complete session (60 minutes) gestalt dreamwork on a painting instead of a dream, done by franklyn wepner.
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FRANKLYN WEPNER JUNE 2009
ESSAY: "HEIDEGGER & NACHMAN ON THE ORIGIN OF ART"
(1) NACHMAN OF BRESLAV, "COLLECTED ESSAYS" ("LIKUTEI MOHARAN"), SECTION 5
(2) MARTIN HEIDEGGER, "THE ORIGIN OF THE WORK OF ART", IN "PHILOSOPHIES OF ART AND BEAUTY", ED. HOFSTADTER & KUHNS
(1) THE "OPEN" & THE PURE PROCESS
(2) THE TEMPLE, PLATO & MASHIACH
(3) CONSECRATING THE TEMPLE AS
RITE OF INITIATION
(4) NACHMAN'S TEMPLE IN BRATSLAV
(5) CLAPPING HANDS AS ALCHEMICAL
(1) THE "OPEN" AND THE PURE PROCESS MODE
H 681. Setting up a world and setting forth the earth, the work is the fighting of the battle in which the unconcealedness of beings as a whole, or truth, is won.
FW: The above is a typical sentence taken from Martin Heidegger's essay, "The Origin Of The Work Of Art". This sentence is loaded with Heidegger technical jargon: world, earth, battle, unconcealedness, beings and truth. Also in this sentence, these terms are laid out in an interlocking manner such that words that we thought we understood suddenly become very strange to us. We are mystified. But let us try now to decode this knot of dialectical jargon. Decoding even this one sentence will reveal much of the underlying logic of Heidegger's philosophy of art. Our project in this short essay is to see whether Heidegger's recondite reflections about art can shed valuable light on the work of Nachman of Breslav. We have been approaching Nachman mainly from the perspective of Isaac Luria's dialectic of conflict, which was Nachman's own reference point in 1800. But doing so required jumping right away into the tsimtsum theory, and we risked explaining something very obscure in an even more obscure manner. Fortunately, we have available a magic carpet tool from the performing arts which in one quick, painless stroke will land us in the middle of the dialectical universe of both Heidegger and Luria and allow us from those two starting points to converge on our primary target, the work Nachman of Breslav. This tool is a world class technique with a long history. It constitutes a major foundation of the dance theaters of Asia, and in today's avant garde theater world it is known as the "pure process mode". Again I express my gratitude to the Mabou Mines Theater Company for initiating me into this bit of esoterica.
FW: The pure process mode as performed looks a lot like Tai Ch'i, but then again you might not know about Tai Ch'i either so I'll start from the basic idea. A group of performers is told to focus on awareness rather than thinking. Like in Gestalt Therapy, awareness here includes contact with one's environment using senses, with one's body using proprioception, and with one's fantasies. The stress in this exercise is on environment awareness. Along with work on awareness, the group is instructed to begin a holistic, total movement of all body parts, very slowly and very relaxed so as not to let the movements or body tension interfere with the awareness. All this is here and now work, passively responding to what is happening in one's awareness. What to do next stems from passively reacting to what already is happening, and going with that flow in a non-deliberate manner. Philosophically, what we have here is "induction" or Platonic collection, or gestalt formation, in the sense that from the particular details the performer infers a single new encompassing idea which then becomes the rule that guides his next choices. From the ground of what is happening arise potential figures, weak gestalts, until one of them becomes the strong gestalt or monad which then is the new world of that emerging moment. And here we have Heidegger's key term, "world", emerging as a product of inductive, intuitive thinking. The world that worlds, using Heidegger jargon, is the emerging gestalt or figure that then is the organizing center of the organism's existence until the next strong gestalt (world) takes over. For Gestalt Therapists a neurotic is an individual who interferes with, who interrupts his natural figure/ground process such that strong gestalts do not congeal and the ground keeps churning up weak gestalts aimlessly.
FW: So far we have presented half of the pure process mode concept, the side of passivity and induction. The other, complementary side of the pure process mode is the active, deliberate, deductive side. Here is how that works. As I am doing my awareness and movement exercise, I am instructed also to allow any particular focus that emerges strongly enough from the ground that it attracts my conscious attention to continue to develop, and then I see where it takes me. In other words, I am looking for associations, or what Nachman would label "behinot". This is an aspect of that and that is an aspect of the next thing, endlessly. The main motor of the pure process mode is the passive, induction side, but riding on it is a series of deductive moments or deliberate active choices to accept the hint and go with that idea to its completion as a particular "thing". For example, I notice that my body is doing something like a swimming breast stroke, and I allow myself gradually to go almost fully into the breast stroke form. But here I interrupt the naturalistic form I am performing and remind myself that I need the active/passive balance, the middle way. And so I now allow the breast stroke form - again gradually with full awareness - to dissolve back into the passive aspect of the pure process mode. We now have the two poles of Heidegger's dialectic. The deliberate, active point of view Heidegger calls "earth", and the passive point of view Heidegger calls "world". Here again is our initial Heidegger quote.
H 681. Setting up a world and setting forth the earth, the work is the fighting of the battle in which the unconcealedness of beings as a whole, or truth, is won.
FW: The "battle" is the competition between world and earth, induction and deduction. Usually when we do the breast stroke in the pool as part of our 20 minute exercise routine, the choice is deliberate, and the details of the stroke fit into a vast grid of distinctions of different kind of muscular and breathing activities. The ramification of the basic idea of "swimming" into all these strokes and nuances of strokes is an example of deductive logic, moving from the general idea of "swimming" to the particular differences of each stroke. The opposite of deduction in this sense is the passive experience of letting all those details and nuances fade away into no-thing-ness. The combination of deduction and induction, earth and world, kabbalistic left pillar and right pillar, is the concrete dialectic which grounds much of sophisticated world culture, east and west. Doing the pure process exercise is like a slow motion movie of some sport which reveals the seams linking the individual moves. These seams usually are a hidden, "concealed" ground for the chain of deliberate moves. The pure process mode reverses our usual figure/ground process, thereby "unconcealing" the ground of "being as a whole". If we think of our usual daily existence as packed with habitual, mechanical behavior, then the pure process mode opens up or clears a space in that dense structure. Here is another Heidegger statement, This time he describes this "open center" of our existence.
H 679. In the midst of beings as a whole an open place occurs. There is a clearing, a lighting. Thought of in reference to what is, to beings, this clearing is in a greater degree than are beings. This open center is therefore not surrounded by what is; rather the lighting center itself encircles all that is, like the a Nothing which we scarcely know.
FW: Just substitute no-thing-ness for Nothing, and we have again the pure process mode, with things coming into existence and going out of existence devoid of their usual thingness as specific objects that we make use of or relate to.
FW: Turning now back to Nachman of Breslav, let us read Heidegger's prose from the point of view of the dialectic of conflict and the tradition of alchemy which Nachman inherited from Isaac Luria. Immediately we see a likely source for Heidegger's choice of the word "earth" to suggest the process of deduction in opposition to the process of induction. For the process of deduction or creation on the left pillar of the tree of life descends deductively from alchemical water to alchemical earth, before ascending inductively through alchemical air to alchemical fire. Moving through these four elements, water, earth, air and fire, completes the cycle. Alchemical air is what becomes revealed (unconcealed) at the moment of tsimtsum, as God or man contracts his frozen x/-x polarities to allow a relative vacuum. Into the void emerges or overflows inductively a new idea from the macrocosm which then encompasses the two sides of the former impasse in a higher integration. The encompassing new idea Nachman labels, logically enough, the "maqqif", since in Hebrew the word "maqqif" means "encompasses". The void is the "open" of Heidegger, which begins as an air pocket and then does a figure/ground reversal from air pocket to encompassing no-thing-ness in which the two sides, x/-x, of the former impasse disappear. This disappearing is the negation of the negations of the One Without A Second. The negations, the stuck antagonists of the impasse, are thus burnt up in alchemical fire, completing the circle of alchemical elements of the concrete dialectic.
FW: By stressing the impasse at the expense of the pure process mode, kabbalists like Luria and Nachman of Breslav highlight the absence of new ideas flowing from on high. This is like building up charge on a condenser. The ideas certainly are there, since God is in all the world, but they are apparently absent. Arthur Green shows how Nachman made his own personal experience of the apparent absence of God a central dogma of his renovated hasidism. The Breslaver hasid is instructed to seek out more and more challenging conflicts, "maqqifim", as a way to stimulate his need to rely upon faith rather than look for an intellectual understanding of God. Eastern religions, without as much stress on a personal God as has Judaism, can do without such a condenser model of faith and rely more upon the natural power of awareness as a tool to access divinity. Here is Nachman's version of Heidegger's "the open" and the Asian dance theater pure process mode. It's the same dialectic, with different cultural overlays to mask it. Since the Fall, since the Tower of Babel, since the decree, different peoples need to disguise their prayers with different codes, different "stories", lest the accusing angels on the left (our need to maintain cultural distinctions, our "gevurot") protest.
LM 5:5. Know as well that a person must couple the gevurot (severities) with chasadim (benevolences), left with right, as is written (Psalms 20:7), "with the saving gevurot of His right arm" . For the main revelation comes about by means of chasadim, as is written (ibid 110:1), "Sit at my right hand while I make your enemies your footstool". It is likewise necessary to couple love with fear of Heaven, in order to generate thunder. This love is from the right side, from "a mind as white as silver" (Tikkuney Zohar #70). . . ."The sound of Your thunder was in the sphere." and this is (Song of Songs 8:7), "Many waters cannot extinguish the love." For the ability to conquer is mainly by means of love, as in , "Sit at My right hand while I make your enemies your footstool."
FW: Both Heidegger and Nachman point toward resolving the "battle" of world vs earth dialectically. In LM 5:5 Nachman uses alchemical water rather than alchemical earth to symbolize the side of deduction, and "love" symbolizes the power of induction to encompass strong polarities (enemies) in a higher unity. Parallel to this dichotomy is that between the Fear of Heaven and love, in the sense that extreme polarities in our existence drive us to the breaking point, abyss, void, and instill thereby in us a "fear of heaven". Thunder in LM 5 symbolizes these extreme opposites reverberating in our lives. The reverberations of thunder reach on high and invite drops of dew (new ideas from the macrocosm) to enter the void in the microcosm and open up new possibilities. The new possibilities, dew drops, at first are merely weak gestalts/figures percolating up from the ground, analogous to the weak figures or gestalts that pass through the body and mind of the performer in the pure process mode. Thus, thunder and lightning serve Nachman in LM 5:5 as structural equivalents to Heidegger's "the open" and the Asian dance theater pure process mode. Nachman's version of the conflict dialectic makes the conflict much more explicit, in order to stimulate a greater reliance on pietist faith in a personal God than is necessary in the Eastern equivalents.
(2) THE TEMPLE, PLATO, AND MASHIACH
H 670. A building, a Greek temple, portrays nothing. It simply stands there in the middle of the rock cleft valley. The building encloses the figure of the god, and in this concealment lets it stand out into the holy precinct through the open portico. By means of the temple, the god is present in the temple.
FW: Again Heidegger approaches the conflict dialectic, this time with a metaphor much closer to the tsimtsum framework invoked by Nachman in LM 5. Rather than associating to the gentle pure process mode, the allusion to the conflict dialectic and tsimtsum is here much more direct. First we see this in the location of this Greek temple: "the middle of a rock cleft valley", i.e., the two extremes making up the impasse that opens up the void. The word "building" points immediately to the left pillar headed by "binah", from the Hebrew root "to build". The figure of the god is the emerging new macrocosmic, Platonic idea, the "maqqif" which negates the "pnimi" (the impasse of one's heart) and supplants it dialectically. In the pure process mode it is "the Open" (world) which houses the forms which come and pass away (earth), but here it is the rigid structure of a temple (earth) that houses the constantly emerging open (world, god). Here we are back in the typical Lurianic kabbalah terrain that is Nachman's home ground.
H 671. Standing there, the building holds its ground against the storm raging above it and so first makes the storm itself manifest in its violence. The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, yet first brings to light the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night. The temple's firm towering makes visible the invisible space of air.
FW: Around the temple crashes the thunder and lightning of a great storm, which is the moment of tsimtsum in the concrete dialectic. And this time it is alchemical air which Heidegger cites to remind us of his own grounding in the traditional dialectic. Or perhaps in this compact temple image we have the entire dialectic: water (the storm), earth (temple as rigid framework), air (the space for the emerging maqqif idea) and fire (the lightning and the heat of the sun). Let's see how our two gurus articulate these alchemical ideas, each with his own "story". First Heidegger: a Greek pilgrim approaching in the valley sees first the temple in the distance, before the small figure of the god inside is visible. And Nachman says in LM 5:6,
LM 5:6. This is the aspect of fear which precedes. For fear of Heaven precedes all else, as is written (Psalms 111:10), "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God".
FW: But what exactly is the function or work of this Greek temple?
H 670. It is the temple work that first fits together and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape of destiny for human being. The all-governing expanse of this open relational context is the world of this historical people. Only from and in this expanse does the nation first return to itself for the fulfillment of its vocation.
FW: The work that is done in the temple and by means of the temple itself is the concrete dialectic, which for both Heidegger and Nachman includes the Platonic concepts of collection and anamnesis (Greek: "not forgetting"). Specifically, the temple work (dialectic) gathers around itself (collects) the unity of those paths and relations (the weak gestalts encompassed by strong gestalts, maqqifim). Heidegger was a contemporary of Fritz Perls, and a glance at the Gestalt model will clear away a lot of metaphorical muddle here. The gestalt work (temple work) that the Gestalt patient does by identifying with pair after pair of his polarities in his work on his games and unfinished business serves to encompass all the inner ideas of these points of view within his own emerging self-as-process. This is Platonic collection of weaker ideas, gestalts or monads within stronger ideas, gestalts or monads. The "coming solution" with which the patient identifies as his goal is thus on a higher level of integration than his previous game playing self. It is as though an unruly mob has been integrated into a mature human populace with a clear sense of purpose. This is the return of the members of the nation to its true self, its archetypal dialectical ideas and logic, and the grasping of its destiny ("vocation"). Plato, like Heidegger, placed the needs of the republic above the needs of individuals. Heidegger as Nazi leader showed us the ugly side of Platonism, while the restraints imposed by hasidic halachah kept Nachman and his followers closer to a balanced position. The "world" of a historical people is for both thinkers inhabited by ideas associated with the folklore of that tribe. These are the personages of Wagner's operas for Germans and the patriarchs of the Bible for Jews. In LM 5 Nachman makes use of Yitzchak and Avraham for this purpose, and likewise for Yaakov in LM 1.
LM 5:3. This is what our Sages taught: When a person has fear of Heaven his words are heard (Berakhot 6b). For when someone possesses fear of Heaven, his voice is converted into thunder. This is because thunder is from the side of Yitzchak, as in, "the thunder of His gevurot." This causes his words to be heard - i.e., "the voice is transmitted to the creation." For hearing is linked to [the fear of Heaven], as is written (Habakkuk 3:2), "O God, I heard of Your message; I feared" (Zohar III, 230a). . . This also corresponds to the sound of the shofar - i.e., the shofar horn of the ram, the ram of Yitzchak (Zohar III 235b) - which is an aspect of "the thunder of His gevurot".
LM 5:5. It is likewise necessary to couple love with fear of Heaven, in order to generate thunder. This [love] is from the right side, from "a mind as white as silver" (Tikkuney Zohar #70). This is (Exodus 14:27). "The sea" alludes to the sea of wisdom, "when it turned morning" - this is the morning of Avraham (Zohar II, 170b), corresponding to "Avraham My beloved" (Isaiah 41:8), "to its might" - this is gevurot, corresponding to "The sound of Your thunder was in the sphere.." And this is (Song of Songs 8:7), "Many waters cannot extinguish the love." For the ability to conquer is mainly by means of love, as in, "Sit at My right . . ."
LM 1:2. For the Jew must always focus on the inner intelligence of every matter, and bind himself to the wisdom and inner intelligence that is to be found in each thing. This, so that the intelligence which is in each thing may enlighten him that he ma draw closer to God through that thing. For inner intelligence is a great light that shines for a person in all his ways, As is written (Ecclesiastes 8:1), "A person's wisdom causes his countenance to shine. This is the concept of Yaakov. For YaAKoV merited the right of the first born, which is reishit (beginning), the concept of wisdom.
FW: Let's relate these two sets of metaphors to each other, i.e., Heidegger's account of the temple and Nachman's account of the patriarchs. Yitzchak, symbolizing the left pillar, (gevurot, severities, distinctions, judgments, deductions) is likened to the Fear of Heaven arising from the extreme polarities associated with tsimtsum/thunder. Avraham, symbolizing the right pillar (love, grace, benevolence, induction, ideas from above, maqqifim) is depicted as powerful enough to encompass "the waters" of deduction. Thunder in LM 5 has a double reference to tsimtsum. In regard to Yitzchak thunder suggests the extreme polarities of the storm, while in regard to Avraham the allusion of thunder is close to that of "the Open" in the pure process mode. "In the morning" the naturalistic forms which congealed dissolve back into the pure process mode. Earth gives itself up to world, in order to restore the balance of the middle way. This is Yaakov as maqqif, encompassing Yitzchak and Avraham in a higher integration.
FW: Again, Gestalt practice can help to get the point here. Think of the Gestalt pilgrim working his way through his objective history. After identifying with the inner ideas of each of his x/-x polarities and doing the work of each dialogue in the ascending spiral of the dialectic, the Gestalt pilgrim is instructed to "identify with the coming solution", close your eyes and enter your body and fantasies. This is the rhythm of contact and withdrawal which is the Gestalt equivalent of the tsimtsum idea. The result of this process is grasping the existential message of the entire work, i.e., Yaakov, the balanced wisdom, the sword of the messiah that veers neither to the left or to the right. For Nachman, the tsaddik function, represented by himself as paradigm and potentially available in each Jew, is this archetypal dialectic, the messianic soul Jews receive from Adam, from Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai, etc. and lastly from himself as Mashiach ben Joseph. This original messianic soul incorporates the three patriarchal ideas dialectically: Avraham as the thesis, Yitzchak as the antithesis, and Yaakov as the synthesis. Recalling these patriarchs in the context of an ongoing spiritual search grounded in faith is Nachman's version of Platonic anamnesis. Learning, for Jews, is remembering the wisdom of our original founding fathers, our origin.
FW: Heidegger had an analogous philosophy of education which he attempted to implement in 1933 as Nazi party member and rector of the University of Berlin in Hitler's Germany. Like Nachman, he found active messianism a bit too difficult and was forced to give up the job. Also like Nachman, he then turned to art as a sublimation of his messianic longings. Hence the title of this essay which we are studying, which Heidegger wrote in 1935, is "The Origin Of The Work Of Art". The essay announces that for Heidegger art - Nazi art, that is - serves the messianic function, with the artist standing in for Jesus or some Aryan equivalent. This parallels Nachman's grand messianic vision of the role of the tsaddik - especially himself - in Jewish lore. Nachman's Platonic gathering and inductive collaging of quotes from traditional Jewish sources as a code for the conflict dialectic is an example of religious art fulfilling the messianic function using anamnesis of archetypal ideas in a Platonic manner. Wagner's operas, with their teutonic patriarchal heroes, serve a parallel Platonic collection function for a Nazi German soul.
(3) CONSECRATING THE TEMPLE AS RITE OF INITIATION
FW: Doing a Gestalt dreamwork session and moving dialectically through a series of polarities according to the rhythm of contact and withdrawal, is, dialectically speaking - in the sense of Heidegger - setting up a temple with the "coming solution" as the god inside who is illuminating the entire structure. If this is the Gestalt client's first such experience, then Heidegger would speak of "consecrating" the temple. In fact, the process also alludes to the "B'reishit" moment of Genesis, which from a philosophical point of view is happening at every moment of authentic action as God constantly renews his creation.
H 672. To dedicate means to consecrate, in the sense that in setting up the work the holy is opened up as holy and the god is invoked into the openness of his presence. . . To e-rect means: to open the right in the sense of a guiding measure, a form in which what belongs to the nature of being gives guidance.
FW: We have seen the notion of "measure" in LM 5, in Nachman's stress on attaining a proper balance of left and right pillars, the Fear of Heaven on one side and love on the other side, this being the state of Yaakov, which dialectically synthesizes the antithetical relationship between Avraham and Yitzchak as they usually are portrayed in the kabbalah. Arthur Green has shown clearly that identifying with these three patriarchs was for Nachman a major part of his spiritual quest. Nachman considered the dialectic of the patriarchs as a symbol of his own struggle to attain a level of spirituality appropriate for the leader of a hasidic community. Green maintains that Nachman's journey to the land of Israel was primarily a need for a symbolic rite of passage, the goal of which is in Judaism represented by the dialectic of the three patriarchs. Here is Green's argument. After returning from his journey to Israel, amidst Napoleon's naval bombardment of the Turkish fleet, Nachman
TM 85. had "passed through water" for the sake of God, and had seen his faith withstand the threat of imminent death. He was now one who could deserve the vision of the patriarchs, having followed their example by the utter denial of his corporeal self.
TM 84. It is now clear that Nachman's journey to the Holy Land may best be defined as a rite de passage, or a voyage of initiation, the likes of which have been studied in various other religious cultures, both pre-literate and classical, but which are not generally considered to be a part of latter day Judaism.
TM 82. The patriarchs, who fulfilled the mitzvot in purely spiritual ways, are, in Nachman's imagination, symbols of complete transcendence of the bodily self.
Chayay 5:19 Shortly before he departed for the land of Israel, someone asked him why he did not draw the disciples near and speak with them. He said that he now had no words, but said that "by means of the verse "When you pass through the water I shall be with you" (Isaiah 43:2) it has become known to me how one may see the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whenever one wants."
FW: Green cites Eliade on the relationship between rite of passage and consecration.
TM 92. The road is arduous, fraught with perils, because it is, in fact, a rite of the passage from the profane to the sacred, from the ephemeral and illusory to reality and eternity, from death to life, from man to the divinity. Attaining the center is equivalent to a consecration, an initiation; yesterday's profane and illusory existence gives place to a new life, to a life that is real, enduring. M. Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (Cosmos And History), p. 18
FW: Finally, here in LM 5 we find all of these themes succinctly expressed with Nachman's usual collage of Torah quotations.
LM 5:5. When you guard your mind from the aspect of chametz, so that it does not become clogged, then your voice will strike your skull and be converted into thunder, and the heart's crookedness will be made straight. Then, you will merit joy, as in, "and joy for the straight of heart." This is the meaning of (Psalms 81:8), "When you called in secret, I answered you thunderously, I tested you at the Waters of Conflict. Selah"
FW: Nachman asks his disciples to surrender themselves to an intense, harrowing rite of passage by doing their work of hitbod'dut, talking to God, in a manner directly analogous to the Gestalt therapy monologue process of creating a world of one's own. The Waters of Conflict his followers will pass through thereby are the descending pillar of the conflict of dialectic. His hasidim are to seek to obtain a properly balanced dialectical relationship between the patriarchs symbolizing the left, right and middle pillars, which is Nachman's kabbalistic way of speaking about what Plato calls "measure", and other call the middle way. Initiating this monologue by calling out to God is what Heidegger labels a consecration of the temple, which is at the same time an opening up of a world of holiness and an invoking of the god. Nachman, of course, is referring to the tsimtsum experience which opens up the void and invites new ideas to descend from the macrocosm. We also have heard him refer to this process as attaining the place from which the prophets suckle, and also in LM 5 we recall we have found right in the text the main points of Luzzatto's theory of prophecy articulated in terms of seeking the most unclouded aspaklariot (lenses) through which to experience the word of God. Luzzatto uses the word unclouded, while Heidegger says more or less the same thing in his own idiosyncratic manner by using referring to the unconcealment of truth.
(4) NACHMAN'S TEMPLE IN BRATSLAV
FW: A very clear parallel between Heidegger's use above of the terms "world" and "right" for the notion of opening up a holy space is a homily Nachman delivered shortly after moving to Bratslav, which perhaps served to commemorate the opening of a new temple. At TM 137 we have the following taken from LM 44, in which Nachman likens his arrival in Bratslav to Abraham's arrival in Israel. Nachman viewed his own arrival in Bratslav as the founding of a new Jerusalem, the center of a world based on his teachings.
TM 137. Thus our sages say: "Whoever establishes a fixed place for prayer, the God of Abraham helps him." For by his hand a new world is built, and this new building is through Abraham, as Scripture says: "The world is build by chesed". (Psalms 89:3). Abraham was the first to attain Erez Israel.
FW: Heidegger makes the dialectical foundation of this consecration very explicit.
H 72. What does the work, as work, set up? Towering up within itself, the work opens up a world and keeps it abidingly in force. To be a work means to set up a world . . . Wherever those decisions of our history that relate to our very being are made, are taken up and abandoned by us, go unrecognized and are rediscovered by new inquiry, there the world worlds.
FW: Going back to our paradigm case of a Gestalt dreamwork session, the "work" is the dialectic initiated by beginning a session, as the pilgrim sets out to work his way through the series of x/-x polarities, the rhythm of contact and withdrawal, that constitutes what Hegel labels the "objective history" of the pilgrim's soul. Going deeper, the overall superobjective that guides the Gestalt session, what Aristotle labels the actuality which is prior to the potentiality of each of the beats of the dialectic, is this opening within the denseness of Being. The via negativa way of formulating the opening is to invoke the notion of a vacuum, what Luria and Nachman refer to as the tsimtsum process. Likewise, in terms of the sefirot, at the moment of Genesis it is chochmah, the new idea, which opens up a world within the pre-existent being of God, binah, which already is built up. The Hebrew root of "binah" is "to build". Likewise chesed, God's grace or benevolence, is the opening up of a space within a pre-existent state of judgment, limitation or Fear of Heaven. Chochmah and chesed are on the right pillar. Nachman's goal is that left and right will combine to give the balanced middle pillar/middle way, symbolized by Yaakov. In the following passage Heidegger specifically mentions the role of grace (chesed) and its absence,
(5) CLAPPING HANDS AS ALCHEMICAL MAGIC
H 73. In a world's worlding is gathered that spaciousness out of which the protective grace of the gods is granted or withheld. Even this doom of the gods remaining absent is a way in which world worlds.
FW: Here Heidegger zeroes in on exactly the founding principle of Nachman's dialectic, the apparent absence of God in the secular world, and we wonder if the grand theoretician of Nazi Germany in 1935 had perhaps got his hands on a translation of Nachman's work as a pretext for his own projects. If Heidegger had read LM 44 he might have found in Nachman himself much of the same racist magical wishful thinking which his own colleagues later perfected to make their own conquered lands "Judenrein", cleaned out of Jews. Nachman's recipe for instantly ridding a town of goyish presence was very simple: just clap your hands. It is reminiscent of Mary Poppins' advice to the children on how to get rid of unpleasant thoughts by singing a happy tune. Nachman said, in that same sermon at Bratslav,
TM 137. All things are called the power of His deeds, the word power [ko'ach, numerically twenty eight] corresponding to the twenty-eight letters [in the first verse] of Creation and to the twenty-eight joints on a person's hand. As is well known, the atmosphere of the pagans' lands is polluted, while the air of the land of Israel is holy and pure, since God has taken it away from the other nations and given it to us. Outside the Holy Land, however, the air remains impure. When we clap our hands together in prayer [using the twenty eight joints] we arouse the power of the twenty-eight letters of Creation, the "power of his deeds", showing that He has the power to give us the inheritance of the nations, since everything belongs to God. Thus we are able to purify the air of other peoples' lands, as these lands are brought back under the rule of God, and He can distribute them as He wishes.
FW: All this is one more example of why hasidism (for Nachman) or hegelianism (for Heidegger) without education concerning the philosophical roots of what all the mumbo-jumbo means is irresponsible at best. At worst, we need only look back at the last century to see the fruits of a world run amuck after uncritically gobbling down a too generous helping of dialectical thinking. Clapping our hands to push aside polluted air and open up a space of pure air is alchemy, with alchemical air representing the kabbalistic empty space of tsimtsum which opens up within alchemical earth. Alchemy and dlalectics are elements of renaissance science, which hovered on the borderline between science and magic. Pushing back the borders of hard logic (deduction) to allow "the Open" of wishful thinking (induction) is a wonderful tool for liberation of the human spirit, so long as what then enters the vacuum is carefully monitored. Monitored by what? Monitored by who? Perhaps just asking these questions is sufficient here. Building a temple is a noble enterprise in itself, but then we need to ask what god will then be invited into this new temple to serve as Aristotelian final cause, pure Platonic idea, or to embody alchemical fire ignited to negate all negations of the One?
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