Swarming Souls


« Hannah Arendt »

God indeed is one, – but His forces and His powers (i.e. His elohim and His sefirot) are more than multiple, according to the Jewish Kabbalah.

This idea unites without contradiction monotheistic and polytheistic intuitions.

In contrast, one cannot say that man is really one, – nor the world or the cosmos for that matter. But neither can we say that their abundant multiplicities are a substitute for unity.

Men and worlds are certainly diverse, divided, mixed, undefined and indefinable.

But this diversity, this division, this mixing, this indefinition, are relative. They find their limits, if only in time and space. Men, like worlds, are indefinite, but certainly not infinite.

In the apparent profusion of innumerable beings and the even more abundant moments that compose them, forms of singularities emerge, for a time. Here and there appear strange quarks, galactic clusters, people and consciousnesses…

But are these singularities units? To put it another way, are these singularities as ‘one’ as God is said to be ‘one’?

Busy, unconscious and composite crowds swarm at all times in every and each one man. They are molecular, chromosomal, microbial, neuronal, synaptic, parasitic crowds, you name it.

What will remain of them at the end of time?

If man thinks he will ever be one, death always takes charge, in the end, of testing this dubious sense of unitive dream.

Conversely, if man is not one, if he is other than one, what is he in reality?

Several hypotheses are worth considering.

  1. Man is a diachronic being.

The immanent multiplicity is revealed, over long periods of time, by the accumulation of the diversity. What we were fetus, will we lose it as we die ?  Or will we not rather summarize it?

Does the flower of youth lose only its petals and its radiance in the shadows of maturity, or in the night of agony, or does it not rather reveal its subtle, invisible and irradiant perfumes?

Let’s change metaphors.

If man was a kind of vast library, which book would summarize him best? Or could we only pick out a few scattered ‘good excerpts’? Or, even, shouldn’t we be satisfied with a single chosen line, at the corner of a forgotten paragraph, or a hallucinated word, to finally express his supposed unity, his only essential meaning?

2. Man is a synchronic being.

Just as a (infinite) mathematical curve can be summarized at each of its points by the (itself infinite) set of its derivatives, so one could suppose that at any moment of his life, the being of man could contain the (apparently infinite) set of his virtualities in the making. Always still in epigenesis, man is neither his sex nor his brain, neither his spleen nor his pancreas, neither his heart nor his blood, neither his very soul nor his faulty memory, but all this simultaneously.

Reason is road, cunning and cog, and blood is place and sense. The soul animates, and elevates, she borders on drunkenness, but often sleeps in the darkness of memories. In the lymph bathes the light of hope. Saliva drowns the suns of taste, the breath tempers the twilights of consciousness.

3. Man is a distributed (or swarming) being.

A more fantastic hypothesis assumes a ‘self’ which doubts itself. It is equivalent to the idea that any ‘I’ could be defined by the sum of all the ‘you’ encountered throughout life, as well as by the sum of all the ‘us’ felt, and even the anonymous crowd of all the ‘them’ surrounding the ‘I’, be they effective or only conceived. The human ‘I’ is still alone, singular, but mainly made of indissoluble pluralities, external multitudes, and produced by entire societies, and immemorial histories.

Whether man is diachronic, synchronic, distributed, swarming, or all of them in turn, or all of them simultaneously, winds down to being the same. It is at the time of death that the ‘I’ gets to know what he really is: either ‘nothing’, just ‘nothing’, or some entity allowed to continue ‘being’ in an yet unknown, sublimated form.

There is no point in arguing about this sort of conjecture, nobody knows the end of the story, but we will all know that end, when the evening comes.

To conclude with an opening, I would like to quote a fragment from the pre-Socratic philosopher Gorgias :

« There is nothing obvious about being because it doesn’t appear [dokein]. To appear is weak, since it does not succeed in being. »i

To put it another way, perhaps more clearly, and to fit this ancient and lively thought into a long perspective :

« The way in which God has been thought of for centuries no longer convinces anyone; if something is already dead, it can only be the traditional way of thinking about God. What is really dead is the fundamental distinction between the sensory domain and the supra-sensory domain. »ii

Really dead ?

Then we need to follow up with an essential intuition of Nietzsche, which Martin Heidegger (quoted by Hannah Arendt) re-ormulated as follows:

« The destruction of the supra-sensible also suppresses the purely sensible, and thus the difference between the two.»iii

If the supra-sensible and the sensible are, in the final analysis, no different, then there is also no essential difference between transcendence and immanence.

And, consequently, there is no essential difference between the Creator (either immanent or transcendant) and the Creation…

_____________________________

iDie Fragmente des Vorsokratiker. Vol. II, B 26. Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, 1959. Quoted by Hannah Arendt. The life of the spirit. Thought. The will. Translated by Lucienne Lotringer. PUF, 1981, p.45

iiHannah Arendt. The life of the spirit. The thought. The will. Translation by Lucienne Lotringer. PUF, 1981, p.28

iiiMartin Heidegger. Paths that lead nowhere. Trad. W. Brokmeier. Paris 1962, p.173. Quoted by Hannah Arendt. The life of the spirit. Thought. The will. Translated by Lucienne Lotringer. PUF, 1981, p.29

Une réflexion sur “Swarming Souls

  1. Tiqqun Ha’O’lam. Building the 3rd Temple. The mitzva dedication which defines the k’vanna of the anointing of the bnai brit Cohen nation — as Moshiach.

    Alchemy – a philosophical attempt to rationally understand natural properties found within nature. Also referred to as “natural science”, this study dominated the best minds in countries from China to Europe. According to René Descartes’, a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, the inventor of analytical geometry. His philosophy classified “reality” into a metaphysical mind–body dualism. He theorized two types of substances, which he called – matter and mind. According to his philosophy, Physical “matter” qualifies as deterministic and natural—and so belongs to natural philosophy. Whereas everything that occurs within the “mind” exists as conscious, personal choices; and therefore non-natural. Consequently Descartes excluded human thought, dreams, and visions – as processes outside the domain of “natural science”.

    Plato, the Stoics, and even later Gnostic speculations favored ‘a Demiurge’; an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. This concept attempts to degrade the monotheistic Biblical Creator of the Universe. The Gnostic idea of ‘the demiurge’, qualifies as an interpretation which postulates the lower status of the Biblical God within the Genesis creation story. This ‘demiurge’, an inferior lesser God, fashioned the universe in obedience to the command of some ‘other’ all powerful God.

    Gnostic ideology reflects an idea, something akin to a bi-polar dualism. It views the material universe as evil, while the non-material world as good. The Gnostic notions about the evil nature of the demiurge, and the Pauline concept of “Original Sin”, both theologies piggyback the need for a some messiac figure to save man-kind from sin. The demiurge creator of the physical world, closely compares to the Xtian mythology of the fallen Angel Satan. The Church leadership during the Dark Ages rejected the Gnostic Gospels, they condemned Gnosticism as a heretical theology of messiah Jesus.

    But both the Pauline ‘fall of Man’ and the Gnostic ‘Demiurge’, qualify as teleological theologies; physico-theological, or argument from design, or intelligent design etc arguments. These postulations, their conjecture rhetoric attempts to interpret the Biblical Creation of the Universe story, and the pressing need of ‘fallen Man’ for some divine savior\redeemer. All the Gospel stories depict the sin-less nature of messiah Jesus. This divine messiah, He saves the human race from the sin of Adam who ate from the Tree of Good and Evil, and consequently brought the curse of death upon all humanity. The sacrifice of sin-less Jesus serves to atone for the inherited sin: the racial humanity of Man. Race, comparable to the multitude of spoken languages, forever divides Man against himself.

    The alchemy expressed in Aristotle’s philosophy, the latter offers 4 explanations which attempt to contain the question “Why” concerning the Creation of the Universe – divided into a so-called Magnum opus: Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final ((Causes)). These 4 “causes” compare, so to speak, to the theory of Gravity, and its influence and impact upon physical matter. The ancient attempts to classify motion compares to debates over evolution in modern day parlance. About as useful as tits on a boar hog; on par with the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial – a lot of highfalutin hogwash which accomplished absolutely nothing.

    Classic alchemy practiced during the dark and middle ages sought to transmute an inferior substance into a valuable substance. This “science” became known as chrysopoeia, the search for the philosopher’s stone – meaning the artificial production of gold. This search for the holy grail\philosopher’s stone also included attempts to discover elixirs of immortality – panacea cures for all diseases.

    Jewish alchemy views mitzvot as something which surpasses the value of gold. Hence the secret פרדס kabbala taught by Rabbi Akiva wherein he explained the revelation of the Oral Torah revelation to Moshe at Horev; the chrysopoeia of rabbinic Judaism seeks to transmute rabbinic mitzvot unto Torah mitzvot. The kabbala taught by virtually all the prophets of Israel centered itself upon defining the k’vanna of tefillah, as expressed through the Shemone Esrei.

    This alchemy, also known as Tiqqun Ha’O’lam seeks to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem – a mitzva which the anoited Moshiach achieves. The alchemy of this esoteric concept of faith, transmutes wood and stone used to build the Temple of Solomon —– unto righteous\tohor halachic rulings which establish the diplomacy of justice among and between the Jewish people within the borders of our homeland. Expressed through lateral common law courtrooms based upon the model of the Great Sanhedrin; how these halachic precedents define the k’vanna of each and every Mishna. To likewise affix, through wisdom, that defined Mishna to a specific blessing within the language of the prophetic Shemone Esrei. This secret wisdom requires knowledge of how to learn the k’vanna of esoteric Aggadita and Midrashic stories – wherein students of the Talmud affix prophetic mussar as the defining k’vanna of halachic mitzvot.

    J'aime

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