Perennial ethics

We have noted recently that enjoinment to the lesser jihad is a fact of life, that jihad forms regimes, fixation on a regime is problematic and the embrace of generative spectral investigation (opening up a regime, drawing lines of flight out from one regime to generate a new regime in Creativity) is the solution.

But it appears that our traditional intuition of the Islam of eternal perfection — the completed religion — gets lost in such a ethics of relativity.

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (Qur’an 5:3)

Where is completion within the desire for spectral engagement?

It is now incumbent on us to ask how this ethics can accommodate the aspects of Islam that appear to be inseparable from the Deen: invariant faith, perennial certainty in the Qur’anic shariah and a continual Divine injunction of Holy Jihad against the enemies of Islam.

Let’s focus on the idea of a perennial ethics of Jihad: the idea that there Islamic jihad can be characterised as a continual struggle against disbelief since the moment of revelation up to the present day. A continual struggle with invariant properties, waged, at least, by a core ummah against enemies that might well take different forms but are always in some way “mappable” back to the enemies mentioned in the verses that command jihad.

Fighting is enjoined on you and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know. (Qur’an 2:216)

Jihad is enjoined upon us (because to live life is to make jihad, to play a role within the regimes of signification): but why is something that we dislike good for us? If generative play –spectralization, the breaking apart and creative reconstitution — of regimes of jihad is the recipe for release, what of jihad itself? We’ve said that all language games are jihad: each role you play in life is part of a game whose moves are acts of jihad, whether you like it or not. Local battles. But, following the philosophers, we have argued that spectralization, locating a line of flight out of local battlegrounds is the recipe for release, for a kind of transcendence. We then noted that that this release always leads back again into a reterritorialized regime, but the process of spectral relativization is what frees us from the Demiurgic dangers of fascist fixation …

This still begs the question: what “good” is there within a local battle if all battles are merely sign regimes that suggest an escape route through their suppressed lines of flight?

What “good” can there possibly be within a single jihadic regime that we dislike, a regime the philosophers compel us to make exodus from? If generative play spans the relativities and essential contingency of particular regimes, then what is the nature of the “good” that lies within them?

Are we to take this “good” as one of a perennial, universal good, a common Truth? It doesn’t matter whether we take this common Truth, this common “good” as universal ethical/moral stance against oppression, a cosmic set of archetypes signifying a purely spiritual meaning or a law of aggressive war against disbelieving nations to be interpreted “literally” according to a spiritual political-biological axis: either way we are still dealing with a formulation universal Truth as running across the generative tree of particular cultures, times, places, games, cities, languages, battles and regimes.

We believe that to comprehend the “good” of jihad, we need to work within the ethics of creativity itself, that comprehension of the “good” arrives only by querying and our assumptions of what warfare is and then deconstructing the basis of perennial Truth’s constitution, specifically with respect to struggle/jihad.

We do not dispute the characterisation of the lesser jihad as incorporeal transformation. All life is bodily transformation in accord to the sign regime we are thrown into. This is true of everything, including both the range of physical battles that have run through history and, in particular, those battles and conflicts mentioned within the Qur’an itself. But this characterisation discounts the image of an eternal God, imposing a perennial, historically transcendent, valuative ethics upon all jihad. The idea of a continuing Islamic jihad that runs consistently throughout history. The very idea of a perennial historicity to Islamic struggle must be abandoned, difficult though that may be.

For an image, such an ethics, itself forms a particular regime (a subjectivity in relation to a perennial God) that is open to the problems of fascism we have observed in other Demiurgic crystalizations we have been investigating the past two years on this blog. It is a relative of Pharoah. It restricts generative potential by fixating (at the metalevel) upon
the signifiers of history, God, the Qur’an, politics, geography and the idea of an unified, trans-temporal, trans-geographic ummah.

The regime that results consists of acts of violence against the Body, performative utterances that constitute hybridized spiritual-political-historically reflective and geographically valuative incorporeal transformations, speech acts that develop a warrior-worshipper subjecthood, establish power relations between an Islamic body and some enemy (constituted by analogy/conjunction from — for example — former colonizers, the USA, Western modernity in general, etc) and a cause (inherently local, but rendered total again by conjunction) binding together a particular (contingent) complex of physical territory, an ideal political state and an ideal state of existence.

It is not so much that such an perennial regime is fatally flawed, but that it is, by its very nature as a regime, utterly relative.

And its relativity is what is suppressed that it might be given voice. We cannot escape regimes, but the (philosophers’) ethics of creativity is to permit the free, unconstrained living through of their relativization. The relativity of all regimes is a generative, multiplicitous creative potential that belies, through suppression, tension and (when self-aware, jumping ahead of myself) irony, the condensation of the perennial regime’s regimenting signifiers (the perennial God image, its edicts, its subjecthood and the configuration of the signs of history, politics, state, enemy, etc). The repressed potential to violate and rupture the perennial regime, to produce new Truth in excess of what the city is built upon.

So we should, rather, say it is not so much that such an ethical regime is fatally flawed, but that, by its inescapable nature as a regime, it is formed in tension to the generative potential, and is open to the release of that tension in destabilizing, deterritorialization, in a truly productive differentiating evolution and revolution. The same creativity in flux that led to its crystalization/territorialization.

That is, by utterly relative, we mean utterly unstable.

The perennial regime itself is based upon a particular Deleuzian sin: an ethical inauthenticity to itself in its assumption/fixation on its permanence, of an assumption of constant, consistent state of war, a perennial definition of political-spiritual war that has run through the ages.

There have been and will be an infinite number of utterly different Holy jihadic regimes, each a different territory, each unrelated to the other. A multiplicity of Holy Jihads. (Like Freud’s subject), we see a tree full of them, white wolves of jihad, looking in at us through the window.

(Or perhaps, as a Tantric aside, a tree of seven aeons, endlessly pruned down to a seed and then grown back outwards again in cycles of jihadic bifurcation, for, from another perspective, Jihad is a tree, and each Jihad is a becoming of identity, a life, a universe unfolding, but then destroyed and recreated, an Adam-series. But never mind that for the moment …)

The battle between Mongols and Arab Muslims was not one fought according to the same terms as that of the perennial regime’s framing of the Prophecy and the disbelieving armies (or those armies as a precedent for forms of disbelief to come): the languages, the weaponry, the universes are completely different. The “battles” between the “Muslims” and Majapahit Kingdom of Java was something much more — in surplus to — any perennial constitution of religious jihad. The entire vocabulary is different. There are at least two groups of Muslims, not a unified single group, for example: the rising Western Malacca Sultanate, together with northern “ports”, Sino-Islamic autonomous trade zones (originally imposed as alien but eventually “becoming” Javanese, including a separate morphism over the Islamic vocabulary). Their two interests are separate, with Islam taking different forms: of trader collectives/gangs, of a Sultanate/regulating centralization. A complex geographically/geologically local cycle of social degeneration coupled with that (very loose and unintended pincer form) leads to the final failure of Majapahit. And then again, the later struggle of Muslims against Dutch colonizers is different in shape and form to that of the Middle East against the Ottomans or Europeans, and these are different those Islamic peoples who were under the British Empire (not only different “enemies” but entirely different geographies/geologies, different realities, different regimes).

The examples above can be taken metaphorically. A more progressive version of the perennial vision might form a conjunction between, say, the struggle of the hijabis in France (against the current state’s treatment of that garment) and the difficulties of the Meccan Muslims. A wider perennial regime might for example draw a universal conjunction between Sufi cosmologies of Jihad and, for example, the notion of warfare or struggle in the Bagavadghita, as an equivalent cosmic symbolism possessing an identical spiritual semantics (a sort of naive Jungian view of archetypes, or a simplified version of Schuonism, for example).

In all these cases, the conjunction is just that: a conjunction of differences, not of identities. There is no identity between the struggles mentioned, nor between the spiritual cosmologies. Each is unique in its geography. Relations can be drawn, meaning can be extracted, but not through identity: there is no identity here.

Yet the perennial regime “picks and chooses” from these historical traces a particular pantheon of signs, of sinful archetypes, of Perennial God (another War-God say or a Archetype God), and an eternal warrior subjecthood and consistently disbelieving enemy. The same story, repeated. They are related in a crystallized ontological structure, a relationship of power that forms the first Demiurgic utterance of the perennial regime: first Demiurgic utterance of the perennial regime: there is no God but the Perennial God. A Borg like attempt to colonize the other regimes, all other battles involving Islamic people, to draw them into a univocalization.
a Borg like attempt to colonize the other regimes, all other battles involving Islamic people, to draw them into a univocalization.

But this perennial machine is ad hoc reconstruction, dependent on post-revelatory, forced conjunction of distinct strands. Genetic experimentation, in fact, as each regime so conjoined will have different DNA. The jihadic regimes of struggle against the Mongol horde, against the Quraysh of Mecca, against the forces of the British Empire, against America in a contemporary terrorist formulation — each of these involve conceptions of subjecthood, of territory, of country, of race, of power that would each be mutually unrecognizable in character. The “holy warrior” in any two historical jihads is an entirely different subjecthood. Different, not repeated, like a fractal of warrior-subjecthoods.

They will, of course, share some common vocabulary, driven in part with reference to their own individual tafsir of the Qur’anic verses, in delicate relationship to their other constituent roles and relationships. But such common vocabulary is not an invariant but, rather an (indeterminate) set of functors that exist in contingency (though not without meaning) between the pairs of jihadic regimes, relating roles and relations (one object and one morphism) in one regime to those in another. This gives the appearance of a properly common vocabulary across all regimes, but it is not that, it is merely a shared

Ultimately, there is nothing perennial about the perennial regime. There will be known knowns and known unknowns with respect to the multiplicity of holy jihads it attempts to capture, and relative trajectories of reformation with respect to possible transformative/generative relationships to other regimes, but not anything else. But these relationships, these transformative relationships will themselves be entirely local and specific, they will not apply to the entire field of signification — not to the entire Gifted Body, rather than individual localities.

Thus, the ethics of generation shows us that the perennial regime just won’t do as Islam, because Islam is universal truth. Paradoxically, the perennial nature of Islam’s edicts denies the perennial regime’s Demiurgic attempts at conquest.

What then could we possibly mean by the perennial nature of Islam, if not something subject to that regime?

Allah’s Knowledge is perennial. Perennial Knowledge.

We — the subjects of various regimes, moving through and between regimes over time — fluctuate between territoralization and deterritorialization — between loving/fixating on a regime (though it may be evil for us) and fearing/disliking the very basis of our regime, the very suppressed term that leads to a line of flight outwards that may be good for us. That is, the “thing” of the verse refers to jihadic regimes in both senses: of something that we might love and something we might hate, something good and something evil for us. As jihad is life, the verse notes that both the tension of love/dislike, good/evil forms a basis for territoralization/deterritoralization, for generative movement that is, in its totality, the perennial knowledge of Allah. Something we do not know as subjects of inscription, something known only by the author of the inscription. Something we do not know as the individual vectors of breath that run through the regimes, something known only by the Breather, loving to be known through the polymorphic gathering that we call the unfolding cycles of Time.

So how does this Knowledge, unknown to us, the subjects of its fluctuation (or rather, the fluctuations as subjectivity) — how can it be experienced in any meaningful way at the human level? In particular, how can this Knowledge determine our relation to any meaningful sense of a perennial Jihad? Are we merely doomed to either fascism or to roam endlessly and arbitrarily between city states of the world, jihadic regimes of the Mind?

We argue these aspects are neglected by the philosophy of free creativity and must be integrated into the cosmology to achieve an Islamic perfection: however, importantly, faith, certainty and shariah do not constitute a regime (though they are described as such, always, in a regime, as I am describing them now) but are, rather, the felt effect of a dialectical (but locally immanent, humanly experiential) tension between dislike/fear and fixation/love, matyrdom and victory, greater jihad and lesser jihad, mastery and slavery, unseen and seen, physical and incorporeal, between deterritorialization and reterritorialization. The dialectic tension is local and is, as such, distant from the the Divine but is itself a resonance-in-salat with the upper Face of God.

As such, the dialectic runs through local regimes, a regime’s individual acts of jihad, as well as the wider acts of breakage of regimes, of lines of flight and creative generation from old regimes into new. The dialectic is the very tension upon which all these things crystallize for us as individuals: and is entirely local to us, entirely specific to us, though operative in resonance with the Truly Perennial Face. Their resonance is the nature of human experience of the Perennial.

(Seeming to contradict myself with respect to the instability of perennial regimes, I now appear to suddenly invent one, and assert that this upper Face of God is known within Tantra as the Shiva/Shakti principle. Achieving this resonance with Shiva/Shakti is the nature of Tantric yoga. In saying this, I contradict myself if the words do not resonate, while I affirm if the resonance is felt. Either way, I assert, within the local regime that appears to perennially crystalize about this Islamo-Tantric conjunction, Shiva/Shakti, when inscribed, is the dialectic tension that runs through all regimes. In particular, it runs through my Islamo-Tantric assertion as the very tension behind universality, the tension of the conjunctive act, the tension of the equality symbol, the tension between an Sufic differentiation or universalization of the Tantric cosmology. The tension of difference and relative repetition, between the Face in one regime and the Face’ in another, local to this specific paragraph of comparative religion, is a potential for resonance with, for knowing Shiva/Shakti. And so Samsara becomes Nirvana.)

It is not so much that the injunction is a universal law to jihad, for example, that applies (colonizes) all regimes. Rather, the perennial nature of jihad’s injunction is in the verse of liking/disliking: it is this dialectic tension that is the basis for jihad and it is this tension that is perennial yet local in its human resonance with the Divine.

And from the perspective of creativity, of generative effect deriving from their tension, they are a feminine daughter/niece that exists between the lines of this description (of all description, including any of herself).
This is why Sakina descends upon the battlefield in the Qur’an, why she is carried in the Ark into war, and war is lost when the Ark is lost. This is also why we can say that Law and Faith are female. Female because they are impossibly possible — her possibility is one of impossibility.

The Feminine is what was missing from the philosopher’s ethics: when she is reintegrated, we obtain a perennial ethics of Jihad.


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