Notes on the Void Responses (2)

These notes are a product of conversation with Emanuel Magno.

We are painting in simple broad brush strokes here, yet even these can reveal some interesting thoughts and possible structures. To recap briefly we are investigating how certain modes of interacting with the world can be conceived as responses to the the nothingness. We would say the nothingness can be a cognitive discovery (there may be always a trace of this). When this occurs reason philosophy is a void response. Furthermore philosophy here is characterised precisely by its untestable nature and desire to ground its subject matter (knowledge, how to live, the being of Being). This is not a derogatory comment only a descriptive one. Philosophical concepts a priori cannot be defeated by any opposing philosophical concept. Science may shore up the edges of philosophy but sceptical possibilities can persist in the face of overwhelming evidence (and philosophy is duty bound to take them seriously -even though sometimes it would not like to). Hence this shoring up is more a case of rendering unpalatable rather than removing from the philosophical realm. Philosophy tries to ground what it cannot ground using thought, this is its nature.

We also identified sorcery as described in the works of Castaneda as a void response. The accusations of fiction levelled at the works are irrelevant here, all that is relevant is the system and the system describes a way of living that absolutely accepts the void and urges action as if there was no void -yet all the while knows it is there. Sorcery then is a magickal response of action to the void and chaos magick is a very similar (though not identical) one. Chaos magick is more forgiving of regular human nature than sorcery.

Compassion/love was also noted as a void response i.e. in the face of the nothingness the only tenable action is to show compassion to the world and all the beings in it.

It can be argued of course that these are all philosophies insofar they attempt to ground existence by an ungroundable principle. However the difference is that sorcery and compassion responses supply action to be lived and hence they transcend the philosophical realm of thought.

As previously noted there is no claim that philosophy never leads to altered lives, only that the majority of the time the biggest change philosophy makes to someone’s life is that they become interested in philosophy.

We must also consider the source of what looks like a philosophy. This kind of notion turns on the ontological status of revelation. If revelation comes from within a discrete self and represents nothing more than the subconscious mulling over of a problem, the answer to which is fed back to the questioner by some means that appears to not be the questioner, then we might consider it little more unconscious cognition. However if revelation comes from an external power (God/Spirit) then the philosophy in question has not be grounded in cognition of any kind and hence is not philosophy in the above sense of thinking hard about problems.

Of course one cannot actually tell the difference between these two phenomena, the problem is as we say, agnostic disjunctive. In this sense then the phenomenology of external revelation is only what is important and such systems as they arise are not -in our brush strokes- to be considered philosophy in the sense of trying to conceptually/logically disentangle problems.

External revelation though often results in the void-cocoons (or a-voidances). These are systems that shield humans from the void by giving rules for living that are transcendent to humanity. They often supply a teleology. This is a very important part of an a-voidance. Shamanic systems, polytheisms and monotheisms are all largely a-voidances. Shamanic systems do so by direct contact with spirit. Spirit in turn will reveal a creation myth to the shaman. The non-reflectivity of shamanic based communities means that spirit may be naively trusted in its claims. Contact with spirit is perfectly real (though ontologically questionable as the above agnostic disjunction shows) it is just that, as is often said, the spirits cannot be trusted.

Alternative again to any kind of spirituality, cognition or compassion is a certain physical response of fullness to the world -like a hedonism. This may not be born necessarily out of direct cognition of life as a problem, but rather is the result of a certain effusive spirit. When such a person asks themselves whether or not their pleasure in life is reasonable, they simply find that there is no reason why it is not reasonable; life becomes justified on these terms. Equally such a consideration may be never made. The effusiveness of the physicality of life covers the yawning void.

Does this consideration mean we may paint the aesthetic temperament (the poetic, the musical, the artistic) also as void response? Such responses are not cognitive reactions and hence they probably should considered a further part of the picture.

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