Sunday, April 29, 2012

Secret: No Light Has Ever Seen the Black Universe

[full audio of the Dark Nights event here]

Vision in
(movement, exposure)
Seeing the unseen (what no one sees, where no one sees): THEORIA
Seeing what is not (what no one is, where no one is): DESERT
Black in
(dwelling, enclosure)
Being the unseen (what no one sees, where no one is): HIDING
Being what is not (what no one is, where no one is): UNION

[E]very visible and invisible creature can be called a theophany, that is, a divine apparition.  For . . . the more secretly it is understood, the closer it is seen to approach the divine brilliance. Hence the inaccessible brilliance of the celestial powers is often called by theology “Darkness.”
– John Scotus Eriugena, Periphyseon[1] 

 . . . almost impossible to describe; and it was only by analogy that they called it colour at all.
 – H. P. Lovecraft, The Colour Out of Space

This work proceeds in the form of commentary because commentary is the way of speaking according to secret (i.e. secret itself, without definite or indefinite article, neither singular nor plural, the true object of the mystical subject, who is named by Dionysius in the Mystical Theology as “neither oneself nor someone else”).[2] Commentary alone clarifies secret because it knows how properly to stray, is familiar with the way of staying and wandering away in what is truly spoken, which is the only method of touching truth: with its own shadow. Commentator and mystic share an umbral identity. Each is located in the negativity of intimate otherness, in the non-reflective blackness of the text’s shadow where truth speaks without talking, in the freedom and self-abandonment of being it. “Gloss this if you wish,” writes Marguerite Porete, “or if you can. If you cannot, you are not of this kind; but if you are of this kind, it will be opened to you. You would already be profoundly annihilated if you had the means by which you could hear it, for otherwise I would not say it.”[3] Spoken within the immanent beyond or present al di là of mystic identity, commentary’s non-linear boundary refuses the interminably human correlational conflation of horizon with the limit of vision and dynamically establishes the one thinking within the speculative reality of essential mirage. Essential mirage is the space of vision beyond the visible by means of visibility’s inherent deceitfulness. It is the real illusion that consists in seeing through the fraud of givenness according to the very twist of the given. Just as a mirage phenomenon may bring within seeing something outside of one’s line of sight—allowing, for instance, a mountain beyond the horizon to appear above it—so essential mirage is a shadowing forth of the Real beyond thought via thought’s own distortion and dislocation.[4] The principle is demonstrated in Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, a text that charts a new geopathic domain for the mystical by plunging the sublime into an abyss of neo-medieval alpine terror: “this Cyclopean maze of squared, curved, and angled blocks had features which cut off all comfortable refuge. It was, very clearly, the blasphemous city of the mirage in stark, objective, and ineluctable reality. That damnable portent had had a material basis after all . . . Of course, the phantom had been twisted and exaggerated, and had contained things which the real source did not contain; yet now, as we saw that real source, we thought it even more hideous and menacing than its distant image.”[5] So Dionysius similarly understands that the infinitely-attributed nature of God, the One who “has every shape and structure, and yet is formless and beautyless,”[6] is superiorly figured in unseemly forms of negation and unlikeness, for these alone at once properly conceal the truth of this nature and provide authentic or do-it-yourself access to it: “the wise men of God . . . honor the dissimilar shape so that the divine things remain inaccessible to the profane and so that all those with a real wish to see the sacred imagery may not dwell on the types as true. . . . I myself might not have been stirred . . . to my current inquiry . . . had I not been troubled [extorqueret, twisted away] by the deformed imagery . . . My mind was not permitted to dwell on imagery so inadequate, but was provoked to get behind the material show, to get accustomed to the idea of going beyond appearances to those upliftings which are not of this world [in supermundanas altitudines, into supramundane altitudes].”[7] What worshippers and atheists (twin opposites of the true, practical mystic) self-constitutively ignore is the radically immanent identity between the cataphatic intensity of the this-worldly sublime and the apophatic extensity of the otherworldly divine—a khoric-tehomic[8] ‘third’ identity that always remains weirdly recognizable from beyond the explicable parameters of recognition. “If I were not, God would not be either. I am the cause of God’s being God: if I were not, then God would not be God. But you do not need to know this,” says Meister Eckhart.[9] Commentary is a way of staying open to this third I, this endless (k)not. Capable of continually twisting the text towards the superior purposeless truth of what you do not need to know, of deforming its meaning into the unnamable presence of the pure absence of falsehood, the impossible plenitudinous thing that overflowingly fills illusion and fiction when they are seen through, commentary is an art of producing and mapping essential mirages, of mystically opening secret by means of a text’s truest distortions.
Why comment on this text? For millennia the thought-horizon of reality has confronted the mystic in the form of a dark mountain, a site of vision and ascent into the absolute, transhuman secret. The mountain of anagogical elevation invoked by Dionysius at the beginning of the Mystical Theology: “Lead us beyond unknowing and light up to the highest peak of mystic scripture where the mysteries of God’s Word lie simple, absolute and unchangeable in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence.”[10] The mountain of God’s throne seen by Hildegard of Bingen at the beginning of Scivias: “I saw a great mountain the color of iron, and enthroned on it One of such great glory that it blinded my sight. On each side of him there extended a soft shadow, like a wing of wondrous breadth and length. Before him, at the foot of the mountain, stood an image full of eyes on all sides, in which, because of those eyes, I could discern no human form.”[11] The mountain of spiritual experience whose summit is divine union, identified by John of the Cross at the beginning of The Ascent of Mount Carmel: “the summit of the mount—that high state of perfection we here call union of a soul with God . . . The darkness and trials, spiritual and temporal, that fortunate souls ordinarily undergo on their way to the high state of perfection are so numerous and profound that human science cannot understand them adequately. Nor does experience of them equip one to explain them. Only those who suffer them will know what this experience is like, but they won’t be able to describe it.”[12] The dark mountain, location of the truest light, is the traditional form of the ultimate end, the all in all, seen at the beginning. It is the essential mirage of God, the real illusion that appears within the definitive and decisional moment when one starts to move or turn into divine Reality, as dramatized in the opening of the Divine Comedy, in which the wayfarer shows how the path to the illumined summit passes through hell: “A te convien tenere altro vïaggio” (Inferno 1.91) [you need to take another way], the ancient poet tells him.[13] The way up the mountain, a place of indescribable exposure and dislocation, is not the one you want and not the way you think it is. Thomas Vaughn writes, in the Lumen de Lumine: “There is a Mountain situated in the midst of the earth or center of the world, which is both small and great. It is soft, also above measure hard and stony. It is far off and near at hand . . . In it are hidden the most ample treasures, which the world is not able to value . . . To this Mountain you shall go in a certain night—when it comes—most long and most dark . . . insist upon the way that leads to the Mountain, but ask not of any man where the way lies.”[14] This is simultaneously the way you alone—as an irreparable individuation of Reality—must go and precisely the way you—as a fundamental non-entity, a so-and-so you are afraid not to be—cannot. “To come to be what you are not you must go by a way in which you are not.”[15] These days—if you will permit me to pretend to give weight to the mass delusion that is the historical present—the dark mountain is exploded and transposed onto the cosmic abyss, a putatively post-hierarchical domain whose hyper-alpine dimensions remain fundamentally obscure. It is no longer the image of a dark mountain that haunts the thought-horizon of Reality, but an omnipresent dimensional blackness that is at the same time a sheer impenetrable blankness, the vision of something whose presence is nothing other than the form of its own non-visibility. All around us the general darkness of the observable universe understood via Olbers’s paradox coincides weirdly with the singular negative mirage of the black hole. Here the world’s summit, the untouchable touchpoint or threshold between the lived ephemeral present and the ultimate Reality that lies beyond, appears everywhere and nowhere, beckoning lightlessly in a space whose negative, astrophobic affect renders absolute enclosure and infinite exposure indistinguishable. Correlatively, human consciousness is now strangely dis-directed, incessantly following its own most wayward and worried advice: be someone, be yourself! Indeed, the whole visible material realm is itself currently installed as the very summit of being, a bright (yet actually how dim) peak (less than 1% of the measurable universe) positioned atop a mountainous cosmic mass of dark energy and matter—the backdrop of interminable collective fantasies, both humanist and nihilist, daydreams of a geocentric non-entity: the human and/or post-human we. Now I am confronted with black as a necessary object of contemplation, an inarguable index of Reality. The horizon of the universe is black—black is the horizon of the universe.  The necessity of black as present term of mystic thought is composed of its substantial negativity and imperceptible positivity, according to which, in a purely non-arbitrary way, it is no less ‘out there’ than ‘in here’, equally internal and external to consciousness. Black is its own image and thus fulfills the criterion of intellectual vision as given by Augustine: “the third kind [of vision] . . . touches on things which do not have any images that are like them without actually being what they are.”[16] One does not see black without seeing black itself. There is no being without black. For mysticism, the discourse of humans who cannot live without secret and want to die awake, black is the universal essential mirage of the current age. In a world where the geologic and elemental domain recedes and melts into spectra, like the meteorite in Lovecraft’s tale, black is the present place where the primordially novel—something “from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it”—emerges, something whose obscurity is at once the veil of an unknown clarity—”this new glow was something definite and distinct, and appeared to shoot up from the black pit like a softened ray from a searchlight”—and the bewildering vista of even deeper black, the unimaginably intimate vision of something “whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes.”[17] Or, in the words of Isaiah, “Secretum meum mihi, secretum meum mihi, vae mihi” (Isaiah 24:16) [My secret to myself, my secret to myself, woe is me].

III.1    Le noir univers est l’opacité du réel ou la « couleur » qui le rend invisible.
The black universe is the opacity of the real or the “color” that renders it invisible.

This is the primary definition of the black universe in this text. The use of italics for the term (and not the article) both highlights the logical procedure of positive naming and distinguishes the name from the semantically proximate senses it can be confused with, namely: 1) the black universe as the literal material cosmos (universe which is generally black); 2) the black universe as the universal set of blackness (universe of black itself); 3) the black universe as a dark subset of the universe (universe that is other than not black). Independent of the definite article yet proper it, the black universe is not this or that black universe, but the universe in its blackness in a sense that at once includes, exceeds, and perfects what we think ‘universe’ signifies. Essential to the formulation is its exposure of ignorance as to what we mean when we use the word universe (the unbounded place we find ourselves in? the infinity of reality? the present sum of all actuality and possibility?). The idea of the black universe isolates the profound, truthful stupidity at the center of the concept of universe, its obscure glow, and refocuses it into a definite illumination, a dark intelligible ray. In Part I, this visionary stupidity is identified in explicitly khoric terms, recalling the “spurious reasoning” (logismo tini notho) by which Socrates says we perceive without sense the “third nature” of eternal space, “beholding [it] as in a dream” (oneiropolumen blepontes): “L’Univers est une pensée opaque et solitaire qui a déjà bondi dans les yeux clos de l’homme comme l’espace d’un rêve sans rêve” (I.10) [The Universe is an opaque and solitary thought, which has already leapt through man’s shut eyes as the space of a dream without dreaming]. The proper definition of the black universe in III.1 represents and expresses the objective realization of the truth of the dreamy khoric universe-thought, the disclosure of the non-transparency of the noetic sense of universe as the non-transparency of the Real itself, that is, the absolutely ineradicable radically immanent universal truth that is by definition beyond and foreclosed to thought. These two definitions—the definition of the universe as an opaque, solitary thought and the definition of the black universe as the opacity of the real—translate, across the space traced by the shift from opaqueness as adjectival property to nominal thing, between the sleep of mere conscious being to the wakefulness of knowledge or science. Where the universe is a kind of thought that is present in the human simply by virtue of its event, an awareness-birth that bounds animally through its own advent and provides the dreamless dream space wherein man’s eyes are opened, the black universe is the waking revelation of universe seen according to the Real, the blind vision through whose open eyes universe itself is shown to be a ‘color’ in an analogical sense, namely, an ontological blackness or truly existent appearance that demonstrates Reality’s invisibility. Black universe is the substance of an analogy that may be clarified thus: Black is to color as universe is to the Real. Black is the color that is not (color). Universe is the real that is not (real). Here the positivity and priority of opacity becomes evident. Just as opacity is the condition of thought that discloses universe in the first place, so is it the ‘means’ whereby thought touches its universal object, seeing at once (and as if endlessly for the first time) that it is and that it cannot be seen. As black is literally a mystical or hidden color, the color seen where there is no color to be seen, black universe is the mystical, in the sense of an eclipse of what by that that reveals the universal Real: “Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.”[18] Equally internal and external, present in all three levels of vision (corporeal, imaginative, intellectual) and in all three universal worlds (gross, subtle, mental), black universe is analogous to the divine image, following Eriugena: “the Divine likeness in the human mind is most clearly discerned when it is only known that it is, and not known what it is . . . what it is is denied in in it [negatur in ea quid esse], and only that it is is affirmed. Nor is this unreasonable. For if it were known to be something, then at once it would be limited by some definition, and thereby would cease to be a complete expression of the image of its Creator, Who is absolutely unlimited and contained within no definition, because He is infinite, superessential beyond all that may be said or comprehended.”[19] Black universe is the place where mystical truth begins, or as the text later terms it, “la posture même de la science . . . ou son inherence au réel” [the posture itself of science . . . or its inherence to the real] (III.12-IV.1). The fact of black, a perfect vision of what is not there, reflects universe as the Illusion that sustains Reality.

III.2    Aucune lumière n'a jamais vu le noir univers.
No light has ever seen the black universe.

Thought and the Real touch only in black, the color of vision itself. Black universe is the mystical domain of their secret sameness, a hyper-intimacy that no illumination can penetrate. “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”[20] Being the opacity of the real, the substance of its invisibility, the black universe itself is not seen through light, is not sighted, imagined, or known. Secret is seen only to itself and through itself and for itself. Black universe is the non-illuminated auto-medium of secret. If secret were something that has been illuminated, it would be not be secret. This does not signify that the black universe cannot be seen, or that you will never see it. It means precisely that black universe is always and only seen lightlessly, and more literally, that any light that is has not seen black universe. Black universe is the world of vision, the dark domain wherein seeing sees itself. Black itself is the non-transparent and totally evident event of vision. Alternately, the statement does not mean that an unthinkable light, a light beyond light will not see the black universe. Indeed the past-tense is conspicuously formed—a reversed echo of “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5)—so as to open that possibility and simultaneously foreclose it as possibility per se, that is, to deny the event all virtuality as if it were in store somewhere in the universe. Nothing is in store for you. Black universe is not something that is there for you to see. The mystic is the one who exits the real stupidity of correlational captivation and says openly and with infinite curiosity to the world: What are you doing here? There is nothing to see! No illumination will reveal black universe to you. You yourself alone (in a secret manner of speaking) are the singular unthinkable light that sees black universe, that is, the light beyond light that is nothing other than your own blackening. All you—the philosopher—have done (and covertly do now) is play in the dark. We bring little lights to black universe and with the shadows cast by our own forms think to have illuminated it. Thought does not illuminate the Real, but projects its own real shadow upon what it cannot see. No light has ever seen black universe because its blackness composes the substantiality of darkness, is grounded in the principle that darkness is not the absence or privation of light, but light’s own body, the means of its existence. Light is only in darkness. “Where there is sunshine, there is shadow. Standing in the shade, we can observe the sunshine. In this way Light is known through Darkness . . . The ‘Is-ness’ or the Existence of Light is Darkness . . . That is, Darkness is the body of the ‘Is-ness’ of Light.”[21] As the ‘color’ black is the reflection of light’s blindness to itself, the impossibility of vision’s autonomous self-illumination, black universe is the mirror in which thought sees its identity with the Real by seeing nothing. Black universe is the dark body of the Real. Stop looking. Stand in black universe, and see. “Nigra sum, sed formosa” (Song of Songs 1:4) [I am black, but beautiful]. The beauty of black is the form of vision, the incredible delight of being seen by the Invisible, as John the Cross expresses in commentary on this line: “For though of myself I am dark, he so frequently fixed his eyes on me, after having looked at me the first time, that he was not satisfied until he had espoused me to himself and brought me to the inner chamber of his love.”[22]

III.3:   Noir est antérieur à l’absence de lumière, que cette absence soit l’ombre où elle s’éteint, qu’elle soit son néant ou son positif contraire. Le noir univers n’est pas une lumière négative.
Black is anterior to the absence of light, whether this absence be the shadows that extinguish it, whether it be it nothingness or its positive opposite. The black universe is not a negative light.

The black text pronounces (what was implicit above) and we feel the truth of it: there is more to black than the dialectical opposition light defines it by. There rests the difference between black and darkness. Darkness is a property of black, but black is not darkness. Shadow, nothingness, void look black and black is something before shadow, nothingness, void, where the dual sense of ‘before’ captures exactly the structure of immanence as anteriority of the apparent. The question to pose here is: How do we know the truth of this? What is the necessity of black’s anteriority to light’s absence? Answer: recognize the non-reductive significance of tautology and know black’s anteriority via black itself, in the being-black of black. In seeing black, we see that it has always been there. This may be elaborated by saying that black, via whatever quality by which you wish to describe it (all-ness, none-ness, obscure purity, transparent filthiness . . . ) has absolutely everything to do with light (lux) and nothing at all to do with lumination (lumen)—the latter being the form of light proper to transparent bodies and the former being the form of light proper to opaque bodies, the form of light itself, which is unseen.[23] It is only the definitional thought of black, the attempt to shine light on it, to see it as a thing, that paints black into privative relation to light. It is true that black is what is seen in the absence of light. But black is not that absence. Black is its own presence, not the presence of the absence of light. Black is the opposite of white, not of the light. That black appears in light’s absence, that it exists in the space of light’s negation, has nothing to do with opposition. Light itself is ‘black’, in the sense of having no color. Now we can understand the significance of the double negation openly buried in the expression: the black universe is not a negative light. The formulation beautifully highlights the problem of apogogic truth (absurdity of the absurdity, demonstration via double negation) and the question of tautology to which it is logically tied (double negation, contradiction, law of the excluded middle are forms of tautology, X=X). It addresses the question of double negation as already answered in color. Does black universe’s not being a negative light mean that black is a positive light? Obviously not. Does it mean that it is not a positive light. No. The statement opens black without determination as the space of something obscurely non-negative, a positive unlight, a negative non-dark, a color that is light itself before all shining, an accident that is the very substance of luminous void, even the unglimpsed light of what Eriugena calls “that invisible mystical earth and the dark intelligible abyss” [mystica illa terra invisibilis ipsaque tenebrosa abyssus intellectualis], the domain of the primordial causes of all visible things, which is “perceived by no intellect except that which formed it in the beginning.”[24] Like the divine image, this domain is “known only [as to] that it is, but not understood (as to) what it is” and Eriugena’s words read like a description of Laurelle’s vision, particularly with respect to black as “prior to light,” the “transcendental darkness, into which [man] never entered and from which he will never leave,” and black as colors’ “ultimate degree of reality, that which prevents their final dissolution into the mixtures of light.”[25] “[T]he primordial causes,” Eriugena writes, “are simple and entirely lacking in any composition. For there is in them the inexpressible unity and the indivisible and incomposite harmony universally surpassing the combination of similar and dissimilar parts.”[26] These “principal causes . . . both proceed into the things of which they are the causes and at the same time do not depart from their Principle . . . remaining in themselves invisibly by being eternally concealed in the darkness of their excellence, [they] do not cease to appear by being brought forth into the light.”[27] The invisible mystical earth is the hidden universal place that provides—in the literal sense of a before-seeing—the omnipresent hidden ocular hinge which articulates the ecstatic union between all things and the placeless Reality. The dark intelligible abyss is the originally blackened nature, the simple-most ur-immanence through which divinity remains in being by staying beyond it. As Dionysius says, “the very cause of the universe . . . is also carried outside of himself in the loving care he has for everything . . . and is enticed way from his transcendent dwelling place and comes to abide within all things, and he does so by virtue of his supernatural and ecstatic capacity to remain, nevertheless, within himself.”[28] Black universe is the primal medium of love.  Or, black universe is the color (of) the universal continuum, the differential unity of the All whose most obvious actual inexorable expression is gravity, the occult bond of individual bodies whose unitary movement confounds the separateness of forces: “Pondus meum, amor meus; eo feror, quocumque feror” [My love is my weight; wheresover I am carried, I am carried by it].[29] The legibility of the mystery of movement as tracing of the universal continuum translates back into the text’s opening definition of universe as “la passion intérieure du Lointain” [the inner passion for the Remote] (I.2) and forward into the final figure of the rocket as becoming “sujet de l'Univers et présentes en chaque point du Lointain” [subject of the Universe and present at every point of the Remote] (IV.9). The continuous remoteness of movement, at each point a negation and affirmation of place via a somewhere that is neither place nor not place, is a ‘going by the way in which one is not’ that testifies to the continuum as what is logically conceivable only in negation as the difference or non-identity between X and  ¬¬X. Their equation is the basis for the apogogic or indirect proof, which Kant notes  “can produce certainty, to be sure, but never comprehensibility of the truth in regard to its connection with the grounds of its possibility,” calling it “more of an emergency aid than a procedure which satisfies the aims of reason.”[30] It is valid only within closed, finite systems, in “sciences where it is impossible to erroneously substitute the subjective for the objective.”[31] And that is precisely what black is, a literal theory or vision—all-at-once corporeal, phantasmatic, and intellectual—where this impossibility is impossible, not only in the weak blind sense that seeing black is a substitution of subjective for objective (a sense that would confine black to a relative perceptuality), but in the stronger dazzling sense that seeing black is itself the pure objectivity of vision into which consciousness is cosmically inserted: “Noir n'est pas seulement ce que l'homme voit dans l'homme, il est la seule « couleur » inséparable de l'étendue hyperintelligible de l'Univers” (II.5) [Black is not merely what man sees in man, it is the only “color” inseparable from the hyper-intelligible expanse of the Universe]. In the procedure of apophatic mysticism (negating what is not God), the indeterminacy of the apogogic, the gap between X and ­­­­­­¬¬X, is figured in the recognition that the negation of the not-God does not produce God but leads only to the place of God and that a further negative leap beyond the opposites conditions divine illumination, which transcends both objective subjectivity and logical binarism, realizing a truth that, as Dionysius says in the Mystical Theology, is “beyond assertion and denial.” “Here,” he continues, “being neither oneself nor someone else, one is supremely united by a completely unknowing inactivity of all knowledge, and knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing.”[32] Essential to this deployment of the negative is the principle, contra Aristotle, that negation is not the opposite of assertion, but the assertion of what is beyond it, a term of intensification that negatively indicates what is in excess of the positive, such that “one might even say that nonbeing itself longs for the Good which is above being. Repelling being, it struggles to find rest in the Good which transcends all being, in the sense of a denial of all things.”[33] The topos of black universe is where the Real beyond assertion and denial appears. Black’s positive negativity—not a negative light—is logically equivalent to the radical positivity of tautology, the fact that X=X is a truth in inexhaustible excess of its redundancy, whether the excess is thought privatively, as in the Lacanian denial of tautology—“there is no tautology [because] it is in the very status of A that there is inscribed that A cannot be A”[34]—or superessentially as in the name of God: “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14).[35] The unspeakable and absolute self-evident consistency of black—black is so very black—is the total indifference of these opposed inconsistencies, the substantial image of the Reality who needs no identity and no revelation. “The black tablet of vision, I hold dear for the sake / That to the soul, it is a book of the picture of the dark mole of Thine.”[36] As a form of essential difference between X and ¬¬X, black is the negative color, the non-color that grounds the spectral continuum or founds the fact that between any two colors there is a third. Black is the inherent differential of color, the visible infinite minimum or open secret of color that is its continuum, its existence. And as a form of the incommensurable truth of X=X, black is the singular perfect color, the super-color identical with color itself. Black is color’s own self-evident truth or nameless proper name, the openly secret word of color that speaks the without-and-beyond-itself fact of its vibrational being. In sum, the non-negativity of black universe means that black universe is the body of secret in the sense of the mysterious identity of not-light and not-not-light, the universion or one-turning of these two dimensions of black: the full or visible black of night (not-light, what remains when you remove light) and the empty or invisible black of void (not-not-light, what remains when you remove not-light). Black universe is the pure incomposition wherein the “manifold evolving universe arises from the mixing of the one Reality and ‘Nothing’.”[37]


III.4    Noir est le Radical des couleurs, ce qui n’a jamais été couleur ou attribut d’une couleur, l’émotion qui saisit l’homme affecté par une couleur.
Black is the Radical of color, what never was a color nor the attribute of a color, the emotion seizing man when affected by a color.

The sense of black’s radicality, as simultaneously the root and the extremity of color, is already clear. What calls for commentary is the relation between this radicality and the emotion of color, which is now addressed as simultaneously the emotion of specific color and the emotion of color itself. The relation implies two meanings for black emotion: 1) the feeling of other-than-color at color’s root; 2) the feeling of other-than-color at color’s intensity. The seizure of black emotion is consciousness passing like a current between these poles. On the side of the object, black emotion is the affect of seeing that the thing itself, all that one does not see, is black. Here black is the unseen of the seen. On the side of the subject, black emotion is the affect of seeing that the image, all that one does see, is black. Here black is the seen of the unseen. In one direction black is the not-revealed of a color, the vision of there being more to see. In the other direction black is the only-revealed of a color, the vision of there being nothing seen. This epilectic emotion is a blackout, not a blackout of vision, but a witnessing of the blackout that vision is: the passionate suspension of vision within the endlessness of its never having been or actual impossibility. It is absolutely important, therefore, that the text says “a color,” signifying the complicity of black emotion with specificity, individuation, presence, facticity. This shows black is the index of color and the ecstatic character of black emotion, in the sense of an experience that refers to the impossibility of its own taking place, following Bataille: “THE OBJECT OF ECSTASY IS THE ABSENCE OF AN OUTSIDE ANSWER. THE INEXPLICABLE PRESENCE OF MAN IS THE ANSWER THE WILL GIVES ITSELF, SUSPENDED IN THE VOID OF UNKNOWABLE NIGHT.”[38] Seeing in black universe reveals the cosmo-deictic dimension of vision, the fact that vision, far from being captured by the putative idiotic passivity of seeing—‘I am just looking’—is in every moment an unimaginably projective and fundamentally impossible event of photography realized upon the infinite negative of individuated existence. Black, the color that is not one, exposes this fact—a blinding flash of the Real—according to the same logic outlined in Agamben’s reading (via Hegel) of indication: “[T]he significance of the This is, in reality, a Not-this that it contains; that is, an essential negativity. . . . The problem of being—the supreme metaphysical problem—emerges from the very beginning as inseparable from the problem of the significance of the demonstrative pronoun, and for this reason it is always already connected with the field of indication . . . Deixis, or indication . . . is the category within which language refers to its own taking place.”[39] What explains this experience of indication as universal crux, the ontological experientia crucis? What renders it a passion?[40] For Bataille it is the will, a “desire to be everything”[41] that finds only itself, impurely and incommensurably, within the cosmic night. Or I can say that the blackness of the will to itself, the opacity of its own reality, is the cosmic night of facticity, the radical darkness of universe being as it is. As Agabmen says: “The root of all pure joy and sadness is that the world is as it is.”[42] The equivalence between this passion of extreme indication and the emotion which is color’s radical is beautifully legible within Anaxagoras’s color-inflected cosmology and his proof of the blackness of snow. For Anaxagoras, the cosmos is an eternal mixture of everything with everything whose apparent becoming does not substantially alter its original indifferentiation: “All things were together, unlimited both in amount and in smallness, for the small, too, was unlimited. And because all things were together, nothing was evident.”[43] The inherently hidden or inevident reality of the all-in-all remains without diminishment inside every differentiation: “black is in white and white is in black.”[44] At the same time, the visible does present the invisible eternal mix: “appearances are a sight of the unseen.”[45] This is demonstrated in the mixing of colors: “For should we take two colours, black and white, and then slowly pour one into the other drop by drop, sight will not be able to determine the gradual changes, although in nature they are real.”[46] We observe not reality but something unreal that is according to it. This is dramatized in Anaxagoras’s proof of the blackness of snow, which nicely previews the fact that snow is indeed black in the infrared spectrum: “snow is frozen water, water is black, and therefore snow is black.”[47] Anaxagoras’s view thus touches the general radical sense of black as the paradoxical unseen of sight, an unseen identifiable as the ineradicable omnipresent mix of the Real, its perfect eternal auto-confusion. Leibniz saw this and elaborated upon Anaxagoras’s argument as a literal illustration of black’s radicality, arguing from the phantasmatic staus of color that “all opaque things in themselves are black.”[48] Finding oneself at the very interface between the invisible root of blackness and the intensest vibrancy of a color is the passion of being secret, or, the feeling of the infinity of individuation whose ideal blind projection is the philosophical mirage of the thing-in-itself, that is, the object of what Nietzsche, who saw through it, calls “the biggest fable of all . . . the fable of knowledge.”[49]

III.5:   À la différence du noir objectivé dans le spectre, Noir s’est déjà manifesté avant toute opération de manifestation. C’est la vision-en-Noir.
As opposed to the black objectified in the spectrum, Black is already manifested, before any process of manifestation. This is vision-in-Black.

Being manifest before the objectivity of seeing, vision-in-Black is describable only topologically, in terms of a there in which one finds oneself, a surrounding region through which one moves: mi ritrovai per una selva oscura (Dante, Inferno 1.2). Description of vision-in-Black is a filling out of the landscape marked by the hyphens around the preposition in (the place of the One) for which topology is neither allegory of something a-topological nor representation of a given landscape. What is describable of vision-in-Black is something clearer: the seeing of place itself, wherein universe is revealed to be actual allegory, the other-being of the Real. Vision-in-Black names the scene (from skia, shadow) of mysticism, the shadowy place of extensive non-difference between the negative darkening of knowledge and the black brilliance of seeing beyond light, the way or method of the “hallucinatory ‘science’ of the One.”[50] Vision-in-Black is the landscape in which truth travels securely, where one moves as the limitless in of the Real: secret in secret. Here is the topological union of mystical movement and dwelling, the paradoxically paradisical way of wilderness wherein exposure and dereliction are perfect security and enclosure. The left hyphen, between vision and in, corresponds to the term of movement and exposure, the extensive vector of secret: seeing the unseen (what no one sees, where no one sees) [theoria] and seeing what is not (what no one is, where no one is) [desert]. The right hyphen, between in and Black, corresponds to the intensive vector of secret, dwelling and enclosure: being the unseen (what no one sees, where no one is [hiding] and being what is not (what no one is, where no one is) [union]. This double movement of secret is described by John of the Cross: “in darkness the soul not only avoids going astray but advances rapidly . . . To reach an new an unknown land and journey along unknown roads, travelers cannot be guided by their own knowledge . . . the soul, too, when it advances, walks in darkness and unknowing . . . persons who tread this road . . . are unable to describe it. They feel great repugnance in speaking about it, especially when the contemplation is so simple that they are hardly aware of it . . . Not for this reason alone do we call mystical wisdom ‘secret’ . . . but also because it has the characteristic effect of hiding the soul within itself . . . this mystical wisdom occasionally so engulfs souls in its secret abyss that they have the keen awareness of being brought into a place far removed from every creature. They accordingly feel that they have been led into a remarkably deep and vast wilderness unattainable by any human creature, into an immense unbounded desert, the more delightful, savorous, and loving, the deeper, vaster, and more solitary it is. They are conscious of being so much more hidden, the more they are elevated above every temporal creature.”[51]


III.6    Noir est définitivement intérieur à lui-même et à l’homme.
Black is entirely interior to itself and to man.

Black defines a double auto-interiority. On the one hand, black itself, as the color that is not, is interior to itself, endlessly inside itself. Black is the not-color of the color that holds itself entirely or ultimately within itself and that reserves all color for color’s beyond. Aesthetically, black’s self-interiority corresponds both to the sense of black’s spatial depth and to the sense of black’s color-potentiality, the perception of all colors as hiddenly in and emergent from black, as emblematized in the cauda pavonis [peacock’s tail], the alchemical stage between nigredo and albedo when the colors appear.[52] On the other hand, black is the self-interiority of man himself, as the text states earlier, “Noir n'est pas dans l'objet ou dans le Monde, il est ce que l'homme voit dans l'homme, et ce dans quoi l'homme voit l'homme” (II.4) [Black is not in the object or the World, it is what man sees in man, and the way (that in which) man sees man]. The interior of man is the space that his being encompasses and fills, the in which of his esse: “Un noir phénoménal remplit entièrement l'essence de l'homme” (II.14) [A phenomenal blackness entirely fills the essence of man]. The identity of these two forms of interiority, the singleness of their doubleness, is named in the text’s singularly asyntactic line, “Solitude de l'homme-sans-horizon qui voit le Noir dans le Noir” (II.6) [Solitude of the man-without-horizon who sees Black in Black]. The non-omissive elision of verbal being, the sheer non-presence of any is, here signifies the superessentiality or being-beyond-being of secret, the horizonless ‘negation of the negation’ or ‘third’ domain that is the infinite with of the alone with the Alone. Black in Black signifies the convertible mutual interpenetration of the black interior of man (the individuated alone) and black universe or the opacity of the horizonless Real (the universal Alone). The identity of this irresolvably double auto-interiority of man and black is the truly limitless solitude or lonely pan-explosion of place wherein all is within without collapse. The definitive or limitless interiority of black is the meta-place of the One-in-One which remains the “unknown of philosophy,” its constitutive eclipse.[53] As Laruelle writes in Mystique non-philosophique, “The identity of the with (the One with the One, God with God) is the true ‘mystical’ content of philosophy, its ‘black box’.”[54] The whole process of non-philosophy as mysticism or non-philosophical mysticism is thinkable as an unfinishable theoretical exposure (as opposed to the philosophical photo which claims to capture its object) of the movement seized in Plotinus’s last words, “phuge monou pros monon” (Enneads 6.9.11) [the flight of the alone to the Alone]. Negating philosophy’s decisional closing of the Real’s foreclosure to thought, the operative fact of philosophy as the “organon . . . [or] a priori form which, giving us the World, forecloses the mystical experience which intrinsically constitutes humans,”[55] non-philosophical mysticism offers the way of turning the transcendent vector of flight from World to One into the most radical immanence without reduction whatsoever, of truing World to One via unbounded or non-decisional translation of the meaning of Plotinus’s pros from ‘to/toward’ to ‘with’, which it may also signify, as in the beginning of the gospel of John: “kai o logos pros ton theon” (1:1) [and the word was with God]—translatable also as ‘face-to-face’ or ‘at home with’. Non-philosophical mysticism is the speculative labor of theorying the archaic One to phoenix-like death from within, of seeing through the hallucination of philosophy, its “simulation of immanence by auto-reflexive interiority [la simulation de l’immanence par l’interiorité auto-réflexive],” and opening forever “the true immanence or identity . . .  rejected in the shadows of the black box [lat veritable immanence ou identité . . . rejetée dans les ténèbres de la boîte noire].”[56] Seeing within the universal interiority of immanent black, man speaks with his ownmost solitary voice—“interior intimo meo et superior summo meo” [more interior than my innermost and higher than my highest”[57]—the words of the famous Sufi hadith, “I was a hidden treasure who loved to be known.” Elaborating upon this line, Ibn Arabi writes: “The Reality wanted . . . to see His own Essence . . . For the seeing of a thing, itself by itself, is not the same as its seeing itself in another, as it were in a mirror.”[58] Black, non-reflective and doubly interior, is the mirror itself, the place of the seeing and being seen of the Invisible One.[59]

III.7    Noir est sans contraire: même la lumière qui tente de le transformer en son contraire échoue devant la rigueur de son secret. Seul le secret voit dans le secret, comme Noir en Noir.
Black is without opposite: even light, which tries to turn it into its opposite, fails in the face of the rigor of its secret. Only the secret sees into the secret, like Black in Black.

The rigor of secret is the ruthlessness of the Real, its inexorable inevitable impossibility. Secret will out—only via secret. “You cannot do better than to place yourself in darkness and unknowing . . . No need to call to Him from afar: He can hardly wait for you to open up. He longs for you a thousand times more than you long for Him: the opening and the entering are a single act.”[60] The oppositeless singularity of black is (the) body of One without number, the indivisible duality of the non-dual, as seen in the Mirror of Simple Souls: “[S]he is alone in Love . . . She is the phoenix who is alone; for this Soul is alone in Love who alone is satisfied in her.”[61] Far from the superficial concept of secrecy as object of knowledge, and farther still from the banal aporia of secret (that there is no secret), the secret of black is exactly that there is secret, that secret is. Secret is what remains freely and impenetrably itself, sits securely above intellectual capture, stays outside of opposition as the infinitely open dual of light.[62] Color of a positively abyssic self-possession, the essence of black is the universe of uncreated divine freedom and the index of the real secret human who never was, is not, and never will be “a servant of oneself,”[63] who occupies the ‘negative’ unconditioned space which ethics, insofar as it is bound to the management of second natures (ethos=habit), can only see in terms of ontological error: “The just man serves neither God nor creatures, for he is free,  . . . and the closer he is to freedom . . . the more he is freedom itself. Whatever is created, is not free. . . . There is something that transcends the created being of the soul, not in contact with created things . . . not even an angel has it . . . It is akin to the nature of deity, it is one in itself, and has naught in common with anything.”[64] Secret grounds the absolute asymmetry of the gaze between light and black, the curvature of an incommensurable and anagogic above-within which is necessarily intangible to the Euclidean optic, as dramatized in Laruelle’s illustration of immanent heretical struggle, the way of “the radical which . . . thinks and struggles within the strict limits of the Real without transcendence,” the refusal that “face[s] the Adversary too closely to not be misconstrued by philosophical opinion and, more so, ‘intellectual’ opinion.”[65] For this refusal, “It would be necessary to reassemble philosophy and religion, theoreticism and terrorism, under a Principle of Arrogance and oppose it to a justified humility. In order to make out the face of the Adversary, it is necessary to mix with him and to suffer the extent of his gaze to the point that he believes to have grabbed hold of you. Of the two of you, however, only you [i.e. black] know that the gaze is nothing, that you are free from the mirror and the speculation and that you are just playing with that haunted gaze which wants to capture yours.”[66] Secret is the solitary auto-seeing to which all light is blind. Like Black in Black, secret is of the order of an immanent hiddenness, an available inviolable depth: “Il n’y a plus de secret ou de mystere ‘caché’ telle une boîte noire au cœur de l’Un ou de Dieu, en réalité au cœur du Logos. Mais un secret qui reste tel qu’un secret que ne transforme pas sa révélation ‘formelle’ puisqu’il est déjà révélé. Un révélé-sans-révélation, un secret (de) l’Un déjà donné pour le Monde, secret de l’humilité que sa communication n’entame pas” [No more is there a secret or a mystery ‘hidden’ like a black box at the heart of the One or of God, actually at the heart of the Logos, but a secret that remains like a secret that does not alter its ‘formal’ revelation because it is already revealed: a revealed-without-revelation, a secret (of) the One already given by the World, a secret of humility that its communication does not cut into].[67] Long identified with earth—“Black is the proper color of elements in process of transmutation”[68]—black universe is the presence of the radical openness of secret, the inexhaustibility of its remaining within itself. In tune with the “radical past” of mysticism, the element of it “which does not pass in being-in-the-Past,”[69] the meta-tautology of Black in Black targets a telos that is neither achievement nor consolation, but the intensive infinitization of arriving search, as if to find that reality itself is absolutely mystical: “since that which human nature seeks and toward which it tends, whether it moves in the right or the wrong direction, is infinite and not to be comprehended by any creature, it necessarily follows that its quest is unending and that therefore it moves forever. And yet although its search is unending, by some miraculous means it finds what it is seeking for: and again it does not find it, for it cannot be found.”[70] Black universe is the term of this ‘miraculous means’, the secret of secret through which, like blackness in black, the revealed and the hidden, the given and the foreclosed intimately open to each across impassible distance. On the one hand the secret of secret is the abysmal hiddenness or absolute foreclose that secret reveals, as shown in Francis of Assisi’s hesitant disclosure of his seraphic vision, which only unveils a more secret secret: “Although the holy man used to say on other occasions: “My secret is for myself,” he was moved by Illuminato’s words. Then, with much fear, he recounted the vision in detail, adding that the one who had appeared to him had told him some things which he would never disclose to any person as long as he lived.”[71] On the other hand, the secret of secret is simply the given itself, the inexplicable fact of identity, as communicated by Ibn Arabi: “The secret of the secret: That by which the Real One is isolated from the servant.”[72] “He prevented the real secret from being known, namely that He is the essential Self of things. He conceals it by otherness, which is you.”[73] The place of passage between these two senses of the secret of secret, the locale of its immanent hiddenness, is the topology defined in the word secret itself, substantive of the verb secerno (to set apart, sever, disjoin). Secrecy is dislocation, severed place, topological severing. Thus at the summit of its literal significance, we find secret as the universal word written within the interior of the mystic’s self-dislocating body. For example: the literally falling apart, limb from limb, of some Indian Sufis in the presence of God[74] and the disjointing Angela of Foligno experiences when God withdraws from her at Assisi and in a vision of the Crucifixion: “The bones and sinews of his most holy body seemed completely torn out of their natural position; and yet his skin was not broken . . . At the sight of the dislocated limbs and the painful distension of the sinews, she felt herself pierced through even more than she had been at the sight of the open wounds. For the former granted her a deeper insight into the secret of his passion [magis intimabatur animae videntis passionis secretum] . . . The sight . . . stirred her to such compassion . . . that when she saw it, all her own joints seemed to cry out with fresh laments.”[75] Only the secret sees into the secret.

To conclude my commentary on these seven lines from Du noir univers, here are seven theorematic notes whose significance may already be clear:

1.         Black is the dislocation of the universe. Black universe is the body of secret.

2.         In secret lies the apotheosis or real glorification of problem (something to be concerned about, to want to figure out), the perfection of the fact of all problems whatsoever and the pure determination-in-the-last-instance of there being any problem at all. Whence the apophatic structure of mystical drunkenness: “And she is inebriated not only from what she has drunk, but very intoxicated and more than intoxicated from what she never drinks and nor will ever drink.”[76]

3.         Mysticism, living discourse of the hidden, is the practical (i.e. paradisical) science of eternally eliminating all problem from within, from the radically immanent grounds of a vast and terrifyingly true intuition: that you are the only problem. Or as Laruelle says, “the heretical struggle is not born from terror or the specular-whole, which it practically undoes, it is born from the being-separate of man that is in-Man.”

4.         No color is brightened by the addition of black. Likewise, there is no such thing as an application (corporeal, imaginative, or intellectual) of mysticism or science of secret to the problem(s) of the world. The only politics of black universe is black itself.

5.         Dixit insipiens in corde suo: Non est Deus (Psalm 14:1) [The fool has said in his heart: there is no God]. In other words: one thinks black is a color; another thinks that it is not; the real fool (fool of the Real) leaps into black universe and proves that everyone is wrong.[77]

6.         The non-philosophical joy of black: seeing in oneself the truth and the falsehood of Paracelsus’s warning, the brilliance of its eclipse: “He who does know what makes black is the philosophus. He who does not know this, but only knows that something happens to be black, is nothing, and can be expected to do nothing but swindle or paint by means of the color black.”[78]

7.         The space of secret is an intimate expanse between two facts:
1) That Black is both true and false.
2) That the One is neither affirmed nor denied.
Universe is the black celestial rose of the One: a real illusion and illusory real that is without why.[79]

Black universe is your dark night, your secret, yours alone.  


[1] “[O]mnis visibilis, et invisibilis creatura Theophania i.e. divina apparition potest appellari; . . . siquidem . . .in quantum occultus intelligitur, in tantum divinae claritati appropinquare videtur. Proinde a Theologia coelestium virtutum, inaccessibilis claritas saepe nominator tenebrositas” (De divisione naturae, [Monasterii Guestphalorum: Aschendorff, 1838], III.19)
[2] Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), Mystical Theology, 1001A.
[3] Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls, trans. Ellen L. Babinsky (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), Chapter 111.
[4] I capitalize real in order to signify the absolute reality of the real itself, the real real, or divinely real. 
[5] H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (New York: Modern Library, 2005), 43.
[6] Divine Names, 824B.
[7] Celestial Hierarchy, 145B. Latin text cited from Patrologia Latina 122: 1014.
[8] “And there is a third nature, which is space [chōra] and is eternal, and admits not of destruction and provides a home for all created things, and is apprehended when all sense is absent, by a kind of spurious reason, and is hardly real—which we, beholding as in a dream, say of all existence that it must of necessity be in some place and occupy a space, but that what is neither in heaven nor in earth has no existence. Of these and other things of the same kind, relating to the true and waking reality of nature, we have only this dreamlike sense, and we are unable to cast off sleep and determine the truth about them” (Plato, Timaeus 52b, my emphasis, cited from The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntingdon Cairns [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961], 1178–79). “If we discern a third space of beginning–neither pure origin nor nihilist flux–its difference translates into another interstitial space: that between the self-presence of a changeless Being who somehow suddenly (back then) created; and the pure Nonbeing out of which that creation was summoned, and toward which its fluency falls. That alternative milieu, neither being nor nonbeing, will signify the site of becoming as genesis: the topos of the Deep” (Catherine Keller, Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming [New York: Routledge, 2003], 12).
[9] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, trans. Maurice O’C. Walshe (New York: Herder & Herder, 2009), Sermon 87.
[10] Mystical Theology, 997A.
[11] Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, trans. Mother Columbia Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), 67.
[12] John of the Cross, The Collected Works, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (Washington: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1991), 113-5,
[13] Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, trans. Charles S. Singleton (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975).
[14] Thomas Vaughn, Works of Thomas Vaughn, ed. Arthur Edward Waite (Kessinger, 1992), 261.
[15] John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, 111.
[16] Augustine, On Genesis, trans. Edmund Hill (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2002), 12.6.15.
[17] H. P. Lovecraft, The Colour Out of Space, in The Fiction: Complete and Unabridged (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2008), 610, 616.
[18] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, tr. C.K. Ogden (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998), 6.44.
[19] John Scotus Eriugena, Periphyseon (De Divisione Naturae), eds. I. P. Sheldon-Williams and Édouard A. Jeauneau, trans. John. J. O’Meara, 4 vols. (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1999-2009), IV.73. Thomas A. Carlson explicates Eriugena’s understanding of the imago Dei in relation to the theophanic principle that the “created world . . . is the vision of God—in both senses of the word” (The Indiscrete Image: Infinitude and Creation of the Human [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008], 94). Here we may understand the relation between the darkness of the imago Dei and black universe in terms of intensive negation in the Dionysian sense, that is, negation not as the opposite of affirmation, but as that which produces or brings into presence the real that is beyond affirmation and denial. The created world is a vision of God in the mode of eclipse, a divine revelation via the miraculous absence of the divine. As Agamben says, “what is properly divine is that the world does not reveal God” (The Coming Community, trans. Michael Hardt [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993], 90)—a statement that only makes sense if understood as positively participating in own intensive negation, namely: ‘what is properly divine is that the world does not not reveal God’.
[20] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, Sermon 57.
[21] Meher Baba, Infinite Intelligence (North Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Foundation, 2005), 383.
[22] John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle, 33.7. This representation of the perfective process as black’s becoming more and more beautiful in being seen God may be compared to Meher Baba’s description of perfection as a kind of impossible ‘mixing’ process of the Infinite and the finite: “Perfection does not belong to God as God, nor does it belong to man as man. We get perfection when man becomes God or when God becomes man . . . If by the Infinite we mean that which is opposed to the finite, or that which is away from the finite, and necessarily other than the finite, that Infinite is already limited by its being unable to assert itself in and through the finite. In other words. Perfection cannot belong to such an Infinite. The Infinite, therefore, has to discover its unlimited life in and through the finite without getting limited by this process . . . Thus we have perfection when the Infinite transcends its limits and realizes its infinity, or when the Infinite gives up its supposed aloofness and becomes man” (Discourses I.119-20). 
[23] The lux/lumen distinction is elegantly explained by Alexander R. Galloway in “What is a Hermeneutic Light?,” Leper Creativity: Cyclonopedia Symposium, eds. Ed Keller, Nicola Masciandaro, and Eugene Thacker (New York: punctum books, 2012), 159-72.
[24] Eriugena, Periphyseon, II.551A. On luminous void see Eugene Thacker, After Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 91-5. NB: “Suhrawardī’s ontology of luminosity . . . renders irrelevant the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accident” (94).
[25] See II.11, 13, III.9.
[26] Eriugena, Periphyseon, 550C.
[27] Eriugena, Periphyseon, 552A.
[28] Divine Names, 712B.
[29] Augustine, Confessions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950), 13.9.
[30] Kant, A789-90/B817-18.
[31] Anthony Winterbourne, The Ideal and the Real: An Outline of Kant’s Theory of Space, Time and Mathematical Construction, 117.
[32] 1001A, 1048B.
[33] Divine Names 697A. “Now we should not conclude that the negations are simply the opposites of the affirmations, but rather that the cause of all is considerably prior to this” (Mystical Theology 100B). “In it is nonbeing really an excess of being” (Divine Names 697A).
[34] The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book IX, Identification 1961-2, trans. Cormac Gallagher (unpublished), Seminar IV.
[35] It is important to remember at this point that Dionysian mysticism corrects the ontological reading of the tetragrammaton from the Vulgate: “Ego sum qui sum” (Exodus 3:14). As Thomas Gallus notes, in commentary on Mystical Theology 1.3, “Take care lest one of the unbelieving or the inexperienced should hear those secrets. I mean people who firmly depend upon natural reasons or the love of existent things, thinking that there is nothing above being—understood as the subject of metaphysics and containing both created and uncreated realities, according to their opinion. And this they have from the word that is spoken in Exodus,  I am who am. But this was spoken so that he might offer himself in a first understanding to us as a kind of reminder, that he might count himself to have being along with us, he who was completely above being” (Mystical Theology: The Glosses by Thomas Gallus and the Commentary of Robert Grosseteste on De Mystica Theologia, ed. and trans. James McEvoy [Paris: Peeters, 2003], 25).
[36] Hafiz of Shiraz, The Divan, tr. H. Wilberforce Clarke (London: Octagon Press, 1974), 86.3.
[37] Meher Baba, Discourses, 3 vols. (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967), I.45.
[38] George Bataille, The Bataille Reader, ed. Fred Botting and Scott Wilson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), 45.
[39] Giorgio Agamben, Language and Death: The Place of Negativity, K E Pinkhaus and M Hardt (trans), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991, pp. 14, 16-7, 25.
[40] Cf. “
[41] Georges Bataille, Guilty, trans. Bruce Boone (San Francisco: Lapis Press, 1988), xxxii.
[42] Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, tr. Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 90.
[43] Anaxagoras of Clazomeane: Fragments and Testimonia, trans. Patricia Curd (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), B1.
[44] Anaxagoras of Clazomeane, B10.
[45] Anaxagoras of Clazomeane, B21A.
[46] Anaxagoras of Clazomeane, B21.
[47] Anaxagoras of Clazomeane, A97. “The source of all references to black water—not merely that of Anaxagoras(B)—must be the highly poetic and dramatic Homeric allusion to a pack of  blood-sated wolves drinking from ‘the surface of the black water from a dusky spring’ (Iliad, XVI, 161)” (J. L. Benson, Greek Color Theory and the Four Elements: A Cosmological Interpretation [Amherst: University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, 2000],  24).
[48] “1) All color is an impression on the sensorium, not a certain quality in things, but an extrinsic denomination, or, as Thomas Hobbes says, a phantasm. 2) Therefore, color is nothing not being perceived by us. 3) Blackness is not so much a color, as the privation of color, or [seu] we say that we see something black, when we see nothing. 4) All opaque things in themselves are black, by hypotheses 2 together with 3. Therefore, also snow. Anaxagoras, however, so that his paradox should be more remarkable, would take as the basis of his discussion especially what is held to be the whitest” (G. W. Leibniz, “A Conjecture Why It Seems That Anaxagoras Could Have Said That Snow Is Black, for Jacob Thomasius in a Letter Sent 16 February 1666,” trans. Donald Rutherford [2004],
[49] “The biggest fable of all is the fable of knowledge. One would like to know what things-in-themselves are; but behold, there are no things-in-themselves! But even supposing there were an in-itself, an unconditioned thing, it would for that very reason be unknowable! Something unconditioned cannot be known; otherwise it would not be unconditioned! . . . A ‘thing-in-itself’ just as perverse as a ‘sense-in-itself,’ a ‘meaning-in-itself. There are no ‘facts-in-themselves,’ for a sense must always be projected into them before there can be ‘facts’” (Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Kaufman and Hollingdale [New York: Random House, 1967], §555-6.
[50]François Laruelle, Mystique non-philosophique à l’usage des contemporains (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007), 63.
[51] John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, 2.16.3-2.17.6. “It was about the dawning or daybreak when, tired with a tedious solitude and those pensive thoughts which attend it, after much loss and more labour, I suddenly fell asleep. Here then the day was no sooner born but strangled. I was reduced to a night of a more deep tincture than that which I had formerly spent. My fancy placed me in a region of inexpressible obscurity, and—as I thought—more than natural, but without any terrors. I was in a firm, even temper and, though without encouragements, not only resolute but well pleased. I moved every way for discoveries but was still entertained with darkness and silence; and I thought myself translated to the land of desolation” (Thomas Vaughn, Works of Thomas Vaughn, 243). “[S]he remained unknown to all and the more hidden she was, the more she was known to God alone. This is why Isaiah boasted, when he said, ‘My secret to myself, my secret to myself’ (Is. 24:16)” (Thomas de Cantimpré, The Life of Christina the Astonishing, trans. Margot H. King and David Wiljer [Toronto: Peregrina, 2002], 25).
[52] See Lyndy Abraham, A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 141-2.
[53] François Laruelle, Dictionary of Non-Philosophy, trans. Taylor Adkins (n.p., 2009), 86.
[54] Laruelle, Mystique non-philosophique, 60.
[55] “L’identité de l’avec (l’Un avec l’Un, Dieu avec Dieu) est le vrai contenu ‘mystique’ de la philosophique, sa ‘boite noire’” (Laruelle, Dictionary of Non-Philosophy, 53).
[56] Laruelle, Mystique non-philosophique, 66.
[57] Augustine, Confessions, 6.9.
[58] Ibn Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, trans. R. W. J. Austin (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), 50.
[59] As exemplified in the monastic 
[60] Meister Eckhart, Complete Mystical Works, Sermon 4.
[61] Marguerite Porete, Mirror for Simple Souls, trans. Ellen L. Babinsky (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), 89. Porete translates the principle of monastic solitude (fr. monos alone) beyond the literal. Cf. Anthanasius’s modeling of Mary: “Mary does not desire to be seen by anyone, but she prayed that God might be her examiner. She did not desire to leave her home. She knew nothing of public places; rather she remained assiduously within her home, living a withdrawn life, like a honey bee . . . She prayed to God, alone with the Alone” (De virginitate, cited in Jean Prou, Walled About With God: The History and Spirituality of Enclosure for Cloistered Nuns, trans. David Hayes [Leominster, UK: Gracewing, 2005], 33-4).
[62] As Laruelle explains, this true, foreclosed secret holds the human future of mysticism: “L’Un-en-Un n’a pas besoin de l’intellect, pas plus d’ailleurs de l’intellect que de l’amour. C’est à cette condition de l’être-forclos de la vision-en-Un, un secret intrinsèque et donc intrinsèquement ‘négatif’, sans positivité, insondable à force d’immanence, que le mauvais mystère représentationnel de la mystique peut être éliminé et l’unition devenir l’opération de la connaissance mais non du Réel. La pratique future renonce à prétendre penser l’Un par l’Un, ou avec l’Un, et pense le rapport au mystico-philosophique selon l’Un, elle expose le Secret qui fait les Humains par axioms et theorems” (Laruelle, Mystique non-philsophique, 61) [The One-in-One has no need of intellect, no more than of love. It is by this condition of the vision-in-One’s being-foreclosed—an intrinsic and thus intrinsically ‘negative’ secret, without positivity, unfathomable by the force of immanence—that mysticism’s bad representational mystery may be eliminated and that becoming-one [unition] may become the work of knowledge, but not of the Real. The future practice renounces pretending to think the One by the One, or with the One, and thinks the mystico-philosophical relation according to the One; it exposes the Secret that makes Humans through axioms and theorems] (Mystique non-philosophique, 61). Note the significant double sense of this expression: a) thinking according to One as exposure via axioms and theorems of the Secret that makes humans and b) thinking according to the One as exposure of the Secret whereby axioms and theorems make humans.
[63] Mirror of Simple Souls, Chapter 48, p. 127.
[64] Complete Mystical Works, Sermon 17.
[65] François Laruelle, Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy, trans. Anthony Paul Smith (New York: Continuum, 2010), 17, my italics.
[66] Laruelle, Future Christ, 17-8.
[67] Laruelle, Mystique non-philosophique, 61.
[68] Aristotle, De Coloribus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1913), 781a.       
[69] Laruelle, Future Christ, 18.
[70] Eriugena, Periphyseon, PL 122:919, translation cited from Bernard McGinn, The Growth of Mysticism: Gregory the Great through the 12th Century (New York: Crossroad, 1994), 118.   Cf. “Seek his face always, [Psalm 104.4], let not the finding of the beloved put an end to the love-inspired search; but as love grows, so let the search for the one already found become more intense” (Augustine, Expositions on the Psalms, trans. Maria Boulding, 6 vols. [Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2003], VI.186). 
[71] Bonaventure, Major Legend of Saint Francis, 13.4, Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Regis J. Armstrong, J. A. Wayne Hellmann, and William J. Short, eds. 3 vols. (New York: New City Press, 2001), 2.633.
[72] Ibn Arabi, al-Istilah al-Sufiyyah, cited in Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society III (1984): 52.
[73] Ibn Arabi, Bezels of Wisdom, 133.
[74] “In the increased proximity brought about by the dhikr [recollection of God] of the heart the seeker becomes, eventually, completely heart; every limb of his is a heart recollecting God . . . We may place here the grotesque stories told about several Sufis of India. Their limbs became separated from them during the dhikr and recollected God each in its own way. This experience is known from Shamanism, but was apparently not rare among later Sufis, mainly in the Subcontinent” (Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam [Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975], 173).
[75] Angela of Foligno, Complete Works, trans. Paul Lachance (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), 158. Cf. “[T]he soul then knows that God is truly present . . . When this happens all the members feel a disjointing [disiunctionem], and I wish it to be so. Indeed such is the extreme delight that I feel that I would want to always remain in this state. Furthermore, I hear the bones cracking when they are thus disjointed (Angela of Foligno, Complete Works, 158). John of the Cross explicates the phenomenon mystical disjointing in relation to Eliphaz the Temanite’s experience of hearing of a “hidden word . . .  in the horror of a nocturnal vision” (Job 4:12-3) [verbum absconditum . . . in horror visionis nocturnae” (Job 4:12-3); see The Spiritual Canticle, 14-15:17-8. On secrecy and dislocation, see Nicola Masciandaro & Anna Klosowska, “Between Angela and Actaeon: Dislocation,” L'Esprit Créateur 50 (2010): 91-105.
[76] Marguerite Porete, Mirror of Simple Souls, 28.
[77] “[C]an there be any greater delight than to see . . . here and now before us a vast lake of bubbling pitch, and swimming about in it vast numbers of serpents, snakes, and lizards and many other kinds of fierce and fearsome animals, while from the lake comes a plaintive voice [una voz tristísima]: ‘You, O Knight, whosoever you may be, beholding this dread lake: if you wish to attain the good hidden beneath these black waters, you must show the resolve of your dauntless breast and cast yourself into the midst of the dark, burning liquid [negro y encendido licor], else you will not be worthy to see the mighty marvels contained in the seven castles of the seven fairies that lie beneath its murky surface’? And what of our delight when the knight, almost before the fearful voice [la voz temerosa] has ceased, without giving his situation a second thought, without stopping to consider the peril to which he is exposing himself, or even shedding the burden of his armour, commends himself to God and to his lady and hurls himself into the boiling lake and, all of a sudden when he least knows where he is bound, finds himself amidst flowery meadows, far finer than the Elysian fields themselves?” (Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, trans. John Rutherford [New York: Penguin, 2000], 456).
[78] Paracelsus (Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541), Essential Theoretical Writings (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 151.
[79] “The rose does have no why; it blossoms without reason, / Forgetful of itself, oblivious to our vision” (Angelus Silesius, The Cherubic Wanderer, trans. Maria Shrady [New York: Paulist Press, 1986], 54).