Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the farce of balance

I've stopped using the word balance. I don't think it exists; the it being the idea of balance as a method of living. Perhaps it is applicable in the realm of gymnastics or in purely mechanical
terms. A balanced life? I think what people mean when they say balanced is controlled, manageable. In pursuing what Schall describes as the life of the mind, this involves moving towards what becomes an unbalanced life. Not mentally unbalanced or out of control but a life that is continually questioning the other, to know what is and attempting to reatively,intelligently and logically answer those questions. This goal, I think, requires a dialectical view of the nature of things.
Reading one book is out of balance because it means that I'm not reading at least one other book or even multiple books that might be more balanced.
This is taken from Barthes' idea that the one thought being written or said is at the expense of another thought being written or read. To ask questions is to create conflict.
Balance and seeking it requires not asking questions attempting to find a standard of normalcy in which one can operate. While Hegel proposed dialectical view of history to understand
how events in history meshed together, his view of thesis, antithesis, synthesis helps to understand our process of encountering and thinking through difficult and complex issues.
Perceiving balance as a possible method of living or pursuing balance as a method of living is to disregard Hegel's view entirely to the extreme detriment of the individual.
How is the dialectical process fed? I would argue that it is primarily done through reading, writing and discourse. The solitary individual can ask themselves a series of questions to work through the dialectical process but I think, based on experience that it is much better to engage with other people in this process. This is especially because other people have read books that I have not other people have asked questions that I have not and have resources that I do not have. These questions if properly ask will upset the balance I may have created in the manipulation of any knowledge I have possibly attained. The goal of questioning is not to blow one's life or family members' life into complete disarray but to attempt to determine from life's texts what can be learned from them.
(A note: I was thinking about this some more and one of the best illustrations of this idea is Bach, especially his inventions or his fugues. Ideas and motives are introduced against each other for their mutual dissonance, passing, conflict and resolution. Each requires the other and it is in experiencing the other that the full potential of the motive is realized.
The other thought I had was Schenkerian in nature. Schenker believed, if I remember correctly, that any music could be reduced to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. He arrived at this, in any number of pieces, by reducing the items in the piece to a background, middleground and foreground. It may sound ridiculious and it is slightly but Schenker's method of approaching the piece is quite helpful. I think this approach also lends some understanding to understanding my role. Whatever the narrative or musical work, pick your metaphor, of my living is reduced to its smallest form it should resound the Westminster Shorter Catchecism. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."

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