Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (12)‏

by richibi

Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 16:50:52 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus.


I like your comment, “I won’t try to impose my perspective, I can only tell what I see”, which reminded me of a sentimental story that I had heard a long time ago. The story was in first-person narrative and went like this:

I [an art merchant] traveled to a far country on a business trip, and found lodging in a small family inn owned by an blind old man and his daughter. During an after-dinner conversation, I learned that the old man was actually a connoisseur of art with many famous paintings in his collection. Naturally I was delighted when he offered to show me the paintings. But his daughter was visibly distressed and signaled me to follow she went to fetch the paintings. She explained to me that they had fallen on hard times and she had no choice but to sell the paintings to survive, in spite of the old man’s firm instructions that the paintings must not be sold, because they were his life. He had become blind due to sickness so he didn’t know that the paintings were all gone. When the daughter brought the blank frames to the old man, he proudly presented them to me, naming them one by one, while caressing them gently with his withered hands. Staring at the blank frames, I listened in silence and shock. Suddenly, the old man stopped, he sensed that something was missing, something didn’t feel quite right. What happened to his beloved painting? The daughter looked to me in desperation for help. I hesitated but finally mustered enough courage to speak. I picked up where the old man had left off, and, recalling from memory, I described the details of the paintings and complimented the old man’s taste. He beamed with pride and delight.
There are many ways to interpret the story, one of which is this: if the “paintings” were all in the old man’s mind, and “I” had not seen them nor anybody else, it would be impossible to carry out the conversation, and there would be no sharing, nor inspiration, nor delight.

This is the armchair Platonist’s answer to the demented Nietzsche: we are able to share our thoughts and feelings with one another, because we both behold the same underlying intelligible reality, both within ourselves and without. If we are only conscious of ourselves and nothing else, conversation would be impossible and pointless. Even Nietzsche, before he fell to dementia, couldn’t resist the desire for conversation since he published his works– as you say say rightly, philosophy is conversation. Otherwise, he could have kept all to himself, in his private notebook

your question is probing, Nemo, I’m not sure
that even Plato would have come to such
corollary conclusions as what you seem to
be suggesting, which is to say that Plato’s
absolutes, distant and distinct from us, as I
understand them, as God, yet received by
us a priori, or, inherently, at birth, as you
would have it, suggest the underlying 
existential commonality of our experience
you forget the pivotal factor of birth here,
Nemo, I think, incarnation, spirit, or
something, made matter, like buds in
spring, bursting with each its own
unpredictable, and wondrous, existence
my experience is that I cannot know even
dimensions before I formally deduce them,
before I enter this world, though the
dimensions themselves may indeed be there 
who knew love, Nemo, before experiencing
it, the thing that more than anything else
moves our world, remember the adolescent
who had to put it all together piece by
disconcerting piece, we had to learn it all
at the movies to finally make any kind of
sense of it, playing out our battles in water
too deep for most of us most of the time,
and ultimately too treacherous for many  
there is mathematics, there are probably
even dimensions, Nemo, but I don’t know
about any other merely abstract world
beyond this one, for better or for worse    
therefore Proust
and therefore Beethoven  
psst: your parable is delightful, even
           unforgettable, and it merely
           bolsters my recommended
           literary and musical advice