After a late-night run-in with Brother Moses at a local 24-hour supermarket, I wrote a little about his purity of intent, a direction of force created directly or indirectly by his faith in Christ. His faith seemed particularly gripping, to me. But I thought the content of the faith— in Christ, God, the Old Testament, or whatever— was far less important than the fact that Brother Moses had something to stand in for, as Paul Tillich coined it, “his symbol of Ultimate Concern.” This was Tillich’s conception of The Divine. What I perceived in Brother Moses, and occasionally in others, was how their symbols of ultimate concern, their Divine Objects, had caused them to shed the petty fears and desires that drive the human contest.
To have a Divine Object was to have a bottomless reservoir of force and desire— regardless of the actual choice of symbol. For Howard Kleger, for example, it was his latest 48-hour obsession, like his “ladybug-backpack-mixer-prototypes” or his “Kinko’s scam revolutions.” For the Dadaists or Isidore Isou, it was a lone empty signifier Dada or Lettrisme (or the ego for Tzara and Isou) into which they could and should pour their energies, absolutely and without hesitation. The more abstract, the better.
Anything that cured the body of its Blaekean doubts, that is, the doubting of possibility itself. The Divine Object provides soil for our desires, for their roots. When someone has a Divine Object, they usually think that all other desires and meanings can be rightly justified in its light, that the Divine Object grounds the desires. When really, this Divine Object just gives you the confidence to move forward with your desires, which are “grounded” in what all desires are ultimately grounded in: pure fiat.
It’s a fascinating dynamic. One that I’ve been tampering with internally, my choice of Divine Object. I will probably be soon arranging a little talk of the history of the Martyrs, who best epitomize “direction of force.” Interested parties should write me.