Aftermaths.  What to do after a disaster, in the aftermath of a disaster?  Pick up the pieces; at least this is our greatest inclination, to bend down to the uncaring earth, the rubble of us on the ground, and attempt to salvage what we can, to take back what has been destroyed into the folds of our arms and our tireless capacity to make, even out of fragments, stories to tell or triumphs to achieve or fight for.  These disasters are no less disasters of thought and emotion–disasters, losses of stars–in the fabric of our thinking-passionate orientation, than they are more brutally physical disasters, say the disaster of a town taken by surprise by some calamity or other, a storm or a riot, the storm of the human or the storm of wind and rain.  Rebuilding, after such losses, makes sense; after losing your way, it makes perfect sense to find your way back, back home or wherever you might dream you belong.

            But sometimes, perhaps always, when the disaster is acute or severe enough, when the disaster is grave enough or destroys enough, it destroys as well even the minutest pieces and there are no more pieces left to salvage.  Sometimes, perhaps always, disaster leaves us in that traumatic aftermath which is the aftermath with nothing left to us; we could very well, and at any time, be so ravaged as to lose all, even the cracked and spoiled remains of what we lost.  And again this is no less in the sphere of thought and emotion or mood, what makes up part, an essential part, of our worldliness, than it is in those events that crudely attack us, and whose forces, though they compose most, if not all, of what we ourselves are, we do not and cannot control or predict with the sharpest and wittiest tools of prediction.  What then?  Well, there seem, at least at first, to be several options.  We could leave what has been so demolished, walk away from it and begin anew.  The only problem here is that it takes for granted that we will still have our wits about us as far as creation is concerned; when it could have been precisely these wits that were exploded and we were left with no more than the dust of our wits.  Or we could dream whatever dreams may still come to our witless minds the way our forefathers and foremothers dreamed, and perhaps in that way we may learn to compose our music again, even if only from the top.  But, as with the first, dreaming is mortal as anything else; we might as well be left stupid and wasted as the stupidest and most wasted thing.  Furthermore, of what does the traumatized dream if not either, when he is alone and his mind may wander, but of what was lost in trauma, or of abortive attempts to escape the clutches of the traumatic thing?  In other words, we would be as trapped to the world of the traumatized as any beaten and obsessive patient.  So too with communication with our fellows, so too with communication with some divinity–and the latter even more so; how long ago we left such dreams, how easily such dreams were wasted! 

            Definitions, however, are mere definitions, and tell us nothing truly singular about the life of a living being, nothing about what that being could become.  Though it defines us, to scavenge our losses on the ground, or to dream or to pray, or to return to those days when we were more effective and more in charge of things, it is not necessary, this inclination of ours, to the reality of what we shall be.  We might, in fact, be shocked out of our spell-boundedness to what we were by the hard fact of the disaster; we might grow to distrust all that we were, and be aided in our distrust by the fact that we no longer have any mementos of that former time. 

            What would these look like, this distrust and this enforced enlightenment?  What would it look like to no longer care for what we cared for–after all, we were raised in the arms of these destroyed things as though in a mother’s arms–but care nonetheless in continuing? And what makes such care, in the sense of Sorge, Heidegger’s care, which he found in our most mundane, to our most profound, tasks, indestructible?  Is it in fact indestructible?  Nietzsche reminds us, in his Will to Power notes, that to triumph but then to add For What? to not know the wherefore of your triumph, is to add one triumph the more; it is to get a glimpse of ourselves without our long-worn garments.  But this word, this expression, triumph, it speaks, not only of care, but of care in the highest and loftiest sense: care as what is most worthy of our pride, care even at the expense of what was once the dearest.

            But what do we tend to do instead, instead of caring still while there is nothing to care for, caring and tending to the careless?  We invest our care in remembering, in reciting the fragments, in pretending to know something about the fragments, though more than their philological material, their very comprehensibility, could have been lost in the disaster, might remain lost in the aftermath.  While one might invest himself so in dreaming and remembering the original beginning of a tradition, another, this new being, made new by pain, remains iconoclastic unto the end, in opening the doors to new traditions against the tradition, opening the doors to the lack of tradition or a ground on which to stand, opening the doors to our undoing.

December, 2016

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