below: King John III, iv, 112
table of contents commented bibliography and index say what? noframes


Before the curing of a strong disease,
Even in the instant of repair and health,
The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave,
On their departure most of all show evil.
In a quest to cure itself of ideology and find its proper heir, philosophy contemplates ending itself or turning itself inside-out.
Galahad on his quest - Arthur Hughes (1870)
The ideological juggernauts whose shadows darkened the intellectual life of the late nineteenth century possessed almost every important thinker who crossed into our century with a deep sense of danger. Most, in consequence, resolved to search out a cure for what they perceived as a sickness of Mind in its relation to Culture. These thinkers' divergence from each other may be said to have been carried in the spirit of a Grail-quest. But those were strange times; Nietzsche's quest, for example, took its most earnest turn with his rejection of Richard Wagner's  ... Parsifal .
Love talks with better
knowledge, and knowledge
with dearer love.

The disastrous momentum of ideologies made diverse impressions on our century's inaugural thinkers. Still, all would eventually emphasize that the role of Time or Process in the foundations of Mind made it necessary for the activity of thinking to ground itself not only in forming and systematizing ideas. Some thinkers of that time; Nietzsche, Rudolf Steiner, and later Heidegger, for example, spoke of 'the end of philosophy'. In one respect they meant to overturn the lexicon of words and priorities which originated in Ancient Greece and ever since had continued to lend its definitions to 'philosophy'. Heidegger, however, suggested that Philosophy's etymology, philo for 'love' and sophia for 'wisdom' should be more fundamentally construed than the conventional interpretation as the 'love of wisdom'. Heidegger put forth that the truer intention is rather the 'wisdom of love'. Rudolf Steiner described at length such a reversal in its epochal implications even before Heidegger. Also for Nietzsche, the 'end of philosophy' meant a fundamental reversal: where philosophy claimed to measure life by thought, Reconstructed 1832 Babbage 'difference engine'. Nietzsche called for measuring thought by life. It is characteristic of the kind of trouble we find ourselves in that the popular meaning of the 'end of philosophy' became not the possibility of a more fundamental kind of thinking, but rather an excuse to discredit thinking or to restrict it to the kind of analytic procedures that could in principle be accomplished by a computer.
Gustav Mahler's last words?

All of the thinkers we are concerned with here, excepting Ernst Cassirer, felt history had already proven the need for radical measures in order to establish a healthy role for Mind in Culture. None, however, meant to discard the preceding two millennia of philosophy and start from scratch. The challenge rather was to find the kind of foundations that would put those preceding labors into specific perspectives, allowing them their proper kind of truth while preserving us from being procrustean victims of their limitations. Thinkers who have brought us new beginnings in ways that make a difference have always managed to leave room between the lines of their writings for us to hear complex reverberations inherited from thinking's past. Here too philosophy resembles the tradition of musical composition. (It is said that the word on Mahler's lips as he died was 'Mozart'.)
human embryo
More generally, it is the mark of significant art that even while it brings into the world a new voice and standpoint, it remains an open window to what has come before: Art and thinking have in common that they expressively witness the life of the mind. That life shows a shape which stretches across millennia - as does also the shape belonging to the body's life. Even as new life separates from old life, it carries through an entire and multiplex inheritance. So does thought.
before after
table of contents commented bibliography and index say what? noframes


Gustav Mahler's last words:     Michael Kennedy's biography Mahler, reports 'Mozart' as among his last words, along with his wife's name, and 'Who'll take care of Schoenberg now?' This is a peculiarly eloquent, albeit anecdotal, exemplification of fundamental relation in terms of all three of what will be discussed as temporal ecstases in the course of this essay.

Gustav Mahler's music deserves to be heard as uniquely embodying the cross-currents of transition between the 19th and 20th centuries. Its aspirations open experience toward a wisdom of feeling which yields old ground to more differentially temporalized groundings.

The most direct connection to Mahler's own expressive approach can be found on the invaluable single complete recording of a Mahler symphony by the conductor Willem Mengelberg. The benchmark of interpretive depth for the range of Mahler's work belongs so far to the recordings left by Jascha Horenstein. (Links to Horenstein's Mahler Seventh and to his The Song of the Earth). And the contemporary conductor whose Mahler has shown itself as most distinctively true and vital would likely be Sir Simon Rattle. (Links to Rattle's Mahler Second and his Mahler Fourth.) The Mahler conducting of Hermann Scherchen, Sir John Barbirolli, and more recently Gary Bertini and Leonard Slatkin deserve mention here as well.

...lineup and alibi

Love talks with better knowledge,
And knowledge with dearer love.
- Measure for Measure, III, i, 411

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