ENGA10H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Ivory Trade, Falconry, For Marx
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ENGA10 – LECTURE ONE 3/9/2014
We all have different awareness levels in different contexts that make it possible for us to
maintain relationships between different kinds of people. In the past, most people believed in
some transcendental God. In the past, our perception of the world was mediated by the
presence or the belief in a God – nowadays, the need for a God has dissolved due to the rise of
science. Consciousness is the effect of the mediation – a sense of what it is and what you make
of it (something you perceive). Science now acts as our mediator to the world.
Mediation allows you to be where you are and think of something else at the same time. It
allows us to use scientific algorithms to predict the weather (for example – science as a
mediator). Changing the central mediation changes all the other mediations. The world we know
is a result of the mediations we follow. Our word brings us our world – but it doesn’t bring us all
possible worlds. Mediation is also a narrower – a limitation of mediation. We narrow our
perspective with our own mediation. This isn’t necessarily negative – narrowing is necessary –
thinking is the point where you narrow your consciousness to allow you to be where you are and
think of something else. Language and words narrow perspective. Poetry attempts to evoke
worlds that aren’t familiar to us by using words in a different way. People write poems to say
more than they mean. Poetry tries to crack open your world to let in the world. Sometimes we
begin to suffer when our world is narrowed too much by our words. This can be a very gradual
effect and the options start to shut down – ability to understand the way you feel and why you
feel that way is diminished – begin to feel like everything is acting upon you and you aren’t
acting on anything.
The 21st century has been described as the age of anxiety – it is the feeling we give to our
feelings when we don’t know what we are feeling – the great ‘whatever’. Sadness and anger
have identifiable causes. People who are anxious won’t know why – if they knew why they were
nervous, they wouldn’t be nervous. Anxiety feeds on itself. You feel it more and more when you
don’t know the way you’re feeling. Why is the 21st century the age of anxiety? Depression and
anxiety have a similarity in that they don’t have any sort of clear source or object. We live in an
age in which things make sense to the degree in which they are practical. Once you have
decided what something is useful for, you don’t care about anything else it can do that has
nothing to do with us.
Suddenly, the point of our life is to get things – the reason we get university degrees.
Picture of Dorian Grey is about a crisis in mediation. Faith is a unique form of mediation –
whether it be faith in science, in God, in something you buy in the mall, or something
commercial (like ads at STC). What is faith in an age of anxiety? Faith is believing in something
that you can’t know for sure – we have to do it because it mediates it for us. The crucial element
of faith is doubt – faith is triumph over doubt. If you can’t doubt, you can’t believe – doubt makes
the faith possible. If you could prove that God, then faith wouldn’t be necessary – faith is a
mediating factor that organizes consciousness. It’s what helps us prioritize and so on. Morality is
a mediated system of behaviour. Morality comes from something that we can’t argue with – it is
incorruptible – beyond this world. Faith is transcendentally certain. Morality gives us a sense of
knowing when we’re doing something right or wrong. What if we lose that sense of
transcendental certainty? We then come into the field of ethics – morality is based in faith and
ethics is based in law. The commandments say that you shouldn’t kill anyone and then there’s
the illegality of murder – so there is a relationship. There’s a different rationale however,
between murdering something ethically and morally.
There used to be a sense of a great chain of being. It was a way to explain why people were
born differently – it mediated or made sense of things. It also made sense of social conformity –
if you were born a poor farmer, you couldn’t aspire to be anything great. It was a rationale to
keep people the way they were.
Just sending a text requires the text to go all the way up and then come back down and go to
the person next to you. The sense of divinity is eroded. Facebook has become a means of
importance – if it’s not on Facebook, it’s not important. Taking selfies is a way to mediate
ourselves – taking a selfie at the party and then going home to look at it will provide a sense of
transcendental mediation that basically shows the result of the party.
Barbie is a bit like the self – you buy the Barbie and you dress it up and change things up with it.
The Barbie is ultra-female while the GI Joe for example, is a he-man – a lot of gender division.
All of these things are forms of mediation.
Wordsworth implies that his mediation system is collapsing because of the rise of modern
economy and so on. He longs for a new religion – he’s sick of all these things that appeal to
himself – he wants to get back in touch with his soul. The point about making himself ‘less
forlorn’ shows how lonely the self can be because the self self-encloses.
By 1867, Darwin, Freud, Neechi (something like that), and a fourth have already published their
works – ‘architects’. The problem with the 21st century is that we need to ask the right questions.
Matthew Arnold in his poem starts to remember his love – implies to avoid using each other
because that is how the world is becoming – a world in which people continue to use each other
in some way for their own gain. That is what is happening – giving up transcendental mediation
for immediate self-gratification – for the self. If you were only responsible for yourself, how
would you act? You would only be encouraged to care for yourself and you would use others to
gain for yourself.
ENGA10 – LECTURE TWO 10/9/2014
What is the difference between addiction and ritual?
Ideology is your imagined relationship to your actual existence – the myth of origin.
Lord Henry said “Nowadays we know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
In the Second Coming: ‘Things fall apart, The centre cannot hold’
The example with a falcon and a falconer demonstrates something that leaves its centre and
then returns to it later. The question is not what the centre is, but what the centre allows you to
do. Lord Henry persuades Gray in that sense when Gray is anxious about aging. Lord Henry
teaches him weakness, fear, and dependency. In the modern age, these things look like
strength. Dependency has a high degree of clarity – you need this or you need that the most – it
clarifies things. It orders your values for you. What is the point of life – why am I alive – these
questions are answered in a complex way by Lord Henry – he tells him to just try and stay
young and have as many sensations as he can before he dies. This is the movement of a
consciousness based on soul to a consciousness based on self. In many ways, dependency is
in the eyes of the beholder – even a faith that permits you to live your life is still a dependency
on a functional level. It is a very negative term because this is the age of Anxiety and that we’re
moving over to the age of Depression. Overlapping both of these things is the age of Addiction.
If you have a dependency at your centre, it is a potential addiction model since the centre needs
to be fed.
So this gives rise to the question – what is the difference between addiction and ritual? It can be
quite confusing, since even a ritual can become an addiction. So what defines the difference?
Lord Henry clearly set up an addiction model with Gray – telling him that there is nothing but
himself – gives him immediate access to all that matters and dismisses mediated access to
anything. What mediates your access to the world? Whatever it is, it is traceable to the centre of
you (money, God, etc.).
In the movie “The Wall” – it is shown that a rock star can’t perform because he’s had a nervous
breakdown, but the promoter doesn’t care because he just wants him to perform. If the rock star
doesn’t go to the concert, the promoter won’t get his cut, so he does what he can. He’s like Lord
Henry in that he’s saying that the show is what matters. It’s like ‘the show must go on’.
Dorian Gray can be considered an early kind of rock star – the performance of the show is the
centre. It’s not that you perform as you are, but it is what you perform and what you become
after. So you are dependent on your show since you’re only as valuable as your last show.
Behind that show, you become more and more afraid and anxious as you begin to experience
an increasing gap in the performance and the you behind the performance. On the one hand,
you find that people value your performance, but this praise doesn’t help you because you get
more anxious that people aren’t liking you. You get more worried about ‘if they knew’. If they
knew there was a me other than this performance – a me behind this performance. If they know
who I really am, they won’t like me… and so on. This is what Lord Henry did with Gray in terms
of telling him that it’s all about his show and that people will be his groupies as long as he
performs. That is where dependency comes from – to fill that hole inside. Thus, the movement
of the soul to the self changes everything. The soul says the only way to fill that dependency is
not in this world. The self is particularly well-suited to modern culture, since our economies run
on advertising and so on. It provides us a way to organize our consciousness.
It isn’t a coincidence that shopping malls look like cathedrals – because they basically are. You
go to a cathedral to pray – the results are the same since you go there for yourself. However,
you keep filling it in and it keeps emptying – so you need to keep pouring, and you end up in an
exhaustive cycle. In this case, you have a centre that is based on lack and absence. The centre
cannot hold. Anarchy is thus loosed upon the world. “The best lack all conviction, while the
worst are filled with passion and intensity”.
How did the worst get filled with passion and intensity? What did Yeats mean with best and
worst? The worst is Lord Henry, since he’s passionate and he likes modern life since he can
manipulate people. He sees Gray as a wide open book to fill up with his ideas so he can watch