You’ve asked me to briefly re-state my position on mysticism, so I’ll begin with a tale.
Long ago (aren’t these always the first words of a tale?), because a conversation I had with a girl seemed to go well, I asked her for a date and she agreed.
I turned up in a 3-piece suit with tie on a very hot and humid afternoon (in Australia we call such weather ‘stinking hot’). I waited and waited but she never appeared. I wondered, as one might, ‘Why not?’
I remembered that during our conversation I had said, and with some feeling, that I thought concrete is beautiful. Could this have been the reason for her ‘no-show’? That concrete is beautiful was something I had been cogitating.
Why is concrete beautiful? I recommend the study of it – the richness and subtlety of its textures, of its colours, its ‘flaws’, the processes and effects of its ageing.
At a deeper level, concrete and I are the same matter, the same objective reality, but organised differently (I just remembered that when I worked in the Tate as a gallery attendant, my supervisor, in philosophical conversation one day in the staff-room said sagely ‘Grass never grows on a busy footpath [my hairline had substantially receded] – or through concrete’. How you interpret that is up to you.).
When I die, the matter of which I am comprised will pass back into the same world into which all concrete, too, will similarly decay.
If all humans are beautiful in their mere existence (as I think), then why not concrete?
I particularly think concrete is beautiful because I perceive my profound relationship to it. At the most fundamental level (isn’t this what philosophers seek?), our beauty is its beauty.
Then there are the considerations of the relations of concrete and humans as parts to the material whole. These relations and the manifestation of them are what is most beautiful.
What links Plotinus to Chernyshevsky is that for both, beauty is reality and life. Where Plotinus referred to those of ‘another’ world, Chernshevsky referred to those in this.
The philosophical current developed in mysticism (particularly German) and then incorporated into dialectical materialism addresses all this.
But where both mysticism and materialism equally address the whole and its parts and processes, the centrality of emotion (though rationalised) and, particularly, intuition to mysticism give much greater scope to our ‘feelings’ and brain processes other than those of linguistic reason – a crucial point yet to be absorbed into dialectical materialism, which is still in the shadow of the patriarchal model, the Man of Reason.
Marx stood the mystical understanding of ‘reality’ and ‘life’ on its material feet. It is up to us to further develop dialectical materialism. While not a science, it is the philosophy of the future.
I look forward to your response,
All the best,