Identity Politics and The Soul
As Mark Lilla frames things, the Pilgrims “did not speak in terms of personal identities; they had souls back then” — (from a review in The Guardian)
Yes, indeed. The identity crisis and identity politics is about the eclipse of the soul, which is the meaning of the symbolism of the Sol Niger or Black Sun. It’s for that reason, too, that restoring the meaning and integrity of the soul — reviving the soul as Jean Gebser’s “diaphainon” — is one of the main objectives of the writings of Jean Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy, among others. It is correct to say that “identity” is only the soul which has shriveled up and has shrunk into a mere “point” — the “point of view”. The zombie image — the living dead — is really identity minus soul.
I do get very angry with those in the punditocracy and commentariat who seem to think the issue of “identity politics” is confined to controversies about sexual orientation, minority identity, or ethnic identity and so on, or hold that this is simply an problem of an excessive “liberalism” gone mad. Somehow they manage to exclude themselves from complicity in the fractious issue of identity and the identity crisis as if their own identity were simply the universal one, the norm and standard against which all other identities are to be measured and found wanting. “My identity politics isn’t the problem. Your identity politics is the problem”. This is the real attitude of “the righteous mind” which I consider to be duplicitous (and much of which I find in Ken Wilber, too). This is the very worst form of egoism and ego-centricity, seeing, as the saying goes, the splinter in your neighbour’s eye but not the log in one’s own. That’s what we call “zombie logic” precisely because it is soulless.
Rosenstock-Huessy called his method Angewandte Seelenkunde, or an “Applied Science of the Soul“. Jean Gebser calls the soul “the Itself” or the “diaphainon“, but it is the same concern. Iain McGilchrist calls the same “The Master” in his The Master and His Emissary, which could just as well have been named “The Soul and Its Ego“. I emphasise that reverse relationship of the possessive case. We don’t “have” a soul. We “are” a soul that has an ego”. That’s equally what Nietzsche intended to be understood in his Zarathustra, in his chapter “The Despisers of the Body“. Despite his pronouncement of the death of God, Nietzsche couldn’t do without the notion of soul.
“Identitarians” is a word the right applies to itself as much as it condemns the same identity politics in others. Neo-fascist groups like “Identity Evropa” or “Generation Identity” are just as much identity politics and right-wing “political correctness”, and even moreso. I have, unbelievably, even read some things by ostensible “social scientists” and academics who merely assume their own narrow perspective and identity as the norm. That is the extremity of the very narcissism that they seem so quick to identify and condemn in others. There is, in fact, absolutely no difference in this matter between a group like ISIS and neo-fascism. They are exactly equivalent reactionary formations in their intense fanaticism about globalism and in preserving their “identity”, and ideology and identity are intimately connected. Everything today absurd and irrational about “fake news” or “false memory” is connected with the identity crisis and identity politics. Everything false, phoney, fake, inauthentic is the result of the eclipse of the soul, which is equally what McGilchrist calls the Emissary’s “usurpation” of the Master. This is the essential inversion of values.
The sun-swallower is the Black Sun and is the soul-eater, and hence Gebser’s “maelstrom of blind anxiety”. I hope I’m understood. Anxiety about identity is the same as loss of soul. Loss of soul is the meaning of the “zombie” or the “living dead”.
Identity politics and identity crisis is the significance of what Gebser described as the “deficient mode” of the perspectival consciousness, shrinking into every narrower “point-of-view” as William Blake very aptly described it: “For man has clos’d himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. There’s no question in my mind that but any prospect of a new “Renaissance” will be the rediscovery and resuscitation of the meaning of “soul” and not otherwise. Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy, Blake and Jung — even Iain McGilhcrist’s neurodynamics — are less about an “ecology of mind” than they are about the ecodynamics of the soul. Gebser’s “double-movement” of our times, which he describes in terms of a disintegration and a re-integration, is really about the death and resurrection of the soul — the “diaphainon“. That’s the simplest way to understand the meaning Gebser, Rosenstock-Huessy, Blake, Jung, and even McGilchrist. This is the only corrective to the present dynamic of nihilism and disintegration.
I will say something about the soul. Nietzsche made one critical error, in my judgment. He referred to the soul as only “the name for something in the body”. That’s an error. The body is in the soul, rather. The soul has no boundaries or limits of gender or race or even boundaries of dimension in terms of space or time.
“One would never discover the limits of soul, should one traverse every road – so deep a measure does it possess” (Heraclitus).
Therefore, not “Blut und Boden” (“Blood and Soil”) defines the soul as a “race soul”. That is sneaking fascist falsehood. Blood and soil are finite, limited, material, transient, changeable, mortal things. Binding the soul to these things generates only great anxiety about change. They do not define the soul nor the boundaries of the soul. On the contrary, this slogan reveals only soullessness and a loss of soul.
Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age — William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
Blake’s statement is the equivalent of Hercalitus’s insight into the soul. In these terms, the Black Sun is only the symbol of ignorance, of nihilism and soul death, of the Kali Yuga, and of spiritual materialism.