Sunday, 20 February 2011

Neither with nor without feathers

Reading George Steiner on hope:
Hope and fear are supreme fictions empowered by syntax. They are as indivisible from each other as they are from grammar. Hope encloses a fear of unfulfilment. Fear has in it a mustard seed of hope, the intimation of overcoming. [7]
Can't say I agree. There are many species of hope, and both passive hope (tending towards the asymptote of an absolute resignation) and active hope (where activity wholly occupies and so crowds-out doubt for the actor) can be free of fear. And to say that 'fear always includes hope' seems to me simply to misdescribe several key modes of terror.
It is the status of hope today which is problematic. On any but the trivial, momentary level, hope is a transcendental inference.
Ah, Professor NoTrueScotsman, how pleasant to see you here! What's that? My wholly untranscendental, material and mundane hopes (that my kids don't fall sick, that my family gets through the years, that my hurting ankle gets better, that I get a chance to do a bit of writing today) are trivial, are they? Thank you very much.
The theological foundation is that which allows, which requires the desideratum, the forward venture and intent to be adressed to divine hearers in "the hope", precisely, of support or, at least, understanding.
Or, let's try: not 'in "the hope", precisely...' but 'in "the hope", vaguely', in the imprecise hope of the succour from a non-existent entity. But let's not get bogged down:
Hope would be meaningless in a wholly irrational order or in one of arbitrary, absurdist ethics.
No it wouldn't. We may have reached the 'flat contradiction' part of our interaction, Professor.

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