The kind of in-ness that is longed for, if it were indeed realized, would be intolerable for the modern subject. It would collide with our inalienable insistence on emancipated individuality and rationality. It would necessarily be felt as imprisonment, as a nightmare, of which the 20th-century experience in totalitarian states and with fundamentalist sects has given us a taste (Giegerich, The End Of Meaning).
We have established that modern humans have an intense longing for meaning, and that it’s not really effective to seek after it any longer. Giegerich has told us that continuing to ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?” in fact, makes our desire for meaning even more insatiable. Here, he tells us that, if by some miracle, we did achieve meaning, we wouldn’t be capable of tolerating it. This begs the question, what sort of meaning do we want out of life? This is assuming we accept Giegerich’s proposition that meaning and in-ness are synonymous:
The search for meaning is in truth, but secretly, the longing for a state of in-ness
If we possessed the same kind of envelopment in life as did the ancients, our Western insistence on individuality and rationality would appear to us as nightmarish slavery. He compares this state of affairs to having our humanity quashed in totalitarian fashion. We are accustomed to striving on our own to accomplish whatever we put our minds to, to being totally self-sufficient. The ancients did not live in this manner. They were enveloped in life and each other. They relied on each other for survival.
Second, the individual had his reality and substance not in himself but in something larger, logically speaking in a universal, be it the family, the clan, the tribe, or a corporation, which was the only true real and of which the individual was no more than sort of a fall-out, an emanation. He likewise had his Self and his soul not in himself, but in the king, the tribe’s medicine man, the Pharaoh.
We are no longer fish swimming in an ocean of meaning. We have been, and are still being, cooked in an alchemical retort. Up to this point, the alchemical magnum opus has brought us vis-a-vis to existence itself. To seek the old mode of in-ness once again would be acting contrary to the processes of Soul. We must continue to simmer.
We are experiencing a new phase in human evolution. The in-ness of the ancients is past. It is no longer for us. We moderns have been birthed out of the envelopment of in-ness and have been thrust to a position outside of life, outside of meaning, where we stand aloof, gazing upon our own lives. We are confused; we despair; we suffer. But we are strong. We will continue.
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