Fragment Metaphysics and Survival Theory


To think of the great totalities, to imagine the « hyper-objects », we must no longer try to develop universal machines à la Hegel.

It is better, more modestly, to favour clues, traces, fossils, waste of all kinds, rejects that are so revealing, such as radioactive residues that made it possible to geologically date the beginning of the Anthropocene, or the micro-plastics that now line the bottom of the Marianas pit or the seagull’s mouth.

To try to think of the Whole (of which we have no idea) we must start by collecting its fragments.

The fragments are perhaps the most sincere manifestations of a totality that they do not even suspect, but which they testify to, by presenting themselves without pomp, in their derision, their nudity and their truth.

The fragment is short. In short, it summarizes the agonizing totalities.

The very idea of fragmented thoughts, or fragments of consciousness, seems to me to be a good introduction to a vision of the world capable of representing both (systemically) everything that penetrates deeply into the furrows of the earth, everything that amalgamates with the layers of dead corals and shells sprayed on the bottom of the oceans, everything rises in soft effluences towards cumulonimbus haloed with toxins, and even towards the geostationary layer, which is about to be saturated with satellite micro-fragments.

The idea of the fragment is powerful, promising, because it applies well to the being of modern man, and even to its essence.

If God is « one » as the so-called monotheistic religions hammer with obstinacy, it is because Man is not one, nor is the world.

If Man is not « one », it is because he is diverse, multiple, divided, mixed, indefinite, mixed, in a word, « fragmented ».

But then, from a theological-political point of view, a new question arises.

It is not an insult to Judaism or Christianity, two religions both based on the belief in the Messiah (in his coming soon for the former, in his apocalyptic return for the latter), to propose this experience of thought: if the Messiah finally arrived (or returned) on Earth, what could he « save »?

If God is « one » – and if some « Messiah », through Him delegate, condescended to come down one day to save what is « savable » in Man – what in this indistinct mass, composing each man, made of myriads of fragments, could be « savable »?

Modern philosophers are perfectly clear on this subject, of course. It’s been a long time since they buried metaphysics and all that follows. It is therefore useless to seek lights in their decreed darkness, after the Lights.

We have to rely on our own, and weak, forces.

I see three main lines of thought to try to answer the question of what is potentially « savable » in Man.

1. The diachronic track.

The multiplicity of the person can be revealed in different times. Will we be dying what we were foetuses? What we revealed in the bright flower of youth, what trace do we still keep in the shadows of old age? If our life is a millefeuille, what are the best crumbs?

2. The synchronic track.

At any moment of his life, the person is made up of intertwined multiplicities. She is all at the same time but to varying degrees, brain and sex, soul and pancreas, heart and lung, interacting with herself. According to infinitely varied plans, the ulcer affects reason, the hormone desire, the rise of blood accompanies the descent of meaning, the rise of the spirit follows the intoxication of sounds, the implacable darkness of memory fraternizes with the expanded vision of hope, the glow of the lower sun seems in phase with the rising moon of the coming consciousness….

Of all this, what will the (putative) Messiah remember?

If death cuts Man off from his memories, his passions, his dreams, his pluralities, what does he bring to the One « savior »? It is possible that in a lifetime, only a few fragments, rare, unique, blessed, of which we may not even be aware at all, will be considered worthy of « saving ».

There are other metaphors to say it. How many crushed petals for the precious ointment? How many bunches of grapes crushed for the nectar to be born? And if Man is not only a vine or a profuse nature, but a fragment of infinity, the Messiah will grasp with a steady hand, in the chaos of lives, a moment of light, a sincere breath, a whole spark.

3. The dialogical track

There is still one possibility open. The one of defining the « I » through the « You » encountered. Everyone is reflected in the millions of living fragments they have given or received in return. One could imagine a man’s life as the sum of his encounters with what he is not, and his relationships with whom he is not. But it is what he is not and all those who are not that give him the strength and energy to become what he could not have been, if he had not, like a basalt mountain, felt the immense flow of slow lava flowing on his skin from the depths of the Earth.

Diachronic, synchronic, dialogical, Man is all this and more.

It is essentially birth and evanescence.

It is only from this that great world politics should take into consideration, from now on, to ensure its survival.

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