Robert Hayes Kee,
Department of Polite Aesthetic Praxis
I am pleased to
write to you once again, dear readers. The academic year has shot out
of its gate and has hit full stride in this straightaway time. My own
commitments to the university are greater than most previous
semesters and have required a careful and correct partitioning of my
time. I, of course, place priority upon this address to you, dear
readers, as is the responsibility of one given the privilege of
public address. Using my own creative praxis as a light, I hope to
enlighten a path for your own distinctly non-dialectical balance.
I missed the party of an
occasional interlocutor, dedicated to their impending remotion. I did
not even répondez s'il vous plait. We were not
partners in a creative praxis, but enjoyed our common time and
casually admired each other’s praxes. What can be done to amend
for my botchery?
Etiquette exists as guide for, as
humans, we will inevitably aggrieve one another. It is a pestilential
society that demands perfection. Quittance for one’s
corrigendum must be sought and given freely; this exculpation is very
much part of the rhizomatic flow of human energy, and etiquette is
the acknowledgement of one’s inexorable origin in this flow.
We are always moving forward in the
face of death as mortals, and thus occasions stand as markers of a
moment in time as we progress toward union with our one true
possession. This progress should not be a solemn march. Indeed, to
live well, one must turn this walk into a spirited jaunt. Moving
thus, we mark our most important steps with occasions and gatherings,
and the move from one locality to another is a time-honored,
respectable one on which to hold court. Our friends seek our
adulation, and most are only comfortable offering theirs in
ejaculatory bursts on such occasions. Blandiloquence is typically
the mot juste of praise, but on these occasions our
interlocutors frequently seek a moi juste. The correctness of
conforming with this expectation varies with each call to do so.
Your regret implies that you desired
this heightened flow of soul. The power of occasion to call for a
society of heightened joviality is a formidable one. The power of
words to stick with us, like small items in the bottom of knapsack,
cannot be paralleled. Your friend asked you to help them pack for a
trek on an occasion that would allow for effusive outpouring. To do
so now is not too late, but requires that one produce one’s own
ecstatic state. What you owe your friend is a gregarious and effusive
outpouring of adulation. You must now produce and record this
adulation for your interlocutor. Communicate the diminution of
jouissance in your social body with a literal demonstration. I
suggest mailing a dispensable appendage, but an indispensable one
does show a greater level of affection.
I am a creative
practitioner. While my work largely edifies my interlocutors and
myself, I have thus far failed to achieve higher recognition. I am
upset that I was excluded from a recent honoration. Is it incorrect
to feel this way? Am I neglecting the efforts of others with personal
Nietzsche calls for us to be untimely.
To be Übermenchen, we must abandon hope for
timely recognition. Just as we reach backwards in the conversation
across centuries, stepping into Heraclitus’ river with one
foot, we must also step forward with the other, straddling the
present. Given such lofty dictates, it seems that the only possible
advice would be to ignore awards of any kind and to focus solely on
one’s own work.
This however, is poor consolation for
the daily bruises of obscurity and a lack of acclamation; haughtiness
can fuel a journey for only so long. We cannot deny our
being-in-the-world, and that world congratulates and honors the
esthetic praxis of many humans. As I described above, the desire for
adulation is not a shameful one, and the desire for a broad
conviviality will lead to a desire for public address. The chief
benefit of an award is not the statue or the prize, but its ability
to offer one a more patulous platform of public address. Make this
platform for yourself, reader. Recognize the value in atypical forms
of public address. Take Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
as a model and take a branch as your platform; shout your desired
message from treetops, dear reader.
I have entered into a
relationship with an imbalance of affection. My interlocutor esteems
me more greatly than I can return in affection. Am I obligated to
terminate this affair before this chasm becomes chiasmic?
The chiasmus is an operative metaphor
for your situation, dear reader. This structure often governs texts
meant for religious dedication, and you appear to wish to avoid
commitment beyond the bounds necessary for an assignation. You
tiptoe, reader, through an affair in which your interlocutor is
dancing. You are on antiparallel trajectories, a tryst without a
I rarely wish to
pursue a Heideggarian journey through linguistic association, but we
find one of value at our feet. The tryst is, etymologically, working
against you. The word comes to us from an early Indo-European verb
meaning to ‘be solid.’ From there it travels through
early German to Norse to middle English, all the while promoting the
solidity you seek to avoid.
dictates that one frequently avoids imposing our constraints upon our
interlocutors, even when we desire to pursue an enduring, creative
praxis in that interlocutor’s society. Your paramour’s
politeness created this crossroad, and yours must end it. Follow your
instinct for growing separation. Continue it by abandoning your
current residence and take up life abroad. Use this opportunity to
truly commit to learning another tongue.
An acquaintance for whom
I have only passing fondness is seeking a greater portion of my
attention than the modicum I care to allot to them. What are my
obligations to this human when I wish to offer no more than the
In most situations
with an imbalance of desires, a genuine balance will not be struck.
It is judicious to accept this imbalance of forces before it becomes
an unbalancing force of its own. Our time before death is carved from
us like the breast meat of a holiday’s capon, it is much too
precious to sacrifice extendedly on acts of bare politeness. Do not
continue in this vein.
What you truly
seek is to alert this interlocutor to their place in your social
hierarchy. To speak this directly would be a grievous faux pas.
Implication must be your tool; use it to slowly correct your
interlocutor’s misapprehension. A series of excuses will be
needed to avoid prolonged interaction. Never honor any plans for
comingling and produce a drastic surcease for all your casual
conversations. These avoidances will take on an escalating absurdity.
Embrace this absurdity and use it to build a dinghy of splendid
isolation with which you can sail away from this sciolist.
I am prone to commit to
many events, but do not truly wish to live a gay, prismatic life. I
wish to be free from the obligations to my interlocutors and left
alone with my Kierkegaard. How do I cancel politely on these
impending commitments without taking my fear and trembling out on the
Few images strike
me as more romantic than de vie de la bibliothèque. A
clime suitable to year-round tweed, professionally-attended tea
kettles, and a pipe ashtray speak to a manner of living that
undoubtedly prioritizes one’s voice in the conversation across
centuries well above frivolities. One is validated by that late-life
hallucinator, and one feels the mountain air in one’s lungs.
I do not wish to
deny this life to those called by it. Obsession is the only source of
contentment, and we should not add to the ranks of the counterparts
of Freud’s civilization, and much less strive to do so. Yet it
is rare that one is truly most comfortable speaking from the page.
Conviviality pleases a majority that we should not be ashamed to
One expects the
answer of balance, of the dialectic, to be ordered to combine one’s
interests like the diner at a buffet. I do not do so here. One
cannot deny that it is much more proficuous for one’s written
praxis to ingurgitate philosophie dans la bibliothèque
than philosophie dans le boudoir (with a few notable
It is far enough
into the academic year that one will be able to enumerate half a
dozen truly delightful footnotes from one’s current reading,
and will treat each of them like an aphorism von
Gut und Böse. Such company has an appeal beyond what
one can reasonably expect from our mundane interlocutors. If we wish
to walk like Death Bredon amongst incunabula, we must learn the path.
Yet, we cannot
shun ourselves in the Kantian manner. We must commit to convivial
living fully when it is time. A brusque and boorish writer (one I
would not normally recommend as an advisor) once remarked that
following through on one’s commitments made in a reverie will
teach one to abstain from jactitation. It seems a trial by firewater
might be best for you too, reader. There is an exuberance in your
sociality that should not be repressed, even if it causes you later
displeasure. Do not cancel any of these commitments. Honor each one
like an oath worthy of the Horatii.
We often desire to live two lives, one of quiet reflection and
another of vigorous concourse, without committing to either one
wholly. This split in your instincts should be trusted and
perpetuated. Do not reconcile yourself as if one is to breath through
alternating sides of a Janus mask. Nietzsche speaks of embracing the
coin flip. Be like that coin: xwholly committed to one side.
Recognize that one is jostled through life like that coin, flipped
and reflipped. Embrace the disparity between these sides, dear
reader. The coin is not like Janus, it has only one face, and that
face is, at all times, yours.