In Islam, “Tajdid” refers to the spiritual renewal of the religion, and “Mujadid” is the name of the agent of this renewal, a prophet. Generally speaking, The Ark Work refers to a coalition between the religions of the world together with the artistic, scientific and political enterprises of secular modernity, which must be conceived somehow as a whole, as a collective effort (what kind of agent would be capable of carrying this out? This question will only be solved by the success of the effort itself. It cannot be answered in advance, and the apparent impossibility of such an agent underscores its intrinsic necessity).
"The Ark” only exists if if we refer to it, believe in it, and act in its name. Any given human being is unable to see, will and carry the Ark unless they have gone through an ascetic/psychoanalytic process by which they overcome the false idols of pre-constituted ideologies, the family, romantic love, desire for recognition and status, the casino-reward habits of social media and, having existentially discovered that “the Other does not exist” and that “there is no sexual relation” (Lacan), they able to offer their love to the Form of Beauty itself (Plato/Diotima).
But this transcendence is just the beginning (and it is never fully complete or stable, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a basic difference between being essentially awake/free/transcendental and asleep/enslaved/hyperborean). From there, it is a matter of seeking the redemption and culmination of human history, which involves a deep engagement with this history itself, and with the forms, concepts and styles that it has generated. For every individual this must be a unique quest - always a matter of making contact with one’s own attachments and fantasies, of sculpting and weaving together the forms one is already attached to, traumatized by - but always in the name of the redemption and culmination of human history, always with an eschatological perspective. There must be simultaneously global and local dimensions to the quest: it must engage the relationships and institutions into which one is already embedded, but with a view towards a larger project and history - even as it dynamically formulates and re-formulates just what this history and project are.
Though the process and result must be singular and unique for every individual or group that engages in Ark Work, there are some absolute criteria, in my view, that distinguish Ark Work proper from a more profane (and ultimately doomed) form of art-as-politics. First, it must be rigorously interdisciplinary, and in particular it must engage simultaneously with forms from music, drama and philosophy. Secondly, it must involve some kind of account of world history, and situate itself within this account. Third, it must have some more or less concrete idea of what it is seeking to achieve, what means it has at its disposal, how is to make use these means to achieve this end, and how it might measure whether an experiment has succeeded or failed. Finally, it must banish the distinction between the secular and the religious.
There is one more criterion - in a way it is the cloudiest, the one that I am most hesitant to include, but it is also perhaps the most important - its work must be radical, while at the same time respecting tradition. But always prioritizing the former over the latter. It must seek to push beyond the forms we deem safe, beyond what we are able to conceive, to disrupt whatever appears to be an absolute horizon or achieved totality (politically, formally, cognitively), even willing to abandon the forms that we deem intrinsic to human nature (in my view, the current form of this kind that is in the process of being dislodged pertains to sex, reproduction and gender). But it can only approach this radical task with any chance of success through contact with the true depth of traditional structures, piercing through the simulacra in which they are entombed. And the ‘traditional’ figure most essential to this project is that of Jesus Christ: the paradox of the death and resurrection of God, the paradox of infinite agency within a divine system, and God’s “non-dual non-identity”, as Rowan Williams puts it.
Anyone who can achieve all of the above is a “Mujadid” of The Tradition of Greater Shia, The Ark Work.