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Friday February 22nd 2019Tim Candler9

 

    Not easy for a pompous shut-in to admit to vaguely admiring anyone much beyond themselves but I'm a big fan of John Walking Stewart who died from partaking of laudanum on February 20th 1822, the day after his birthday, February can do that to us Aquarians. He was a materialist to the extent that he argued for the more ecological approach of living with nature as opposed to in direct opposition to it. He wasn't much for the idea of any kind of God preferring to express the view that access to all truth was through science. He had some wonderful ideas about motion as a tool for understanding the predicament of humanity as we take the long voyage to extinction through trial and error, and I could go on, but the point is that within the intellectual and artistic circle of his time, which including the likes of Wordsworth, of lonely as a cloud fame, and one Thomas De Quincy who called Walking Stewart an "untutored thinker," by which he meant intellectually entertaining rather than substantive. So you can imagine my reaction to De Quincy and all subsequent "De Quinces." But I attempted to do the right thing, I read one of De Quincy's essays, and I came away thoroughly convinced that Thomas De Quincy was a cloying creep, a fuddy-duddy of an essayist who's primary motivation was to curry favor with the high end drawing room wits of his day in exchange for free meals.

 

Past

    

   And that remained my opinion until about a hundred years ago when the year 2016 burst on the scene and started flinging dung around. The thing that cast a gentler light from me on De Quincy, and I'd guess you'd call them his ilk, was a confluence of two questions, "What is That which calls us into thinking?" and "What is needed to accomplish thinking with essential rightness." These questions from Heidegger have dogged me for getting on a hundred and twenty years. And having spent long hours in detention it might be possible to guess that given a proclivity to go all Medieval on any notion of "essential rightness" I had completely overlooked the "What is That." It's the "That" that calls us into thinking. And the "essential rightness" isn't to do with right or wrong, rather the "essential rightness" is right as opposed to likely impossible for the thing that is "That." But in terms of tutored thinking, if untutored thinking means throwing dung around, then there were occasions when Walking Stewart did regularly have to leave London, England for foreign parts to avoid scrutiny and possible arrest by the kings security services. Not something the port sipping De Quincy ever had to deal with because he reckoned he knew what tutored thinking was. What Heidegger's "That" might be is still anyone's guess. Funny thing about Motion, if it hadn't been for 2016, I might never have softened on De Quincy.

 

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