Sunday, August 13, 2006

Erotization of the will

Postmodern spirituality A dialogue in five parts Part II: Perspectives of the proto-spirituality of late postmodernity Roland Benedikter
For me, this is the most important, the crucial point regarding the whole of the postmodern period from 1979-2001: from Jean Francois Lyotards “The postmodern condition” (1979) to September 11, 2001, and to Roger Rosenblatt's famous, outstandingly bitter an aggressive article “The age of irony comes to an end. No longer will we fail to take things seriously” appeared in Time Magazine, two weeks after the terrorist attacks. This little, but heavily debated article was, in my viewpoint, a first, even if pre-scientific and certainly not philosophically consistent, but symptomatic indication of the beginning of the end of radical postmodern constructivism, as we knew it until then - and of the beginning of a new, “subjective-objective” epoch of “post-postmodernity”, that will have to re-integrate appropriately, and in a rational, empirical and intersubjective way, nominalism with realism into a new, progressive paradigmatic framework for Western-European societies...
The turn to traditional religion may be helpful for many people, and I'm not against it. Not at all...I instead think that the new, inclusive and integrative paradigm we need now could rather come from a rationally evolved, truly enlightend subjective mind. And the most evolved rational mind that we probably have so far - the mind that begins to know about its own ontological act, about its own activity beyond the ego, the “thinking that begins to think itself and to discover what lies in its shadow” (Foucault) - seems to be a certain potential of the deconstructive postmodern mind. This potential seems to be located not primarily in the intellect, but in the realm of the will. That is very important. Jean Francois Lyotard called the place, where the strongest innovative potential in postmodern culture could be found, “the progressive, universal erotization of the will” (Epitaph Of The Intellectual, 1984). And I think, with that philosophical metaphor he grasped indeed an important movement of consciousness development in the personal and in the cultural sphere of European-Western societies. A movement of transformation and progress that is not, like the renaissance of religions, collective and belief-oriented, but primarily oriented towards the consciousness of the subject. And therefore it is, even if often in strange ways, like in the late works of Lyotard or Derrida, half-, proto- or pre-gnostic, if you want to put it in these terms...
Some day, which is maybe not too far ahead, the postmodern mind may reach the border of total auto-deconstruction, not only as a personal, but also as a cultural achievement. Then it will be forced to discover an “objective” dimension which lives in the subjective void. It will have to take the step forward into the perceiving will. A step that must be at the same time rational, subjectively controllable and “essential”. If you observe, what is secretely already happening with the “deconstructed” subject in our postmodern culture, and with that culture as a whole, you can see: There is already a broad “erotization of the will” (Lyotard) at work. You see it in the mass media, in advertising, in popular culture. And you can see it in most of the average lifestyles of the “postmodern” citizens of the European-Western world. It is, in large parts, a world of the will – individually, and culturally. It is the world that has been anticipated by Friedrich Nietzsche in its negative (consciousness-diminuishing) aspects, and by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in its positive (consciousness-growing) potentials. The “erotization of the will” begins to penetrate every moment and every space in our late or “mature” postmodern societies.

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