The Sovereignty of Persuasion

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One could look at Carlo Michelstaedter's Persuasion and Rhetoric, not only in terms of man's existential destiny, as it would seem he meant, but as a theory of the destiny of sovereignty itself. His general thesis is outlined in this manner: there are two paths, which amounts to two forms of communication, two types of consciousness, two ways of living, two ontological truths. Rhetoric represents, largely, the world most of us live in every day. Rhetoric, as communication, seeks to convince the other to affirm the self's existence. Persuasion is a state which is hard to fully explain though we know what it feels like: it amounts to a sense of conviction concerning a particular truth, a deep-seated understanding that something is definitely the case and that something else is definitely not the case. It is the self's total apprehension of the being of a truth, beyond its simple ideal form. Persuasion is being in its own certainty. As Michelstaedter himself puts it: 'And yet if "objectivity" means "objectivity," to see objectively either has no sense because it must have a subject or it is the extreme consciousness of the man who is one with things, has all things in himself: `one, indivisible,' the persuaded: god.' 

The Features of Persuasion and Rhetoric

These two paths are intertwined and, at least on one level, dependent on one another. However, when we take into consideration the full consequences of having only one at the expense of the other, it becomes harder to sustain the whole. Nothing encapsulates the soul of rhetoric like social media. Personal accounts are never totally 'private,' but are always meant for the sake of publicizing one's life in order to seek acceptance from others. There's nothing wrong with this in and of itself; this is merely an acceleration of how we form communities. However, the very acceleration can become a kind of mania - a neurotic, insatiable thirst. The very act of drinking, of eating, is due to an organic privation which is part of the natural process. This grafts onto our inner life, where we feel a need for abstract concepts which are due equally, we feel, to a sense of privation. We seek something in our lives because something is missing. Michelstaedter explains it, in part, in the following manner: 'When man senses the insufficiency of his persona and feels faint before that which escapes his power, he turns to re-search the positions where the actual sense of his persona had previously flattered him with the voice of pleasure, "You are;" or in the positions that he knows lavish pleasure on others.' This calls to mind Plato's rendering of the myth of the androgyne; a being both male and female, complete in itself, blessed with the ability to war against the gods. They were split in two by Zeus to humiliate them and stifle their rebellion. Symbolically, this speaks to the sense of need and endless desire we carry around with us our whole lives - a vitality of completion bifurcated by a consciousness which is ever in need of its missing component. 'this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need and the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.' (Symposium).

Often, each of our actions are links on a chain of endless seeking; a lifelong stupor of busyness with which we distract ourselves in order to feel life. It is an addiction to that which resists us, as it gives us an illusory goal; something to attain which we do not have but which presents itself to us. Paradoxically we create spaces of privation in order to fill them. We seek possessions to suppliment the loss of self. 'For one loves and turns his gaze toward total possession, identity, and the other is touched and overconscientious about what he thinks he possesses - in order that it should remain for him in the future. But to the extent that he possesses it, that much is he possessed by it.' (Persuasion and Rhetoric). Being persuaded, ultimately, relies on an internal paradox which must be acknowledged and exploited if one is to move beyond rhetoric. Rhetoric's recognition of existential privation needs to be accepted and then negated - a sort of double-negative shift in inner attitude in which the very concept of lack is internalized, appropriated and fully understood as nonbeing, which then has the effect of canceling privation altogether - not as something which never existed, but something which has been left behind. One who is capable of this truly esoteric act becomes persuaded. A fundamental shift in consciousness and in one's very being will have occurred, as the realization of one's existence, and further, one's awareness, one's agency, takes the center stage so that one is then free to perform the 'pure act,' in the Aristotelian sense. This philosophy has much in common with Heidegger's, in which being, which man has forgotten, can only be reclaimed by coming to terms with its own objective finitude; a finitude immediately present in the idea of death.

Michelstaedter and Perennial Wisdom

Though Michelstaedter does categorize his thought as congruous with 'perennial wisdom,' positing that persuasion itself had been embodied in the idea of the 'logos' in philosophy and that Christ's teaching was basically the same as his at its core - 'The kingdom of God is within you,' 'Worry not what you will do tomorrow,' - he certainly would not have been surprised that a similar message, at least its principles, could be found in Buddhism, Taoism, Tantra, Hermeticism and many other mystic traditions. Likewise, the concept of samsara in the east could be likened to rhetoric - the world of illusion. In Gnosticism, it is the illusory world created by the Demiurge. On the other hand, it could be said that persuasion can be likened to an 'awakening,' the 'possession of Tao,' 'drinking from the river of everlasting life,' or the attainment of the philosopher's stone...

Rhetoric and Society

Persuasion, ultimately, amounts to unconditional freedom as a determination of being which recognizes itself. It does not seek objects to satisfy it, but drinks of being itself and is never thirsty. It's nature, fundamentally, has naked experience as its authority and does not manufacture a false sense of being to concepts which are only privations. It sees no cause for limitations - being extends to the very borders and considers limitations as insignificant; announcing them only creates false futures. The one who is persuaded is sovereign. What are the wider implications of such a sovereignty amidst the world of rhetoric? Is such a persuaded one to be crowned king? Impossible, for the physical crown relies ultimately on the rhetoric of societal consensus, of the superior principle lost in a symbol; a vain container of being, something to be coveted and corrupted by endless human craving. As Christ said 'my kingdom is not of this world,' and just as the Buddha gave up his earthly royalty for inner peace, so persuasion is its own light, taking no care to control the direction of its rays.

Perhaps we may speculate on just what a unity of persuasion would look like precisely by defining its opposite, just as Michelstaedter did with rhetoric to begin with. Perhaps we must look at the society of rhetoric and perform the necessary involution. As we have established that rhetoric is the 'normal' state in which we operate, what one could also call 'consensus reality,' we can then simply look at the world around us, its design, its values, and perform a philosophical diagnostic. One immediately notices that our world is fundamentally enveloped in politics. It may seem strange to disentangle politics as an entity independent from the world, as it is now and becoming more and more, with each passing day, a bigger part of our lives, seeping into every vector and vacancy of experience. We take for granted that politics, in the ancient world, was something which belonged exclusively to the very heart of the polis, and usually only a subject of interest at a time of civil unrest or societal uncertainty. Politics, for a long time, was considered something which was distasteful for royalty to dabble in, as it was considered a low register of discourse; a base form of existence. Without the religious, ideological and economic superstructure which sustains monarchy and royalty today, wishing to return to such a system would be an untenable fantasy. And yet, as those systems are not with us, modern life has filled this power vacuum with politics.

The politics of today are largely the parasitic forces which have capitalized on the impotence of the late stages of monarchical impotence and varying degrees of royal insolvency. Royalty represents only one epoch of human mass organization and was destined from its archane beginnings to see its final decline. This collapse happened at different times in different ways in the four hemispheres. The east arguably became more arcane as large blocs came under communist rule. The west followed the path of the French Revolution and set up democratic republics - a spirit which even reached its way to America, which had no intention in its original conception to be a democratic entity. The mob rule of perpetual crisis, what Italian philosopher Georgio Agamben might call a 'state of exception' became the ubiquitous reality of the everyday - in which state powers opt for temporary tyranny in the bad faith that they will relinquish control once the problem has been solved which, incidentally, never happens. This is the historical rupture from which both the ever present need for a Left wing and a Right wing emerged, the Right an ever suspended archaism, the Left a hive of sentimental violence.

Both wings hide the fact that they serve the interest of a few who benefit from atomizing everyone in society like a heard of cattle: individual only in their utility, their collective identity only a mass for consumption masked by convenient ideology. The nightmares of both capitalism and socialism emerge from this same rupture, and each have their part in what Debord called 'the society of the spectacle.' In fact, what has eventuated in the west now is really a hybrid sort of social capital, with the aid of coerced, ever more democratized blocs around the globe aiding the ever neurotic ebb and flow of mimetic desire - an artificial egalitarianism which, in its very histrionic gesture of affirming the other as the sole justice of society, in reality only satiates personal egotistical projects using the other as a convenient mask. One can see this economic scheme play out in its ideological form in works like The Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl Popper and The Open Society, by George Soros. In other words, the society of the spectacle is the society of rhetoric. Emerson also summed it up thus: 'Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.' (Self Reliance). Michelstaedter comes to a similar conclusion: 'Modernity [is], by definition, a network of mutual imbrication that uses economic means to cocoon everyone into illusory forms of security, the implication is that the present age cannot help but be "the reign of rhetoric."'

Because  rhetoric by definition cannot be self sufficient and also by definition waits for affirmation of its presumed truths through the recognition of another, it cannot help but fall into a state of crisis when this affirmation is denied through existential privation, whether this crisis manifests on the individual level or in society at large. The only way to assure the affirmation of the other in the long run if it is not an organic relationship is to use force. The society we live in today is constituted almost entirely by force, but force which hides its motives under a series of warm and friendly sounding guises like 'liberty,' 'fraternity' and 'equality.' It is what the anarchist writer Keith Preston refers to as 'totalitarian humanism,' and can also be likened to Deleuze and Guattari's 'Oedipal society.'

Deconstruction and Postmodernism as Half Measures

Postmodernism and late capitalism are compatible insofar as they recognize, not only the subjectivity of value, but the bed of the fractured, personal logos which must lie underneath the clear exchanges between alterity and indeterminateness. Values, even as passions, as desires and clever fictions, require the grammatic signature of a truth which can only announce its presence in the social body. Insofar as postmodernism recognizes this, it retains a trace of the logos even if it does so consciously and suspiciously, even if only as a sort of contractual philosophical gesture, a first metaphysical action. But in retracing the lineage of the logos as a heritage of phallogos, as Derrida did, the initial pretense to clarity is altogether betrayed by this enormous appeal to faith, as the very history of phallogos does little beyond identify the identifying agency as having an identity (virility itself as the signifier of signifiers), in which case the other's indeterminateness, determined only in contradistinction despite all claims to the contrary, accepts its heritage of difference. This project, the entire motif of which at this stage in its discursive development remains unchecked, has culminated in little more than the proclamation of difference for the sake of a chance to partake of the fruits of the logos - at this stage unentangleable with phallogos - for merely strategic reasons. That stratigic reason, though deconstruction can't admit it on account of an unexplainable discursive timidity, is the accumulation of more power over the virility of phallogocentrism. The ultimate irony of hermeneutically closing off the bridge of metaphysics  between phallogos and phonotologos is that this trajectory, along with postmodernism's subsequent tendency to play endlessly with the signifiers in an act of rebellion against the aggression of virility-determined meaning, would in every way resemble preference for the interpretation of the dead, lifeless word over the word of virility in its own living, active relationship with meaning. The word which does not have life to defend itself earns the treatment, quite simply, of preferable meaning  and serves as an authority which is responsible for determination and the liberation of the subject. Deconstruction is like the man who decries real sex for the blow-up doll.

Perhaps one of the strangest features of deconstruction is not its conclusions - if it could be said to have specific ones which don't immediately lend themselves to conscious and unconscious paradoxes sitting ever at the border of presence - but the discursive precedent it sets. One is always left to wonder what its project could possibly be if it were ever achieved, beyond castration of the phallogos - the noetic terrorism of a logo-less meaning which is jealous of meaning as such. This philosophy becomes for us one of the last subconscious myths of our time, a protagonist and antagonist relationship ever dancing on the abyss of presence and absence. Anti-essentialism, albeit a gross misunderstanding of it, constitutes a major pole of influence over cultural studies departments in universities all across the western world, usually opposite Marxism of various shades and, at times, overlapping with it, though hardly harmoniously. The subject which is its own object reigns in a play of signifiers which antagonize one another endlessly, which ironically allows for new forms to arise in cultural consciousness from ever newfound excluded middles, along with new manias, concerns and psychic runoffs. It is in this chaotisserie of double-negations and their endless economy of reduction and redirection creating ever new meanings which show, perhaps, how postmodernism is at least accidentally true in its hyper-enunciated tautology which manifests the sanity-insanity dyad as an excluded middle of excluded middles. The frenzy with which meaning is teased out and seized upon as a scapegoat directly responsible for the inhibition of the subject is a direct mirror of the mania which is rhetoric. The fulgerations and traces of meaning hidden in the most dysphoric of drives and the most schizophrenic sentiments may be realized very suddenly, whether that be in political action giving way to market demands or economic realities birthed from the crisis of meaning at war with itself and the meaning which doesn't want a meaning self-destructing in honor of positional rigor.

Postmodernism as a Catalyst for Western Hegemony

Philosophers such as Richard Rorty and, to some degree, Gianni Vattimo, developed thought styles in a postmodern fashion which actually served to obstinately defend the status quo. Vattimo in particular rightly approximates the postmodern project to a secular form of Christianity, and even goes so far to endorse the very nihilism in Christianity against which Nietzsche proved a viable opponent. Rather, Vattimo's Christianity balances out its Nietzschean element with Heidegger's project to retrieve being, albeit, he does so by allowing the logos to assume its place hermeneutically in history through the passivity of its position within its phonetic origin, namely, the Christian tradition, but more specifically, the Catholic tradition, though being can hardly be said to have come out unscathed. By the time we arrive at Vattimo's being, and when we see the final conclusion of his anti-metaphysical hermeneutic in relation to postmodern philosophy, it is hard not to think that he posits, quite simply, a privatized relationship with the presencing faculty of history which is not grounded in the existential/experiential so much as it acts in favor of an exegesis of the licensing of exegetical pluralism. Vattimo endorses Christianity in an entirely passive manner, extracting from it and postmodernism a certain will to power, which in his case, happens to be the ethics of neighbor-love, the sociopolitical implications of which he is resolved to see culminate, ultimately, in liberal democracy, but which he hopes may stand in for the eventuation of a weak communism.

Fukayama comes to a similar conclusion, though in a far less passive manner, determined by a spurious geopolitical eschatology, in that he sees liberal democracy as the self-evident truth and meaning of history, to such a degree that the coming of this world and the rest of the world's following its example just may result in the end of history itself. Here, we see not simply a bias mistake being made, but just what it is possible for a mistake to become in the fullness of its awful power: a lie that endures for millennia. This relates to postmodernism only insofar as this phenomenon shares its origin in the escalation of rhetorical consciousness which ultimately culminates today in the crisis of meaning which has endured and unmanned a thousand and one gods. In the absence of a unitive meaning through the over-determination of metaphysics, man is free to create his own logos through social consensus or personal preference.

Some stop short in their horror here in a shudder of moral aplomb. However, a critique from within the concerns with which deconstruction and its cultural cousin, postmodernism, situate themselves reveals not an appalling amoralism, but rather, an over-inflated moralism - the most glarring example of an excluded middle ever impregnating any series of texts, albeit, the very texts which most concern themselves with the excluded middles of other texts. As the mirror of rhetoric and ego-gratification only ensure the conflict of suspended affirmation, democracy acts as the perfect mediator of desire as its own logos, and thus, a perfect engine of rhetoric. Postmodernism ultimately stems from a crisis of meaning which conflates itself with surreptitious authoritarian power. Its fanaticism for reducibility and its analogous ethical obsession with presencing difference keeps it within the trajectory of humanism, which conveniently places ethics within the domain of politicized human desire. But where desire is not overcome, will, the space of possibility, the energy of creativity, is destined for an abyss which must always, in the end, swallow those who choose not to face it. The heritage of rhetoric is precisely the creation myth of an entire 'other,' a whole meta-metaphysic, which is not, in fact, present or determineable, thus, a desire is created as the positive surplus of an insatiable negation. Postmodernism, in its revolt against meaning, unconsciously manufactures the condition for its own masochistic self-martyrdom.

Identity Politics and the Market of Values

Market competition mirrors identity competition which can only lead to a war of all against all. Democracy's terminal point ensures such destruction from its inception. Ideologies, grounded in the authority of history, offer the herd a potpourri of roles to fill and masks to wear, which ultimately represent uniforms to armies of the night, marching to a tune of internet memes, vapid quotes from the eggheads, holy idiots and charlatans of modernity's collective intellectual circuit, manufactured by the algorithmic demands of silicon valley, the intimidation of celebrity comedians and parodic talking heads, YouTube personalities reviving every ressentiment disguised as traditional virtue and redressing every conveniently dichotomous political argument to either horrify or make mom and dad proud. There's a t-shirt for every anti-capitalist sentiment. How many colors can possibly look good behind Che Guevara's face? Nord-fetishists and racialist neo-pagans get to pick the coolest gods where their mixed Caucasian blood makes it convenient. Emergent political distractions, the dissident subcultures of the Right and Left, both have their respective boring vulgarities which never seize to be time-stoppingly appalling to the opposition for the most trivial  and childish of offenses, breeding ever new opportunities to incite outrage and panic. With an undergraduate's smugness and keen smell for in-group social capital-earning talking points, both sides recycle old shibboleths of ideological rancor with ever hipper finesse and cleverer mimetic reductivity. Both sides hate the Jews. The Left hates them for being the most unscrupulous capitalists. The Right hates them because they got their very own holocaust, thus dampening any attempt of the dissident-Rightist-Anglosphere to capitalize on their own victim status as a lost Aryan tribe of Hyperborea - though it is important to note that the dissident Right also hates the Jews for being the most unscrupulous socialists. One wonders how such antagonism didn't fall in on itself sooner, or just how long one has to practice one's poker-face whilst muttering the banalities which pass for the choicest of western values for the sake of the camera. There need not be class warfare nor race warfare in our ever atomizing society, but only ever the perpetual friction of an engine about to go into flames from several positions at once.

Persuasion as Monad

The paradox of persuasion lies in our inability to apply to it either a formula of stasis or a formula of infinite becoming. We find ourselves ever grappling with the problems which philosophy has concerned itself with for nearly 3,000 years. The tendency of ancient peoples was to onto-mythicize and embrace the antagonism of being and nonbeing in a principle of mutual completion and infinity; finitude acting - not solely - as a signification of presence within the One, the Absolute, or transcendence.

Esotericism, which is ultimately the name for this 'system,' is what betrays the western sense of philosophical system building. Western philosophical systems often act like equations, which contain, not one, but several irreducible parts which, essentially, can't help but act in the manner of monads. In esoteric traditions, rather, the gradient between finitude and infinity is cancelled as a matter of absolutely no importance, as it would only serve to complicate the matter of perception by supposing that there is some other truer world by which the one we live in can be explained. Rather, in esotericism, the poles are all that matter, with the assumption that they represent the limits of experience, and if not, they might as well. Exoteric religion and materialism are not so different, as they each rely on presupposed conditions to which phenomena adheres to a schematic of analogous meaning.

Esotericism treats phenomena, its movement and its very distinction as a sense of thingness which is not nothingness, but one thing; every one of its parts just as 'real' and just as 'necessary' as each other manifestation of its presence. The modern, western mind may come to some understanding of the mystical side of ancient wisdom by accepting its noetic shape, merely, as a spatial map of the nature of knowing itself, not in the sense of the Kantian correlate of perception and its coextensive concern for the nature of phenomena, but as an experiential immediacy determined through no intellectual rigor but that of the perceiving faculty recognizing its own objectivity, along with the inevitable objectivity of phenomena itself. The truth which is not simply rational or philosophical is the very experiential truth of gnosis - the gradational knowledge of an essence which is both related to subjectivity and responsible for it; explained best by the old addage of Hermes Trismugistus, 'As above, so below.' This gives some context to the original conception of faith, which could be explained as, at once, a remembrance of one's experience and a sustained cognitive gesture to attain to what is the highest, the noblest and greatest form of existence. The very necessity of gnosis takes us beyond the limits of philosophy, where only an action and the bravery to perform action matters. Novalis explained the essence of this active form of gnosis, albeit, using the language of German Idealism: 'We are not at all I—but we can and shall become I. We are seeds for becoming I. We shall all transform into a you—into a second I—only thereby do we raise ourselves to the Great I—which is one and all together.' (Allgemeine Brouillon).

Zoasophy as an Activation of Social Persuasion

'Zoasophy,' would translate into something like 'active wisdom' or, perhaps, 'liver of wisdom.' It is not counterpart but complimentary to philosophy, representing the alchemical stage at which love of wisdom activates its kinetic movement. There comes a point when wisdom as such must be tested, but it can only be tested if there is a sense of direction. Dialogues and debates can reduce thought to its fundamental mechanics but even these are, ultimately, no matter how primordial, the product of action. Mistake me not here for meaning the mere vulgar activity of 'activism' - that busybody set of political hobbies which perfectly embody how we live most of life as it is without the particular demon of ideological upset: the mind's subservience to the disturbed activity of the nervous system - the mind committing to the mania of horror and hatred, begging masters in unseen towers for a bone and resenting them just as much for what they give as for what they do not.

A sense of zoa would have to be activated in society in both direct and indirect ways in order for a whole community, a whole civilization, to operate toward the goal of persuasion. It is not enough to revive or turn back to the Rousseauian contract. The Libertarian dream, though currently revitalizing new forms of the same old political conversations, will not come to fruition as the result of reform, but could only ever stand a chance after the fall of the global network of western nation states, at which point its vision would only serve as an embarrassing husk of the world that was.

The only way the market, the potlatch or the community could even be 'free' in any meaningful sense is if there is a sense of purpose, a sense of will, and the eye that is ever watchful, ever cultivating the tools necessary for each task as it arises. The very constitution of contracts should be such that they are informed by a broader understanding, namely, a sense of conviction concerning what is not only near, but what is far; what is 'above' as it is 'below.' Contracts, no matter how ungoverned the society, always rely on a correlate of negative and positive incentives which, by their very nature, are encoded by a reward/punishment system. To what end is such a greater correlative-contract useful to one who refuses to play such a game? It would seem inevitable that meritocracy would have to exist within the context of consent concerning a scale of gradation - a value system which must be self-enclosed if it is to be at all effective.

This says little about the type of culture which would be most suited to it - only that it would have to have a sense of purpose, which could not effectively exist without conviction, or, persuasion. Even then, this mere formula is useless if it does not know toward what goal it wishes to distribute merit, and likewise, if its goal is in fact malignant. But to what end does anyone or anything need purpose?

Purpose, which stands at the very center of the question of persuasion, is ultimately a means to an end. But as we examine the characteristics of persuasion, it would follow that persuasion is itself the end, the aim, the absolute value in which being becomes wholly certain of itself. All aims, goals and means, in the society possessing a persuaded sovereignty, would serve the purpose of finding the locus of that activity about which there can be absolutely no question or doubt as to its self-certainty, its self-sufficiency, its sense of overall fulfillment and completion. Institutions within the greater network of such a society would ultimately treat themselves with the sense of honor belonging to one filling the highest station, the most coveted calling existing both for itself and as a free gift to the community. Justice departments, leadership roles and even street sweepers would belong to organizations and orders who would swear oaths for their services and would carry out their duties with pride, partaking of the gifts of those who are committed to the overall form, the overall eidos of the people and its union, with a fastidious sense of purpose like that of the knights. Leaders of each of these respective orders which make up the society can be anyone - though duties are divided up, a leader of men and women is one who is the closest to the central, binding conviction of the eidos. Leadership does not dominate, but inspires in those who uphold the eidos the goodwill and inspiration to follow his or her example.

Union

The union which is bound by mere affinity or personal preference does not have the lasting power or the potential to recapture being, or even to guide the forces of time and history. Admittedly, this is the real reason for the earlier critique of deconstruction and postmodernism in general. It is treated here, not as an ideological enemy per se, but rather, a major guiding current which justifies the rhetorical drive of society en masse, which would appear to be correct from the outset, in that its tendency to pluralism would seem to have the potential, at least on the surface, to remedy interpersonal and international conflict by weakening the over-determined necessity for violence, but which ultimately acts as the very passive nihilism of which Nietzsche warned against, which only ever smuggles in the morality of revenge against life itself - Nietzsche's 'two hundred years of nihilism' also approximates to the 'reign of rhetoric' in localized form. Likewise, all critiques of democracy attempt to reveal a similar, wholly related futility. The temptation in this era which embodies a crisis concerning the ground of meaning would be to opt for a philosophical equation which would merely allow everyone to 'live and let live' - form affinity groups, or what Max Stirner referred to as a 'union of egoists,' which would exist solely for the purpose of maximizing the joint self interest of each member. Wouldn't Stirner's egoism, if embraced, it has been argued, make social interactions more honest? To allow the ego its free reign, to never assign one's own will another name, like 'God' or 'nation' or 'liberty?' To put one's self interest before anything else, even to the point that altruism and neighbor love are sacralized as an extension of the ego as the 'creative nothing' - the cleaving point of the subject and the object, appropriated and resolved dialectically in the subject which is effectively the 'owner' of, not only objects in the world, but one's own objectified subjectivity. In a way, it could be said that Stirner's project was adjacent to yet far more advanced than that of postmodernism, since Stirner affirms the same subjectivity though without any immediate need for the other as a discursive ethical guide.

However, ironically, even as Stirner insists on the dialectical sovereignty of the unique or the ego, he ultimately succumbs to the temptation to enhance it on the pretense of an aggregate pleasure which can only be predicated by joint individual desire, in the form of the union. Stirner's union is much like Fourier's phalanstery in this regard, as it replaces Christian Agape with a pagan Eros as the locus of human intercourse. Though it doesn't quite seem fair to position Stirner's philosophy within the realm of Michelstaedter's rhetoric, Stirner nevertheless takes it for granted that the very grounding faculty by which a group of egos can even aggregate toward the aim of maximum pleasure would itself resemble an inevitable transcendent principle, a divine erotic language written into the very function of his 'creative nothing' or logos - it is no wonder that Stirner also uses the word 'logos' to sacralize his position in Stirner and His Critics. Stirner tends to have the correct sense of the problem though he often keeps his conclusions within the realm of a dialectic which suspends the very problem it claims to solve by settling for a love of contingency which he is then content to isolate exclusively to the ego or the unique, though when we look closer, we see that it cannot be the ego or the unique which governs and binds transcendence, but rather, these concepts are merely containers for precisely what escapes man, namely, what is above and beyond him - the creative nothing which man does not 'own' but which he shares and partakes of. 'For realities matter little to the realizer, but it matters everything that they be realizations of the idea. Hence he is ever examining anew whether the realized does in truth have the idea, its kernel, dwelling in it; and in testing the real he at the same time tests the idea, whether it is realizable as he thinks it, or is only thought by him incorrectly, and for that reason unfeasibly. The Christian is no longer to care for family, State, etc., as existences; Christians are not to sacrifice themselves for these “divine things” like the ancients, but these are only to be utilized to make the spirit alive in them.' (The Ego and Its Own). The fundamental flaw of Stirner's radical nominalism is not only in his conflation of gradation of the idea with the idea's indeterminateness, but in his insistence on taking the exotericists of idealism at their word. The institutions which most deceptively co-opted ideas to the service of nefarious political aims and the buffoonery of common superstitions are quite right to be vilified as 'spooks' in Stirner's work, but he simply offers another premature enclosure by replacing 'God' and 'nation' with 'the unique' and 'my property.' If this replacement is to amount to anything more than a means to exhaust the question of sovereignty by referring to the subject as a dialectical black hole which accrues property through the unnamed authority of a gesture of kindness which treats the ego as a neighbor (might is right; self-enjoyment is righteousness), then it must not stop at the mere sacralization of infinite, ever-changing phenomena in its lack of value, but it must ultimately sacralize the eternal, changeless center around which everything in existence would appear to be endless reactions to it. 'I hang my affairs on nothing' must be realized as a principle of magic living - truth itself revealed as a potentiality of the future bearing the fruit of present action. The 'unique one' must undergo a switch, in which he becomes, not the one who takes property for himself of his own power, but the one who allows the ego its power to take.

The Reign of Persuasion

If truth is to be discovered in the future, the line between learning and creating is made hazy. The only possibility of a union of persuasion would occur in a group or society which married itself to the future, aiming at fulfillment and the harmonizing acoustic of recognition; the potential for each one to create a bridge to one's place in the scale of gradation - one's relationship with 'the idea' - not as a dialectic to be 'resolved,' but a heroic commitment to the transformation of the present through the destruction of time itself (the cancellation of rhetoric and its objects of desire), an endless war with oneself and the outside against weakness and self-deception in all its forms, the recapturing of life, not as a privation, but the recognition of a surplus which must be squandered in celebration or given away as a free gift out of amor fati. The logos is only lost if one hunts it down as an object. One must incarnate the logos in the manner of Christ and let whatever does not last through this holy fire burn to ashes. The persuaded sovereignty would enact the principle of wu-wei - never interfering directly, but actively creating causes - the creative nothing - to achieve the necessary effects, even in such a way that such things could be accomplished and sewn in the field even where no authority has ever been codified or recognized (and in some cases, in spite of codified authorities and sovereignties). One lives in the mystery of the Tao:

'Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.

These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.

Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.' (Tao Te Ching)

By turning all actions toward the Absolute, the whole, one never errs - one's karma is free from endless becoming, as Krishna informed Arjuna in the midst of his various struggles with his conscience in battle. One finds one's calling and contributes to the Magnum Opus and the completion of all things. The sovereignty of persuasion is living as meaning and meaning as living, an established connection between the self, the lowest and the highest, the circle of infinity and power written in the language of Heaven which can never be lost. History, metaphysics, philosophy and religion are persuasion's servants, its surplus, its expression and its ideation. Persuasion doesn't seek to influence, but to destroy and to create anew.