Montag, 13. Juni 2011

Not a better future (Strictly for individuals)

Gia Edzgveradze

The German translation was published in "einBLICKgeorgia 2008

Before we try to imagine any developments in any human activities at first we have to consider the imaginative space where these movements inevitably take place. This imaginative space is called – the future. Let’s make a try to enter this notion and investigate what it suggests, because future against first appearances is never naively and welcomingly open, just opposite – it is normally strictly determined by the drafts of history.

The major question is how the outlines of the history of modern times did design the image of the future today and what does the future signify now?
Let’s proceed with recent major historical events which influence and define the image of our future: the fundamental disclosures made in quantum mechanics in the last century fully discredited science as a provider of permanent and objective rules of the physical nature of the world. With this fact unfortunately the main hopes of mankind for jcertainties has disappeared. Furthermore, the last century has finally admitted that the long sermon of preaching love to the world has surely failed and as usually happens with all the heart felt efforts, it also turned into dry list of regulations and instructions. After all, our long and painful experience made us clearly aware that unfortunately history doesn’t have a linear character – this discovery cancelled any hopes for dialectics. Just recently we realise that object has dissolved within a signifier and that subject has a nature of a mere bricollage without a chance to transform itself into a pure and monogamous phenomena. In summary one can say that the last two centuries witnessed the crash of all the grand narratives and their utopias. This observation breaks all our hopes for the chance of any collective brake through which was a long run dream of the human society.
All the above mentioned efforts of the communal space (in the sciences, in religion, in creativity, in politics, in social life) could not succeed to bring us to the somewhat meaningful point and only made obvious the fact of the failure of essential ethical advancement of mankind. Regrettably all human activities indeed appear to be an endless multiplication of forms of Maya or in the western terminology the “glass bead game”.
“Future”, as a projection of a noble goal of human beings to defeat their own destiny with mutual communal effort has principally been cancelled, exhausted and become senseless. Sisyphus remains to stay at work.
But in spite of this above described desperate and hopeless background, something curious and strange happened – liberation of future from the fundamental responsibilities of being the bearer of idealistic goals and the saviour’s mission suddenly made the future happily and widely popular within society. It appears that this change uncovered a hidden and deeply wished opportunity in human society to domesticate the future without having a bad conscious j– to fill it up with their private human problems: e.g. social, ecological, ethnical, gender and so on. People became ecstatic feeling that now the future can be dedicated to the domestic comfort of humanity – to make the world in every possible way more pleasant and appropriate to live in… With this transformation the future today indeed became a worldwide celebrity.

So, nowadays in the world there is one popular claim which sounds for everybody so natural that seems timeless. It seems so positive that one feels that those who sustain this claim are doubtlessly devoted to mankind and those who reject it are probably nihilists, philistines or even an enemy of human kind. Within the public room it is difficult to find at the moment another proposition which for human ears can be more encouraging, pleasing and wished for. This claim, this trendy motto is: “We are longing for a future and want a better future”. (Future in this text doesn’t mean next sequence of time like a second, a minute, a day or a year, but our desire for it)
But, is it right to think that human beings were always so much involved with the future and especially with a better future? This proposition is not a global claim coming from the very constitution of human kind but it is just a cultural construct which from time to time becomes popular, obsessively chased and afterwards fades away – depending on the character of the episteme which determines the form of cultural consciousness within a particular period of human history.
However, at any time and any place, when these two words “better” and “future” turn into one notion, it always means – people long for peace, harmony, wealth, hoping for the perspective to enjoy the world long and healthily.
But let’s trace out – is this beautiful vision and this pleasant constellation of words as harmless as it appears at first? How does this communal desire, protected from any doubts, relate to an individual and his potency for the unique challenge? Let’s ask whether within this cherished communal wish a space is left for the single soul who is yearning beyond of presence, beyond the communal, beyond past and future towards the realm which can be called post-cultural – outside the notions of “human being” and “human future”.
It is obvious; the excitement and enthusiasm of our society with future expectations comes from the specific instinctive desire of human creature to “privatize existence” for its deepened and profound consumption. This desire (which is so welcomed within the communal space) is the crucial obstacle for another, fundamental quality of human being – his ability to sacrifice his own life to pursue symbolic – the feature which determines human being as an outstanding creature among the other species. This quality and also its bearer “ethical individual” (term of Rudolf Steiner) within the flourishing excitement of society with “better” and “future” is entirely marginalized and forgotten. So to say, marginalized is our major chance which once was so generously opened and forcefully suggested to us. Jesus sacrifices himself not for our “better future or better life” but to create evidence and the example of a sacrificial consciousness as the only path bringing human being to the state of unlimited openness which is liberation from “future”, “better” and “private”. These three words never longing for sacrifice but the whole world yells for them. The symbolic instruction “Pay to Caesar and what is God's, pay to God” entirely misbalanced.
Buddha, the greatest teacher of ending with any kind of development of expectations first of all negated “better”. As we know he taught that the entire world is just hopeless suffering. In this regard thinkers of antiquity also had a strong statement – that it would be better for a human being not to be born at all. Within these declarations care about a future is an obvious nonsense.
”Communal”, “future”, “better”, all these notions are characteristics of one absurd practice – “privatization” of existence which is based on the dreams for the future. Within the structure of this practice the primary chance of individual is forgotten, not encouraged, his capability to sacrifice is diminished, his potency for immediate breakthrough is ignored remaining out of fashion. Kafka’s “Starvation Artist” simply died and nobody cares about his death. The major obsessive aim put in front of a person of present times is to succeed to be legitimated within the communal space – which means to fit and to function well inside a certain structure; to be useful part of something useful for life. But all this remains far away from serving Truth.

The ultimate truth is never better or good, never is located in the future or past and can't be consumed for any worldly purposes – it is useless. That's why it is the freedom – from our own human nature with its private time, space, future and past.

When society entirely lacks the power of negation, its citizens (as Nietzsche predicted), will in the end only be creatures which constantly and repeatedly blink their eyes.

“The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16.16). This is one of the most innovative claims within the New Testament which gives clearly articulated shape to the new knowledge – beyond the future, against the future, beyond the communal. It is the most radical eschatological claim. “Prophets” and “rules” exist for a future, but here in this expression time stops and both are gone – it is suggested to cross the border directly, right here and now. In this pointing to the accomplishment, “presseth into it” suggests abolishing any perspectives concerning life and to attempt the last step – to quit with time and space in the name of the Father – right now. These words were told for everybody – not just for “professionals” – monks, priests and etc.
Who is involved with these efforts today?

Nowadays life is not understood and unfolded by us as a ritual performance during the pitiful period of delay with our ultimate relief. That’s why there is no enthusiasm shown to shorten this delay. What science, all humanitarian disciplines, state structures and also art devotedly serve these days is the mainstream communal desire (contagious disease of our time): privatization of existence and directing it towards a “better future”.
Do we have the courage to speak against this demanding, noisy and mighty mainstream? Likewise Kierkegaard or Schopenhauer once raised their voices in defence of the will of the individual against anonymity of the Hegelian unified communal drift which was creating dreams about the meaningfulness of future and past.

Do we strive (and also teach our children to do so) for giant, godlike individual destinies? Do we push ourselves and also them towards the narrow doors? Difficult – today in our surrounding all the heroes and public icons which orientate society are from the fussy and noisy realm of communal activity for the “privatization” of life. The alternatives – sacrifice and surrender are treated as provincial cases.

„… that’s how it is, because I was frequently dying / I found true immortality” (from Antonin Artaud’s book “Theatre of cruelty”).

The expression “frequently dying” can trigger interesting discussion.

But the fact is – if one will stop chasing a “better future” and will vigorously follow time with the death drive within it, this attempt and this run can free one’s mind from being determined by meaning.
The true and uncontaminated nature of contemporary art (which is not easy to find) demands a definitive individual effort which within every fact searches for the final act. This is a drive against the future towards the future, which can be called “Other” future, where there is so much future that it can’t any more appear inside of present. On this final stage it is no longer possible to distinguish the configurations of the paradigms of our giant human efforts which we once called science, religion, art, love. They all disappear inside of one, undividable and ecstatically dynamical obviousness of the “Other future”.

…Who will lose the future he will find future
And who will preserve the future he will lose future.

Gia Edzgveradze

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