From our Wilderness theology, we note that “The Wilderness is a place of Crisis”. I would like to extrapolate more on this thought.
This seems to imply, in the end, that our individual Wanderings are therefore Fragments of the Wilderness itself, taken as a Whole. We attend to Crisis, yes, but insofar as we are finite, we cannot attend to all of them. We missed many Fragments in the past, many in the present, and it is also certain that we will miss many in the Future. We may say that our testimony is an exposition of our personal experience in Wandering; it is an account of our Individuation.
Wandering is on one hand an activity, it is something we do in the Wilderness. It is an activity which acts upon the self. On the other hand, Wandering is a particular insofar as we may speak of this or that Wandering as if it were an encounter. So long as we are Wandering absolutely, there is Fragmentation which occurs. Insofar as we do not Wander, there are truths which we may arrive at momentarily. Yet, in absolute terms, since there is always Wandering so there is also always Fragmentation.
To get moving again, I would like to inquire into the nature of Fragmentation. The Fragment form has been employed by many thinkers of influence upon me, most notably Novalis, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes Novalis’ use of Fragments (see here) as follows:
With its broken form and literary style, Novalis’s return to the fragment has been taken to challenge the distinction between art and critical thinking that was entirely central to Kant and Fichte. However, while the fragment draws on the expressive registers of literature, it does not represent a deconstruction of the difference between philosophy and poetry, science and art. It is, rather, an attempt, from within the realm of critical reason, to explore a reality whose complex nature cannot be captured by the work of a narrowly oriented rationality (Verstandesdenken, in the eighteenth-century glossary). Like Schelling and Hegel, Novalis challenges the dry and narrow understanding of reason that, in their view, had come to dominate the post-Enlightenment world of politics, science, and letters. Like them, he does this not by appealing to the purely irrational, but by developing a notion of reason that includes a dimension of historicity and takes into account the experience of art, literature, and religious and affective sentiments of various kinds. Unlike Schelling and Hegel, however, Novalis believes that such a notion of reason can only be obtained by leaving behind the idea of a final and all-encompassing philosophical system. But as Herder had been demonstrating already in the early 1770s, to question the idea of an all-encompassing system is not the same as to endorse intellectual chaos or unsystematic thought procedures. When reading the early romantic philosophy of Novalis, one should keep in mind the warning of his friend Friedrich Schlegel: Just as a fully systematic philosophy might be an illusion, a completely unsystematic philosophy would instantly kill off every intellectual ambition. Thus the challenge of romantic philosophy consists in the attempt to think systematically but without allowing thought to stagnate in a final set of truths or dogma. Philosophy ought to be open-ended; it should develop in close interaction with the natural sciences as well as the humanities. In short, philosophy should take the shape of a sustained intellectual experiment; it should be forever on its way and thoroughly inductively minded. This philosophical credo runs through the entire work of Novalis, from Miscellaneous Observations to Notes for a Romantic Encyclopaedia (Das Allgemeine Brouillon) and Christianity or Europe.
Thus, we have see the need to maneuver between Hegel and Kierkegaard, between Kant and Hume, etc. with and beyond so as to avoid the complete closure of thought in either direction.
Thomas Carlyle puts it this way in his work Voltaire, Novalis on page 105:
So, to speak of a Fragment is to create at the same time the idea of a Whole.
Without this Whole, there would be no such thing as a Fragment. This Whole what we take to be the World, as seen also in our notion of the Wilderness. When we encounter the Real, when we attend to Crisis, when we see momentarily what is in the gaze of the Sphinx, or should we dare to become the Sphinx itself, we acquire a peculiar Fragment to share.
If there is to be a tacit axiology, it is understood as “tacit” precisely because it imagines, creates, and constructs a Whole which is not known by the individual Wanderer, but only from the vision-in-One. While a Fragment is still useful in and of itself, while it contains positive content and bits of information, it does not contain the Whole of information.
Again, notice that our notion of “church in the wilderness” — which I may also refer to as a “travelling sanctuary”, or a “collective of Wanderers” — comes into play here, as we exchange Fragments with one another in a community. I would thus like to take a moment to thank (in no particular order) the authors of AGENT SWARM ; noir realism; ~ S c h i z o s o p h y ~; Speculative Heresy; Larval Subjects; Kafka’s Ruminations; Footnotes 2 Plato; and An und für sich among many others for their efforts. I have learned much from each of these fellow Labourers over the past year, and without them I do not believe I would be writing today at Inthesaltmine.
Most recently, Terence Blake located a very cogent critique of SR/OOO (see here).
Therein, he brings forth Paul Feyerabend’s findings in Against Method (see here), which may perhaps be read as a testimony to this very Fragmentation of the Wilderness. A more complete development of this collective of Wanderers is definitely necessary, but at this point as Novalis suggests we may only develop a “sketch” insofar as we are dealing with Fragments.
According to Feyerabend, “[i]t is very important not to let this suspicion deteriorate into a truth, or a theory, for example into a theory with the principle: things are never what they seem to be. Reality, or Being, or God, or whatever it is that sustains us cannot be captured that easily”. One is reminded momentarily of Paul Ricoeur‘s hermeneutics of suspicion, of the theologian as hermeneut. Edit: And, in a very eerie coincidence, Ricoeur’s suspicion has also been recently brought up over at the noir-realism blog (see here).
It is this task which my understanding of Wilderness theology hopes to take up. This suspicious “sketch”, commanded to take hold by Crisis, will ultimately provide the Fragments necessary for our new Vision. In the mean time, however, we have no choice but to begin with the lived [vécu] against otherwise static methodology.
It is here that Goethe, Schlegel, and Novalis may guide us.
Goethean science of empirical idealism:
Wilderness theology is therefore a representation of pluralism.
The subject is paradoxically standing in-between: between an Old and a possible New Consciousness. The subject simultaneously withdrawing from the World as well as intervening in it. One acts for-and-against the World, with-and-beyond our fellow Wanderers. There is both materiality and idealization at play here in balance with one another.
As such, Wilderness theology can be considered as fundamentally neither materialist nor idealist or, if you prefer, both of them at the same time. This is an example of what Laruelle calls dualysis. The result is a practice closely akin to the Goethean science of “empirical idealism”. To see from the vision-in-One, then, one must gather Fragments, or in other words de-Fragment the World.
In the work German Aesthetic and Literary Criticism: The Romantic Ironists and …, Volume 1, edited by Kathleen M. Wheeler, we find this beautiful exposition of “The Reader as the fellow Labourer”, or let us say Wanderer, with the help of Jean Paul Richter on page 12. :
We find important and strikingly similar conceptions of Fragmentation in Jean Paul, Schlegel, and Solger. As such, Wandering is precisely a matter of formally coming to recognize this creative act in its actuality.
As Jung writes, in Modern Man In Search of A Soul, page 73, “To the psychologist there is nothing more stupid than the standpoint of the missionary who pronounces the gods of the ‘poor heathen’ to be illusions…In psychic life, as everywhere in our experience, all things that act are actual, regardless of the names man chooses to bestow on them”. When Jung uses the word psyche, he is discussing something that is “alive”. In this way, so too may we put forth the thesis that the Wilderness is itself alive.
Quickly, one comes to see that we must move not only to a post-dialectical, but also even post-autonomous (i.e. beyond the “Fichtean movements” of transcendental ego as I have called them) into the Infinite itself. We must think about, or perhaps even foresee the (re-)action of the Wilderness and use it to inform our own. That is, we now require a certain Vision-beyond-Vision, which is to be seen only through the experience of this extensive Wandering.
This desired Vision is therefore that which pays close attention to what is being created as one Wanders, to the paths one blazes behind you while you Wander, to the Fragments one gathers along the way and how one puts them together in the future. Like we have seen with the Sphinx, we must understand how the the Wilderness sees when it looks into our Wandering.
This is the advent of the post-postmodern, or of a “Fourth Awakening” let us say of spiritual intelligence over previous notions of spirituality. For this reason again we are concerned with trans- or otherwise post- religious developments. Such is a re-assertion or re-insertion of human finitude and ignorance into the discourse since previously this element was vastly underestimated. The Wilderness does not allow for such dogmatics, and will continually surprise you. There are at this stage no grounds, no means of orienting oneself with respect to the New unknown.
Yet, the Wilderness contains within it a certain inviting allure…it calls out to us…
Carlyle, Thomas. Voltaire.–Novalis. New York: J.W. Lovell Co., 1887. Print.
Feyerabend, Paul. Against method. 3rd ed. London: Verso, 1993. Print.
Jung, C. G., and William Stanley Dell. Modern man in search of a soul,. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1933. Print.
Wheeler, Kathleen M.. German aesthetic and literary criticism: the romantic ironists and Goethe.. Cambridge u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1984. Print.