An Archaeology of First Principles [Flash Fiction]


for Giorgio de Chirico

These are the abbreviated facts about what he thinks about metaphysical thinking without getting into an explication of metaphysics, or so I think he should want to say about what he says, but do say so myself about him and what he thinks has thought will continue to think I am fairly sure because I know him so well, being as close to him as I am, one of many persons who is so. There was a time he understood saying and repeating how We must never forget that “existing” is not “being”; to exist is not a synonym for to be. I’m sorry, but a tree and I exist; however, only I have being. That’s everything, he used to say. I remember.

And he says as he has said, as he will say, as there will come a time when it will be he will have said (as I construct here for you to read because I cannot bring him to you at the moment, but it is at this moment that you read what he said what he says the same things in the same words as I arrange them here in his mouth his mouth my keyboard for his mouth):

I recollect having believed once when I was an undergraduate that “conflicts in metaphysics at best come together like oil and water; at worst, they come to together like matter and anti-mater,” a point at which he usually pauses (what is it about choosing to say in the present tense as opposed to the past tense; this you should know; this you should understand;this you should see; this you should not miss; you must look more carefully when you read).

Is this true? I could ask. I ask. I do. Can we discern if it is true or not? I should want to explore. He has; I have; the conjugation has been completed over time. Is it tenuous, argumentatively? It seems as if it might be, he says as he has again and again about the arguments against metaphysics and how they should be engaged, although herein he will not.

The argument can be made, can be held, I am certain, and without questions arising about my sanity, I am also sure. Could these questions, though,  be a few of the reasons why we have abandoned our faith in traditional metaphysics and have developed a mistrust in all forms of metaphysical thinking? Now this is a question that should certainly be answered. I am not, though, going to venture this here in these lines, he says. This is not the place, he must think. I know I do.

Are any of these questions–easily asked, and they are, easily asked as they are also more painfully answered—and we must never confuse responding alone for answering—they are not the same, he has insisted for a very long time. He has written an essay on the distinctions between answering and responding.

Are these questions part of the why we fear metaphysics, fear the cataclysms that the fore mentioned conflicts seem to foster—and they do foster them, these cataclysms in thinking, the cataclysms in belief, the cataclysms in world-view, the cataclysms in what we know, how we know it, where we draw the boundaries of our knowing, even whether we know something or not, right down to whether or not we get to ask the questions that will let us know eventually what we did not know prior. But I am not so sure we can ever get rid of metaphysics, or all metaphysical thinking, as so many who think they should call themselves Logical Positivists or Post-post Structuralists imagine they can believe. Are there any persons who call themselves Logical Positivists? Call themselves Post-post Structuralists; or have we already come to a time when we must call ourselves Post-post-post Structuralists, thus by any other name because it seems too absurd to string the prefix along past two times, he has said before as he will again in these and other words, sometimes the same, at others not, but similar, always the same theme, the same thesis being developed. They are psychic earthquakes, you should know.

I think it is disingenuous—it might even be dangerous–or perhaps it is simply a delusion on the part of those anti-metaphysical thinkers, those who so vehemently attack or condemn traditional western metaphysics—to believe that they or we can live apart from metaphysics entirely. Madness. It is sheer madness, he insists. Every argument in anti-metaphysics is a metaphysical argument.

I used to imagine myself becoming a Grand Metaphysician, I recall him having said.

It seems now that I should have imagined becoming an archaeologist.


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