Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Night of the World.


The other day I watched Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Žižek's  The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and one moment that caught my attention was when Žižek discussed the Hegelian notion of "the nigh of the world".   I had never heard of this before so I when online and tracked it down, here is the crucial passage:
 
"The human being is this Night, this empty nothing which contains everything in its simplicity – a wealth of infinitely many representations, images, none of which occur to it directly, and none of which are not present. This [is] the Night, the interior of [human] nature, existing here – pure Self – [and] in phantasmagoric representations it is night everywhere: here a bloody head suddenly shoots up and there another white shape, only to disappear as suddenly. We see this Night when we look a human being in the eye, looking into a Night which turns terrifying. [For from his eyes] the night of the world hangs out toward us". -  Hegel, The Philosophy of Spirit (Jena Lectures 1805-6).

This passage is often interpreted as a statement of the 'radical negativity' of the human psyche.  I can see a kind of poetic appeal, if not anti-poetic appeal in this idea.

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