The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality


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But he does so always maintaining that forceful, firm, and generous energy inherited from his lineage. Let's substitute broken lances for cannons, starving horses for armed light boats, knights-errant for companies or battalions individual violence redress wrongs but rather unleashes new ones , windmills for giant Englishmen or Frenchmen who are attacking us; let's substitute the squire Sancho for millions of workers who leave their homes to accompany knights in the fight against real enemies; and let's substitute Dulcinea for the thousands of women who bring into the world new workers and soldiers.

Cervantes could catch glimpses of this allegory as his story moved forward. The important thing is that Cervantes saw such an allegory, because only then can his disposition be understood to lead Don Quixote, in a given moment in his career, to hang up his arms and so decree his death. For it cannot be forgotten that the final and most profound lesson of Don Quixote that Cervantes seems to want to offer us is this: that although the projects undertaken by Don Quixote and the armed knights he represents seem follies, the only alternative is death.

Fairy tale

One must hang up ones arms in order to renounce these follies, to be cured of them after a great fever - but with this comes death which is what the dimwitted pacifist does not see. After hanging up his arms and entering seclusion, Don Quixote physically dies in the body of Alonso Quijano, and so symbolizes Spain's death, for hanging up her own arms. The faculty to give intelligent and ingenious discourses - that is, the faculty of the learned , those who dominate the letters of the law - is a faculty that Cervantes attributes to Don Quixote directly in his speech, and not abstractly, as if readers would have to take Cervantes word for it.

He makes Don Quixote give intelligent and ingenious discourses that prove this faculty and appear all the more strong while his actions, weapons, and deeds appear to us all the more weak and disjointed. Of course, it cannot be affirmed that Don Quixote lacks discourse in his madness, just as he doesn't lack weapons. But neither can it be affirmed with Don Diego Miranda, see below that Don Quixote's "incongruence" madness or nonsense is found only in the field of the coordination of his discourses and actions.

This goes in spite of the difficulty in determining the line of demarcation between a sane discourse and a degenerated one. When trying to establish this dividing line, it must be kept in mind that the "sane part" of Don Quixote's discourse would have been shared by Cervantes himself. Or, if you like, that Cervantes would be expressing his own thought through Don Quixote's discourse, and that discourse does not, in total, only oppose actions - deeds, as far as they are actions - but also the judgment of the facts of experience, which themselves are not so much actions as perceptions - without denying that at the same time these perceptions are "trimmed" by some virtual or previous action so as to be integrated in the discourse.

Cervantes if indeed it is Cervantes who is speaking in II,18 through Diego de Miranda doesn't seem to diagnose any disjunction in Don Quixote's discourse. Rather, he seems to put Quixote's madness in the incongruence between his speech - itself sane - and his actions: between his "words" and his "deeds" as others might say. When Don Lorenzo, poet and Don Diego's son, asks his father's opinion about the knight he has invited home "Mother and I are astonished at his name, his appearance, and his claim to be a knight errant" Don Diego responds:.

All I do know is that I've seen him perform the actions of the greatest madman in the world, and heard him speak words of such good sense that they dissipate the effects of his deeds. It isn't then that the deeds dissipate the effect of his words ; instead, the situation is much more interesting: they are the words that dissipate the effect of his deeds according to Don Diego. According to this diagnosis, Don Diego seems to place Don Quixote's incongruence in a different place where speech and deed contrast each other than where his poet son Don Lorenzo had seemed to put it initially where speech and deed contrast without distinction: where, by extension, Don Quixote's global behavior, coherent in itself, contrasts his personal expression - not only verbal - of those same things: "his name, his appearance, and his claim to be a knight-errant".

001 Magic Mirror

It seems proper then to test different criteria for the division between coherent and incoherent discourse. The one which seems to me the most plausible is based on a distinction between doctrinal discourse necessarily abstract, political, and philosophical and the judgment to apply the discourse to the concrete circumstances of the moment — a judgment where prudence and discretion must intervene, not only the wisdom of principles nor the science of the conclusions the coherence of the doctrine.

It would seem proper to match the doctrinal discourse with the "representative register of language", while judgment would be more akin to the register of expressive or appellate language targeting concrete people. For example, in II, 29 where Cervantes offers the famous adventure of the enchanted boat , it seems that Don Quixote possesses a solid science in his discourse about the Sphere, in that he uses concepts Sancho knows nothing of: colures, lines, parallels, zodiacs, ecliptics, poles, solstices, equinoxes, planets, signs, points, and measurements.

The discourse is broken, however - just as the lance would break - when applied to concrete circumstances, in which good judgment - or the faculty to judge, to subsume the particular into the universal, and vice-versa - must be exercised uprightly. Sancho here keeps his good sense, but so too does the "wretch" or the millers who saw "a boat approaching down the river and [realized] that it was going to be sucked into the mill-race It seems indispensable to indicate here that Don Quixote's madness - defined as the rupture of his sense - is such that it allows doctrinal, "academic" discourse scientific, philosophical, or political to remain intact.

It is not a common madness such as a schizophrenic suffering from confusion and mental chaos. Don Quixote's madness is but a particular case of the same rupture of sense that most wise men suffer - politicians and scientists, for example - when they have a firmly established doctrine or diagnosis and try to apply it to a concrete case.

If the case resists, they blame the case, not the doctrine "the cadaver is lying". A different matter is the origin of this disagreement between doctrine and deed. Is it due simply to the politician or scientist's dogmatic obstinacy he who, as an example, proposes the certainty of the big bang theory, setting aside the facts against it?

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Or is it that the facts are disrupted from the outside from the palace of the dukes, for example , so that they seem different than they ought to? In days very close to when Cervantes was writing Quixote , Descartes judged that "perhaps this stove is an illusion brought about by some evil deceptive genius", and thus faced the same charmer as Don Quixote. At times, Sancho himself even loses his good sense, as happened in the episode of the wine skins slashed by Don Quixote I, 35 which he took to be giants and the spilled wine their blood.

Who doesn't associate this enchantment of the transformation of wine into blood with the debates of the 17th century between followers of Galileo, Gassendi, and Descartes, regarding Christ's actual presence in the Eucharist and Eucharistic transubstantiation? But if we take St. Thomas's doctrine as a prototype of rational, theological discourse, nearly perfect within the principles of hylomorphic creationism, what does it have to do with the madness of seeing Christ's body and blood in bread and wine?

Don Quixote, Mirror of the Spanish Nation, by Gustavo Bueno,

The difficulty doesn't so much appear in the field of St. Thomas's doctrinal theological discourse as it does in the concrete judgment as to whether this piece of wheat bread — the sacred wafer — is Christ's body, and if this sacred grape wine is Christ's blood. Such a judgment can only be assented to by appealing to divine action, to a miracle that is in some way the work of enchantment. An enchantment that, as in Don Quixote's case, transforms wine into blood and bread into flesh.

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This enchantment became much more difficult to accept as hylomorphism was being replaced by atomism; so much so that it has been argued — Pietro Redondi - that his defense of the atomistic doctrine and not his heliocentrism would have then been the motive for Galileo's persecution. Let us now analyze one of Don Quixote's most famous - and also most rational and sane — discourses; one in which, as I have insinuated, Cervantes is manifesting his own thought: the "Curious discourse about arms and letters" I, end of 37 and In itself, this discourse doesn't contain any disjuncture.

Nor do the arms alluded to, precisely because they are just that - "alluded arms" drawn, painted arms and not "used arms" live, real arms. As far as I can see, there are no inconsistencies in the discourse itself, but rather appear in its application - for example, in the obvious lack of judgment by taking windmill blades to be giant's arms.

Metaphor as a Basic Mechanism of Art (Painting) .

And what is the substance of this perfect discourse about arms and letters? Which is to say, against whom is it directed? These days, a "fundamentalist pacifism syndrome" is intensely shaking citizens and faithful alike others, situated on the "left" but with clerical traces, would say: "is intensely shaking the consciences Both groups exalt Don Quixote on his fourth centenary and hope to lift his figure up as another emblem of redeeming pacifism.

For doesn't Don Quixote say that "the goal that arms have before them.

Perhaps Don Quixote, without explicitly citing it in his discourse, is reminding us of Saint Luke, when he says in his gospel those words which signal the start the canticle of mass : "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will". And what's more, there are some - Bataillon and many others - who see Cervantes as another one of those Spaniards impregnated by Erasmus which Spanish siglo de oro writers would deserve to be cited by these erudite sectarians without them seeing some idea of Erasmus reproduced in their discourse?

These scholars will here read Don Quixote's curious discourse as a version of the doctrine of Erasmusian evangelical pacifism. Erasmus was the great pacifist flag bearer of his day, a day in which Vitoria and other theologians argued in Spain in favor of war, of "just" war. But Erasmus didn't like Spain because Jewish people were excessively tolerated there.

Apart from that, Erasmus's pacifism wasn't really a purely evangelical pacifism, as it was interwoven with the worldly interests of the century. Erasmus said himself to be neutral: Francis, king of France, wanted peace just as his cousin Charles did - that's why Francis would say, "My cousin and I are always in agreement: we both want Milan. But Don Quixote's discourse about arms and letters isn't a pacifist discourse, nor much less is it an Erasmusian discourse. On the whole it could be interpreted as a speech against Erasmus except if one assumes - and it is a lot to assume - that Cervantes praises Don Quixote's madness when he takes up his weapons.

And this is because the doctrine Don Quixote expounds is, neither more nor less, not Erasmus's doctrine, but Aristotle's. In his Complaint of Peace , Erasmus of course defends peace , attacking arms to the benefit of letters - divine letters , above all: the peace of Erasmus is the peace of the Gospel.

In what way is a man different from an animal? According to Erasmus, a man, in spite of his intelligence, behaves more bestially than beasts themselves in their relations with others of the same species. Erasmus, inventing some sort of ethology - human ethology above all - says, "Among the most savage of beasts I find more hospitality than among men. Elephants often behave as brothers one to another.

Lions show no fierceness to other lions. Serpents don't bite serpents. The word "man" ought to be enough to establish unity among men. And although nature had crushed them or made them fall, wasn't Christ enough for them? Christ is the beginning of peace. He isn't announced with bellicose trumpets. In spite of their intelligence, why then do men permanently start wars? Perhaps for their original sin?

go to site But Erasmus, just as Augustine, seems to be saying that if intelligence or reason had not been cut short in man by his original sin, then he would stop developing weapons because of his rationality. Some have signaled a possible relationship between Erasmus's Complaint of Peace , in which he denounces the ambition of bellicose princes, and Vitoria's program, De iuri belli. Manuel de Montoliu defends this relationship.


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Vitoria isn't a pacifist as Erasmus is - his position on just war is precisely the opposite of Erasmus's. But while Erasmus affirmed that humans, precisely on the basis of their rationality, ought to stop developing weapons, Don Quixote begins by vindicating the rational condition of weapons.

Man is a rational animal, and so to must be weapons, as inventions of man. Don Quixote's conclusion becomes even more important when we realize that his weapons are not machine-arms arms of discharge - arrows, bolts, firearms, grenades; much less automatic arms, such as a smart bomb but rather instrument-arms wielding arms, such as swords or lances. It's hard to imagine Don Quixote handling a bow or harquebus. As a good knight-errant, he only uses instrument-arms, arms which receive their impulse directly from the knight's body in such a way that the knight himself makes direct contact with his enemy's body.

He can perceive his opponent's immediate reactions in hand to hand combat. Ethologists today take this criterion as the basis to distinguish between aggressive animal conduct which acts directly against the enemy's body and aggressive human conduct, in which the human creates a larger and larger disconnection between the aggressor and the victim. Lorenz spoke of "a suppression of aggressive instincts" derived from this disconnection, which is seen in its first degrees in chimpanzees or other animals that throw stones, but that don't actually fire them; the acceleration that a stone launched from the hand undergoes is taken from the hand that throws it leaving aside gravity's effects or the acceleration of a stone launched by a catapult.

But this distinction between instrument-arms whose energy proceeds from the organism, which uses instruments as if they were its own organs: claws, fangs, and fists and machine-arms does not permit classifying instrument-arms as irrational, animal arms. Simply put, "organic arms" are not arms, but rather an animal's attack or defense organs or even a plant's, through thorns and poison.

"El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto" / "The Visible World is Just a Pretext".-

But instrument arms are weapons strictly speaking, normalized tools, the contents of human culture. They are therefore rational, as Don Quixote says. Consequently, neither weapons nor war come from irrational animals. War is not a question of some brute force rooted in the body.

It requires spirit, ingenuity:. Away with anyone who gives letters [the letters of the learned, or law-makers, of the Rechtsstaat ] the preference over arms, for I say to him, whoever he may be, that he does not know what he is talking about. The argument that such people usually adduce and depend upon is that brain-work is superior to physical work, and that the exercise of arms involves the body alone, as if it were the business of market-porters, which needs nothing more than brute strength; or as if acts of fortitude requiring a keen intelligence were not involved in what we fighters call soldiership; or as if the warrior who is in charge of an army or the defence of a besieged city did not labour with his mind as much as with his body.

And he goes on to say even more: arms have a superior goal than letters "and I do not now refer to sacred letters, whose goal is to conduct souls to heaven This peace is the true goal of war; and war and arms are all one. Now, this famous proposition - "Peace is the goal of war" - proceeds, as known, from Aristotle Politics , a There are, however, two main ways to interpret it:.

Universal and perpetual peace is the aim of each and every war - a peace therefore understood to be everlasting and mutual among opponents. Peace is not the universal and undifferentiated aim of all wars, but rather the particular and specific aim of each war: those who are in war are looking for peace, but it is the peace of their victory. Those who take part in war collaborate in creating disorder; the aim of war is to reestablish order, but such as it is understood by the victor.

As such, the goal of war is peace, the peace of victory and of the victorious and stable order that victory manages to establish.

The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality
The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality The Magic Mirror; Twelve Allegories from a Neglected Reality

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