“I am not heremtically closed, but just the opposite. I am that which things penetrate, which they inundate, so much so that they twist me about, sweep me away, contradict me, and destroy me, so that in order to affirm myself in their presence, I must struggle to exert myself, must constantly be doing something with or about them in order to escape their hostility.” Jose Ortega y Gasset’s Some Lessons in Metaphysics.
Perfection, wholeness, balance, peace—all ciphers. Black hole specters. Is the world innately hostile? The answer depends on a semantics of gratitude. Ortega y Gasset argues that the world is that which works in opposition to man, that which provokes him into consciousness. But consider the phrase: “in order to affirm myself in their presence, I must exert myself, must constantly be doing something.” If struggle is that by which humans come to lived experience, then the meaning of struggle necessarily changes. If the world is “hostile” so that one will move affirmatively, will exert and do what it is (Spinoza) a body does, then we must revisit our understanding of violence. The world, in its provocation and opposition, generates an engine by which bodies move through existence. The world is the friction from which one finds it in her power to move. While air allows passage, the things of this world demand movement. Would we revile the things that penetrate us into consciousness? Would we forsake the actual world because it precludes the stillness of death? Would we suffice ourselves with the salve of virtual realms where death is already the air we breathe? Who would not be “inundated” by the movement of existence? How might one recoil from the “twisting,” “sweeping,” and “contradiction” that are inherent to life itself? If the world “destroys” the dead versions of ourselves so that the present ones might live, why do we impugn it with ingratitude and seek out the greater destruction of immortality? What kind of perfection is death? And could we call it the death we die not dying? Yes,