It was Early Spring. They often rode through hills burnt bare from napalm; past villages populated by amputees. Despite the relentless scars of war, the country was stunningly beautiful. Perhaps the most beautiful place on earth, she thought. Indeed, sometimes, riding on the back of his motorcycle and looking out past the languid Perfume River at those gentle blue-green hills beyond, she thought she had died and gone to heaven—such was the poetic beauty of the place. And he was part of it. The man seemed to breathe the landscape. Sitting under a tree to “write the mountains and trees;” and “sing like the wind in unrestrained brushstrokes,” he would tell her --humming a tune--that he missed the sound of the rain in Japan.
Shared moods and the rain.
Robert Harrison, began his show on the Philosophy of Moods with an opening monologue in which he too spoke of missing the rain and he said:
"mood is a form of attunement between nature and spirit; between habitat and inhabitant"
Heidegger would point out that a minimally meaningful life requires sensitivity to the power of shared moods that give mattering to our world and unity and meaning to events. According to Heidegger, moods are not something inside a person but rather are something that a person can be in. That is, moods come over us; overcoming us. The German word famously reflects this, as philosophers like to remind us that die Stimmung [stimmungen?] means mood in terms of atmosphere ("ambiance"). Often likened to music or to weather, Heideggerean mood wraps itself around our bodies. It is something that we unconsciously attune ourselves too. Indeed, it is one way we have to grasp the way the world discloses itself to us.
I am reading François Jullien's new book, The Great Image Has No Form, Or the Nonobject Through Painting. Jullien also talks a lot about landscapes and moods. He uses the image of wind （風）:
風教 風景 風姿 風儀 風度 風神 風情 風味
The concept of atmosphere was condemned to remain weak in European thought, given that, unlike the activity of cognition, "atmosphere" could not be conceived in terms of the opposition between the objective and the subjective. It is an influence that emerges from beings and things and is valid only by virtue of the impression it produces in us: it e-manates or im-parts and hence circulates inseperably between what is neither "that" nor 'us" anymore... indeed, an atmosphere is diffuse, disseminated, dispersed, elusive....
And hence, through one's in-haling and ex-haling, one breathes in landscape, atmosphere and social context and breathes out character, heart and correct behavior. It is not unlike a Confucian scholar whose meticulous actions-- perfectly attuned to the situation-- are guided by a Confucian sensibility, or sensitive negotiating of shared mood. Like the sound of jade reverberating off the walls of the great hall, the Confucian scholar just feels it-- this thing called virtue or proper conduct is something to which he attunes himself as embodied know-how. And as Robert Harrison's guest Sepp Gumbrecht suggests, in the same way that a violin will internally reverberate when bowed, this mood is internalized in the sense that it becomes almost impossible to really differentiate between outer environment and inner self as they are indeed inter-dependent.
That different cultures across geography and time have emphasized or have sought to cultivate this sensibility to a greater or lesser degree is commonsensical. And not all philosophies were created equally either. Sepp Gumbrecht holds up the ancient Greeks as one culture that placed great emphasis on cultivated sensibility. But we can also think of this in terms of cultivation in Confucian traditions. Confucian sensibility. And working backward from there, if one wanted to re-construct what a philosophy such as this was like-- a philosphy whose project was, rather than being concerned with the deduction of universal truths via subjective logical cognition, was instead concerned with correct behavior within a social context-- one would perhaps do well to try and approach via phenomenology--not analytical reasoning.
Javanese gamelan-- it was said to have originated in the ancient bells used in China as part of the Rites. Like a sensitivity to atmospheric conditions and landscapes, so too was music thought to attune or cultivate a person into virtue. When I studied dance in java, explanations were not given and movements were not dissected (as they were in ballet for example). Teacher just danced in front of the students. Mirrors were not used as the students were encouraged to focus totally on teacher's movements as exemplerary model (see first video below).
The music too was one of internalized patterns where there often were no written down musical notes (rules) but it was a musical "know-how" where patterns were loosely followed. Repetitive, culturally conservative it was also highly improvizational, compared with European classical music, for example. Our music teacher in japan, when explaining Japanese 囃子 music (or the music in Noh Theater) explained this in terms of the difference between rules/law versus path/way:
法 versus 道
And for "michi," he suggested, what is required is the internalization of correct patterns and a refined sensibility to the "atmosphere" ("atmosphere" 雰囲気 is, along with michi, another other big concept in japanese) not a cognitive grasp of rules or truths. Indeed, for a lot of the hayashi music, there is no real musical notation at all. One just goes and following along, goes with the flow.
For as Nietzsche desribes, stepping out into the dark Venice night, surrounded by the sound and smell of water, a mood overcomes like a song:
Venice-- At the bridge of late
I stood in the brown night.
From afar came a song:
as a golden drop it welled
over the quivering surface.
Gondolas, lights, and music--
drunken it swam out into the twilight.
My soul, a stringed instrument,
sang to itself, invisibly touched,
a secret gondola song,
quivering with iridescent happiness.
--Did anyone listen to it?