Here we present some fragments from the book The Aroma of Time, from the Korean Philosopher Byung-Chul Han, a professor at The Berlin University of the Arts.
In his book he shows us how our way of experiencing time and the emphasis that we make on doing, affects the way that we perceive the deeper realities of life and, above all, how this deprives us of the power of Contemplation.
Byung-Chul Han. El aroma del tiempo. Editorial Herder: Barcelona. 2015. Translation by Leaves of Inspiration.
About the ephemeral and the small I
“One also identifies oneself with the fleeting and the ephemeral. In this way, one becomes transformed into something radically transitory. The atomization of life implies an atomization of the identity. One only has oneself, the small I. In some ways, one is suffering from a radical loss of space, time and being with-Self (Mitsein). The poverty of the world is a discronic apparition. It makes people close themselves up in their little body, trying to stay healthy by all the different means, although, on the contrary, one is left with nothing. The health of the fragile body substitutes the World and God. Nothing lasts beyond death. Today, dying seems to be especially difficult. The people get older without growing up”. (p. 11)
About the Being and the aroma of the World
“We just need to observe attentively the Being to realize that all things are intertwined, even the most minuscule thing communicates with a totality. But the epoch of being in a hurry makes no time to deepen this perception. Only in the depth of the Being a place opens where all things approach and communicate with each other. This cordiality (Freundlichkeit) of the Being permits the feeling of the aroma of the world.
Also the truth is a relational event. This occurs when things communicate with each other with an affinity or another kind of closeness, when they are face to face and initiate relationships, when they establish a friendship”. (p. 87)
About beauty and contemplation
“Immediate enjoyment does not make a place for beauty, because the beauty of a thing manifests itself much later, in the light of the other, with the significance of a reminiscence. Beauty responds to a duration, it is a contemplative synthesis. The beautiful is not a splendor or a fleeting attraction, but a persistence, a phosphorescence of things. The temporary nature of the beautiful is very distinct from the ‘cinematographic parade of things’. The epoch of hurrying, its ‘cinematographic’ succession of the punctual present, does not have any access to the beautiful or the truth. Only when one stops to contemplate, from the esthetic recollection, things reveal their beauty, their aromatic essence. It is composed of temporary sediments that phosphoresce”. (p. 89)
About the need to empty oneself
“Any spirit that empties itself of the useless has access to a good time. Emptying the spirit, liberating the desires, gives profoundness to time. And this last element links each point in time with the whole Being, with its eternal aroma. Desire makes time seem radically ephemeral, pushing the spirit forward. But when it comes to rest, when it is collected in itself, the good times appear”. (p 94)