May 23, 2013

from The Original Text of The Ethics (2)

The original texts of The Ethics.

The Ethics, Continued

the essence of things
that cracks open under the weight of a thousand questions
like daggers in the dark[3]-
bright blue day of confidence
turns out
to be a shadow of something else . . .
that something else is behind a screen,
and we’ve created the blue, or the screen,
or both
or everything
or[4] nothing

“There is a proof for that”
sez Spinoza
“and it goes like this[5]:
Jesus died for your sins;
but there are no sins,
no death,
and no Jesus.
There’s a red wheelbarrow,
and maybe Billie the Kid
but fuck that taxonomy, anyway
more or less depends on them
than you’ve been led to believe.[6] [7]

I awake to a cold bright day
and understand that I am alone[8]
and what is left
is to breathe deep the air
and begin again,
always again[9]
There is another way,
there is always another way.[10]

*           *           *           *           *

Spinoza clears his throat:[11]
“What the masses learned to accept without reason
reason cannot refute.
And pretty baubles and grand gestures
trip the light and sell the rabble[12] [13]
while logic becomes dressed as witchcraft
and is danced
from fear
to shame,
and returns,
hollowed out,
as sham and excuse.[14]
My beautiful mathematics require commitment most find beyond the pale:
Fascists bully words to their own purpose,
while Capitalists simply purchase meaning.
The rest lack all vision.[15]
I sit here in the corpse-colored twilight,
tallow candle a-sputter,
and commit truth to the page
against all odds.”

(Spinoza doesn’t write poetry by the light of day.)

*          *           *          *          *


“There are truths
and they are self-evident.”

Spinoza emerges into a cold dawn
candle extinguished, sheaves of parchment falling from his table,
drifting snow,
flesh snow[17]
“or, as they should be, at least.
Everything follows inexorably,[18] [19]
a calculus of the real,
a shape of what is.
Only fools question the otherwise,
for here is here.”
There is a wave and a shuffle
Spinoza turns his face to the cold sun.
“Your investments mean nothing to me.
Your lineage[20] means nothing to me.
Your rights, your culture,
that house of straw
that you defend with your dying breath?
It means nothing to me.
The essence of mankind
does not involve
the necessary existence of mankind;
this sun cares not that you caper below it.[21] [22]
You are, that’s all.” [23] [24]
Spinoza scrambles off,
rocks spraying from his feet,
then turns for a last salvo:

“The order of things
is the order of thought.
The mind is nothing not constituted by idea.
Idea is the thing,
idea is the flow
mind the machine
buckling down and locking in to the flow.[25]

The idea creates the mind
the mind delimits the idea
and its all connected,
virtually the same . . .
bodies in respect to bodies
machines in respect to machines
bodies assembled
and bodies inscrutable
machines and flows inextricable
from what wellspring?
to what ocean?”

He turned abruptly
to the stone path rising above him
and was gone in a clatter.[26]  [27]

*          *          *          *          *

A word can’t mean two things
it can mean one thing, then another
Or it can mean everything,
or the nothing at the core of everything.[28] [29]

[1] as to him alone does existence appertain
[2] PROP. XXV.  God is the efficient cause not only of the existence of things, but also of their essence.
[3] everything
[4] intellect in function     finite      infinite     will
[5] PROP. XXXII. Will cannot be called a free cause, but only a necessary cause.
[6] eternity
[7] imperfection in God
[8] concerning created things
[9] truth
[10] I assume a starting point
[11] they only look for knowledge of the final causes of events
[12] anxious
[13] reduction, not to the impossible, but to ignorance
[14] such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for approving and preserving their authority would vanish also.
[15] is things corrupt to the point of putridity, loathsome
[16] V.  We feel and perceive no particular things, save bodies and modes of thought
[17] power of God the free will
[18] knowledge of the cause
[19] effect
[20] things are said to exist
[21] PROP. XI.  The first element, which constitutes the actual being of the human mind, is the idea of some particular thing actually existing.
[22] modes of the attributes
[23] We thus comprehend, not only that the human mind is united to the body, but also the nature of the union between mind and body.
[24] nature of our body
[25] large superfices
[26] the human body is affected in a
[27] external body     presence
[28] one possible explanation
[29] I am very far from the truth