That blessed moment finally came when I could retire from the academic world, and feeling as though I was becoming purged of a true pollution, I sought a haven in the mountains, but having become alienated from a new South, and not being able to surrender Manhattan, I sought and found a home in the Pocono Mountains.  Here David Leahy has a summer home which has become a permanent home, but otherwise I knew no one whatsoever, so that now living apart from virtually any social world, I intended a deeper fulfillment of my all too solitary theological vocation.  My project was a book on Godhead and the Nothing,  and not Godhead and the apophatic or purely mystical Nothing,  but rather Godhead and a purely negative or purely nihilistic Nothing, or that very Nothing which is so deeply embodied in our world.  Of course, I had been drawn to what can be understood as a nihilistic theology from the very beginning of my work, and had long believed that a pure nihilism is the inevitable consequence of the death of God, a nihilism which now and for the first time is the very arena of all  genuine theological voyages, just as it has become the arena of all our deeper imaginative and conceptual voyages.  This is indeed a common judgment in our time, I shared it with a significant number of theologians, and I am far from being alone in being persuaded that this is a fundamental ground of a new fundamentalism and a new conservative or reactionary theology, one now dominating our religious and theological worlds, just as it is also true that nihilism is an impelling force in that new social and political conservatism which so dominates our world.
 Now just as a new nihilism has been understood as an historical consequence of the French Revolution, or even of the English Revolution, nihilism can be understood as an inevitable consequence of all deep revolution.  It has certainly accompanied the genuine revolutions of the modern world, and if the twentieth century is the most revolutionary age in world history, it also can be understood and even thereby as a nihilistic era, as fully manifest in its unique totalitarianisms, and nowhere is nihilism so decisively manifest as it is in our counter-revolutions, so that virtually everyone can understand Nazism as a pure nihilism.  Bergman has long been my favorite film director, and he has given us perhaps our most purely nihilistic films, but all of our deeper films can be understood as being in some genuine sense nihilistic, yet thereby they are inseparably related to our most popular movies, as our pure entertainment is inevitably nihilistic in its impact, as is fully manifest in our postmodern era, an era that it is impossible to understand without understanding nihilism.  All of us are living in a nihilistic world, whether we are aware of it or not, and if we are now living in the most prosperous economic era in Western history, this is nevertheless a deeply empty and vacuous era, as depth of any kind has seemingly vanished, thereby collapsing every real distinction between appearance and reality, or the virtual and the real, or the public and the individual, or the interior and the exterior, or truth and falsehood, or good and evil.
 Not only is this a nihilistic condition, but it also can be understood as an apocalyptic condition, and it cannot be denied that modern nihilism and modern apocalypticism are truly and integrally related.  Neither has fully been manifest or real apart from the other, and just as our deepest revolutionary thinkers have been apocalyptic thinkers, all of our genuine modern revolutions have been manifestly and overtly apocalyptic, even including the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, which certainly brought to an end an old world and inaugurated a truly and even absolutely new world.  But as Nietzsche declared, ever since Copernicus humanity has been falling into a mysterious X, a truly new vacuity or void, one which Nietzsche knew as a new and absolute nihilism, but nevertheless an apocalyptic nihilism, apocalyptic in the totality of its negation of an old world, and apocalyptic in its unveiling of the totality of a new incarnate darkness, a darkness which alone is the site of true apocalyptic dawning, a dawning which Nietzsche could know as the advent of Zarathustra or of an absolutely new Eternal Recurrence.  Clearly, apocalypticism is nihilistic in the totality of its movement of negation, and clearly nihilism is apocalyptic in its ending of an old world.  All of our nihilistic movements have been apocalyptic in a genuine sense, even including Nazism, so that a pure nihilism can be understood as an apocalyptic nihilism, thus raising the question of how it is possible to distinguish nihilism and apocalypticism.
 Both nihilism and apocalypticism are deeply antinomian, truly and even absolutely assaulting all established or given law and authority, so that conservative thinkers can responsibly know modern apocalypticism as a modern nihilism.  Hence the birth of modern nihilism can be known as occurring in the French Revolution, a truly apocalyptic revolution, as first unveiled by Hegel himself.  Yet the very birth of modernity is indistinguishable from the ending of the ancient and primordial movement of eternal return.  With this ending it becomes overwhelmingly manifest and real that there is no possibility whatsoever of a return to an earlier historical time, hence no possibility at all of returning to a pre-modern world, and therefore no possibility of returning to a pre-nihilistic world.  Is the advent of a nihilistic world the advent of a new and absolutely apocalyptic world, or the advent of an essential condition for the dawning of an absolutely new apocalypse, a condition apart from which no such apocalypse is possible?  Have we now indeed truly entered that apocalypse, and despite the darkness of our world is that world finally an apocalyptic world, and an apocalyptic world which has already and finally dawned?  Blake, Hegel, and Nietzsche genuinely and profoundly enacted such an apocalyptic advent, thereby renewing the apocalyptic enactments of Jesus and Paul, but has such an enactment now become realized in our most public and common and universal worlds?
 In my judgment, D. G. Leahy is now our most profound and original thinker, and he is a truly and purely apocalyptic thinker, not only calling forth the totality of the novitas mundi, but purely thinking that totality in what he continually names as the thinking now occurring for the first time, as now thinking itself is and only can be a purely apocalyptic thinking.  Once I moved to the Poconos, I saw even more of David, and I shall never forget his deep affirmations that the world has now actually come to an end, and that even now we are living in an absolutely new apocalypse.  Such an affirmation is not new for a Christian thinker, one has only to think of a Paul or a Luther, and as I had discovered this affirmation and enactment consistently and continually occurs throughout the Christian epic tradition from Dante through Joyce.  But now this affirmation is open for everyone, and is even enacted in our actual acts, or in those acts which are actual in this new world.  Now this situation is very odd indeed, for nothing is seemingly more absurd or illusory than a genuine apocalypticism. Nothing more violates common sense than an affirmation that the world has already come to an end, yet such an affirmation truly resonates in our world, and perhaps far more so than in any previous historical world. It is as though it were simply a statement of what in fact is true, or is even undeniable, or undeniable to those who are awake.
 A genuine paradox is manifest in all deeply and ultimately religious movements, and that is that the deepest depths of our religious or sacred enactments are at bottom identical with our most common and actual enactments, so that truly sacred language is finally a truly common language, as fully manifest not only in the parables of Jesus but also in Zen or Chan Buddhism, and as drawn forth so purely for us by Wittgenstein, who was surely deeply betrayed by an analytic philosophy that could know a common language as simply and only a common language.  Perhaps film is that twentieth century art which most openly captures this identity, and if film is that post-primordial or post-archaic art which truly is an art for everyone, we certainly have been given truly sacred films, but it is all too significant that virtually all of these have vanished from the mass  market, and so far as I know no book has yet been written on this important subject.  Is our deepest religious or sacred life truly invisible to us?   Perhaps it is embodied in architecture, which is surely true in the sacred architecture of the past, but if so it is invisible to us, although Mark Taylor in Disfiguring has explored the sacred dimension of both modern and postmodern architecture, yet this has had little if any effect upon our theological understanding.  Taylor and many others would now have us believe that theological understanding itself has become anachronistic.  If so, it thereby joins all metaphysical understanding, or all deeper conceptual understanding, or even everything that was once manifest as understanding in all previous worlds.
 This, too, is both a nihilistic and an apocalyptic condition, but can it be understood by everyone, or by everyone to whom it is evoked, and understood simply by becoming open to the actualities of our contemporary world?  Is it possible to understand Leahy as the Hegel of our time and world?  His language is certainly more deeply abstract than any other contemporary language, and like Hegels his is a genuinely apocalyptic language, and again like Hegels one truly reflecting his own historical world.  Of course, for both that world is finally the world of the future, and of an apocalyptic future.  Yet that future has already dawned, and is even now our deepest reality, a reality that is truly universal, and is fully manifest wherever consciousness or thinking are actual and real.  Hence this is an apocalypse that truly is known by everyone, and even if this is a knowledge lying beyond or beneath our apparent or manifest knowledge, it is nonetheless real, so that we truly respond to it whenever we confront it, and then it becomes undeniably real for us.  One of the remarkable qualities about Leahy is the power of his voice, as Ray Hart observed one can understand and respond to his speech even when one cannot understand his writing, and as I discovered on very different occasions Leahy can speak so as to be understood by virtually everyone, even if almost no one can now understand his writing.
 I think that there is a genuine truth is this odd phenomenon, and that is that the deepest truth can be genuinely ultimate and openly manifest at once,  a great body of Nietzsches writing fully exhibits this, and at no other point is he more distant from a Hegel or a Heidegger.  Both Christianity and Buddhism know their founders as having spoken such a language, so that a truly common language is a truly deep language, and when ultimate language is actually or fully spoken it has a truly universal impact.  Once I was frequently asked if it is possible to falsify the proposition that God is dead, and I often responded that if it is possible to discover a usage of the word God in contemporary discourse that is truly positive or affirmative, then the proposition would be falsified.  This is in large measure a rhetorical game, although it can be played very seriously in our contemporary philosophical and literary discourse, but it was intended to draw forth the ultimacy of language, and of our contemporary language, and each and everyone of us can respond to this.  There is a profound and final ultimacy of speech that I attempted to draw forth in The Self-Embodiment of God, and this is one that is open to all, so that if something cannot truly or actually be spoken, then it cannot be real, although genuine silence can be a vehicle of speech, and when speech does truly occur, then its impact is not only undeniable but truly universal in its own horizon of hearing, and at bottom such speech can be heard by everyone.
 One of the truly demonic dimensions of every Gnosticism is the chasm that it establishes between the perfect and the common, or the elect and everyone else, and I have never encountered a genuine thinker or artist who exhibited even a trace of such a judgment.  Indeed, this can even be employed as a pragmatic test in the academic world to distinguish the artificial from the genuine.  Blakes The Eternal Humanity Divine and Joyces Here Comes Everybody are both witnesses to and evocations of a universal humanity that is actuality itself, and while this is a humanity that is absolutely other than our seemingly common condition, it is in fact embodied in that condition, and we awaken our actual humanity when we encounter a fully actual or a truly actual speech.  Of course, there can be demonic if not Satanic expressions of speech, but these can never occur apart from genuine laceration, lacerations manifestly occurring in the hearers of such speech, but the very opposite occurs in the realization of genuine speech, and the hearing of that speech is liberation, a liberation accompanied by true joy.  The empiricist may well ask how one can distinguish genuine laceration from genuine joy, and this may well be impossible from any external perspective, but it is not impossible for one who truly hears, and we all at least potentially can truly hear, and true hearing has manifestly had a revolutionary impact upon our history.
 Can we now hear an apocalyptic ending, or do we actually hear an apocalyptic ending?   But this is simultaneously to ask if we hear an apocalyptic beginning, a beginning which is an absolute beginning, and the absolute beginning of absolute apocalypse itself.  While this may well be a specifically or uniquely Christian question, it nevertheless has a universal resonance in our world, and just as it is possible to understand a uniquely modern apocalypticism as a transformation of an original Christian apocalypticism, it may well be possible to understand a contemporary apocalypticism as such a transformation, thus giving a contemporary ironic meaning to the ancient Christian affirmation that the soul is naturally Christian.  Of course, Christianity became a world religion only by negating its original apocalyptic ground, but if we can understand the ending of Christendom as an apocalyptic ending, that ending could then be understood as the renewal of an original apocalyptic ending, and therewith the renewal of apocalypse itself.  But can we hear apocalypse itself in our very midst?  Surely we can know the advent of a dark apocalypse in our world, and know it as being embodied in a nihilistic world, but can we know that dark apocalypse as a joyous apocalypse, and one promising if not embodying an absolute transfiguration?   This very question, perhaps now my primal question, takes me back to my original initiation, an initiation into the very body of Satan, but now a body of Satan that is manifestly a universal body, and one emptying everything and everyone that it enacts.
 If only in this perspective, it is now far easier for me to understand my theological vocation as a surrogate for others.  No doubt others have followed it far more truly than I have, but if I am alone as a theologian of Satan, I am also now apparently alone as an apocalyptic theologian, even if these very vocations now have a universal import that is truly new, perhaps now ending every other theological way, or every way that is closed to this one.  Thus in the twilight of my life, I  sense that I have been given an overwhelming gift.  One might think of my theological life as a canary in the mine, so long as there is any movement at all the darkness is not yet total, but this is a darkness in which genuine mining is occurring, and even if it is unheard and invisible to us, if we can name our darkness we can remain open to that mining, and this naming could be understood as the purest vocation of theology.  Yes, the primary calling of the theologian is to name God, and to name that God who can actually be named by us, and if this calling has seemingly now ended, that could be because the theologian has not yet truly named our darkness, and thus not yet truly named God.  While silence is now the primary path of the theologian, and above all silence about God, this is a silence which I have ever more deeply and ever more comprehensively refused, for I am simply incapable of not naming God, and perhaps most deeply because of that very initiation which I was given.
 Is some such initiation essential to every theologian, or to every fundamental theologian, and is this why genuine theology simply cannot be taught academically, is now inevitably absent from our theological schools, and likewise absent from our public or our common world?  There are those who speak of me as the last theologian, and I must confess that I often think that I am now the only one writing theologically.  Perhaps genuine theological writing has always been a deep curse, and it certainly is a decisive way of dissolving if not reversing all innocence, and above all so in our world.  If we understand Paul as our first theologian, then the thorn in his flesh could well have been theology itself, and just as I do not believe that there has ever been a genuine Christian theologian who was not a Pauline theologian, I do not believe that it is possible to be a theologian apart from a voyage into darkness, and if my theological work has been such a voyage, it was truly initiated by my initiation into Satan.  My primary theological models have been those who have undergone such an initiation, thus I understand a theological naming of God as a naming of darkness, and if now every other naming of God has ended, our theological calling may now be purer than it has ever previously been, and even purer as a theological calling, a calling that can name and enact darkness alone, but that very naming stills the darkness, and stills it so as to make it our own.
 Finally, this is a darkness in response to which we can only say Yes, and if this is our deeper theological calling, one to which everyone is called, my way has been one of naming that darkness as God.  While I believe that ultimately we can only say Yes to God, now that means saying Yes to the absolute darkness or the absolute nothingness of God, and hence saying Yes to absolute nothingness or absolute darkness itself.  My physicist friends once joked with me about how naïve all philosophers of science are, how closed they are to the deep chaos of truly modern science, and modern science truly has said Yes to an ultimate chaos.  Thereby it can be understood to be truly Faustian, but it embraces that absolute No so as to transfigure it into an absolute Yes, and just as my one published article on science is entitled Satan as the Messiah of Nature, genuine science can be understood as a transfiguration of nature, and if only in this sense, it can thereby be understood as a consequence of Christianity.  The Faust myth is perhaps the one truly unique modern Western myth, and whether or not modern science truly can be understood as Faustian, truly modern theology certainly can, and above all a uniquely modern theology, a theology knowing and enacting an absolute No, an absolute No apart from which there cannot possibly be an absolute Yes.  Yet truly to know that No is finally to know that Yes!  Hence the way for us is inevitably the way down, certainly this has been my own theological path, and I believe that ultimately it is shared by us all.
 My one great lament about my own work is that it did not dare to become open to the deepest and most absolute No.  This I had hoped to rectify in my retirement, for this way demands genuine solitude, and genuine isolation as well.  My retirement has given me this, but there is certainly every probability that I will not fully prosecute this calling, in which case I will finally be a theological failure, and I cannot dissociate true theological failure from damnation itself.  Once again I ask how one could be a true theologian without a genuine sense of damnation, by this criterion I surely am a theologian, but inasmuch as I believe that this is a universal condition, all of us finally are theologians, and theologians precisely in thinking about our damnation.  So it is that late modernity is a truly theological age, perhaps more deeply so than any previous age, and if thereby theology is truly disguised, that disguise is dislodged in our darkest moments, then we do think damnation, and damnation is our deepest theological category, our most actual theological name.  Yes, the most actual name of God for us is truly the name of Satan, each of us knows and speaks that name, and we speak it in truly or actually naming our darkness.  Hence all of us know God, or know God insofar as we can name our deepest darkness.  Yes, the world is ultimately dark today, a darkness inseparable from its very emptiness, but in naming that emptiness we become open to its possible transfiguration, and the ultimate actuality of this emptiness cannot finally be dissociated from the possibility if not the actuality of its ultimate transfiguration.

 Yes, the darkness is deepest immediately prior to any possible dawn, but then that darkness can be known as light itself, a darkness inseparable from the advent of light, so that in naming that darkness we do name the light, just as in truly naming the darkness of God we precisely thereby name an ultimate transfiguration.  This has manifestly occurred in our deeper art and poetry, so that we cannot fully be open to the depths of the imagination without being open to the depths of transfiguration itself; so, too, we cannot be open to the depths of the darkness of God apart from being open to an absolute apocalypse, an absolute apocalypse which is an absolute transfiguration, and an absolute transfiguration of the depths of darkness itself.  Yes, our soul is naturally Christian, but only insofar as it is naturally dark. Theologically, our task is to name that darkness, not that I have yet succeeded in truly doing this, but if old age is an age of darkness, I may yet fully become a theologian, and if now theology is impossible for the young, this may well be because theology is now inevitable for the truly old.  It is often said that death is unreal for the truly young, although I have never believed this, for I have known death throughout my life, a knowledge apart from which I could never have become a theologian.

 Nietzsche could know Christianity as the one absolute curse in our history and world.  Now theology itself can be known as such a curse, and if this is true it could only thrive in our darkness, and perhaps it is now far more universally present than we can know, I must confess that I tend to see it everywhere, and to see it everywhere where darkness is truly and actually present.  Yet the actual presence of darkness is truly different from any possible actual totality of darkness.  Such a totality could not possibly be named, or could be named only by way of a total silence, so that in actually naming our darkness we are inevitably open to its very opposite, so that we cannot truly name darkness apart from joy.  This is a joy which I have certainly known theologically, and a joy which I spoke insofar as I could preach, and if all of my genuine theological writing is preaching itself, I can relish an image of myself as a Southern preacher, and perhaps I am the last truly Southern preacher, and if only thereby the last theologian.  Southern literature now appears to be dead, or dead in its deeper expressions, so perhaps I am already dead, and dead above all as a theologian, my theological writing could now simply be the recoil of a recent corpse, but if so I hope that I have died with my boots on, my theological boots, and that these boots could be a useful artifact for future theologians, archeological witnesses to the presence of theology in our desert, for perhaps theology is that one curse than can never finally disappear.
 Must we inevitably die as hollow men or women?  Rilke could declare that our only real fear of death is to die with unlived life in our bodies, and perhaps our only real terror of death is to die with our theological voyage unfulfilled or abated, and if finally there is but one sorrow and that is not to be a saint, that is the sorrow of damnation itself, and I shall never forget John Bunyans  belief that the only certain sign of a damned soul is a peaceful and happy death.  Is our day finally only a long days journey into the night, and is this that archetypal story or plot which finally underlies every actual story, and does so even in a postmodern disavowal of every master plot or key, a disavowal that can disenact every story but this one, for our death is an absolutely inevitable destiny, and finally death itself is the center of every theology, a death wholly transcending any possible decentering, or any possible reversal.  Many theologians can know immortality as the deepest possible pagan belief, as the very refusal of grace itself, but ours is a world in which immortality can no longer actually be thought or actually imagined, and is seemingly possible only by way of  passivity or withdrawal, a withdrawal and passivity that can be known as death itself, and even if images of death are our most forbidden images, they are precisely thereby our most hypnotizing and compulsive images, and those very images by which we are most immediately awake.
 If our awakening is then an awakening to death, it is our own death which occasions such awakening, a death which is our own and not anothers, but this death is inseparable from a theological voyage, a theological voyage which calls each and every one of us, and does so with an irresistible finality.  While Spinoza could forswear all meditation upon death, is that an actual possibility for us?  Is meditation inevitably a meditation upon death and precisely thereby a liberating meditation, an enactment of death itself in our truest center, and is it only thereby that this center is finally real?  If this is our real meditation, it is just thereby a theological meditation, and if theological meditation for us is inevitably a meditation upon God, this could only be for us a meditation upon the death of God, for a meditation calling forth the ultimacy of death can only culminate in a meditation upon the death of God.  That meditation occurs in every genuine meditation upon the Crucifixion, but the deepest meditation upon death can be understood as meditation upon crucifixion.  Here Christianity and Buddhism are truly parallel to each other, but every deep meditation upon death is a meditation upon the ultimacy and finality of death, and nowhere is that finality and ultimacy more fully called forth symbolically than it is in the very symbol of crucifixion.  Now if it is only in our own time that the ultimacy and finality of death have become truly universal, thereby dissolving every genuine image and symbol of immortality, it is perhaps only in our time that meditation upon the finality of death has become comprehensively universal, occurring wherever life is actual and real.
 This alone could illuminate the deep interior desert of our world, one accompanied by a dazzling and wholly empty exteriority, but thereby we can know our actual condition as a deep coffin.  A coffin it is true generating illusions of light, which seemingly are more pervasive now than ever previously in our history, but their very emptiness is a decisive sign of that coffin which is their source, and a coffin that is called forth whenever we can actually see or speak.  So it is that theology is now inevitably a coffin theology or a theology of death, and if the very aura of death is the most distinctive sign or mark of theology itself, theology could be far more pervasive today than we can imagine, and just as the ancient world did not become a fully theological world until the classical world had ended, our world in its very death throes may well be undergoing a full theological epiphany, and even as Hellenistic theology is vastly distant from all ancient Greek theology, with the possible exception of Plato, our actual theology will be vastly distant from everything that we have known as theology, with the exception of those theologies which are most deeply precursors of our condition.  Yet if there is one thing that Hellenistic theology could not know, with the great exception of Augustine himself, it is a pure joy, an ultimate Yes-saying, and if Augustine could know this joy in response to the ending of the ancient world, perhaps we can know a pure joy in response to the ending of the world itself.
 Such a joy must be wholly distinguished from any possible Gnostic affirmation, or from any pure dualism.  Here joy could only be a total joy, a joy embracing totality itself, and hence embracing that very world which is coming to an end.  All of our great artists have mediated such a joy to us, and even if great art is seemingly wholly absent from our world, this very situation could make possible a new universal joy, a truly common joy, one which a Jesus or a Gotama could already evoke, and one given us in our world by Blake himself, and while this is a joy that can only be evoked in the heart of darkness, and is even made possible by that very darkness, it is a joy wholly transcending every possible darkness.  If that is the joy to which we are finally most deeply called, it is inseparable from the ultimate depths of darkness, and hence inseparable from an eternal death.  But if that eternal death is commonly or universally embodied as it has never been before, so, too, an absolutely new and universal joy could be at hand, a joy evoked by the very symbol of apocalypse, and if ours is truly an apocalyptic age, it cannot truly be so apart from an apocalyptic joy, so that in truly naming our apocalyptic death we thereby name apocalyptic joy, thus a genuine theology of death is finally a theology of joy, but a joy only known through the ultimacy and finality of death itself.



Hosted by uCoz