I’ve been thinking about Hegel lately – well, that ought to back you right out of this blog post going yikes what’s she thinking… but I have. Two things in particular – Hegel’s philosophy of history that posits as crazy as things seem, it’s been worse – history, in short, is an evolutionary spiral upward; and Hegelian dialectics (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) which Hegel called abstract-negative-concrete.
My very favorite part of education came later in my life when I went to St. John’s College in Santa Fe for graduate work and from St. John’s into seminary. Wonderful years of great books and pondering. I like to ponder. St. John’s introduced me to Hegel and while I’d read philosophy from time to time over the proceeding years, finding Hegel provided an anchor for my personal philosophy. As much as he thought and wrote and pondered, he also knew there was mystery.
I’m a visual thinker, so reading and understanding philosophy never came easy, but I could conceptualize a spiral of history. Attila and his armies at the bottom, around and up through the Crusades, the Hundred Year War, and into the 20th Century. Easy. And I could see Hegel’s dialectic – two streams of energy coming from opposite directions, smashing up against each other, and shooting upward as a great fountain of newly charged energy.
I could see all that – I just can’t see where we’re heading now.
No one can for that matter – and of course that adds to the confusion and chaos. Where are we going and what are we going to do when we get there? Sounds like kids on a car trip, doesn’t it? And mostly, when I read the newspaper, that’s what I’m seeing: kids on a long car trip tripping out over getting stuck. We’re not stuck. Like the kids, we’re moving pretty fast. But like the kids, we’re enclosed in a non-transforming space and the comic books are all read and crumpled.
Engels (as in Marx and Engels) liked Hegel, too, and thought Hegelian dialectics the best of German philosophy. Engels wrote, “…the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of ready-made things, but as a complex of processes…”
“Things come and go,” my farmer dad would say. Farmers, by their very nature, are pretty philosophical.
Life as a “complex of processes.” Interesting, no? Nothing set. Nothing forever. Nothing to be afraid of. We’ve done this before in one way or another and we’ll do it again in a new way. “A Process,” as they say.
Which of the many processes is dictating your life right now? I’ve begun writing a new book and this past week, I realized that everything I’d written for the past week or so was simply information that I needed before I began writing what I really needed to write. Well, dang. Also interesting is that realizing I was writing what I needed to know before I could begin writing also changed the way I wrote – less inclined to craft sentences and more inclined to just get through it. So I stopped. Took a day off from writing. Went to get my eyes checked to make sure I was seeing clearly (actually, I did have an eye appt!). I’m seeing clearly. So I switched processes and dug through the layers on the “business” office desk and left the writing writing alone.
Are you conscious of your process? Are you thesising or antithesising? Abstract or Negative? A fountain of new energy? Well, maybe that’s asking too much of any of us right now. But you get the picture. Where are you on this spiral of living?