“I Am Not Supposed To Be Here: Birth and Mystical Detection” (Nicola Masciandaro)

Black Sun Lit, May 16, 2014

“Take off your mask . . . Here! Here! We’re here! . . . It’s so good to see you all, I didn’t expect you . . . What are you doing here? Nothing . . . I am not supposed to be here . . . Don’t ever change . . . Let’s get out from under this roof. Good idea . . . I shouldn’t even fuckin’ be here . . .”

– True Detective, Season 1, Episode 8

True detection lies in being extra circumspect about birth, life’s originary and seemingly unerasable crime. “If attachment is an evil,” says Cioran, “We must look for its cause in the scandal of birth, for to be born is to be attached. Detachment then should apply itself to getting rid of the traces of this scandal, the most serious and intolerable of all.” The mystery of birth is the ur-object of detection in that the impossible fact that I am me, even more than there being something rather than nothing, is an absolute disproportion or asymmetry which is per force unaccountable to empirical understanding and unassimilable to reason, as reflected in Albert Einstein’s statement, “There is something essential about the Now which is just outside the realm of science.” Being living proof that the truth about reality cannot be positively known, birth is the negative ground upon which detection trues itself, restoring knowledge to the mystical process of nihilation and aphairesis. As Pseudo-Dionysius says, “If only we lacked sight and knowledge so as to see, so as to know, unseeing and unknowing, that which lies beyond all vision and knowledge . . . We would be like sculptors who set out to carve a statue. They remove every obstacle to the pure view of the hidden image, and simply by this act of clearing aside (aphaeresis) they show up the beauty which is hidden.” Detecting or uncovering truth is a negative matter of seeing through falsehoods, cancelling zeros, naughting lies. As Sherlock Holmes observes, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Due to the knower’s monstrously unmasterable complicity with birth, according to which all murder mirrors my own coming-to-be, detection is authentically true only insofar as it sees into evil’s specular abyss, fearlessly following a path into the radically immanent correlative identities of innocence and victimhood, investigator and criminal. Birth’s wrongness limns the speculative threshold of science and the real. “The hellishly real impossibility that you are you is the true stupidity according to which the absolute is alone knowable.” Or as Meillassoux says, in terms that figurally evoke the circumspection of birth, “We now know the location of this narrow passage through which thought is able to exit from itself—it is through facticity, and through facticity alone, that we are able to make our way towards the absolute.” Likewise, to sense my essential wrongness is both to see the impossibility of absolute knowledge and an absolute knowing in its own right. If I knew everything about everything, possessed perfect science of the universe and all of its processes, what could possibly answer the question, why am I me? And were I to know the answer to this question, what else could I possibly not know? The negativity of birth is solid evidence, the first clue that truth lies in the fact that I am not me, that the real trouble with being born is that one was not, that we are things that labor under the illusion of having a self. Such is the pessimal frame within which the television show saves the significance of detection from forensic positivism and restores its essential negativity to the immanent cosmic and existential horizon, that is, to the diurnal hell that is ‘you’. Beyond its own necessarily imperfect narrative representation, the show presents—at least for anyone who is not so far gone into identification as to insist upon fictional solutions to the problem of themselves—the imperative to practice true detection in the sense of mystically solving the mystery of birth and working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling (Phillippians 2:12) in the name of the personally terrifying principle that there is no one in need of saving. Silently implying that life ought to be lived like a crime drama in which the detective investigates birth instead of death, True Detective is hardly incompatible with mystical or superessential nihilism and the traditional meaning of mortal birth as the spiritual opportunity for the eternal birth which saves one from hell and/or further thrownness. As Meher Baba states in his 43rd birthday message, “The incident of birth is common to all life on earth. Unlike other living creatures which are born insignificantly, live an involuntary life and die an uncertain death, the physical birth of human beings connotes an important and, if they are extra circumspect about it, perhaps a final stage of their evolutionary progress. Here onward, they no longer are automatons but masters of their destiny which they can shape and mold according to will. And this means that human beings, having passed through all the travails of lower evolutionary processes, should insist upon the reward thereof, which is ‘Spiritual Birth’ in this very life, and not rest content with a promise in the hereafter.” We all fit a certain category . . . and any of those types could be a good detective, and any of those types could be an incompetent shitheel. Seeing the worldly, human event of oneself as neither for this life nor for another, this doctrine gives birth back to the always-new domain of immanent will and saves it from the self-dramatizing and auto-celebratory passivity of the subject who decides to dwell in paradoxically egoistical epiphenomenality, predicating itself upon irresponsibility for the fact of its own being. As Julius Evola posits at the end of Ride the Tiger, “If one can allow one’s mind to dwell on a bold hypothesis . . . once the idea of Geworfenheit is rejected, once it is conceived that living here and now in this world has a sense, because it is always the effect of a choice and a will, one might even believe that one’s own realization of the possibilities I have indicated—far more concealed and less imaginable in other situations that might be more desirable from the merely human point of view, from the point of view of the ‘person’—is the ultimate rationale and significance of a choice made by a ‘being’ that wanted to measure itself against a difficult challenge: that of living in a world contrary to that consistent with is nature.” It’s all one ghetto, man, giant gutter in outer space . . . Well, then what do you got the cross for in your apartment? That’s a form of meditation. How’s that? I contemplate the moment in the garden, the idea of allowing your own crucifixion. My aim in what follows, therefore, is to detect how this deathly natal sorrow, the perfect sorrow of being which precedes and exceeds my feeling of it, is neither melancholy nor pessimism, but a true sign of an absolutely optimal worst… [PDF]