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CONJECTURAL BEGINNING OF CONJECTURAL END OF

HUMAN HISTORY HUMAN HISTORY


109 It is surely permissible to insert here and there conjectures It is surely impermissible to insert here or there conjectures 109
into the progression of an historical account, in order to fill the into the progression of an historical account, in order to fill
gaps in the records. For what precedes the gaps (the remote the gaps in the record. For what precedes the gaps (the remote
cause) and what follows them (the effect) give a fairly reliable cause) and what follows them (the effect) give a fairly unreliable
clue to the discovery of the intermediate causes, which are to clue to the discovery of the intermediate causes, which attempt
make the transition intelligible. But to originate an historical to make the transition intelligible. But to end an historical
account from conjectures alone would seem to be not much account from conjectures alone would be as permissible as
better than to draft a novel. Indeed this could not be called a drafting a novel. Indeed, this could justifiably be called both a
conjectural history but rather a mere piece of fiction. conjectural end of history and a mere piece of fiction.
But what may not legitimately be ventured with regard to the Thus what may not legitimately be ventured with regard
progression of the history of human actions may be attempted to the progression of the history of human actions may be
with regard to their first beginning. At least insofar as this attempted with regard to their final end. At least insofar as this
beginning is made by nature, one may attempt to establish it end is caused by reason, one may attempt to establish it on the
on the basis of pure conjecture. For here one need not resort basis of pure conjecture. For here one must resort to fiction and
to fiction but can rely on experience, if only one presupposes cannot rely on experience, if only one presupposes that human
that human actions were in the first beginning no better and actions will be at their final end much worse than we find them
no worse than we find them now – a presupposition which is now – a presupposition which is according to the analogy of
according to the analogy of nature and altogether safe. Hence a reason and altogether safe. Hence an historical account of the
historical account of the first development of freedom from its final transition of freedom from its original predisposition, to its
original predisposition in human nature is something altogether subsequent collapse in human reason, is something altogether
different from an account of the progression of freedom. For different from an account of the progression of freedom. For
the latter can be based on records alone. the latter purports to be intelligible and true based on past
However, conjectures cannot make too high a claim on one’s records alone, while the former lays bare its form as fiction
assent. They cannot announce themselves as serious business, without any record but the future of its own.
but at best only as a permissible exercise of the imagination Therefore conjectures cannot make too high a claim on one’s
guided by reason, undertaken for the sake of relaxation and assent. They cannot announce themselves as serious business,
mental health. Hence they are no match for a history which but at best only as a permissible exercise of the reason guided by
reports the same events as an actually recorded occurrence, and imagination, undertaken for the sake of relaxation and mental
which is accepted as such a report; for the latter is examined health. Hence they are different from a history which claims
by standards quite different from those of mere philosophy of to report the same events as an actually recorded occurrence,
nature. But precisely because of this difference, and because I and which is blindly accepted as such a report; for the latter
here venture on a mere pleasure trip, I may hope to be favored is examined by standards quite different from those of mere
with the permission to use, as a map for my trip, a sacred fiction. But precisely because of this difference, and because I
document; and also to fancy that my trip – undertaken on the here venture on a mere pleasure trip, I may hope to be favored
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110 wings of the imagination, albeit not without a clue rationally with the permission to use, as a map for my trip, a philosophical
derived from experience – may take the very route sketched document; and also to fancy that my trip – undertaken on the
out in that document. Let the reader consult it (Gen. 2-6) and wings of the imagination, albeit without a clue rationally derived 110
check at every point whether the road which philosophy takes from experience – may take the opposite route sketched out in
with the help of concepts coincides with the story told in Holy that document. Let the reader consult it (Kant on History. 53
Writ. – 59) and check at every point whether the road which fiction
takes with the help of images ceases to coincide with the story
of the story told in Holy Writ.

Inagarden,adistantgarden,aprophecyaboutthepastwaspronounced
out loud. A retrospective history about the future was told. However,
neither reason nor man created this story, or its end.

Rather a rose, simply a rose, maybe a white rose (filled with petals,
filledinthesamewaythatabsencebeckonspresence,foldedsimplyover
its stem, turning away from the sun, turning away from the threshold
betweenmadnessandawillfuldeath,betweenunwillinglyshedding
itspetalsandbecomingitsowncastshadow,itsowneverlastingshade)
spokesolemnlyofthisretrospectivehistory,ofthisfinalitythatgavefree
reign to the imagination.

Naturecollapsedintonature.Birdssangbackwards,treesgrewbottom
up. Signs were disrupted by their inversion, by their logical negation,
which (when all sentiments more human than human are accounted
for) could be equated with burning a candle made of wax turned
upside down.

The wax was human.


The burning was somehow more.

From above this rose, stared an anonymous and modest man. He


stareddowntowardstheearth,towardstheweddedcarcassofhisown
imagination.

However, that towards which he directed his gaze was also staring
back at him:

It was merely an image.


It was merely an image of a white rose folded simply over its stem.
It was merely a carcass with an imagination of its own.
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It was merely in the language of flowers.

Forthelanguageofflowerswasnotinthebeautyoftheirappearance,
but in the beauty of their disappearance, in the beauty of their organs
laying bare their ugly indebtedness to the earth, in the beauty of their
organs receding from the artifice of representation.

The anonymous man still stared intently at the rose, not aware that he
himselfwasonefleetingmirageamongstanynumberofotherscalling
for wind upon a curtain made of mirrors.

Not aware that, he too, was rustling behind his reflection.

From above this man, stared an anonymous and immodest god. He


stared down towards an image of the earth, towards the disastrous
outcomeofacreationthatatsomepointbecameawareofitself,thatat
some point chose to invent its own history, to become artist.

111 Thisgodspokequietlyfromaeulogyforthishistory,beforebringingit 111


to its end:

“In this total epoch, we are all artists, craft is our illusion,
and I, standing immodestly above, am the greatest illusion
of all, the illusion from which all moments emerge, and
towards which they recede.

I am the transparent curtain that is unveiled on behalf of


an unexpected other:

The sign imbued with passion.


The symbol traced upon a satin garment floating senselessly
across the stage.

There is no prime mover. Nature herself knows no name.

The garden from which this eulogy was stolen, can


only recreate itself indefinitely. And, while the plants
within it may wither without cause, their effect will turn
the experience of a deficiency into a partial gain, into a
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simultaneous moving forward and backward.

Time has in this way become the cause of great pain and
sorrow.

It has triumphed over the will, over its creator, over its
creation.

Temptation follows it to innumerable ends, expecting the


arrival of a storm.

Expecting a fallen emblem upon a burning cross.


Expecting a statue without the liberty to resurrect itself
from the dead.

Gradiva was never set in stone.


Her impression always was.

One of her feet lifted gracefully from the ground in the


manner of an apparition that, for once, brought to life the
unexpected beauty time so steadfastly conceals.

Life bound to time is the greatest liar.

History bound to reason is its irreversible cause.

Man is its intermediary mistake.

For if man did not mediate the cross section of these two
fleeting but immutable scenes, reason would not allow him to
name the rose before it folded simply over its stem. It would not name the rose before it folded simply over its stem. It would
permit him to return to that crude and simple state from which not permit him to return to that crude and simple state from
it had driven him to begin with (3:24). It would make him take which it had driven him to begin with (3:24). It would make
up patiently the toil which he yet hates, and pursue the frippery him take up patiently the toil which he yet hates, and pursue
which he despises. It would make him forget even death itself the frippery which he despises. It would make him forget even
which he dreads, because of all those trifles which he is even death itself which he dreads, because of all those trifles which
more afraid to lose. he is even more afraid to lose.”