Logos and Logic
Part I: Notes toward a Supreme Fact
by Steven H. Cullinane, November 26, 2002
In "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction," Wallace Stevens lists criteria for a work of the imagination:
For a work that seems to satisfy these criteria, see the movable images at my diamond theory website. Central to these images is the interplay of rational sides and irrational diagonals in square subimages.
Recall that "logos" in Greek means "ratio," as well as (human or divine) "word." Thus when I read the following words of Simone Weil today, I thought of Stevens.
In the conclusion of Section 3, Canto X, of "Notes," Stevens says
This is the logoi alogoi of Simone Weil.
Part II: Waiting for Logos
by Steven H. Cullinane, November 27, 2002
Searching for background on the phrase "logos and logic" in yesterday's "Notes toward a Supreme Fact," I found this passage:
The anima and other Jungian concepts are used to analyze Wallace Stevens in an excellent essay by Michael Bryson, "The Quest for the Fiction of an Absolute." Part of Bryson's motivation in this essay is the conflict between the trendy leftist nominalism of postmodern critics and the conservative realism of more traditional critics:
"David Jarraway, in his Stevens and the Question of Belief, writes about a Stevens figured as a proto-deconstructionist, insisting on 'Steven's insistence on dismantling the logocentric models of belief' (311) in 'An Ordinary Evening in New Haven.' In opposition to these readings comes a work like Janet McCann's Wallace Stevens Revisited: 'The Celestial Possible', in which the claim is made (speaking of the post-1940 period of Stevens' life) that 'God preoccupied him for the rest of his career.'"Here "logocentric" is a buzz word for "Christian." Stevens, unlike the postmodernists, was not anti-Christian. He did, however, see that the old structures of belief could not be maintained indefinitely, and pondered what could be found to replace them. "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction" deals with this problem. In his essay on Stevens' "Notes," Bryson emphasizes the "negative capability" of Keats as a contemplative technique:
"The willingness to exist in a state of negative capability, to accept that sometimes what we are seeking is not that which reason can impose...."
Compare her remarks on waiting for Orestes with the following passage from Waiting for God:
Weil concludes the preceding essay with the following passage:
This biblical metaphor is also echoed in the work of Pascal, who combined in one person the theological talent of Simone Weil and the mathematical talent of her brother. After discussing how proofs should be written, Pascal says
The Diamond Archetype.
Part III: A Logocentric Archetype
by Steven H. Cullinane, November 29, 2002
Today we examine the relativist, nominalist, leftist, nihilist, despairing, depressing, absurd, and abominable work of Samuel Beckett, darling of the postmodernists.
One lens through which to view Beckett is an essay by Jennifer Martin, "Beckettian Drama as Protest: A Postmodern Examination of the 'Delogocentering' of Language." Martin begins her essay with two quotations: one from the contemptible French twerp Jacques Derrida, and one from Beckett's masterpiece of stupidity, Molloy. For a logocentric deconstruction of Derrida, see my note, "The Shining of May 29," which demonstrates how Derrida attempts to convert a rather important mathematical result to his brand of nauseating and pretentious nonsense, and of course gets it wrong. For a logocentric deconstruction of Molloy, consider the following passage:
Beckett is describing, in great detail, how a damned moron might approach the extraordinarily beautiful mathematical discipline known as group theory, founded by the French anticleric and leftist Evariste Galois. Disciples of Derrida may play at mimicking the politics of Galois, but will never come close to imitating his genius. For a worthwhile discussion of permutation groups acting on a set of 16 elements, see R. D. Carmichael's masterly work, Introduction to the Theory of Groups of Finite Order, Ginn, Boston, 1937, reprinted by Dover, New York, 1956.
There are at least two ways of approaching permutations on 16 elements in what Pascal calls "l'esprit géométrique." My website Diamond Theory discusses the action of the affine group in a four-dimensional finite geometry of 16 points. For a four-dimensional euclidean hypercube, or tesseract, with 16 vertices, see the highly logocentric movable illustration by Harry J. Smith. The concept of a tesseract was made famous, though seen through a glass darkly, by the Christian writer Madeleine L'Engle in her novel for children and young adults, A Wrinkle in Time.
This tesseract may serve as an archetype for what Pascal, Simone Weil (see my earlier notes), Harry J. Smith, and Madeleine L'Engle might, borrowing their enemies' language, call their "logocentric" philosophy.
For a more literary antidote to postmodernist nihilism, see Archetypal Theory and Criticism, by Glen R. Gill.
For a discussion of the full range of meaning of the word "logos," which has rational as well as religious connotations, click here.
For a discussion of semiotics and religion that is not wholly unsympathetic to logocentrism, click here.
Note that this discussion is not entirely unrelated to a new book, The Puzzle Instinct by Marcel Danesi, Professor of Semiotics at the University of Toronto (a school also known for geometry). This book in turn is rather closely related to my