The Spirit of Lack

There is a common belief propagated by both psychology and philosophy that the self-conscious mind finds itself cut off from any of the satisfaction and security created by a feeling of being reconciled with the world. This idea echoes the biblical concept of the Fall with its message that humanity has been condemned to an eternal yearning for a return to the Paradise lost.

Alienation is a real, psychological phenomenon and the source of untold human anxiety. The basis of this angst lies in our lack of a sense of wholeness. However, if we approach the problem of fulfilment as a question of the development of our sapiens potential rather than the loss of our relationship with the natural world, then the anguish becomes rooted not in what we have lost but in what we have not yet been able to obtain. The more we learn the more we realise how ignorant we are.

Our natural thirst for learning is so unconsciously strong that many just give up. The vanity of trying to learn everything is overwhelming. Buried in all human self-consciousness is this spirit to know our world and the Universe around it. It is the most powerful driving force we have if it is allowed to blossom. It can be seen in our so-called Oedipal complex and it is responsible for all human greatness as well as all our dismal failings. It is forward looking and the dissatisfaction and insecurity we feel in our lives is derived from the subconscious fear that we are not progressing, or not progressing enough, or even that we are falling behind.

What the myth of the Fall does, however, is turn that drive-for-knowing completely around so that our yearning works in a perversely backwardly orientated and nostalgic way. This not only distorts the perspective of our feeling of alienation, it also instils a fear of our authentic drive for knowing. From this fear came the Faust myth, which reinforces the biblical idea of the relationship between knowledge and the devil.

It is what we lack that we desire. And it is the power that makes lack a motivating spirit in itself … the spirit of lack. But fir that spirit to be purposive and positive the lack it strives to obtain has to be situated in the future, as that which needs to be obtained, rather than struggling for that which has been left aside. Only when we can escape from the nostalgic narrative that burdens all human societies, will we be able to make substantial and meaningful progress toward authentic human fulfilment.

The stars are so far away. We know this now, but we also know that we must try and reach them, just as we were able to reach the most distant isles and sail around our world. We see where we must go, but the vision is frustrating because we know that our own lives will be too short for us to get there, that humanity itself will become extinct before we can achieve our ultimate purpose.

But this is a short-sighted pessimism, what we constantly forget is that we are just part of a process which has still hardly even begun. A human process that has been constantly thwarted by the anti-human historical process propagated by our civilisations, but also an authentic and real potential in humanity that has to one day evolve, because it needs to evolve.   

Necessity deems that our epoch be a birth or death time, a period of transition or disintegration. An evolution unto the sapiens spirit of humanity or a decay into the self-swallowing finality of the anti-human process that our civilisation is pushing us toward. To avoid this finality the human spirit must break free of the anti-human historical narrative and allow an authentically human historical process to emerge at last.

Our humanity, as such, is in a foetal stage, evolving within the womb of its own nemesis, the anti-human, waiting to be born.

This will happen when our sapiens from has grown from its lava body, metamorphosing into a shape that it is too big for the anti-human structure of civilisation to bear anymore. The birth of the authentically human will be difficult at first, the new spirit of lack will have to learn how to crawl forward by itself and nourish itself, but when it is born it will be protected by purposiveness and the hunger to know and create anew from the new authentically human perspective that is anchored in a deeply forward-looking, anti-nostalgic spirit of lack.  

A NOTE ON “LACK”

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Nothing changes until it can change. No changes happen, and no new things are created, until there is the technology and the know-how that can bring those changes about.

All lack can be abolished through knowledge and the application of technology, once that technology exists, to the abolition of lack. If the technology is lacking, know-how is needed to create it, and more know-how is needed to apply the technology to that other thing that is lacking.

But, what is lack?

Lack may be felt, or it may be imagined. It is in the realm of imagined lack that creativity becomes the protagonist. Lack can also be universal or local or individual. An egalitarian economy has to be based on a science of lack, which in turn, needs to be rooted in necessity. The social-utopian slogan “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” is, fundamentally, a question of lack.

Our Lack of Humanity

What Civilisation lacks above all else is precisely the one thing we all share; our humanity.

Without the binding force that humanity possesses, societies feel fragmented; there is a sense that things are not properly put together; that everything is a mess. There is a feeling that the System enveloping society has no feeling for the society itself. Many parts of civilisation seem to be unnecessary or purposeless. The relationship that the individual parts have to the whole is not palpable and things just seem to be there, ad hoc, for no significant reason at all.

The result of this lack is that society becomes a neurotic collective of neuroses, and it becomes incapable of seeing the inherent contradictions in many of the values it upholds. In fact, it is a society that cherishes opposing sets of conscious values, but fails to appreciate the absurdity of the contradiction. It will worship freedom, but champion the needs for ever stricter controls. It will strive for peace, but does so by warring against its enemies at the slightest excuse. It will harken to the need for more human rights and social justice whilst enforcing economies that ensure the flow of money in a continual stream upward to the most privileged classes.

Civilisation desperately needs a psychiatric cure from the terrible neuroses that afflict it. Someone needs to lie our System down on the couch and explain to it once and for all what it is lacking and what it needs to concentrate on and recuperate. The cure is not so hard once the patient accepts the facts and looks for the lack within itself; for the cure is there, and always has been. In fact, it is the material that constitutes the very basis of civilisation itself. We call it “humanity”.

DIVISION AND LACK: OUR ANTI-HUMAN CONDITION

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Race, religion, nationality and gender are all ideological/identity forming forces that contribute to the segregation and annihilation of humanity. Subsequently the human condition could easily be defined by division and lack: the division into anti-human identities and the continuous yearning for what is lacking that stimulates and/or is stimulated from that division. Division and lack creates a very vicious circle. The consciousness of lack engenders an identity forming sense of “difference from”. This itself creates an anchoring in the identity defined by lack that searches for more differences and more lacks to set it further apart.

But can we call such a continually dividing cycle “the human condition”? Isn’t it rather the anti-human condition? Anti-human: that which pulls us away from our condition as a species. That which pulls us away from our authentic human condition.

If this is so then the vital human question must be, how can we escape this vicious scarring circle of continual separation from ourselves? How can we heal the divisions between us and reconstruct a true sense of belonging to the species we are?

We are not talking about a complete destruction of differences. Paradoxically, difference has to lie at the base of the human condition – but what we want to dispute is the way we perceive necessary division and lack. The great Identity factors (nationality, race … etc.) need to be de-valuated in order to allow humanity-unifying principles to breathe and flourish. Nationality, language, class, etc., are principal nodal points, fixing meaning in the chain of our perception of reality. But what this creates is a growing away from the whole, when it should be a growing within the whole. The growing within would be an elevator of real human affirmation, rather than our current stepping-stone ladder, running away and leaving each one of us on a tenuous limb away from the centre which is the individual as a human being.

By stripping away the anti-human nodal points, we achieve a more transparent beginning for each individual. Each one of us is essentially born into-the-world as a part of the human species, and that human, Sapiens identity should not be removed from any human being. As long as this condition is established as a first priority, even a later re-establishment of the nodes will not be as divisive as it is now. Being named and obtaining a language to communicate with will lose their divisive qualities and instead be appreciated as an element of variegation within the whole. Languages become things that need to be acquired rather than a means of distinguishing your difference from the rest of humanity.

But where the nodes of languages may be seen as an enriching element in the human experience other nodes may need to be radically nullified – or even completely eradicated if they inherently contradict human values.

Individual identity usually moves through the nodes of name, sex, family, neighbourhood, region, society, state, religion – or lack of it – economic class, politics, clubs, and so on. But human identity, on the other hand, only needs a recognition and empathy with other humans. As a homo sapiens, humans need to know things. As a homo habilis, we need to be technological and creative, as well as needing to ensure basic needs for survival: shelter, food and drink, protection against extreme climate conditions, etc.. Contact and co-operation with other human beings should be stressed. As should communication and cohabitation. Cooperation is creative. Technological and problem solving projects are desirable. Division and lack are not.

Humanitarianism, or Sapienism, should be a process of resolving divisions and problems caused by lack, it should not be a means of exploiting it. The vicious circle of division and lack has to be broken out of if we are ever to save ourselves from the destructive self-ingurgitating effects of the maelstrom it creates.