Metanoia: The Modern Mind Outrun
The people you encounter in everyday life may or may not be your contemporaries. Simply because they occupy what seems to you the same space, and may be companions or compatriots or neighbours, still you may not be contemporaries at all. Time is not homogenous and uniform throughout as space seems to us to be continuous, homogenous, and uniform. This is the problem that Rosenstock-Huessy addresses as a “time-thinker” — the problem of making people contemporaries. Friends are your contemporaries.
For Rosenstock-Huessy, for example, Old World and New World now pertained to time and not, as formerly, to space, and he was already in whole or in part an émigré in spirit from this Age. That’s what he meant by his “metanoia” or “the modern mind outrun”. The looked upon what we think of as “present civilisation” as if it were already behind him, as in Marshall McLuhan’s “rear view mirror”. He already lived in the New World he thought of as “Johannine” — an age of the spirit; an age of “religionless Christianity”. He felt he had settled his accounts with the Modern Era upon conclusion of his book Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man and was then free to move on, which he did with his book The Christian Future, or the modern mind outrun. And so he could speak of “metanoia” or “new mind”. He had, then, few that could be called his “contemporaries” in that sense.
Nietzsche was like that too. He felt he had settled accounts not only with the Modern Age, but with the entirety of Western history and was free to move on, to also become an émigré. This he did also with his Zarathustra. And after settling his accounts with all previous history, and concluding with his Zarathustra he really felt the exhilaration of emancipation of the “free spirit” so intensely that he though he would become the new caesura of history, and that thereafter people would speak of a “Before Nietzsche” and an “After Nietzsche”.
There are many other examples of such, and already many who are contemporaries in and through this “metanoia” but who are not necessarily contemporaries of the majority of people. That is perhaps why you don’t hear much about them, because the media, among others, really doesn’t know what to make of them yet. So, they are in that sense distemporaries as well. They have already settled accounts with the Late Modern Age and have emigrated, in whole or in part, consciously or half-consciously. And for them, what we call “the present” is already history. This includes also Jean Gebser and David Bohm and others, and so they remain baffling figures to those who have not yet themselves settled their accounts with the Late Modern Era, and so have not yet themselves experienced this “metanoia” as the emigration of the spirit.