FEATURED IN (RE)CONSTRUCTING “A IS A” BY O.G. ROSE
To look ahead (as will be elaborated on), our ontology is one of “ ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ is ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ (without B)” (or A/B for short) versus “A is A” (or A/A). A/B entails an orientation that never achieves full completion, and, if genuine, doesn’t attempt like A/A to achieve completion through self-deception or (false) “holes.” “Lacks” and “holes” are very similar, and both create “ambiguities,” for they exist between “the present” and “the absent” (like Schrödinger’s Cat). Because we are A/B, we must face ambiguities and decide if, in our minds, they are “lacks” or “holes.” More often than not, when we decide ambiguities are “holes,” we are falling into a temptation to idealize and project, a temptation which can help us avoid “lacks” (strangely and problematically). Since we choose how we experience “lacks,” we can choose to use them like “holes” to deny A/B (by projecting over A/B something more like A/A), which means that instead of accepting something “tense” and difficult about our very being and ontology, we can run from ourselves. “Lacks” won’t stop us from using them like “holes,” and since our relationship to “lacks/nothings/holes” is ambiguous, we have the luxury to choose how we see and experience them (suggesting we have freedom which we’ll likely use poorly).
A/B entities like ourselves must learn to live with and manage essential tension, and we must learn not to use ambiguity to “plausibly deny” the existence of “lacks” in favor of self-serving “holes.” If we fail to learn this (as we’ll discuss in the papers on Freud deeply indebted to Cadell Last), our mental health will likely suffer. Since A/B is our ontology, we are capable of creating ambiguities, and because “holes” make life easier (in helping us avoid “wholistic” reality, which is existentially challenging, as will be expanded on in “The Age of Hysteria” by O.G. Rose), the temptation will be for us to make “holes” versus accept “lacks.” We naturally prefer the self-serving versus the self-humbling, which suggests the majority will likely live according to “holes” instead of “lacks” they integrate “wholistically” into themselves. Paradoxically, those who deny their own “essential incompleteness” (A/B-ness versus A/A-ness) will be those who likely live surrounded by “holes,” while those who accept “essential incompleteness” and integrate “lack” into their being (“wholistically,” since “without B” is an essential part of ourselves) are those who will better resist the temptation of “holes.” To deny (relative) nothingness spreads it (as “holes”); to accept (relative) nothingness contains it through integration (as “lacks”).
Wherever reality isn’t all there (“without B”), there is uncertainty about what is there, and though I think Thomas Jockin is correct that “a nothing that ‘is there’ must be a ‘lack,’ ” we still decide if we feel that way. If we want, we can decide there is “nothing” there, “a hole,” or “a lack.” Considering this, we often experience ambiguity, a kind of “Schrödinger’s Cat” which is both alive and dead (until we “open the box,” per se, by making a decision). An ambiguity is not a “x and y” but a “x/y,” a thing that exists in a state of “both-ness.” In that “both-ness” of x/y, ambiguity can allow us to decide if it is (just) x or (just) y. One person might choose/see x, while another chooses/see y. Ambiguity is “both-ness,” an uncertain potentiality that makes space for interpretation (into a “singularity” of x or y based on our preference, understanding, etc.). All apparent, supposed, etc. “nothings” are experienced ambiguously (even if they are actually “lacks”), for there is “nothing” to force a singular experience. While running into a cat practically forces us (due to spacetime) to only experience “a cat,” I am not phenomenologically forced to experience what I am “toward” while it isn’t present (“without B”) in any particular way. As I’m not “forced” to experience the future as x versus y — as me being a CEO versus me being a cook — I am not “forced” to experience “the life of another person” (a “hole”) as “full of romance” or “full of drama” — I decide. Similarly, I decide if I am “lacking” what exceeds or is outside of me, or if I consider it nothing (and unworthy of note).
Ambiguity is part of life, but considering “(W)hole Hope,” it seems we are also able to create or “see” ambiguities that aren’t already there in self-serving ways; in other words, we can create “holes” (and so fall into temptation). It seems we need to learn to tell the difference between “created ambiguities” (“holes”) and “ontological ambiguities” (“lacks”), “ambiguities” we organize our lives around to get what we want, avoid difficulties, etc. versus “ambiguities” with which we can change our lives, expectations, etc. upon accepting. If we make ambiguities outside of ourselves, we create “space” in external things in which to interpret them in a manner we like, while if we are ambiguities (ontologically), the world cannot help us make sense of ourselves. We are our problem versus there just be problems to face; our problem is only manageable, never solvable.
Accepting that we are “essentially ambiguous” and “(in)complete” seems very difficult for us: we want ambiguity for the sake of “holes,” but we don’t want to be ambiguous (and entail essential “lacks”) — that’s going too far. And yet to avoid the temptation of “holes” (which is to avoid self-serving “created ambiguities” for idealization, projection, etc.), it seems critical that we accept that “lacks” and/or “ontological ambiguities” are integrated into our very ontology and reality, for this “acceptance” helps us fight the temptation. There is ontological reality to ambiguity, for indeed we are A/B not A/A (even if we require “a sense of” A/A to function, reminiscent of Wittgenstein on the need for “a sense of” certainty), and indeed the correct response to “ontological ambiguity” is to “accept it” versus create ambiguity by which we can tell ourselves there is no ontological ambiguity. That’s the strange paradox: we can be tempted “to create ambiguity” precisely to “plausibly deny” “ontological ambiguity,” leaving us in a state of existential “bad faith.”
Arguably, in practice at least, we must singularize ambiguity, for otherwise we couldn’t function. Spacetime and our very brains won’t let us experience something as “x/y”: we must experience either x or y. Unfortunately, forced to singularize, it is more likely we’ll singularize in favor of “holes” versus “lacks.” “Lacks” demand radical changes of us, while “holes” help us project, idealize, and feed our egos. Humans get to decide what falls under the category of “ambiguous” and how that “ambiguity” is singularized, and in literature characters can be seen doing this in ways that are self-serving, paradoxically using “created ambiguity” to avoid “ontological ambiguity” (which could be to use “holes” to avoid “lacks”). But since assumptions and ambiguity play a necessary and logical role in our lives, we cannot simply say that people shouldn’t use these categories, which would make our lives easier. Instead, we have to play with fire, and fire can keep us warm or burn us alive.
Alright, so be it, but how do we play with fire? Well, for one, we have to learn how to think, which is a focus of The True Isn’t the Rational by O.G. Rose. But we won’t think well if we don’t know who we “are,” and that means we must pursue ontology further. For now though, we’ll focus on the problem of “lacks” versus “holes” — most of (Re)constructing “A is A” will be focused on ontology anyway.
Perhaps living by “holes” often entails believing that we aren’t ontologically integrated with “lacks,” “gaps,” and the like, which would suggest that if we don’t own (relative) “nothingness” (a Schrödinger-esq “space” of “hole/lack” which we interpret based on our decisions), we’re still going to live in relation to “nothingness,” just not in a healthy way. As we can’t escape ideas because we must have them, so we can’t escape “without B” because we must be “toward” that which we aren’t and that which ultimately escapes us. And as it is the case that if we try to avoid ideas, we’ll just end up absorbing random ideas (like secondhand smoke), so if we try to avoid “nothingness,” we’ll still end up in a relationship to “nothingness,” just not one that is conscious, careful, systematic, and ego-boosting. We cannot escape “without B,” and if we try, we’ll probably fall into “holes” versus learn to be “whole” (with our “lacks”).
Since we cannot escape our ontology of “lacks,” of our “toward-ness” to “without B,” we will always have the capacity to live according to “holes” — we can never escape temptation. But if we recognize that we are “without B,” then we will prove better able to resist this temptation to project, idealize, and flee our egos. “Lacks” should ground our hope and, through a kind of ontological humility, make our hope “whole”; otherwise, our hope will lead us to a place where we fall into “holes.” We need “lacks” to fight the myth of completeness, to ascent to “a philosophy of the lacks,” per se, which means we need to always live “toward” “without B,” but that also means we must live with the perpetual possibility and temptation of “holes.” The same ontological reality (“without B”) that makes completeness impossible is simultaneously what makes it possible for us to “fantasize” about a possibility of completeness. We cannot “deconstruct away” the temptation of “holes”: again, it is a problem that cannot be solved, only managed. But we can and must manage it, for if we don’t learn to accept the “hole” inside of us (and find “wholeness” in it), then we will likely end up “throwing holes out” of ourselves and living “toward” those “holes,” attracting ourselves toward idealistic projections, time and time again.
Ultimately, the answer is not to deny nothingness, which would be to provide ourselves with “a sense of (false) completeness” (for, alluding to Zeno, if there was no nothingness, everything would be one), for this denial would prove false: “without B” is there, undeniable — a “lack.” We must learn to live with nothingness and trust it as “lacking” versus project into it as a “hole,” but this is also an effort that we cannot achieve once and be done with it. We must put in the effort daily: as will be expounded on, we must learn to live healthily with tension and dialectics. There is no easy way to live, but there are good ways.
To close and summarize:
We end up with “hole hope” when we deny “lacks” or treat all “lacks as nothing.”
We end up with “whole hope” when we accept “lack” as essentially part of our lives.
Alright, but what is the nature of our relationship to (relative) “nothings,” to “without B(s)” (that are, to us, “hole/lack(s)” until we decide how we relate to them)? Well, it’s a relationship of trust more than “living” (as will be discussed), but before we approach that topic, we should trace out a critical distinction between “thinking” and “perceiving,” the understanding of which is necessary both so that we can think well and so that we possess proper ontological self-understanding. Before that though, understanding “paradoxes” is a good step.