Of That Which is Desirable, and That Which is Necessary

The political tensions evident in our time between “progressive” and “conservative” moods and orientations basically resolve into the issue of the desirable versus the necessary. Generally, conservatives tend to dismiss the desirable (progressive) as utopian fantasising, etc. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to represent conservatives as historically regressive, or even repressive and reactionary.

But once you wade through all the ideological posturing and verbiage, the real root of political and cultural controversies and tensions in our time is the social conflict between the desirable and the necessary as the factors that orient us towards the future and the past, respectively.

The terms Rosenstock-Huessy once employed to describe these contradicting temporal orientations towards the future and past were “prejective” and “trajective.” The terms are meant to supplement and augment the all too familiar spatial orientations of “subjective” and “objective”.  The prejective type tends to be revolutionary, progressive, and oriented towards a desired Destiny not yet realised, while the trajective type is described as more evolutionary, forwarded upon ways known from the past, and oriented towards Origin.

We could also say that the prejective type is an innovator, while the trajective type is a renovator. The “multiformity of man” and consciousness is, nonetheless, the recognition that we are all in our mixture of subjectivity, objectivity, prejectivity, or trajectivity fourfold beings.

Nevertheless, the conflict between desire and necessity lies at the root of much of our current social turmoil and of what is called “culture war.” The conflict between desire and necessity is usually cast as one between subjectivity and objective conditions when, really, it is a conflict in time and between times — origin and destiny.

This component of the conflict also surrounded the very controversial decision to make war on Iraq. Many prominent public servants, diplomats, and even military men and women amongst “the Coalition of the Willing” resigned their positions in protest at what they perceived as being a “war of choice”, not a war of necessity. They were, revealingly, dismissed and mocked by the “new conservatives” as “paleoconservatives.” This fissure in the conservative ranks was largely owing, ironically, to the zealous adoption of the Marxian revolutionary idea by neo-conservatives under the influence of former Trotskyites (the Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens has, for example, never recanted his support for the policy or the war).

The chief feature of the “new conservatives”, and one which defined their innovation and novelty as “neo”-conservatives, was the fact that they began to think of themselves as history’s “true revolutionaries” with all the irrational exuberance that attended the belief that they truly represented “the end of history,” following Francis Fukuyama’s book by that title (which he subsequently repudiated). This fissure in conservative ranks was really about the conflict between the desirable and the necessary. When this social and cultural tension between desire and resistance to desire (called “necessity”) otherwise becomes irresoluble, then you have what is called the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary (or reactionary) polarisation of society.

Desire in collaboration with imagination forms intent, and is a very potent force, for what is desirable then also comes to be envisioned as being also attainable and achievable. It becomes intentional. It becomes willed even in small everyday acts. This is the historically creative act that transforms time and space and makes history. This is what informs Blake’s proverb that “What is now proved was once, only imagin’d.” “Proved” here means fully realised or actualised. This potent confluence and collaboration of imagination and desire against resistance to their action and realisation is the reason many societies and their power elites expend extraordinary efforts to regulate, control, divert, or constrain desire and imagination, through various technologies of social control: moralism, surveillance, perception management, propaganda, or outright repression.

Although conservatives often claim to disdain “social engineering” as an insidious infringement upon individual liberties, they in fact exercise it in spades. For what is often called “necessity” is really nothing more than loyalty to certain customs or values, or clinging to convenient delusions, or otherwise asserting dubious claims about the immutability and intransigence of something dangerous called “human nature” (and which is usually only human habit). Market deregulation is often attended by an even sterner and more draconian regulation of “human nature” and a “law & order” agenda.

The realm of necessity (or “fate”) is actually quite limited and minimal, and basically confined to the functioning of the karmic law.

We’ve had occasion in the past to mention the Prussian educator Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and I’ll again take the opportunity to illustrate the social control of desire, imagination, and intent (or “will”).

“He who is firm in will molds the world to himself,” is one of Fichte’s famous quotations and which more or less echoes the somewhat banal commonplace saying “where there’s a will there’s a way”. But it is only when we bring this quote into relation with his other recorded views on public education that we come to understand how the very Spartan and even reactionary Johann Gottlieb Fichte seeks to tightly and completely dominate and control this “will”.

“The new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will in the soil which it undertakes to cultivate, and produces on the contrary strict necessity in the decisions of the will, the opposite being impossible. Such a will can henceforth be relied on with confidence and certainty.”

“If you want to influence him [ie, the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him ; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than you wish him to will.”

This programme of social and individual engineering, in fact, is not far from the truth of things today as they stand. A history of public education will probably disclose that it was implemented less to elevate the individual than as a means of domination and social control. Most such “public education” today is actually accomplished through advertising and the media, in fact (as was observed and argued by Marshall McLuhan). Fichte’s duplicity and hypocrisy is actually breath-taking, for the “firm” will that molds the world to itself is not even the individual’s own will or desire. That has been thoroughly extinguished and has been replaced with another’s will, desire, and intent without the individual even being aware of the amputation. So skillful and unnoticed is the surgical intervention that the “individual” persists in the mistaken belief that he or she actually wills and desires from himself or herself, whereas the individual soul is now actually Occupied Territory. Fichte even encourages them to believe this vain and self-flattering delusion that the individual is molding “the world to himself,” when he is almost totally dominated.

(Might be worth noting that this surreptitious and clandestine violation of the sovereignty of the consciousness was something that Seth considered the supreme evil).

Let’s consider the situation from another perspective.

This contradictory tension between desire and necessity that has the potential to become revolutionary is fully captured in the justly famous prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi,

“Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and
the wisdom to know the difference.”

This prayer has much depth to it. Prayer such as this is the deliberate focussing of desire, imagination, and intent. It’s almost safe to say that whenever there occurs in this way a conscious focus of desire, imagination, and intent, then you have prayer, and Jesus’ “pray without ceasing” necessarily takes on the meaning of Rumi’s “Increase Your Need”,

The mouse-soul is nothing but a nibbler.
To the mouse is given a mind
proportionate to its need,
for without need, the All-Powerful
doesn’t give anything to anyone.
Need, then, is the net for all things that exist:
A person has tools in proportion to his need.
So, quickly, increase your need, needy one,
that the sea of abundance
may surge up in loving-kindness

Take, for example, also the famous Lord’s Prayer, or Pater Noster,

    Our Father who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name.
    Thy kingdom come.
    Thy will be done
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us,
    and lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, this is what Jesus taught them, according to the New Testament. Until I began to reflect on prayer as the focus of desire, imagination and intent, the Lord’s Prayer always struck me as something banal and even senseless. But this prayer has been the cause of some of the greatest political upheavals and revolutions in history, and so has reshaped and refashioned time and space.  “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” has moved men to storm the fortresses of the mighty on earth and overturn them and to sacrifice themselves for its sake. Conservatives, oddly enough, dismiss this very desire and vision as “utopianism”.

There’s little doubt in my mind, now, that Jesus planted the seeds of future revolution, and that he also knew what he was doing and why he was doing so.

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14 responses to “Of That Which is Desirable, and That Which is Necessary”

  1. InfiniteWarrior says :

    From the Wikipedia article linked:

    Many Christians believe that the sword is a metaphor for ideological conflict

    The sword Jesus brought is the sword of Truth. Tip: Truth is not an idea.

    I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. ~ John 14:6

    While the whole world argues over what is and is not “subjective” or “objective”, “endopotent” or “exopotent” truth, Truth remains undivided.

    “[To] believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost….” ~ Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Scott says :

      Many Christians believe that the sword is a metaphor for ideological conflict

      Nonetheless, it may well be true that many of them do today. Originally, though, the sword was often taken as a symbol (or extension) of the will. James Carroll’s book Constantine’s Sword contains something of this. It’s easy enough to see how “will” can come to be interpreted in ideological terms.

      Great quote from Emerson.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Nonetheless, it may well be true that many of them do today.

        In fact, it is true.

        It’s easy enough to see how “will” can come to be interpreted in ideological terms.

        Indeed. That ubiquitous “I” proves exceptionally problematic, but handy.

        The sword also has been used as a metaphor and taken as a symbol of wisdom and discernment. Despite the antonyms, however, if there’s anything I’d like to get across in my lifetime it’s that Love/Compassion, Truth, Wisdom…have no opposite. Unfortunately, our ideas about this are just as bound up in the phenomenal as everything else, so I suppose I’m destined to fail.

        Check it out. An interesting quote also accompanies the term “phenomenal” at dictionary.reference.com.

        “For everything outside the phenomenal world, language can only be used allusively, but never even approximately in a comparative way, since, corresponding as it does to the phenomenal world, it is concerned only with property and its relations.” ~ Franz Kafka

        Yep. 😦 But, of course, that reminds me of another.

        “To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.” ~ Albert Einstein

  2. InfiniteWarrior says :

    The terms Rosenstock-Huessy once employed to describe these contradicting temporal orientations towards the future and past were “prejective” and “trajective.”

    Why “contradicting” rather than “paradoxical”?

    The “multiformity of man” and consciousness is, nonetheless, the recognition that we are all in our mixture of subjectivity, objectivity, prejectivity, or trajectivity fourfold beings.

    Why “or” rather than “and”?

    • amothman33 says :

      We need a point of referance to avoid getting lost.
      Human heart is the basic referance, provide we understand what we are hearing, I did not find preject or traject in the dictionary,so please enlighten us ,also the subtle differance between contradiction and paradox.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        please enlighten us…the subtle difference between contradiction and paradox.

        Contradiction is immediately apprehended in the West as “mutually exclusive.” I don’t think that what Rosenstock terms “prejective” and “trajective” are contradictory in the least, though they are constantly described as such. They’re merely different orientations of focus.

        From the piece:

        The prejective…tends to be revolutionary, progressive, and oriented towards a desired Destiny not yet realised, while the trajective [tends to be] evolutionary…and oriented towards Origin.

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but can honestly say that I am oriented towards both Destiny and Origin and believe this “orientation” is being widely expressed today as “backward facing, forward looking.” While we forge the future together, “we must not forget where we come from” as the Emperor put it in the film The Last Samurai.

        These “foci” are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, we spin along the edges of this particular dime nearly every moment of every day. The “tendencies” easily can become mutually exclusive, however, when one is focussed entirely on “ways known from the past” or ways forged into the future.

        I have commented before that when “liberals” and “conservatives” cannot find “common ground,” it’s because they’re not present to one another and firmly believe it. Needless to say, when the common ground (of Being) is not recognized, neither is it realized.

        Some things simply cannot be expressed logically. Nonetheless, “People like us… know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” (Albert Einstein)

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Contradiction is immediately apprehended in the West as “mutually exclusive.”

          Pardon. Paradox is immediately apprehended in the West as “mutually exclusive” or “self-contradictory.” I don’t think it necessarily so.

      • Scott says :

        Largely what she said… although I’ll add something to this: first on “preject” and “traject” as time orienting terms corresponding to subject and object as space orienting terms.

        I find it often helps me to get some clarity about word usage by tracing words to their origins — their etymology. Words and names have a pedigree, a lineage and a geneaology, too. In this case, the Latin jacere means “to throw” or “to cast”, and the prefixes “sub-“, “ob-“, “pre-“, and “tra-” indicate the direction of this casting or throwing in time or space. What is being cast or thrown is, of course, consciousness. Here, then, “subject” and “object” indicate the casting of consciousness inwards or outwards (spatial), while “preject” and “traject” indicate the casting of consciousness forwards or backwards (temporal) — future or past.

        The best way to understand these terms and their relationships is as “moods” or attitudes.

        As fourfold beings, we are mixtures of all four, and must be so. The question of human type (or even civilisational types) is of which orientation has the emphasis or bears the accent. Usually this means one of the physical senses bears the burden for most of the others — is “privileged” as they say — the eye, the ear, tactile sense. In terms of the time orientations of preject or traject, the best illustration is Heraclitus (change and Becoming) and Parmenides (permanence and Being) respectively. Also, the prejective mood is revolutionary, while the trajective mood is evolutionary (and sometimes not even that. It wants standstill).

        In social terms, these are contradicting tendencies, and they correspond to “the sheep and the goats” in the New Testament parable. Contradiction means “to say against” or “speak against”… there is the thesis, and there is the anti-thesis which are “mutually exclusive” as infi put it. When social contradiction reaches its maximum tension in polarisation and social impasse, then you have the stage of social revolution or civil war.

        I once wrote a piece about the “forked-tongue” and “the two-edged sword” which addressed the meaning of the tongue as speaking in contradiction or in paradox. That’s probably the best way to understand the difference. Another way is what I call “Khayyam’s Caution” after Omar Khayyam’s saying “only a hair separates the false from the true.” This is a paradoxical statement. On the one hand, it uses two terms usually thought of as contradicting — false and true — which are “mutually exclusive”, and yet Khayyam is saying that they are also not mutually exclusive. The false is an insufficiently realised truth or only a half-truth. Some “knowing” Christians refer to this as Luciferic light or Christic light. (In some ways, you could say that Luciferic light casts a shadow, while Christic light casts no shadow). What we call from European history as “the Enlightenment” is “Luciferic light” (reason, intellect) while what Buddhists call “enlightenment” belongs to what we would call “Christic light”. Luciferic light, because it casts a shadow, involves contradiction. Christic light, because it casts no shadow, is paradox insofar as the tongue of Jesus is represented as a two-edged sword in the Book of Revelation, while that of the Luciferic is represented as a “forked-tongue”, which is the tongue of contradiction. Both types are needed, which is why Rumi stated “you must have light and shadow source both”.

  3. amothman33 says :

    Thank you,but still feel uneasy toward confining preject and traject to time and subject and object to space,and giving two dimensions to time and space.The continuum of time and space make it difficult to go along. I prefer to understand that through attitude and making stand as to this elegant universe, grasping my death not away from my birth.Destiny and origin.

    • Scott says :

      Four dimensions, actually — two of time (future and past) and two of space (inner and outer). When we tune our consciousness to one or another of these, then we are acting either subjectively, objectively, prejectively, or trajectively (the “tra-” indicates tra-dition).

      Another way of expressing the difference between contradiction and paradox is that the former expresses an “either/or” logic, while the latter follows a “both/and” logic.

      Now, here’s the mind bender: the irony or paradox here is that a “both/and” logic must also include the “either/or” form as well. In contradiction a thing is either true or false, but not both. In paradox, the contradiction of true may also be true as well and not false.

      Which logic is effective depends upon its respective sphere of functioning and operation. Logic is only a tool, and the same tool is not necessary the most appropriate one for all tasks. Because we are living, embodied creatures operating in physical spacetime we must discern between the inner and the outer, and between the past and the future. This is the appropriate sphere for either/or logic. It is the realm of contradiction that the Buddhists call “samsara”, and this is the realm of dhukka (suffering) because it is the realm of contradiction (positive and negative, life and death, light and dark, true and false, etc). To function/survive within the spacetime framework (or samsara) discernment and differentiation is very necessary.

      In “higher” terms, though, another part of us understands that this is what is called “the play of Maya” and that it is not final or definitive, and that ostensible “opposites” and the contradiction of contending powers of time and space are not the last word on reality. Here is where the paradoxical stakes its claim. “Nirvana and samsara are the same”. And so you have “coincidence of opposites” or identity of opposites as but aspects of one process.

      The One and the Many are opposites in their contradictory separateness and are mutually exclusive, and this is true. It is also true that the Many are only aspects of the One and not separate (and therefore in contradiction) at all. To accept both these statements as true within their respective realms of functioning is the paradox.

    • Scott says :

      In the natural order of things, birth precedes death. In the spiritual order, death precedes birth. The natural order is the mirror or reflection of the spiritual order, but as in a mirror, the reflection is reversed from the true. In a “true” mirror, when you raised your right arm, the reflection would also raise it’s right arm, but this doesn’t happen. This is why it is easy for Khayyam to see that the “false” and the “true” are very close, and not opposites.

      For much the same reason, Modern Philosophy proceeds from the notion that the mind originates as a “blank slate” (tabula rasa). While this is not far from the Buddhist notion of original mind as “empty mirror”, there is a significant difference. The empty mirror is consciousness without form — formless awareness. It’s as if the modern philosophy is looking at the backside of the mirror and sees only a darkness, while the Buddha mind looks in the mirror side and sees all light without a reflected form — no-self, no-mind, no-thing is reflected back. Nothing has self-nature, so there can’t be any such thing as a “human nature” either.

      It is because “original mind” (or pure awareness) is empty and has no form or essence, that it can become any and every form. Much of Rumi’s poetry is just about that potency of emptiness or no-thing-ness and how he looks forward with longing to finally shedding the human form completely — “Non-existence” he calls it, but this doesn’t have the same meaning as “blank slate” or nothingness. Or rather, that by becoming nothing, one becomes everything and All. To lose definition as a being (to become no-thing) is also to shed all limits, and limitation, boundaries, form, etc. This may be the chiefest paradox of all.

  4. amothman33 says :

    It is perplexing, but is seem that we have to understand this perplexity as the accepted truth of our existence.It is how to realise myself in its travel from formless consciousness to form consciosness and back again from form to formlessness.There must be a source from where I get my relaxing knowledge. A system of invoking the divine knowledge.All prophets get their knowledge from god. It seem we are living in an age where human can invoke such knowledge.TM is away of activating the inspiritional process.Tantra, we need to look in this carefully.At the begining of chapter 42 of the quran we read the following; ha meem aun seen qaf through this procedure inpiration is being given to you and to those prior toyou

    • Scott says :

      Is there a description of this procedure in chapter 42 of the Qur’an? I haven’t been able to locate my copy after my move.

      I was thinking more on how to distinguish between contradiction and paradox. One example of contradiction is this: In scientific terms, nothing can come from nothing. Yet, theology tells us that God created the world from nothing. This is a contradiction. The “dictum” (or thesis) that “God created the world from nothing” meets its contradictum (or antithesis) in the statement “Nothing can come from nothing.” To resolve the contradiction, one must be declared true and the other false.

      However, if it should transpire that both are true, then this is no longer contradiction but a paradox. In a contradiction, it is an either/or situation. In the paradox, a both/and situation. One could say that the paradox resolves the contradiction just as well. But the mystery remains and, in some ways, nothing is resolved. So, the paradox contains the contradiction, but subordinates it to a higher level of understanding.

      One of the great paradoxes, for me, is the fractal. Between 0 and 1 lies infinity. This representation helps even understand some of Rumi’s visionary poetry. Let “0” represent what Rumi calls “emptiness” or Non-existence. Let 1 represent All or Existence/Being. In between 0 and 1 lie the infinite fractal dimensions.. many possible worlds within other possible worlds. Bounded, but infinite. Between Nothingness (0) and absolute Being (1) lies all possible form. This is a paradox which is difficult to comprehend in its vastness, because the defining mind cannot encompass or contain what does not have finitude … infinity.

  5. amothman33 says :

    Ibn Arabi express the story of creation as follow;
    To begin with there is the affirmation map or the blue-print map, the immaterial that contain everything ,to this the be is addressed.On hearing to be the thing addressed moved from the immaterial realm to the material realm

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