Human language retains its energetic charge, although revitalizing it requires a more complete understanding that would allow someone to enter the metaphoric portal described by the Batesons. This loving portal would equip someone to use metaphor as a way to restore connection to self, others, and religion through a felt communicative awareness. A clearer understanding of this emerges with an introductory examination of how literal idolatry leads language to lose its charge. The way to restore the capacity of language to connect requires moving downward, burrowing into the darkness of silence, and reconnecting with the felt presence of reality. Doing this allows for the development of one’s inner senses that equip speakers to infuse the power of silence, the unspoken and unsayable, to become part of what is summoned by one’s speech. Following this path allows speakers to move from a speech that says nothing to a silence that says everything and a form of poetic faith. By embodying each part of the “third” the Batesons described, speakers can reintroduce the power of love into the material community. After learning how to revitalize language, it will be possible to consider how figures of speech might enable people to potentially know God.
3.1. How Metaphors Die
People living in the present were born into a world of fallen language made flesh and inscribed in the laws and buildings that govern reality. Although art can lead to a more sensory reality, shepherded by visionaries who see the sorts of relational metaphors that contribute to a more loving and embedded inhabitation of the world, such moments tend to be most impactful in a sense of now. Although it seems both necessary and possible to reimagine the world away from the one governed by literal idolatry and fixed by preferred articulations of hierarchical assemblages, and despite the continued work of anticaptivity theorists and visionary artists, we remain in a world in which the value of life, joy, and love are disregarded in the pursuit of an illusory sense of freedom through consumerism. In such a world, organized around hierarchical assemblages held in place by stories of religion and law and embodied in the flesh of its citizens, any sense of “progress” seems tainted. To learn how to follow Jackson’s directive and rewrite the dominant narratives, it is important to understand how corrupt naming processes work.
For Benjamin, creating allowed for an originary fusion of Being and logos
, while naming invited humans to an ongoing participatory relationship with the creation. As Kühlewind noted in The Logos-Structure of the World
(Kühlewind and Lipson 1993
), our naming capacity arises because our insights (p. 41) and perceptions (p. 82) are both interwoven with concepts. The naming capacity allows the world to speak with humans: naming expresses our experience of what the world exposes. An apt name gathers together an insightful appreciation of what is occurring. By adding knowledge to what presents itself, recognition through logos
liberates distinct potentialities of what is. When the gathering capacity of logos
is used to create a symbol, it brings together a constellation of word–sound, word–image, universal concept, and particular thing. Using a symbol when naming activates a level of understanding. As Robert Scharlemann
(1991, p. 75
) wrote, “Everything that is anything at all is a singular (‘this’) and a universal (‘kind of thing’) in one, and the one is understood as the ‘being’ of that thing. To understand is to think of a thing as
the kind of thing it is
”. Problematically, “we approach the perceptual world like a meditative sentence we read only for its informational content” (Kühlewind and Lipson 1993, p. 104
) as a result of literal idolatry, which obscures the fullness of our experience of natural expression.
Naming a thing in metaphor invites a different form of understanding: it names what a thing is like. A metaphor brings to the foreground part of a thing’s latent potential by relating the being of the thing to an innovative context. The addition of logos relates the singular thing to a new universal concept, augmenting the “being” of the thing by thinking of it as if it were a kind of thing it is not. This act provides an alchemical fusion in which some of the vitality innate in Being but absent in concepts becomes the power of presence in word, and whereby the unconditioned nature of the universal infuses the momentary particular. It liberates both logos and Being by highlighting (and not extracting) the latent potential that always remains dormant beneath what is actual.
After logos is corrupted in the processes that Benjamin described as overnaming and overprecision, the liberating potential of naming becomes imprisoning through the literal, reductive identification of Being as logos. Relative to Scharlemann’s framework, overnaming would refer to the inappropriate enhancement of the concept, understanding Being as a quality of the universal apart from its relationship to a particular. Overprecision would refer to the impoverishment of particulars that are dislocated from their whole context and are reduced to objects. In this way, Being and logos are confused. Literal idolatry reifies this process by exclusively seeing Being as related to universal concepts and disregarding the potentiality of the interconnected things in the surrounding environmental context.
The “dead metaphor” is an example of this process. It refers to when what once was a metaphor becomes understood as the literal name for a thing. Language exhausts its charge by imprisoning things as part of an articulated assemblage and then extracts the vitality of the thing to send along the network. Conversations that carry on articulated assemblages in this way both constitute and contribute toward a diminution of both logos and Being. It uses the naming power to imprison life rather than to free it.
As an example, consider what once was a living metaphor. Referring to a “cliff face” at one point perhaps allowed someone to access the presence of a mountain in a reverent way, sensing its capacity for relationship as an active co-creator of the environment. Using “face” to name this environment contextualized a particular within the category of an unfamiliar sort of universal. Doing so enriched the experience of the world and expanded the category of “face” to include non-animal presences. The result perhaps invited a deeper curiosity about the world and one’s relation to it, offering a kind of vulnerable regard. Logos gathered the situation in a way that would allow the hiker to move more deeply into the Being of the moment.
A dead metaphor uses the same phrase in a different way. Two hikers discussing at a “cliff face” as a way to describe their situation allows one hiker to signal the object in question and in this way prevent either person from needing to point and look at the stone and its still, exposed, visage. The term itself, written or spoken, gathers as a totality what is actually an incomplete aspect of the whole. It simultaneously hides the living truth of its dynamic particularity, and neglects the actual power of logos to provide enhanced understanding.
3.2. Experiencing the Darkness of Wordless Silence
One of the functions of logos is to illuminate the potential of what is. The Enlightenment provided the apotheosis of fallen language and has not only retained its grasp on how humans experience the world but has also engaged in epistemicide and the elimination of other forms of knowing. It successfully and systematically revealed the possibilities of experiencing the world through an abstracted lens that separated subjects and objects. Before embracing a new form of speaking, it is necessary to turn away from this source of illumination. This is the movement from knowledge (the facts illuminated by the corruption of logos) to faith.
Ricoeur offered a description of this movement in the conclusion of his essay “Religion, Atheism, and Faith” (Ricoeur and Ihde 2007
). He usefully articulated how a faith shorn of the corrupt elements of religion involves a different relationship to language. His description of corrupt elements (protection and condemnation) is wholly consistent with Benjamin’s analysis of fate and guilt. Ricoeur argued that leaving behind idols that hold knowledge in place would require moving through a new “night of the soul” (p. 460), toward a “tragic faith” that persists “beyond all assurance and protection” (p. 455), into a fuller sense of belonging. The movement from resignation to dwelling moves through four main steps, each of which obtains a different level of recognition through an increasingly appropriate relationship to language.
Ricoeur described faith in the conditional: it occurs when nothing is certain. With a tone of longing, Ricoeur imagined a prophetic preacher capable of announcing this faith, admitting “at times, I hear his voice”, which beckons him to depart from the straight path of rational philosophy to venture on “a road that has gone astray”, found by “digging deeper” (p. 460). These images refuse a triumphant forward narrative movement. This faith does not move forward: it burrows downward. It does not see truth; it listens in darkness. It is a journey toward mystery rather than enlightenment.
The imagined renewal of faith is structurally similar to a metaphorical movement. Both demand resisting the urge to move forward along a narrative vector, turning one’s back to a logos
that offers a certain kind of illumination toward a center that one does not occupy. Ricoeur
) described the paradoxical core of a metaphor, which “gives poetic discourse a centripetal direction opposed to the centrifugal direction, which characterizes descriptive and didactic discourse” (pp. 67–68). The centrifugal pressure of the plot keeps readers looking toward the horizon of the future, destabilized and uncentered. Narratives inherently prevent a sense of total presence. A metaphor, given in a glance, requires a reader to pause and move backward from description to term, staying stilled between the two. The gap between term and discourse presents an unknown: dwelling here, Ricoeur suggested, might free humans from the heritage of accusation and prohibition.
Archetypal psychology describes this process as the search for a “black sun”, an alternative to the process of mortification (Marlan and Rosen 2015
; Corbin and Pearson 1994
) that seems an ingredient to heroic narratives. This step appears necessary for moving away from the emphasis on fate and guilt, accusation and protection, which corrupt the potential for living meaningfully through the influence of literal idolatry. Inasmuch as this reversal is a turning away from language and its structures of meaning, it involves a time of silence. Robert Sardello
) describes the role of silence in the process of transformational individuation:
Silence bears the wholeness we keep looking for while we do not know exactly what we are looking for. It is around us and within us. It goes to the deepest depths of the soul and to the outermost reaches of the cosmos and continually unites the two at the centering place of our heart. Here we discover the power of re-creation” (p. 8).
An awareness of the “luminous darkness of Silence” deepens as one engages in a “backward review” of one’s life (p. 88). Benjamin, too, believed that the tragic collapse of the conventional world and its gods would result in an individuating silence. The tragic realization that calls to one’s inner voice (genius) “robs [us] of speech, remains unspoken. Without declaring itself, it seeks secretly to gather its forces” (Benjamin 1978, p. 307
). This inability to express language, depicted in Kierkegaard’s Abraham and Melville’s Bartleby, marks a liminal space in which one is positioned to hear a new language without yet having the ability to speak it.
Ricoeur heeded an inner voice, genius, heralded in silence. Linda Sussman
) described inner speech as a resource that summons humans to an individuated and unique destiny that differs from the tragic fate of narratives anchored in a fallen language. Heeding inner resources is a choice made beyond compulsion, without obvious rewards to gain or punishment to avoid, and represents the first part of the journey to “becoming free”. For Sussman, freedom requires a capability of questioning and choosing ethical conduct in all action. It also requires imagination, which “is never reached by knowing where one is going: one knows one is in the right place only after one has arrived” (pp. 55–59). This sense of freedom is augmented through an additional consequence of silence: developing “new sensitivities, new sense-abilities”, including heightened perception, “seeing
instead of just looking…listening
instead of just hearing”. Sussman connected these new capabilities to a new understanding of language:
The eyes of the heart do not find nouns in the world, but verbs. The heart is moved because it perceives the world as moving and gesturing. The verbalizing heart orients itself not by labeling and declaring the independent, isolated existence of objects but, as Russell Lockhart suggests, by joining the dance of interrelationship that verbs presuppose.
With Lockhart, Sussman indicts the tendency of a fallen language to name things in ways that indicate a sense of distance and hierarchy (p. 99). The “inner organs” that develop (Corbin and Pearson 1994
; Sussman 1995
) provide access to an “is” that emphasizes dynamic relationality rather than static being.
After one is opened through an awareness of new inner faculties, after turning away from the promised illumination of logos
and the plots, fates, and narratives that have circumscribed life, what emerges is indeed something different. Engaging openly with this experience provides an encounter with resources capable of replenishing language. Erich Neumann described this orientation to experience as both “unitary reality” and the world of the “Great Experience”. Arguing that this “non-fallen world…is always accessible”, Neumann further argues that it is “where the difference between great and small, correct and incorrect vanishes, because the personal becomes transparent as the transpersonal, and the transpersonal limits itself to the personal. This self-limitation to the personal makes possible a return to the world’s wholeness as experienced in every individual” (Neumann 2017, p. 260
). Experiencing the non-fallen world provides a way of reviewing life beyond “the ego’s experience of chaos”. Doing this alters the very nature of experience, which “melts to an eternal moment, in which no path and no order are visible to the walker, because no more time is visible, but only the meaningfulness of the present moment” (Neumann 2017, p. 261
3.3. The Integration of Silence
Ricoeur imagined that the journey toward a poetic faith required four steps, the first two of which offer alternative resources to those projected by law and religion as the moral order of the world. The first step, “obedience without fear” (Ricoeur and Ihde 2007, p. 462
), occurs in relation to the frame of wholeness allowed by silence. Silence enables recognition of the whole truth of one’s place within a total context through a mode of passive acceptance, in a “wordless presence” (Moore 2020, p. 123
). This post-ethical form of obedience comes through a specific relation to language: the Latin terms ob
(to, for) audire
(hear) form the etymological foundation for this kind of obedience. This kind of obedience comes when you hear your name and your attention instantly shifts in a total way as you focus on the summons. This points to the continuing capacity of original language to invite us to inhabit contexts in a totally present fashion. By receiving one’s situation in this way, one focuses simply on what is without judging its relative goodness/badness or considering questions of fault or blame.
Ricoeur argued that the second step is “consent beyond desire”, which would replace corrupted forms of consolation. Enhanced sensitivity allows one to attain the capability of active consent to the total situation. Ricoeur advised that the affirmation of consent here indicates a willing unification of “is” and “ought”, that avoids regressing to the nostalgic stage before the naming of evil and also refuses a reformation of an “ethical” stage that imposes a sense of “good” as a moral world order. The enhanced sensitivity invests the “is” with a sense of dynamic relationality, and the “ought” with the ability to perceive and honor that goodness which exists. The language “beyond desire” does not suppose a violation of volition (against desire); instead, it suggests an ability to affirm one’s presence within a total context that one has participated in bringing about even though it contains elements that are either not ideal (the judgment no longer protects a nominalized sense of self) or were totally unanticipated (the world beyond the imaginable). Ricoeur found that this stage marked the “move from the desire for protection to the act of consent” (Ricoeur and Ihde 2007, p. 462
). Consenting to a situation opens a willingness to share responsibility for the nature of what is and for what emerges. Finally, the simple “yes” of total consent presents an initial opportunity to speak as a full participant within a larger, integrated context beyond dualisms of inside/outside, right/wrong, subject/object.
Crucially, both obedience and consent go beyond the ideal of a “being” or a form of “presence” that corresponds to the god who anchors literal idolatry. According to Thomas Altizer
), after one confronts totality, “the only real actor and power is a totally anonymous power”. One can only coincide with this kind of power, but doing so requires relinquishing an understanding of “I” as a temporal, narratable self. This is consistent with the existential turning back that paralleled the process of finding meaning in a metaphor. As Altizer put it,
Now our world is a totality as it has never been so before, but a totality from which we are absent, or absent as individual and interior wills, or wills which can actually know either freedom or bondage. The disappearance of an interior freedom or bondage is the dissolution of self-consciousness, the erosion or annulment of that “I” or center of consciousness… (p. 100).
The sense of ongoing relational totality constitutes an immense and expansive “is” that discloses the superficial sense of “will” and the inadequacy of one’s sense of “self” that preceded reversal. Becoming dislodged from an inadequate sense of “I” through an immersion in and embodiment of silence provides the capacity for total speech. This is why Altizer
) argued “The speech of total speech is itself a self-transcendence of all self-identity” (p. 83) and “… self-identity can be itself only in silence, a silence which is actual, and a silence which is enacted in speech”. This transcendence of self-identity and the enacting of silence in speech parallels what Ricoeur describes as “consent beyond desire” because totality cannot be reduced to an individual will, and all that remains is the willingness to speak silence: “That silence which is the final self-enactment of self-identity is a silence which actually dawns, which actually occurs. And it occurs in its enactment, in that act and in those acts wherein speech silences itself” (Altizer 1987, p. 89
This silence is not ephemeral, but remains materially anchored in the particular presence of the body. The body provides a point of reference within the totality and, because it follows the transcendence of self-identity in silence, constitutes an uncorrupted experience of psyche and soma—the basis of metaphoric relations per the Batesons. Sussman
) describes how enhanced senses enwombed in silence allow a totally new relation to the self. The enhanced senses enable a person to “appreciate the world and all its phenomena as animate”, which “inevitably awakens wonder and respect for the silent mystery of one’s own body. Movement and rest; pulses and undulations; building up, tearing down—similar structural forms and mineral elements belong both to body and world and are confirmations that body and world belong to one another” (p. 101). This understanding of the basic structure of movement and rest provide a felt commonality with the rest of the world.
This material referent of identification differs from a localized, narrating-I view of the world that rejects the surface of the world as “other”, as well as a spirituality that would reduce the sense of self to an immaterial soul. In its place is a new way of attending to the vibrancy of the world, a rekindled metaphoric awareness. “[T]he world and one’s body are not vacuous and dumb but abound with speaking gestures that can be ‘read’ as wise, living texts”. Attuning to the body provides a point of access to the original speech of an unfallen language, the soundless language of things. The combination of silence and an expanded sensitivity enables one to “inwardly honor this silent speech of the world” with the caveat that “…this dialogue is never given, never guaranteed. [One] must actively re-create the conditions for it in each moment” (Sussman 1995, p. 101
). This embodied dialogue, attuned to the felt seeming of the material community of things, provides a capacity for enacting this silent speech in language through a renewed form of expression.
Moving beyond desire allows for an embodied experience and expression of character as a pure totality. Benjamin
) believed that the freed figure of someone wholly attuned to the inner voice, genius
, provided a total alternative to the “mystical enslavement to the guilt context” and “dogma of the natural guilt of human life” (pp. 310–11). Benjamin’s discussion of genius
is consistent with Barfield’s discussion of the term. Barfield
) reminded his readers that genius
is related to the Greek daimonion
, initially “to bring into being” (relating to “genesis”, “ingenious”, “engine” as well as “Genie”), and that Romans used the term in relation to “a person’s tutelary spirit, or special angel attending him everywhere and influencing his thoughts and actions” (p. 209).
Ricoeur’s stage of active consent thus requires an embrace of one’s individuated genius, the inner voice that uniquely attunes a person to the anonymous power Altizer discusses. This embrace sidesteps the tragic world of guilt and locates character as something innate. In The Soul’s Code
, James Hillman
) returns to Plato’s The Myth of Er
, wherein a soul chooses a life according to its lot, but each soul also gains a “genius” that helps to determine the arc of its life: “the soul must be perceiving intuitively an image that embraces the whole of a life at once” and, in life, this becomes the pattern “that is always and continually being selected by your soul” (p. 45). Hearkening back to this genius through taking responsibility for one’s character provides a pure foundation for freely creating one’s life that precedes questions of conventional guilt. This kind of understanding is consistent with Ricoeur’s “consent beyond desire” because it coincides with an acceptance of both character and circumstance, allowing a deepened responsibility for one’s life without succumbing to the distractions of guilt or blame.
3.4. Poetic Faith: Dwelling beyond Tragedy
Ricoeur finds that a new stage, dwelling
in language, arrives after completing these first two transitional steps. It is a new stage because it presumes a capacity for total involvement that presupposes but surpasses the first steps of resignation to silence and consent beyond desire. In describing this advanced stage, Ricoeur noted the “gathering force of the logos
” (as an entirety) that surpasses the “emergence of the will to power” (p. 464) (limited to an individual perspective) allows obedience and consent to emerge from a total relation to the situation of language as such. Obeying the summons to logos
and affirmatively consenting to Being (the situation that is, what presents itself) opens the passage from the world of individual tragedy to the world of dwelling in belonging. This is the stage where the “quality of perception endows metaphor with ‘life’” (Sussman 1995, p. 158
). The courageous willingness to descend into silence enables the resurrection of the dead metaphor, the death of the literal idol, and thus opens a time when “a symbol of being must begin to speak” (Ricoeur and Ihde 2007, p. 467
Dwelling contains two modes: thinking and saying. Thinking is the “experience of what passes”, while saying is the “expression of what surpasses” (Ricoeur and Ihde 2007, p. 464
). The former allows logos
to preserve Being, creating a memory that can be called to mind. The latter invites logos
to expand Being, by naming or invoking latent possibilities not currently available. The thoughtful preservation of an experience gives birth to an appreciation of categories (kinds of things): categorical terms supply word concepts that allow us to identify and greet similar entities. Poetic enhancement of what is present equips humans to once again engage in the act of true naming
in alignment with Benjamin’s originary form of language: the addition of knowledge to what is. This form of dwelling engages in Sussman’s sense of expanded sensitivity and attunement to one’s identity with a material reality and provides a form of expression that parallels the articulation of character channeled through one’s inner genius—an imaginal voice. The addition of this third, the inner voice, provides a metaphoric experience of self-in-self (genius
in relation to psyche and soma) that provides the metaphoric groundwork that the Batesons described in terms of love as a relational third.
Both thinking and saying are altered through this experience of reversal. An appreciation for the inner senses suggests how a necessary stage in poetic dwelling would include the experience of what surpasses
, going beyond just attending to what ordinary sensory engagement would register. Scharlemann
) provides an initial way to conceptualize this possibility. He distinguishes between thinking
as each relates to German idioms for presence (es ist
and es gibt
) rendered as “there is” and “it gives”. He posited that thinking involves the understanding
mode of relation appropriate to presence, while thanking supplies the grateful
mode of relation appropriate to donation (p. 69). Thinking would thus attend to the experience of what passes, and thanking to the experience of what surpasses. Scharlemann added that thanking allows “happiness to be known to us”, and that “In the act of thanking, what is disclosed to us is the ‘gloria Dei,’ which is what we see when we experience the transparency (Transparenz
) of the world” (p. 71). Thinking connects elements “positively by reference to a ground” (Being), according to a dialectical process, while thanking connects elements “marvelously by reference to nothing but time” (p. 74). The marvelous mode of grateful understanding eschews the possibility of literal idolatry inasmuch as it relies wholly on the marvelous coincidence of elements that appears—as well as that which donates their interconnected dance. Beyond any possible human effort of orchestration, all one can add to this marvel is grateful notice. This understanding correlates with Ricoeur’s discussion of language at this stage, “When speaking becomes saying or, rather, when saying resides within the speaking of our language, we experience language as a gift, and we experience thought as a recognition of this gift. Thought gives thanks for the gift of language…” (Ricoeur and Ihde 2007, p. 465
). This step provides the experiential grounding for the third part of the Batesons’ process, metaphor as concept, which anchors world creating models such as religion.
Another way to conceive of this “experience of what surpasses” relates to Neumann’s description of “unitary reality”, which cannot actually be “known” by the creative people who encounter it. Such people cannot grasp it but instead are “seized and possessed by it”: even when they help to “fashion and develop [such intuitive experiences], with the full cooperation of [the] conscious mind”, their overwhelming character is always a “significant element” (Neumann 2017, p. 103
). Neumann argued that the unitary reality is necessarily expressed by a symbol, but that “A true symbol cannot be reduced to one of these two opposites; nor is it the sum of both. There is something more in it: there is an overflowing life by which the totality of [people are] embraced and possessed” (p. 105). This “something more” that exceeds the capacity of thought correlates with the marvelous connection Scharlemann described.
To experience what surpasses in joyful material community with the things nearby would naturally induce one to express this in an appropriate act of creative naming in the moment. This is a spontaneous form of expression that interrupts the chain of articulated assemblages. Altizer
(1980, pp. 2–12
), writing through the lens of Christian theology, offered one of the most robust discussions of embodied speech and total presence. His focus was on the nature of the parable, where “Word speaks finally because Word irreversibly becomes ‘flesh.’” Parable is “present only in its enactment, only in its telling or saying”, because writing “stills the sound of speech by breaking up and dismembering a vertical immediacy into a horizontal presence”, a distinction that recalls the contrast between centripetal (vertical immediacy and Ricoeur’s depths) and centrifugal (narrative) force. This latter force is what propels the lethal consequences for language and things.
The refusal of “horizontal presence” also allows parable to provide an alternative to myth. While both parable and myth “conjoin the world and the sacred and each establishes a continuum between human and cosmic identity”, Altizer
(1980, pp. 5–6
) argued that the language of myth “distances both the speaker and the hearer from the moment or center of voice”, by articulating “a center which is everywhere”, whereas parables present a voice from a center that “is everywhere only by being here and now”. Embodied parabolic speech “contracts attention into “the presence or moment at hand” by emphasizing “auditory as opposed to a visual presence” that “speaks an immediate presence” even when reading. It is through a parabolic speech that the “world speaks in voice itself, and voice as well”. This voice “manages to speak and to be silent simultaneously” (Altizer 1980, pp. 5–6
). Such speaking would emerge through the symbolic nexus that Neumann describes, one that exceeds the symbolic union of opposites as well as their binary oppositions. Speaking the voice of the world articulates the totality of the depths. Speaking with the voice of total presence would convey the expression of what surpasses. It is a form of speech that inspires life in all who feel the resonance of its vibrations.
) argued that the expression of what surpasses can be generated by poeisis
. This can be thought of as uniting the potency of one’s embodied engagement with living total presence, gathered through resignation
, into logos
. Sussman argued that the enhanced perception found by converging an attention to inner voice and an attunement to the aliveness of the world as capable of endowing metaphor with life, enabled one to relate to the world as if each part was deserving of reverent attention. This felt relatedness provides the thoughtful experience of what surpasses
. This becomes poeisis
and open to the expression of what surpasses
when one decides to imaginatively arrange “one’s perceptions, thoughts, and experiences in the medium of words”, in obedience to how “the ‘living being’ within language also calls to be known through relationship” (p. 158). This “living being within language” can be understood as the convergence of the inner voice/genius
and an awareness of the divine speech in the performance of total presence. Within the Batesons’ framework of the third, this performance of inspired speaking becomes the “third” that brings these two pre-existent entities into metaphoric relation.
A mature “living system of speech” (Sussman 1995, pp. 170–71
) recognizes how the relationship between the speaker and language, like the speaker and the world, continually fluctuates. This means that true speech eschews a predetermined script: it must “leave the careful crafting of an oral architecture and risk sinking in uncertainty”, an uncertainty that embodies the necessary modality of faith. In a way that seems parallel to Ricoeur’s understanding of dwelling, Sussman argues that those who engage in a living system of speech remain listening at the intersection of “manifest and unmanifest worlds”. Her language narrates how the body of such a speaker would physically bridge two worlds as a third:
The speaker, like language, stands at the intersection of the manifest and unmanifest worlds, whether “unmanifest” refers to the unconscious, the spiritual domain, or just the unknown. If preconceptions, assumptions and the tendency to be judgmental have been sufficiently released, the initiate-speaker stands mostly in “not-knowing”. One can then listen into what wants to be said, for which one must leap toward the unmanifest, and into what can or must be said, for which one must leap toward the manifest, the social context. Both are difficult leaps, but, if accomplished, the speaker allows those two worlds to touch in and through the words.
The goal of this attitude toward responsible speaking is a “speech that frees” (p. 175), a speaking that tends to be “plain, rather than fancy, thought-provoking rather than inspiring”, one that intends “to open a space, to dispel the sorcery of ignorance, disease, despair, vengeance, or victimization”, and one that therefore “invites the captives to walk out of such prisons and take a new path. The speech that heals is the speech that frees”. This corresponds, again, to the act of initial naming: the releasing of the unmanifest into an audible, grateful expression.
The liberation involved parallels the description Neumann
(2017, p. 269
) offers of the symbol of peace, which he argues is etymologically connected to freedom (in German). Like Neumann’s peace, Sussman’s sense of freedom emerges through an equilibrium of opposing forces, rather than a simple absence of constraint. It is a state of being that releases contraries that have been bound together by literalism, awakening them to their full potential. The space of freedom aligns with what Neumann described as “unitary reality”, which allows a reflection on the power of the third. Neumann’s concrete example is the loving connection of mother and infant as “a reality which exists in a Beyond that transcends the dimensions of inner and outer; they live as an image both in the psyche and in the outside world, but apart from all this there is an unknown third component in their midst which is also intended and included in their nature and of which the inner and outer image are no more than different aspects” (pp. 92–93). Framed as maternal care, Neumann believed that love
“…revealed as the dominant characteristic of this relationship turns out to be the foundation of man’s [sic
] relationship to the world”. Experiencing love allows humans to “experience the world as an interconnected totality in a context of meaningful interconnectedness” (p. 94).
Ricoeur ended “Religion, Atheism, and Faith” Ricoeur and Ihde
) by arguing that moving from the Nietzschean love of fate to a love of creation suggests “a movement from atheism toward faith” because love “is itself compensation”. The essay concludes with Ricoeur applying the experience of compensation as part of what permits the recovery of the image of the father from where it was forsaken as an idol. Identifying the symbol of the father as “a parable of the foundation of love”, Ricoeur posited that “An idol must die so that a symbol of being must begin to speak” (p. 467). Love, rather than vengeance, becomes what allows for the speaking forth of being—and even those idols who anchored hateful and lethal words and actions are not thereby removed from the possibility of redemption. The experience of unitary reality, the speaking forth the voice of the world as the symbol of being, importantly includes within it a love for the totality. The power of this speech, use of metaphor, and presence of love would hopefully speak to a broader conception of freedom than one limited to property, and could reconstruct metaphors in ways that Jackson indicated would provide a basis for environmental health.