He nourished a conviction that there must be some logic
lurking somewhere in the results of chance.
âJoseph Conrad, âThe End of the Tetherâ
I come from a dizzy land where the lottery is the basis of reality.
âJorge Luis Borges, âThe Lottery in Babylonâ
More centrally than any other âprinciple,â chanceâamoral/inhuman or alienative accident, unanticipatable or eternally surprising âfortune,â stochastic events and conjunctions that extemporaneously âjust happenâ to work out as they doâis at the core of the modern anti-metaphysical metaphysics, the world-order that no longer invites, or rewards or tolerates, reflections about the logic and limits of how it rules.Â The true cathedrals of anarchic modern egocentrism and anomic materialism are of course no longer churches but rather casinos as arenas for the orgasmic quest for the all-begetting, all-ruling, sacred all-that-glitters.
It is this fundamental rule of (supposedly) no preconceivable, no fundamental and certainly no permissible normative rules that deters moderns wholesale from understanding how vital it is to think through in advance their repertory of a priori concepts, values, criteria, and principles.Â Instead, confident in the mindlessly conformist faith that there is no point in struggling to understand profoundly a world in which nothing can be known or understood in advance, moderns âbelieveâ without fathoming why it must be so, that every constellation of events and feelings must be unique, idiosyncratic and incomprehensible, and that all of life and thinking must thus be a blind gamble devoid of any teleological order, enlightening intelligence, or encompassing meaning.Â The cult of âchanceâ symptomatizes a massive and systematic lacuna, the vacuum of value-intelligence and moral meaning in modern dysculture and its dominant types.
In ancient culture, âknowingâ was a sublime expression of manâs mastery-through-connoisseurial/essential-evaluation, i.e. the power of knowing was identical with humansâ vital and defining authority to qualify and function as a self in the first place.Â But in modern culture, âknowingâ has become a mindless capitulation to blind âfactsâ or directionless âobjectivity,â to matters in principle unknowable by âsubjectiveâ means:Â where Descartes originated much of the modern thematics in a methodically skeptical search for what can possibly be âcertainâ to us, late modernity has morphed its reaction to the complexities of science and technology and capitalism from âcertaintyâ to raw and barbarically self-destructive uncertainty, the radical disqualification of all forms of culture, philosophy, religion, etc. as fundamentally useless, valueless, futile fantasies.Â This is the vacuity at the core of the modern âorderâ of ârealismâ that makes it at one and the same time necessarily amoral, abysmally self-obscure, myopic, drenched in pathos, starved of fundamental purpose or mythos, wretchedly dependent on mechanistic and ordinarizing routines, and of course crudely but aptly describable ever since its founding as âsoulless.â
Moderns âfindâ a meaningless morass throughout their improvidential âexperimentalistâ or improvisational lives because they already unwittingly invested their world of âpossibilitiesâ with just such structurelessness and discordance:Â these privations are exactly the key in which modern dysculture and modern self-alienated mentalities and lives have been composed, from long before any given individual got born and acculturated into these modes.Â âIt occurs to no modern as such that his aleatory or dice-throwing âall-things-are-possibleâ-worldview is demonstrably not objectively true, not even factually descriptive of âreality,â but is merely the way that specific morally, evaluatively and culturally impoverished (âatelic,â âanomicâ or basally nihilist) personality-types are constitutionally self-bound to see the parameters of human, natural, social, economic, and historical existence.
Those types, classically understood as âbanausicâ philistines obsessed with utility and exploitation, are by no accident whatsoever the prevailing or governing intellects in the modern âdispensationâ or coordinated scheme of things.Â All the games of modern domains, methods and attitudes are tilted by and toward this dismally privative (or as Hegel called it, âprosaicâ) form or tribe of primordial character.Â What calls itself âthe modern worldâ is banausoiâs conspiracy or rigged apparatus or orchestrated âracket.âÂ Their constricted worldview persistently rises to positions of privilege and command across the modern socio-economic and legal-political landscape; in the modern Babel banausoi all speak the same vacuous, formalist and mechanical technojargon.
The rise of techno-science and capitalism, bent on controlling all things just through their inherent chaotism (the weaknesses or vices in their organicism), is a concerted determination to make human existence a grandiose mechanistic apparatus, an infinitely regimented economy:Â nothing in human psyche or natural resources or the ânoosphereâ of ideas should escape the net of lawful determinations extrapolated from the fictive âfirst principleâ of Money or Capital.Â âIf we encountered this coordinated web of irrationalist compulsions among a primitive tribe or an alien species, we would recognize it for what it actually is, a cult or mania; but since it is a cult or mania that has owned the Western world free and clear for the past five or six centuries, it is instead adulated and revered as âultimate truth,â as the divinely decreed and fated Way Things Are and Will Eternally Remain.Â All resources of understanding are suppressed that might illumine the ways and reasons this stochastic modality is merely the correlate of the most gravely self-alienated, the most nihilist species of personality.
[Â©2009 Kenneth Smith]