Stephen Kotev wrote:
Can you say more about Hillman and his conclusions? Sounds fascinating.
Basically, Hillman begins by observing that war is a universal condition of human history at all times and in all societies, without substanital exception. He then examines the reasons for this, and comes to some startling conclusions. War exists in human society because
1) war is sublime
(and therefore simultenously horrific and exhilirating beyond normaitve measures of experience)
2) war is inhuman
(and therefore not capable of human(e) controls) and
3) war is religion
(therefore commanding commitment of resources (personal and collective) beyond merely rational calculations).
War seduces and entices those minds suited to it, and maims those unsuited minds that are exposed to it. Those who learn to bear the experience of war, more often feel love for those who endure it with them in ways beyond their capacity to adequately express, and in ways that seem to surpass in depth and intensity all other experiences of loving.
Hillman suggests therefore that love is at the root of war, and that love's protective impulse, individually and collectively, is among the most powerful (and non-rational) of human motivators, precisely because if its proven ability to motivate people to act in the face of and in spite of any ordinary limits imposed by experiences of extreme horror and abject terror.
He then begins his conclusion by observing that aesthetics controls martial spirit (spit, polish, and all that finery) as it does loving endeavors ( yet more proof of the close affiliation) He presents good arguments for this. He suggests that martial virtue and the spirit of fierce and rash love that is present within war can also aid us in stopping a conflict from starting in ways that rationality and mere peace-talk can never do. He presents an ancient Greek Hymn to Ares and analyzes its purposes to this end, which is fascinating as well.
All in all, I find much that resonates in Hillman's observations with my study of Aikido, in both technique and as a more general philosophical approach. It is mightily compelling that when considered from a purely Western perspective the same themes find their way to the surface.
The aspect of gracefulness and beauty inherent in our movements does help to control and channel our agression into paths that protect rather than injure. Ugly technique is by an large bad technique.
The awakening of the instinctive impulse to [Attack!!] (irimi) in the face of danger is at the heart of every aikido technique. This distinguishes the warrior mind that is not harmed by exposure ot battle, from the non-warrior mind that is wekedn and debilitated by violence which breaks their will and calm.
And yet in this same way, by allowing our will (to attack) to be bent or broken the result is turned (tenkan) from harm. By then completely accepting the attack we have first entered into with fierce determination, we bring our enemy, our partner, within the bounds of the same spirit of protection that impels us to respond aggressively to the attack in the first place.
Again, I highly recommend it.