INDEX TO AWE
No maladjusted word will fix the hurting heart,
nor solemn vows we read, nor spoiled reekings we bark.
It is no saccharine face a masterpiece could recompose
from its dull swirling ashes – no misdemeanor’s portal,
nor the finely finessed outline of precious shells in a cave.
Out of our dung, we make no substitute for love.
No grapevine situation of sin is solved by tracings,
no matter the avid reason we add to it in our storminess.
The light that comes to spirits meanders to them unsold,
ripe for the bickering over qualities and virtues –
the last good things we land on, so rarely on our toes.
Yet the toes dig in, indeed as if the earth were not yet born
or itself a burgeoning cursor pointing to some fabulous
end of worlds – worlds we knew, worlds we forswore,
worlds we got bottle-lost, drained of anthem and key.
At times, even, we were flayed by the very peace
in vain we’d sought; by all the harried needs that failed us.
All that we construed, word after word, ignorant
there was a source unseen, underneath, facilitating
all those peeks into waking, all those rappels into dream, –
a heave sui generis emboldened into each
unworthy human host, the Subtender so pleased with life
each got the whole of it, without ever getting it.
Only they sank and rose in time to what is wordless
and thus remains His One Perfect Speech
whose healing waters alone absolve their anxious futility.
Recipients of a charism, filled with the grandeurs of God,
they chase down the grace of an existence never their own,
no matter how amazing the bestowal from on high.
Yet there they were: where the last good things glow and find
a home – in the limitless abode of heaven on the sly.
The ‘phallic’ life-world is a bubble of meaning behind which lies the subject’s fantasy of it blowing the bubble with its own air. Its being-breathed by the other it never finds. It huffs and puffs until the bubble-house falls down, but it never catches its desired prey: the recognition that its ego and desire were worthy and real. Yet the bubble can grow to “ego-theistic” proportions, so far as the isolated zone remains so in the stale air: that of own-speech, own-meaning, that of an impermeability of borders. It seeks indemnity to be sure, automatically; in foreclosing the other-touch, it feels a fantasy of death as passage to unpoppable life. But the bubble does pop, proving life-drive and death-drive false in all their phallic presuppositions; the world which was (projected on) the bubble’s surface curvature has only an imaginary consistency, no significant reality. Such are the boxes that house egos: their cardboard sogs and decomposes into paper mush the moment the inundation of God’s reality comes. For truly nothing which is not built upon God’s word, at God’s command, can stand the test of time which, seen from the God-instance, takes no time at all. Such is the messianic-kairological intervention into the bubble zone: to make the speculative leap that it is all popped a priori, prior to investment-inflation. Consequences: evil has no reality and will be conquered, for it cannot protect itself from the coming of God’s reality, before which it (though not the suffering it caused) is utterly insignificant. Likewise, practical investments involving our bubble life-worlds now reorient to the priceless and true, beyond transaction and any necessary meaning; this opens them to God’s majesty at work in them. Then there is a sense of absolute preciousness deriving not from indemnified life or sacrificial death but from delicacy, fragility, appreciation for participating in the goodness free of bubbling lost egos – in a space of vulnerability, surprise, sharing, where identities dissolve and beings interpenetrate, actively living together the immortal life of God within the apparency of – and amazingly gratuitous reality of – “our lives together,” in the continuity of preciousness and unbreakable love. There is air on the other side of all bubbles, if one has the trust to be-breathed by God instead of by one’s own huff and puff. That is an air supremely shared yet irreplaceable to each severality that shares air in intimacy. In each breath together is the entirety of what will be there, for it is and carries without containing, it lives without locking in on own-life, own-mind, own-body. To understand this is to be “milieu-tized,” to become no one as oneself, to become a go-between in God’s expanse for God. It is to trust the bubbles can pop, that there is no one to defend – it is to come into the open air and sing.
My article Utopic Expressivity: On Laruelle’s Oraxiomatic Method and Paul Celan’s Vision of Poetry was recently published in the first issue of Oraxiom on the topic of the end of time. See this link for the other great articles in the issue.
My article presents and weaves together four models of imaginative activity: Henri Corbin on the idea of imaginal worlds (mundus imaginalis); Francois Laruelle’s idea of the oraxiom and philo-fiction; and Paul Celan’s vision of poetry. Laruelle and Celan were passions of mine for many years, and this article was a way of reconciling my attraction to these two bodies of work which could not be more different in terms of their use of language. Corbin provided the framework for me to collide them together. From that emerges the fourth model, my own, “utopic expressivity,” which I present at the outset of the article and then flesh out through the other three as illustrations or refractions. The larger abstract reads as follows:
A radical vision of the end times requires an equally radical mode of expression to transmit it, one that tears language from convention and renders it capable of visionary communication. This effort is palpable in non-philosophy’s oraxiomatic method as well as in Paul Celan’s poetic works. What use of language can induce an “eschatological comportment”? How does one voice a subjectivity “of-the-last-instance”? In this paper, I advance the idea that eschatological imagination and utopic expressivity are two sides of the same messianic activity of vision-creation. My principal goal is to explain and explore this thesis and these concepts through an encounter between Laruelle and Celan. To set the ground for this, I begin with Henry Corbin’s theory that the active imagination produces imaginal worlds (mundus imaginalis) which are invisible to mundane perception because they exist “nowhere.” Such worlds are accessed by creative acts that leap outside the world and open a space for the unlocalizable, or u-topia. My proposition is to treat Laruelle’s philo-fctions and Celan’s poetry as imaginal worlds and to collide them to produce a new understanding of messianic vision-creation. To achieve this, I frst examine Vision-in-One and the oraxiom as a discursive method, as well as the rationale behind non-philosophy’s claim to produce a fnal ultimatum. I then challenge Laruelle’s claim that only this method is suited for the purpose. After reconstructing Celan’s vision of poetry from his 1960 Meridian speech and drawing inspiration from his poems, I contrast and synthesize these two radical modes of expression. Poetry is idiomatic and testamentary, not oraxiomatic and generic. Nonetheless, the two modes share many features, including: a critique of “suffcient” interpretations; a move beyond metaphor and meaning; a “use-of-silence” aware of how silence impacts speech; an orientation of the written work as “last-thingly” [letztdinglich]; and regarding the messianic dimension, a desire for person and language to form an indissoluble unity which is forever loyal to the human quest for utopia. I also argue that the oraxiom addresses a “You-of-the-last-instance” which Celan makes explicit; his work thus helps us understand non-philosophy’s own operations and, more importantly, the relational dynamic at play in all messianic and visionary works. By weaving together these manifestations of utopic expressivity and exploring their divergences and parallels, I offer a unique vision of how language can foster an end-times subjectivity and produce works that catalyze the eschaton.