The Psyche as Threshold


The psyche has always been impossible to grasp, so much so that insofar as psychology is rational, which is to say conceptual, it has been forced to drop the very topic that defines it. As such psychology is in is beginning displaced.  Yet the psyche, as the awareness of the self as such, is indisputably not a “mere” illusion.  Change, insofar as it is modal, is always also directional, a displacement.

There is a truth hidden in the model of quantum mechanics, or more precisely in the observation that gave rise to the core notion of quantum mechanics, the notion of complementarity. In a certain sense quantum mechanics is post-modern, i.e. post-Cartesian, since it recognizes at least at times that mathematics can never provide anything other than a more or less accurate approximation of reality.  In another sense it is not post-metaphysical, since it relies on the gap between appearance and reality, except that in the Kantian sense it posits reality as inaccessible except via the imagination, as a model.  But in its essential truth it is part of the difference between the metaphysical and its twisting-out.

The truth of quantum mechanical observation lies in the fact that at any level where we cannot experience the real except via a technological apparatus, we can determine the whatness of a thing (which for physics is mass as momentum/inertia) or the thatness of a thing as its position.  This precisely echoes the Kantian distinction between the real, which as essence includes all predicates of itself, and existence as only the addition of absolute position (positedness).  However as inexistent, the ontological real is necessarily imaginary, while as posited absolutely is purely verbal, purely its own actualization, and thus has no attributes other than positedness or position.

Yet for the psyche the real is at once also actual.  This “double-sense” that characterizes the psyche can only occur insofar as the psyche gathers the dimensions of temporality: the future as possibility and potential, the present as presencing, and the past as virtual. In that gathering the psyche is both the now and the (t)here as threshold. Simultaneously it is threshold as the difference of the ontological difference, and the constantly crossed threshold of their exchange.  The imaginary and the virtual are ontological while the actual, as purely verbal, is the ontic itself.  What constitutes everyday reality is the “double-sense” in which the psyche as threshold experiences both.  The Greeks called the threshold of the past, what has been’ and is retained, Mnemosyne, while they called the threshold of the future as what is initially only ontological becomes ontic in presencing as techne and phusis.

In techne the convertibility of the ontological and the ontic is most obvious, as is the psyche as the converter most obvious, since what is presented as such is first realized as an imaginative projection, and only subsequently turned from possibility into potential via design, and actualized from that potential by manufacture, which is the proper meaning of the Hegelian term aufgehoben, usually translated as sublation.  The aggravation of techne, which initially means art and craft, into modern technology, narrows the gap of the ontological difference such that the essence of a technological thing as technology itself can easily substitute for the thing and vice versa, as our everyday speech recognizes.  Yet in phusis also possibility and potential, as real but not actual, also undergoes a conversion.  This latter shows the truth of essence itself as the threshold in a general sense, while the psyche is the threshold in an aware sense, even if only dimly at first.

The Mnemosynes simultaneously were the record keepers, both in the sense of the historiological record and the simple sense of financial bookkeeping, since the temples were also the mints of both Greece and Rome. Thus history as retained is only what has been, not the pure virtuality of what was. As such it is a backwards and forwards projection, since what is relevant to retain as a record is determined initially by the futural projection, while what remains relevant and thus continues to be retained is projected from the present.  The forwards projection is always more determining than the backwards projection though, since the initial assumptions of those projecting backwards are formed by what has been as retained, as record, which initially and for the most part remains determined by the futural projection.  This futural projection is what makes history, as Hegel put it, “rational”, precisely in its founding via irrationality, since the futural projection could only arise from a rationalization of what was experienced as revelation.

While phusis actualizes for the most part as what is termed natural history, techne actualizes as making.  Both do so via the temporalizing of temporality, in the phusis as the three ecstasies of temporality, in techne as existing temporally, which gathers those ecstasies as the now. As a form of essence the psyche converts the ontic to the ontological and vice versa. Essence, which was considered immutable, is rather what changes and thus changes both being and beings, and can convert one to the other.  Threshold, however, as what self-insists in every thing, is therefore not only between the ontological and the ontic, but between every mode of each.  As itself changed in every crossing it enacts, the essence of the psyche is its own actualization as existence.  While the psyche reaches its current apogee in man as Dasein, being-there as place, which both spatializes and temporalizes as the here-now, it is not absent as threshold in any thing, nor even nothing, as a threshold that itself always changes.  The apogee it reaches is a reflexive apogee, an intentional movement from and to itself as freedom.  What is evolutionary in evolution, and pre-evolutionary as what is developmental in development of any kind, is an increase in degrees of freedom.   The irony of ascribing determinism to evolutionary process is that determinism removes the evolutionary as such.

The change, which is always a change in mode (although as modification change itself is always changed) is experienced as how the psyche is at any given moment as mood.  What Kant called “transcendental apperception”, that which “goes along with” every perception and thought as the sense of self, is the modality of the psyche, its mood, which is itself always experienced as a change in mood.  Heidegger recognized this in the sense of Self revealed in the extreme of profound boredom and the sense of World experienced in true anxiety.  World and Self as individual and shared psyche together constitute the ontological horizon, and are therefore the Same, the identity and difference of and between identity and difference, the core of the essential as such.

The identity of the individual Self as psyche thus is primarily determined in the actualization of existing.  As always itself changed and changing identity is properly self-sameness, or ipseity, in this case self-ipseity as opposed to self-identity. This conflation results in the further conflation of identity with identification, an exchange of ontology for ontotypology, as one of the features of the metaphysical.  It is in this sense that being, which gives change as changing essence in withdrawing, and therefore in the real sense gives itself such that beings are, is at root queer, as modality also means genre and gender.  This queerness is uncanny, not at home, and as such everydayness is always haunted by the real as such, as what is given being in presencing.  The phobia of gender fluidity, a fluidity of form that itself changes and thus re-forms modality itself, is not simply a euphemism (although it is also that) but is the fear of the uncanny as the real itself, a queerness of the real that is uncanny in that it is always changed, and thus abyssal in the sense of origin.  The psyche, as a threshold of (ex)change is thus itself abyssal, yet the abyss that is the abyssal ground of the psyche is not deep, but not even shallow.  It is as threshold pure in-betweening as the essence of boundary.  This in-betweening, shortened in the techne of animation as “tweening”, constitutes the cineplasticity of being and essence as what changes and gives change as the very withdrawing of being.  Only insofar as being already changed into essence “tweens” can the relations that constitute form and structure, as themselves always changing, that enables the metabolism of being to be exchanged for the metabolism of beings.  Thus the cineplastic is essential metabolism, the metabolism precisely of essence.

In the turning, or twisting-out of metaphysics, the essence of truth becomes the truth of essence, and that turning must both be actualized and experienced as actual, and as so self-evident as to be unavoidable.  The truth of essence, that it is not immutable but always changed and changing, must be actualized as a being.  Only in that way can the truth of essence appear.  In the event of the change, the twisting-out, that being appears, although at first only dimly, in the imagination of one to whom the event happens.  The actualization of that imaginary can only be, like every actualization of the imaginary, a work of techne, and thus something technical in the widest sense, but as technical, and indeed technological, it must itself appear as (ex)changed.  It must appear as both techne and as what techne is divided from, as phusis, which is to say it must be both manufactured and self-originating, and simultaneously as actualized it must remain imaginary, and both must be self-evident. In the exchange in which nothing changes, precisely this sticking of nothing together with its self-evidence not only changes everything, but does so in a manner that itself twists-out of metaphysical change, where everything changes only sufficiently to remain essentially the Same.

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