Rootless Mind, Impossible Heart

“Mis padres fueron de origen campesino. De Okinawa él, y de Chancay ella. Yo nací en la trastienda del negocio que tenían en Huancayo. Un hecho que ha signado definitivamente mi vida: soy factura de un paisaje al que arribo como un visitante entrometido. […] Mi afición a escuchar crecer la yerba me llevó a los campos. Me escapaba de la escuela para recorrer las calles y chacras; mis ojos se familiarizaron con los rostros y afanes campesinos. He sido siempre testigo de una cultura que me era extraña y yo mismo, extraña a ella, las costumbre orientales me desencajaban del ambiente.”

Nicolás Matayoshi, “Soy factura de un paisaje” – Doris Moromisato and  Juan Shimabukuro, “Okinawa. Un siglo en el Perú” – 2006

And so Matayoshi reveals, with elegant prose, the overwhelming contradictions of the Rootless Mind: for we are now all (including the European West) not only strangers to the world, but also at home in a strange world we cannot hope to make ours.

In this sense the reflections collected here are not original, as I do not pretend but to be an interpreter of a tragedy which has been in the making since history started to be written.

We are, as the Peruvian-Japanese poet says "sons and daughters of a landscape," with the precision that we do not own that landscape. It is not ours and we are not part of it. Nevertheless, we are its descendants. In this sense, we can speak of ourselves as inheritors and carriers of the Rootless Mind.

The "Rootless Mind" is the term I use to label synthetically the postmodern, post-cultural subject that dominates the present. In turn, the Rootless Mind is but the metaphysical partner, the necessary companion of the Impossible Heart. This, specificaly intended to designate the marginalised Person of the current age. The Spanish expression "hacer de tripas corazón" is a pointer to the meaning of the word "heart" here. Because I don´t mean the organic heart, but the personal heart, that part of the human being which remains systematically outside of society. Not because of strength but because it is the banished part of the self, that part which never integrates nor complies.

The Impossible Heart then (and only it) may explain, support the Rootless Mind; and one cannot be spoken about without the other. In fact, the history of the Rootless Mind, as it forms through the upheavals of history, is one and the same as the catalogue of catastrophes which have produced the Impossible Heart. This absolutely weak residue of the Person, but at the same time this completely unconquerable matter that won’t and can’t be socialised.

If we want to highlight for a moment, the main consequence of this, we must say that in the world of the Rootless Mind, all notions of causality have been reduced to one: mechanical causation. You have to read difficult Theological treatises by the likes of Kierkegaard and Guenon to have an inkling of what is meant here, but for the immediate purposes what matters is that this duality of the Impossible Heart and the Rootless Mind are not a new discovery.

If we follow the arc which starts with the Impossible Heart and follows through the Rootless Mind, we will arrive, almost by a law akin to gravity, to essentially void and dead anti-culture left over by the chain of all modernities which Humankind has experienced.

Mechanism, the Reign of Quantity described by E. Guenon, is the "last" link of this abominable arc, therefore a result of a sequence of lacks, of incompleteness. We need to understand then how it has come to be, so that, in understanding what is lost at each stage, we also see the slim, radically poor result we have inherited as the product of a large process of loss and eradication.

As a consequence of natural history (I believe that all of human history is natural in this sense, even when it turns against nature),  the Rootless Mind is a “natural force” a consequence of physical and biological laws, a behaviour arising from the tragic history of the human races.

A short expression of this understanding is that overwhelming effectiveness of the machine and the machine-dominated human societies it that this effectiveness does not arise from the virtue of the mechanical, but from the material context where everything else (in human action) has been lost.

My research is not wide enough to know if there are schools or authors who understand that the causal relation between economic and social determinants of the Rootless Mind is not unidirectional, either from the economic sphere to the social or vice-versa. As we are immersed in liberal theories and points of view—both of conservative or progressive orientation–, it is not strange to find either one or the other emphasis, put forward as fundamental understanding of what “really” happened in history, what "actually" caused the appearance and proliferation of the Rootless Mind.

Even the term “history” we have received from various traditions which assume that there is –after all– some sort of evolution or progress at play on the surface of the Earth, an assumed evolution by which more “advanced” more "modern" forms of society replace older ones. Liberal theories share that belief with all other contenders of modernity–including Fascism and Communism, which have similar concepts of history even if they differ regarding their ideas about who the actors are in this universal theatre.

I do not know if it has been said before that –for all “modern” and “liberal” schools of thought—things are such that they have to believe in an infinite series of modernities, each one following the previous one, lest they imagine that history may come to some sort of “end.” Whatever it may be said about all the ideologies of modernity, this aspect is undoubtedly important:  they really need to imagine a a succession of social changes, or at least the possibility of it, or otherwise they would not be “modern” or liberal in whatever sense they interpret themselves.

Change, here, may be anything appropriate: it may mean order that replaces disorder or vice- versa; traditions which replace innovations, or the other way round. Change is the totem of modernity, whatever change means, for it is the case that modern ideologies always claim some form of “return” or revolution and move from one to the other.

Because of this, Liberalism, together with all modern ideologies, is intrinsically a-temporal, although it presents itself as “historical. ” On the one hand time has to be presupposed , so to leave room for “progress,” on the other, time has to be cancelled to justify the present against the past. Liberalism — in particular its more extreme forms– needs to affirm and negate time, first to support “change” and “modernisation” but also to defend universal and identical values for the “sovereign individual” which becomes the main actor of history.

It should be evident from these lines that the Rootless Mind is the mind of Liberalism and Modernity.

Other ideologies of modernity emphasise the role of the State or the Nation as principal actors of history, but share with Liberalism the same formulae of affirmation and negation of time. Where the conservative or progressive Liberal affirms progress through state intervention or state reform, the Statist and Nationalist will affirm progress through central planning and political Messianism.

Although currently Statism and Nationalism are diminished antagonists of Liberalism (which has evolved to become a global hegemonic ideology) nothing escapes its sway, not even its defeated contenders,;and all political options appear framed between a left-progressive and a right-conservative Liberalism, which are opposed but complementary.

All of this is an illusion, a simulacrum, as many great thinkers have been able to explain. Eternal values reveal themselves only as what a particular school or generation take as ultimate “human” principles. If Liberalism can be considered as historical and temporal, then it must be accepted that there will always be a “liberal” modality in human culture and politics. In other words, to be “historically bound” it must have a root in fundamental human interactions (activities). And it cannot be just an “ideological choice” or a matter of “interests.”

The first step to escape the grasp of the ideologies of modernity is to see how they all exist as a result of human dispossession, uprooting, wandering and loss. Liberalism is the “final” ideology only in the sense that is synthesises this process much better than the others, finally shedding any residual social or cultural context. More precisely, the ultimate forms of Liberalism are the forms of post-national and post-cultural societies.

The Rootless Mind tends to recreate itself, through the same processes which nurtured it in the first place:  war, conquest and cultural destruction; and history is only what occurs when each generation settles around a cultural and social landscape it inherits, oblivious of any previous loss.

At this point we must say for the sake of precision that, while progressing as a natural phenomenon, the Rootless Mind is nevertheless  counteracted by successive recovery and return phases which involve from individuals to groups, societies and countries. These counter-actions exist (paradoxically) because each new generation does not know what has been lost.

We are living in one such phase, where the most relevant conflict of the period exists between the nearly completely liberalised West and the still “retrograde” East. This has become now a multi-generational and trans-generational conflict.

Counter-action, though, implies action and correlation. So, in the same way that cultural resistance and value driven societies and groups will exist, so will the Rootless Mind appear there where one cultural transformation phase follows another. The Rootless Mind thrives on changes which dissolve societies, including those who seem to reaffirm the past (i.e. conservative or Nationalist revolutions). These contradictions confound historians because they don’t occur along a line.

In fact, each of the resistance movements against the Rootless Mind, including all forms of progressivism, reformism, nationalism, cultural revolution and restoration coexist and drive into each other.

In this particular sense, the ultimate ideology of the Rootless Mind, which is Western Liberalism has to be understood also as a “reaction”, as a consequence of history. And we would lose sight of the relative legitimacy of Western Culture by forgetting that it is also a form of counteraction. Its hegemony must be explained for its ability to satisfy the rootless individual, the victim of the same process that dissolves societies and eradicates civilisations.

My main point here is that the Rootless Mind is not an ideological “choice” or the result of some trend, but a psycho-historical result arising from material, economic, social and personal trauma. This trauma is the destruction of people, families, nations and countries.

On this basis it is possible to arrive at a new understanding of industry and technology, enabling us to see these not as motors of history, but also as the result of the same processes which generate the post-cultural and post-national human realities.

For the Rootless Mind it is not possible to understand why any form of attachment to the past, any rejection of technological progress, any subordination to social trends is either decent or acceptable. There is an automatic understanding that any such preference is primitive, out-dated or even brutal.

The Rootless Mind fancies itself as the most “evolved” stage of being, but it is not uniform and it exhibits even more diversity and fragmentation than the traditional mind (traditional here means inclined to tradition). This is so because the ultimate unit of the Rootless Mind is not even the individual, but fragments of it, those fragments that can be consensually classified and "identified."

The Person, although fragmented and invisible for society, seeks and recreates freedom for parts of itself. It becomes impossible to attain freedom for the person a a whole. The fragmented "individual" has no allegiances but a desire to be “free from” any responsibility, association or atavism as has been underscored by many authors. This in fact is the desire to confirm its own nature, devoid of any roots or human context to speak of. The residue left over by the process of socialisation seeks to ensure that his or her “normality” is made normal and “politically” accepted. The whirlwind of egotism, Schadenfreude, constant pessimism and permanent rejection of any commitment constitute the backdrop of the global destruction of cultures and nations. This backdrop is now the social basis of the majority of countries in the world.

Understanding the Rootless Mind helps also to see why there are so many varieties of it and why it does not have a single form of political representation. Each area of personal, political and social life has its own particular “liberal” points of view, in various degrees of commitment or intensity. Some of these tendencies conglomerate across levels and become “ideologies” with totalising ambitions; some are represented by political parties. Most are irrelevant, but because they gravitate around the global loss of human entity, they have an incalculable force.

The rule is that there are and will be as many ideological positions and fragments of these as there are degrees and areas of involution and fragmentation of the personal. Furthermore, in each phase or wave of social dissolution and national destruction we will find new constellations of positions for each of these areas and also overall as a rationalization of the results of the post-national and post-cultural world.

Because these processes are not necessarily parallel and coherent and because they may happen to various degrees depending on historical and local conditions, some liberal positions at one level may coexist with “conservative” positions in others.

So, for example, it is possible to find economic liberals who are conservative in terms of social customs, or the opposite: social liberals who are conservative in economic matters. History also produces a cross-over of political parties which end up occupying a liberal ground at a national level, although they have an important social-conservative membership.

This leads me to think that liberalism should not be treated as "system" that has any sort of logical or even rhetorical consistency. It is more appropriate to see it as a sub-product of history, as fragmented and incoherent as “necessary” depending of very particular, local and peculiar arrangements of social psychology and history. Psycho-history is now more appropriate here than any philosophy of history or standard economic theory.

In consequence it is an error to see liberalism as a monolithic “enemy” and it is better to understand the causes of liberalism as necessary aspects of any modern society. It is clear that war, dispossession, displacement and death are major causes of the liberal mind-set at a trans-generational level, so this may offer the ground for further understanding: If we work against these causes we also work against the mental and social degradation that they bring. Will it not be the case that many liberals can be also against war? Taking liberalism as a monolith is undoubtedly an obstacle in the search for peace.

The Rootless Mind — after all– may also cry, vaguely sensing the pain of the Impossible Heart.