Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two from Octavio Paz

What we need to build now is not only an aesthetics and poetics of the convergent moment, but an ethics and a politics that follow from this perception of time and reality. In such a new civilization, the present would not be sacrificed for the future or for eternity. Nor would the present be lived, as consumer societies do, in the denial of death. Rather, we would live in the full freedom of our diversity and sensuality in the certain knowledge of death. This ethical foundation of the new civilization would extol this freedom and creativity without illusion; it would seek to preserve the plurality of the present–the plurality of different times and the presence of the ‘other.’ Its politics would be a dialogue of cultures.

"West Turns East at the End of History" in New Politics Quarterly, Spring 1992


Since Parmenides our world has been one of neat and sharp distinctions between what is and what isn’t. The being is not the no-being. This first uprootedness—because it was a pulling out of
the being from the original chaos—constitutes the foundation of our mode of thought. An edifice of ‘clear and distinct ideas’ was built upon this conception, one that has made the history of the
West possible but also, one that rendered virtually illegal any attempt to embed the human being upon any other principles.
Whatever its future will be, what is certain is that from this perspective the history of the West can be seen as the history of a mistake, of going astray, in its double meaning: we have been
moving away from ourselves when we lost ourselves in the world. We ought to start all over again.

Obras completas, vol.1: La casa de la presencia, poesía
e historia México: FCE, 1994, pp. 116-117