholicism in yet another, and New Ageism in still another.  Modernly alien principles of spirit are being subjected to occupying banausic-materialist and doulic-appetitive forces.  Precisely what CS thought it should "leapfrog" over was the phenomenological education in lower-order organizing forces that Hegel understood to be indispensable to actual rather than illusory self-mastery.  (Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, etc. indeed tried to outdo Hegel in this basalism or Dionysianism, and made that argument more phenomenologically elastic.)

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and academia

Academia is alas full of special interests and specialists who presumed it was possible to "leapfrog" over this or that entire line of development. These minds hoped to distance themselves from the pernicious vices of a whole way of thinking, but of course at the same time excluded all of its virtues too.  Modern abstractivism in its simplex form (which does not preclude a high degree of articulate facility within the ambit of what is preconceived and accepted).

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, spirit, enlightenment, modernism, and wisdom

Instant enlightenment.  A quintessential modernism, culture and religion accommodated to the age of fast food and bumper stickers.  But psyche and spirit are not so exempt from the natural domain that they can simply produce self-change instantaneously, on demand.  Wisdom precipitates through a notoriously slow apparatus of retorts and flasks, and it has to find receptive ground only in a properly seasoned mind.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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