Kendal Q. Binmore: A cacophony of silence: ground of the Triumvirate: 6. Gandhi’s failure, Suzuki’s hope



         6. Gandhi’s failure, Suzuki’s hope


With each hello

I encounter incalculable demons

this the sutra of humanity


Benjamin Suzuki


           This haiku dark reflection of the preceding [see end of section 5–Archivist]. So simple a thing for greeting to become distaste, for words to impale, not bridge. But words do not bridge universally, this the trick Cabrales uses to deny Apocalypse. Our demons, inside and out, are our finitude, our assurance against singularity, our defense against all creeds, against any creed. Our demons are the truncation which permits understanding. Our demons are the only tools we have, this a refrain of your critic, gift of the Absolute singularity exploding into the finite so it can be known, so knowledge can be.


           All rather silly statements, meaningful only if one is fascinated, obsessed, with the collapse of all distinction, with existence absent quality, absent property–in typically American fashion, fascinated with the horror we would avoid in living. A fascination rebelling against its inhabited world, wanting something else than this now, using horror imagined to break the now, saying, pleading, it is not just this now, more than that, something else still uncaught in habitation. A plea for removal from the competitive world inhabited, where words are ground down to fit the crevices of deterioration which speaking makes. A plea to jump out unbound, unfettered, pure being soaring beyond all medium–into singularity undefined, undefined so ever uncaptured–even beyond our cautionary, imprisoning horrors. This our search for God. Calls to God are beyond description so as to be beyond ensnaring competition. Consider again Henry Mitland’s Talk of God entry (ante):


Without contours nothing is. God is not; but by this we become and are. Life is limitation against limitation; God the branching of the stream, a reverse flow from massive river to trickling creeks, each departure from the greater flow a denial which remakes the limited in new design.


Theology is the perpetual absence of God; through this we create–and constrain. Theology is prison yet, in extreme, the physics of social creation. To chase the bounding ever absent, we create.


…Give thanks as you rebel against the faith of others, for this is the only encounter with God. Bless the names [of God] which confront you; they are the portal to God, instantaneously infinite and gone. Fear only those who ceaselessly name [God], who go to their deaths with more names on their breath–for these, remaining in the unbounded you would use for a fictional moment, these you cannot touch.


Those who incessantly name make life so dense reply can never come, this the power YHWH Shibboleth gave to Adam before knowledge was. In names unending there is no knowledge, the gift of knowledge is a finite set of tools, forcing contours upon those who would else turn ever in directions unforseen. The whirling dervish ecstatic cannot be touched; he will not know, so is invulnerable. He stands among us using our words but those of others as likely. He twirls, traveling through us on our words, to somewhere else to same end. Dense in words unmeasured, he travels into silence at the end of distinction, a culturally independent manifestation of zen.


           We who would be among others who are take a path against the unending naming, falling into finitude where competition is our breath. We are nothing without the win and loss, the thrill of spite transmuted into social approbation. Demons are tools, demons are friends, demons are night intimates beyond the caress of touch. And from these comes the possibility of escape, perchance escape unplanned. Here an entry by Benjamin Suzuki, where others’ competition becomes escape–for some; an entry not to be spoken, but seen:


In retirement, Douglas, Illinois


Bird call–two notes, a pause. Bird call–two notes, a pause. Bird Bird call calltwo two notes notes a a pause pause. Bird Bird call Bird call calltwo two notes two a notes pause notes Bird a call a pause two pause…. A fourth comes to break the sequence, yet faster to show it is. Another, faster, tiny lungs bursting to keep the mandate of heaven. Soon no more space in sound, a wall of sound, each place containing all notes, call in an instant, made by no voice, made by the impersonal necessity of some voice being there, of each note being everywhere. So the wall of creation surrounds all, exquisite prison with walls you cannot escape–ether condensed to ground your steps.


Walk within the wall, a shared electron within its structure. The leap from home to home which makes Home, yet player in a chorus of impersonal notes. Ah, but electrons can go anywhere in fable. Leap–knowing all distances are possible, if only in fairy tale. Leap–knowing that which binds Home offers escape, for someone, not anyone. Leap in hope of the unknown grasp, told in rumor, never seen, tale lost with sight, embellished in fantasy which makes talk worthwhile. Out there no need to call to make a place in density thick beyond noticing. Out there a call can be heard for the voice it is. Connection comes to drift the voice, world to world, yet ever singular.


Fairytale fantasy which makes talk worthwhile. In small probabilities freedom thrives.


In small probabilities freedom thrives: so dense a world of people offers this minor solace. Those who leap beyond where we are (recall Alfred North Whitehead–to be something is to be somewhere) are our stuffing for books, commentary, criticism. We marvel at the small realized probables and make them all, an all for momentary attention. These all’s are no godhead. Absent a medium, soaring beyond all grasps, all lungs collapse; only the executed can abide in the unbounded. The rest of us fall to ground, once again immersed in distinctions of life and death. We fall, we fail the height, to abide awhile.


           How we fall is essential. Perhaps progress is the considered choice of loss (Suzuki to Senator Seger of Minnesota, Confirmation Hearing, Third Session). How we fall, how we lose, where we land in the thicket of reality–can create a space to fill anew, for others if not us. The fall a concrescence (sensu Alfred North Whitehead, ante), perhaps not coherence. The fall a sundering, a making of a many, would be grasp flaying about, the beginning of concrescence:


[T]he process in which the universe of many things acquires an individual unity in a determinate regulation of each item of the “many” to its subordination in the constitution of the novel “one.” [Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 211]


Whitehead grandly overreaches, the only kind worth doing. Concrescence is limited by the purview of competition. The universe is fractured, as is God–how could it be otherwise? Finite is our language, our medium, singularity and infinity the same other we are not. Perhaps competition dampens any temptation to stretch to beyond, a partial network of intermediaries resultant. I find it difficult to believe slum children vying for a toilet affect the Nobel Prize. What we have is weaker, yet thereby more unnerving: our truncated worlds of victory and defeat may ever be invaded.


           God made can be invaded by talk of God to be made. Consider Mitland’s second Talk of God entry, of psychedelic needs consuming the universe of their creation, needs so abstract as to be imitation of a limit sequence towards singularity, human singularity as nothing but tearing want:


Talk of God to shape us into our wants. Talk of God, stretching the fabric beyond recognition with disparate needing love. Talk of God, omnipresent howl in the thinning fabric, frayed until disjoint. Love grabbing the newly created corners, pieces of what was, pulling anew in joyful need, cycle of creative destruction until cloth dissolves into void, void cupped in the silence of the gone.


Needs scurry, scratching the emptiness, falling with no ground to land. Needs encountering needs, stretching each other, entwining in contest for supremacy, soon made threads flopping beyond control of all, threads meeting at hope’s end, yarn to make fabric anew.


Needs flooding, ever replenished, thread made yarn made fabric to be tailored to be sundered again. And in the tailoring talk of God returns. Mumbles to murmur to rising voices hopeful of harmony, sonorous dominance of a few, and God comes among them, the many grateful for obscurity to have a whole.


Needs flood, scurry on God, burrow into God, needs come en mass until the fabric of God is inundated, voice of God muffled into silence. Talk of God rises, digging into the covering silence to replenish memory, cutting to reveal fabric to have a piece–to have the composite of dead need, need long since sacrificed to the unending supply which ever recurs. Talk of God. Dead need unraveling to reveal emptiness once more.


Talk of God, the voice of God, the loss of God.

           Loss of God to talk of God to voice of God to again. An eternal recurrence without guaranteed playbill. Finitude is its own salvation. Humanity exists where salvation is always possible, even actualizable, yet never regnant. Finite stops the finite. There is always a lapse somewhere–something already said, my eternal recurrence, hope the somewhere absence of salvation. Finitude is limitless in execution. The singularity of Being propping up the universe is potential, never actual. The universe is an immeasurable set of worlds with fluid connectivity, immeasurable because we are of these worlds, able only to conceive of the set through our observation of others in their (shifting) worlds. To form this set in exactitude we appeal to the Absolute, to Singularity, forgetting that there, there are no worlds.


           So concrescence is coherence only in finitude:


Suzuki: The extension of rights under due process is cumbersome. It is this which avoids Justice Black’s prediction. Due process does not create rights de novo. Griswold and its dissent are reconciled. In outcome, neither is what it once was.


Senator Seger of Minnesota: A middle way?


Suzuki: Yes. The fusion of apparent opposites.


Seger: A synthesis of opposites to a new unity?


Suzuki: No, Senator. Aspects of opposites, placed together, to make something new. A new path. That is all. But that is what we need, I think. That is what we must find. (Confirmation Hearing, Third Session)


A new path. What we must find is the only thing we can find. So works evolution, adaptation. The arcane almost fact of incremental common law (fiction near, fact afar) is not my present focus; go to the Hearings for that. Here I note only that the legal process Suzuki envisioned endures because incomplete. Striving for coherence will sunder any fusion; yet justice forces such expansion. In some sense systemic collapse is unavoidable. The goal of Suzuki’s jurisprudence is to program its own defeat, to decide how it will fall, this its form of immortality in finitude: to trace a path into non-resemblance.


           Yet non-resemblance is not loss. In the realm of words loss is more elusive than supposed, perhaps wished. Words recur, and this is jurisprudence’s grace. What we destroy with words we may be reversed. Not for the events those words shaped; no, those are gone. Redemption is for the anonymous to be. Be incomplete, be prepared to vanish, so the anonymous may come:


I’d like to say words are clear signposts to decision, but decision comes of its own, pivoting the world. I look back on my choices and think I see continuity; but I have seen formidable minds create fortresses of certainty to confirm their past. Jurisprudence is not conformity. The only solution I see is to let go, to let others appear. In any case I shall become enfeebled, I shall dissipate in mind and body. How to find continuity with strong belief and that?


–are you thinking of resigning?


My decisions require I go; only then can they have potential value. We speak and do not know as we say, only after. That’s the key to words–their meaning arises as they vanish. Seeking permanence, jurisprudence has lacerated. Letting others arise, the words may re-appear.




That’s all there is. May. (From Remembering the Suzuki Court, related by Andrea Clark, clerk to Suzuki in his 10th term)


           These resurrected words, these little packets of ambiguity awaiting a body of context, are not bits of truth purloined from the Absolute. There is no Gandhian Ocean of Truth where one is but a drop, the tiniest of creatures of the ocean that is God (Harijan, 8-18-1946). An ocean has no drops. Drops are torn from it, torn by externality, by hard otherness, or the greater flow of wind. Drops are actualized potentiality, no part of the ocean until their demise. Drops are realized context. Drops are the only worlds we know. Suzuki relies on the turbulence of man-ocean to recreate drops in waves suspended in ever perishing form, drops releasing themselves to be known.



sheds perfection

declaring its existence



Benjamin Suzuki


It is that moment of demise, perfection made sound, made other than it was; it is that moment we call, find, wonder. Perfection is not ours, yet of this world, no Absolute. We can hear it out there, vanishing for us to communicate its presence.


           Demise. This Suzuki’s lesson taken from 9-11: suicide is always with us; we must know all its forms. The battle with terrorism is a battle among suicides. It is the form–corporal, social, verbal–which is at contest. The lesser suicide to prevent the greater (ante).


Nonacs v Selton [declaring conscription violative of the 13th Amendment’s prohibition against involuntary servitude] seemed about to topple the Court, the Republican House fuming, seriously considering impeachment of half the Justices. Justice Scalia’s proposed Constitutional Amendment nullifying the decision would redirect the rancor, but that was yet to be. Benjamin wanted to get away. He came to visit. We trudged Zion National Park in high spring. At the middle Emerald pool he stared at its waterfall, just stared, seemingly twenty minutes or more, occasional fellow consumers passing, close, unaware they shared this landscape beyond man with the Betrayer, the Assassin of Liberty, the Diabolical Mind–and a host of other sobriquets rampaging through the media. Nothing had changed; nothing would in the foreseeable future. Yet hysteria over Nonacs continued to grow. Ben stared. Out of worry, I approached, asking what he saw.


Staring still, he replied, “The dissolution and confluence of history. The larger no different than its parts, just more destructive.”


I pointed to the pool at waterfall’s basin. “There is also calm below.”


“Destruction is creation”


“How often that slogan has been used for abomination, Ben.”


“I know. But the tool can’t be dropped. By anyone.”


No playful Japanese immigrant who is not in his voice that day. Nor for many days thereafter. Ben had changed the game, and he was afraid. I think Scalia saved him. The Court majority forced Scalia into an honesty which ultimately insulated the Suzuki majority. If Scalia hadn’t been so honest in his Nonacs concurrence, if he had just dissented, prophesying destruction, I think the Court might have broken in its first move. I think Ben was sure of it. (From Remembering the Suzuki Court, related by Theodore Taylor, mathematician at the University of Utah)


Destruction is creation. The tool cannot be dropped. By anyone. Suicide is not what we need fear; it is the suicide of permanence, of a moment which cannot be surpassed, of entry into Singularity, moment for and of itself–this we combat in visceral dread. Our runs for success, for dominance, for the pleasant fear in others, these decay with our body if we do not let go. How many mourn they held on too long? Suicide is always with us, waiting to be, sometimes great gift to others without a sundering. The suicide terrorist begins in these lesser suicides; if we do not admit them in ourselves, how can we come to understand, to nullify for a moment (that is all that is allowed), that path? Suicide begins in failure–and sometimes that failure is planned.


           So with Gandhi. His fasts were threatened suicide, realized suicide in the shattering of what was. Gandhi fasted in failure. He entered fast in failure, entered greater failure when retrieving his body from the slope. Gandhi failed. Not in action, not in outcome, but in vista. His ocean of commonality is forced; satori offers no such undifferentiated being, satori invites, pulls, compels new differentiation through the vacuum it is. Gandhi would have us be the definition of ocean:


Individuality is and is not even as each drop in the ocean is an individual and is not. It is not because apart from the ocean it has not existence. It is because the ocean has no existence if the drop has not. (Gandhi to Yeravda Mandir, 9-8-1930)


No, Gandhi: I may see the ocean dropless; no storm need ever come to tell me the ocean is there. We are as much of storm as ocean, our commonality truncated thereby. An our without commonality, an our of higher abstraction, abstraction across storms, this the goal of satori: made of one storm, it awaits another, its vacuum produces another, common ocean tossed about ragelessly, anticipating the rage of others.


           Gandhi failed, yet his fasts were satori. For a moment he opened the temples to untouchables. For a moment many, not all, never all, temples opened their doors to the conquered caste, to those who were produce to the invader. For a moment servitude lifted, worlds remade though the simple act of crossing a threshold. For a moment Gandhi’s contest with his fellows, not the British, his fellows, the first and ever war of nonviolence; for a moment that contest shifted, not won, the bonds of hierarchy used by the British, used, not made, became visible, Hindu no different that colonialist. Then the doors closed, again, as they always will, no ocean of truth to dissolve into, storm the only human state.


           Gandhi failed. He cannot win, he’s not supposed to win; he is meant to recur, that flash of liberation made text of a life, portable, text to be opened elsewhere. His failure made salience for opening that text, no longer his life, text opened in foreign land, India or not, text ready for failure anew. Text from his life propped up through repeated failure, each opening a beacon, hands coming from the darkness surround, a relay beyond any race, beyond any victory, a relay of unknown compatriot let alone goal, yet endurance for the miracle of the effort of others.


           Gandhi’s failure keeps opening the text of his life–and in this Suzuki placed his hope. Race without organization, without clear participants, without a rival team, a rock skimming, bounding across the nonsurface of water, act that cannot be but is. Failure, miracle of brief being, entices us to open this life made text, a text no more coherent than the life, text opened, pages flipping, perhaps settling on other failures, new direction for travel. Life made text, we relay the whole, one inconsistency the float for another. The function of text, Suzuki said, is to transcend any single mind. He should have said single momentary mind. Failure may be borne by what for it is triviality, submerged in words passed over, then blossom anew as though the text’s only purpose. The sacred, the miracles of possibility ungrasped, borne through incoherence, incoherence the surface which is skipped-skimmed. Satori is a removal of focus, not abandonment of text or texts, a flipping of pages, letting another choose where to begin again. Another: a life, grasping for its own purpose, carried further by words which bind it to dissimilarity. Perhaps the sacred is something of us which survives all of us. Gandhi failed, so still is here.

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