Monday, April 19, 2021

Old and new.

Emerson "The Transcendentalist". 

Much of our reading, much of our labor, seems mere waiting: it was not that we were born for. Any other could do it as well, or better. So little skill enters into these works, so little do they mix with the divine life, that it really signifies little what we do, whether we turn a grindstone, or ride, or run, or make fortunes, or govern the state. The worst feature of this double consciousness is, that the two lives, of the understanding and of the soul, which we lead, really show very little relation to each other, never meet and measure each other: one prevails now, all buzz and din; and the other prevails then, all infinitude and paradise; and, with the progress of life, the two discover no greater disposition to reconcile themselves. Yet, what is my faith? What am I? What but a thought of serenity and independence, an abode in the deep blue sky?
Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk,
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight* in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The editor of the Oxford University Press edition, refers to "double consciousness" without the hyphen: "what Du Bois calls 'double consciousness'", even though Du Bois hyphenates the term. Go figure.

He cites Dickson D. Bruce Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois and the Idea of Double Consciousness"

Bruce quotes Emerson straight –Emerson doesn't use the hyphen– but adds the hyphen when referring to his use of the term. "In Emerson's essay, 'double-consciousness' evoked..." Again, go figure.

Emerson's and –America's– separation of the pure and the vulgar, the worldly and unworldly, is a recipe for psychosis and disaster:  "The American has got to destroy. It is his destiny."

The bots that run Academia.edu invited me to submit a short essay. Amusing, since I signed up as a last resort because I was told by editors that the long one, would never pass peer review. We'll see what happens.
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I submitted it. The first paragraph:

I want to expand on a reference in my longer manuscript, to the famous passage from W.E.B. Du Bois on double-consciousness: “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others...”.  Reading it I think of Arendt. “[A] more specific, and also more decisive, flaw in Eichmann's character was his almost total inability ever to look at anything from the other fellow's point of view.”

Nothing I haven't said before.

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