I’m in Norway for three weeks. As every year. On the way up here, crossing the sea by boat, I sit next to a family with three kids at the restaurant. Their 8-month-old is definitely hitting on me. I know that look. Although he doesn’t face me, he constantly turns about 90 degrees and stares at me with what I take is a mixture of desire, curiosity, and admiration. I swear I do nothing to invite that gazing. Precisely because I do nothing, his parents wonder why the baby insists on sitting in what I take must be a very uncomfortable position. So the mother checks me out. Then the father sizes me up. Watching other people is obviously contagious, as their 7-year-old girl also looks intrigued. Only the 5-year-old thinks it’s normal to have the whole family look my way, so he does it too but in a nonchalant, rather than tense way. I decide to give them a reason to stare, so I ally myself with the baby. I make a face at him. He goes wild. This goes on for a while. The baby likes me and I also like him. But as I can only take so much mutual sympathy, I decide to go for some desert. The girl follows me. As I pass the 100-meter-long counter full of cakes, I notice that she takes nothing from it. I turn to her and ask her: “don’t you want anything?” She makes a negative sign. “Then why are you following me?” I continue. She smiles and shrugs.

This reminds me of a conversation I once had with my sister, who is a psychologist, upon her observing my encounters with her son who is now 13. She told me that kids have a special kind of radar that picks up on vibrations especially of the disinterested type. She is convinced that kids can read body language better than adults, and that what they can read where I am concerned is that I’m not really interested in them – which fascinates them. I don’t go ‘giddy, giddy,’ and I don’t laugh at them when they mispronounce words. I also don’t let them win in cards if we play together. “Over my dead body,” I tell them. My sister has also noticed that I can only take about one hour around kids before I go to other planets. Jupiter, to be more precise. Yet according to her, it is in fact Jupiter that does it for kids, as they all want to follow. Where I often go, my sister claims, is an abstract place that only kids can sense and relate to. I like this thought. Somehow it has something to do with both being here and not being here.

On top of the mountain in Norway, I try to think about the law of the excluded middle. This foundational principle in logic states that something must be either A or not A, but not both. The ‘both’ is the middle position which is excluded by the law. I read these lines in a book:

The law of excluded middle is a venerable old law of logic.
But much can be said against its claim that everything must be either true or false.

The idea that women cannot think logically is a not so venerable old stereotype. As an example of thinking, I don’t think we need to discuss it.

Lawn of Excluded Middle plays with the idea of a woman as the excluded middle. Women and more particularly, the womb, the empty center of the woman’s body, the locus of fertility.

This is not a syllogism.

This is a syllogism.

Poetry: an alternate, less linear logic.

Wittgenstein makes language with its ambiguities the ground of philosophy. His games are played on the Lawn of Excluded Middle.

The picture of the world drawn by classical physics conflicts with the picture drawn by quantum theory. As A.S. Eddington says, we use classical physics on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

For Newton, the apple has the perplexing habit of falling. In another frame of reference, Newton is buffeted up toward the apple at rest.

The gravity of love encompasses ambivalence.

(Rosmarie Waldrop, On Lawn of Excluded Middle)

At high altitude, ALL activities are Sunday activities, ALL affairs are of love, and ALL love is of interplanetary traveling.


Anonymous said…
When you venture to Jupiter, I think the child is registering the ecstatic nature of the journey, too; the manifestation of that irruption, which radiates from out your nerves like invisible tentacles. . .

I think your sister, if she's interested in this madness that we are, might be struck by Jennifer Gosetti-Ferencei's The Ecstatic Quotidian. The second chapter, Sources of Ecstasis in Childhood Experience, concerns as is obvious, the child's Dionysiac experience of the world. It's heightened perception of the everyday that can generate ecstasis and open us to unfamiliar ways of being in the world, which the child is so expert at.

By the way, the hand of October has swept us into its force so, soon enough, the next issue of Hyperion will be forthcoming. That means your review of another book that concerns new ways of seeing will soon see the light.

To the delights of black and reviving the raiment of the Romans. . . Excelsior!
Camelia said…
Thanks Rainer,

I'll pass that on to my sister. Quite literally, the thing about Jupiter, and how some of us rush to it, perhaps to experience a moment of ecstasy, is amusing given the fact that the planet has so much gravity. On Jupiter the likelihood that you get crushed is much higher than the possibility to float lightly in the air.

Now, on to a crushing thinker, Cioran. I got 'Cartea Amagirilor' and I'll do a translation for you, as promised.

Popular Posts