Wonder’s logic

Wonder’s logic

An action we repeat, becomes a habit; what happens time and again around us, gets a certain self-evidence. The first is a wonder, no matter how common it might seem in hindsight, the second is very common, no matter how wondrous it might appear to be in hindsight. Habit and self-evidence create a pattern of thoughtlessness in which we protect ourselves from the destructive workings of amazement. We live on a substrate of petrified self-evidences that are never liquified again. If you are amazed by your breathing, you will get trouble with it and and if you want to experience the moment you fall asleep, you’ll remain awake. It seems best to just find everything normal and to structure life according to the clarities it itself has deposited within us. Everything is very normal and there’s nothing new under the sun. The philosophy of self-evidence demands that we learn to remain quiet about what we can’t say and learn to be deaf for what we can’t understand. Life is meaningless from the moment we ask about its meaning. Mysticism and contemplation are but signs of degeneration. Within the pattern that a long history of habits has filed down to perfect and adapted shapes, they are negative and dangerous elements

But repetition doesn’t exhaust itself in producing evidences. More so, there are repetitions that are geared against self-evidences. The seasons never become something normal. A new springtime is always more and different than what we expected and are entitled to. That is essential for springtime; she is the surprising element of nature. She aims herself, sprouting from under our feet and above our heads, against our petrified logic, unpredictable. The only way to think and talk about springtime is mystically, for she represents the bankruptcy of all self-evidence. And she does that exactly by repeating herself: her principal is what is wondrous, her inevitable logic what is the least self-evident. There is no antithesis between one and the other, but an opposition.

What reason is there,” Pascal asks himself, “that man wouldn’t be able to rise again? What is more difficult: to be born or to rise again? And what is more probable: that whatever never happened before, happens, or that which has already has been, remains? Is it harder to come into existence than to return to it? Habit makes it easy for us to imagine the one and lack of habit makes it impossible to think the other.” This statement proves nothing and that’s also not its intention. It doesn’t want to involve the resurrection in the bad self-evidence of birth and with it drag both down in a horrible tied sell. It aims itself against the self-evidence and its triumphs in this way: the tied sell relates to the simultaneity of one and the other, which only becomes visible once habit’s one-way traffic has been breached. This way of thinking has to do with both Pascal’s math as with his faith. As a probability calculation it constructs a net with precisely equal gaps, to catch even the remotest chance, the almost nothing of an improbable coincidence. And as an expression of faith it is open to the slightest ray of light that can show itself outside of the borders of our self-willed self-evidence. Something is being built and something broken down, logic and mysticism are practiced at the same time, and the statement only has meaning in this, that it sheds a convincing light on that simultaneity. When scholars of religious history assure us that resurrection from death was self-evident for the people of antiquity, i believe that they are mistaken. Religion can sooner be defined as the absence of all that is self-evident. Polished, poetic texts and rituals that have become stereotypical might create the appearance of self-evidence, but cannot make the improbable into something usual. Birth, death nor resurrection can ever become usual; the ‘highest’ man can reach is that he beseeches their unusualness and acquiesces with his powerlessness to catch the unthinkable in his nets.

Our phrases are always more clear than our living thoughts and our incurable wonder does not subside through calculations of probability and sharp logic. When for example analytical philosophy, which deals intensely with logical and linguistic problems, might suggest that it finds all else meaningless, than that is a popular echo of the ascetic decision not to get involved too much with other things. And when on the other side the religious talks suggest that death and resurrection have nothing problematic anymore, that also should be interpreted as the effect of an attitude that is principally and seriously open to the other. But neither one nor the other can result in definitive self-evidence.

This is a case of strict simultaneity. One has at the same moment no less of a right of existence than the other. The probability of their accordance is so hard to calculate, that a synthesis is not even in sight. But consequence and inner connection is not the only function of thought. Wonder is more fundamental and it specifically lives by the grace of the contrary. It is not only about grasping, a self-willed grab at reality, but just as much about being grasped, being pointed the way by the incomprehensible, but inevitable signs of a ‘mystical’ nature.


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