The tension between imminence and transcendence is the irritating grain-of-sand-in-the-oyster-that-makes-the-pearl (hyphens!) that has plagued philosophers from Heraclitus straight up through to the present day. Heraclitus had some mystical stuff about flux being organized by an eternal logos and Parmenides gave the imminent world a giant middle finger and rode off into the unchanging sunset with his arm around transcendence. I would like to go with him.
Fast-forward to the present day, and we have a conundrum. We see that a total focus on imminence tends to send everything down the shitter, while a total focus on transcendence leaves you helpless. It would be great if we could reconcile them, but we can’t, because that’s impossible.
Brett Stevens over at Amerika is a Heraclitus if there ever was one. His nihilism basically takes the bare intuitive notion of “reality” and chucks everything else out the window. This leads to a transcendent pragmatism, if you can imagine such a thing, that might just break through into the next age. But I can see the seed of trouble in it. His notion of transcendence is too small. Don’t get me wrong. Like I said, a true reconciliation between the immanence and transcendence is impossible. Stevens takes the bare notion of reality (which is where he gets his transcendence) and uses “pattern-order” or the ongoing process of nature, as the means by which that bare notion of reality leaks into the phenomenal world.
The trouble is that brilliant little Konigsbergian bastard, Kant. Stevens, I deduce, imbibed a shit-ton of Nietzsche (the most potent psychoactive he tried, no doubt), who brings with him Kant’s dark agnosticism about the noumenal realm. The danger is that the bare notion of reality will drop out of the picture when some one-sigma-above-average smartass decides to bracket it away as a useful heuristic or something. Then the transcendence winks out and we’re left with the same old dialectical materialist me-me-me egocentric circle-jerk that has defined the past few centuries of our decline.
What I see here, and what I suspect Stevens also sees, is that we need a real spirituality. We need an authentic, real, honest-to-God (words not chosen lightly) sense of transcendence apprehended in living experience. More importantly, we need a life path for this. The problem is that you can’t put this stuff together with an abstract rule system (a favorite whipping-boy over at Amerika for the past year or so), but in order for large numbers of people to seek such transcendence, you need a culture in place.
This is the key. The next culture that comes up, the heir to the legacy of the West, will be born at the same time as, intertwined with, and reciprocally defined by, the spirituality discovered by despairing modern man. It starts with us.
Not sure how to close this essay, except to let you all know to buy a nice extensive library of a particular kind of book (Evola, Tao Te Ching, Eckhardt, etc.), read the fuck out of it, and engage in some spiritual practice or the other. Doesn’t matter what kind – sit on a cushion and stare at your nose, pray to rocks and trees, whatever. Just get moving.