You may not be able to step into the same river twice, but if you are Max Cafard you can nimbly leap over it and back again any number of times…
The river in question is the thought-flow of enigmatic pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, the subject of Cafard’s new book Lightning Storm Mind: Pre-Ancientist Meditations (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2017).
Accompanied by some striking black and white river-based photographs by New Orleans artist Michel Varisco, this is a work with a metaphysical spring in its step.
Cafard deploys Heraclitus’s own aphoristic style in conjuring up the spirit of the thinker he describes as “one of the ur-est of Ur-Philosophers”, “the great antipostmodernist avant la lettre” and “the first philosophical prophet of the Death of God and of the Resurrection of All Things”.
Even if we are now entering the Late Idiocene, as Cafard tells us, he himself seems to have remained happily undiminished by the Zeitgeist.
He has his wits about him, unlike the plodding phoney-philosophies of a Civilization which he and Heraclitus disdain.
Declares Cafard: “The Rational Individual is a snarecrow. A losing delusion. A witless trickster. There is no need to ration mind.”
But just because his mental gymnastics allow him to jump a high-speed train of thought that doesn’t stop at all the usual stations, this doesn’t mean he doesn’t make sense.
There are plenty of occasions on which Cafard reminds us that the thought of “Our Ancestor”, like that of the Taoists, ultimately draws its meaning from nature.
“According to Our Ancestor, Wisdom means ‘giving heed to the nature of things’. It means paying attention to the naturing nature of things, to their becoming and unbecoming themselves, to their animate and reanimating being”, he writes.
“Civilization will never give up its War on Terra,” Cafard warns us, and on the philosophical level its approach is one of divide and rule: “The history of Civilization is the history of the cutting up and dismembering of the social body. This disease of history was diagnosed at its onset by Our Archangelic Anarchiac Ancestral Doctor.”
But the river of nature, of history and of thought keeps flowing, keeps shifting its shape, keeps reminding us that none of the flood-defence rigidities imposed on us have any permanence or strength in the face of the deep swirling waters of the formless Tao.
“Nature’s orderly disorder is a discordant harmony. The image of harmony imposed on the surface of things disguises the anarchic harmony at the heart of things”.