Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tractatus Pathetico-Poeticus [6.233-4]

6.223 The question of whether institutions are needed for the solution of magical problems must be given the answer that in this case language itself provides the necessary institutions.

6.2331 And the process of conjuring ushers us into just this institution.
Conjuring is not a democratic process.

6.234 Magic is a mandate of passion.

6.2341 A magical mandate exists through work with spells. This mandate is dependent on every magical sentence's ability to obscure itself.


Laura Carter said...

If magic is a mandate of passion, then is dispassion (in a healthy sense---forgive me for 'valuing' here) the impetus to "that which is not magic"?

Is all art magic?

Are art & magic inextricable?

I hope so.



Laura Carter said...

Also: what is the distinction between compassion & dispassion, & how does "passion" in the general sense relate to this?

These are not new questions.

Thomas Basbøll said...

I suppose there is an orthodox answer to this question that emerges from the transpositions.

Trac. Log-Phil. says "Mathematics is a method of logic."

Trac. Pat-Poet. says "Magic is a mandate of passion."

So, magic is to poetry what mathematics is to philosophy. Now, I don't think philosophy and mathematics are "inextricable", though they are surely very relevant to each other (as their respective and respectful histories show).

Next, there is the question of "dispassion". I think the trick here is to note that between two related terms there is often an area of blended negativity, i.e., an area where the negation of each term blends with the other, without making the one term identical with the negation of the other. This is not as obscure as it sounds.

If we have

magic and non-magic
mathematics and non-mathematics
passion and non-passion (dispassion?)
logic and non-logic (illogic?)

Then it is not necessarily the case that the "passionate" poet is simply an "illogical" philosopher.

It's more like this:

logic - illogic/dispassion - passion


a sort of "dispassionate irrationality" effects (or affects) the difference between logic (reason) and passion.

There would likewise be a sort of disenchanted (non-conjuring, i.e., "that which is not magic") incalculabity (non-calculating, "that which is not mathematics") between magic and mathematics.

These regions will overlap or intertwine and will, yes, be extricable only with great difficulty. So there's hope.

As for compassion, that's interesting.

Passion is to compassion and dispassion as logic is to X and Y.

We might start by connecting compassion and collectivity (or socialism), cf. 5.64.

So we get

solipsism is to X what
socialism is to compassion


X should be some sort modulation of "logic".

That's what I can shake out my sleeve at this point, but I'll work on it.

One source of the mathematics/magic transposition is, of course, Pound's Spirit of Romance, p. 14, Ch. I "The Phantom Dawn."

All the best,

Laura Carter said...


You rock.

Jay said...

I'm curious as to what motivated your choice of "magic" to replace "mathematics". No objections here (that I know of), just curious about the thought processes behind the choice . . .

Thomas Basbøll said...

I often associate it with Pound's suggestion that "Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics, which gives us . . . equations for the human emotions". He adds that the romantic mind would "prefer to speak of spells and incantation".(Spirit of Romance, p. 14, Ch. I.)

Recognizing that we are dealing with metaphors and differences of emphasis, and the trac. pangrammaticus being a balancing act, a system of tensions, the clearest effect, I thought, was to put magic on the poetry side and mathematics on the philosophy side.

Also: magic and mathematics are both procedures for manipulating symbols for particular effects.

While the apparent causal efficacy of magic depends on the stability of the social context ("please remain seated during the course of the performance") the superficial efficiency of mathematics in reasoning depends on the stability of the material context (if you put two apples in a box and then two more there will be four apples there all things being equal etc.).

So there seems to be a pangrammatical homology there.