From Monologue-about to Dialogue-with Reality

The desecration or desacralization of the “enchanted real” that constituted premodern and indigenous world-views by the coruscating potency of modern reason results in a “disenchanted real” where previously held assumptions about the relationship between the cosmos and meaning is thoroughly undermined; the previously enchanted real, where universe and meaning where intertwined in a unity within an animated cosmos inhabited by supernatural personalities, gives way to a disenchanted real in which a mechanical cosmos is governed by abstract and impersonal laws of nature.

This desacrilizing process roughly corresponds to the political-economic transition from a society organically unified within a divine kingdom geared towards the glorification and worship of a sacred spirit, to a society mechanically integrated within a secular state geared towards the accumulation and valorization of profane wealth.

This process of disenchantment, formed in reaction to the enchanted real, itself generates a reaction in the form of re-enchantment. Faced with an underlying anxiety that the disenchanting process would obliterate all forms of ultimate value and meaning, this reactive force aims to establish a “re-enchanted real” in the face of dissolution, almost always with appeals to return to a prior ideal state (a return that is either a repetition or a modification). 20th century Fascism and Communism were two differing projects of re-enchantment that sought to re-enchant the real in the face of its modern desecration.

Yet the failure of the re-enchantment projects to propose any lasting alternative gave way to the next phase: the “neglected real”. The neglect of the real is the culmination of the previous failed attempts at establishing a satisfactory account of the real, as either enchanted, disenchanted or reenchanted. This is the age of nihilism in which the project of encountering the real is abandoned wholesale in favor of escape into self-enclosed spheres of self-enjoyment. Yet this phase, too, brings suffering because while it has escaped anxiety about the nature of the real it still has no means of satisfying that existential void left behind through its absence—while we have escaped the anxiety over the necessity of “going somewhere” we are still trapped in a meaningless, circular treadmill dynamic of constantly moving but “going nowhere.”

What each of these phases, in spite of their differences, share in common is the assumption that there is even the possibility of an ultimate, fixed and stable Real to ground our experience of life, that there is something “more real” “behind” the play everyday appearances. Also crucial is that each of these phases are dependent upon the others, in which each phase or moment is the causal consequence or the causal determination of all the others, each of them fulfilling specific functions in their relative positions with respect to the greater unfolding of history. It is also important to note that while every phase “arose” newly at some point, at no point are any of the previous moments erased: every new phase brings with it the previous phases, and thus in our age of nihilistic neglect we still have those who inhabit enchanted, disenchanted and re-enchanted reals—each of which are at constant war with each other in the competition to articulate the ultimate nature of reality.

It is a common, transhistorical (though crucially not an absolute) trait that the human being is perpetually and constantly concerned over the nature of the real, and through this concern the human being has the tendency to grasp towards absolutes in order to ground definitive representations of the reality of this real, usually functioning as psychological and existential “security systems” that shelter the subject from the fact of impending negation, dissolution, or death . Each of these various phases (idealistic enchantment, materialistic disenchantment, dialectical re-enchantment, or nihilist neglect) can be characterized as monologues about the real where what is real is in some sense articulated as something separate from the subject, which configures reality in such a way that it can have an “aboutness” at all, which reduces it to an object of reflection. In each case, reality is not allowed to present itself as it is and is instead represented by the subject’s monologue with itself.

What we need, in order to escape this samsaric existence of the cyclical oscillation between partial world-views which each in their own way contribute to the suffering of beings, is a means to engage in dialogue with reality. In dialogue, the subject must relinquish their suffocating presence in order to make space for reality to present itself in its unconditioned immediacy. In this configuration of reality, reality is no longer an object that has an identifiable and representable characteristic “aboutness,” but rather reality becomes a dynamic partner in a dialogue— a dialogue of reciprocal transformation and mutual exchange. Finally, theoretical reflection becomes ancillary to practical concern rather than the reverse, and life continues to play out without the need for justification to the notion of an absolute ground. This would be like Nirvana—the obliteration (negation) of the tendency to make assumptions about the other and the facilitation (affirmation) of their unlimited expression.

This whole dynamic is isomorphic to the question of the feminine, for the feminine has consistently been defined *by* the self-posited masculine as its constitutive but separate other. The feminine has only been a representation for and by the masculine in his monological reflections. The feminine has barely had a chance to speak and thus always subject to material and ontological violence by the self-involved narcissistic masculine subject.

And just like how we must open ourselves up to dialogue with reality, we must open ourselves up to dialogue with the feminine, to let her present herself in her unconditioned immediacy. By relinquishing attachment to my overblown sense of self-importance, I can be receptive to this other and allow her wisdom to transform me. Only then can I be at peace, only then can I be something which can be said to be “whole” and “complete.”

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