There are many ideas running around, nowadays.
There is the idea that there are no more ideas, no more « great narratives« .
There is the idea that everything is rigged, that a conspiracy has been hatched by a few people against all.
There is the idea that progress is doomed.
There is the idea that the coming catastrophe is just ‘fake news’, or just part of an ideology.
There is the idea that anything can happen, and there is the idea that there is no hope, that the void is opening up, just ahead.
Every age harbours the new prophets that it deserves. Günther Anders has famously proclaimed the « obsolescence of man », – and that the absence of a future has already begun.
We must go way beyond that sort of ideas and that sort of prophecies.
Where to find the spirit, the courage, the vision, the inspiration?
Immense the total treasure of values, ideas, beliefs, faiths, symbols, paradigms, this ocean bequeathed by humanity to the generations of the day.
The oldest religions, the philosophies of the past, are not museums, fragmented dreams, now lost. Within them lies the memory of a common world, a dream of the future.
The Divine is in that which was born; the Divine is in that which is born; the Divine is in that which will be born.
A few chosen words from beyond the ages, and the spirit may be set ablaze. The soul may be filled with fulgurations, with assailing prescience.
Power is in the air, in the mother, the father, the son, the daughter.
It is in the Gods, and in all men. In all that is born, in all that will be born.
One thousand years before Moses’ times, the poets of the Rig Veda claimed:
“The God who does not grow old stands in the bush. Driven by the wind, He clings to the bushes with tongues of fire, with a thunder.”i
Was then Moses in his own way a Vedic seer? Probably.
The greatest minds always meet at the very top. And when they do, the greatest of the greatest do come down from up there, they do go back down, among us, to continue to go further on.
“Go for yourself (לֶךְ–לְךָ lekh lekha), out of your country, out of your birthplace and your father’s house, to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you, I will make your name glorious, and you will be blessed. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who reproach you, and through you will be blessed all the families of the earth.”ii
Rashi commented this famous text. When you’re always on the road, from one camp to another, you run three risks: you have fewer children, you have less money, you have less fame. That’s why Abram received three blessings: the promise of children, confidence in prosperity, and the assurance of fame.
The figure of Abram leaving Haran is a metaphor for what lies ahead. It is also a prophecy. We too must leave Haran.
The word haran originally means « the hollow ».
We too are in « the hollow », that is, a void of ideas, a lack of hope.
It is time, like Abram once did, to get out of this hollow, to hit the road, to seek new paths for new generations, yet to come.
The word haran can be interpreted in different ways. Philo wrote that haran means « the cavities of the soul and the sensations of the body ». It is these « cavities » that one must leave. “Adopt an alien mentality with regard to these realities, let none of them imprison you, stand above all. Look after yourself.”iii
Philo adds: « But also leave the expired word, what we have called the dwelling of the father, so as not to be seduced by the beauties of words and terms, and find yourself finally separated from the authentic beauty that lies in the things that the words meant. (…) He who tends toward being rather than appearing will have to cling to these realities, and leave the dwelling of words.”iv
Abram-Abraham has left Haran. On the way, he separated from his traveling companion, Lot: « Separate yourself from me! » he said to himv.
Philo comments: « You must emigrate, in search of your father’s land, that of the sacred Logos, who is also in a sense the father of the ascetics; this land is Wisdom.”vi
Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, wrote in Greek. He used the word Logos as an equivalent for “Wisdom”, – and he notes: « The Logos stands the highest, close besides God, and is called Samuel (‘who hears God’). »
‘Migration’ is indeed a very old human metaphor, with deep philosophical and mystical undertones.
One may still have to dig up one or two things about it.
“Go, for yourself (לֶךְ–לְךָ lekh lekha)”. Leave the ‘hollow’. Stand above all, that is. Look after the Logos.
The Logos. Or the ‘Word’, as they say.
A ‘migrant’ is always in quest of good metaphors for a world yet to come. Always in quest of true metaphors yet to be spoken.
‘Metaphor’. A Greek word, meaning: “displacement”.
Hence the stinging and deep irony of Philo’s metaphor:
“Leave the dwelling of words.”
Leave the words. Leave the metaphors. Just leave.
Just hit the road, Man.
i R.V. I.58.2-4
iiGen. 12, 1-3
iiiPhilo. De Migratione Abrahami. 14,7
iv Ibid. 14,12
v Gen. 13,9
vi Ibid. 14,12