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What is “Existence Strikes Back”?

“Existence Strikes Back” is the working title of a body of writing and ideas that I’ve been working on for 30 years

Background

You’ve presumably noticed the “Existence Strikes Back” tag that the new TDE promotes heavily. It’s not the sole focus of TDE, but it’s practically my sole focus these days so TDE is slanted heavily towards it.

“Existence Strikes Back” is the working title of a body of writing and ideas that I’ve been working on for 30 years, no exaggeration. Granted, it hasn’t been an unbroken 30 years, but I’ve been working on it in some fashion—reading, writing, cogitating, fermenting—on the concept for 30 years and I even wrote two “books” (really, just a collection of essays and notes) on the subject that, at the time I prepared them, I didn’t know were intensely correlated.

The two works were “The Anti-Modernist Primer” and “Modernity’s Artesian Spring: Why We Keep Returning to Existentialism.” The two books, along with a ton of new material, have come together in “Existence Strikes Back,” though everything in Existence Strikes Back is, so far, 100% new, featuring essays that I’ve written from scratch.

Synopsis

This is the most concise snapshot of “Existence Strikes Back” that I can provide:

Wisdom wants to know reality. A region of reality (“the Tao”) isn’t knowable. Wisdom respects reality’s unknowability while pursuing reality nonetheless.

This unending pursuit reached its apex in the 13th century, then the pursuit started to decline. Modernity was the rejection of respect for the Tao ("The Great Rejection"). Postmodernity is the rejection of the rejection.

“Existence Strikes Back” is divided into three sections:

1.            What is the Tao? Also called “the act of existence (actus essendi),” “the first principle of Zen,” and the region on the other side of Aldous Huxley’s doors of perception. It emphasizes “The Reality Spectrum”:

The Tao-->Essence-->Existence

2.            Modernity rejected the Tao portion of the Reality Spectrum and focused almost exclusively on the “essence” part of the Reality Spectrum: things we can count, measure, and understand through reason and logic.

3.            This rejection is a rejection of reality, with the result that the Tao keeps bubbling to the surface, often in troubling ways but often in good ways.

The Project Moving Forward

I have set up a Substack that is dedicated solely to Existence Strikes Back. You can find it here but it’s still under construction. Every essay at my Substack will also be featured at TDE, so you don’t need to go to my Substack. You can, instead, merely click the “Existence Strikes Back” tag here and see all the essays. If, however, you want only “Existence Strikes Back” original material without the clutter of other topics at TDE (drinking, gardening, etc.), you might prefer my Substack.

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