Friday, January 9, 2009

The flux and detritus of the immutable

Every atheist must admit that God exists, because God exists in our minds, as an idea, a concept, a joke and as such God exists as an intellectual thing, a word made up of three letters.

I've been reading Why is there something rather than nothing, which is a kind of compendium of philosophical constructs from Socrates to Heidegger set out by Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. His summary of St Augustine is alarming:
For Augustine there is only one historical process; here, contrary to the doctrines of some Greek philosophers, there are no cycles, regenerations or returns. And the things we consider to be the result of chance are all parts of the the wise plan of Providence, which is veiled from us. p.70
Wow! Judeo-Christian-capitalism is outlined in the 4th Century, which is essentially this: turn your back on ecology and chance by creating veils and mediations based on an idea of God; the desire for the immutable.

St Anselm, 600 years later, again summarised by Kolakowski, is similarly interesting: experience is necessary to attain intellectual certainty of God's existence. p74
I wonder if no experience is necessary (of ecological life) to believe in the idea of cycles, regenerations or returns. On the way to the train and out of the city tonight we came across this Church of Returns; a Christian-based op shop had dumped its excess and some of us were skip-scabbing in celebration.


hamish morgan said...

Well i just got thinking about christian thinking and about romanticism. The Christians have this idea of the incarnate word - of the word made flesh - which means that 'The Word' enters the soul and leads to action. Which seems similar to the idea of physical poetry - the word made action and concrete; the incarnate word expressed in bodies and action would be one way of doing words with things. I thought that was an interesting point. And also i can see the trace of such American thinkers as William James and John Dewey - radical empiricists that were part of the early 20th century American romantic movement which reclaimed experience, sense and performativity (stuff like the sensate feeling body that is formed and transforms the environment) against the non-sense of modernity's Truth and Science. Anyway these thinkers had a kind of folk, anti-authoritarian christian thing going on - and they drew on overt christians like Emmerson and Thereou who celebrated nature, simple things (cabins by lakes with gardens) and the spiritual fecundity of interconnection; the sacred world which one could inhabit in nature. I thought there was something there. And then, i got me a thinking about European Romaticism, which was the counter movement to modernity. One of the ideas of Romanticism was Rosseau's 'Noble Savage' - of indigenous people being 'closer to nature' - of having a connection to the sensate world which Europeans were losing through rationality, science, control, domination, industrialisation etc. in a way it was a kind of nostalgic longing for connection and fulfillment - which is one of the big the post-modernist/settler-colonial anxieties that plays out in lots of ways(of feeling disconnected and unfulfilled). What is interesting about your work is the lack of nostalgia - you yearn for a future possibility rather than an imagined past - and it is also one of the themes of permaculture which is very much focused on the future. Anyway, some thoughts that were sparked by your words and deeds. yours in agnostic (which is the belief in things material - action, physical poetry, the incarnate word???- ) solidarity, HAmish: not a christian.

The Garden of Self Defence said...

'the word as flesh' reminds me of my love-affair with NZ christian nutbag painter Colin McCahon in my final year of my undergrad degree. my lecturer/friend Glen Dunn again doing the supplying, or match-making.

the thing about permaculture is that it is both big in terms of the future and in terms of ideas (and therefore the history of ideas), and it is also small, in that we can all practice permaculture (to varying degrees) right now, in the space of our everyday, with the basic materials of life - soil, seed and water, etc.

i guess i want my art to mirror the same order of things. i've always been drawn to Romanticism – punk in particular, but at the same time wary of pathos and nostalgia. my practice with Jason Workman attempts this same big/small thing: big in terms of a practice anticipating the end of life as we know it, made by small, simple, less than heroic gestures, that unlike parkour (free-running) or classical dance (or some such), can be practiced by all (in varying degrees) in the space of the everyday.

this enables a de-capitalised art; a main ingredient for a hopeless utopia.

hey mr H, do you want to spend the next several years (however long it takes) co-writing a book with me? i have an idea for a work, using McLuhan's 'Massage' as a template, and of course mr R to design/edit it, about things i almost know nothing about - economics and ecology. the basic premises are:

permanent culture depends upon the co-relationship between economics and natural ecologies. that our economists must also be our ecologists. permanent culture depends upon relations of common substance and the possibilities of the mutable. impermanent culture (judeo-christian-capitalism) is based on the idea of the immutable.

i thought we cld devise chapters together laying out the work over the next little while, then independently research/write them before bringing it all together. if we agree to go ahead, the main thing is that our work does not place undue pressure on our loved ones (although, perhaps in the final year it might encroach a little).

the other criterion i have is that we have fun, and the process of authorship resembles the community activist as much as the serious writer.

what do you think? if it's too much to take on right now, how about an extensive intro in a few years from now???

all rights relinquished...

hamish morgan said...

Strangely enough economics is something i am beginning to think about, especially in relation to Aboriginal culture. We need to start thinking of the economic in terms of material survival rather than material accumulation, that less is what will sustain our future. But, my thinking is very early on this one. Yeah, i'd love to develop something with you. I'm starting to look around for some creative and intellectual ground to mount a stake-out, our steak and veg perhaps - comforting us at night and making us feel loved. Firstly i want to push the concept of common substance. Traditional notions of community rely upon a notion of common substance - that what sustains and identifies the community as a totality is that its members share an immutable substance (blood, soil, fatherland, common project, singular past, united future etc). That the community unites around a set of values and aspirations which in turn define the community as such. 'We are a strong community because we work as one' (as a mayor may say); or 'its a great community because everyone is on the same page' (as someone might say in the local rag); or 'we are working together for a future' (as some hippie might say). So the problem here is that what defines the community is that each-and-all share in the common substance. This is what Durkheim banged on about in his organic solidarity models of community. He thought of the community as an organism, a bound 'thing', a kind of substance. What sustained the cohesion of the community was consensus between the members. And this is what established social order; a kind of contract (which is from Rosseau) that secured the future of the group (as one).
Now i know you do not use it in this manner at all, but these are some of the problems of identifying what constitues a future community. The whole post-mod. thing is that what connects us to others is not that we are the same, but that we are different; as NAncy says we share difference in common. A community without identity - community without a substance that would define it - and thus a community at loose ends. BUt this kind of thinking, has i think, had its day - so the future, well that's what this is all about. Deadly bro. H.