Book II in The True Isn’t the Rational trilogy by O.G. Rose
Introduction to “(Re)constructing A Is A” by O.G. Rose
Are we who we think we are?
Are we who we think we are? In Hegel, every “re” is “(re),” meaning that we never “remember” something, for what we “bring back to us” in our minds is different from what we experienced. There is no “re” in life, only newness and creation “in the image and likeness” of what came before. Life is always new, which in one way is exciting, but in another way is terrifying. The ground beneath our feet is always slipping away. Will it slip away and leave only a hole? Is it only a matter of time before we fall? Or do we somehow manage to keep standing even though nothing is holding us up? Is life a constant miracle? Are we all Peter walking on water? How can we avoid ever looking down?
Heidegger encouraged us to “make clearings” for new thought, but every clearing runs the risk of being left empty. To tear down in the name of constructing something new is to risk losing hope halfway through the process, leaving us with nothing. An effort we will not see through to the end is an effort we perhaps shouldn’t start: mediocrity can be better than misery, though magnificence is best of all. Can we start a journey we will complete? What if the journey can only be completed by us never stopping it? This seems to be the nature of Hegel’s “Absolute Knowledge” — it is a journey that’s destination is substantiated by the perpetuation of it. Is an endless journey a real journey? After all, there’s no progress: we change with every step, and so is always vanishing the person against who we can determine if progress has been made or lost. Perhaps, but perhaps there is progress because our eyes change, and we must stay on the journey to develop the eyes to tell if we have moved. How convenient — sounds like self-delusion. Yes, it might be: if the self is always changing, all ideas of the self must be wrong. In a way, all self-considerations must be self-delusions. Perhaps, but are all delusions equal? Do we have the eyes to tell?
We are not merely beings, but beings organized and defined according to “lacks.” “Lacks are not nothing” though, which means that we are defined according to “what is here yet not.” It is tempting to make these realities “holes” into which we can project solutions to all our problems, but we must rise up to resisting this temptation by learning to live dialectically with “perpetual tension.” Aristotle’s famous “A is A” suggests that identity is ultimately a “stable state,” a thing resting in itself as itself — but we are not so “securely” constructed, nor are we “nothings” that must simply construct ourselves “out of” that nothing. Instead, we are “(re)constructions,” which is to say we are always constituting ourselves through an act that must be (re)done just as soon as it is finished and begun. There is no completion in us, for we are “(in)completions,” which means that a “completed us” is dead. And yet our brains necessarily view “incompletion” as a negative, as something that must be corrected into “completion.” And so our brains are out to kill us, and yet without our brains, we die.
Western thought has prioritized “being” over “lack,” and that means it has prioritized the thinkable, observable, understandable, and completable, but “(Re)constructing ‘A Is A’” will put our focus on the unthinkable, the unobservable, the under-standing, and the unfinishable. This is not a book favoring completion, but it is also not a book favoring nihilism and radical deconstruction. This is a book of (in)completion and (re)construction: this is a book about how there is always more life to live.