Discover more from Raids on the Unspeakable
What cosmos is this in which we live?
All here know, though we may not yet remember.
A friend speaks to me of philosopher as if a gardener, one tending to the world-image; at this I find myself asking, what is our world? We learn of cosmology as myth, in which it is as something external; yet all these are as excrescences of the living cosmologies within those that produced such records. Poets are perhaps the true green thumbs of this garden, for it is their touch at which words grow into worlds; whereas the philosopher tends alongside and inspires, as right reason is the scaffolding on which beauty grows true.1
Now, our modern cosmos is a sturdy structure, true enough, but one in which tree and vines have been replaced with linkages of wire mesh; seen one way as a result of our misunderstanding of language, our forgetting the inseparability of logos and poiesis. There is nothing literal in this world, such exists only as an idea; hence has meaning only in that which it excludes. Literal thus stands against all that may cause confusion, as necessary in communicating at a distance—whether physical, temporal, cultural, etc. This is, in other words, to write in as sparse and dead a style as possible, a world reduced to ‘pure’ abstraction; thus we are left with that which Lippmann describes:
… scientific analysis has reduced everything to a mere swarm of whirling atoms, upon which consciousness discerns impressions that are “unstable, flickering, inconsistent.”
This is a mundane worldview in the truest sense of that word; it is a world and that alone, all superficiality and excess has been pruned by human reason. The cosmos has been plucked clean; as Burke pitied the plumage because it was the bird, whatever wires were within have proved insufficient. All young prefer the terry-cloth to this cold, that uncanny mother made of metal wire; feel such to be somehow empty; or rather, that we sense the abyss beyond—and there, find no footing for ourselves. This is not a place fit for life; no man can inhabit this cosmos.
There is thus here a double manoeuvre: we are at once alienated from the world, in that it has become foreign to us; and we are further alienated from our grasping this position. Our lifeless language lacks the ordinary capacity for such an image. The same story told in secular and scientific terms is true but without meaning; it rattles around our heads, never reaching the heart. For we cannot see the world without standing outside of it, herein lies the power of the mythology and all else dismissed as supernatural: we cannot feel a world cast without lips.
And more, the scientific mind cannot conceive of such a qualitative change; all is but that of quantity. There is no categorical difference—rather we do more of this, less of that, etc. Of course, such denies the dialectic whereby such shifts are as water boiling; a change of state. We might place this at the point where prior images fell apart. The image itself remained sound, as now entertained by academics and amateurs; it is simply that it became a dead hypothesis. What was lost was the living linkage by which we might realise the image through our ordinary activity. Such images collapse because the world has changed; a new world requires its own cosmology.
We are thus alienated from the cosmos in which we are nevertheless compelled to live; it is an invisible ground, ever-shifting with unknown tides—those that thrive learn to walk without looking down.2 Yet at some level, all know this world; it has left its marks upon us. Such a cosmos is akin to the negative space left by a word momentarily forgotten; it is an absence, yes, but somehow also certain—if only we could remember its name. This is the proper place of poetry and philosophy, two poles intertwined in an eternal dialectic: that we might thereby see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat.
What is the good but that which is true and beautiful? This is the true trinity; three in one, one in three; immanent and transcendent: “We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves, till it is clear to them that it is the truth. Suffices it not as to thy Lord, that He is witness over everything?”
Perhaps only those that fall behind have any cause to do so; hence our “digital salon des refusés.”