Thomas J.J. Altizer
February, 2005
 Is guilt namable in a postmodern world, or even speakable as a guilt which is an actual guilt, and actual as an interior and individual guilt? Is the very advent of postmodernity the advent of a world or horizon in which the interior itself becomes exterior, or undergoes a metamorphosis by passing into a truly new and exterior totality, a totality wholly other than any possible interiority? Thereby what was once actual as interiority would not only become truly anonymous, but ultimately groundless, a groundlessness foreclosing the possibility not only of any possible realization of itself, but of any possible realization other than an exterior realization. Every such exterior realization must inevitably foreclose the possibility of any possible internal or interior ground, and thus foreclose the possibility of an interior and individual guilt, but this foreclosure need not mean an actual dissolution of guilt, for it could well make possible a transfiguration of guilt itself, a transfiguration whereby an interior guilt is truly exteriorized, and thence becomes embodied in a new exterior totality.
 That guilt which we once so deeply knew, a truly interior and individual guilt, was inseparable from an interior and individual impotence, an impotence in the very depths of the will itself, thereby calling forth the actuality of an individual will that is free and impotent at once, and if this is the only freedom of the will that we have actually known and realized, it is a freedom inseparable from an interior impotence or guilt, so that here the fullest expressions of freedom are inseparable from the fullest realizations of guilt, as fully manifest in a uniquely modern tragic hero or heroine. Now such tragedy is impossible if only because an individual freedom is impossible, or an individual freedom is impossible which is an interiorly  enacted or interiorly realized freedom, an interior domain that is now being fully exteriorized, thereby ending every possible interior actuality. But that is an ending that is not a simple ending but far rather a transfiguration, and not only a transformation of the interior into the exterior, but an ultimate transformation of every interiority that we have known, so that this very interiority now becomes the opposite of itself, thus giving birth to an absolutely new guilt, even if a wholly nameless guilt.

 Now guilt is universal as it never was before, for if once we knew that all humanity is a guilty and fallen humanity, now we know a totality that is far beyond humanity as a truly negative totality, a beyondness foreclosing the possibility of knowing this totality as a fallen or guilty totality, now the very language of guilt and evil is foreclosed, and foreclosed by the disappearance of its deepest ground. Nevertheless, a truly new impotence is now manifest, and one far more universal than any impotence which we knew before, and if guilt itself is now disappearing, this very disappearance is releasing a total impotence that is absolutely new, and absolutely new as an all comprehending impotence.
So it is that an ancient melancholy is passing into a truly new depression, a depression wholly beyond all possible individual enactment, and hence beyond all individual responsibility, but precisely thereby it is all comprehensive as melancholy cannot possibly be, a comprehensiveness reflecting that new totality embodying an absolute transfiguration of all interior domains, as now an interior negativity truly and actually becomes all in all. Historically, this is absolutely new, so that we can truly know that an end of the world is now occurring, and the end of that world which was once our own, and even once our own in our own individual guilt and impotence, an impotence and guilt that is no more, and is no more because now it is absolutely universal. Perhaps nowhere is this universality more openly manifest than in the transformation of our language and consciousness of guilt, and if guilt is now actually unspeakable, or unspeakable as an interior and individual guilt, thereby is born a truly new innocence, but an innocence inseparable from a universal and total impotence.

 Guilt was once inseparable from an ultimate and comprehensive self-laceration, a self-laceration that is an internal and individual self-negation, yet what we once knew as an individual and interior freedom is inseparable from such self-negation, because it is inseparable from a continual enactment of itself, and hence a continual negation of that which is other than itself. Yet, here, that which is most other than itself is most deeply within, it is not an exterior ground which is negated in the realization of interior freedom, it is far rather an interior ground, and that very interior ground that is wholly other than oneself. Hence an interior and individual freedom is only possible as a consequence of an ultimate self-division, a dichotomy of consciousness which we have known as self-consciousness, and a self-consciousness only possible when consciousness can know and realize its own other, and an other which is truly the otherness of oneself. Self-consciousness is inseparable from the realization of that otherness, or impossible apart from a doubling of consciousness itself, that is a doubling making possible all interior conflict, which is most deeply a conflict with oneself, and only that conflict makes possible what we have known as an individual and interior freedom.
Hence that freedom is inseparable from guilt, and from an individual and interior guilt, so that the absence of that guilt is a decisive sign of the absence of such freedom, an absence inseparable from a truly new impotence. One of the many ironies of our situation is the very ubiquity of our language about freedom, yet clearly this is not an actual language but only a comprehensive chatter, a chattering free of every genuine consciousness of freedom, as fully manifest not only in our politics and in the mass media, but in our religious life as well, or in all that religious life that is now publicly manifest. Perhaps nothing is more revealing of this religious life than the absence of all sense of damnation, a damnation once known to be universal as a consequence of the fall, and a damnation which is the source of the most absolute guilt. Not only is an absolute guilt now totally absent, but, so, too, is an actual guilt, and an absence which can be known as marking the disappearance of all that we once knew as freedom itself.
The first actual language of an interior freedom was given us by Paul, who likewise and even thereby gave us our first actual language of an interior and individual guilt, this eventually made possible the Augustinian theological revolution, which established a uniquely Western language and understanding of self-consciousness. Not only did this make possible a uniquely modern literature and art, but a uniquely modern philosophy as well, each revolved about a uniquely modern center or subject, and each realized a totality of that subject or center, a totality that is now truly reversing itself. Nowhere is this reversal more openly manifest than in the advent of a consciousness which is free of all actual guilt, this is not to be confused with a consciousness that is simply innocent of guilt, or one that has never been open to guilt. For this is a postmodern condition, one only possible as a consequence of the ending of modernity, and hence the ending of a uniquely modern or post-Classical guilt, an ending making possible a truly new innocence.
Yet this new innocence is inseparable from a new impotence, an impotence never known before, and one simply impossible for a consciousness that has never been a guilty consciousness, and a totally guilty consciousness, one whose reversal issues in this new innocence. So it is that this new innocence is a new shallowness, one in which depth itself has passed into a new and all comprehensive surface, a surface wholly without depth, and precisely thereby a truly anonymous surface, a surface which is absolutely anonymous, thereby ushering in a truly new world. Now power and impotence are indistinguishable, or, rather, not only is power now absolutely other than freedom, but absolutely other than any possible interiority, it is a purely exterior power, and it is only as such that power can now be actual and real. Nowhere is this more fully manifest than in our public domains, public domains in which there is only the simulacrum of freedom, and only the simulacrum of individuality and interiority as well, and if these are truly innocent domains, they are innocent only as the consequence of the absence of freedom, an absence of freedom which is the absence of guilt.
Guilt was once the consequence of the acceptance or willing of an ultimate responsibility, an individual responsibility that can never be fulfilled, hence it inevitably gives birth to a truly individual guilt, a guilt that is mine and mine alone, following a responsibility that is mine and mine alone. This responsibility can know a responsibility for every actual act, hence it can know a responsibility for every evil act that has occurred, this issues in a totally guilty consciousness, and totally guilty because it is a totally responsible consciousness. The masters of our interior domains are the deepest witnesses to such a totally responsible consciousness or conscience, and these include figures not only as opposite as Paul and Nietzsche, but as extraordinarily divergent as Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky, or Kierkegaard and Proust, and if their work has given us our most profound portrait of guilt, that is a portrait inseparable from an absolute responsibility, and an absolute responsibility which is an absolute freedom.
Now it is an absolute responsibility which most deeply knows guilt, here guilt is a consequence of life itself, or of a life that is a truly responsible life, a life accepting full responsibility for every act, and a responsibility for all the consequences of each act. That responsibility is freedom itself, a freedom that is an interior and individual freedom, and a freedom inseparable from an interior and individual guilt, a guilt that is an inevitable consequence of a full responsibility for ones every act. This responsibility, in its deepest depths, knows a full responsibility for every act that has ever occurred, as most purely enacted in Nietzsches vision of Eternal Recurrence, and just as Nietzsche along with Kierkegaard is our greatest modern master of guilt, a simple reversal of either Kierkegaard or Nietzsche can issue in that new innocence that now abounds among us. Is this in fact what has occurred? Is it a reversal of the very depths of late modernity that made possible the advent of postmodernity?
One decisive sign of late modernity is a wholly new consciousness of evil, an evil now known as an absolute evil precisely because it is known as an absolute nothingness, thereby disappears all understanding of evil as a privation of the good, and now and for the first time an absolute evil can be known as inseparable from Godhead itself. Now it is impossible to think of God, or to think deeply or purely of God, without thinking of evil, and only now is a genuine or comprehensive theodicy born, one occurring not only in German Idealism, but in a truly new poetry and imaginative vision, wherein an ultimate evil can be known and celebrated as an inevitable consequence of life and energy itself. So, too, does guilt realize a truly new identity in late modernity, and not only in its new and comprehensive depths, but in a truly new reconciliation or transfiguration made possible only in those depths, as profoundly enacted by Blake, Goethe, and Hegel, and if this issues in the ecstatic celebration of a Nietzsche or a Mallarme, this is nonetheless the ending of an old world, and an ending only universalized in our own time, and universalized in the very advent of postmodernity.
Certainly postmodernity is not a return to a primordial innocence, or a return to a truly initial or original humanity, indeed, it is not a return at all, but a forward movement into a truly new world. Thus it is not only the consequence of the ending of modernity, but it is a metamorphosis of late modernity itself, and a metamorphosis of the most purely negative forces in late modernity, and as these forces burn themselves out, they call forth their own opposites, and their own integral opposites, opposites now realized not only as a new innocence, but as a new and truly universal shallowness or surface, and a surface in which depth itself is simply impossible. In no way is this to be confused with an archaic or primitive condition, it is rather the very opposite of that condition, and opposite not only in the ubiquity of a language of signs as opposed to a language of symbols, but opposite in a truly new society and communication, one wholly artificial from every previous point of view, and one not only artificial but one virtually empty of everything once manifest as humanity itself.

 But is this new humanity truly innocent, above all is it innocent of evil, or innocent of a willed or enacted evil, an evil for which one could be genuinely responsible? No one believes that evil has now come to an end, but does evil exist in that which is truly or genuinely postmodern, or that which is actually our new world, or our new and seemingly innocent consciousness? Is not evil far rather a vestige of the past, a past that actually is no more, but nonetheless lingers in the memories and echoes of the past, echoes and memories that bind only the weak, or bind those who are not yet fully postmodern? Liberation is now being offered to all, and even offered by those who are most responsible for our bondage, or responsible for our exterior bondage, the only bondage that now can be known as such, and presumably the only barrier to full liberation. In these very calls to liberation evil is openly identified as a bondage to the past, and even a bondage to a sacred or holy past, a past the very opposite of postmodernity, hence one bonding with the deepest and purest chains, and chains that only can be released by an awakening to postmodernity.
Now we know that these very enemies of our new world can name our world as a truly Satanic world, a world whose lord is Satan, and a world the very opposite of every possible sacred or righteous world. So, too, the dominant spokesmen for our world can only speak of evil in speaking of these enemies, enemies whom they can know as enemies of democracy and freedom, but the authorized spokesmen for our Western religious traditions were only a century ago enemies of freedom and democracy, and those Western traditions are just as ancient as are Islamic traditions, and in their deepest ground just as opposed to postmodernity. Thus we can observe the fascinating paradox that the most religious nation in the modern Western world is the fullest embodiment of postmodernity, and here religion is a truly traditional religion, far more so than anywhere else in the West, and yet its very conjunction with postmodernity has issued in a traditional religion freed of all actual religious or sacred tradition, and most manifestly so in its freedom from an ultimate guilt, or from any actual guilt at all.
We might also observe that our contemporary Western religions are not only innocent of guilt, but innocent of freedom as well, never since the ending of the medieval world has our religious world been so closed to freedom, and not only closed to the freedom of thinking and of speech, but closed to that freedom which is a reflection of a full responsibility, or a freedom which is responsibility itself. Nowhere in our world is there a more open or more manifest abnegation of responsibility than in our religious world or worlds, nowhere else is genuine knowledge more openly slighted or ignored, and nowhere else can we encounter such a comprehensive proliferation of pre-modern language and understanding. Here, lies our deepest opposition not only to modern science, but to any genuine form of modern thinking, so that not only has theology itself virtually come to an end in these worlds, but, so, too, has ended everything that is recognizable as art, or anything elsewhere manifest as freedom. Do not our religious worlds approximate the world of Dostoyevskys Grand Inquisitor, and do they not offer a peace or redemption that is possible only through the loss of freedom, or the loss of every freedom which is not the freedom of obedience?
While postmodernity is seemingly making it impossible to speak of God, or to speak of God through a real and actual language, here, too, a metamorphosis of late modernity is at hand, a late modernity that in its depths could know the God that has been given us as abstract Spirit or the Bad Infinite, or an absolute No-Saying and an absolute No-Saying alone, or as that Moby Dick who is a wholly alien absolute nothingness. This is the God whose death is first enacted by Blake, an enactment realizing the now vacuous body of God as Satan, a Satan whose full epiphany only occurs in late modernity, an epiphany so comprehensive as to realize absolute nothingness itself as a wholly embodied totality. If Finnegans Wake is an epic enactment of this totality, therein we can see and hear the actual ending of our world, or of our former world, and the actual dawning of a truly new world. Is God namable in that world, or namable through any divine name or image that we have been given, or must God now inevitably be a truly or purely anonymous God?

 Here, the relationship between late modernity and postmodernity is decisively important, for if it is a metamorphosis of the late modern epiphany of God which is realized in the advent of postmodernity, and a metamorphosis of the depths of that Godhead, this could only be a metamorphosis of the totally alien God, of that absolute Other which is most profoundly the absolute otherness of itself, yet it is the very transfiguration of this otherness and this otherness alone which ultimately makes possible the birth of this new world. This transfiguration can concretely be apprehended in the most influential theology of the twentieth century, the theology of the early Barth, one posing an absolute antithesis between the God of religion and the God of faith, or the God of law and the God of grace, an antithesis demanding an absolute shattering or dissolution of the God of religion, even if that God comprehends every God who historically has been known as God. The God of religion is clearly the late modern God, but this is the God who most clearly and most decisively can now be known, whereas the God of grace is the truly hidden God, and one known only in a faith which is faith and faith alone.
It would be tempting to think that the Barth of the Church Dogmatics is our deepest postmodern theologian, but this is the most traditional of all of our real theologies, and the one most removed from the actualities not only of our world but of any world. The truth is that we are bereft of a genuine postmodern theology, and perhaps bereft of a genuine postmodern literature and philosophy as well, what we far rather confront is a truly new void, a truly new vacuity or emptiness, but an emptiness now becoming a genuine totality, and doing so in our very midst. Is a theological response possible to that totality, and could it include an actual language of guilt, and one in genuine continuity with all that we have known and realized as guilt? Late modernity has been a primary if not the primary site of the most ultimate guilt, only then is such guilt called forth philosophically, as in Nietzsche and Heidegger, and only then does it pass into the purest language, as in Kafka and Beckett. So if it is a metamorphosis or transfiguration of this guilt which has occurred in the advent of postmodernity, could the innocence of postmodernity be an absolutely alien or an absolutely impotent innocence, and one inseparable from the metamorphosis of absolute otherness itself?

 Not even ancient Gnosticism could know those ultimate depths of the absolutely alien God that are called forth in late modernity, an epiphany inducing many servants of faith into a new silence, a new silence about God, and one that has not yet abated, as fully manifest in contemporary theology and Biblical scholarship. But is such silence actually possible, and above all actually possible in the new world of postmodernity, it would far rather appear that here silence is actually impossible, and more impossible now than ever previously, or is the very noise of postmodernity a truly new silence? And is this a new silence not only disguising a new impotence, but a new guilt as well, a guilt that can only express itself in a cacophonous noise, one truly cryptic to all, but nonetheless truly meaningful to its enactors, who thereby are genuinely assuaged? Could a new kind of atonement be occurring in such language, one that is truly a metamorphosis of a uniquely late modern atonement, an atonement which is finally the atonement of Godhead itself?
If only because late modernity has been so little investigated theologically, it is extraordinarily difficult to respond to this question, but it is clear that such an atonement occurs in the deeper vision of Blake and the deeper thinking of Hegel, and perhaps even occurs throughout late modernity, which could well account for the truly and ultimately negative epiphanies of God that occur in that world. The truth would appear to be that guilt is deepest and purest in the very enactment of atonement, this is fully clear in the most powerful language of Paul, who created a Christian theology of atonement. Heidegger has given us the deepest philosophical response to Paul, or at least the deepest in the twentieth century, and all too significantly philosophical interpreters of Being and Time have continually failed to understand its enactment of an ultimate guilt, and perhaps because atonement is commonly so alien to the philosophical mind. Yet an atonement surely occurs here, one making possible the ultimate affirmations of this work, and one that perhaps occurs again in the late Heideggers ecstatic enactments of Ereignis, and these could be theologically understood as enactments of the apocalyptic atonement of the uniquely Christian God.
While Heidegger can be understood as the most deeply theological of all twentieth century philosophers, in no other truly major philosopher does there occur such an abatement of all actual language about God, and if he only actually speaks of God in the posthumously published Beitraege, this could account for his refusal to publish this overwhelmingly important work in his own lifetime. All too significantly, here all language about God is a truly negative language, and if this language is directed solely to the uniquely Christian God, this openly  occurs in the deep emphasis in Beitraege upon the abandonment of Being, one that first happened in Christianity and its absolutely transcendent God, an abandonment in which Being abandons beings, but this abandonment is the fundamental event in our history, and one that is now being reversed in the apocalyptic advent of Ereignis. That advent is surely an atoning advent, and an atonement which is inevitably an atonement of the absolutely transcendent God, hence the profound theological offense of the late Heidegger, and one that can be understood as a genuinely Pauline offense.
Heidegger discovered the apocalyptic Paul before this occurred in New Testament scholarship, in his 1920 lectures on the phenomenology of religion, but it is only the late Heidegger who is the truly or fully apocalyptic Heidegger, and if thereby he is an even more purely Pauline thinker, this is a truly new theological thinking, and one with no counterparts in the world of theology. Is it here that Heidegger most deeply thinks atonement, and does so in genuine continuity with his great predecessors, Hegel and Nietzsche, and an atonement that could finally be only the atonement of Godhead itself, as first philosophically enacted by Hegel, an enactment that revolutionized the whole world of philosophy. For the enactment of the death of God in Hegel means no less than this, an enactment only possible when Absolute Spirit has become an absolutely dichotomous Spirit, one wholly and totally alienated from itself, but it is that absolute self-alienation that makes possible the absolute self-negation of Spirit itself, a self-negation that is finally the source of all life and movement. Hegel, too, is an apocalyptic philosopher, and perhaps most deeply so in his very enactment of the death of God in the Phenomenology of Spirit, an enactment which is the ultimate source of an absolutely new world, and an enactment which at bottom is an atoning enactment, one enacting a self-negation which is finally a self-atoning of Absolute Spirit.
Now guilt, and an absolute guilt, undergoes an ultimate or absolute metamorphosis or transfiguration, a transfiguration wherein guilt becomes the very opposite of itself, and does so by passing into an absolute grace. This, too, is a deeply Pauline thinking, for a Pauline grace only occurs by way of a transfiguration of the most ultimate guilt, apart from that guilt grace itself is here wholly meaningless and unreal, but if an atonement of God is wholly closed to Paul, it becomes inevitable as a consequence of the realization of the death of God, a realization first philosophically occurring in Hegel. Only as a consequence of the death of God is it truly possible to know God as abstract Spirit or the Bad Infinite, for it is in that death that Godhead is most absolutely alienated from itself, an alienation that is a self-alienation, and only that absolute self-alienation makes actually possible an absolute self-negation or self-emptying, a self-emptying or self-negation which is not only the center but the deepest ground of a uniquely Hegelian thinking. But that thinking is not confined to Hegel, it ever more comprehensively passes into the fullness of modernity, even if thereby it realizes truly opposite modes, opposite modes which are nevertheless the most driving force of late modernity, and a force finally issuing in an apocalyptic explosion.

 Postmodernity is a consequence of that explosion, now a truly new humanity and new world has been born, but a new world impossible apart from the apocalyptic explosion of modernity itself, one not only ending modernity, but realizing a postmodernity that is a metamorphosis of the most negative expressions of modernity, and expressions that here pass into their very opposite. So it is that the devastating guilt of a late modernity passes into a new innocence, but a new innocence which just because it is a metamorphosis of that guilt is a new and ultimate impotence, an impotence freezing everything that once was life, and issuing in an infinite series of simulacra of life itself. Yes, those simulacra are purely innocent, but this is an innocence which is a purely surface innocence, one foreclosing the possibility of all depth, a foreclosure that is inseparable from this innocence itself. Is this a liberated humanity, one truly liberated from guilt, and thereby liberated from all deep or ultimate illusion, which is a consequence of being liberated from depth itself? Or is it far rather the most enslaved humanity which has yet come forth, the one most truly and most comprehensively impotent, and the one most profoundly closed to the possibility of transfiguration?
Now if Paul is the first purely apocalyptic thinker, the first thinker of an apocalyptic transfiguration, is it possible to express our contemporary situation in a Pauline language, and in a Pauline language of guilt and grace? One possible point of coincidence is that Paul could know his world, and his actual historical world, as a world of apocalyptic darkness, and a world even now coming to an end. It is precisely in the deepest darkness of that world, or in its deepest sin, that an apocalyptic grace is realized, and a grace which is an absolute transfiguration of sin or of absolute guilt itself. That grace occurs in the Crucifixion, a crucifixion which is the very center of Pauline thinking, but this is a crucifixion in which an absolute death occurs, but a death that is an absolutely atoning death, and one effecting an atonement of the ultimate depths of sin itself. Yet apart from those depths the Crucifixion is wholly unreal, just as it is unreal to Pauls Gnostic opponents, opponents who could only know grace, and a pure grace having no point of contact whatsoever with darkness or sin. As opposed to every Gnostic apprehension, a Pauline grace is grace only insofar as it is a transfiguration of sin and darkness, and apart from that darkness and sin it is wholly unreal. Moreover, it is the deepest depths of sin that are transfigured by this grace, and only an awareness of those depths makes possible an awareness of this transfiguration, so that only the deepest guilt makes possible the deepest transfiguration, and for Paul only that transfiguration is transfiguration itself.

 Could a Pauline apprehension know our contemporary innocence as an innocence masking the ultimate depths of sin? And is this innocence at bottom an ultimate guilt, perhaps the most ultimate of all guilts, and precisely because in its very innocence it is most closed to grace? Nothing more deeply aroused Pauls fury than self-righteousness, a self-righteousness so comprehensive today that it is even beyond selfhood itself, and beyond it in the absence of all depth, an absence not only making possible a new innocence, but precluding the possibility of a centeredness that is essential to selfhood, or essential to a real and actual selfhood. If that is an absence foreclosing all possibility of guilt, it precisely thereby precludes everything that Paul could know as an openness to grace, and hence could only be what Paul names as an eternal death. Yet if it is truly and actually an eternal death, then an awakening to that condition could be an awakening to the possibility of an absolute death, and an absolute death that is the Crucifixion, or is that Crucifixion which is Crucifixion and Resurrection at once.
How is it that Christianity could seemingly be so powerful in the new world of postmodernity, and most powerful in its most traditional or most orthodox form, is this wholly an illusion, or is this a decisive sign of this new world, and a new world that may well be the opposite of what it appears to be? Now even if the Crucifixion is most minimal or most disguised in the most powerful forms of contemporary Christianity, could this be the masking of an ultimate horror religiosus, a masking essential to the success of Christianity today, and essential to the success of Christianity in a truly postmodern world? If this is a world wholly without guilt, or wholly without an interior and individual guilt, is it by necessity thereby closed to the Crucifixion, but precisely thereby open to a total innocence or a total serenity? Is it Dostoyevskys enactment of the Grand Inquisitor which is most prophetic of our world, and of our truly contemporary world, a world in which serenity and innocence are all in all, while it is freedom itself which is now most illusory? And is it the absence of freedom which is most essential not only to the success of Christianity today, but to every possible success in our world, or every possible actual realization?
Yet it may well be that the very comprehensiveness of our new innocence could make possible an opening to the depths of an ultimate atonement, an atonement so deep that it transcends depth itself, and is only open to a surface innocence that is immune to all horror, and hence immune to that horror religiosus which is an absolute atonement. Now if it is true that the great body of Christianity has been closed to the depths of Christianity itself, our contemporary Christianity and contemporary world would be in continuity with that body, but if now there is a new freedom from all depth, that freedom is inseparable from a new innocence that in its very innocence could be free of barriers to depth, and thereby if only momentarily open to depth. Could that now occur so as to make possible a new and far more comprehensive or far more universal voyage into the depths, and voyage into the depths of an absolute atonement? Thus far only a few have been able to enter that enactment as it occurs in a Blake or a Hegel, or a Joyce or a Heidegger, but could this now become a voyage for all, and precisely because of our new innocence?

 Perhaps the decisive question here is the question of guilt, and just as the shallowness of the contemporary world has given us our most shallow image and understanding of guilt, could that be essential to a new opening to guilt, and a new opening to an absolute guilt, and that absolute guilt that is the guilt of Godhead itself? Few are even aware of such guilt, despite its primal importance in virtually all of the most powerful enactments of late modernity, yet this innocence could be essential to an opening to that guilt, and essential to a solitary voyage that undergoes a metamorphosis into a universal voyage, and a universal voyage into the depths. Dantes Commedia is a truly important witness here, for there a solitary voyage becomes a universal voyage, and even does so by creating that mimesis that is an absolutely new realism, and a new realism imaginatively enacting for the first time truly actual individuals. Indeed, it is fantasy itself which first ends in the Commedia, and thereafter it will be absent from all of our genuine literature, or absent as a fantasy which is not a realistic fantasy. Perhaps the very proliferation of fantasy in postmodernity is a preparation for a new and universal realistic voyage, such fantasy by its very immersion in illusion could prepare us for a true break from illusion, and do so by sickening us of illusion itself. Thereby we may even lose our illusion of innocence, a loss essential to a realistic voyage, and certainly essential to any voyage into the depths.
Blakes witness, too, is essential here, a Blake who gave us our purest vision of innocence, but here an innocence inevitably and necessarily becoming experience, and finally becoming an experience of the absolute atonement of Godhead itself. This atonement is what Blake apocalyptically enacted as the Self-Annihilation of God, but that is a self-annihilation that is now occurring in everyone, and that everyone who is Here Comes Everybody. It may well be that the innocence of a new postmodernity is a protection from that self-annihilation, just as our new shallowness may well be necessary to shield us from the actuality of our condition, but these can finally only be temporary expedients, only temporary assuagements for our mortal condition. True, they may be necessary to prepare us for our ultimate voyage, but that voyage even now is occurring, and even occurring as a universal voyage, a voyage effecting each and every one of us, and even if this is now only manifest in a universal shallowness, that shallowness will inevitably break, and in the cataclysm that will then necessarily occur, each of us will undergo a self-emptying or self-negation, and a self-negation that will hopefully be an atoning self-negation, thus making possible an absolute and universal atonement.



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