Current trends in post-modern philosophy and psychology address the issue of the re-enchantment of the world. The recurring theme being that modern scientific rationalism has extracted all intrinsic meaning from the world, and the human organism now lies in darkness, empty and alone. The task, then, is to re-enchant the cytoskeleton of a world which has been sucked dry – to conjure up a new brew of world-making elixir.
Recent efforts along these lines include those of cultural historian Richard Tarnas, who has worked within the fields of depth psychology and psychedelic therapy to construct a new archetypal astrology. As he writes in Cosmos and Psyche:
“Above all, we must awaken to and overcome the great hidden anthropocentric projection that has virtually defined the modern mind: the pervasive projection of soullessness onto the cosmos by the modern self’s own will to power.“
This quote clearly expresses the centrality of the active agents who must “awaken to and overcome” in order to breath life back into a cosmos onto which has been projected the soullessness of blind mechanism, wiping the lens clean to reveal the depths, complexity and grandeur of the cosmos.
The issue then becomes one of the fissure between a cosmos full of complexity and mystery, and a cosmos empty and devoid of purpose, meaning, or coherence.
Ray Brassier in Nihil Unbound argues against this position, instead suggesting that nihilism should be celebrated as an act of intellectual maturity. A rite of passage. Written in this way, the task of re-enchanting the world becomes a distraction. The world is not ours to re-enchant.
What if the drive to re-enchant the world is concealing a deeper issue, namely, the issue of the agent who would carry out this monumental task.
Modern science has expanded the tentacles of man to the greatest distances of astronomical blackness and the most invisible minutiae of quantum nothingness. What it has found is precisely nothing. If you go far enough to either end, you come out on the other side.
The Universe is a vast desert. A barren wasteland. A skeleton.
The endeavor to re-enchant the world continues to uphold the rational faculty to the highest standard. But the universe is not rational.
Universe, indifferent, treats all entities as straw dogs.
The entire collectivity of human organisms are nothing but straw dogs in Universe. Motes of dust to be swept away with impunity. The prognosis is grim. We will all die, but one issue has been left lurking in the shadows of academic and post-academic seminars, Burning Man orgies and meditation circles. The issue of the death of thought. The death of the organism. If the task is to re-enchant the world, then it can only be accomplished by passing through the question of the death of the organism as something which has already occurred.
And somewhere between the gnarled branches of willow overhanging moss-eaten gravestones, among the crumbled remains of our funeral pyre, there lay a child laughing.