Contemplating or searching for nothing

16 Nov

Byung-Chul Han, in his essay on contemplation, gives a cruel sentence to Eurocentric Western knowledge: “knowledge cannot fully portray life. The entirely conscious life is a dead life” (Han, 2023, p. 29) and is supported by nothing more than Nietzsche in the context of a “new enlightenment”, one that for Heidegger opens a clearing of Being, albeit from a different perspective.

Quoting Nietzsche, Han writes: “it is not enough that you understand in what kind of ignorance human beings and animals live; you also need to have the desire to not know and learn it. You need to understand that in this type of ignorance life itself would be impossible, under which the living being is preserved and flourishes: a great and solid bell of ignorance must be around him” (quoting Nietzsche, pages 29-30) .

He clarifies that the ultimate objective of a “master” is “to reach a state in which the will resigns itself. The master exercises in order to eliminate the will.” (page 31)

It states on the next page that it cites a parable made by Walter Benjamin “Don’t forget the best” in which he outlines the idea of ​​a happy life, it deals with a businessman who has always carried out his life with precision and zeal, but at a certain moment he throws his clock out.

Then he starts to arrive late and things start to happen without his intervention, and they make him happy, it now turns out to be a “path to heaven”, things happen now when he least expected it, “friends visit him when they least thought of him” and remembers the legend of a little shepherd boy who is allowed on “one Sunday” to enter the mountain with his treasures, with an enigmatic instruction: “don’t forget the best” (page 33).

Benjamin’s parable of inactivity ends with these words: “At this time he was quite well off. He finished few things he had started, and didn’t consider anything finished” (page 33).

The age of hyperinformation, of fatigue, is not a time to search for the truth of being, for what we really are culturally, socially and spiritually; It is a time of searching for nothingness, in times like this, prophets, oracles, monks and sages emerged who fled this temporal void, to find themselves in an infinite totality, one that contemplates all being.

Byung-Chul Han wrote: “those who are truly inactive do not assert themselves. He discards his name and becomes nobody”, it is not nihilism, it is a reunion with the truth that everyone looks for in things and does not find them if they do not look at themselves, at their inner emptiness and their inactivity.

There will be a time when everyone will be looking for the truth, they will say it is here or there and they will no longer find it, it will not be an end, but rather a “new enlightenment”.

HAN, Byung-Chul. (2023) Vita Contemplativa or about inactivity. Trans. Lucas Machado. Brazil, Petrópolis: Vozes.





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