As I am putting down these words on an empty page, I have begun to write a sentence that, when it is finished, will be the beginning of a chapter on certain problems of Beginning.
The sentence is finished. But is it true?
I know that feeling: As I tap away at the keyboard, I have begun to write a sentence that, when it is finished, will be the beginning of a post about an unKnown subject that will come into focus as the writing proceeds.
Was the end there all along? That's how teleology works: the first shall be last. Although the end is ontologically first, it is temporally last, i.e., the mature oak is somehow lurking nonlocally in the acorn.
I know from experience that new ideas have a habit of emerging while the writing is going on, compelling changes in the construction and making the beginning unsuitable.... the story has no beginning before it has come to its end. What then comes first: the beginning or the end?
That sounds like a trick question. I'm guessing it's a both/and situation, AKA beginning and end are complementary, and that we exist in the tension between these polar directions. These poles don't arrive at their destination but ceaselessly point the way there.
If you're in the mood for irreverent orthoparadoxical aphorisms, we might even say that there is no God, only the ceaseless movement toward or away from Him.
Neither the beginning nor the end comes first.... Is then the whole, with its spatio-temporal and existential dimensions, the answer to the question: What comes first?
Hmm. No, it can't be, because that would entail a determinism that is inadmissible by anyone with a functioning brain.
The whole as a literary unit called "chapter" is not the answer either.
I knew it. What then?
The whole is no beginning in an absolute sense; it is no beginning of anything at all unless it has a function in a communion of existential concern; and the communion of concern as a social field depends for its existence on the communicability of the concern through language.
Now -- whether Voegelin realizes it or not -- we are beginning to touch upon a trinitarian metaphysic, for what truly comes first is the very possibility of communion and communicability, or soul-to-soul touching via meaning, which is a form of Delight.
You, my friends, love to understand, and the more deeply the better. And I love to be understood. These are very specific *feelings* (or something), irreducible to anything else. Nor is there any genuine substitute. Of course there are distractions, evasions, and counterfeit forms, but no one who has tasted the Real Thing will be attracted to or seduced by anything less.
Do you not agree, Eric? Yes: our writing
is not a piece of information about familiar objects of the external world; rather, it seeks to communicate an act of participation in the quest for truth.
This is the key to the enigma, because we're talking about a form of writing that isn't just about abstract meaning but experiential meaning.
Via a typical series of miracles, I first encountered this notion in the spring of 1985, nearly two decades before bumping into Voegelin. I won't bore you with the details, but it was definitely a Come to Jesus moment, only without Jesus per se. By which I mean it was an ontological breakthrough -- whether me into it or it into me, it no longer matters. But it was both.
The main point is that it is easy for language to become saturated by constant use and thereby become incapable of conveying the experiential meaning it did when first developed. How do we keep language alive? Which means, how do we communicate in such a way that the experience -- not just the abstract concept -- is provoked in the recipient?
Yesterday while rereading Koestler's Act of Creation, I found a good example. In a footnote, he discusses the etymology of "wit," which is Too Good to Check:
"Wit" stems from witan, understanding; whose roots go back to the Sanskrit veda, knowledge. The German Witz means both joke and acumen. It comes from wissen, to know; Wissenschaft -- science, is close kin to Fürwitz and Aberwitz -- presumption, cheek, and jest. French teaches the same lesson. Spirituel may either mean witty or spiritually profound; to amuse comes from to muse ( à-muser), and a witty remark is a jeu d'sprit -- a playful, mischievous form of discovery.
How experientially rich with implications are the original connotations of the term! Moreover, it conveys the purpose of this blog, which is to combine all of the above: wit, understanding, knowledge, joke, acumen, science, presumption, cheek, jest, spiritual profundity, amusement, playfulness, mischief, and discovery.
You'll know it has succeeded if you endure something like a guffaw-HA! experience, as opposed to merely knowing it outside the experiential matrix, AKA the primordial womb with a clue.
We'll leave off with a relevant observation by Voegelin:
we are still living in the reality of the cosmos and not in the universe of physics, the brainwashing propaganda of our scientistic ideologues notwithstanding.
Always remember that you first live in experiential reality before their soul-killing abstractions, and the ideologues will never catch up with you.