Nicola Masciandaro

Nicola Masciandaro (professor at CUNY Brooklyn College, NYC, US) is a philosopher, writer and passionate alpinist. His works originate from the core of speculative medievalism (mainly medieval literature – his father Franco counts as one of the most prominent experts on Dante), focusing on the rise of the individual, mysticism, iconology, demonology, grief, penitence, “black ecology” and Black Metal theory. The hyper-productive Masciandaro has published and contributed to more than 20 publications (many of them accessible online for free, e.g. “Decapitating Cinema”, “Metal Studies and the Scission of the Word”, “Unknowing Animals”, “Non potest hoc corpus decollari: Beheading and the Impossible”, “Exploding Plasticity”, “Getting Anagogic” and his latest work “Sacer”) as well as dozens of essays. He publishes his own website Glossator and the blogs The Whim, Bergmetal, and T.A.C.T. He is also the co-director of Punctum Book. His is permanently active on Twitter and often on Youtube.


The Whim of Reality: On the Question of Will

[paper delivered at Question of Will 05, A4, Bratislava, 18 March 2017]

 

ABSTRACT: Seeing that: 1) existence is whyless, purposeless, without whence or whither; 2) there is little or no worth in wanting a will that is anything less than reality’s own whim; and 3) will can only be grasped in a movement that is of will itself, in the motion of its question—this lecture takes aim at will in the mode of spontaneity, that is, in terms of that which enacts or spends itself freely, of its own accord (sua sponte). Refusing the reduction of the spontaneous to causal illusion, senseless caprice, or simply a placeholder for the unthinkable, I consider the will as the reverberation of reality’s unaccountable and infinitely restless urge to know itself—thus, in a form capable of crossing the apparently impassible distance between individual and universal wills, between what one wants/chooses and all the forces bringing everything into being. This principle will be traced through four constellations of spontaneity, each with a different attendant spirit: question (Augustine), earthquake (Dante), love (Meher Baba), birth (Meister Eckhart). By drawing nectar from an array of broadly mystical medieval and modern sources, I hope to distill not only a taste of the will’s power, but something of its imperishable sweetness.

 

 

 

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one, who is born of the Spirit.

– John 3:7-8

 

Here my high imagining failed of power; but already my desire and will [il mio disio e ‘l velle] were turned, like a wheel being moved evenly, by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.

– Dante, Paradiso 33

My mother groan’d! my father wept. / Into the dangerous world I leapt.

– William Blake, “Infant Sorrow”

 

It seeks to know itself. It is of no use to ask why . . . The plain truth about this initial urge to know itself is best called a whim (Lahar) The initial whim is completely independent of reason, intellect or imagination, all of which are by-products of this whim. Reason, intellect and imagination depend upon the initial whim and not vice versa.

– Meher Baba, Beams

 

If there is a question of will—of that which moves thought, feeling, action—it is because will itself has the nature of a question. Will: the reverberating whim of Reality … Who would prefer to show up here—to itself, to life, to this lecture—wanting anything less?[1]

 

  1. PUNCTUS INTERROGATIVUS

The medieval predecessor of the modern question mark indicates the rising intonation of a question in a form resembling a flash of lighting or swerving line suspended above a point. In Paradiso, Dante passes beyond the human (trasumanar) in the midst of unknowing like inverse lightning: “You are making yourself swell [grosso] with false imaginings,” explains Beatrice faster than he can pose the question, “You are not on earth as you believe, but lighting, fleeing its proper place, never sped so fast as you, going back to yours … It would be a marvel in you if … you had remained below.”[2] Rogare, to ask, derives from *rog-, to stretch out the hand (cf. reach), a variant of the root *reg- ‘move in a straight line.’ Augustine, reaching through his inability to grasp himself, to wield wholly his own will, asks, “Why this monstrousness [monstrum]? And what is the root of it? … The mind commands the hand to move and there is such readiness that you can hardly distinguish the command from the execution. Yet the mind is mind, whereas the hand is body. The mind commands the mind to will, the mind is itself, but it does not do it.”[3] Thomas Metzinger speaks of falling in love as a lightning strike uniting and dissolving two phenomenal selves—“a little bit like dying, and also … like going insane.”[4] Nietzsche, bridging no-one-being and the Bhagavad Gita, confirms the illusion of agency, that “‘the doer’ is invented as an afterthought, – the doing is everything,” by comparing it to the common misperception which “separates lightning from its flash and takes the latter to be a deed, something performed by a subject, which is called lightning.”[5] One might go on and on. And still the bolt, as if instantly freezing the infinite, is no less something that STOPS, comes to a point. This forking fire moving in a line, this swerving ray flying faster than flight—how else to seize it except by being seized, to touch it without being struck?

What is will—it asks—if not a flashing of this darkness to itself, auto-eclipse of the who who asks the question? As Augustine says, “Tu … in cuius oculis mihi quaestio factus sum” [You … in whose eyes I am made/become a question to myself].”[6] One never wonders, authentically or self-doingly (auto-entes), without being that wonder. So Nietzsche, the Augustine of our age, says of wisdom’s lover: “this is a person who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thoughts as if from outside, from above and below … who is perhaps a storm himself, pregnant with new lightning; a fatal person in whose vicinity things are always rumbling, growling, gaping, and acting in uncanny ways.”[7] Whose eyes are these, in which I am made or become a question to myself? Or, whose question is this, by which eyes peer into my own darkness? “The eye with which I see God,” says Meister Eckhart, “is the same eye with which God sees me: my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing and one love.”[8] Thus I want to say that will is cyclops, folded through itself as a self-doubling mirror, its darkness to itself a piece with its power—the whole black gravity of a pure-nothing pupil through which everything including itself is seen. As reflected by Pseudo-Dionysius on the erotic double ecstasy of divine creation: “And, in truth, it must be said that the very cause of the universe … is also carried outside of himself … He is … enticed away … and comes to abide within all things … by virtue of his … capacity to remain, nevertheless, within himself.”[9] So do the blessed, a poet learns in Paradise, “gaze into the Mirror in which, before you think, you reveal [pandi] your thought.”[10]

What vision or theory of will is possible without blinding fidelity to this blindness? Like the radical husband—a medieval figure for the Incarnation—who puts out one of his eyes to assure his one-eyed wife of his love.[11] As if to seize the will one must remove an eye, stick one’s vision with the will’s own blindness. But which one? “This power of sight,” as Hadewych explains, “has two eyes, love and reason. Reason cannot see God except in what he is not; love rests not except in what he is. Reason has its secure paths, by which it proceeds. Love experiences failure, but failure advances it more than reason … When reason abandons itself to love’s wish, and love consents to be forced and held within the bounds of reason, they can accomplish a very great work. This no one can learn except by experience.”[12] If we pluck one, we lose the will’s force. If the other, we lose what sees it. How to blind one and preserve both? How to blind both and preserve one? Such is the work of experience, of the flashing life that sees there is no real knowledge without entering the living darkness of the knower, no real will without becoming the willed. Anyone can simply think and feel and go through the motions. Nothing is easier, lazier, than merely having a wish! If only …  But to swim through one’s pupils, to walk in the dark to the point of forgetting oneself and forgiving everything! “Whether men soar to outer space or dive to the bottom of the deepest ocean,” says Meher Baba, “they will find themselves as they are, unchanged, because they will not have forgotten themselves nor remembered to exercise the charity of forgiveness.”[13] One must become the question one is, be the question that makes you, fall into the blind spot of one’s essential image. This is illuminated by Eriugena: “the Divine likeness in the human mind is most clearly discerned when it is only known that it is, and not known what it is . . . what it is is denied in it [negatur in ea quid esse], and only that it is is affirmed. Nor is this unreasonable. For if it were known to be something, then at once it would be limited by some definition, and thereby would cease to be a complete expression of the image of its Creator, Who is absolutely unlimited and contained within no definition.”[14] Or Meillassoux: “we must project unreason into things themselves, and discover in our grasp of facticity the veritable intellectual intuition of the absolute.”[15]

Did you create yourself or not? Unforgiveable! Here the will stands up and takes a bow, to itself. Once the applause dies down, it begins to gesture—a spontaneous sign language created, preserved, and destroyed in each movement. A few words of acknowledgement no doubt, I couldn’t have done it without … you? We understand nothing. Luckily M.E. is on hand to translate the gist: “In my birth all things were born, and I was the cause of myself and all things: and if I had so willed it, I would not have been, and all things would not have been. If I were not, God would not be either. I am the cause of God’s being God: if I were not, then God would not be God. But you do not need to know this.”[16] Either way—and both are true: there is no way you either did or did not create yourself—one’s life rises like the sun through a self-splitting horizon, just as our problems of will are properly dilemmas of self-division, of being stuck by, as opposed to ascending by means of, the primordial fissure of nature, the fault which is the ground of habit or ethics, the internal fracture that makes each agent its own patient and each patient its own agent. “I do not understand my own actions,” says St. Paul, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7:15-9). But the contradiction—and it would not be a contradiction if will were not one—is also power and the way of freedom. “Life itself wants to build itself into the heights with pillars and steps; it wants to gaze into vast distances … —therefore it needs height! And because it needs height, it needs steps and contradictions between steps and climbers! Life wants to climb and to overcome itself by climbing.”[17] The agent/patient dilemma variously faced in the activation of will—wanting to do without being the one who does, wanting to be one who does without having to do—is, as the sting of Epictetus’s teaching proves, also the term of its own overcoming, namely, the power of flight, to freely do as one wills without the burden of being the doer. Whence Félix Ravaisson: “The law of habit can only be explained through the development of a Spontaneity that is at once active and passive.”[18] Willing climbs through doing into being, grappling with the facture of itself in a movement that overcomes it by facing oneself head on. Therefore, a word of warning to whoever may hope to wield, without being swallowed by, the question (of will). Twisting our eyes through the blackness of its peephole, Augustine confesses, “But You … turned me back towards myself, taking me from behind my own back, where I had put myself all the time that I preferred not to see myself. And You set me there before my own face that I might see how vile I was … I saw myself and was horrified.”[19]

 

  1. SEISMOS

In Junji Ito’s manga “The Enigma of Amigara Fault,” an earthquake opens up a mountain to reveal a rift full of individualized human forms. Amigara means ‘empty shell,’ and to the person whose body uniquely fits this shadow-space, their own abyss-negative, the hole seems irresistible, drawing one towards it with an entombing gravity only you can fathom, not unlike that now tying each of us to these corpses. As with much horror fiction, the fable inverts a pre-modern motif, echoing backwardly the reunion of soul and body at the end of time when history gives up its dead and there is “a great earthquake such as had never been since men were on the earth” (Revelation 16:18). The secret subgenre at work here—a current on par with the hyper-covert style of one’s own event—might be christened seismic individuation terror, a form crossing themes of cataclysm and ontological self-binding. What is this continuity between what Levinas terms “that most radical and unalterably binding of chains, the fact that the I [moi] is oneself [soi-même]”[20] and the cosmic forces whose surges shake mountains, if not reality itself?

For Nietzsche, it is the inhuman self-beholding of his own destiny in Ecce Homo: “I am not a human being. I am dynamite.”[21] For Lispector, it is the breath of her own free words, “so that it shivers and shakes and my earthquake opens frightening fissures in this free language—but I captive and in the process of not being I become aware and it goes on without me.”[22] For Cioran, it is the detonation of life and death: “I feel I must burst because of all that life offers me and because of the prospect of death … I feel my life cracking within me from too much intensity, too much disequilibrium. It is like an explosion which cannot be contained, which throws you up in the air along with everything else.”[23] For Augustine, in the trauma of conversion, when the whole world seems to turn with one’s turning, it is the resurrection from the tomb of habit that constitutes the cataclysm, a resurrection from being bound to one’s own dead self which he compares to the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44),[24] just as his own experience of self-facing mirrors the terms of the Etruscan pirates’ torture (philosophically twisted by Reza Negarestani)[25] in which a living and a dead body “are bound as closely as possible, part fitted to part” and left to decompose together.[26] As Augustine considered this necrotic togetherness an apt image of the “heavy yoke upon the children of Adam,”[27] so does he ask near the beginning of the Confessions, “What have I to say … save that I know not where I came from, when I came into this life-in-death—or should I call it death-in-life? I do not know.”[28] And for Dante, who conceives the form most poetically, it is the terrifying tremor of Earth’s highest peak and bridge to Paradise—“I felt the mountain shake like a falling thing, and a chill seized me such as takes him who goes to death.”[29] This happens when the soul, finally overcoming the fracture of the Fall, feels the primal surprise of its own will, as the poet Statius explains: “the mountain trembles when some soul feels itself cleansed, so that it rises up or starts to climb … We know that we are cleansed when the will itself surprises the soul with the freedom to change convents, and the soul rejoices to will it … And I, who have lain in this sorrow five hundred years and more, only now felt the free will of a better threshold: therefore you felt the earthquake.”[30] Confirming the question as seismos of reality, the wayfarer upon feeling this says, “No ignorance ever assailed me with so much desire to know.”[31]

The form in question reflects the infinity of individuation’s depth charge, a force hidden within the absolutely asymmetrical crack connecting oneself to everything.[32] Is one or is one not intrinsically one with Reality? Is one’s will other than that which is creating, preserving, and destroying the universe—yes or no? What fact can the fact that one is oneself—summit of impossibility!—not make to tremble? As Meher Baba explains, the cause of this whole multifarious cosmic mess without and within oneself—not the universe or a universe but this one—is the unaccountable whim of the eternal or divine Reality to know itself, which operates as the universal dialectic from ‘Who am I?’ to ‘I am God,’[33] generating en route, in the spiral of evolution and involution, all temporary beings as provisional answers: ‘I am stone,’ ‘I am plant,’ ‘I am human,’ and so forth. “The infinite question is infinite unconsciousness; the infinite answer is infinite consciousness.”[34] Now what impresses me here is that this question, which governs all experience and is itself the impression of first experience, has the nature of a spontaneous primal shock:

[The] first experience of the infinite Soul was that it (the Soul) experienced a contrariety in its identity with its infinite, impressionless, unconscious state. This experience of contrariety effected changeableness in the eternal, indivisible stability of the infinite Soul, and spontaneously there occurred a sort of eruption, disrupting the indivisible poise and the unconscious tranquility of the infinite Soul with a recoil or tremendous shock which impregnated the unconsciousness of the unconscious Soul with first consciousness of its apparent separateness.[35]

—A shock that, due to the infinite disparity of its terms, seems to go on forever: “The process takes an infinitely long time and eternity gets seemingly broken into the unending past, the transient present and the uncertain future.”[36] In other words, the vector of being known as will is the reverberating dilation of the original word—shout or sigh, take your pick—the inexplicable erotic-surge of Reality to realize itself by impossibly splitting itself from itself, ‘causing’ in the process the gross, subtle, and mental worlds, or in Meillassoux’s parlance the surchaotic “ruptures of becoming: matter, life, and thought … [each of which] appears as a Universe that cannot be qualitatively reduced to anything that preceded it.”[37]

This general idea is beautifully confirmed in Dante’s poetic cosmology, whose tripartite order is bound together, like the comedic empyrean conspiracy of its author’s journey, by the route of love, a word deriving from rumpere, to break. In the Commedia, the passage to paradise, descending through hell and ascending through purgatory, is literally that, a rupture. As Virgil explains to the pilgrim, after climbing down-up through the center of the cosmos upon Satan’s body, the inversely formed abyss and peak were generated by Lucifer’s fall when the earth “left this empty space [lasciò qui loco vòto] in order to escape from him, and fled upward” (Inf. 34.125-6).[38] The void-space of hell then becomes passable, crucially, by means of a series of ruins (ruine), “alpine [alpestro]” (Inf. 12.2) landslides of “ancient rock” [vecchia roccia]” (Inferno 12.44) which occur at the time of the Crucifixion darkness when, as Virgil explains in the seventh circle of Inferno, “this deep, foul valley trembled so that I thought the universe must be feeling love” (Inf. 12.40-2). This is the ruin which gives the lustful souls of hell pause: “When they come before the landslide, there the shrieks, the wailing, the lamenting, there they curse God’s power” (Inferno 5.34-6).

It is one thing to assert, as a famous physicist does, that “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”[39] It is another to know and feel in one’s bones that this is not only true, but the mere shell or amigara of a truth more torturous still, one that, in order to remain you, one never stops denying. Who are these people who people hell, entombing themselves in Earth, but they who forever people themselves, refusing fatally to affirm, except in the inevitability of their denial, the universe-quake of the hyper-intimate, self-shattering will? Who is capable of negating, in the last instance, the question of the question, to insist all the way down on oneself as a universally separate entity? At least Satan has the guts to rebel against God, the courage to suffer the eternally just consequences of his own complicity. What makes me shudder—were there something to fear—is the prospect of revolution without conversion, progress at the hands of persons who prefer themselves all the way down, who elect their identity with reality in the least original way. Such are the very hell of hell, the negligent or non-choosing (from nec-legere, to not choose), the nauseatingly lukewarm, “neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15), who are spat out at the end of time. Paradoxically, it is these who are making all the noise, the merely material beings who “were never alive” (Inferno 3.64). “‘Master, what is so grievous that it makes them lament so loudly?’ He replied, ‘I will tell you briefly. They have no hope of death, and their blind life is so base that they are envious of every other fate … let us not speak of them, but look and pass on’” (Inferno 3.43-51). Such is the wretched racket of this world of worry, clamoring constantly for what it claims to want but fails to will, finding fault at the feast where one chooses to chew wood. But don’t worry, as everyone knows, hell is good news: “Abandon every hope, you who enter” (Inferno 3.9). For: “The condition of the world, the strife and uncertainty that is everywhere, the general dissatisfaction with and rebellion against any and every situation shows that the ideal of material perfection is an empty dream and proves the existence of an eternal Reality beyond materiality.”[40]

And so, before the cosmic mountain of matter and its noise, all the frustrated murmuring and fuss ever to be made thereon, let us set the much louder silence of an earthquake, one that takes place—but where?—when will willfully abandons itself, surprising whosever it is, as for the first time.

 

III. PONDUS MEUM

It is always a question of will precisely because there is no having something without becoming it, no becoming it without being it, no being it without the delight of it. Therefore it is always a matter of love, of one’s essential gravity, of the curvature of will: “My love is my weight; by it I am borne, wheresoever I am borne [Pondus meum, amor meus; eo feror, quocumque feror].”[41] As love is transport, carrying one away who knows where, so is it detachment, leaving what cannot be taken, possessions that will not survive the journey. Consider how the prospect of realizing the loveable—truth, goodness, beauty—per force demands a passage from being its putative possessor to being wholly possessed by it, to becoming it, in other words, flight along a path of union whose fulfillment is proven by its very joy. Thus Agamben: “The problem of knowledge is a problem of possession, and every problem of possession is a problem of enjoyment.”[42] And Eckhart: “The just man serves neither God nor creatures, for he is free, and the closer he is to justice, the closer he is to freedom, and the more he is freedom itself.”[43] And Porete: “And she is inebriated not only from what she has drunk, but very intoxicated and more than intoxicated from what she never drinks nor will ever drink.”[44] Spontaneous joy, the smiling “flash of the soul’s delight,”[45] is the mark of hitting the mark, the sign-in-the-event that proves even the most invisible vision. As Dante writes near the end of the Commedia, “The universal form of this knot, I believe I saw, because I feel my joy expand as I say this” (Paradiso 33.91-3). Likewise the absence of this flash is testimony of fraud. “Be not sad like the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:16). Do you want knowledge, or do you want to be the knower? Do you want justice, or do you want to be the judge? Do you want the wine of bliss, or do you want to be the drinker? How beautiful the face that does not refract this dilemma, which is clear of the dark interference of some leaden desire, hiding under gold paint, the counter-will of wanting to be the one who wills—even to the point of killing will itself. Ask someone whether he wants to be or to appear good? You know what he will answer: that he wants to be good—because he wants to appear so.

The irresistible power of love is precisely that of a higher order gravity, the grave levitation of a heaviest yet scalar and vertiginous lift that elevates and quickens life through-against its own weight, just as one ascends in climbing via a tensional state of pulling and pushing. Similarly, St. Teresa experiences levitation simultaneously as an aerial force carrying her away—“you see and feel this cloud, or this powerful eagle rising and bearing you up”—and, in her resistance to this rapture, as an earthy creature raising her from below: “it has been like fighting a great giant … a great force, for which I can find no comparison, was lifting me up from beneath my feet.”[46] And it is the spontaneity of the resurrective power of love—a seizure of the will’s wholeness and specular revelation of the one in the many—that demonstrates and manifests will as never one’s own: “it comes as a quick and violent shock … We have to go willingly wherever we are carried, for in fact, we are being born off whether we like it or not … We are not the masters; whether we like it or not, we see that there is One mightier than we.”[47] This willy-nilly dimension of love is why the affirmationism of most love-talk fails to move, because it lacks the essential negativity of spontaneous nature, the whenceless and whitherless swerve of whim that, less than affirming an object or value, negates the opposition between affirmation and denial and thus says yes to something “beyond affirmation and denial” precisely without having to say so.[48] Whim is the sacred threshold between love and will, the apophatic sentry guarding the all-coercive power of what can never be coerced. Meher Baba writes,

If there is to be a resurrection of humanity, the heart of man will have to be unlocked so that a new love is born into it … Love cannot be born of mere determination; through the exercise of will one can at best be dutiful. Through struggle and effort, one may succeed in assuring that one’s external action is in conformity with one’s concept of what is right; but such action is spiritually barren because it lacks the inward beauty of spontaneous love. Love has to spring spontaneously from within; it is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force. Love and coercion can never go together, but while love cannot be forced upon anyone, it can be awakened through love itself. Love is essentially self-communicative; those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. Those who receive love from others cannot be its recipients without giving a response which, in itself, is the nature of love. True love is unconquerable and irresistible.[49]

The practical and theoretical implications of the spontaneous and self-communicative nature of love for the question of will are profound. Simultaneously, love’s theory and practice are free from systematization since, blowing where it will, love is never subject to volitional determination, whether affective or intellective. No turn of will, no desire or decision, grasps love, which enjoys the sovereign status of the generator or primum mobile of the will’s motion and thus no less the freedom of indifference towards it. Whence: 1) The ethical non-proscriptiveness of the Nietzschean amor fati: “Let looking away be my only negation!”[50] 2) The economical humility of the Bataillean depense: “Woe to those who … insist on regulating the movement that exceeds them with the narrow mind of the mechanic who changes a tire.”[51] 3) The sorrowlessness of divine mercy, as explained by Aquinas: “a person is said to be merciful (misericors), as being, so to speak, sorrowful at heart (miserum cor); being affected with sorrow at the misery of another as though it were his own … To sorrow, therefore, over the misery of others belongs not to God; but it does most properly belong to Him to dispel that misery.”[52] Love is the Argument (from PIE root *arg- ‘to shine’), the true gold that, outshining all other arguments, cannot be proven or denied, bought or sold, by any silver. Its lesson is not a question of doctrine, but of waking up from oneself, of coming to life, as per the Universal Message: “I have come not to teach but to awaken. Understand therefore that I lay down no precepts … You have not to renounce anything but your own self. It is as simple as that, though found to be almost impossible.”[53]

Almost. Therefore, rather than speak to the question of will in the sense of how—and how frequently deceptive and self-deluding is the will of the person asking how!—I will just say a few words about this almost as the space for the ‘cultivation of will’ in the civic terms proposed by this event.[54] Specifically, because mind touches truth only by stripping away its falsehoods, and because in social matters this means above all seeing through one’s personal falseness, I will speak to the issue of spiritual barrenness, the lack of “the inward beauty of spontaneous love” as the desert ground where, precisely in the space of the manifest impossibility of the task, will may be seeded into love’s garden. Since love is not amenable to inner or outer force, the image of planting in desolate ground is a properly hopeless figure for this order of cultivation which, because it clearly will not work, just might work in the right way, that is, spontaneously.

Now the two great signs of spiritual barrenness especially evident in every direction of our culture are worry and lust, that is, anxious concern about past or future and appetitive craving for fleshy excitements. The first is typified by capitalism, the pursuit of happiness through profitable business (from OE bisig, ‘anxious, worried’). “There are very few things in the mind which eat up as much energy as worry … Worry is the product of feverish imagination working under the stimulus of desires. It is a living through of sufferings which are mostly our own creation.”[55] The second is typified by consumerism, the pursuit of happiness through deceptive delights of distraction, possession, and ingestion (delight, from de-lacere, ‘to lure away’). “A man likes curry because it tickles his palate. There are no higher considerations, so it is a form of lust … Lust of every type is an entanglement with gross forms, independent of the spirit behind them. It is an expression of mere attachment to the objects of sense.”[56] As worry is the lowest form of imagination and thinking, so lust is the lowest form of love. Where we see the former culturally elevated to the point of identification with intellectual virtue, we see the latter culturally elevated to the point of identification with affective virtue. Where the former circulates under the masks of responsibility, concern, and care, the latter circulates under the masks of fun, glamour, and affection. Moreover, worry and lust rather obviously circumambulate the perimeter of the seeming impossibility of renouncing one’s “own self,” namely, the identitarian so-and-so that one possesses. When you hear that you must renounce nothing but yourself, immediately their voices are heard, possessing one’s own: If I give up myself, who will I be? Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of not having to renounce anything else, but if I am no longer me, how will I enjoy it all?

Its seems universally true that in order for something to take place, space must be present for it. Natura abhorret vacuum. Even God, the ultimate objectless object of love who gets in no one’s way, must, according to the Christian principle of kenosis (withdrawal) and the Jewish idea of tzimtzum (contraction), open a void in himself to create. Accordingly, in place of whatever wants to pimp worry and lust as modes of love, let us put forward the empty space of an inviolable NO that remains incomprehensible to those claims, namely: 1) vis-à-vis worry, a surer conscience that is interested without concern, a care that does not care; and 2) vis-à-vis lust, a surer pleasure that is neither excited nor cold, a delight neither repressed nor indulged. Together, this two-eyed NO may be conceived as the internal looking away of vision, in the midst of all seeing, into the singularity of will that cannot not continue gazing: “In that Light one becomes such that it is impossible ever to consent to turn away from it toward any other sight, because goodness, the object of the will, is all gathered there” (Paradiso, 33.100-4). By contrast, worry and lust are both perpetuated via promiscuity, the panoply of cross-eyed mixings wherethrough one fails to mind one’s own business or distinguish the difference between, in Epictetus’s terms, what is up to us and what is not: “The things that are up to us are by nature free, unhindered, and unimpeded; the things that are not up to us are weak, enslaved, hindered, not our own.”[57] Thus, to keep the space between the two clear, is at once a form of cleanliness, of keeping order, and a manner of not confusing what is possible and what is not, of opening up more and more the negative space of the almost wherein self-renunciation is not impossible. So in the iconography of temperance, the inspirational flow of internal tears between the powers of the soul waters without watering a spontaneously flowering rose.[58]

A simple word for this desert space where the seed of will, exactly in the absence of a place to root itself, might sprout into love is chastity (from PIE root *kes- ‘to cut’ and cognate with Latin cassus ‘empty, void’). Chastity is not love, but the faithful guard against its palpable absence, a space impervious to spiritual barrenness holding open through enclosure the fact that the desert of the world is not not a garden. As such, chastity is a sine qua non of civic environment.[59] It is not the key that will unlock the heart, but a heart-lock to keep out keys that are not love’s. As chaste eyes mirror a chaste heart, so chastity manifests is the form of a positively negative looking, the clean gaze of a conscious no one, in the sense of a soul that refuses to identify or be identified the gross, subtle, or mental body. “As Soul, it does nothing, it merely IS. When the mind is added on to the soul, it appears to think. When the subtle body is added onto the soul with the mind, it appears to desire. When the gross body is added onto all these, the soul appears to be engaged in actions. The belief that the soul is doing anything is a false belief.”[60] And as Agamben indicates in The Coming Community, the gaze reflecting this IS is not not love: “Seeing something simply in its being thus—irreparable, but not for that reason necessary; thus, but not for that reason contingent—is love.”[61] If chastity looks undesirable—and of course the opposite is more true—that is good news, a sign of its harmless, self-sufficient truth. Worry and lust are both shallow, dissatisfying forms of satisfaction, so their rejection necessarily cannot feed the habitual impulse and stubborn demand for satisfaction. Ultimately, the rejection of worry and lust, thanks to the impossibility of definitive success in either area, is constituted by the radical negativity of happiness, the pure despite of its inherent independence from all objects of desire. But don’t believe me. Listen to the encouraging words of Hadewych: “What satisfies Love best of all is that we be wholly destitute of all repose, whether in aliens, or in friends, or even in Love herself … And that life is miserable beyond all that the human heart can bear.”[62] And Eckhart: “cast out all grief so that perpetual joy reigns in your heart. Thus the child is born. And then, if the child is born in me, the sight of my father and all my friends slain before my eyes would leave my heart untouched. For if my heart were moved thereby, the child would not have been born in me, though its birth might be near.”[63]

 

  1. ABANDON

The resurrection of humanity according to the whim of Reality means the end of its death. It makes sense, then, to try to remember now what this death will have been after it is over, which is something already forgotten, namely, birth. So, while birth cannot be remembered, one may still surrender the memory of it, and in this manner veer into its immemorial nature, which is itself continuous with surrender. Thus for Cioran—as least until he grew “bored with slandering the universe”[64]—to wrestle with the trouble of birth is a matter of ridding oneself of the traces and resonance of its “scandal.” “‘Ever since I was born’—that since has a resonance so dreadful to my ears it becomes unendurable.” [65] “Detachment then should apply itself to getting rid of the traces of this scandal, the most serious and intolerable of all.”[66] After all, what is this obstinacy that insists on having been born? What perverse form of life willfully takes possession of itself in this way, saying, ever since I was born? Says the Schopenhauerian sage Vernon Howard, “A body came into the world, but it wasn’t you.”[67]

Surrender marks the intersection of love, birth, and spontaneity. To surrender is at once to give up and to give over, to renounce and provide. As such surrender cannot be calculating, because it gives up on, or abandons hope in, what it gives, and thus becomes capable of receiving it for the first time. True surrender is spontaneous and found at the summit of love, past lust and longing, when one surrenders oneself to the beloved or “a man lay[s] down his life for his friends” (John 16:13), as well as in true knowledge, when the identity of being the truth’s knower is renounced before the truth itself. The verbal root of spontaneity, PIE *spend– (to make an offering, perform a rite, to engage oneself by a ritual act), contains this sense of sacrifice and self-offering, just as we speak of the spontaneous as something ‘surrendered to’, as to a whim. The spontaneity of authentic transformation is also thus a species of death, of surrendering to the expiration of what is untenable, even if holding on to it would rob one of nothing other than the chance to surrender, as when leaping into the sea. In such situations we say that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. And that is the secret of even the most seemingly impossible surrender, which by the truth of spontaneity is preserved from being a loss and gains the giver otherwise unreceivable gifts—heads of the heads which are severed. Spiritual tradition thus intuits that whatever one authentically surrenders is always returned in some unforeseeable new present, as if never lost. Only a death can give you birth. And if you surrender all, who and what is there to lose, to not possess? Meister Eckhart says, “if a man has gone out of himself in this way, he will truly be given back to himself again … and all things, just as he abandoned them in multiplicity, will be entirely returned to him in simplicity, for he finds himself and all things in the present ‘now’ of unity.”[68] Surrender is backed up by the infinite beyond of its own whim.

What does it mean, then, to surrender birth? It means a paradox: that birth is surrendered by surrendering to birth. That is, since one never avoids birth as such, birth is given up by giving in to birth in a way that abandons being born, that surrenders all that is born about one’s being. And that is no different from how—if one remembers—one is born, in a kind of leap-fall that gives up on by giving in to itself, and vice-versa. One is born by surrendering to birth, and one surrenders to birth, not by wanting it, but by surrendering birth, by giving it up. In other words, nothing is born without renouncing birth. Birth takes place in spontaneous surrender of birth. Everyone is born by not wanting to be. Upside down. The latent does not properly arrive but as it were falls into presence out of its already being here. So Gebser states that “far- and deep-reaching mutations . . . are latent in origin, they are always back-leaps . . . into the already (ever-)present future.”[69] Birth’s scandal (from PIE *skand- ‘to leap, climb’) is only a step.[70] To where? According to Scotus, haecceity or thisness is the very summit of actuality, its ultimate principle: “this ‘hecceity’ [explains Gilson] is in itself indifferent to both existence and non-existence. It is, in created being, the ultimate determination and actuality which perfects its entity.”[71] Far from being a contingent adjunct of human existence, individuation is its divine raison d’etre: “And in those beings which are the highest and most important, it is the individual that is primarily intended by God.”[72] Species are a means of making individuals, individuals the way to produce whoever you are. As Meher Baba makes explicit, individuality is not lost when the drop realizes it is ocean—that is the whole point: “When the soul comes out of the ego-shell and enters into the infinite life of God, its limited individuality is replaced by unlimited individuality. The soul knows that it is God-conscious and thus preserves its individuality.”[73]

The incalculable genius of individuation is that of a finitude more infinite than infinity. So the concept of genius itself, originally the god who becomes each man’s guardian at the moment of birth, addresses the divine whimsy of individuation. As Agamben observes, in words that may as well be spoken of birth itself, “One must consent to Genius and abandon oneself to him; one must grant him everything he asks for, for his exigencies are our exigencies, his happiness our happiness. Even if his—our!—requirements seem unreasonable and capricious, it is best to accept them without argument.”[74] In sum, surrendering birth drives one only further into the impossible core of birth’s will as the immediate actuality of the evil genius of the universe, which is nothing other than the spontaneous decay of the superessential Reality into individualized consciousness of itself. Everything hinges on this whim: “Whatever be the type of gross form and whatever be the shape of the form, the soul spontaneously associates itself with that form, figure and shape, and experiences that it is itself that form, figure and shape.”[75]

Only spontaneity makes sense of the intuitive dialectic and leapless leap of birth, by which one is willed in the perfect slippage of this self-answering question: Why am I me?—I am not. Only surrender will satisfy the terrible desire which birth’s abyss generates. That which is dying for you to open, yet is willing to wait forever, if only for the simple reason that, as Eckhart says, “the opening and the entering are a single act.”[76] So I will end with Desnos: “Ever since birth, we have been seeking one night to walk together side by side, even if only for a moment in time. Our age is infinity.”[77]

[1] Cf. Nietzsche on the will of the question of will: “That a theory is refutable is, frankly, not the least of its charms: this is precisely how it attracts the more refined intellects. The theory of ‘free will,’ which has been refuted a hundred times, appears to owe its endurance to this charm alone –: somebody will always come along and feel strong enough to refute it” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Judith Norman [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002], 18).

[2] Dante, Paradiso, trans. Robert M. Durling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1.91-140).

[3] Augustine, Confessions, trans. F. J. Sheed, 2nd edition (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006), VIII.9. Will is not grasped, but touched in the negativity of unknowing. Cf. “Philosophers tend to talk about the will as if it were the most familiar thing in the world. In fact, Schopenhauer would have us believe that the will is the only thing that is really familiar, familiar through and through, familiar without pluses or minuses. But I have always thought that, here too, Schopenhauer was only doing what philosophers always tend to do: adopting and exaggerating a popular prejudice. Willing strikes me as, above all, something complicated, something unified only in a word – and this single word contains the popular prejudice that has overruled whatever minimal precautions philosophers might take. So let us be more cautious, for once – let us be ‘unphilosophical.’ Let us say: in every act of willing there is, to begin with, a plurality of feelings, namely: the feeling of the state away from which, the feeling of the state towards which, and the feeling of this ‘away from’ and ‘towards’ themselves” (Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 18).

[4] “[T]he spark of sympathy shooting back and forth between two conscious human beings may be experienced as an instantaneous spark. It may be transparently represented as one single event, taking place in one single moment, but bridging the gulf between two individuals. Phenomenologically, lightning strikes and mutually unites two phenomenal selves—this is the ‘affective dissolution of the self’ … Because it involves loss of control over and transient dissolution of the emotional self-model, the experience of catching each other in the act of falling in love is a little bit like dying, and also a little bit like going insane” (Thomas Metzinger, Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity [Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2003], 603).

[5] Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, trans. Carol Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 26.

[6] Augustine, Confessions, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1951), 10.33.

[7] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Judith Horman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 174.

[8] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, trans. and ed. Maurice O’C. Walshe (New York: Herder & Herder, 2009), 298.

[9] Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid (New York: Paulist, 1987), 82.

[10] Dante, Paradiso, 15.62-3.

[11] “The greatest good God ever did for man was that he became man himself. Here I shall tell you a story that is relevant to this. There was once a rich man and a rich lady. The lady had an accident and lost one eye, at which she grieved exceedingly. Then the lord came to her and said, ‘Wife, why are you so distressed? You should not be so distressed at losing your eye.’ She said, ‘Sir, I do not mourn because I have lost my eye, I mourn for fear you might love me the less.’ Then he said, ‘Lady, I love you.’ Not long afterward he put out one of his own eyes, and going to his wife, he said, ‘Lady, so you may know I love you I have made myself like you: now I too have only one eye.’ This is like man, who could scarcely believe that God loved him so much, until God put out one of His own eyes and assumed human nature” (Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, 279-80).

[12] Hadewijch, The Complete Works, trans. Mother Columba Hart (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), 86).

[13] Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing (Beacon Hill, Australia: Meher House Publications, 1963), 69.

[14] John Scotus Eriugena, Periphyseon (De Divisione Naturae), ed. I. P. Sheldon-Williams and Édouard A. Jeauneau, trans. John. J. O’Meara, 4 vols. (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1999–2009), IV.73.

[15] Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London: Continuum, 2008), 82.

[16] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, trans. and ed. Maurice O’C. Walshe (New York: Herder & Herder, 2009), 424.

[17] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. Adrian del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 78.

[18] Félix Ravaisson, Of Habit, trans. Clare Carlisle and Mark Sinclair (New York: Continuum, 2008), 55.

[19] Augustine, Confessions, VIII.7.

[20] Emmanuel Levinas, On Escape, trans. Bettina Bergo (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), 55.

[21] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Gods, and Other Writings, trans. Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 143-4.

[22] Clarice Lispector, Breath of Life, trans. Johnny Lorenz (New York: New Directions, 2012), 81.

[23] E. M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair, trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 8.

[24] See Nicola Masciandaro, “Come Cosa Che Cada: Habit and Cataclysm, or, Exploding Plasticity,” in French Theory Today: An Introduction to Possible Futures, ed. Alexander R. Galloway (New York: TPSNY, 2011).

[25] Reza Negarestani, “The Corpse Bride: Thinking with Nigredo,” Collapse IV: Concept Horror (2008): 160.

[26]Ex quibus humanae – inquit – vitae erroribus et aerumnis fit, ut interdum veteres illi, sive vates, sive in sacris initiisque tradendis divinae mentis interpretes, qui nos ob aliqua scelera suscepta in vita superiore, poenarum luendarum causa natos esse dixerunt, aliquid vidisse videantur: verumque sit illud quod est apud Aristotelem, simili nos affectos esse supplicio, atque eos qui quondam, cum in praedonum Etruscorum manus incidissent, crudelitate excogitata necabantur, quorum corpora viva cum mortuis, adversa adversis accommodata, quam aptissime colligabantur; sic nostros animos cum corporibus copulatos, ut vivos cum mortuis esse coniunctos [Cicero, Hortensius]. Nonne qui ista senserunt, multo quam tu melius grave iugum super filios Adam et Dei potentiam iustitiamque viderunt, etiamsi gratiam, quae per Mediatorem liberandis hominibus concessa est, non viderunt?” (Augustine, Contra Julianum, 4.15 < http://www.augustinus.it/latino/contro_giuliano/index2.htm>).

[27] Ibid.

[28] Augustine, Confessions, VI.7.

[29] “[I]o senti’, come cosa che cada, / tremar lo monte, onde mi prese un gelo / qual prender suol colui ch’a morte vada” (Purgatorio 20.127-9).

[30] “Tremaci quando alcuna anima monda / sentesi, sì che surga o che si mova / per salir sù … / De la mondizia sol voler fa prova,/ che, tutto libero a mutar convento, / l’alma sorprende, e di voler le giova. / … E io, che son giaciuto a questa doglia / cinquecent’ anni e più, pur mo seniti / libera volontà di miglior soglia: / però sentisti il tremoto. (Purgatorio 21.58-70)

[31] Dante, Purgatorio, 20.145-6.

[32] See Nicola Masciandaro, “Absolute Secrecy: On the Infinity of Individuation,” in Speculation, Heresy, and Gnosis in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion: The Enigmatic Absolute, eds. Joshua Ramey and Matthew Harr Farris (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

[33] “The original first word, through the original whim of God, created out of the latent Nothing the latent original first impression of ‘Who am I?’ and this original first impression procreated the latent Nothingness as the original Creation. In turn, the procreation of the Nothingness procreates the impressions which continue to preserve the Nothingness consistently as the original Creation, until eventually this Nothingness is destroyed by opposite impressions through the processes of reincarnation and involution of consciousness, and the final answer of ‘I am God’ is obtained to the first word ‘Who am I?’” (Meher Baba, God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose, 2nd ed. [New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1973], 109).

[34] Meher Baba, “The Whim from Beyond,” Beams on the Spiritual Panorama (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1958), 9.

[35] Meher Baba, God Speaks, 173, original emphasis.

[36] Meher Baba, Beams, 10.

[37] As quoted in Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), 187. Cf. “Incognitum Hactenus—not known yet or nameless and without origin until now … In Incognitum Hactenus, you never know the pattern of emergence. Anything can happen for some weird reason; yet also, without any reason, nothing at all can happen” (Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials [Melbourne: re.press, 2008], 49.

[38] Dante Alighieri, Inferno, ed. and trans. Robert Durling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

[39] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam, 2010), 180.

[40] Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing (Beacon Hill, Australia: Meher House Publications, 1963), 55.

[41] Augustine, Confessions, 13.9.

[42] Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture, trans. Ronald L. Martinez (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xvii.

[43] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, 130.

[44] Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls, trans. Ellen L. Babinsky (New York: Paulist, 1993), 105.

[45] “E che è ridere se non una corruscazione de la dilettazione de l’anima, cioè uno lume apparente di fuori secondo sta dentro?” (Dante, Convivio, 3.8.11).

[46] Saint Teresa of Avila, The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila, trans. J. M. Cohen (New York: Penguin, 1957), 136-7.

[47] Saint Teresa of Avila, Life, 136-8.

[48] “Now we should not conclude that the negations are simply the opposites of the affirmations, but rather that the cause of all is considerably prior to this, beyond privations, beyond every denial, beyond every assertion” (Pseudo-Dionysius, Complete Works, 136).

[49] Meher Baba, Discourses, I.24.

[50] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science: With a Prelude in German Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs, ed. Bernard Williams, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

[51] Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, 2 vols., trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Zone, 1991), I.26.

[52] Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, Pt. 1, Q. 21, Art.4. Cf. “Tristitia . . . et dolor ex ipsa sui ratione in Deo esse non possunt” (Summa contra Gentiles, I.89, http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles.htm) [sorrow and pain by their very nature cannot be in God].

[53] C. B. Purdom, The God-Man (Crescent Beach, SC: Sheriar Press, 1964), 343-4.

[54] “Can we cultivate a will? Can we cultivate a will of civic environment? QUESTION OF WILL wants to search for productive ontologies before the world degenerates to an urgency of reparatory oncologies” (Boris Ondreička, http://questionofwill.com/en/about/).

[55] Meher Baba, Discourses, III.121.

[56] Meher Baba, Discourses, III.176.

[57] Epictetus, The Handbook (The Encheiridion), trans. Nicholas White (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983), 11.

[58] See Anonymous, Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Hermeticism, trans. Robert Powell (New York: Penguin, 1985), 388-92, and Julius Evola, Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1983), 218.

[59] Cf. “Although communism was a conglomeration of a few correct ideas and many wrong ones, its reasonable part—the understanding that shared life interests of the highest order can only be realized within a horizon of universal co-operative asceticisms—will have to assert itself anew sooner or later. It presses for a macrostructure of global immunizations: co-immunism. Civilization is one such structure. Its monastic rules must be drawn up now or never; they will encode the forms of anthropotechnics that befit existence in the context of all contexts. Wanting to live by them would mean making a decision: to take on the good habits of shared survival in daily exercises” (Peter Sloterdijk, You Must Change Your Life: On Anthropotechnics, trans. Wieland Hoban [Cambridge: Polity, 2013], 451-2).

[60] Meher Baba, Discourses, III.146. Cf. “As far as the superstitions of the logicians are concerned: I will not stop emphasizing a tiny little fact that these superstitious men are loath to admit: that a thought comes when ‘it’ wants, and not when ‘I’ want. It is, therefore, a falsification of the facts to say that the subject ‘I’ is the condition of the predicate ‘think’” (Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 17).

[61] Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, trans. Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 105.)

[62] Hadewijch, The Complete Works, trans. Mother Columba Hart (New York: Paulist, 1980), 75.

[63] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, 75.

[64] Liiceanu Gabriel and Ilieşiu Sorin, Apocalipsa dupa Cioran (1995).

[65] E. M. Cioran, Trouble with Being Born, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Seaver, 1976), 3.

[66] Ibid., 19.

[67] Vernon Howard, Your Power of Natural Knowing (New Life Foundation, 1995), 164.

[68] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, trans. Maurice O’C. Walshe (New York: Crossroad, 2009), 271.

[69] Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin, trans. Noel Barstad with Algis Mickunas (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1985), 530.

[70] Cf. “If one can allow one’s mind to dwell on a bold hypothesis—which could also be an act of faith in a higher sense—once the idea of Geworfenheit [thrownness] is rejected, once it is conceived that living here and now in this world has a sense, because it is always the effect of a choice and a will, one might even believe that one’s own realization of the possibilities I have indicated—far more concealed and less imaginable in other situations that might be more desirable from the merely human point of view, from the point of view of the ‘person’—is the ultimate rationale and significance of a choice made by a ‘being’ that wanted  to measure itself against a difficult challenge: that of living in a world contrary to that consistent with nature, that is, contrary to the world of Tradition” (Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger, trans. Joscelyn Godwin and Constance Fontana [Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2003], 227).

[71] Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York: Random House, 1955), 766-7n68.

[72] John Duns Scotus, Ordinatio II, d.3, n.251, quoted in John Duns Scotus, Early Oxford Lecture on Individuation, trans. Allan B. Wolter (St. Bonaventure, New York: Franciscan Institute, 2005), xxi.

[73] Meher Baba, Discourses, 6th ed., 3 vols. (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1973), II.74.

[74] Giorgio Agamben, Profanations, trans. Jeff Fort (New York: Zone, 2007), 10.

[75] Meher Baba, God Speaks, 5. Cf. “In the same sense the masters write that in the very instant the material substance of the child is ready in the mother’s womb, God at once pours into the body its living spirit which is the soul, the body’s form. It is one instant, the being ready and the pouring in. When nature reaches her highest point, God gives grace: the very instant the spirit is ready, God enters without hesitation or delay. In the Book of Secrets it says that our Lord declared to mankind, ‘I stand at the door knocking and waiting; whoever lets me in, with him I will sup’ (Rev. 3:20)” (Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, 58). “In the absence of body, soul could not have gone forth, since there is no other place to which its nature would allow it to descend. Since go forth it must, it will generate a place for itself; at once body, also, exists” (Plotinus, Enneads, 4.3.9, http://classics.mit.edu/Plotinus/enneads.4.fourth.html).

[76] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, 58.

[77] Robert Desnos, Mourning for Mourning (Atlas Press, 1992), 50.