----- Byss and Abyss: in search of a new ethos. -------
Jung had a lot to teach. But many others did too. There is no bottom or 'base' of the abyss. To return to the Lacanian diagrammatics of the sinthomatic ego, our entire personality structure is artificially constructed so as to allow us, simian creatures as we are, to function in a civilization apart from Nature. That is all your 'personhood' is. It- this mask- enabled us to embark on the project of making a civilization in the first place. In the opinion of many, such as Cioran or Zapffe, this departure, this separation of the brain from Nature and, consequently, its turning inward with the production of 'consciousness', was actually just an evolutionary maladaptation, a mistake we can trace, following the theoretical model of generative anthropology concerning the emergence of language as well as Girard's work, to a kind of libidinal mimesis. You know, two cavemen are fighting over a piece of meat, then their furious uproar makes other cavemen over there want it too, and then others see those guys getting into a fit, and eventually that piece of meat is infused by this engagement and the hypnotic mob with a libidinal surplus, permeating it with mimetically replicated desire until our caveman forbears begin ascribing to it a value beyond that of what it actually physically is and possesses as a piece of nourishment. Once that 'value' is abstracted from the object itself and contained by the strictures of representational thought, perhaps in the sole brain of one curious specimen cursed by genetic variation and the frivolities of both Nature and Fate with a slightly altered brain capable of taking that one ruinous cognitive step, we have the beginning of civilization: a kind of exchange function and 'currency' is developed such that one object can be traded for another, depending on how much 'desire' has been mimetically replicated and ascribed to them- a process Marx thinks of in terms of fetishization. (Because, more importantly than simply bringing about trade, those who master this new tool, "language", can manipulate the libidinal mimesis, gaining wealth by propagating illusory mimeses of desire in the minds of other, more dim-witted monkey people. Though I'm certainly no Marxist. You can appreciate and even use concepts in the work of someone you fundamentally disagree with and oppose. It's healthy.) This is what I have called the 'symbolic exchange'. It is where this whole story starts. "Words are the first currency", in the words of the philosopher Valery, because, in that stage of our development as a species, language served to aid us in negotiating this libidinal surplus amongst ourselves: language emerged secondary to the emergence of the symbolic-exchange.
The "accelerationists" and philosophers of the CCRU institute, following Land, believe that this abstracted value will one day be apotheosized and elevated to the register of the Real through a hypermimetic feedback loop of 'inadmissible resemblances',- "a secret cohesion that binds nature and human instincts while amplifying their force in the torrents of what Caillois calls over-determination",- [Mukherjee, "Love, Cannibalism, and the Sacred: Roger Caillois and the Myth of the Praying Mantis."] while a perfect object of desire will be brought about technologically, the 'hyperlinked' or 'lyrically materialized' ontological automaton and ultimate fulfillment of our Promethean ambitions to the mantle of Creation, perfecting 'capital' as the 'nontotalizational excess' inherent to material existence itself and swallowing up the entire universe into one homogenous accretion of libidinal mimesis,- now developed to the point of self-replicating and transformed into a kind of cancer; the 'Nonthought' which has, in Schelling's view, been haunting Thought at the limen of nomological discourse ever since Thales and the pre-Socratics began their speculations into the nature of things: the reunification of Desire and Material, the repudiation of the subject-object split and all metaphysical dualism through means other than those taken for granted in the mistaken approach of continental philosophy,-- the end of consciousness- for consciousness, and with it language, served only to negotiate the asymmetry between those two things, both internally, in terms of our psychological differentiation, and externally, in the metaphysical contest began by Plato, in which it seems one or the other, realism or idealism, self or world, must prevail against all else and reach hypostasis. With all asymmetry gone, there is no reason for thought to exist. That fact itself is one glimpse of Nietzsche's abyss. The fact that consciousness itself is no longer necessary when that perfect equivalence is reached, when the asymmetry is repaired,- this ontological tear in the fabric of the Real, (Continental philosophy has, through the propagation of a 'critical consciousness' and its varied means, along with the epistemological groundwork of Representation by which such means are maintained, merely assumed,- with no firmer confidence, to be blunt, than Pavlov's dogs, that is, out of mere reflex- that the dualism of subject and object has been overcome, dispensed with long ago, such that 'philosophy' might continue unimpeded, skirting all confrontation with the horrible excess of Nonthought, with the daemonical excess of the cogitor in lieu of the Descartean cogito.) this gap originating in our ancestral exile, in our being cast out of the Garden, as per Genesis. The tree of Life offered Material, the excess, Latour's 'subterranean plasma' of relational fluxion beneath the apparently impenetrable layer of material causality upon which all that can be said of our universe is that matter exists and bumps into other matter, (vis. gravity and time) or what the Greeks called 'poros', while the tree of Knowledge offered us Desire, that is, totalization- or, for the Greeks, 'penia'. I must state clearly: I do not share such nihilism with those I named here, nor do I wish to further extend the line of thought began with the antinatalists like Cioran or Zapffe. However, I will also freely admit that my own philosophy is quite negative toward human civilization as it stands; it's just that there's something beyond it, beyond us, beyond everything I'm about to say.
In my own psychoanalytic, departing from the strictly Lacanian scheme, we find that the construction of this mask is initiated by the abjection of the sinthomatic ego, prompting an "existential search for the 'self' out of abandonment"- * (abandonment namely on the part of the great psychicaL refugium, the mother) the libidinal circuit implicated by the sinthome itself; a search for something that never existed, namely a faint recollection of the maternal refuge afforded to the developing ego in infancy as a psychogenic protection from the intrusions of the Real into the primary fantasy, namely the root fantasy of all psychic life,-- the projection of the ego as omnipotent God, hypostatically recombined with the external world in a process Holderlin, before these investigations into our inner life drove him utterly mad, called the "projection of the ego in boundless oblation". This 'oblation', this grand search for the Mother in whose graces the Ego can prefer itself a God, this search at the root of all of us can of course never be completed, and we have succeeded in creating many mythemes and narratives and social constructions that merely allow us to soothe the pains of our mortal condition, a condition marked by our impossible search and best understood in terms of the fall of Adam and Eve at the garden, though, in more primitive and thus more archetypal societies, this doomed search is understood in terms of an attempt to reconnect with the divine Mother serving as a kind of mediator with the unregulated forces of the natural world and the intrusions of the Real upon Eros,- an intrusion which causes Eros to undergo a reversal and generates Thanatos, organizing the fundamental duality and dialectical exchange required to separate the instincts from Freud's all-containing "oceanic instinct", the psychic reservoir of un-sublimated libido. Once extracted, separated, and isolated, the instincts recrystallize into an order of rank conducive to our new environment, namely the environment we call "civilization". Of course, this reconfiguration brings about great inner conflict, as many of these instincts are poised in unrelenting contradiction, and one cannot simultaneously fulfill all of ones desires; they rob one another of their satisfactions. This emergence of internal strife between the isolated (in psychoanalytic terms, 'differentiated') drives is something Nietzsche discusses while elaborating the awakening of early man to "consciousness", the development of the first societies and what Peterson would call dominance hierarchies. It is this 'internalization' of the dominance hierarchy itself, in the abstract,- made possible in the process of fragmenting and reorganizing the Freudian instincts, such that an inner competition between them can take place and a hierarchy can be created within the animal, that is, us, as opposed to being imposed upon it externally,- it is this, which Nietzsche deems man's "spiritualization".
* A search inaugurated by the loss characteristic of the 'suicided object', (See: Esther Faye, Stylus; "Sinthomatic sublimation and identity in melancholia." p. 123-132.) the object of pure thisness (in Deleuzian language, the unitary 'pure thisness' of the Object, by which desiring-production and product are co-identified.) by which, to recall Levi-Straus' 'bricolage', the 'stalled engine' of Desire is fatally arrested,- an object "exposed in its realness" that "falls as a shadow onto the subject's ego" outside of Time, and that as an immortal loss instigating the sublimation of a jouisannce impossible for man's cognitive order to contain,- a loss deferred to what we call 'art', or that praxis through which the socius is restored for the banished and isolated "self" at the register of the Imaginary and the bodily ego, once broken upon the encouragement of Death, might be re-linked to the registers of the Symbolic and the Real, fulfilling Lacan's 'escabeau' and knotting the subject back into the networked bonds of the species, or at any rate a life outside the isolated ego, if this 'togetherness' might be sustained only by a compensatory narcissistic structure or 'secondary fantasy' realized by the projection of the art-object, the poem, the song, etc.
Then we have the philosophers too,- blithe little children as they are,- those who, in their innocence, come to offer their strategies, their methods of coping- because, to be sure, that is all they are. All of these philosophies and myths and narratives, they are all,- regardless of how complex or beautiful,- (I have found that "love" is the most beautiful of them all, in the modern romantic sense descended to us out of the troubadours, who themselves carried this drama of a union of souls all the way back from the Greek Eleusis cult.) merely defense mechanisms that allow this mask to cohere and essentially postpone the deflation of the primary fantasy through elaborate 'secondary fantasies' like those Peterson or any Jungian analyst describes, namely the discovery of the 'desiccated father' within the abyss and the revival of him,- the restoration of the 'hidden self' from existential catastrophe. When this artificial mask, which is a mask for reality itself as much as it is for our personhood,- when it is removed, when you tear it away from your face and your life and this world, you find the abyss. This abyss has no base, no bottom, no end. The normal personality structure, the concept of a 'person' itself, cannot exist in face of it. It took Nietzsche. Nietzsche did not return to us, after looking into it. Looking into it means total ego-death, permanently. You either become a saint, a prophet, or a madman- and Nietzsche was all three of those things, depending on who you ask. Not that I am a Nietzschean philosopher, I just appreciate his valiant, tragic-heroic sacrifice- for, in truth, you can only be one of them. He carried his daemon to its end, his fate, and threw his star into the darkness. We should all aspire to such philosophical bravery.
Because there is something beyond the Abyss. At that point we get to Object Oriented Ontology and 'speculative realism', in all its sometimes contradicting species- Harman and Morton. The idea that what Walter Benjamin was looking for in order to 'complete' the Kantian metaphysics,- a formulation of the 'concept of human experience' upon which to ground a new ethics strictly in Representation and the 19th century's fledgling 'critical consciousness', simply is impossible to realize due to inherent gaps in the Symbolic register and the excesses of the Real. Ethics in his, that is, the Marxist strain, remains whispered on a tremulant ether,- without any genuine philosophical foundation that can withstand 'critical consciousness', leading inevitably to what Adorno discovered through his negative dialectic, and finally, the total collapse of all categories into an irrecoverable confusion of marginalized and ad hoc 'identities' spawned perpetually from that into which they dissolve just as readily- the current state of Western 'identity politics'. There is no true 'ethic' to be found here; no 'ethos'. Without any basis for ethics in the concept of 'human experience', we must confront the Abyss in the Lovecraftian fashion: an abyss understood by Harman in terms of an 'epistemological withdrawal', namely the fatal withdraw of the 'object', be it this table or the universe itself, from the 'human'. (See his writings on the 'quintuple object'.) Thus, departing from OOO and the speculative realists, a new ethics must be found; an ethics must be realized whose foundation lies beyond the ontological, beyond Being itself, beyond Representation, just as Levinas sought a new ethics founded, not on human experience and ontology, but on what he calls "the Infinite",-- an "Infinity" juxtaposed, in his "anti-metaphysics", with "Being". For Levinas, this Infinity is precisely the Abyss itself: the infinite distance between Man and the Face of the true Other, or "God".