the trouble with will

notes, 2014


written during HWP 2013-2014 (ashkal alwan) in reaction to Jalal Toufic's seminar, chapter 5 "Creating Universes that Include Will and/or Resurrection"

 "it is a symptom of our inability to will, of our nostalgia, that we place in the past what is going to occur only in the future : The Edenic epoch, in which everything is willed, that is, willed to recur eternally" (Jalal Toufic, Forthcoming, "You said stay so I stayed", 2014, p89)


I am to understand that the Redeemed world, willed world, Edenic epoch is to come, as a result of the Messiah, Mahdi, over-man's ability to experience countless occurrence through virtual reality emulations where one version outlives the others, overriding other realities with itself; or through time-travel into many-worlds. Prior to all of this, there are specific conditions for the coming of the Messiah, and they are not yet here. The conditions for experiencing countless occurrence are not yet ripe, the conditions for willing are not yet ripe.

This must mean that our understanding of the parameters affected by will must inevitably change to allow for the very first experience of countless occurrence to happen. In other words, our conceptions of time, space, the universe, reality and consciousness must be fundamentally rethought before the experience of countless occurrence can become possible, and before attaining the final stages of time in the willed world. Jalal Toufic mentions "The transfigured, redeemed time ushered in by [the Messiah's] achieving the will and the end of so many comings to the same state of things". The transfigured, redeemed time will consist first of a process of transformation of time, which will change during the stage of countless occurrence, successively and through several iterations, until it reaches the transfigured, redeemed time of the redeemed world produced by the Messiah's achieving of the will, a time that we can not yet imagine but that we will attempt to explore.



Temporality of the willed or recursive recurrence


Admitting that the conditions for countless occurrence and willing did somehow come into existence, what kind of temporality can we envisage for the coming redeemed world of things willed to eternally recur? Whether "recurring" here signifies a repetition, a cycle or a stable continuity, it is entrenched in the idea of time and its manifestation. Are time and temporality in the willed world a specificity of the object of the will or of the will itself? What relation does this final stage of time have to the very conditions for countless occurrence?

If temporality is a specificity of the object and willed as the object is willed, then how are new events processed? Can new events occur at all in the redeemed world? Or is the willed world necessarily drawing on past experience, culled from Evil and other things that will never have existed? What kind of hierarchy exists between these pre-existing, seemingly autonomous temporalities? Are hierarchies between events reproduced? I am inclined to assume that the redeemed world is one of non-hierarchy, which pushes me to say that it will have created its own temporality, one born out of a process of transformation of time through countless recurrence. For the redeemed world to come to being, and for the will to be a specificity of the object and not willed independently, this will both require and produce a flattening of time where "In the past, future and present of the limitless multiverse, this willing carries on the will's affirmation endlessly" (JT's paraphrasing of Dogen's words with respect to zazen) because the past, future and present are limitless and simultaneous.

There are two non-hierarchical models, or models of simultaneity, that I can this far imagine and that can give an element of response to the question of "new" events "arising" in the willed world, and to the question of the willed world having to take a base in "past" events. These two models are the point and the network.

Thus, when Jalal Toufic states "One perceives only the past" (Jalal Toufic, The contemporary is still forthcoming, in e-flux journal #28, 2011), affirming the impossibility of contemporaneity, these are in effect symptoms of the inadequacy of our current conception of time, especially when we begin to speak of the will. If time were to operate as a flattened hyper-charged point, or a network of intermittent signals, perhaps then the present, past and future would no longer be the mirrors of a manipulated construction, but finally emerge in their topological character.

Interestingly, the preconditions to countless occurrence according to Jalal Toufic are time-travel through branches of the multiverse (the network model) or virtual reality emulations (the point model); it would thus seem that the objects of the willed world follow an analog logic with regards to their temporality. They are the culmination of a process whereby time, our conception, experience and consciousness of it shifts from the current one to one of points and networks by way of successive iterations.

It is also interesting to note that the Edenic epoch is perceived and argued both a past and a future. It can be revealing, when we begin to conceive time as topology or simultaneity in a sort of recursive model, that the starting point and endpoint are one and the same. The image of the "beginning" and that of the "end" appear to converge, hinting once again at a recursive aspect of the redeemed world.


Jalal Toufic cites  William Blake…

"To see a world in a grain of sand/ and a heaven in a wild flower / hold infinity in the palm of your hand / and eternity in an hour" (William blake, auguries of innocence, 1803)

…and the Qoran goes on to say

21:30 "Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity and we separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?"

…and I think of Sebald's Austerlitz, coming to mind time and time again,
"But on bright summer days, in particular, so evenly disposed a luster lay over the whole of Barmouth Bay that the separate surfaces of sand and water, sea and land, earth and sky could no longer be distinguished. All forms and colors were dissolved in a pearl-gray haze; there were no contrasts, no shading anymore, only flowing transitions with the light throbbing through them, a single blur from which only the most fleeting of visions emerged, and strangely- I remember this well – it was the very evanescence of those visions that gave me, at the time, something like a sense of eternity"

"Had I realized at the time that for Austerlitz, certain moments had no beginning or end, while on the other hand his whole life had sometimes seemed to him a blank point without duration, I would probably have waited more patiently."

"Time will not pass away, has not passed away, that I can turn back and go behind it, and there I shall find everything as it once was, or more precisely, I shall find that all moments of time have co-existed simultaneously, in which case none of what history tells us would be true, past events have not yet occurred but are waiting to do so at the moment when we think of them, although that, of course, opens up the bleak prospect of everlasting misery and neverending anguish" Austerlitz was onto something, but he did not know about the will and the impossibility of willing Evil. In all these references, there is an underlying idea of concentration and topology that it is impossible to overlook.



Preconditions of countless occurrence as a key to the temporality of will


On the other hand, if temporality is a specificity of the will whereby it can be willed irrespective of the event, then it can only be willed by the over-man. With each coming of the over-man, time or our conception of it shifts from the current block universe of spacetime of relativity towards its final manifestation. If the over-man is to produce a redeemed world where only what is willed to eternally recur remains, then he must find a way to will their temporalities and resolve the conflicts that may arise between those temporalities. I am tempted to answer this question with the same answer that the thought experiment yielded when I admitted that the will is a characteristic of the event – not of the will -, and cannot be willed irrespectively. Indeed, if the outcome of the will is ultimately to be a point or network model of time either way (in order to avoid a hierarchy between events), then the question of temporality prior to the coming(s) of the Messiah is somewhat irrelevant.


This brings us to the question of authorship and the relative or absolute singularity of the over-man. Can there be other over-men (meaning evolved versions of many different men) in parallel realities? If so, how do their experiences interact? Can they coexist? Are they conflictual, perhaps even by nature? If there can be but one over-man, is he predestined? In that case, who willed him into existence? Is he a contingency? Is he a state of mind we all have the potential but not the "ripe conditions" to attain? Are we faced with a solipsistic redeemed world where all exists but in our minds? A collection of infinite points in an otherwise lacunar universe?


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