Irreducible and particular

“I have never asked that all trees have one bark” (“Ich habe nie verlangt,/ Dass allen Bäumen eine Rinde wachse”) Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan the Wise


Each angel is its own species, Thomas Aquinas tells us. “Why mightn’t there be, somehow, a new science for every object?,” asks Roland Barthes. Rimbaud puts it, ‘I am of an inferior race for all eternity.’ In those I see the rightness and certainty I also find in the lines of A.R. Ammons:

though I
have not been here long, I can
look up at the sky at night and tell
how things are likely to go for
the next hundred million years:
the universe will probably not find
a way to vanish nor I
in all that time reappear.

Why not each its own science and species, here-now or having-been for the rest of eternity?


Is the sense of incompleteness the felt part of an irreducible particularity of being, that sense we never body forth as representative or total? This belief can be professed by very different world systems and believers:

“The [French] Constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, was made for man. But there is no such thing as man in the world. In my lifetime I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; thanks to Montesquieu, I even know that one can be Persian. But as for man, I declare that I have never in my life met him; if he exists he is unknown to me,” declared conservative critic, Joseph de Maistre.

Or consider the more recent lines of poet, Fernando Pessoa,

They spoke to me of people, and of humanity.
But I’ve never seen people, or humanity.
I’ve seen various people, astonishingly dissimilar,
Each separated from the next by an unpeopled space

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