I am reading Tim Morton’s Hyperobjects by day and listening to Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now by night. It is interesting how both thinkers, as different as their philosophies are, come down against “Nature” (in the Romantic sense of a deified, pristine, virginal being who can only be defiled by contact with Humankind) for the sake of ecology (ecology being something in which we actively participate, constructively or destructively).
I see these structures as being identical to the structures of marriage, and for that matter, all sacraments.
The “Nature” model views the sacred as Other apart from us, and demanding from us self-sacrificial acts of altruism, which is the ideal of morality: For You; Not For Me. A tragicomedy repeated endlessly on TV screens: The altruistic lover tells his beloved to leave him forever, because he cares more about her happiness more than his own. What a lovely, heart-rending act of intellectual stuntedness. If he bothered to exercise intellectual independence and reflected on his own experiences of love, he’d see very clearly she’s leaving him because he’s a sentimentally passive moron who doesn’t know how to love because he doesn’t know what love is, because he spends too much time in his soft warm pink heart and far too little in his clear, cold head, and he probably thinks he’s to be congratulated for it.
The ecological view views a sacred Other as co-embedded within something both immanent and transcendent, both participatory and mysterious, and that this embeddedness is the key to relationship and potential immediacy. We experience discrete otherness with a degree of immediacy through the medium of shared realities to which we belong. When we get married, we enter into marriage and abide within it with another, who is in part mysterious to us, but also familiar as a member of the marriage “body” we participate in. Love is a commitment to both the familiar, the mysterious and the occasionally harrowing being in which we are participants when we relate to our spouse as the one to whom we are married. We draw being from our marriage being and we are changed by it, and that is the point of it. We must think and feel in some pretty unusual ways to exist this way and to understand what we are doing. We must think religiously to participate in real marriage with a real other person. We cannot be merely individualistic, but we must be individuals who want both individuality and relationships.
I believe Morton would call this “being ecological”. I’ll go along with that, but I’m going to keep hammering on our collective ignorance of religion.
Too many people worship their own fancies, notions, concepts, symbols and moral algorithms as if they worship God, and being a good Jew I want to remind them of third commandment, and emphasize it with some astonishing wisdom of one of our most best Jews, who joined love of neighbor with whole-hearted, whole-souled, whole-bodied love of God and presented them as two facets of a single supreme commandment. We must love toward realities and within realities, not love experiences-of, or ideas-of — or anything that is essentially features of our own being. We must love others through the shared medium of otherness in which we participate as beings.