Exploring ignorance (11) – Mystical Unity?

In Exploring Ignorance 8, McLuhan’s observation from the first page of Take Today — “Nothing has its meaning alone” — was read as the injunction that the original hidden power (aka “nothing”) should not be figured or framed in human definition and use, but allowed — acknowledged — “its meaning alone”. But would this not install merger (that which is “alone”) at the very heart of reality?  How, indeed why, critique merger elsewhere if this sort of mystical unity “came before” and may therefore be taken as a, or the, standard “in all things” (Take Today 3)?

At this ‘point’, it is imperative to note the full context of McLuhan’s appeal to priority (to what “came before”, to the a-priori):

dialogue as a process of creating the new came before, and goes beyond, the change of “equivalents” that merely reflect or repeat the old.  (Take Today 22).

After specifying the priority of “dialogue” as what “came before”, McLuhan immediately adds that it “goes beyond”.  In the classic terms of Hegel, he is saying that the ‘in-itself’ of the original hidden power (aka “nothing”) is to be ‘for-itself’. As the fundamental “process of creating”, it is already complex in the beginning. It is therefore “dialogue” and “the creative” (as the I Ching has it), not as an after-thought, but in its essence!

The essential plurality of time is implicated here.  The ontological as “dialogue” is already plural and dynamic and therefore timely. Our historical times result from that original timeliness exactly because it is “a process of creating the new” that refuses to “reflect or repeat the old” and therefore issues into times, our times, which are fundamentally different from its time.  And yet are held to it in its need for “innovation”.

The “hidden” bond of our times with the original power, our pointing to it in being closed off from it, has its ground in this original “innovation”. Our closure from it reflects its hold to and with us as fulfilling its need to be creative of “the new”. Our inferiority is essentially related to its superiority as being the only way for it to be that “innovation” which it is “in the beginning” as that which “came before”.  Its way down is our way up.

This dynamic between the ontological and the ontic, between its open “dialogue” and our closed “merger”, rests on, and so reveals, “the resonating bond in all things” (Take Today 3).

Leave a Reply