Contemporary people seem to think that the best way to get rid of influences of the past is merely to forget them. However, all that results from this is belief in vague concepts with little-understood origins. Here, I would like to posit the intimate tie between alchemy and politics. From Descartes to Hegel and beyond, the influence of the occult arts on society is more than evident. Isaac Newton was just as obsessed with alchemy as he was with physics. Alchemy is the transformation of ordinary metals into such precious metals as gold and silver, often through incantations or other symbolic rituals. The underlying idea behind it was transformation: going from something ordinary and unappealing to something extraordinary and desirable. This transformation captivated the ideas of modern thinkers, especially once the scientific discipline discarded alchemy as a means of actual physical transformation. How else could we interpret Hegel’s saying of reason being, “the rose in the cross of the present”?
So what radical politics in particular has become (not that many pay attention to it anymore) is the idea that a better and more desirable society can emerge from a billion points of banality. That is, that a mass of undisciplined and uneducated automatons could create utopia if only one adds some magic ingredient (ideology, politics, religion, etc.) As if human beings had multiple lives to live and those lives weren’t engrossed in making a living, keeping body and soul together, and perhaps catching snippets of entertainment now and again. As if life could be otherwise if only we will it so. There are those who could go on about the material or political reasons on why this can happen, but the fact that is hasn’t and shows no signs of occurring permits me to ignore their arguments.
What then is the only thing left to do but purge oneself of this sort of utopian thinking; to reject the human itself with all of its supposed obligations and constrictions? If banality is all that there is, does not the dream to escape it also become a banality? Do not the loftiest sentiments become the most puerile escapism, the most Herculean efforts merely the futile beating of air? Another (perhaps slightly more interesting) way to “pass the time”? And yet this banality traps even the well-intentioned in a vicious circle that destroys all within and outside of us that is worthy of any admiration and wonder. What then is left here but complete negation, a lack of concern for the hyper-civilized and their moral codes? An absolute disdain for even the most well-conceived Utopia or “liberated space”?