Selfhood is the foundation of all knowledge ‒‒ as the foundation of permanence in change ‒‒ as well as the principle of utmost diversity (You.)(Instead of the non-ego ‒‒ You)
(Novalis, 2007, p. 151)
There are many tales about the world of Western logic which since Aristotelean times has not allowed for a “tertium datur” ‒‒ a third option in between true and false ‒‒ the shimmering grey. Somewhere/-sometime was all we knew about the coexistence of contradiction, and all we knew about us was I.
I was given my position with the help of a secret bond ‒‒ drawn as a line from me to somewhere/sometime/called-Being to the many objects that I was able to grasp. There was no you beyond extension. Logically no us was given either. Paradise was placed on hold. It is by logic, that in this world ‒‒ to which somewhere/sometime presented confirmation of all imperfection in the here and now ‒‒ the prophets did not survive. The revelation of the secret bond logically proved fatal; for death presented a perfect solution ‒‒ a double confirmation, not of the bond itself, but its necessity. Two constitutive tales confirm as well the two-valued logical conclusion that progress is bound to efficiency. When Socrates began his journey, he started from the Earth, travelled to the sometime/somewhere, and returned. Christ reduced the journey to half its distance by starting out in heaven. Two prophets left two symbols of a necessity to the Western world ‒‒ a glass of toxic liquid and a cross. Hope ensured my being in the world. Yet, for the doubtful, hope was not.
The next big tale that has shaped the Western world until today came without a prophecy, but with increased efficiency. A mastermind of logic took the shortest journey he could take:
Cogito, ergo sum. (I think, therefore I am.)
Yes, I am ‒‒ I am expelled from the world. Without relations, without future there is nothing left to say. To whom should I speak and how? this is the reality that has traced out my path: I am out! … Or, am I not?
…we have got three elements once the subjectivity has set itself free from its self abandon and from the originally direct tie with Being. We have got firstly the representational existence of Being with the objects, in which it (Being) steps out as “World”. We have got secondly the Cartesian ego that ‒‒ in the act of reflexion ‒‒ pulls itself out of the world onto itself. And thirdly we have got … (1)
(Günther, 1991, p. 83)
We have seen many attempts to break the fatality of the Cartesian construction. Yet, in a society in which efficiency is key and has a long tradition, the shortness of his journey has always worked seductively. Since I could doubt everything but not myself while thinking, we live in a world of minds.
Today science shapes the world and how we experience it. It follows its path to prove that we are in the world, and not alone. True and false are valid. Time is gentle to us. Life is not endless, and thus we need just a little truth that endures for a little while to be joyful again. If not, perhaps a poodle saves us ‒‒ it is more gentle than it appears, less wise than it appears:
Part of the part am I, which at the first was all,
A part of darkness, which gave birth to light
(Mephisto in: Goethe, 1808)
We might surrender to the devil’s voice. He knows the ifs and thens.
If in fact the impetus of our striving is absolute knowledge, then signing his contract may be wise. For all those who have progressed from hope it might present a perfect short cut to a reality that is perhaps less gentle than it appears.
Our heritage is not preceded by a testament. (2)
(Char, 1999, p. 30)
I have entered the library a long time ago on this journey which never seems to end. Its construction is astonishingly unfamiliar to such an extent that any attempt to construct an image through description has always failed. All I can see is that it relates to itself as if in a dialogue. It is strangely unfixed and yet, I know, it will never fall apart. It looks as if it played a game that I cannot understand ‒‒ constantly readjusting the elements that constitute the whole to create new relations within itself. However, I never witnessed the elements move.
It seems there isn’t any order to the books’ arrangement on the shelves ‒‒ no order that I could identify. And even within the books, sometimes, I find strange motifs. There are books that know the myth of Babel before they know the myth of the Word. It is as if someone has turned history upside down, or taken a journey backwards and then traced it to a coordinate system of other dimensions. One may think that we perceive when light is surrounded by shadow. this library, however, seems to emerge sometimes as if it was pure light.
And thirdly we have got a You, in which the same retreat is actualized objectively. …the same identical pulling out of the world is to be understood only in the ego as reflexion-in-itself in the real sense, i.e. as thinking … (3)
(Günther, 1991, p. 83)
There is some truth in the mystic fairy tale that tells the story of a tower to be built higher and higher, to reach not the heavenly beyond, but instead, to mark the beginning of misunderstanding. To this day many towers have been built. There will be more. Yet, they may never reach beyond. They may never reach out to You ‒‒ beyond a two-valued logic that has made objective Being coincide with subjective thought. From this landscape You were logically excluded. Objectively one can conclude that misunderstanding was logically included.
In the You appears the same retreat, that appears from the viewpoint of the ego as from “me”, as objective directed by a “selfpotency”, thus as will or act of will. (4)
(Günther, 1991, p. 83)
Within all construction, you are the unknown addressed to become creator and the author of a story that is hidden now, but will emerge as yours, to be told in a future present. Inhabitable theories exist in present time exclusively ‒‒ exclusively constructed for you to perpetually arise. I have dissolved for a very good good reason ‒‒ not on the basis of a necessity and not on the basis of will. I was complete before you. You are the creator of my absence and my reality.
The You is an “object of second order” that is capable to offset itself both from me (the ego) and from the world ‒‒ the objects of first order. It is thus “a third, free from both”. (5)
(Günther, 1991, p. 83)
The library is confirmation of a being-in-the-world. It plays a symphony of a higher order. Within it, there are reflections of a passage to a present that is still unknown: I have been created to always become what you desire me to be. I am the sole opportunity, a mere offer to you ‒‒ to follow the traces that resonate your voice ‒‒ your unknown voice. I do not wish to speak but your speech. I want to dissolve in your desires, want to be possessed, be made all your own. It is you ‒‒ the unknown addressed ‒‒ who is my orientation. I come as a perfect gift, without expectations. ‒‒ All that which resonates, resonates in you.
Today, we stand amidst the first emerging attempts to achieve a transition from the second metaphysics to a third metaphysical level of man. …At the beginning of every new metaphysical epoch of man is the myth, which constructs the framework for the oncoming concrete history. (6)
(Günther, 1952, p. 238)
(*) I mentioned this text in an earlier message. It is the text that I presented in the second half of my talk at the Unprimed Canvas symposium that was held in February 2011 at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. There is also a PDF version of this text available.
(1) … wir haben dreierlei, sobald erst einmal die Subjektivität sich aus ihrer Selbstvergessenheit und der ursprünglichen direkten Bindung an das Sein gelöst hat. Wir haben erstens die gegenständliche Existenz des Seins in den Objekten, in denen es als “Welt” heraustritt. Wir haben zweitens das in der Reflexion auf sich selbst sich aus der Welt zurückziehende kartesische Ich. Und wir haben als drittes …
(2) Notre héritage n’est précédé d’aucun testament.
(3) Und wir haben als drittes das Du, in dem sich derselbe Rückzug als objektiver vollzieht. … dasselbe identische Sichherausnehmen aus der Welt [kann] nur im Ich als Reflexion-in-sich im eigentlichen Sinne, d. h. als Denken verstanden
(4) Im Du erscheint derselbe Rückzug von “mir”, also vom Ich aus gesehen, als ein objektiver Vorgang, dirigiert von einer “selbst-Potenz”, also als Wille oder Willensakt.
(5) Das Du ist ein “Objekt zweiter Ordnung”, das die Fähigkeit besitzt, sich sowohl von mir (dem Ich) als von der Welt, den Objekten erster Ordnung, abzusetzen. Es ist deshalb “ein Drittes, von beiden Freies”.
(6) Heute stehen wir inmitten der ersten sich anbahnenden Versuche, einen Übergang von der zweiten Metaphysik zu einem dritten metaphysischen Niveau des Menschen zu bewerkstelligen. … Am Anfang jeder neuen metaphysischen Epoche des Menschen steht der Mythos, der den Rahmen für die kommende konkrete Geschichte ausspart.
Char, R. (1999). Hypnos: Aufzeichnungen aus dem Maquis (1943- 44). Feuillets d’Hypnos (2nd bilingual ed.). Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer. German translation by Paul Celan; written in 1943/44; 1946 – 1st French edition;
Descartes, R. (2002). Principles of Philosophy (first published in Latin in 1644 as: Principia Philosophiae, translated to French during Descartes’ lifetime – revised by Descartes, English digital ed.). The Classical Library.
Günther, G. (1952). Kommentar zu Überwindung von Raum und Zeit. In G. Günther (Ed.), Überwindung on Raum und Zeit, Volume 3 of Rauchs Weltraum Bücher, pp. 223–238. Rauch.
Günther, G. (1957). Idee und Grundriss einer nicht-Aristotelischen Logik (1957 – first edition, pagination acc. to this third ed.). Felix Meiner Verlag.