Christ separates God’s from Caesar’s Province. Please note, Christ is the MEDIUM between the two provinces, the one below and the one above. The Coin of Caesar, Domingo Sequeira 1790
God’s Letter to us
God’s letter to every individual, the Gospel, speaks differently to each of us. It echoes the unique internal landscape and architecture each of us carries inside. It is infinitely satisfying to read, interpret, and marvel at the beauty of the revelations held in scripture, but Biblical reading on its own is as fruitless as living and reading without the guiding light of God’s word.
Just as much as we are children of God we are dust of the earth, that is, transient, instinctive, natural beings. In an environment where government, academic, medical, and legal institutions have abandoned Biblical teachings and have adopted the single dimension of creaturely existence, it is difficult to find anyone remotely interested in following the Bible. But the truth is, most who do crack it open and begin to engage in its truth, end up cutting themselves off from worldly formats and ways of living.
The truth is, living with the Bible and living in contemporary historical reality are not mutually exclusive, but they do require a complete commitment to scriptural interpretation.
A good metaphor for the relationship between the Christian self and the worldly self, both of which dwell inside us, is the contrast between a natural reserve and a garden.
The garden is designed architecturally, styled, and groomed observing the conventions of art, technology and design appropriate to the historical era of its creation. The natural elements are no longer wild and purely creaturely, but re-created by a human mind and hand. Nature is sublimated in the garden creation, elevated to another dimension of existence that is recorded in books and other media. Based on these records a garden may be maintained for indefinite time. The garden immortalises transient, fallen nature, and displays the splendor and glory of the biblical elements of human existence. It does not dispose of creaturely natural elements, but uses them as a painter uses a pallet, as the basic elements of a human creation that supplants them.
To be true Christians we must do the same with the instincts we bear inside and the reality we face outside. History in and of itself is no different than nature. It is driven by natural and instinctive life cycles and transient living forms. At the same time, history is the path we travel toward Biblical revelations. In other words, the Gospel is the garden that sublimates and immortalises historical material existence. This also means there are as many historical realities as there are individual human interiors.
It is no accident that the only surviving historical recording systems hail from Christian societies. The Greco-Roman world, which also led historical records, became extinct and was resurrected in the Renaissance only due to the diligent efforts of Christians who preserved and ordered its archive, keeping much of its teachings alive in its own doctrines and in medieval scholasticism. The passion of St. Jerome for classical philosophical pleasures was never extinguished in Christian thought and became quite perilous and disproportionately powerful in the fading modern age.
The existing formats of what we have recently come to understand as the Deep State, a perilous new formation threatening the communicative nature of democracy, should be approached as natural, instinctive formations. Since most of us have to function in some fashion in the real world, we can’t avoid these formats, but we can frame and contain them within the province of Biblical teachings. This is the form of webevangelism I want to propose to you.
There are plenty webevangelists who perform the basic task of delivering scriptural wisdom in its raw, unadulterated form, but few to none that engage our contemporary — often unpleasant and ugly — realities. Most Churches today preach abstinence from the political process, but is that indeed what Christ counselled? Can we ignore Caesar or the priestly castes?
Since Christ intimated the separation of Caesar’s and God’s provinces (Matthew 22), Christians have been confronted with a choice between two masters and two realities. Christ was certainly not advocating a double existence and a divided conscience, one abiding by the laws and systems of the historical-political reality in which we find ourselves, and the other the Biblical reality of God’s rest: eternal peace and unity in Christ. If we make a decision to devote our life and works to Caesar’s world, then we will inevitably subject Biblical reality to Caesar’s reality. If, on the other hand, we choose God, we subject Caesar to God. The Chalcedonian rulers of Europe understood this very well and willingly subjected themselves to God’s Word.
Deep State Theocracy and Elite M
Chalcedonians are not to be confused with theocracies, which represent a social order run by elites, by an entire class of priests who have usurped the right to know and interpret God’s word. The Deep State today is a theocracy, though it claims the God it serves is a No-God, atheism. In fact, we have regressed to non-Roman, ungodly, pre-Christian times when the priestly – now academic – castes determined the rule of the land. The current global political architecture is absolutely denying Christ and European Christian experience and history.
In contrast, the Chalcedonian kings, had accepted Christ as their personal savior and recognized only the authority of God’s Letter to the gentile nations, the Gospel. Of course, Church and Crown worked very closely together, but the main tool of their collaboration was communication through the Word of God, not an administrative network determined by the priestly-academic caste as we do today. The Chalcedonian were incredibly successful and managed to develop the most sophisticated cultural networks and recording systems known to humanity, the European humanities until the French Revolution. In the center was human individuality. Chalcedonian kings comprise the subject matter of the entire Shakespearean canon, which unfolds the richness and beauty of human consciousness and places it at the center of political power. This kind of apotheosis of humanity is unthinkable in our contemporary global theocracy.
Are we walking in Christ’s shoes?
It may appear that the formats of the deep state and the elite media who have appointed themselves global rulers of every nation today have placed evangelists and webevangelists in the position of the Christ once again. It may appear that our hands are bound by these formats, but that is not true. The Christ came already. We are not facing another crisis. Jahweh’s promise to us is as good and true as His promise ever was.
The current ruling castes and systems are creaturely and as all natural creation they will pass. Like silent nature and the silent animal kingdom they worship as their god, they cannot save themselves, because they do not possess God-given language. The ruling elite only has the system language of natural science and the bureaucracies derived from natural scientific knowledge. These formats area absolutely transient and will go to dust.
It is up to us, Christians, evangelists, and webevangelists to save the remains of the deep state, elite media, and the secular academic archive. It is up to us to interpret their legacy in accordance with God’s architecture, the sublimated edifice to which Christ ascended. It is up to us to frame them and preserve their contribution to life on earth. This requires forgiveness, because they did throw us under a bus and because they have banished Christian thought.
Media of Forgiveness and Testimony
By forgiveness Christ never meant forgetting the evil done, but rather understanding that it belongs to the order of the snake that tempted Eve. The order of the snake preceded Him on the pole of knowledge at the center of human understanding. This is the order of fallen nature. By forgiveness Christ meant neutralizing material nature, understanding it is dumb and deaf, understanding it is condemned to return to the dust from whence it came. By forgiveness and testimony, Christ meant rising above and beyond good and evil to frame and glorify fallen nature and its earthly remains as God’s creation in our TESTIMONY. This does not mean submitting to evil, serving its formats, or even participating in their evil doing, but it does mean representing it with grace as something past and gone, as something transient, because we were chosen to carry its memory in eternity.
Today we celebrate the 267th birthday of the most profound modern poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He is perhaps the foundational figure of our explorations of the interior, since his oeuvre opened the door to articulating the interior publicly. His work is the bridge from Shakespeare’s inexhaustible psychological savvy, which he gained through linguistic mastery, to Sigmund Freud’s attempt to systematize inner experience quasi-scientifically and psychologically.
Goethe captured the hearts of prominent women of the upper classes; his poetry was profoundly shaped by voices that would have remained otherwise silent; their rich interiors live on in his work
It could be argued that with Goethe women gained access to the public sphere, not as prostitutes, as the case had been before the modern age, but as co-creators and co-designers of its culture and aesthetics. Goethe’s deep lifelong friendships with women like Katerina von Klettenberg, a pious Christian he commemorated in the chapter “The Beautiful Soul” of his Shakespearean novel “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship,” to Charlotte von Stein, whom he loved passionately and who taught him the habits and morals of courtly society, to Bettina von Arnim, his stormy relationships actively shaped the basic tenets of modern literary culture. It could be argued that women have exercised no greater influence on the design of the modern world than through Goethe’s enormous and to this day unsurpassed legacy and influence on literature.
I will dedicate a separate post on the legacy of modern German literature, its culture of self-reflection, and aesthetic of interior design, but suffice to say at this point that Goethe was the founding father of the modern literary tradition as a profoundly subjective experience. It is safe to say the service Literary E-Spa provides, its endeavour to educate an engaged literary audience in the arts and design of individual interiors, and quest to shape more sophisticated religious, cultural and consumer practices would be impossible without Goethe. We owe him our grateful hearts today, even as we contemplate the contemporary relevance of his crowning work “Faust.”
Goethe with Charlotte von Stein; garden conversations were a sophisticated courtly social art form of practicing philosophy and theology; Eissler’s faithfully Freudian study of the relationship has offered many clues not only to Goethe and his work, but to the modern subject in general (http://www.kensandersbooks.com/shop/rarebooks/43075.html)
Goethe’s crowning masterpiece is “The Tragedy of Dr. Faust,” a long two-part dramatic poem based on medieval allegorical material, much like Shakespeare’s own plays, and a chillingly prophetic abstraction of the political future of modernity. Goethe worked on this drama his entire life. He began composing it at 18 and finished it in his 70s shortly before his death.
The main character is a suicidal scholar who avails himself of the legal and scientific apparatus of the modern age, allegorically represented by Mephistopheles, to become not only young again and engage in a tragic romance with the pretty, innocent village girl Gretchen, only to abandon her to a cruel fate of single motherhood and eventually prison and death, but also to become the supreme global ruler of all nations and design an infallible totalitarian social system that provides for the basic needs of all constituents. Naturally his plan of solving the world’s problems once and for all fails. Faust is condemned to hell for all eternity. This is the end of the medieval story of the Dr. Faustus. Goethe, however, adds a twist and grants the scholar-statesman grace and mercy by bringing Gretchen’s ghost back to mourn his passing and thus preserve his memory and legacy from the flames of hell. It is the ultimate tale of Christian grace, bringing the loving and forgiving victim back to embrace and save her ravisher.
If we consider the fact that modern German scholarship did develop the global bureaucratic system that keeps trying to seize control of the world, first through National Socialism, then again with the USSR, and now with globalism, is it perhaps time to let Gretchen rest in peace? Could Goethe not have foreseen the destruction of his own legacy if we are unable to let Gretchen rest and monumentalize her modern legacy in order to move on?
The dramatic poem is very rich and superbly executed. You will find the entire repertoire of American pop culture contained in its allegorical tableaus and fantastical visual-poetic language. We will explore it together with the help of Heidegger and Freud’s interpretive tools, in the specific contexts of contemporary art available on the net and in galleries, but feel free to familiarise yourself with the text now, if you haven’t done so already: http://www.iowagrandmaster.org/Books%20in%20pdf/Faust.pdf
Heidegger modified the concept of the traditional philosophical term “object” to account for the new objects of technology by shifting the emphasis to the more general term “thing.” Forgetting the techno-philosophical background of the term’s origin in Heidegger’s thought trajectory, Lacan applies it, nevertheless correctly, to the psychoanalytic object of desire, making the thing a creation ex nihilo, Latin for ‘out of nothingness.’ He illustrated the concept with the object of the empty vase, which does not hold an object, but rather nothingness. The empty space signifies nothing beyond an essence that can only be revealed in the course of its being put to use, in the course of its proper time. The vase is a reservoir of emptiness or energy that can only unfold its being-unto-death as a thing in the course of its tragic-poetic action. Kate Mandrukevica’s Dislocation, Scale and Transparency is an uncannily correct illustration of the infamous Lacanian vase. (saved from fineartphotographyvideoart.com)
Rise of Modern Literacy: Invention of the Interior
I did promise Goethe and Burckhardt for this post, but I realised we need more background in theory before we can place them properly in the discourse and practice of iCulture therapy. In preparation for the fathers of modern classicism, we need to stake the Christian position on technology. Classicism is a disappearing aesthetic today, but still structures the formal design of most products we buy, so we need to be able to reflect on it intelligently, if we truly want to ‘own’ it. The modern industrial age would not have been possible had a literate public not demanded cultural sophistication for the design of its private sphere.
Milestones in the History of Technology: the Printing Press
The invention of the Gutenberg press reformatted a large group of individuals who became increasingly aware of their interiority and whose demands were more cultural than materialistic. This historical development was lost on historians focused on materialist history. One unfortunate consequence of materialist historiography is that contemporary identities and consumer practices around the world are almost entirely structured by politics.
To understand how the immaterial human interior participates in the material world of objects and things in order to cultivate better, more self-reflexive and ultimately more satisfying consumer habits, we need to understand the relationship between the structure of Christian faith and technology. Technical knowledge alone is not sufficient to initiate the kind of large-scale technological modernisation we see in early modern Northern Europe. Many cultures have claimed pretty much every major invention in the history of technology, but none of them launched the industrial age. There are two reasons for this development: Christianity made the technological era possible by providing the needed identity mechanism and it also invented interiority in the first place by postulating that God dwells in His subjects and the subjects in God. In a sense the initiation of technological modernity worldwide was the fulfilment of the Christian structure of the interior temple. This structure was unknown to ancient civilisations, including the Greco-Roman. A number of posts will be devoted to the development of technology in Christian civilisation now and in the future, but let us begin with a few cornerstones from twentieth century philosophical thought, since the most recent past is the most repressed and most misunderstood.
Blindspots of the Academic Discourse on Technology
Academically influential twentieth century philosophy was largely unconcerned with the Christian experience and if so, either only critically or in conformity with a theological school of thought that remained absolutely divorced from modern developments, scientific, technological, and philosophical. The problem the Church has with philosophy lies in the great schism that took place in 1054, which split the Church into a theoretical East and a largely political and practical West. The Reformation initiated by Martin Luther tried to amend the evacuation of theoretical reflection and that allowed the rapid modernisation of the North. The South remained relatively underdeveloped, which carried over into the new Latin territories in America. The Reformation stalled, however, when national and socialist thought gripped the main engine of progress in Europe, the Germanic countries, in the 19th century. The Church is yet to bridge the immense gap in philosophical development socialist thought inflicted on German letters.
An important philosopher, who had otherwise a great deal to contribute to the conception of technology, Martin Heidegger, remains a national socialist thinker. His academic progeny has been struggling with this fact, failed to account for it, and remains unable to reconcile itself to it. But the fact that academic philosophy paid little attention to the monumental historic importance of the Christian experience for the development of technological modernity does not mean it was not operative in the blindspots of philosophical practice. We will try to fill in some of the gaps, insofar as they concern the practice of iCulture therapy.
The Classical Heritage and the Philosophy of Technology
Human interiority is intricately involved in the history of technology and is deeply invested in technical sophistication. Historically, the interior represents a fairly new object of philosophical reflection, one that traditional philosophy is ill equipped to handle, because philosophical structures are pre-Christian. This is why history and theology have little to tell us about the historic importance of Christian interiority for the development and refinement of the technologies of emotional and psychological design. On the one hand, history is limited to politically backed power discourses and hence is not always reliable as a source of truth. On the other hand, theology is limited to the disciplines of logic and philosophy, both unable to reflect on the core of Christian experience.
An earlier post discussed St. Jerome’s tormenting passion, classical philosophy and arts. The author of the Vulgata was unable to tear himself from the incredibly rich intellectual pleasures and passions the classical world had to offer. And perhaps he didn’t have to. Since the Nicenean creed does specify the historical time of the crucifixion, the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, classical civilisation remains an essential part of the earthly design of the Christian experience, even though the tension between the two can never be resolved. It also means that the political Latin framework remains the earthly and historical dominion of Christianity.
The Vatican has a huge responsibility to the entire ecumenical Christian community to incorporate its experience in its practices, but it keeps failing at this task. Instead of incorporating new developments of the interior and its technologies, it keeps reconciling itself to foreign political developments like Marxism and Islam, failing in its basic task to be the earthly protector of the Christian faith. The Vatican is currently more open to socialism and nationalism than to the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox teachings and traditions. This problem is not intrinsic to the Church. It is dictated by academic discursive developments of the past two centuries.
Even the Vatican cannot deny, however, that classical antiquity was carried forth by Christian civilisation. Without Christianity, the Greco-Roman civilisation would have become extinct. This fact was lost on the best philosopher of technology we have to date, Martin Heidegger. The reason Heidegger was unable to develop a satisfactory bullet-proof philosophy of technological being on the basis of Germanic etymology alone is because he failed to take into account the historical significance of the Christian mechanism of subject-formation in language. His philosophy was inspired by Germanic etymology, forgetting as it were that the German language was radically altered through Luther’s translation of the Bible. No more nor less than the Hebraic, the Germanic language is not the native or natal context of Christianity, which provided the psychological mechanism for the initiation of the technological and industrial age. Every language is native to Christianity, but the Latin language and classical antiquity remain the materialist, historical-political core of the Christian world. This is stated in the the Nicene creed. Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilatus, a Roman governor. This material event is the portal to the historical and political manifestations of Christianity then and forever. Contemporary political philosophers like Georgio Agamben have recognised this fact, but took it as licence to preach socialist dogma, without reflecting on the fact that socialism originated in a different historical and political context, namely a pagan — classicist — Germanic one, not in the native Latin of the Nicene creed.
Though always at multiple removes from their origin, Latin and classicism exist in multiple translations and not in a pure state of natality. We’ll get back to the concept of distance in sublimation. Its cultivation is another important topos (point of return) of Christian civilisation. The history of the Christian experience remains firmly rooted in the classical world, at least as far as its pure historical record goes.
Literary and Visual Archive
There is one exception to the purely historical archive: literary history and its twin branch of art history. Both disciplines run on parallel tracks with the history of technology and contain an archive that is fairly independent from political-historical data and documents. The literary and visual archive contain psycho-genealogical data and the shrouded history of technology. Before a piece of technical equipment becomes manifestly operative in the world, it exists not as a clear Platonic idea, but as psychological reality that has no means of articulating itself in existing media of communication. It has to await the invention of a suitable medium or technological equipment as it were to unfold its being. The literary archive and the visual depositories of historical data have a good deal to tell us about the psycho-genealogy of the technologies that structure our being in the world, our communication systems, and our interiors.
Technologies of Mourning
Shakespeare has more to tell us about the still ongoing burial of Julius Caesar than any historical document, because his play, a form of burial in words, focused squarely on the afterlife of the dominant political format of leadership (Workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni and Marco del Buono Giamberti Italian, 1415/17-1465 & 1403-1489 The Assassination and Funeral of Julius Caesar, 1455/60)
The most sophisticated philosophical approaches to technology have treated it as a funeral practice, a way of framing, preserving, transmitting, and storing remains, human remains. Twentieth century thinkers like Martin Heidegger, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Friedrich Kittler are among the more aesthetically sensitive readers of technology. All four, though Heidegger will never admit it, work in the shadow of the Freudian pre-historic interpretation of ethics, which he based on his reading of a literary work, Sophocles’s tragedy “Oedipus Rex.” Freud was in fact more deeply influenced by Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” which he coupled with the ancient Greek predecessor to plummet Hamlet’s labyrinthine depths. We will return to this problematic, but for now it is important to stake that for Freud the murder of the father becomes the founding event of any symbolic system, because it clears the path to substitution.
Language functions by way of substitution. For example, in the statement “the rabbit is a carrot-eater” the term “rabbit” stands for “carrot-eater,” because they are interchangeable. The verb “to be” is in a sense the ultimate weapon and harbinger of death, because only dead entities can enter the system of substitutions. Whatever is known of the rabbit, that it is a carrot-eater, a mammal, etc., constitutes its transience, its creaturely status. The sum of all substitutes that account for its being are only equal to its mortality, the shape of its corpse and its creatureliness. The rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland,” on the other hand, is not mortal, but also not considered a real being, even though it has all attributes of a real rabbit. What the rabbit in the children’s book does as opposed to what it is makes it a techno-rabbit, a thing standing in reserve and holding energy, to borrow Heidegger. To be interchangeable is to be dispensable, i.e. capable of dying, disappearing, dissolving into dust, non-being. In Heidegger’s system the essence or presence of being is hidden in language and can only unfold in the process of thinking, not by way of metaphor or substitution, but rather by the very circumvention of the verb “to be.” In a sense Heideggerian being cannot enter the grammatical system of circulation, grammar being among the most ancient technologies known to man. Being is not available for direct representation just as the thing, something of technological nature, is not simply an object, but rather a reservoir, a container of energy, like the Lacanian vase, that will only reveal its essence, that is its ability to be present, in action.
Though Heidegger was not usually concerned with ethics, but rather with the truth of being and especially what he considered its most beautiful version, Greek antiquity, his subordination of being to language shares a great deal with Freud’s conception of the world as ordered by the law of the father. The two are reconciled completely and nearly without remainder in Lacan’s work, which inspired Friedrich Kittler’s invention of media-genealogical research and alienated Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, both of whom represent a more hermeneutic dimension of thinking about technology, that is, an interpretation based on subjective difference. Just as for Heidegger and Lacan the object of post-Socratic philosophy becomes a thing standing in reserve, a reservoir of energy whose essence is revealed in action, the subject in Kittler and Derrida becomes, respectively, a consumer and an individual, that is, non-repeatable difference.
On the set of F. W. Murnau’s “Faust” (1926), a visual interpretation of J. W. Goethe’s prophetic tragedy of the modern leader
Preserving the Cultural Traditions of Tragic Formatting
Over the course of its two thousand-year reception history, tragic poetry has remained the highest form of expression of what Heidegger called being. It is not accidental that its definition coincides with Heidegger’s shortcut definition of technological being: the unfolding of an action over a given time at a fixed place. An ancient technology of mourning, tragedy is a thing that unfolds itself over the time period of its use. A carrier of pure energy, it is synonymous with death or nothingness. In the next post we will see how Lacan treats this insight in his interpretation of the Sophoclean tragedy “Antigone” and what that may have to do with the invention of the war plane and modern warfare.
The ethical being that emerges in tragedy is mortal in an absolute sense, since its being unfolds from its annihilation. It is the only subject of war and statesmanship subordinated to the military. To the Greeks, tragic spectacle was not a matter of entertainment or aesthetic pleasure, as it is to the moderns. It was a religious ritual, probably based on sacrificial rituals, and a way of programming the citizens’ interior to accord with the ethical principles of the Greek community. This was the meaning of the Aristotelian term “catharsis,” a process whereby the emotions of the spectator are ‘purged’ of all unwanted and unethical elements. In ancient Greece tragedy was a form of social engineering.
This form of social engineering is still alive today, though it is almost entirely unaware of its origins, affiliation, and philosophical genealogy. It pervaded postwar political thought through such concepts as “bare life,” “human rights,” post-colonialist views of what constitutes a ‘native,’ and especially the concept of “natality” as we see it articulated in Hannah Arendt’s tragic writings. As a student and intimate companion of Heidegger, Arendt’s thought was programmed to understand being as something that unfolds through its action unto death. Her concept of “natality,” which was implicitly designed as a polemic against the Christian notion of rebirth and life-after-death, is in fact being-toward-nothingness and reduces human life to its funereal technologies. The native “futures” her tragic worldview defended so emotionally are in fact foreclosed. If we are to carry forth the values of universal care — caritas — for human life, we need to be more vigilant about tragic ideas contaminating discourses about native life. Arendt’s case is a good example of the confusion brought about by the perilous indulgence in pure classical philosophical thinking, especially in regard to political philosophy, that St. Jerome rightly feared.
Premature critics of Christian thought mushroomed after the war and were quick to blame Christian civilisation for the atrocities of war. This was possible largely because theologians had failed to establish a dialogue with contemporary discourses, but also because official organs of the state, by default, that is, through no fault of their own, demanded a total war effort from intellectuals. The movement was carried by blind emotions of political allegiance, horror, and moral outrage, but cannot be maintained on the strength of its poor, unsustainable arguments forever. Outspoken intellectuals who waged war on cultural Christianity, Lacan being among them, have read the Christian concept of life unfolding “after death,” especially in hagiography (https://web.archive.org/web/20150331030718/http://www.the-orb.net/encyclop/religion/hagiography/hagio.htm) as creation ex nihilo, that is, birth out of nothingness. This was a much mistaken application of the term and originated with Lacan’s Heideggerian reading of ex nihilo as the essence of technological being in his most famous seminar “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis:” http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1315975.files/6%20Seeing%20Things/Lacan-%20seminar%207%20Ethics%20of%20Psychoanalysis%201959-1960.pdf
Heidegger’s greatest contribution to human thought was his discovery of the essence of technology. His focus on the thing rather than on the classical object revealed its essence: a reservoir and a potentiality holding energy, always standing reserve. Its being is held in its action and use, its emptying of energy. The concept of the thing suffered a reduction by its subordination to Heidegger’s general conception of all being as being unto death. Thus the specific essence of technology remained bound to objectivity, its classical frame. Heidegger remained trapped in the native Germanic roots of language-based philosophy and did not take the Biblical “after death” into consideration. The proper trajectory “after death” is a means of transport to the interior as a form of sublimation and displacement. The Biblical “after death” is far removed from classical metaphysics. It points to the immaterial realm of sublimation and its action enables emancipation from material existence. Had Heidegger taken his Germanic insight further, he would have been able to position technology where it belongs: inside the human psyche. But his philosophy remained famously non-receptive to any kind of psychological formatting of subjectivity, in a truly tragic line of thought, because his philosophy remains, tragically, without a future.
Material technologies of mourning are as perishable as the contents they bury, frame, and allegedly preserve. Technologies of the interior, on the other hand, have been preserving beings without a future for over two thousand years by programming internal psychological reality, which endures beyond the material remains of bare life. Only under the protection of Christian sacramental practices does the interior attain the status of reality. Its technologies of introjection structure the psychological reality of future generations and represent the ultimate form of cultural preservation.
Historical consciousness is a major component of personal identity. From naming practices, languages, and sign systems to insignia and historiography, words and images communicate identities. Personal identity takes no less advantage of all means of communication than national states and public institutions do. Like the insignia of medieval rulers, the dimension of personal historiography is virtually non-existent today. It has been gradually disappearing over the past couple of centuries as a format in circulation. Since the rise of the social sciences and political philosophy in the nineteenth century personal historiography has been phased out and pushed into the group format of the technical media. It has now disappeared as a component of general education completely. At the same time, the social media revolve around the design of personal identities. Blogging and micro-blogging represent a new form of personal historiography. The practice is still too young to have received any kind of meaningful treatment by the philosophical sciences, so it is the most important experimental field in the humanities. Since the humanities are disappearing, blogging is left to its own devices. No educational institution today is tailored to strengthen the articulation of individual identity. We go about body building more methodically than we do about identity-building. iCulture therapy was initiated in the hope to offer this missing link in contemporary online education. It will give the reader the tools and knowledge to develop and cherish a highly articulate, sophisticated personal idiom that is aware and equally attentive to the interior dimension as it is to the exterior facade designed to interact with and benefit the social interface. An empty facade, no matter how correct in its ethical principles and ideals of social justice, cannot contribute anything to the lives of others. It exists only for itself. iCulture is deeply rooted in the intellectual and artistic history of Christian civilisation. The theoretical portion of its contents will continue to elaborate the Christian foundations of the concept of the self as a dwelling place for the trinity.
Political Philosophy and Individual Identity
Since the nineteenth century official political organs dominate und survey the discursive matrix and formats of communication. Edgar Allen Poe’s short narrative “The Purloined Letter” (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/purloine.html) is an astute and intuitively refined allegory of what took place on a much grander scale with the institution of the modern state bureaucracies. That the Freudian structuralist philosopher Jacques Lacan will read this story as justification for the emptiness of subjectivity only confirms that the twentieth century was the century without a subject. We will engage this line of argumentation in a later post, but to set up the coordinates of our journey at this point, it is sufficient to note that Hegelian thought allowed for structuralist reduction of all forms of communication and identity formation.
Though they don’t actively control and censure historiography, through this wider domination of discourse, political organs eliminate not only dissident versions of history, but also multiple and pluralist versions, by withdrawing their discursive legitimacy. Even as they pay lipservice to the buried values of free speech and open scholarly discussion, political structures and edifices of social engineering have been withdrawing investment in the private sphere, which has been wrongly but ubiquitously stigmatized as capitalist and therefore of low value for the community. Nothing is further from the truth. Without individuals capable of articulating their private subjectivities, communal systems of communication and cultural systems of preservation and transmission will stagnate and die.
Material historicism was introduced by the Hegelian thinker Karl Marx and his followers. Its concept of the private sphere does not extend beyond its economic significance, that is, the monetary value of private property. Philosophically, the platform is extremely reductive, but there are historical-discursive reasons for its sweeping success in the twentieth century, the most violent century in Christian civilisation. Political reality is changing rapidly, primarily due to the new forms of communication and exchange of information available to vastly more populous and increasingly more literate regions.
Today millions have access to cultural information that is not mass formatted and at the same time available to the free individual for private use. Individualism is beginning to thrive in a way it has not been since the Renaissance. This is the reason we are seeing the old state bureaucratic systems crumble and lose their legitimacy, as well as the trust of their constituents. The change is not political. No political change is ever initiated by political action. Even revolutionary and partisan violence are incapable of supporting change that is not already programmed by the technological means of information and cultural production. This doesn’t make technology the alpha and omega of reality, simply because technology in and of itself is absolutely neutral and ineffectual. It requires human will and human breath to become actual. Innovation and reflection on technology is where political change takes place. Violent revolutions not only don’t bring change about, but are often a messy and ineffective way of coming to terms with new realities dictated by technological innovation.
G. W. Hegel was able to reflect on the political world to come before it was born because he focused on the movement of thinking, which he called phenomenology, but didn’t go far enough to conceive of thinking as being preceded by technê, Greek for ‘making,’ ‘production,’ ‘craft’ (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/episteme-techne/). iCulture therapy treats technê not as dualistically opposed to episteme, as the Stanford encyclopaedic article does for clarity and simplicity, but as its very creation. Rather than as the practice of theory, iCulture treats technê as the active, underlying, structuring principle of knowledge. In this iCulture follows a Heideggerian conception of technology as the poetic making of being (http://simondon.ocular-witness.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/question_concerning_technology.pdf) A later post will expound on this notion, but for now it is important to note that the locus of the relationship between language and technology is poetry, the literary record of individual subjectivity. Techne is creation that takes place in words and other units that carry information. Hegel was too focused on heaven to bother to contemplate the material reality of the phenomenon, which remained pure in his system. Thus he left the materialist side of his system to his followers like Marx, who were, however, not as gifted as their teacher. The functional, utilitarian, economy-based branch of his philosophy, which was undertaken by Marx and which can be termed “economic absolutism,” is simply an afterthought, whereas the core of Hegel’s philosophy remains his contemplation of the standard of Christian phenomenology and its history. By subjecting what remains undeniably private, Christ’s internal presence in the subject, to the principles of classical philosophy, to which interiority was as absolutely foreign as the contents of Poe’s purloined letter, Hegel opened the door to a political reality that will gradually eschew the demands of the individual.
Political change is dictated by an ever changing and a vastly more complex technological system than the social sciences of economic absolutism can grasp. We live permanently in a political laboratory, despite the vein hopes of nineteenth century social science to engineer the future of humanity at the cost the private sphere. The power of social science has peaked and since it dominates the academy, an alternative is yet to be developed. It cannot be expected from the academy. The new political order will be created in the new idiom of technology understood as the individual mastery of its standard. What is taking place online today does not have a political will yet, because it does not know how it understands the world and hence it does not understand what it wants from the world. This initial stage of creation, techne, the making of reality, takes place in the interior before it seeks ways to communicate itself in the world. The dying structures of social science will challenge the new reality in the making to articulate itself in opposition to them, which is why it is of paramount importance to protect its technological foundation from direct engagement with them, if we are to preserve its independence. It is more vital than ever to secure a strong, culturally articulate and self-reflexive interior that will keep one’s core identity steady through times of political turbulence. This endurance has always been the secret of survival for the two millennia old Christian civilisation. It is the meaning of the Christian doctrine of shunning the influence of the world. Far from an ascetic ritual, this doctrine actually protects new creation, the poetry of making the future.
Identity in Psychoanalysis
Paris, Bibl. Mazarine, ms. 1581, f.211v from liberfloridus.cines.fr
The private individual has a personal history that is much more important for the formation of his emotional and psychological character than his political, national or materialist historical identity. The beautiful design from the French book of flowers illustrated above is a creation first and foremost of the interior of the human psyche. The execution of the private fantasy by means of technê is an act of externalisation and projection in the world that relies on state-of-the-art technology for its impact. Technology on its own, without the contents it carries is an empty structure that cannot survive decay and obsolescence. The crude intelligence of political organisations is furnished with defence mechanisms and instincts of preservation that are developed enough to recognise that control over the individual is afforded by an identity mechanism. It is in the best interest of the political group body to usurp private historiography and claim it as its property, subsuming individual history under the greater political-historical narrative. The past plays an immense part in the formation of identity, which is why political organs rely on identity mechanisms to justify and perpetuate their existence. This mechanism is simple: a set of historical and genealogical data determine the political identity of any given person. This data has little to nothing in common with the real functional and psychologically far more consequential familial history, which is private, i.e. not circulated in public discourse and not participating in social interactions. Even dynastic families possess a private dimension that is separate from the execution of their public identity, such as the coat of arms, for example, and even the most profound psychological analysis of family aetiologies cannot cover it in its entirety.
Psychoanalysis alerted us to the punitive mechanisms that replace the private, familial symbolic order with the group format of political identity at an early stage of mental development. Freud wrongly believed that the threshold crossed at the oedipal phase of development is a transition from a maternal, dyadic inarticulate and largely pre-linguistic familial world into a paternal, triadic social symbolic order. He called this phase of development the Oedipal stage. The ancient Greek tragedy of King Oedipus, written by Sophocles, was a well known piece of literature and familiar to Freud’s turn-of-the-century classically trained Viennese audience. Oedipus’s criminal deed, murdering his own father and begetting children with his mother, was considered by Freud the centrepiece of the emotional world of the developing psyche. He used this classical tragic story to illustrate the renunciation of male desire for the maternal figure that, he thought, every young boy undergoes at a certain age. This may well have been the case with the pre-Christian family, but the Christian symbolic order re-routed the material linguistic and communication systems to refer to the immaterial dimension of the Holy Family, which is both internal, private, and external, heavenly. Because exteriorisation in the Christian discursive structure is no longer rooted back into the material world of the sign’s origin, the Oedipal phase is spared. As a result the private identity of the individual remains in flux, not bound to material constraints. But since Christianity does not exist in isolation from the non-Christian world, political formations were inevitable and with them the necessity of adopting a political-historical identity. For Christians, however, this identity is a mere necessity and a mere part of the material circulation systems. Political identity is truncated and drastically reduced. It is not paramount to the core individual identity as it is for the Greeks and the Romans and all other pre- or non-Christian social orders.
The oedipal formula Freud introduced is only possible if the father is perfectly identified with the group to which he belongs politically. But that cannot be the case in reality, because no individual is absolutely identical with the limited data a politically structured group has about him. The transition from the private and familial to the public and national group format is not necessarily punitive either. Freud understood the function of public law from a Darwinist and anthropological perspective, not from the perspective of Christian civilisation.
Modern society invested a great deal in principles based on Darwin and anthropology, which rely on data from pre-Christian and pre-historic cultures. The goal of the Darwinisation of culture was to eschew and replace the Christian technê of European civilisation. It succeeded, but the price was a massive loss of native languages and cultures, as well as the merciless massification of human slaughter. One needs only remember that upward of multiple thousands of soldiers were slaughtered daily in the trenches during WWI. Humanity had never known such mass destruction before, because Christianity had advanced technology to a point where its highjacking by pre-Christian cultures could only produce mass calamities. Though the Romans had the knowhow to initiate something like the industrial age, they did not, because it took the Christian belief system to create the identity pattern necessary for the development of the technological era. Pre-Christian cultures are not equipped with the identity structure to handle the high level of technological development in Christian civilisation. Currently the displacement of nearly one fifth of the world’s population is another example of the failure of pure technology to design a functional world order.
Technological innovation is quite independent of the Darwinian sciences that dominate the global academy today. Science employs technology as a tool and a legitimating object, but it cannot produce it. Instead of allowing innovation to free humanity of labor, Darwinist social science enslaved it anew. In his contemplation of technology as a social process, the Frankfurt School sociologist Herbert Marcuse found that the natural trajectory of technology leads to the liberation of humanity from the need to labor, but he also immediately retreated in horror from this utopian vision, because he realised that personal loss would then become much more central in the private life of the individual. Here is a link to this strangest of conclusions: http://users.ipfw.edu/tankel/PDF/Marcuse.pdf. Marcuse’s fear of the private sphere was nearly pathological, but understandable if one remembers that sociology trains the mind to think only in terms of structure and treats content as fodder. We will return to this problematic.
Freud’s sophisticated primitivism influenced intellectual life in the twentieth century and continues to do so, though today largely unconsciously. His worldview evolved from the belief system of sacrifice-based religions. A later post will walk you through his fascinating but deeply flawed treatise “Totem and Taboo,” on which this claim is based, but today it is enough to note one of his definitions of the totem, namely as vessel for the identity of the dead father. Freud is most illuminating when he discusses the significance of death and the dead. His theories unveil the foundations of political identity and the entire field of the social sciences. For Freud the father is always dead, because he is experienced as usurper and posessor of every material object of instinctual desire. Since the posessor of what one wishes to own is always wished away, argues Freud, one harbors a death wish against him. This makes the father’s presence both ghostly and material. His identity is dominated by ambivalence. The dead are powerful rulers, writes Freud. The making of reality for Freud is undoubtedly entirely a matter of preserving, organising, re-animating, and re-empowering the material remains of the past. This is true of political structures, but not, as Freud wrongly thought, of individual psychology. His method became a mass success only after the first world war broke out and his therapy was employed in the treatment of the war neuroses. Since his therapy promised the release of pent up and thwarted instinct, generals were inclined to believe the talking cure could bring a soldier to kill the way it could bring a woman to perform her duty as wife and mother. Needless to say this view of both love and war is based on the most basic, primitive forms of human existence, which is thus reduced to its biological, creaturely dimension.
Eyeing the Interior with a Camera — Spellbound, Hitchcock 1945
The interior castle, though its temporal dimension is eternal, and because it is marked by absolute difference from the mortal remains organised by linear time and the calendar, also bears an indelible print of history. It is simultaneously a player on the timeline of history, on calendar maps of return and repetition, and through its capacity to externalise its unique living reality as technê also the grand master of the future. In the next post we will consider the culture of interior cultivation, which saw its rise in the Renaissance and its fall in the age of science. Next to the usual suspects Freud and Heidegger, two new companions will accompany us, the classicists Goethe and Burckhardt, the modern fathers of classical literary history and classical art history.
As subjects of the mass media, contemporary individuals often have little to no control over the process of establishing a private sphere, which is the main goal of iCulture therapy. One of the master tools available to the media in the formatting of subjectivity is the simulation and framing of traumatic events. A good example is the coverage of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 20, 2016. Since there is no master mind behind the mass media, the coverage of traumatic events has no individual subjective imprint and no human will.
The mass media are impersonal, automatic, and without the reflexive capacity of human intelligence. Their products are neither reflected, nor in any way designed. Journalists, producers, actors, anchors, etc. may possess an individual subjectivity, but it plays no role whatsoever in the production of mass media products. The individuals serving the mass media are mere cogs in a giant, entirely unconscious, global machine. In the past some film directors exercised a degree of individual authorship over their creations, but today authorship in mass formatted media is obsolete. The age of the auteur director and the auteur actor is long over. The very existence of the class “independent film” today is only testament to the lack of authorship in all mass media formats.
Most recently, even government supported academic research, which in the past bore the unmistakable imprint of the researcher, has been subsumed by the unconscious media giant. The spaces and opportunities for private reflection and genuine new research are disappearing. Ironically, only the online media, the latest edition of mass technology, offer an opportunity not only for personalisation, but for invention and innovation in all sciences. iCulture is offered as a service in the hope of stimulating individual contributions to arts and science by supplementing professional training.
Only a mind at peace has the capacity to reflect, which is necessary for innovation and recreation. The mass media are “smart” enough and equipped with an instinct of self-preservation. Their power lies in the continuous destabilization of the individual private sphere through traumatic events, with which they control and structure the individual private sphere. Our educational systems are too slow to respond to the new demands and have failed to provide the necessary educational tools to protect the individuality of the private sphere. Online opportunities abound and the dear reader is encouraged to take advantage of them.
It is the individual’s responsibility to reflect and reshape an event of media impact. The media consumer can design a singular response to an event and frame it actively, only if they are in possession of a private cultural sensurround equipped with a large range of references that include cultural products from distant ages, places, and media. This is why art collecting has been so important for art patrons over the centuries. The personal art collection is a kind of fortress that protects the individual psyche and allows it to luxuriate in its own, private, individual world of reference. With the vast cultural archive available online today, even individuals without means can establish a media fortress of their own that protects them from being vulnerable and hapless consumers shaped and formatted by the inhuman mass media apparatus. iCulture is a therapeutic process whereby the reader can learn to acquire and design a private media archive and art collection.
Interruption: Time out of Joint
Therapy always begins with an interruption, a break in the fabric of reality caused by a violent event. People seek therapy and enter spas to recreate their functionality and to re-compose a peaceful state. A month ago the world was shocked and horrified by the terrorist attack in the heart of Europe. The lingering memory is still with us, like a corpse awaiting burial. In philosophy interruption is known as caesura, a moment of suspension of the rules that structure reality. As if blasted out of the continuum of time, the moment of the event is either of traumatic origin or consciously introduced to reflect on something newly ushered into the regulated world of daily life. A violent media event such as the attacks is both, a traumatic occurrence and an opening for reflection and reorganisation of the private sphere.
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a philosophical reflection on interruption. The young prince is traumatised by the sudden death of his father. The revelation of the ghost that the king was murdered by his brother Claudius who has usurped the crown and the queen his mother, is the media framing of the traumatic event. It is automatic, unpremeditated, and catches Hamlet unawares, much like media events do with us. His response, however, is individual. The play is a tragedy. Hamlet fails to contain the impact of the media event, the appearance of the ghost, and shatters his world and Denmark. Instead of turning within and not acting on the command of the ghost, Hamlet acts and dooms himself and his country.
In the opening between being and not being, between acting and not acting, the play offers a spectacular view of the interior. The stage curtain always lifts on an interior that becomes visible only in moments of interruption and caesura. The event in Brussels lifted the curtain on European culture. How will Europe respond? It is acting, but on whose command? The little lambs mercilessly slaughtered in Brussels have certainly not returned with a commandment to revenge their deaths. The media forgot them, buried them deeper than the terrorists did, because they have no value for the giant machine, which is only interested in control of the living. In a sense, Hamlet also failed because he did not act, but let Claudius act for him and determine his failure.
Media Event and the Psychological Task of Forgiveness
A tragic event is also the correct frame to illustrate the ability and the immense capacity to forgive. Forgiving is the most difficult psychological task imaginable and it is certainly unreasonable to expect anyone to be able to master it in one day. The mass media expect Europeans to simply bow down and accept violence as their daily bread. But learning to forgive would be meaningless if it were automatic, or if it were there only to fulfil a moral imperative. Forgiveness has the capacity to improve the quality of life, if it is engaged consciously and over a longer period of time.
The moral imperatives barked at us from media outlets cannot contain a traumatic event. The political arguments they carry will not help us frame a violent intrusion, no matter how morally correct and no matter how good it pretends to be. Political arguments are often dishonest and unhelpful, precisely because they ignore the psychological reality of the human experience. Contemporary political thought is geared toward the criminalisation of the individual and the glorification of the law. This goes against the teachings of Christ, who taught us to have a heart and an interior before all else. Political thought also goes against human nature, which is why the cultural heritage of the world, human languages and customs, are severely endangered. Political imperatives are delivered through the mass media. It is up to the individual to internalise them and make them one’s own.
Possessing a rich interior means above all knowing and understanding one’s internal value. Who we are to ourselves is the image we show God. The face within is the only genuine self-image, with which we invite Him to dwell in us. We can’t let material, external circumstances touch the interior self-image, because it is our unique identity in Christ. We don’t have to break the law, however, or disobey the authority of the world. By developing a deep, rich, engaged interior we can learn to serve God and not the political and media imperatives of the day. We can learn not to be affected by material circumstances and incidental events that are beyond our control. iCulture therapy is designed to help the reader gather and curate material to build an interior castle and to fortify it against the erratic media environment.
The mass media are culturally neutral. They have no faith and no relationship with God, but they affect the way we communicate. Though the media failed to reflect on the fact that the attack was carried out during Holy Week, the most important week of the Christian calendar year, they did not provide the corresponding cultural context of its interpretation. Thus the violence that threatened to darken the celebration and to mar the loving hearts of believers with anger, hatred, and disgust remains uncontained, splattered on the streets of Brussels, encouraging further violence. Remembering who Christians are and what they believe is their only defence against media violence. What happened instead was the intrusion of violence in Christian churches, which have now forgotten the relationship with Christ and have become mere mouthpieces for what was pre-programmed by the official mass media, unable to reflect anything of value to the individual. Because the church is subject to mass media, it cannot offer individuals the defence they need to recreate a peaceful interior.
Responding with the meekness and kindness of the Lamb of God is something that can only be cultivated inside. This does not mean Christians are unaware of the events taking place, the political theatre unfolding around them, the media coverage, and the designs of a hate-driven media apparatus against their way of life and indeed against their lives. No, they are aware, they reflect, think, express what they deem important to share with others, but they also preserve their internal peace by recognising that Christ is with the departed saints of Brussels. He is their Shepherd. Christians know the saints of Brussels don’t want revenge. They have one demand: that they are remembered, that the message of love and peace that came with the resurrection of the Christ is not forgotten and that Christians don’t let the darkness of violent media events consume their celebration. The worst response to a violent event would be not to listen to the inner voice and not to asks God what His Will is in this situation. How does He want Christ’s siblings to respond inside, according to the particular circumstances and challenges each and every one of them is facing at this particular junction of their lives?
Recreating the Interior Castle
In the course of iCulture therapy we will continue to engage the question of faith in Christ actively. Today’s post illustrates a major building block of the interior castle: faith. Faith is the cornerstone of Christian civilisation. To understand the culture that, much like structured Dior lace, supports the walls of the interior castle, which e-spa treatments aim to recreate, one must understand Christian faith. Every educational experience and every therapy begin with a caesura and an interruption. A media event bearing an interruption is always dated. It falls somewhere on the calendar and carries particular culturally specific content. Establishing a strong and stable internal core requires the individual exposed to media violence to remain grounded at times of crisis and disturbance. The only lesson to take away from Brussels is not to let the material circumstances structured by the mass media and mass politics, affect the internal image, which is holy and untouchable.
The fluidity of the concepts interior design and interior castle allows them to function both as a metaphor for processes of internalisation that create and recreate private worlds illuminated by faith and as literal points of reference that can only be reflected by a mind in possession of a large range of cultural artefacts. We will continue to elaborate the relationship between the internal private sphere and the outward material expression of interior design in the course of the therapeutic processes engaged in iCulture. Another point we will continue to elaborate is the relationship between sublimation, individuation, and faith. Come again!