Deus ex Machina | Moralism, Obedience, Desires

Deus ex Machina | Moralism, Obedience, Desires

It is the real which makes itself possible, and not the possible which becomes real.
—Henri Bergson

 

There is, according to Bergson, a continuous creation of unforeseeable novelty which seems to be going on in the universe. However, the human inclination to posit an original nothingness which precedes being prevents us from asking metaphysical questions that accounts for this novelty, rather we tend to create inert and enclosed images of life that presumes to know what bodies can do. The idea of nothingness is therefore closely tied to the suppression of the real that makes itself possible, which effectively coerces deathly repetitions at the expense of the novel, rare and exceptional. Morality in such worlds is perceived as inseparable from obedience, and the principle that consciousness essentially is meant to tame our passions is internalized into the very fabric of the socius.

Contrary to how us humans are inclined to think of consciousness, it knows nothing of causes but registers only effects. Hence Bergson asserts that the human mind is destined to work upon a phantom of duration rather than duration itself, and Deleuze correspondingly writes in his short book on Spinoza that “the conditions under which we know things and are conscious of ourselves condemn us to have only inadequate ideas, ideas that are confused and mutilated, effects separated from their real causes.” In short, effects on the body is in this way perceived as final causes of its own actions, which makes it possible to believe that our consciousness can domesticate our bodily passions. Our consciousness thus disguises its own unknowing by reversing the order of things, with the outcome that it perceives itself as both free and as the first cause. This deceptive move nevertheless has its limits, and that is, states Spinoza, where the theological illusion comes into play—when consciousness can no longer imagine itself as the first cause, it invokes a Deus ex Machina that operates by final causes, and morality is then seen as the judgments of God.

Although many have distanced themselves from organized religions the past century, the Western world is still governed by the representational logic Spinoza critiqued, which means that the societal machines effectively work to reduce differences. Even well intentioned attempts to include the Other therefore translates to territorializing judgments that demands obedience. The American attempts to force the freedom of democracy onto other nations is a perfect example of this. Meanwhile, the chasm between the insiders and the outsiders keeps growing, both locally and globally, because of the assumed underlying logic guiding things at the surface, and it is this depth dimension that must be called into question. Hence, Charles Winquist writes that "theology can look for or try to construct a depth dimension to culture, but it cannot assume with any credibility that there is in any natural reality such a depth."

The real makes itself possible but our enclosed images of life all too often prevents this continuous creation of unforeseeable novelty from scrambling the master code. We are trapped by our incapacity to articulate questions that contain solutions powerful enough to qualitatively transform the set of folds that define the material and social conditions of our lives. Rather we fight tooth and nail to provide better and more inclusive answers to questions governed by the binary worldview of the high priests, which essentially coagulate the world we aim to transform. The current obsession with purifying what we are thinking must therefore end and what we then initially need to do is start looking at how our enlightened convictions function.

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Mystery of the Unspoken

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