It would be good to remember the basic phenomenon or process to which the arcanum Endeavor refers. Human beings apparently have the capacity to give birth to new laws. Perhaps all of them have this capacity, or perhaps it’s only ones who have exceptional talents, or ones who are thrown into exceptional situations, or both; but in principle anyone who is capable of using language, making and revising commitments, and detecting urges they do not quite understand is capable of ‘genius’, which is the capacity to serially give birth to a new law, which is essentially to receive a revelation from God, or the Future.

It is incredibly difficult to pin down precisely what counts as a valid Endeavor and what does not. There are examples of Endeavor in all different domains of human culture. In various domains of science, various domains of the arts, various domains of politics we see geniuses suffering in the name of visions which appear crazy, immoral or dangerous to the conventional world. Are artistic projects and scientific projects two different ‘versions’ of the same basic phenomenon, Endeavor? Maybe so, maybe not. Does falling in love really count as a type of Endeavor? Are religious prophets pursuing authentic Endeavors? What about powerful, charismatic leaders who have belief systems that are different from that of the person trying to build a general theory of Endeavor?

The idea of Endeavor seems to require that a criterion or set of criteria be layed down to distinguish between authentic Endeavors and false ones. Deleuze and Guattari rise to the challenge in developing the concept of the “cancerous” Body without Organs, which is essentially a ‘bad’ endeavor as opposed to the ‘good’ version described by the concept of the ‘empty’ and ‘full’ variety. I believe Badiou has something to say about false generic procedures, or occlusionary reactions to events. These aren’t philosophers I read anymore, so I’m a bit cloudy on how their concepts all hang together, but I bring them up just to make the case that ultimately it is a contingent and personal philosophical decision that lays down criteria for developing a typology of Endeavors and a set of criteria for separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

My inclination is to set the bar extremely high. The philosophers I just mentioned seem to seek to set the bar as low as possible, so as to be egalitarian and to escape representation, norms and History. But in doing this, they’re inadvertently importing their prejudices as members of French intellectual culture in the 60s-80s. Atheism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-capitalism. The ironic result is that they discourage their readers from really attempting to think, from being open to authentic religious experience, and from prioritizing mental health and close personal relationships - encouraging bleary-eyed narcissistic magic a la Henry Miller, which certainly has a certain magic, but which at the end of the day can be said to manifest a somewhat lower level of consciousness that it could. I don’t think this attitude is tenable in 2019, and it’s easy to critique it as infected by the control society mode of capitalism that was just being born at that time (explaining why these thinkers are dominant in philosophy during the 21st century, now that the control society is flourishing; capital wants us narcissistic, self-righteous and confused, so it allows all these mangled post-structuralist texts to lure us in with their seeming edgy glow).

In my view a project only counts as an Endeavor if it explicitly aims to give birth to a future society that is fundamentally superior to capitalist secularism, features an explicit account of world history and offers a path to authentic spirituality. It must contain within its own frame of activity an account of the distinction between personal freedom (mental health), social emancipation (politics), technological emancipation (the progress of science), and true artistic activity (which is necessarily a religious synthesis between music, drama and philosophy) and it must attempt some kind of synthesis that is not simply a collapse of distinctions.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t real genius producing new laws here and there all across the social field that does not meet this criterion, but it does mean that those modes do not stand a chance of ultimately doing anything other than inadvertently drawing civilization towards its own auto-destruction.


I just reviewed an earlier post in the ‘Endeavor’ series and noticed a formulation I’d spontaneously made and had forgotten - that Kel Valhaal is retroactive and Reign Array is proactive.    The two must work together if an endeavor is to take place:  a spieltrieb-shaped open ended quest that is made sense of only at the end of the series by a punctuation mark, together with an explicit goal-oriented project that proceeds by reasoning and negotiation.  Both of these must be animated by faith; neither of them should submit to laws imposed from the outside.   Why is every modern philosopher so hell-bent on privileging Reign over Kel or vice versa, positing one as a friend and the other as an enemy, or one as real and the other illusory?  It’s because when God’s light is occluded from philosophy, there’s no longer a real criterion for justice, and philosophy has to fold in on itself, waging fruitless polemics against idealism or materialism as the case may be.


In the right dose, shame is perhaps the most energizing of all the affects.   I don’t mean introjected, self-inflicted shame, that strange social scab that prevents us from expressing ourselves and taking leaps.   I’m referring to actual shaming experiences, where one crosses a line and is socially punished for it.  The latter is quite invigorating, as long as the blood that it lets is used to feed something else, so that it doesn’t become the stultifying scab that characterizes the former.   What do I mean by ‘feed something else’?   We live in a multiplicity of worlds, a labyrinth of different scales, norms and roles.   The beauty of shame is that it can only appear in one world at a time.  But blood can flow freely between worlds.   So a productive, invigorated stance towards shame simply involves channeling the energy from one world to another.   This is practically a requirement of transcendental ethics,  which needs constant palpable reminders that no one world is absolute, that apparent transcendent horizons are illusory, etc.   Shame pushes us from one schema to another, keeping us connected to natura naturans, just like the burst beat. 


The right decision is only possible if it is preceded by the wrong decision.   This appears to be a quasi-metaphysical law.   It is also a great source of solace and inspiration when one is experiencing regret.   I have made decisions in my life that are so dumb, I can hardly believe that it was me, personally, who made them.   But I did, and I was doing ‘my best’ at the time.  The default response to memories of these is an illusory remorse - if only I’d gone the other way, etc.   But it is only from the post-decisional standpoint that I am able to weigh the options in this way.    An endeavor, in other words, is nothing but a series of wrong decisions, followed by feedback.    We are wont to forget that the past itself is extremely malleable; we can’t remember what was at stake at the time, nor can we fully appreciate and take stock of what we’ve gained from the ‘wrong’ choice without noticing.    The only possible mistake is to lose sight of the reason we’re making decisions in the first place (i.e. what ideal we’re making them in the name of).  But even this mistake is ineluctable, a fundamental feature of subjectivity (forgetting and remembering one’s task in alternation).   When in a state of regret, remember that wrong choices are inevitable just in the statistical sense (nobody hits the bullseye every time) but in a much more psychedelic and mysterious sense that they are required steps on the path of self-realization and of materialization of any vision. 


It’s always a little difficult to start writing in the RSS feed again when I take a break or start doing it less often.   I’ve been working on a longer text that is meant to consolidate or punctuate the current form of Transcendental Qabala - and as a result I’m not posting much of what I’m writing.   I much prefer the ongoing work of exposing little flashes to an audience immediately; something in me atrophies just a little if what I’m thinking isn’t shared.   What precisely atrophies?  It’s the system itself; its shape becomes less clear to me, its energy level goes down.   The system is an entity   with moving parts, degrees of power, economic forces, etc, and it is capable of sickness and health, strength and weakness.  There are seven or eight insights swirling in my head, but I can’t choose one; I don’t quite know where to place them.  I don’t have access to my system right now; I’m outside of it, not strong enough for it.  Maybe it isn’t the system atrophying; maybe it’s me.


There is no enterprise that is not driven by anxiety.   The criterion for making an activity into an endeavor is that the anxiety be recognized and experienced as such, and that it be remembered over the course of a succession of scenarios.   According to my definition, not every enterprise is an endeavor - only the ones performed while living in a properly philosophical state of awareness in the name of The Ark count.  


There is always a window of time within which one must act if one is to act authentically.  Something takes place, something that disrupts the ordinary state of things, and a response is called for - before one has had time to rationalize, because rationalizing would lead to a conclusion that sustains the ordinary state of things - putting off the the act until a new day and justifying this choice.  The difference between following through with such an act (without authorization from any person or system) and not doing so is extremely palpable and concrete -  the former leans towards the transcendental and the latter leads towards the hyperborean.   Which is to say - the Act, if it takes place within the transcendental window, opens up the possibility of a Scene (a world of consequences, opportunities and prohibitions defined by the Act), a Stage (a threshold beyond which the Scene no longer makes sense, but to which it has a concrete connection) and a Motive (an underlying world which both fulfills and annihilates the Scene as soon as it emerges).  


How fundamental is the oscillation between these two?  Is meaning possible at all without forgetting? Are there any tasks that are not forgotten tasks?  Are there any beginnings that do not take the form of a second try? 


One view of reason - the perspective of critique - posits that reason is fundamentally posterior to desire:  reason distorts desire, captures it, represses it, structures it, or rather is  this very distortion.   By the same token, reason rationalizes   on behalf of desire.  Reason itself is distorted by the desire in the name of which it has been summoned.   By these lights, reason should not be trusted. 

An opposing view - or rather the establishment view that the above view opposes - is that reason is prior.  Desire is inherently pathological, unless it is guided and transfigured by rational cognition - which has either a divine or quasi-divine source.   Here reason is self-sustaining.

Endeavor supposes a middle road between these:  reason has both a Hyperborean and a Transcendental mode.   


Endeavor is a practice of making deposits in the name of The Ark - whether they are mental, physical or social, and then allowing those deposits to yield returns.   

Apocalypse is reviewing the horizon within which the deposits make sense, and Adaptation is accepting reconfigurations of that horizon


There is an envelope to habit.  Anything I repeat - any thought, interaction, action - will require cognitive effort and have an unpleasant character at first, will after this (if I push through the discomfort) begin to cause enjoyment and take on a life of its own, and eventually become automatic and exit my awareness at a third and final state (think of learning to drive).   There is nothing uniquely human about this - it is simply cybernetics at work.   It may very well be a universal law governing all of creation.  I can remember that every action I take is shifting something about my overall character.   Obeying the strange hydraulic cognitive laws that circulate my passions and attitudes - and choosing to cultivate them - this is affirmation of the will to power at the most basic level 


According to the Stoics, not only is virtue its own reward, but additionally there is no other reward. Nothing in this world is of value, and there is no world beyond providing a payoff for today's discipline and sacrifice.   Vitue then, as Socrates said in a somewhat different context, is a coin that cannot be exchanged.    


An endeavor has to fail in order to succeed.   Failure is inevitable - nothing doesn't fail.   In some sense we all know this, but in fact it is more than a rule of thumb: it's a law of becoming.  Failure is a necessary intermediate determination of any idea on the way towards its realization  


Attachment and detachment.  The fundamental, primordial religious gesture is the identification of attachment with falsehood and endorsement of detachment as truth.   It is possible to love God: a nothingness within libidinal space, invisible and eternal.   God is a substitute for all the existing and subject-to-decay ontic entities from which we've detached.   


It it is worth noting that there are different ways   of being attached, as explicated in the theory of attachment developed by Mary Ainsworth an others.   The four basic types are secure, ambivalent, dissociative and disorganized (which actually correspond pretty neatly with Lacan's four discourses:  master, hysteric, obsessive/university and psychotic/analyst).   These are formed in the context of early relationships with caretakers, and they are very difficult to change (though it is possible to "earn" a secure attachment). 


In any case, the only object worthy of desire is the void, whose name is OLOLON.  We can bracket for a moment whether she exists in any space other than the libidinal one.   


But actually there is another object worthy of desire, although a better word that desire might be "gnosis" or perhaps "faith".  This is the Genesis Caul, that which has been variously theorized as phantasm, fantasy and delirium.   This is the impossible, a contingent source of pain, a kind of beginning of a sentence that one is bound by destiny to finish.   


It is surely the lack of a coherent, beautiful and easy-to-understand theory of endeavor that the left is missing.   


Of course Badiou and Deleuze + Guattari articulate theories of subjectivity in relationship to an event.   The trouble, and this point might seem ham-fisted or something, is that they're quite complicated conceptually (surely a necessity, since they are breaking new ground etc).  And at the same time, more to the point, they lack a lot of the content that the most basic manuals for enterprise possess.  


For example, Napoleon Hill's classic depression-era how-to-succeed manual Think and Grow Rich lays out thirteen steps, weaving in and out of the spiritual, social and practical realms, for how to conduct precisely what Badiou would call a "generic procedure".


Of course the terms he uses are anexact - he substantializes things no self-respecting continental philosopher would substantialize.   And, even more obviously,  he is explicitly complicit with the capitalist world-order (he says he learned these techniques from none other than Andrew Carnagie himself, and frequently invokes Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and so on). 


But still, we shouldn't equivocate here: the militant subject of emancipatory politics/art/science is precisely what  Think and Grow Rich  addresses.  And the fact that this subject is capable of having just as much "fidelity" to capitalist enterprise as it is to the communist vision is a fact that Badiou does not address honestly enough (at least as far as I know - and I asked him a question about it once at a lecture).


These techniques actually work, and the more faithfully you apply them, the better they work.  We can suppose that the language that philosophers of emancipation use, especially when attempting to ground ethics and politics in difficult scientific subject matter, not only obscures things but actually leaves a lot unsaid.   


The Deleuzean affirmation of chance is great, but he never adds that it won't work unless you repeat it aloud to yourself every morning for 40 days, for example. 


And so we end up with an incredibly absurd, sad and ironic situation:  Slavoj Zizek literally suggesting that Donald Trump himself might be the "master" needed to mobilize the left.   Since no one who is actually on the left is applying  the laws of success, our greatest hope is a figure on the right who, with his heroic gesture, might trigger a mobilization against him .


Adaptation is always a working-through, whereas endeavor is a sort of pure positivity of working.  Endeavor develops a power, generates neural pathways and proteins, pushes through: a process.  Endeavor is always already on its own terms.  It requires no transfiguration - it only requires faith, hope, love and consistency


I am interested in marking the gradual development of a body of thought/music/art.   I built this website a few months ago, but it has been difficult to post as freely as I was intending to.  The main reason, I think, to be candid, is that the release of my Kel Valhaal album went so badly.   Pitchfork absolutely eviscerated it (and me).  After that, hardly any other review websites would touch it.   As much as I'd like to not take something like that so seriously - the review was so cruel and shaming that it made me question the validity of my entire project.   It seems almost as though the more I make my work explicit... ah, why even finish this thought.  In any case, I have a shockingly strange and toxic relationship to the music industry, such as it is.  There are political forces at work in that, and the injustice is truly jaw dropping - both the torrents of scorn over the fact that I include a dramatic and philosophic dimension to my music, and for the lack of credit given to me for some of the most innovative, emotional and relevant music of the past five years (and that credit being given to various other artists whom I've influenced instead).   It's almost as though the former, which is so odd, is a way of drawing attention away from the latter.  

Anyway, I write this post under the ENDEAVOR heading (Im changing the name from ENTERPRISE to ENDEAVOR), because the point of these headings is basically that they are arcana for me to return to - and this is the one I need most currently.  What is an endeavor?   It is a faith-procedure.    I wish I could tear the concept of faith away from both religion and continental philosophy.  There is a kernel of faith-reality that can only be experienced and acted.  As soon as it is either deified or secularized it somehow loses its luster.  

There are TWO agents of any endeavor.  Reign Array and Kel Valhaal.  Reign Array provides the work and Kel Valhaal provides the grace.  Reign Array is the piston, Kel Valhaal is the steam.  The Ark only exists if effort in its name is able to continue to generate it.   Reign Array is always proactive and Kel Valhaal is always retroactive.  These are the dynamics of transcendental law.  


The enterprise can of course be conceived abstractly as a series.  Under this conception the paradigmatic example of enterprise is the articulation of an irrational number in floating point notation - pi, for example.   The exact value pi is unknown to current human cognition, because it has an infinite number of digits, and we are only able to store a finite amount of them, even if this amount is enormous.  Somewhere, on some computer, pi is becoming progressively more actualized as finite: they are calculating more and more digits.   The finite number of articulated digits of pi increases, though its infinite number stays the same, a virtual Other hovering above its concrete expression, like the stoic lekta.   But are all enterprises created equal?  Are they all good?   This lekton is the Transcendental Object, the object of ultimate concern, the nom-du-pere.   But the pursuit of this object isn't enough in itself.  There is a dimension of love that is crucial here, that seems to be lost in the tradition of French thought that otherwise is so profound in its ability to draw from psychoanalysis, hard science and dialectical materialism.  Love.  But what is love?   I do know what it is - and I'm talking about the love that appears in the context of kerygma, the dao, whatever, the love that is humility and bliss.  I don't know if I'm being totally articulate in saying this, but what I'm trying to say is profound and, I'm pretty sure, an unsolved problem:  are creative originality and love actually compatible?  I would like to believe that they are, but I have never experienced their union in the context of any living work of art (it is easy enough to find their union in Blake etc.).   My experience of creative originality in the present is that it is inextricable from shame, order of rank, and a certain violence or exclusivity that simply is not compatible with the vulnerability and openness that goes along with love - because this openness is precisely the casting off of the airs that are essential to making new and daring art.  Art treats these airs as a virtue and love treats them as a vice


[N.B. 2018 The arcanum ‘endeavor’ originally had the name ‘enterprise’] 


An enterprise is a coordinated endeavor that unfolds according to a plan but yields results ultimately that are unexpected.  An enterprise generates grace

 [N.B. 2018 The arcanum ‘endeavor’ originally had the name ‘enterprise’]