--for borges (again)
You will recall where we last left off. We were discussing the famous passage in the analects (15.13), when the Gialbo suggested that we think of romance/sex/female beauty versus virtue in terms of another passage-- this time from the Dechongfu 德充符 (Completion of Virtue) section of Zhuangzi:
"There was an ugly man in Wei, called Ai-tai Tuo. His father-in-law, who lived with him, thought so much of him that he could not be away from him. His wife, when she saw him (ugly as he was), represented to her parents, saying, 'I had more than ten times rather be his concubine than the wife of any other man.'... he must have been different from other men. I called him, and saw him. Certainly he was ugly enough to scare the whole world. He had not lived with me, however, for many months, when I was drawn to the man..."
De, the Gialbo says, is the power to move others, and you can do it sexually as well as morally.
Beijing immediately complains and suggests that rather than his sexual powers, it was his powers of virtue that moved his wife (to the point where she overlooked the less-than-sexy aspects of his person). Again, in a stubborn mood, I replied that it has been my experience that women can be less visually-oriented when it comes to falling in love. And, that indeed, the man of Wei's virtue (his character) could have been the very thing that so enthralled her-- in that way we could say that his powers of virtue and his sexually powers were-- yes--inextricably connected (in his wife's heart).
I am sure you will all agree that it is certainly possible at least.
Anyway, as I mentioned in the comments here, I am reading a very interesting paper right now by Manyul Im in which he discusses two different models in virtue ethics: the perfectibility model versus the natural development model. Concerning Mencius, Manyul complains of commentators (I assume he means anglophone) "foisting" the Aristotelian perfectibility model on to their readings. I suppose I feel similar here, in that Kongxi's virtuous life, to my mind, is not a path for enlightenment (or some kind moral perfectibility) but rather is a path for balanced and moderated moral engagement through lifestyle choices and ritualized habits based on cultural context (where Chris sees Kierkegaard, I tend toward Heidegger).
Whenever I imagine myself there, I am always with one man. Borges. And, my man Borges says on FB: "I don't do long-distance."
And, I don't blame him. Who wants to do long-distance? But in a dark and gloomy mood, I inform him that the only thing more tiresome than a long-distance relationship is a short-distance relationship (breathing and space being highly desirable).
Someone once told me (and it could be completely false) that a great
percentage of divorces happen in japan when the husband retires and the wife realizes: oh my god (Just kidding Chris!)
Yes, no long-distance but no short distance either.
I then ask: Did you know
Voltaire (and his pet toad) lived in a great mansion with his lover Madame du Châtelet (who was herself married to another man but somehow the other man was OK with this living arrangement, probably due to an arrangement of his own).
Dreaming about them again last night, I go online this morning to look at pictures of the place where they dwelled together: the incomparable Chateau de Cirey. And I then say this to Borges:
There they are-- working in opposite ends of the chateau. It would probably have taken 15 minutes to walk from his wing to her's, and people say they passed notes constantly during their days apart; liveried butlers would deliver handwritten letters on silver platters whenever one of the lovers had something to say to the other.
And they did also dine together as well-- every evening. Their conversations must have been divine and I read that guests too were encouraged to spend their time alone as well reading until the evening meal.
So, Confucius. He might not have liked this arrangement-- I'm not sure. It was, without a doubt, civilized, refined and ritualized-- and yet, the two lovers said on more than one occasion: rules are for other people.
Borges, though, thankfully likes the idea and calls it the Voltaire Strategy. However, being a humble man, he says: I don't know if I need that big of a house though. Just give me Wittgenstein's mountain place to escape to on occasion....
I immediately imagine Heidegger's hut. (Has anyone actually looked through the book?)
I end here with a very compelling concept from Manyul's paper (which is highly recommended reading):
There is, then, an important disposition to be cultivated. It is the disposition of habitually performing at the opportune times the proper formalized-- that is, ritualized-- expressions of one's natural emotions. But this is neither to have modulated one's emotional responses nor to have acquired new motivations.
Learning to be good-- versus-- the refined expression of what is already good? (Oh, if only life were that easy).