March 03, 2006

Blake, Nietzsche, and Sri Aurobindo

The Transmodern Transubtantiation
by longsword on Thu 10 Mar 2005 04:28 PM CST Permanent Link Cosmos
Nietzsche came at the riddle of humanity by asking two questions. First, how do you make a human being out of an ape? And second, how do you make the transhuman (the overman) out of the human being? (This was also Aurobindo's question).
  • The first question addresses itself to all previous human history and is riddled out in Nietzsche's earliest works. It is that history which Fukuyama concludes with his End of History thesis. His triumphalism is the triumphalism of the "all-too-human" Last Man.
  • Nietzsche's second question, however, addresses itself to the future. And it is this question that, insofar as we accept it as addressed to us, will propel us beyond the End of History and into the transmodern era.

Fukuyama simply failed to understand this about Nietzsche, if he considered it at all. It is the unwitting privilege of Fukuyama to conclude this all-too-human era, and go down with it, but it is an era which must now be overcome and transcended. What Nietzsche described as the revaluation of value is only a variant of Christian transubtantiation. In the Christian Eucharist, bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ. Nietzsche proposes to effect the same magic with mere morality. The revaluation of values is the transubstantion of all earlier ideas and values into specifically transhuman ideas and values. What is despised and debased is redeemed as "the good", while much that has been deemed "the good" and "the true" is shown to be demonstrably wicked and false.

Pity, for example. But then, even William Blake did not think much of the value of pity, considering it something that "divides the soul". Transmodernism, to be successful at all and to outrun the fate that befell post-modernism, must effect a similar transubtantiation of the gross materiality of modernity into the spirit. I have already pointed to this kind of transubtantiation of the lower into the higher (or the ignoble into the noble form) in the case of "solidarity" (or universality) into "unanimity"; of the transubtantiation of the whole idiom of "totalism" into "wholism"; of all logic and monologic into ecologic and dialogic.

First and foremost, a kind of alchemical transmutation of all mere rationality into true Reason (instrumental rationality being only the leaden and debased form of Reason); of the transmutation of mere fantasy into creative imagination, of knowledge into wisdom; and of science into gnosis. These are some of the processes of transmutation required of an authentic transmodernism. For virtually every value that modernity clings to as its "good", I have found its contradiction to already exist in a higher and nobler form in language.

Transmodernism is not so much a case of getting rid of modernity as it is of alchemically transmuting its coarser, leaden, and ignobler aspects into the gold of nobler ones. In my own table of values (see the end of my previous post), I have already pointed to just such a process of transubtantiation. This transubtantiation of the lead of all previous human history into the gold of a new "transhumanity" will take steady work. But this work is itself an alchemical process in the mind unfolding into metanoia. Gradually and suddenly, both, a new consciousness takes form and blossoms. Eureka! Language itself reveals a pattern, albeit a non-linear one, to all previous human history. And perhaps to a future history as well."...and life outruns the already present danger."

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